Private, G/1306, 2nd Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment
Killed in Action near Béthune, Pas-de-Calais, France, 9 May 1915, aged 20
No known grave. He is listed on the Le Touret Memorial: Panel 20 and 21

Thomas Edward Honeysett

Tom Honeysett was born in Wittersham, Kent, and his birth was registered at Tenterden in 1895. He was the son of Sophronia and Charles Honeysett, who originally lived in Horsmonden, Kent. He was listed as living in Horsmonden, aged five, in the 1901 Census. He had eight siblings. In the 1911 census the family is recorded as living at Yew Tree Cottage, Butcherfield Lane, Hartfield, with Tom's father Charles listed as a carter on a farm, while Tom was recorded as an agricultural labourer, aged 17.

Le Touret Cemetery and Memorial

Le Touret Memorial and Cemetery
(Click to enlarge)

Tom Honeysett enlisted at Tunbridge Wells in September 1914 and served as a private with the Royal Sussex Regiment on the Western Front. A private in the 2nd Battalion, he was killed in action during the Battle of Aubers Ridge [1] on 9 May 2015. His battalion took part in the attack at Richebourg L'Avoué, which lies beyond Le Touret seven miles north-east of Béthune in north-east France. The bombardment commenced at 5 am. It is not known which company or platoon Thomas Edward was assigned to but 'A', 'B', 'C' and 'D' Companies all went "over the top" that morning. The assault commenced at 5.30am but the men were then subjected to heavy machine gun fire and high explosive shells. The battalion was unable to make any progress and was halted by the unbroken German wire. The order to withdraw was given at 6.30 am, but many dead and wounded still lay out in the open. The battalion lost 14 officers and 548 other ranks killed, wounded and missing.

Tom Honeysett was aged 20 when he died. He has no known grave and is listed on the Le Touret Memorial, Panel 20 and 21. He is also commemorated on Hartfield War Memorial and on the memorial in Holy Trinity church, Coleman's Hatch.

(It is incidentally striking that no less than four men who are commemorated on Hartfield War Memorial, three of whom were members of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment, all died on the same day taking part in the Battle of Aubers Ridge. They are Pte. Frederick Sylvester Edwards, Pte. Thomas Edward Honeysett, Lt. William Woodfall Melville and Pte. Doctor Wheatley.)

Tom Honeysett had five brothers who also served in the First World War. Unlike Tom, they all appear to have survived. The press article about them shown below, published 11 May 1917, is headlined 'Patriotic Hartfield Family'. The following paragraphs provide some more information about them.

Newspaper cutting about the Honeysett family
(Click to enlarge)
Source: Kent & Sussex Courier, 11 May 1917

Eldest brother, Charles, was born in Beckley in the district of Northiam in east Sussex. He was aged 20 in 1911 and was listed as a farm labourer living at Hope Mill Cottages, Goudhurst, Kent. In 1914 he was working as a labourer in Tonbridge and was listed by his boss as "very good" at Edward Punnett & Sons. He enlisted on 13 October 1914 and served with the Royal Engineers, Kent Fortress Company, as a sapper. Charles was invalided to England in December 1915. He qualified as a fitter with the Royal Engineers in 1917. He was discharged on demobilisation in July 1919. He was awarded the 1914-15 Star and the British War Victory medal in 1922.

Fred Honeysett, aged 19 years and 3 months, a farm worker, enlisted on 10 January 1916 with the Royal Sussex Regiment at Chichester. He was listed as living at Yew Tree Cottage, Butcherfield Lane, Hartfield. He later transferred to 13th London Regiment and transferred to the Royal Engineers in May 1917. It is assumed that he survived the war.

Of Tom's other brothers, William was registered as a cowman in Bakers Cottages, West Road, Goudhurst, Kent in the 1911 census, aged 19. William John Honeysett was 20 in 1911 and was registered as a labourer in Eastbourne, Sussex. Alfred married Mary Hills in East Grinstead in 1925. Ernest married Sarah Willey in 1927 in East Grinstead. Both Alfred and Ernest were listed by the census as scholars in Pembury, Kent, in 1911.

Tom's mother, Sophronia, died in 1927 at the age of 59, and her death was registered in East Grinstead.

Carol O'Driscoll

1)  For more information about the Battle of Aubers Ridge and the involvement of the Royal Sussex Regiment see
The Long Long Trail: The Battle of Aubers and 2nd Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment War Diary covering the Battle of Aubers Ridge (9th May 1915). [^]