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© Barns Green - A Local History of The Great War 2014
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William Edward Freeman (1896-1916) - Pte L/10405 2 nd  Bn Royal Sussex Regiment William   Edward   Freeman    was   the   only   surviving   son   of   the   ten   children   born   to   Charles   and   Matilda   Mercy   Freeman   (nee   Boxall). The   family   lived   in   Itchingfield   in   the   late   1890s,   and   William   went   to   school   there,   but   they   moved   just   over   the   parish   border   to Slinfold   around   1902.   In   the   1911   census   William   is   still   living   at   home   with   his   parents   and   two   youngest   sisters   and   is   working   as   a groom. William   joined   the   2 nd    Bn   Royal   Sussex   Regiment   on   7 th    August   1914   as   Pte   L/10405   on   Regular   Terms   of   Service,   and   was   deployed   to France on 20 th  October 1915. From   the   end   of   October   until   mid-November   the   Regiment   was   “at   rest”   but   as   winter   closed   in   and   the   weather   deteriorated   they were   moved   into   the   trenches   near   Loos.   They   remained   in   this   general   area,   under   sporadic   attack   but   experiencing   relatively   few casualties,   until   an   improvement   in   the   weather   in   March   1916   reawakened   enemy   activity.   Even   then   the   story   is   one   of   grinding attrition rather than all out warfare until the 2 nd  July 1916 when the Battalion began an eight day journey to the trenches of the Somme. All   through   July,   August   and   September   the   Regiment   fought   in   the   trenches   and   on   the   battlefields   of   the   Somme   with   huge   losses   until finally,   in   early   October   they   were   withdrawn   to   billets   at   Toueflies,   near   Amiens   for   rest,   recuperation   and,   for   a   lucky   few,   some   leave. Reinforcements   also   arrived   throughout   this   period   and   the   Regiment   regained   some   of   its   former   strength   so   on   the   18 th    November they were once again marched back to the mud of the Somme at High Wood. Having   survived   the   killing   field   of   the   Somme   for   so   long   William   Freeman   was   killed   in   action   on   8 th    December   1916,   just   after   the Battalion had moved from High Wood to the Flers Line support trench. The   trench   was   manned   by   A   and   D   Coy   from   the   7 th    December   and   the   War   Diary   entry   for   the   8 th    tells   us   that   "our   artillery   was   very active. The enemy replied with searching fire. 'D' company suffered four casualties and 1 Lewis Gun damaged by shellfire". The   available   evidence   suggests   that   William   Freeman   was   one   of   the   four   casualties   D   Coy   suffered,   the   other   three   being   wounded   or died of wounds later. William   Freeman’s   body   was   not   recovered   but   he   is   commemorated   on   the   Thiepval   Memorial   and   remembered   on   Slinfold   War Memorial. He was awarded the 1915 Star, the Victory Medal and the British War Medal for his services. .
The Fallen