Private, Royal Sussex Regiment
Born: May 19th 1888
Died: June 30th 1916
Age at Death: 28
Killed in action, France, June 30th 1916
Grave Reference: St Vaast Post Military Cemetery, Richebourg
Hubert is also remembered on his parents grave in the churchyard of St Cosmas and St Damian, Keymer. The inscription on the kerb stone reads:
A donation to the memorial statue has been made in honour of this soldier by Tim loadsman (Bcjs/le. 1951-57).
In proud and ever loving memory of Hubert Eustace King Garbett 13th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment. Youngest and twin son of Francis and Minnie Garbett killed in action near Richebourg France June 30th 1916 aged 28 years
The eternal God is thy refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.
From the College Registers: Son of Captain Francis Garbett of Fairholme, Hassocks. Brother to twin Christopher William Robert Garbett (Ha. 1903-1906).
Profession: Fruit growing (under glass).
The Mid Sussex Times of 25th July 1916 reported his death:
Deep sympathy is being extended to Captain Francis Garbett, Churchwarden at Keymer, in the loss of his youngest son, Private Hubert Eustace King Garbett, Royal Sussex Regiment, who was killed in action on June 30th. The news unofficially reached Hassocks a few days ago, but it was not until Friday last that it was confirmed by the receipt of the official notification. The deceased belonged to a family which has been well known in the locality for about 80 years, one of his grandfathers being the late Ven James Garbett, Archdeacon of Chichester, Rector of Clayton and Keymer, and Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford. On his mother’s side he was grandson of the late Rev Edmund Clay, a prominent Brighton clergyman two or three generations ago. Private Garbett who joined the Army some time after the outbreak of war was 28 years of age. He had for some time been a sidesman at Keymer Church. After Evensong an ‘in memoriam’ quarter peal of Grandsire Doubles was rung.
From Keymer & Clayton War Memorials:
Hubert was born in Keymer in 1888 to Francis and Mary Garbett. He was a twin to brother Christopher and also had an older brother Francis and sister Muriel. Hubert’s grandfather was James Garbett a much respected classics scholar at Oxford. The College living at the church of St John’s of Clayton-cum-Keymer, Sussex, was conferred on him in 1835, and he held it till his death in 1879. He was also the Archdeacon of Chichester. In the 1890 census Hubert’s father was recorded as a ‘Retired Officer Mercantile Marine P and O Company Service.’ The family lived at a house called Glenham in Lodge Lane and they had a live-in cook, house/parlour maid and a nurse.
By the 1901 census the family had moved to Mount Zillah, next to Clayton Park Hotel. All four children lived at home and they were looked after by three live-in staff. The 1911 census showed that Hubert’s father was a widower and the family had moved to a large house in Stanford Avenue, Hassocks. Hubert was working as a nurseryman gardener.
Hubert enlisted at Worthing into the Royal Sussex Regiment, 3rd Battalion, later renamed 13th Battalion, the same one as Thomas Brooker who is also on the war memorial. Despite the early success in recruiting men for the original South Downs Battalions, the 13th was not up to strength until mid-1915. Extensive training was carried out in the UK and the men moved to various camps in the south of England but on 4th March 1916 they finally moved to Southampton and then on to Le Havre with 11th and 12th Battalions. As totally inexperienced men they were initially attached to Battalions experienced in front line trench fighting and like all other Battalions alternated front line work with working parties, trench digging and rest periods.
Major logistical preparations for the Anglo-French Somme Offensive had been ongoing for much of the first half of 1916. In order to disguise the exact location of the offensive and prevent the German forces from sending reinforcements to the Somme, the British High Command decided that a number of diversionary operations should be staged elsewhere along the front just before and during the main battle. One such attack took place early in the morning of 30th June and focused on the German lines opposite Richebourg L’Avoué, including the Boar’s Head salient. The salient had been formed during the Battle of Aubers Ridge in 1915 and gave the Germans a vantage point from which they could bombard the British forward positions with trench mortars, grenades and rifles and fire on patrols and wiring parties working in No Man’s Land. The British units selected for the attack were the 11th, 12th, and 13th Battalions of the Royal Sussex Regiment. Few of the Officers and men had any experience of combat on the Western Front and they faced a well organised and determined enemy.
The date of the attack had to be delayed due to the brief postponement of the main Somme offensive further south, but the Sussex men finally left their positions at zero hour just after 3.05 am on 30th June and advanced through the smoke and half-light towards the German positions. The men of the 12th and 13th Battalions led the attack and immediately came under heavy rifle and machine gun fire.
The 13th Battalion War Diary states:
Just at this moment a smoke cloud, which was originally designed to mask our advance, drifted right across the front and made it impossible to see more than a few yards ahead. This resulted in all direction being lost and the attack devolving into small bodies of men not knowing which way to go. Some groups succeeded in entering the support line, engaged with the enemy with bombs and bayonet, and organising the initial stages of a defence.
Some of them nonetheless managed to fight their way through the German wire and occupy the front-line trenches. They held this captured territory for about four hours before they were forced to return to their own lines in the face of fierce German counter attacks. Over the course of less than five hours of fighting the three South Downs Battalions suffered approximately 1000 casualties, over 360 of whom had been killed, one of them being Hubert.
He is buried in St Vaast Post Military Cemetery, Richebourg. The cemetery was used by fighting units serving in the front-line and Field Ambulances until July 1917 and is the final resting place of over 70 men of the South Downs Battalion who were killed at the Battle of Boar’s Head on 30th June 1916.
Private Hubert Eustace King Garbett
Hubert Garbett was born on May19th 1888 in Cuckfield, Sussex. He was the second son and third child of Francis Garbett (a market gardener) and his wife Mary (nee Clay). Garbett was at the College from 1903 until 1906 after which he entered his father’s gardening business. Shortly after the outbreak of war Garbett enlisted in the Royal Sussex Regiment. Initially attached to the 3rd Battalion he was later part of the 13th Battalion, which landed at Le Harvre, France on March 14th 1916 and along with two other Sussex battalions formed a brigade in the 39th Division of the BEF. On the day before the start of the main Somme offensive the 39th Division was ordered to mount a diversionary attack in the Richebourg L’Avoue area North of the Somme, which became known as the ‘Battle of Boar’s Head’. Owing to the delayed start of the main offensive the Germans had the opportunity to prepare with the result that the Royal Sussex suffered over 1,000 casualties of which 349 were killed, including Garbett.
Garbett is buried in St Vaast Post Military Cemetery, Richebourg L’Avoue, France.
Source: LEST WE FORGET PROJECT, Brighton College 2014/15