Caring for the troops

During the Great War, Seaford became a garrison town and thousands of men trained there before experiencing the horrors of the Front.  A tented camp in 1914, soon expanded into two huge hutted camps filled with soldiers from across the country and indeed the world.  At 25,000, the population of the camps was many times larger…

A Sussex Prisoner-of-War

Thomas Reginald Charles TOMPKINS was born in West London on 11th August 1898. He was the son of James and Mary Tompkins. His father was a decorator.  The family lived at 4, Bayham Road, Ealing and he was baptised at St John’s Church , Northfields on 25thSeptember 1898. During the Great War, Thomas joined the Royal…

My St Georges’ Day Hero

My grandfather Alec Gordon, was a Royal Marine and was seriously injured in the fateful Zeebrugge Raid on St Georges Day, 23rdApril 1918.  Alexander Robert Gordon was born in London in 1896, the son of Frederick and Hannah Gordon.  In 1910 the Gordon family moved to 1, Romney Road, Eastbourne and his parents worked at…

The King of Eastbourne

In 1912 hundreds of Eastbourne children were treated to a party by William Washington King. A telegram was sent to George V at Balmoral Castle which read “Six hundred happy little children in meeting assembled, send your Majesty loyal greetings!” the answer was received and read out “His Majesty thanks the children assembled at the…

A Hidden Sussex Church

My visit to St John’s Church was short and rather muddy but it is a delightful little building hidden away on the edge of Ashdown Forest between Withyham and Crowborough.  It is not a church that you would stumble across by chance and sadly is usually locked due to the theft of some of the…

A unique Sussex Church

St Mary-in-the Castle in Hastings is one of the finest English churches I have visited and although it is now a thriving performance venue it is full of ecclesiastical interest. Strangely the best place to get a good view of the exterior of the church is on Google Maps as it is set back into…

Rioting that led to the death of a policeman.

100 years ago the Canadian soldiers stationed across England and Wales were not happy.  The armistice of November 1918 effectively ended the War and thousands of men returned from the battlefields of Flanders to Britain awaiting repatriation to Canada. This was a slow process. Most of the troopships that had been used to bring the…

An Irish Soldier in Seaford

In the Summer of 1915 and with the Great War in its second year, thousands of soldiers from Ireland arrived in Sussex for training before being transferred to the front.  One of these men was Private McClure of the 15th (Service) Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles.  I have not been able to trace any…

Adventures of a Pilot who left a Sussex Widow.

This is the amazing story of a WW1 flying ace who died 100 years ago and who had Sussex connections. Unusually he has a war-grave in the U.S.A. Joseph (Joe) Joel Hammond was born in New Zealand in 1886 but after leaving school emigrated to Australia to work on a sheep station.  Hearing that gold…

A Brazilian War Grave in Sussex

Ocklynge Cemetery in Eastbourne has several war-graves including several for foreign men killed during the Great War. These include Belgian, South African and Australian War Graves but one that caught my eye was for a young Brazilian Pilot. First Lieutenant Eugenio Possolo was one of thirteen volunteers to travel to England in 1918 to join…

An International Sussex Woman

To commemorate International Women’s Day I thought I would tell you about an international shark-catching Sussex heroine! Ethelwyn Wilkinson was born in Seaford in 1887, the daughter of William and Ada Wilkinson. Her father was a builder and they lived in the High Street.  Ethelwyn married a New Zealand adventurer at St Leonard’s Church, Seaford on…

A War-Memorial Mystery!

The War Memorial in the East Sussex village of Bishopstone gives the names of nine men from the village who were killed in the First World War and four from the Second World War.  The memorial includes the name of Eleanor Standish-Barry, an interesting woman who also used the stage name of Nell St John…