Shot At Dawn:

While searching for the location of the War Memorial in the town of  Littlehampton, I found a web site that listed the names of those men from the town that had been killed in the 1st World War. Imagine my surprise when I found that a Private John Edward Barnes is listed on the memorial.

Battles & Engagements  7th Battalion Royal Sussex

Battle of Loos. 25 Sep-8 Oct 1915.
Actions of the Hohenzollern Redoubt. 13-19 Oct 1915.
 Battle of Albert. 1-13 Jul 1916, including the capture of Montauban, Mametz, Fricourt, Contalmaison and La Boisselle.
Battle of Pozières. 23 Jul 1916, including the fighting for Mouquet Farm.
Battle of Le Transloy. 1-18 Oct 1916, including the capture of Eaucourt l’Abbaye, Le Sars and the attacks on Butte de Warlencourt.

First Battle of the Scarpe. 9-14 Apr 1917, including the capture Monchy le Preux and the Wancourt Ridge.
Battle of Arleux. 28-29 Apr 1917.
Third Battle of the Scarpe. 3-4 May 1917, including the capture of Fresnoy.
Capture of Roeux. 13-14 May 1917.
Cambrai: The tank attack. 20-21 Nov 1917.
Capture of Bourlon Wood. 23-28 Nov 1917.
Cambrai: German counter attacks. 30 Nov-3 Dec 1917.
First Battle of Bapaume. 24-25 Mar 1918.
First Battle of Arras. 28 Mar 1918.
Battle of the Ancre. 5 Apr 1918.
Battle of Amiens. 8-11 Aug 1918.
Battle of Albert. 21-23 Aug 1918, including the capture of Chuignes.
Battle of Epehy. 18 Sep 1918.
Battle of the St. Quentin Canal. 29 Sep-2 Oct 1918, including the passage at Bellenglise and the capture of the Bellicourt tunnel defences.
The final advance to Artois. 2 Oct-11 Nov 1918, including the capture of Douai

Littlehampton War Memorial::

The Littlehampton War Memorial stands on the edge of the green to the south of the town centre and contains 236 names (the original document for the unveiling contained only the names of 217 men) listed by rank, surname and initials. Many additions on separate panels are around the base. The memorial unveiling and dedication took place on Wednesday 28th September 1921 at 3 p.m. . The memorial was unveiled by General Lord Horne of Stirkoke, GCB, KCMG, ADC.

The memorial contains only the names of the fallen, but the following is the story of John Edward Barnes.

"Private G/4495, 7th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment, 12th Division. Shot by firing squad on the charge of desertion in the face of the enemy 4th July 1917. Aged 24. Resident 55 Arundel Road. Littlehampton. Son of Edward and Sarah Barnes of 49 Arundel Road, Littlehampton.  Buried in Faubourg D’Amiens Cemetery, Arras F. 1182"


Roll over the image to see a close-up of the entry for Private John Edward Barnes

John was not the only soldier to be executed that day; Private R G Pattison of the 7th Queen's Regiment was also executed on the 4th July 1917 for desertion. Private R G Pattison is buried in plot 4 J 16 and Private John Edward Barnes in plot 4 J 17 of the Faubourg D'Amiens Cemetery his grave bears the inscription 'He gives his beloved sleep'. Read his Court Martial papers here (PDF file will open in a new window).

Court Martial papers kindly supplied by Philip and Rosemary Clarke.

John Edward Barnes:
Private, 7th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment

The 7th Battalion was the first Service Battalion of Lord Kitchener's New Army (K1) to be formed in the Royal Sussex Regiment, and indeed one of the very first in the whole of Kitchener's Army. It began recruiting at Chichester on 12th August 1914 when,"... the scene for the following fortnight almost baffles description. A depot filled beyond capacity with recruits and more arriving every few hours... all joyfully expecting to be immediately issued with rifle and bayonet and sent to France." All the original recruits were given a 'G' prefix to their regimental number, which began at 1, through to around 1200. From Chichester the battalion moved to Sobroan Barracks at Colchester, where it became part of 36th Brigade, 12th (Eastern) Division. In October 1914 it moved again, to Shorncliffe, and in the December to billets in Folkestone. In March 1915 the battalion moved to Ramillies Barracks, Aldershot.

The 7th Battalion landed at Boulogne on 31st May/1st June 1915. Private John Edward Barnes arrived in France on the 29th September 1915 the same day the 12th Division took part in the Battle of Loos. The 12th Division also fought in the Action of the Hohenzollern Redoubt and in the Battle of the Somme. The 12th Division spent all its time on the Western Front.
On 11th November 1918 it was still part of 36th Brigade, 12th (Eastern) Division, and was stationed at Landas, east of Orchies, in France. It was disbanded in April 1919. Four Victoria Crosses were won by men of the Royal Sussex Regiment. The Royal Sussex Regiment also saw active service in World War Two.
The Medal Index Card of Private John Edward Barnes shows that he was eligible for the 1915 Star, the British Medal and the War Medal.
Under the circumstances, his medals would not have been claimed at the time and may remain unclaimed to this day. 

John Edward's birth certificate. Born 1892
Chichester, West Sussex.

Conditional Pardon::

The Day Sussex Died::

Following the release of Field General Court Martial files which showed that 17 year old boy soldiers were amongst the British and Empire servicemen to have faced British firing squads during World War One, John Hipkin started the "Shot At Dawn" campaign in December 1990, to see justice done on behalf of the 306 British and Empire servicemen that were executed mainly on the Western Front. After much campaigning and lobbying of Government over the years, during which time governments of both sides expressed sympathy but took the decision to maintain the status quo, it was finally on the 8th November 2006 that all 306 men were granted a blanket conditional pardon. In all 2,700 British and Empire servicemen were sentenced to death but only a small percentage (11%) were actually executed. Other countries executed their soldiers in varying numbers, including Germany - the exceptions being America and Australia which did not execute any. The pals battalions of the Royal Sussex - the 11th, 12th and 13th battalions (the South Down battalions, or "Lowther's Lambs") - suffered terrible casualties on the 30th June 1916, 24 hours before the much better known "First Day on the Somme". This was in a diversionary attack, a large scale raid launched by 39th Division at a position called the Boar's Head, near Richbourg l'Avoue. Just under 1,100 casualties (dead, wounded and prisoners) were incurred in a fruitless attack that had no effect on the enemy's abilities to withstand the next day's assault on the Somme. The vast majority of the losses were to men from the county of Sussex.
I have the birth certificate for John Edward Barnes and that of his parents marriage, Edward and Sarah Jane Barnes. I have found no entry for marriage for John Edward, so it is likely that he was single when he died and has no direct descendants. John Edward had a sister; Sarah, known in the family as Aunt Sally.