Pte William Albert Bussey
7th Bn East Surrey Regt

Town Memorial P1.R2.C3

Taken, Not Given

7th East Surrey Regt
Oct 4 1915

Taken, Not Given, Liam Sumption, L&DLHS

The records of the Queens¹ confirm that William Albert Bussey was serving in the 7th Bn. He was born in Leatherhead and enlisted at Kingston-upon-Thames. The Parish Magazine² lists him under 'New Army' in the May 1915 issue and also attributes him to the 7th Bn, East Surreys.

On 4th February 1918 the Battalion was disbanded for terrible reason that there were now more battalions than men to fill their ranks. Brigades were reduced by one to three battalions. In a valedictory order, Major General Scott, GOC 12th Division, referred to the fine qualities of the battalion 'from fighting in the quarries in October 1915 until ...'

As seen in the [entry on Pte Leonard Skilton] the 2nd Queens had been involved in the same carnage. Whether William Bussey lived that long is a question we cannot answer.

However, one benefit of the Battalion's disbandment was that they compiled a list of all casualties, dead and wounded, sustained since arrival in France, and attached this document to the War Diary. It was one of the the few cases in which ORs are listed³ and shows:

No. 1318 PTE BUSSEY KIA 4.10.15

Let us turn to the diary entry for that day. It stated inter alia :-

"We were submitted to a great deal of shelling during the day owing to there were several batteries in our line"

The Diary reports that 2 men were killed and 6 wounded. Later in the day it records a direct shell hit on a dugout which buried four men but from which an officer escaped miraculously unscathed. The fate of the four men can only be inferred.

The privations of the men on the Western Front had no bounds because the Diary mentions the difficulties of obtaining water, which had to be drawn from water carts at night.

Such was the last day of William Bussey.

Notes on sources

1. Records of the Regimental Museum of the Queens, Clandon Park, Surrey
2. Parish Magazine of St Mary & St Nicholas, Leatherhead: issue of May 1915, courtesy of Mr L Anstee of the parish.
3. File WO95-1862: War Diary of 7th Bn the East Surreys: Public Record Office, Kew, Richmond

Rank: Private

Regiment: East Surrey Regiment, 7th Bn.
Age: 21
Date of Death: 04/10/1915
Service No: 1318
Son of William and Ellen Bussey, of 20, Lower Fairfield Rd., Leatherhead, Surrey.
LOOS MEMORIAL Panel 65 to 67.

Further research

Surrey Advertiser
Saturday 16 October 1915
Bussey, Pte. W., 7th Batt. (Leatherhead)

Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser
Saturday 16 October 1915

Another Leatherhead lad killed in the recent fighting in France is Pte William Albert Bussey, elder son Mr. and Mrs. Bussey, of Providence-place, Leatherhead.

Pte Bussey was 21 years of age, and previous to the war had been in the employment of the late Mr. L. Salomons, of Norbury Park. With a number of other employees he joined the 7th East Surrey Regiment on September 3rd, 1914, and underwent training at Purfleet, Sandgate and Aldershot, proceeding to France in June last. He met his death the explosion of a shell on October 6th, death being practically instantaneous.

Previous to joining the Army, Pte William Bussey was a valued member of the Leatherhead Town Silver Band, and had also identified himself with the Voluntary Aid Detachment at Leatherhead.

Pte Benjamin Bussey, a brother of the deceased, is driver in the ammunition column attached to the same division. Lieut. G. N. Knight, of the 7th East Surrey Regiment, wrote to Mr. Bussey as follows;

I am afraid I have very sad news for you. Your son, Pte Bussey, was killed in action yesterday. He was hit by a shell. Death was instantaneous, so there could have been no pain. As his platoon officer, I want to offer you my sincere sympathy in your very great loss - which is mine, too. Your son was always in No. 13 Platoon with me, at Purfleet, Sandgate, Aldershot, and out here. He was one of the original members of it. Latterly he has been one of the company stretcher bearers, and so has been less with the platoon.

Please let me say how much I valued your son. He was always cheery and plucky, and a fine soldier. We were all greatly fond of him, and shall miss him exceedingly. The only consolation is that he gave his life gladly for his country. England has need of men like him.”

Corpl. A. T. Bullen, of Leatherhead, who is in the same company as deceased, wrote to Mr. and Mrs. Bussey follows: “ It is with the deepest regret that I am writing to tell you of the death of your poor son Will, who was killed, along with a sergeant, by a shell bursting in the dugout where they were sheltering. It is a great loss to all the boys of ‘D' Company, for he was well liked and respected both by officers and men, being always willing and obliging, and ready to his duty.

Personally I feel his loss very much indeed, but he died doing his duty bravely and nobly for his King and country. One thing we must be thankful for - he never suffered any pain, death being instantaneous. We buried him close benind the lines where he lost his life as a Christian should be buried. We read a few prayers over him as the guns were firing - a fitting end for soldier who gave his life for his country. All the Leatherhead boys send their deepest sympathy and hope you will all bear this terrible bereavement bravely, trusting in Him above for strength and guidance. It is awful out here, and hope and trust that it will soon be over. - P.S. saw Ben a week ago, and was then quite well.”

William's brother Benjamin survived the war.

Surrey Mirror
Friday 31 December 1915
Pte. William A. Bussey 7th East Surrey Regiment (killed action in France). Eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Bussey, Providence Place, Leatherhead.

Leatherhead Parish Magazine, January 1916
Oct. 5 1915 William Albert Bussey, 7th East Surrey, killed in action in Flanders

Leatherhead Parish Magazine, December 1916
The Report of the Band for the year ending Sept. 30th, 1916, shews that it had a very busy and successful year, having turned out on 50 occasions, in which are included weekly Promenade Concerts during the summer months, and Marches and Church Parades of the Volunteer Training Corps. Ten of the members of the Band have joined the colours, of whom two, Cpl. G. H. Port and Pte. W. Bussey, have given their lives for King and Country. The Band Committee would be glad to hear of any lads who would join the Recruit Class: and would also welcome any experienced players who would help to fill up the vacancies.

Leatherhead Town Memorial
Leatherhead Church Lads Brigade, All Saints Church, Leatherhead
Ladies War Shrine, Leatherhead Parish Church
Leatherhead RBL Roll of Honour, Leatherhead Parish Church
Loos Memorial, France

His life

William Albert Bussey was born in Leatherhead on 1st April 1894, which might have caused mixed feelings about April Fool's Day. He was baptised in Leatherhead Parish Church on May 27 1894.

His father was  William Bussey, born in 1864 at Gressenhall, near Dereham, Norfolk
His mother was Ellen Elizabeth Bussey née Reddick, born in 1866 in Great Bookham, Surrey.
Both are buried in the churchyard of St Mary & St Nicholas, the Parish Church of Leatherhead, Surrey:
BUSSEY ELEANOR ELIZABETH b1867 d1937 70 26/04/1937
BUSSEY WILLIAM b1865 d1941 76 16/01/1941

Their marriage was registered at Epsom in December 1893. In the 1901 Census the family were at Providence Place, Fairfield Leatherhead.

They were still there in the 1911 Census, in which William, aged 17, was described as a Garden Boy at the Royal School for the Blind.
The other members of the household were:
Father: William 45; Labourer, Building Trade
Mother: Ellen Elizabeth 44
Brother: Benjamin 15, Shepherd Boy (his grandfather Edmund Bussey was listed as a Shepherd in the 1871 Census)
Sister: Alice Maud 13, scholar


Queens Regimental Museum

The East Surreys 1914-18

the website editor would like to add further information on this casualty
eg any recollections within his family

page last updated 1 Nov 2005 CWGC links updated 7 Nov 17: content 2 Aug 20