Henry Bennett (1892-1919) - Pte 16399 4th Bn Royal Sussex RegimentHenry Bennetwas born 26thNovember 1892, the third of the five sons of the Bennet family who were to work the brick pit in Cross Lane from 1904. He was the eldest of the five Bennett children to be schooled at Itchingfield. He signed up for the 2nd/4thBattalion Royal Sussex Regiment as Pte 3965 on the 11thDecember 1915, just one day after his brother John signed for The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment).Although obviously eager to serve his country his story is a sad one. By May 1916, after collapsing short of breath during drill, he was hospitalised in Purfleet suffering from what was diagnosed as pleurisy. A second longer spell in hospital followed in August/September but he was returned to duty and unbelievably transferred to the 13thSussex and sent overseas with the Regiment landing in France on the 15th October 1916. Conditions at the front obviously exacerbated his condition and he was hospitalised again on the 27thDecember. This time TB was suspected and he was shipped home on a hospital ship and sent to the Military Hospital at York. By 14thMarch TB was confirmed and Henry was discharged from the army as medically unfit on the 4thApril 1917. He does not however, appear to have been awarded the Silver War Badge.He was granted a pension in respect of his TB and, following a brief spell in a sanatorium at Ockley, returned home to Cross Lane where he died on the 3rdMay 1919. He was buried just three days later under the rites of his Congregational Faith but in the Anglican Church of The Holy Innocents in Southwater.
He was awarded the Victory and British War Medals for his service and is remembered on the Itchingfield War Memorial. In December 2014 he finally received official recognition for his sacrifice and was listed in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records. It is hoped that in due course his last resting place will be marked with an official headstone.Henry’s service and pensions records survive and can be found online on both Ancestry or Findmypast or on microfilm at the National Archives in Kew.