Shoeing Smith, 11366, 9th Lancers
Killed in Action, 21 August 1918, at Ablainzeville, Bapaume, France, aged 21
Buried in Douchy Les Ayette British Cemetery, Plot 11, Row F, Grave 1

Shoeing smiths in the First World War

Victor Frederick Farley was born in July 1897 at Shipley near Horsham in west Sussex. His parents were Peter (1871-1941) and Edith (née Divall) Farley (1862-1945), who married at Uckfield, east Sussex, in 1893.

In the 1901 census Victor, aged 3, was to be found at Elm Hall Stables near Hawkhurst, Kent. His father Peter was a 30 year old coachman/domestic born in Ashurstwood and his mother Edith, aged 36, had been born in East Grinstead. Victor had a six year old sister, Gertrude. Elm Hill stables were next door to Elm Hill house occupied by Charles Jenning, a solicitor and member of the Inner Temple.

On 2 April 1911 the census recorded Victor as a schoolboy/patient with a matron and five other patients at a convalescent home at 23, Beach Road, Southsea, Hampshire.

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Victor enlisted in the army as a shoeing smith at Brighton. About one million horses were sent to war and only about 62,000 came back. Most horses were domesticated and therefore needed frequent shoeing with horse shoes to prevent injury. The horses suffered wounds and death alongside the men who rode them and looked after them.

Victor initially joined the Queen's Royal West Sussex Regiment, then joined the Household Cavalry (1st Division) and later the 9th Lancers, the Queen's Regiment.

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After the near collapse of the Allied armies after the German Spring Offensive in 1918 the Allied armies quickly regrouped, restored their equipment and were bolstered by America troops. General Foch, commander in chief, decided to launch a general offensive, not focused on a single point, but a series of attacks to wear down the enemy. The Lancers, part of the Third Army, were part of an ambitious plan for combined British, Commonwealth, French and American troops to carry out a co-ordinated assault on various fronts in the region, partially aimed at freeing up railway communications. French and American troops were to attack the eastern end of the front while the British attacked the Picardy/Artois region. The British Army, with Australian and Canadian support, first attacked at Albert on 21 August. To maintain the element of surprise preparations for the attacks were kept highly secret. Only on the morning of the 21st were the men told of the battle plan. It was on this day that Victor Farley died.

Douchy Cemetery lies south of Arras on the road to Amiens, in the Pas de Calais. The village was under German occupation from October 1914 to 21 March 1917. The British Cemetery began in August 1918 and was enlarged after the Armistice by centralising the graves from several nearby battlefields. It now contains over 738 World War 1 casualties, 493 being identified.

The inscription on Victor's grave reads:

"Beloved son of Peter and Edith Farley, Forest Row."

Victor would have been awarded the British War Medal, automatically awarded in the event of death in active service. He would also have been entitled to the Victory Medal (the Inter Allied Medal) given to all those who received the 1914-1915 Star. These three medals were commonly referred to as Pip, Squeak and Wilfred.

The Book of Remembrance in Holy Trinity Church in Forest Row was signed by his mother Edith, of Redfern Cottage, Forest Row.

Kevin Tillett