Private, 1565, and G/16284, 4th Royal Sussex Regiment;
attached 4th Tank Corps as Private 75390
Died of Wounds on 26 March 1918 at Étaples, France, aged 24
Buried at Étaples Military Cemetery
Grave Reference: Plot XXX.J.24A

Étaples Military Cemetery
(Click to enlarge)

Albert Ernest Standen Tomsett was born in 1893 at Forest Row. His parents were Albert and Bertha Tomsett née Weller, who had married in 1891. Albert's namesake, Albert senior's brother Ernest Standen Tomsett, had joined the Rifle Brigade in 1887, which may have influenced his nephew's decision to join up (both Standen names commemorate Albert senior's father, who is recorded as Standing Tomsett). By contrast, Albert senior was a house painter. The census returns show the family, including a younger sister Dora, living in Hartfield Road, Forest Row in 1901 and at Clyde Cottage, Highgate, in 1911, when Albert junior was recorded as an apprentice at the cycle works. His father also gave Clyde Cottage as his address when he signed the Memorial Book.

Both the names Tomsett and Standen would suggest long-standing roots in the area: Forest Row has a road named Tompsets Bank, named for one Widow Tompset who was granted land there at the time of the 17th century enclosures, while Standen was a farm in East Grinstead, developed by the Beale family in the late 19th century into an Arts and Crafts house and garden.

Albert is one of five men commemorated on the Forest Row Memorial who were members of the 4th Royal Sussex Regiment. This was formed in 1908, and became part of the Territorial Force, with C company being recruited from East Grinstead and Crawley. In 1914 the companies were rationalised, with C joining with E which recruited from Horsham, and the 4th became the 1/4th Battalion which served in Gallipoli between August and December 1915. The battalion then moved to Egypt before taking part in operations in Palestine in 1917 - notably the three Battles of Gaza and the Capture of Jerusalem. 1918 found the battalion on the Western Front in France where it fought in the Battles of the Marne and at Ypres, but by this time Albert was already dead.

Gravestone of Albert Tomsett in Étaples Military Cemetery
(Click to enlarge)

Albert's name is also recorded on the Ring of Memory — L'Anneau de la Memoire — a memorial at Ablain St Nazaire. This was inaugurated at the national cemetery of Notre Dame de Lorette on 11 November 2014 and records the names of around half a million men of 40 nationalities who died in Pas de Calais. This memorial records names purely alphabetically, taking no account of rank or nationality.

Pam Griffiths