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Connaught Barracks in the Great War - The Wartime Memories Project -

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Connaught Barracks



   Connaught Barracks is located about half a mile south of Fort Burgoyne in Dover and opened in July 1913. During the First World War the barracks were used for training and the assembly of large quantities of men and supplies to cross the channel to France. The site remained in military hands until 2006.

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Those known to have trained at

Connaught Barracks

during the Great War 1914-1918.

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Sep 2017

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224855

Pte. Charles Edward Ballard 2nd Btn. Royal Sussex Regiment

My grandfather’s service record does not survive, but from other official documents I have been able to piece together a little of his war history. Charles Ballard volunteered on 19th October 1914 and attested at Chichester, which was the depot for the Royal Sussex Regiment . Christmas 1914 found him at the Connaught Barracks (Dover) undergoing final training with 3rd Btn. Royal Sussex Regiment. He disembarked in France on 11th January, 1915 and joined the 2nd Btn. on 18th of January, 1915. He was originally a rifleman, but at some point was trained as a bomber, i.e. a specialist thrower of Mills grenades (bombs). This meant that he would go out on trench raids, unarmed except for his bombs, as part of a nine-man patrol (two each of throwers, bomb-carriers, bayonet-men, reserves and one sergeant or 2/Lt.) to attack enemy trenches in order to capture a prisoner; this was quite dangerous, and was usually done at night.

His entire war was spent on the Western Front with 2nd Royal Sussex Regiment, which formed part of the 2nd Brigade in the 1st Division; he was transferred to Class Z of the Army Reserve (i.e. demobilized) on 10th February, 1919. As an aside, the 2nd Bn. Royal Sussex Regiment had earned the name of the “Iron Regiment” from German prisoners taken on 1st November, 1914, because of its stout defence at the First Battle of Ypres.

The 1st Division was selected to be a part of the Allied forces that occupied part of Germany, under the terms of the Armistice. The ‘March to the Rhine’ started on 17th November, 1918 and 2n Royal Sussex Regiment crossed into Germany on 17th December, 1918. C Coy celebrated its Christmas dinner at Witterschlick (Germany) on 27th December and afterwards enjoyed a regimental concert. I have assumed that my grandfather was there.

From family research, I have discovered that he lost at least two relatives. The first was his cousin, Pte. Frederick G. Adams, L/10699, D Coy, 2nd Btn. Royal Sussex Regiment (see his entry on this website). The family story passed down from my grandfather is that young Fred (d. 13th October, 1915 aged 17 years and 8 months) was shot in the head by a German sniper during his first week in the trenches at Loos.

The second was his brother-in-law, Pte. Henry J. Mitchell, G/16053, 7th Btn. Royal Sussex Regiment . Henry was killed in action on 5th April, 1918 (aged 21 years) and is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial.

Grandfather would not talk about the war, except the following three snippets passed down from my father. 1. He was one of only six in his company of about 200+ men to survive the war neither killed nor wounded. 2. He once killed 28 Germans in a trench attack. 3. He described No. 1 Field Punishment (tied to a wagon wheel) to my father.

My grandfather had previously served with 2nd Royal Sussex Regiment as a regular soldier in 1902-5, and his time in the Reserve (9 years) had just expired in April 1914. I would assume that he knew when to keep his head down with regards to discipline, and would like to think that he was unlikely to have been a recipient of No. 1 FP. Lest we forget!

John M. Ballard




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