Saturday, 15 March 2014

Major Joseph John Banham - A True Crawley Hero

Huge thanks must go to Andy at for being kind enough to look up Joe Banham's service record for me.

As can be seen from one of the above pictures, Joe volunteered for the army on 31st August 1914 and in answer to the question The Unit (if any) to which desirous of being appointed he has answered "to any unit where there is a possibility for active service."

Joe Banham was with 9th Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment when he was killed in action on 27th March 1918 during the March Retreat. He was born in Methwold in Suffolk and was the second son of Joseph John and Julia Banham. His father had died before the war and his mother was Julia Longley, the sister of James Longley, the founder of Longley's the builders. Major Banham, who was once mentioned in despatches was killed during the chaos of the retreat his body never being found and was commemorated on Pozieres Memorial. 

The local papers reported the following: April 6 - DEATH OF MAJOR J.J. BANHAM. - We much regret to announce that official intimation has been received of the death in action of Major J.J. Banham, second son of the late Mr J. Banham and of Mrs Banham, The Meadows, Malt House Road, Crawley. Major Banham, who was 31 years of age, was killed on the 27th ult. He was a very popular officer and his death will be as keenly regretted by his fellow officers and the men under his control as by his many friends in the Crawley district. He enlisted soon after the outbreak of hostilities, joining first the Public Schools Battalion, and was subsequently transferred to the Royal Sussex Regiment. The deceased was for a time in Messrs. Longley & Cos works at Crawley, and afterwards went to New Zealand, where he had a sheep ranch. 

Returning to England after some three years, he entered Messrs. Longley & Cos office, and it was not long after this that the war broke out, and 'Joe' as his friends familiarly called him, joined the army, since when he had seen much active service. He was once slightly wounded in the arm and afterwards gassed, the latter trouble laying him aside for a time. He was excessively keen in all he undertook, and success was what he aimed at, whether in the athletic field, in business, or as a soldier. Very sincere sympathy will be expressed with the bereaved relatives. A memorial service has been fixed for this Saturday afternoon at four o'clock at St Peters Church.

He might not be remembered by his home town but I will never forget his story. We should name a street after him. 

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