Soldiers Recreation Club in Willingdon School

From early in the war camps sprung up around Willingdon and there were also many troops billeted in the the parish. On 15 February 1915 a meeting of the gentlemen of the village was hastily called at the Vicarage and it was agreed to provide a Club Room for soldiers who were billeted in the […]

Boxing World Champions Fight at Seaford

In 1917, the troops stationed at the North Camp in Seaford were treated to a unique sporting afternoon when three world champions gathered to fight. Two huge military camps had been built in Seaford in Autumn 1914, each to accommodate thousands of men training for the front.  Entertainment was quite staid with piano concerts, a YMCA […]

The Mobilisation of Newhaven Fort

Upon the outbreak of war in 1914, Sussex soldiers were quickly deployed to predetermined defensive positions along the coast, such as Newhaven Fort. The main occupier of the Fort, Sussex Royal Garrison Artillery (R.G.A.), did not maintain a war diary during the Great War, a common occurrence for UK based Territorial Force (T.F.) units. The primary […]

Picture Postcards of the Great War (1914-1918)

During the war careful measures were taken to maintain the spirits of men serving at the front and civilians living at home. Propaganda was one of the ways by which the government persuaded the public to support the First World War. This was initially achieved by seeking and gaining approval and enthusiasm from the population […]

Rediscovered: early WWI rifle range at Newhaven

With the outbreak of the Great War in early August, 1914, an Expeditionary Force comprising a hundred thousand British army and territorial soldiers was rapidly deployed to the French-Belgian border. Despite it being a comparatively mobile front, the force was decimated and forced to retreat; it soon became clear that millions of newly-trained soldiers would […]

The Sound of Guns

Britain may have been at war but most of the population could maintain distance from the fighting. In East Sussex, however, it could not be ignored.  Historically, the English Channel has done more than simply divide Britain from mainland Europe. It had proved a difficult defensive obstacle to overcome for any invading armies. During the First World […]

Food during the First World War

As the war progressed, fresh fruit, vegetables and meat got harder to come by. There were even stories of butchers selling dead cats! Bread and flour were hard to find and government posters encouraged people to eat less bread (see posters).The winter of 1916 saw a major shortage of flour. It was replaced by dried, […]

Gas Chamber at Seaford

The introduction of gas warfare in 1915 meant that soldiers of all sides would have to learn to survive this new weapon. The hills near Seaford played host to a training gas chamber for just this purpose. The first serious use of gas as a weapon in the First World War came at Ypres in […]

Letter about a Conscientious Objector

Conscientious Objection in Sussex

Whilst recruitment and conscription saw many East Sussex men enter the ranks of the British Army some resisted service on grounds of conscience or religion. First World War recruitment, which was built upon popular support largely peaked in the early months of the war in 1914. Propaganda posters and appeals to men’s patriotic instincts worked well but […]