There are two Commonwealth War Graves in Chiddingly Churchyard,
and they are in what is termed the Chiddingly Churchyard Extension, which is the main graveyard to the south of Church.
There is this one, and the other one is for Gunner Harry William Smith
Private K Latter, 8087, of the 5th Dragoon Guards, (Princess Charlotte of Wales's). Died June 6th., 1919
Almost all the information here has been provided by the York Army Museum.
The York Army Museum says that the Dragoons take their name from the muskets
they used in the seventeenth century,
which blew out puffs of smoke like dragons when they were fired. It is the York Army Museum which holds records
of the 5th Dragoon Guards.
Private Latter's grave has a formal CWG headstone; it is to the left of the
main path down the churchyard,
about one third of the way down, and curiously the headstone has been put in position facing away from the path.
Below the headstone is a small tablet, on which is written:
Irene May Johnson
died July 17th 1965
Aged 69 years.
Private Kenneth Latter,
B Squadron, 5th (Princess Charlotte of Wales’) Dragoon Guards
What follows here is a
summary of his service as traced through the archives of 5th Dragoon
Guards housed at York Army Museum.
According to the 1901
English census, Kenneth Latter was born circa 1898 at Ninfield, Sussex.
However, a Kenneth James Latter was also born in January 1898 at Hailsham. It
seems likely that these were the same person. In 1901, Kenneth,
aged 3, lived at 136 Grove Hill in the civil parish of Hellingly, rural district
of Hailsham, with his parents – William & Hellen –, his three sisters
– Hellen, Florence & Irene – and his two brothers – William &
Victor. In 1911, the family had moved to Lime Kilns, Chalvington,
Hellingly. Kenneth was then 13 years old and still at school.
August 1914, right after the outbreak of the war, Kenneth Latter embarked
for France with the 5th Dragoon Guards, B Squadron, as a Private,
service number 8087. At that time, he was only 16 or 17 years old. In theory, a
recruit to the Army had to be aged between 18 and 38 and couldn’t be sent
overseas until he was aged 19. However, at the outbreak of the war, 250.000 boys
and young men under the age of 19 volunteered and were sent overseas. It is very
likely that Kenneth was one of them.
It seems that Pte Latter
served with the 5th Dragoon Guards from August 1914 until 21st
March 1919 when being sick, he embarked for England. As most of Kenneth
Latter’s individual records, with the exception of his medal records, were
amongst those destroyed by fire in the London Blitz in 1940, we can only assume
he served with the same squadron of the same regiment throughout the war.
A Kenneth James Latter was
mentioned in a civil registration death index. His place of death was South
Stoneham. After some research, it appears that South Stoneham was a rural
district during the First World War. Now disappeared, it covered much of
modern-day north Southampton suburbs and the Borough of Eastleigh. This means
that the Royal Victoria Military Hospital - located at Netley - was part of this
rural district in 1919.
Royal Victoria Military Hospital was, at some point, England’s biggest
building. It was created after the Crimean War of 1853-1856 and was demolished
in 1966. Via this link, you’ll find more information about this place, even
though only a few records remained to document Netley’s story: https://www.netley-military-cemetery.co.uk/
Private Latter's death
certificate records that he died aged 24 on June 6th 1919 of pulmonary
tuberculosis. This suggests he was born in 1895, which is not what records
above show - perhaps he gave a false age so that his initial posting overseas
would be lawful. He was subsequently buried in Chiddingly, where he lived before the war and where
his family might still have lived in 1919.
For his service in the
First World War, Private Latter was awarded three campaign medals. The first of
these was the 1914 Star, given to men who served in France and/or Belgium with
the British Army between 5th August 1914 and 23rd November
1914. The second was the British War Medal, given to those who served the
British Army in an active overseas theatre of war between 1914 and 1919 with the
British Army. The third medal Private Latter was awarded was the Allied Victory
Medal, this was given in slightly differing formats to members of all 42
victorious allied nations’ armed forces.
When a soldier died in the Great War, they were supposed to be paid a war
gratuity calculated on length of service. As Pte Latter has a CWGC tombstone,
itI was an expectation to find this document but it could not be found.. So
maybe he wasn't any longer serving in the Army when he died but because he got
sick as a soldier, he did get a CWGC tombstone.