James George Gadd, died 30th June 1916, aged 37. Private, SD/4213, 13th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment.

According to his entry in ‘Soldiers Died in the Great War’, James Gadd was born in Goudhurst, probably on 18th February 1879. His parents were James and Cecilia (née Watson). He can only have lived in Goudhurst for a very short time, as records show him baptised seven miles away in Etchingham on 4th May 1879. The 1881 census shows the family living in Battle. By 1911, and consistently quoting his birthplace on the censuses as Goudhurst, James had married Anne Parsons and they had two daughters. At this time he was living in Hailsham and working as a coal porter.

James appears to have always lived in Sussex and, given that he was in the Royal Sussex Regiment, he may possibly have enlisted early on: that would have been his local regiment and, from 1916 onwards, recruits were rarely able to choose which unit they wanted to join. The 11th, 12th and 13th Battalions of the regiment were in fact raised between August and November 1914 by Colonel Claude Lowther MP who owned Herstmonceux Castle. All three were volunteer battalions of ‘Pals’ from the same area, and were known as the Southdown Battalions. They went to France in March of 1916 where, tragically, they were sacrificed in their attack known as the Battle of the Boar’s Head, named after a German strongpoint between Neuve Chapelle and Festubert, on 30th June 1916. This was a diversionary attack designed to distract the Germans from the next day’s launch of the Battle of the Somme. In the space of five hours, these battalions lost 366 men killed and over 1,000 wounded and missing; James Gadd’s battalion was “all but wiped out”, and the slaughter earned the Southdowns the awful nickname “Lowther’s Lambs.”

James Gadd’s name is recorded on panels 69-73 of the Loos Memorial to the Missing, and he is also commemorated on the war memorial in Hailsham.


Frederick Herbert Haffenden. Died 29th October 1918, aged 29. Driver, 141020, 137th Army Troops Company, Royal Engineers.

Frederick Haffenden, the younger son of Demas and Harriett (née Maynard), was born in Goudhurst on 4th September 1889, and baptised in Staplehurst on 9th November. His father had been working as a farm labourer at Curtisden Green in the early 1870s when Frederick’s older brother was born. However, by the time of the 1891 census the family had left the parish, eventually settling near West Malling at Birling. Frederick enlisted in the Royal Engineers at Maidstone on 1st November 1915 and was sent to the Salonika front with his unit in May 1916. In October 1918 he died of bronchial pneumonia and malaria, and he is buried in Greece in the Mikra British Cemetery, Kalamaria, a suburb of Thessaloniki. His grave reference is 702.