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Dengates in the First World War

George Major Dengate

Frederick Charles Dengate

Horace Ronald Dengate



Sydney Charles Dengate

When war was declared in August 1914, very few could have predicted the sheer devastation and unprecedented loss of life that would ensue. Approximately 5 million men served in the British Army in World War One. Unfortunately, 60% of the records for these men were lost in a bombing raid on London in World War Two. Therefore, it is almost impossible to know exactly how many Dengate men went off to fight for their country. However, some 42 Dengate men received medals for their efforts in the war.

When war was declared the British army was a small, professional fighting force of around 250,000 men. When this force was vastly depleted in the opening months of war Lord Kitchener made an appeal for regular men to join up. Over 3,000,000 men volunteered to serve in the British Armed Forces during the first two years of the war, before conscription was introduced in 1916. Many Dengate men chose to volunteer to serve; several of them were proudly listed in The Hastings & St Leonards Observer. On the 7th November 1914 The Silverdale Roll of Honour included 23 men from the Silverdale Church Club in connection with St John’s Church, Hollington. Among their number was Private C. Dengate, 9th Lancers. The following week’s Observer included The Hollington Roll of Honour, listing the following Dengate men: Cecil Dengate, 9th Lancers, George Dengate, Royal Sussex, Bert Dengate, Royal Sussex and James Ernest Dengate, Royal Sussex.

King and Country Need You

Your King and country need you! ah today.

Words such as these ring out upon our land and enter deep, thank God, into the hearts of our brave British boys on either hand.
No thought of self one fleeting glance behind at homes and loved ones, proud to see them stand.

Willing and staunch, and ready, aye, to fight and die, if need be, to defend the land.

We would not boast, yet who can stay emotion when friends come pouring in on ev’ry side,
as messages of help and cheer from o’er the ocean make British hearts leap with British pride.
We see our gallant lads march off triumphant, eager and proud, and glad to join the fray, willing to risk their all for King and country, trusting in God to bless them on their way. May their unselfish service end in glory! aided by loving hopes from o’er the seas, and may Old England add another story to her long, glorious list of victories!
Brave men have given their lives in times before us, but gallant men now ready are to war,
to keep old Britain’s flag still floating o’er us,
in glad triumphant glory evermore!

F.E. Dengate, Hastings & St Leonards Observer, 29 August 1914

[believed to be Florence Ethel Dengate of Sedlescombe 1892-1985]


Cecil Walter Dengate (far right) receiving treatment for his eye wound


Cecil Walter Dengate

Cecil Walter Dengate (2nd left standing) at a camp in Salisbury

Several Dengates were injured in the line of duty. Cecil Walter Dengate (1898-1965), serving in the 9th Lancers was shot in the eye by a sniper and was subsequently invalided out (see above).


Frederick John Dengate (1895-1946) was admitted to hospital on several occasions during his time stationed in Alexandria, Egypt: 24th March 1917 wounded, 24th April 1917 diarrhoea, 9th December 1917 injury to right knee, 29th March 1918 gunshot wound to the thigh. He was eventually awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.


William Henry Dengate (1881-1965) suffered an unfortunate gunshot wound to his right buttock on 15th September 1916, whilst serving in France with the 5th Oxford and Bucks Regiment. After treatment at the Buckinghamshire Special Military Hospital he was discharged, being ‘no longer physically fit for war service’.


Thomas Frederick Dengate (1895-1979), volunteered as a bombardier with the Royal Field Artillery on 7 September 1914 was hospitalised on 1st July 1918 but made a full recover and remained with the army until 1926.


Frederick Charles Dengate (1892-1982) served with the 14th Battalion London Regiment at the rank of Private in India, South Africa and France. He suffered a gunshot wound to his shoulder on 6th September 1916 whilst in combat in France and was sent back to England to recover. His injuries did not deter him and he was promoted on 7th September 1917, to the rank of Corporal. He suffered another injury on 8th November 1918 whilst fighting in Valenciennes, France. His Medical Report noted, 'patient states that whilst making an attack, he was wounded by a hostile shell...removed from left upper thigh January 15th 1919’. He went on to make a full recovery and was demobbed on 4th M arch 1919 at London.


William Harold Dengate (1888-1932), a gunner with the North Scottish Royal Garrison Artillery was admitted to hospital on 31st October 1917 after suffering from a gas attack. He was sent home on the 4th November 1917 and did not return to active duty. He was described as a ‘steady, hard-working man.’ William Harold’s brother Alfred James Dengate (1886-1975) was also subjected to a gas attack whilst fighting in France with the Grenadier Guards. The attack occurred 27th January 1918, sending Alfred to hospital for more than four months. Others, such as thirty-six-year-old George David Dengate (1880-1950), serving with the 6th Cyclist Battalion Suffolk Regiment simply suffered from rheumatism.

Sadly, but rather predictably, the war brought more than injury to the various branches of the Dengate family; four young Dengate men were killed fighting for their country. James Dengate, known as Jim, of Sedlescombe (1897-1917) joined the Royal Sussex Regiment and served in the 3rd company of the 1st Battalion, which spent all of the First World War on the North West Frontier of India. Jim's military service tragically ended in Karachi, Pakistan when he was killed on 14 September 1917, aged just 20 years. His family learned of the death via telegram whilst living at Brickyard Cottage, Sedlescombe and were deeply upset by his death. He was the third person in the family to be killed that year, after his two cousins Malcom and Edward Cecil McDougall (their mother was Harriet Agnes Dengate (1853-1933) and she lost two of her three sons in the war.


Jim's Dengates father, James was asked by the vicar of Sedlescombe Church to build the war memorial to the war dead, which he did with the help of his other son Francis William Dengate (1904-1979). Also in response to his grief, James was encouraged to take up the position of church grave-digger and sexton, which he did for many years, retiring as the church's last grave-digger.

The below photograph of Jim has suffered from wear and tear over the years and was at some point touched up with a black painted outline. This portrait hung on his devoted sisters Nellie Margaret Dengate (1910-1994) and Rosa May Dengate's (1901-1989) wall until their deaths in the 1990s.


Jim Dengate of Sedlescombe (left)

Jim's War Medals and Death Penny (above)

After leaving his home of The Old Post Office, Wittersham, Sydney Charles Dengate (1891-1918) joined the 16th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (formerly the London Regiment) and went to fight for his country in France. He was killed 18th April 1918, aged 26, in Rouen, France and was buried in St Sever Cemetery, Rouen Seine-Maritime. His mother, Elizabeth Dengate died just two months later.

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Sydney Charles Dengate of Wittersham

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James Ernest Dengate (also, rather confusingly, known as Jim) (1890-1918) was the youngest son of George (1854-1921) and Jane Dengate (1854-1941) of 45 Alma Terrace, Silverhill, Hastings. Jim and his wife of two years, Florence Maria Dengate had their second daughter, Elsie Florence Mary Dengate (1914-?) baptised two days before the outbreak of the war. James served with the Royal Sussex Battalion and was killed in 1918 at the SommeTo read the full story of James Ernest Dengate's war, click here.


Click here to download official records pertaining to James Ernest Dengate in WW1

James Ernest Dengate

The fourth and final Dengate to lose his life due to war operations was Lance Corporal William Charles Dengate, who died 1st July 1916 on the first day of the Battle of the Somme--the worst day in history for the British Army in terms of casualties and lives lost. William served with the 1st/9th Battalion of the London Regiment (Queen Victoria's Rifles). He is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial. He was the son of William Alfred and Emily Dengate, on the Ticehurst tree.


William Dengate's effects (above) and his medal index (right)


Below is a list of other members of the Dengate family who were involved in the First World War. I will be expanding and developing this page in due course.

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Kent & Sussex Courier 19 July 1918


John Reginald Charles Dengate of Northiam, Sussex (1896-1971)


Alec George Dengate of Broadstairs, Kent (1900-1960)

(see also here)


Edwin John Dengate (b.1883, East Peckham) enlisted on the 22nd December 1914 and on the 26th August 1915 and was sent to fight in France as a driver with the Royal Field Artillery. Much of Edwin's war was spent fighting in France. Having survived the duration of the war, he was discharged on the 27th March 1919, deemed to be physically unfit. Edwin sadly died of stomach cancer on 18th May 1919. Edwin was awarded the Victory Medal, 1915 Star and the British Medal.


Edwin John Dengate's Silver War Badge


Dengate Brothers

George David, Alfred James, William Harold, Frederick Leslie and Ernest John Dengate. All five brothers survived the conflict.

Dengates fighting in WW1 for Canada. Click to download their war records:

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