SANSOM Alfred John

Category: Military
Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
Regiment or Ship: 7th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment
Occupation: Teacher also Borough Councillor
Date of Birth: 1866
Place of Birth: Brixton, London
Date of Death: 05 May 1917
Place of Death: Shrapnel Trench near Battalion headquarters Place of Burial / Memorials:

Faubourg d’Amiens Cemetery, Arras, Pas de Calais 18:30 hours, 08  July 1917

Address: Devonshire House School, Hastings Road, Bexhill

Photos and newspaper articles

Family Information

Wife: Ivy Sansom [nee Godwin] b.1874 born Hastings

Married 1908 at St Peter’s Church

No children

Her address at the time of contact with the Imperial War Graves Commission was 5 Brassey Road Bexhill

First World War Experience

Headmaster Devonshire House Preparatory School. Volunteered on the outbreak of war and gazetted Second Lieutenant. Served with the 5th Battalion at Dover and The Tower of London. Went to France as the Adjutant to the 1/5 Battalion in June 1915. From April 1916 he was given command of the 7th Battalion and was on the Staff of 8 Corps.

A brother officer wrote:

I for one deplore his death with a deep sense of personal loss. What a splendid example he set! At an age when few think of fighting he re-joined his old regiment as a subaltern, when war broke out; became Major in our second line unit; threw aside his majority to come to the trenches, and by sheer ability worked his way through the arduous grind of an adjutancy and a variety of staff duties all well performed, till he was selected to command the 7th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment. Few Territorial officers have been promoted to command Regular Battalions, fewer still to take over a unit in the front line trenches in the most critical section of the British line. His death cut short a brilliant military record. We who served under him, loved him and will miss him sorely

Sansom and Captain Nagle emerged from a dug-out at Shrapnel Trench near Battalion headquarters to observe a “Chinese” bombardment [a significant variety of guns and mortars]. A shell burst between them and they were both killed

After the war his widow published a book: Letters fromFrance. Written between June 1915-July 1917

“I am so proud of the battalion and I cannot imagine any more enviable position than to be in command of a battalion that has done its job well…I cannot kow-tow to higher authority, or keep from expressing opinions on those who give orders which I consider cost, unnecessarily, the lives of men. But although I know my criticisms make me unpopular with higher authority, I again don’t care a d—- if they have the least influence in making people thoughtful for others, and I believe I have succeeded in one or two instances. What is the value of a D.S.O. given to a gentleman sitting in an office in safety, compared to the thought that one may have saved the lives of men under one’s command?”

Letter of recall to UK received at Corps HQ on the day of his death.

Probate 31 August 1917 to Ivy Sansom, widow. Effects £10,187 11s 5d

Along with Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Fox, Royal Army Medical Corps, of Dorset Road, he appears to be the highest ranking Bexhillian to be killed in action.

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