Dorking, St Martin

Six men are listed on the original roll as being ringers at Dorking, St Martin (all survived). However, three in particular have proved very difficult to identify. Originally only one could be identified certainly from census and other records, and although Ringing World articles have helped with some of the others, even with that assistance some still cannot be definitively identified in census or military records. However, one whose name was mis-spelled on the original roll proved to be very interesting indeed, being perhaps the most gallant ringer of all. Listed on the original roll as J Russel he has proved to be John William Russell MC DCM MM (also Mentioned in Despatches). It seems rather hair-splitting to differentiate degrees of gallantry – it is known that one ringer received the Victoria Cross, another was appointed DSO, CMG and five-times Mentioned in Despatches (but most of these seem to have been for staff work, rather than gallantry in the field), but Russell’s appears to be the most sustained record, one award for each year he spent on the Western Front. I have already written about him quite extensively, firstly in an article which appeared on pages 7-9 of the November 2011 edition of the News of the South (the newsletter of the Southern District of the Surrey Association) and pages 1102-1104 and 1106-1107 of Issue 5295 of the Ringing World (19 October 2012). The six ringers were:

  • Private A Baker — Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment. [one of the unidentified, there are three or four census candidates, too many medal index cards, and no clear candidates in surviving service records or the recruitment registers]
  • Sergeant Albert Carr — Royal Flying Corps/Royal Air Force. [His service is corroborated by the Ringing World, but his record is yet to be traced. It seems he may be in a small group of men who were with the Territorial Force component of the RFC who were renumbered in the 400000 range, only the records of men with RAF numbers up to 330000 have so far been transferred to The National Archives]
  • Private William James Hills — Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment). Prisoner. [Initial given only as W on the original roll. Wrongly recorded as Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment) on the original roll]
  • Private Ernest James Pressling (or Ernest James Presling) — Middlesex Regiment. [The spelling of the surname varies in different sources. The PW prefix to his service number indicates that he probably served with 18th or 19th Battalions (1st and 2nd Public Works)
  • Lieutenant John William Russell MC DCM MM — 24th Divisional Signal Company, Royal Engineers Signal Service, attached 72 Infantry Brigade; Southern Command Signal Company, Portsmouth [surname given as Russel on original roll. Also Mentioned in Despatches, see above. Originally from Ewhurst, and also rang at Farnham and Frensham.]
  • Serjeant ?John Titch, (or ?John Sitch?) — Royal Field Artillery [listed on the original roll as Sitch, Ringing World reports suggest he was actually John Titch, but there are no census candidates under either surname, nor obvious medal index cards or other military records

As now Dorking maintained dual affiliation, to the Surrey Association and then to the Winchester Diocesan Guild (now the Guildford Diocesan Guild), so many of these men are listed as Winchester Diocesan Guild men in Ringing World reports. Information about the tower can be found on both the Surrey Association website and the Guildford Diocesan Guild website.

3 thoughts on “Dorking, St Martin

  1. Pingback: Dorking, St Martin: the most gallant ringer of them all? | halfmuffled

  2. Pingback: Guest post for the Innovating in Combat project | halfmuffled

  3. Pingback: Red Cross POW records and a mystery solved | halfmuffled

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