Lindfield and The Great War – Book




1. Mobilisation, Volunteers and Conscription
• Mobilisation
• Moral Pressure to Volunteer
• Answering the Call to Arms
• National Registration
• Lord Derby’s Group Scheme
• Conscription
• Tribunals

2. Threat of Invasion, Invasion and Air Raids
• Fear of Invasion
• Defence of the Realm Act
• Emergency Instructions
• Lindfield Volunteer Training Corps
• The Blackout and Lighting Offences

3. The Royal Army Medical Corps
• Troops arrive in Mid Sussex
• 2nd London Field Ambulance
• RAMC Drum and Fife Band
• East Lancashire Field Ambulance

4. Women and the War
• Lindfield Red Cross Work Centre
• War Hospital Sub Supply Depot
• Lindfield Voluntary Work Organisation
• Women’s Institute
• Collecting and Fund Raising
• Comforts for Soldiers
• Women and the Military
• Enduring Hardship, Poverty and Shortages

5. Caring for the Wounded
• Sussex 150 women’s Detachment
• Sussex 11 Men’s Detachment
• Lindfield Red Cross Hospital
• King Edward Hall Extended
• Hospital Personnel
• Hospital Patients
• Participating in Village Life
• Support from the Village
• Closure
• A Few Facts and Figures

6. Farming, Growing for Victory and Food Shortages
• The Early Years
• Women and Farming
• Agricultural Problems and Growing for Victory
• German Prisoners of War
• Managing the Food Shortage
• Local Food Controls
• Parish Council and Potato Production
• Bottling
• Rationing Introduced
• German Prisoners of War

7. Village Life
• Social Events
• Sporting Activity
• Miniature Rifle Range and Lindfield Rifle Club
• Friendship, Romance and Weddings
• Lindfield Parish Council
• Lindfield Fire Brigade
• Supporting Good Causes
• Helping to pay for the War
• Caring for the Children
• Lindfield School
• The Prime Minister stays at Great Walstead

8. Commercial Life
9. Postal Service, Parcels and Letters
• Lindfield Post Office
• Letters and Parcels from Home
• Letters to Home
• Letters in the Mid Sussex Times

10. Churches and Religion
• All Saints’ Church
• Congregational Church
• Sewell Memorial Mission
• Special Services

11. War Graves in Lindfield – (Draft)
• Captain Thomas Weatherby
• Lieutenant Guy Twiss
• Wilfred Winn
• Reginald Burtonshaw
• William Winn
• Harold Tingley

12. The Peace
• The Armistice
• Welcome Home Day
• Peace Day
• Land Fit for Heroes
• War Trophies

13. War Memorials, Commemoration and Honouring the Fallen
• Village War Memorial
• Description of Village War Memorial
• Dedication of the Village War Memorial
• All Saints’ War Memorial
• Individual Memorial Plaques
• The Cumberlege Window
• For King and Country

14. Personal and Family Stories 
• Leslie Ayling
• Baldock Brothers
• Jack Caplin
• Harold Eycott-Martin
• Fitzmaurice Family
• Fox Family
• Reginald Legge
• Newnham Family
• George Powell
• Geoffrey Prideaux
• Scutt Family
• Alfred Thompson
• Walder Family
• Joseph Whall



In 1914 Britain had a small volunteer Army of 247,423 regular officers and men. They were backed by a reserve of 145,347 ex-regulars, together with 63,933 men of the Special Reserve who had carried out six months training topped up by another two weeks a year. All of these men were available for service abroad.

Additionally, primarily intended for homeland defence, the part-time Territorial Force had 268,777 officers and men. They trained in the evenings and weekends and attended an annual summer camp. Members of the Territorial Force were not liable to serve overseas unless an individual had voluntarily accepted an ‘Imperial Service’ obligation. In the event of war they could be called upon for full-time service. Germany on mobilisation had 3.7 million men.


Lindfield men serving in the Regular Army and Navy were already away on military service. Following the mobilisation of the Naval Reserve, a proclamation was issued on 4 August 1914 mobilising the Army Reserve and Territorial Force, requiring the men to report to their headquarters. Immediately men started to leave the village uncertain as to their future.

In mid-August 1914, a notice was displayed in Lindfield Parish Church porch asking for prayers for ‘the following sailors and soldiers serving in connection with the present war, who are parishioners or relatives of parishioners’. Nearly all those named were from the village, and many were in A Company, 4th Royal Sussex Regiment, Territorial Force, as Haywards Heath, Lindfield and Cuckfield was its home district. At least 16 of those serving had been former members of the Lindfield Company, Church Lads’ Brigade.

Moral pressure to volunteer

Britain did not have the manpower to fight a prolonged war in Europe against Germany. To expand the Army, Lord Kitchener, Secretary of State for War, immediately established his New Armies and called for men to enlist.

Men were left in no doubt that it was their moral and patriotic duty to volunteer. The Government launched a massive poster campaign and pressure was exerted from all quarters. From mid-August onward men started to volunteer, many saw it as a chance for an adventure with the opportunity to visit foreign parts. It would be an escape from a menial job.

On the 3 September 1914, a recruitment meeting was held in King Edward Hall, Lindfield chaired by Lieutenant Colonel Dudley Sampson, the Deputy Lieutenant of Sussex, who lived at Buxshalls, on the outskirts of the village. The purpose of the meeting was ‘to bring before the men of Lindfield the immediate necessities of the Army’. The meeting advertisement stressed ‘Every man in Lindfield (young or old) is urged to attend and hear how he can assist his country in the present crisis.’

All newspapers were extremely vocal in encouraging men to volunteer. The Mid Sussex Times published this exhortation on 8 September 1914 in its ‘War Bullets!’ column:

‘That your country is a-calling yer, a—calling yer, a—yer!

That there’s a uniform and a gun for every mother’s son who joins Lord Kitchener’s Army.

That if your eyesight isn’t “cocky” and your nerves not poor or rocky— go and do your duty like a man!

That while fighting for the Empire you are fighting for yourself and those near and dear to you.

That in the days to come, if you are spared, you—and yours—will be pleased to see your name on the Roll of Honour.

That many fresh names have been added since Tuesday last.

That very soon all fit young men who have not offered their services to their country in this her hour of need will be branded Rotters.

That one lady in Haywards Heath is urging her friends to “cold shoulder” Blue Funkers.

That the police were on the track of the “Hangbacks” last week—and did good business.

That one morning—it was Tuesday—­­P.C.Walker roped in eight Haywards Heath men before he breakfasted-and seven passed the doctor.

That when the constable set off to his meal his superior officer encouragingly said-You’ve earned your little bit of corn!

That the demand now is not for Terriers but for Regulars.

That Lord Kitchener needs all the recruits he can obtain between the ages of 19 and 35.

That it may be a good thing to love one’s enemies, but there are times when it is better still to know how to fight them’.

The column continued with a further 30 bullet points, all in a similar vain. In one, it noted that Messrs Charlesworth & Co, the large orchid nursery in Lyoth Lane, offered employees who responded to Lord Kitchener’s appeal two weeks wages, with the promise they would be re-employed.

The editorial column reinforced the message, saying, ‘Here and there we have heard of parents and employers cursing, instead of blessing, their sons and men for leaving them to serve their King and country. Their names are before us, and we should like to see them receive a bayonet, instead of a pen, thrust.’

The front page of the same edition carried a poem addressed to women imploring them to send their men to war.

To English Women

‘Mother, give up your brave young son,

Your pride and joy though he may be;

Think of the glory to be won.

Pray for him now on bended knee.

Young girls, be great and true of heart,

Be first to let your lover go;

Help him for his country’s sake, depart,

Cheer him, whate’er may be your woe

Sisters, use your best persuasion,

Speed your brother for England’s sake;

This is now your great occasion,

Do not miss it all’s at stake;

Wives, help your men great men to be,

Trust God when danger overtakes;

Spare them to serve on land or sea,

Be hopeful, strong, for their dear sakes’.

This is just one example of the pressure being placed on women to encourage their husbands, sons, brothers and boyfriends to volunteer. Even children were used on posters to prick a man’s conscience, with the question ‘Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War?’

Editorial comment in local and national newspapers relentlessly carried patriotic messages and cartoons that reinforced the government poster campaign.

 Answering the call to arms

Volunteers could choose between joining the Regular Army, the Territorial Force or Kitchener’s New Armies. They were free to enlist in any regiment, although the infantry structure was intended to create links between recruiting districts and their regiments. In Sussex this was the Royal Sussex Regiment.

Prior to war, the Royal Sussex Regiment had two Regular Battalions, the 1st Battalion stationed at Peshawar in India and 2nd Battalion at Woking, plus the 3rd Reserve Battalion headquartered at Chichester. The Royal Sussex Regiment’s Territorial Force comprised the 4th, 5th and 6th Battalions; the latter was a Cyclist Battalion.

The recruitment district for A Company, 4th Royal Sussex, was Haywards Heath, Lindfield and Cuckfield. This was the army unit with the closest affiliation to Lindfield, it was supported by the local community and many village men had joined in the years prior to the war. A recruitment event, with music by the Brotherhood Band, was held in Haywards Heath on 26 August, and a strong appeal was made to members of football clubs, athletes and other able-bodied young men. It was advertised with the slogan ‘Young Men Do Your Duty’.

With the formation of new battalions, the 4th Battalion was re-designated 1/4th Royal Sussex and following mobilisation was initially garrisoned at Newhaven. Until conscription was introduced, the Recruiting Agent in Haywards Heath for the 1/4th Royal Sussex regularly advertised in the Mid Sussex Times for volunteers.

There was strong competition within the Army to secure recruits. The Royal Sussex battalions each separately placed their own advertisements in the Mid Sussex Times. Towards the end of August 1914, the 7th (Service) Battalion, Royal Sussex, part of Kitchener’s New Army, advertised that it ‘is forming at Colchester and is short of Sussex men’ and appealed, ‘to all Sussex men including ex NCO’s and soldiers to come forward now, without delay, to join the Battalion and fill the ranks with Sussex men, who will sustain the honour of the Regiment abroad.’ In response to this appeal 26 Lindfield men volunteered to joined the Battalion during September 1914. Additionally, in answering Kitchener’s call for volunteers, a number of village men chose to join other regiments.

The number of volunteers slowed considerably following the initial rush to colours during the first few months of war. By the end December 1914, the Roll of Honour for Lindfield totalled 161 men, increasing to 165 by end January 1915 and stood at 220 at the end of 1915.

National Registration

By early 1915 it was obvious that Britain was locked into a long and very bloody conflict. Despite the ever present call to enlist, the reality of the war saw a decline in the number of Lindfield men volunteering. Likewise, nationally volunteers steadily continued to decrease and fearing a manpower shortage, the Government moved to increase numbers. To get an understanding of available manpower, the Government introduced the National Registration Act in July 1915. Everyone between age 15 and 65 had to register on 15 August 1915 by completing a form, giving age and occupation.

The Parish Council undertook this task on behalf of Cuckfield Rural District Council. A committee was appointed and five unpaid volunteers from the village were recruited as enumerators to deliver and collect Registration Forms from every house in Lindfield.

The Register facilitated the Government’s introduction of Lord Derby’s Group Scheme and later the National Service Scheme to organise labour on the home front, it also provided information for conscription.

Lord Derby’s Group Scheme

Lord Derby’s Group Scheme, introduced in 1915, strove to encourage men from age 18 to 41 to voluntarily enlist for call-up in age groups or when required. Married men formed separate groups to be called up last.

To persuade Lindfield men to enlist, Cuckfield Rural District Council requested the Parish Council to undertake this task for Lindfield.  In what had become the Council’s standard approach to matters relating to the war, a Recruitment Committee was formed chaired by Mr E Stevens, the Council chairman. Its role was ‘to carry out the canvass business under Lord Derby’s Recruitment Scheme’. Volunteer canvassers were appointed by the Recruitment Committee. The Council reported that ‘every case has been investigated and every eligible man has been canvassed and the response was very good indeed’. All eligible members of the Lindfield platoon, Volunteer Training Corps and the Lindfield Fire Brigade enlisted.

On enlisting under the Scheme, the volunteer was medically examined and, on completing the attestation process, was deemed to have joined up and given one day’s pay and a grey armband with red crown to wear, signifying his willingness to fight when needed. The recruit was then sent home to await his age group being called up.

Even as late as early January 1916, the 4th Royal Sussex was advertising for local men ‘called up under Groups 2,3,4 & 5 who wished to join 4th Royal Sussex Regiment’ to make contact with George Clarke, Sydney Road, Haywards Heath, the local recruiting agent and join immediately. This was almost the last opportunity men had to choose the battalion in which they would serve.

By the beginning of 1916, the Rolls of Honour published in the Mid Sussex Times listed nearly 280 Lindfield men serving in the military. Sadly, by this time, 19 men had died and about 12 men reported missing.


Lord Derby’s Group Scheme failed to get sufficient numbers of men enlisting and consequently the Government introduced the Military Service Act on 27 January 1916. All voluntary enlistment ceased and conscription was introduced.

All unmarried British men aged between 19 and 41 years were deemed to have enlisted on 2 March 1916, subject to being passed fit. As the war continued, age limits were extended, and the married status concession removed and fitness requirements relaxed.

The introduction of conscription saw a renewed exodus of men from the village which was to continue until the end of the war. The numbers and timing of men being conscripted is not known, as the Mid Sussex Times ceased publishing the Roll of Honour as men now serving included those forced to go.

To ensure men did not ‘slip through the net’ employers were required to display a list of men of military age working on their premises and to make monthly returns to the local Recruiting Officer. Failure to comply could result in up to a £100 fine or six months in prison. Police would visit and check the records to confirm that any military aged men employed was either awaiting call up or had an exemption.

Shortly after this regulation came into effect, Haywards Heath magistrates heard, at one sitting, 45 cases of failure to keep and display a register of employees of military age on the premises. Six were Lindfield employers, Leonard Broadbridge, Herbert Box, Charles Masters, Richard Brown, Richard Humphrey and Col Dudley Sampson. All pleaded guilty, except Dudley Sampson, the cases were dismissed but served as a warning for the future and to others.

Should a man not report as required in his call up papers, instructions were issued to Police for his arrest, as William Reed, a butcher’s assistant working in Box’s shop, soon discovered.


In conjunction with conscription, Tribunals were established to decide a man’s right to be exempt from war service on grounds of health, occupation or conscience.

The Cuckfield Rural District Tribunal comprised a panel of councillors plus a military representative and sat weekly or fortnightly to hear applications; as many as fifty cases could be considered at a sitting. William Knowles, a Lindfield councillor was a panel member, until he took an Army commission.

A man seeking exemption would either appear in person or be represented by someone acting on his behalf such as his employer, parent or solicitor. Many applications were made by employers citing how essential the man was to their business. The Tribunal’s usual response was, ‘Where would your business be if the enemy invaded’ or ‘Employ a woman to do the work’. Exemptions could be absolute, conditional or temporary for a specific period that depending on circumstances could be renewed. As the Army’s demand for men increased, tribunal guidelines tightened and exemptions reduced.

There was an appeals process for those who were dissatisfied with the Tribunal’s decisions, but with Army’s increasing demands for manpower the Appeal Panel was generally unsympathetic. The military also lodged appeals against exemption decisions they considered lenient.

The press reported all cases anonymously, but with Lindfield being a small village the identity of those seeking exemption would be known and often not well received.

The following are a cross section of Tribunal proceeding relating to Lindfield men reported in the Mid Sussex Times.

A chauffeur in the employ of a village doctor was granted a conditional exemption. This was extended following the doctor having broken his legs in France.

The Captain of the Lindfield Fire Brigade applied for three members of the Brigade, a newsagent, laundryman and bricklayer’s labourer. Asked the number and type of fires attended each year, the Captain replied, two rick fires. Exemption was refused, with a tribunal member commenting, ‘that the most useless thing in a country district was a fire brigade’.  

A prominent Lindfield resident obtained a conditional exemption in June 1916 for his head gardener, a married man aged 39 with 7 children under 12 years. The tribunal was advised that half the vegetables grown in the garden were sent to the Fleet and supplies also sent to local hospitals. Mr Higgs, a panel member, described the applicant as ‘one of the most generous men round here’. On applying for an extension in November 1916, the applicant advised the Tribunal, the garden was three acres in extent and there was now only three men and a boy on the estate. Women gardeners, strong enough to dig, had been sought but without success. It was suggested an approach should be made to Lady Wolseley (Vice President, East Sussex Women’s Agricultural Committee) who had ‘lots of women on her list’. Exemption was granted to 1st January 1917, with no further appeal to be made without leave.

At the July 1916 Tribunal, exemption was granted to a general dealer and market gardener, who was described as ruptured. Also a gardener at Lindfield, aged 30, with one leg shorter than the other.

The owner of a large general store in the village applied for the exemption of his manager. Tribunal members questioned whether a woman could take over the position. The applicant said the manager had technical knowledge and was entrusted with keys to the cash box. He further explained a male assistant was joining up, leaving one assistant and five women or girls. An exemption for two months was granted with the indication that an appeal would not be allowed.

The Salvation Army, the owners of the steam laundry, applied for the further exemption to the six months granted in June 1916 for their engineer, aged 37, who had been passed fit for general service. The manageress said ‘if the man went the laundry would have to close down’. The chairman retorted, ‘And if we don’t get men for the Army the nation will have to close down’. As no effort had been made to find a substitute during the six months exemption previously granted, the application for an extension was refused. An appeal against the decision was made and a final two months temporary exemption was granted by the East Sussex Appeal Tribunal, Western District Committee.

A Lindfield firm of butchers applied for the renewal of the exemption for their roundsman and assistant slaughterman. The applicant said there was no butcher now at Horsted Keynes or Scaynes Hill. Tribunal members questioned whether it was necessary to deliver meat and commented ‘less meat would be eaten if it had to be collected which would be for the better. People who wanted meat should fetch it’. A further exemption was refused.

The mother of a grocer’s assistant, aged 19, applied for the renewal of his exemption certificate. She told the Tribunal four sons had joined up early in the war. One had been killed, one was wounded and in hospital, one was a prisoner and the other was on active service. As she had no other children, she wanted to keep this son at home. A further six month exemption was granted. Following an appeal by the military, although sympathetic to the mother’s request, it was felt that as the lad was 19 years old, passed for general service and not engaged in work of national importance, he could not be kept from the Army. A final exemption of 16 days was granted.

An electrical supply company applied for exemption of a man, aged 35, who worked as an electrician and fitter covering Burgess Hill, Crawley and Steyning. The company described him as indispensable and their work force had been reduced from 33 to 17 men. Exemption was refused and the company appealed but was unsuccessful.



Fear of Invasion

Following the Declaration of War, newspapers in line with Government pronouncements implored people to ‘Be Calm, Go about your business.’ The Mid Sussex Times called for ‘Mid Sussexians’ to ‘Keep cool, and above all – Keep Cool’. However the paper, within the same column, was praising and reporting that Boy Scouts were encamped in Market Place, Haywards Heath, and keeping watch at the railway bridges. There was much concern that German aliens and spies were gathering information that would be useful to the enemy. The newly introduced Defence of the Realm Act no doubt heighten such concerns, as for example loitering near railway bridges was prohibited.

Across the country and especially in southern England with counties bordering the English Channel there was a very great fear and threat of invasion, which remained well into the war. The local Territorial Battalions when mobilised in August 1914 were placed on coastal defence at Newhaven and Seaford.

Defence of the Realm Act

The outbreak of war brought many new rules and regulations, the most notable being the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) passed on 8 August 1914, ‘for securing public safety’. During the course of the war the Act was extended and amended six times and its powers greatly enlarged by attaching regulations which governed virtually every aspect of the home front. The following are some of the areas that resulted from DORA:

• Requisitioning of building and land
• Loitering near bridges and tunnels forbidden
• Imprisoning without trial those suspected of helping the enemy
• Discussing naval and military matters forbidden
• Press censorship including giving details of troop movements
• Censorship of mail coming from war fronts
• Reduction in pub opening hours. Also a ‘no treating’ Order laid down that people could not buy alcoholic drinks for other people.
• Buying alcoholic drinks on public transport prohibited
• Alcoholic beverages reduce in strength
• Freedom of movement curtailed
• Control of working conditions
With the advent of Zeppelin raids a blackout was introduced in May 1916 making it an offence for light to be shown from a building, likewise showing too much or no light by road users. Even the use of torch light by pedestrians was controlled.
Other related prohibited activities included:
• Flying a kite
• Lighting a bonfire
• Sale of fireworks.

A related piece of legislation was the Summer Time Act 1916 which introduced daylight saving through British Summer Time, a measure that remains today.
After food rationing was introduced in early 1918, it was an offence under DORA to feed bread to wild animals.

Emergency Instructions

To address the fear and threat of a German invasion, local precautions were put in place in Lindfield, in accordance with national guidelines.

Ten special constables, all prominent residents, were appointed with William Knowles, as the Chief Special Constable. Their primary aim was to maintain order and implement contingency plans in the event of an enemy landing.

A notice detailing the Emergency Instructions was given to each household. Whilst described as precautionary they can have done little to allay the fear of an invasion.
Inhabitants were instructed to evacuate their houses, leaving them unlocked, and proceed to the Common with emergency items and board waiting transport. In hindsight the ability to deliver this plan must have been highly questionable.

Additionally the national guidelines required farm animals to be removed or slaughtered to deny the invaders food. This was a task assigned to the Lindfield Volunteer Training Corps.

Lindfield Volunteer Training Corps

In autumn 1914 there was widespread demand by men outside military service age or otherwise constrained from volunteering to serve in protecting their community in the event of a German invasion. A central committee was formed and on 19 November 1914 the Central Association of Volunteer Training Corps was recognised by the War Office. A meeting in London on 25 November 1914 called for Volunteer Training Corps battalions to be established in each county under the command of the Lord Lieutenant. Their primary role in the event of an invasion was to protect their community, remove cattle, help guard roads and keep them clear for military movements, then to assist the military in fighting the enemy.

In December 1914 to establish a Volunteer Training Corps platoon for Lindfield, William Knowles acted as Organising Secretary supported by Lieutenant-Colonel Dudley Sampson, the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Sussex, who lived at Buxshalls, as President. At the meeting on 2 January 1915, it was emphasised ‘the time had come when all men should be disciplined and drilled against the day of National Emergency, should it arise’.

At a further meeting on 6 January 1915 in the Assembly Room, 11 Vice Presidents drawn from Lindfield’s prominent residents were appointed. They included Messrs Knowles, Tower, Sturdy, Cumberlege and Admiral Twiss. Additionally an eight man committee was formed. Recruitment started immediately and by the end of January 1915 , with 43 men enrolled a platoon was formed, commonly referred to as the Lindfield Volunteer Training Corps (LVTC), it was formally 8 Platoon, Haywards Heath Company, Sussex Volunteer Training Corps. The platoon structure was Platoon Commander W L Knowles, with W Tower as the Sergeant and four Section Commanders, Messrs Markwick, Driver, Box and Dickinson.

The men contribute at least 6d per week towards platoon expenses. Platoons had to be financially self-supporting, as uniforms, kit and weapons were not provided. A red arm band bearing the letters ‘GR’ had to be worn and men completing 20 hours drill qualified for the green-grey twill uniform. The accounts for the first year show residents donated £300 towards the platoon’s expenses and to purchase the uniforms, equipment and Martini rifles. The rifles cost £143 1s 10d.

Lindfield VTC drilled 8.00 – 9.00pm three evening a week in the Council School playground, or if wet at their Headquarters in the Assembly Room. Shooting practice was held one night a week at the Lindfield Rifle Club miniature rifle range in Alma Road.

On 24 May 1915, the men were put through an instructive field day on Chailey Common by Captain Scott of St John’s College, Hurstpierpoint. Feeling the Lindfield platoon was sufficiently far advanced to seek affiliation to the Central Association of Volunteer Training Corps it was arranged for Sir R Hanbury Brown, VTC Divisional Commander, to conduct an inspection on 28 May 1915. The 46 men, who had qualified for the grey-green twill uniform by completing 20 hours drill, paraded on the Common. Sir R Hanbury Brown complimented the men on their turn out and drill. In his speech he commented ‘One advantage of joining the VTC was it made the men after about 6 months drill about 10 years younger – so their wives could look forward to a second honeymoon.’ He then called for more recruits.

The platoon regularly took part in shooting matches, field training days, exercises, parades and the occasional social event. However within some sections of the local community adverse opinions were starting to surface as to the usefulness of the Lindfield Volunteer Training Corps in the event of an invasion and that it contained men of military age. Clearly vexed by such views W L Knowles, as Platoon Commander, issued a stinging rebuke via a letter in the Mid Sussex Times saying ‘sooner or later an attempt will, in all probability, be made to invade this island’ and appealed for patriotic Englishmen to enrol. It was noted by the paper that unlike Lindfield, Haywards Heath had yet to secure uniforms and rifles.

In late 1915, as war casualties grew and the military’s demand for men increased, there was renewed concern that men who could volunteer for military service were hiding in the Corps. In response, W L Knowles announced that in December 1915, all men of eligible age had registered under the Lord Derby’s recruitment scheme.

At a Smoking Concert, in the Bent Arms, to commemorate the Lindfield VTC first anniversary in January 1916, W L Knowles commented that ‘Probably not another platoon in the country was so fully equipped for which they were greatly indebted to the residents of their small village’. The platoon numbered 46 men with 38 having passed the proficiency test and all men had attested under the Derby Scheme. Since January 1915 six men had enlisted in the Army.

Around this time the War Office started to recognise the Volunteers’ potential usefulness and in July 1916 they were legally recognised through the Volunteer Act 1863 and Volunteer Act 1916. The War Office also agreed financial support and payment of the Separation Allowances, as paid to regular soldiers, if called up due to an invasion.

Following official recognition VTC units were re-designated; the Lindfield platoon became 8 Platoon, B Company, 7th Battalion, Sussex Volunteer Regiment. The platoon’s routine of drill, rifle practice, parades and exercises continued largely unchanged until the end of hostilities. Throughout its existence, the platoon maintained a strength of about 50 men.

The Blackout and Lighting Offences

The threat of Zeppelin air raids resulted in the introduction of lighting regulations, which varied by geographical area. Lindfield being in a prohibited area was subject to ‘the blackout’, the main requirements were:

• Indoor lights must be obscured from outdoor vision
• Motor vehicles could not use headlights and permitted lights were limited in size and        brightness. Red lights had to show to the rear
• Bicycles had to display a front white light and red rear light, even when being wheeled    on the highway.
• Prams on roadways also had to have white and red lights, as for bicycles, mounted on      their offside. Similarly horse drawn carts and carriages had to display lights to the            front and rear.

Infringements by Lindfield residents were brought before the Haywards Heath magistrates, the number of cases suggest the Police had little else to do when patrolling their beat. The following are typical of the many summonses.

PC Howell in company of Superintendent Anscombe, when in Batchelor Lane they saw a bright light from Mr Masters’ shop but on arrival at the shop the blind was down. Mr Masters explained they had a large number of windows and this was a slight oversight. Fined 10shillings.

At 7.45pm on 28 September 1916, Police Sergeant Short saw a bright light from an incandescent gas burner showing through a large shop window at Joseph Whall’s premises in the High Street. A £1 fine was imposed. Fifteen minutes later, PS Short saw a bright light shining through the fanlight of the kitchen door at Lyndcote. Emily Chandler, the cook, claimed she was feeling faint from the heat whilst cooking dinner and wanted a little air in. She was fined ten shillings. Often it was the servants who were held responsible and fined rather than the house owner.

PC Ward and PS Short were passing the residence of Rev H Crosbie at 10.00pm on 21 November 1916, and saw a strong ray of light shining through a frosted fanlight over the front door, which was covered by thick red curtains but did not reach the top. Rev Crosbie claimed, ‘No Zeppelin could possibly have seen the light’, but nevertheless he was fined £1.

Even the Parish Church was summoned for breaching the blackout. On patrolling the village on 15 November 1916, PS Short saw strong rays of light shining through the church windows. He waited for the evening service to end before entering the church where he found ’14 powerful gas burners full on’ which were inadequately shaded and no window blinds. The vicar, Rev Arthur Mead was fined £1.

James Isted of Lindfield was summoned for driving a horse and cart without a red rear light in Boltro Road, Haywards Heath, at 6.35pm on 17 October 1916. The defendant claimed ‘it was a very rough night’ and that the light was lit when he started his journey. Fined 2s 6d.

Cyclists failing to show a red light to the rear were a favourite target for a summons by the police, as were many motorists for various lighting infringements. Even the shining of torches was restricted.

Thankfully there were no air raids on Lindfield or the surrounding area by Zeppelins or enemy aircraft. The relative safety of the area was recognised by families wishing to escape the increasing air attacks on London, with a Haywards Heath estate agency advertising there was ‘Unprecedented demand for furnished houses in Mid Sussex. Owing (so far) to immunity from air raids’.


Troops arrive in Mid Sussex

As the war gathered momentum the first troops arrived in Mid Sussex on 19 November 1914, following a visit by billeting officers a couple of weeks earlier. About 8000 men of the 2/1 London Brigade, part of the 1st London Division, Territorial Force were quartered as follows.

2/5 (City of London) Battalion (London Rifles) at Haywards Heath
2/6 and 2/7 (City of London) Battalions (Rifles) at Burgess Hill
2/8 (City of London) Battalion (Post Office Rifles) at Cuckfield
2/2 (City of London) Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) at Lindfield

The first ‘2’ in their title denotes Second Line or Reserve units and all were formed in August or September 1914.

Commenting on the troops’ arrival the Mid Sussex Times said, ‘Some of the Terriers came from London, and were men of good social position’. It further noted, ‘On the very first day of their arrival they began to spend freely at certain shops. That their presence in Mid Sussex will be good for trade is certain and if shopkeepers are wise they will put their goods in the window as attractively as possible’. The following week the newspaper commented ‘that the troops billeted in Haywards Heath, Cuckfield, Burgess Hill and Lindfield have been weighed in the balance and have not been found wanting in gentlemanly behaviour.’

However, it was felt by some soldiers that local women who were members of the League of Honour of Women and Girls were treating them discourteously by ignoring their polite greetings and genuine questions for directions. The Mid Sussex Times suggested that perhaps they were taking their vow of purity to extremes.

Cordial relations between the communities and military, with little evidence of trouble, continued for the duration of the troops stay in the area.

2/2 London Field Ambulance drafted to Lindfield

On the troops arrival, Lindfield received ten officers and 223 men of the 2/2 London (City of London) Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps. This Field Ambulance popularly referred to as the ‘Second-Seconds’ was a new second line unit of the Territorial Force raised in September 1914 at Bowes Park, Chelsea and initially named the 2nd London (Reserve) City of London Field Ambulance.

A Field Ambulance was a mobile front line medical unit, with one Field Ambulance responsible for the care of the sick and wounded for a Brigade. The standard structure for a Field Ambulance was 10 officers and 224 men organised into three sections. RAMC men did not carry rifles.

Their first few weeks had been spent training and acquiring equipment. Under the command of Major J V Sinclair, the ‘Second-Seconds’ left Chelsea for Lindfield; possibly with a short stay at Crowborough en-route.

In preparation for the soldiers arrival, the Lindfield Parish Council, at a special meeting on 14 November 1914, gave permission for the Young Men’s Christian Association to erect a temporary ‘recreation building’ on the Common.

On arrival in Lindfield a brigade hospital was established at Fardels [No 92] High Street] owned by W. Sturdy As well as preparing for active service, the Field Ambulance provided medical care for the soldiers of their Brigade quartered in Mid Sussex. In addition to the brigade hospital, an isolation hospital under the command of Sergeant Hopkins was opened in an empty house at Sandridge Road, on the western outskirts of Lindfield parish.

The military cookhouse was situated at the top of the High Street, although the exact location is not known. It is thought to have been in the Mission Hall opposite the parish church.

Also Eastholme, [No 37] Compton Road was taken over as a Sergeants’ and Non Commissioned Officers’ mess, with a piano being provided by Mrs Leslie.

The soldiers were billeted with families, many occupied the beds of the single men who had left on military service, and in empty houses. Mr and Mrs Charman who ran a bakery at Boarsland in the High Street, had two soldiers billeted. Their 14 year old daughter, Kathleen, recalled in her memoirs, ‘The first Christmas an RAMC battalion was billeted in the village. They had been in camp at Crowborough and were very glad to be housed in a family home. We had two at Boarsland. They were young men from London who had worked in shops and offices and were so afraid the war would be over before they could get to the front!’

Householders were initially paid an allowance of 3s 4½d per day for each soldier billeted, a subsequent adjustment to the rate provoked criticism.
Some houses used as billets did not have bathrooms. The Mid Sussex Times asked ‘householders who are patriotic and generous enough to allow men to use their bath’ to display a printed card obtainable from the Battalion HQ in their windows. The soldiers would then know where a bath was available, bringing their own soap and towels’.

Within two weeks of arriving in Lindfield, the RAMC men organised social events for themselves and residents. The first being a Smoking Concert on 2 December 1915 in the Bent Arms Assembly Room. In his speech at the concert, Lieutenant Colonel Salisbury Sharpe made gratifying remarks on how the men had been made comfortable and happy in their billets in Lindfield. The Mid Sussex Times praised the organisers saying ‘the fair sex was permitted to be present’ and for ‘allowing men and maidens’ to meet. The entertainment as also complimented.

A further Smoking Concert was held on 15 December 1914 and was well supported including by wounded Belgian soldiers and their nurses from the Red Cross Hospital at King Edward Hall. Smoking concerts, regimental dances, and other events became regular features; all raising money for the Red Cross Hospital and RAMC funds.

On the morning of 21 December 1914, men billeted in the village belonging, according to the Mid Sussex Times, ‘the 2nd London Field Ambulance RAMC’ left Lindfield for Hursley Park, Winchester’. With flags flying the residents turned out in good numbers to wave and cheer. Outside the Red Cross Hospital the wounded Belgian soldiers similarly wished the troops well.

Lindfield School children gathered on the Common with their teachers and repeatedly cheered until the men were out of sight. The school log records, ‘Children of the three departments assembled on the Common at 8.50am to give the troops billeted here a ‘send off’. The boys were in by 9.20am.’

The Lindfield Boy Scouts and Ardingly Band preceded the Corps as they marched to Haywards Heath railway station. On the platform the band played patriotic music as the train steamed away.

Mr Walder, secretary of the Reading Room, together with men from the RAMC jointly organised the first public dance held in the Reading Room, on 13 January 1915. ‘Men from the RAMC turned up in force’, and in total over 100 people attended. In addition to the dancing there was musical entertainment and food. Proceeds were donated to the Belgian Refugee Fund. A further well attended dance was held a fortnight later and it was noted ‘the fair sex showing an increase on the numbers present at the first dance’.

On Saturday 6 February 1915 to raise money for the Red Cross Hospital a football match was played between the RAMC and a Lindfield team drawn from the village, Haywards Heath and Ardingly by Mr A C Crosley. The home team included V J Woodward a Chelsea Football Club player. The game, refereed by Mr Jesse Newnham, was played in wet and muddy conditions in Tentermead field resulted in a 4-1 win for the RAMC. The 2d admission charge raised £1 3s 2d for the hospital.

For residents, the RAMC soldiers in the village became a familiar sight. While for the soldiers, drill, training, lectures, route marches and church parades together with social events became the pattern of life.

The Congregational Chapel held a Social Evening on 5 March 1915 for members of the RAMC stationed in the village. Refreshments were provided, together with singing and musical entertainment by local friends, visitors from Haywards Heath and Cuckfield, and the soldiers. The evening was presided over by Rev Taylor, Mrs. Coules, Mrs Taylor and Mrs Stevens with others assisting. The chapel’s school room was regularly used for training and lectures as well as a quiet room for the men in the evenings.

RAMC Drum and Fife Band

In January 1915 at a Sunday morning church parade, Mr W A Sturdy of Paxhill presented Col Sinclair, the 2/2 London Field Ambulance commanding officer, with drums and fifes so that a band could be formed. The band became an enduring feature in the life of the unit.

On 6 March 1915, residents gave another hearty send off to another draft of RAMC men bound for ‘somewhere in France’. The drum and fife band accompanied the men as they marched to Haywards Heath station.

In late April 1915, the Post Office Rifles band from Cuckfield marched through Lindfield High Street and the RAMC drum and fife band reciprocated with a parade through Cuckfield.

Second Seconds Leave Lindfield

The last of the 2/2 London Field Ambulance left the village in May 1915 and went with the 2/1 London Brigade to Norwich. The Second Seconds were eventually sent to France in February 1916. Private Percy Skinner in a letter written in France to a village resident said they marched to the Front ‘to the sound of the same flute and drums you used to hear in Lindfield’.

Regimental history describes Second Seconds stay in the village, as a happy time with cordial relationships with the people of the village and ‘in such a glorious countryside, all were enriched with pleasant and lasting memories’.

East Lancashire Field Ambulance

Another RAMC unit, the 2/3 East Lancashire Field Ambulance, arrived in Lindfield on 21 May 1915 having travelled overnight by train from Southport. Sending a post card home on his arrival Private Gent described Lindfield as ‘the prettiest place I have ever seen’.

The unit quickly settled into the village and enjoyed ‘the facilities for drill and recreation afforded by the Common’. A cricket match, Officers v NCOs and men, played on the Lindfield Cricket Club pitch resulted in victory for the NCOs and men, by 110 to 100 runs.This was followed by an evening rugby match on the Common. The report also noted that the Village Hall club was open to the soldiers on advantageous terms.

The 2/3 East Lancashire Field Ambulance did not stay long enough to fully enjoy the facilities Lindfield had to offer, as in June they moved to Pease Pottage and subsequently to other locations in England.

For the remainder of the war no other military units were billeted in the village.
With the RAMC having departed, the Congregational Chapel Ladies Working Party held a Sale of Work in aid of church funds to defray the cost of entertaining the RAMC units who had used their schoolroom while billeted in the village.


In the years before the war women had a restricted role in society and there had been growing demands for women’s suffrage. The war was to provide women with an opportunity to rise to new challenges. Mrs Henry Fawcett of Lindfield made a stirring appeal to members of the National Union of Women’s Suffragists to bind themselves together for the purpose of rendering the greatest possible aid to the country at this momentous epoch. Political action was set aside and replaced by support and work for the national good.

With men away fighting, many jobs previously regarded as men’s work were undertaken by women. Despite resentment by some men, the ever increasing shortage of available men made their entry into the workplace essential. For many it was their first opportunity to undertake work outside the home, even if only on a voluntary basis. The voluntary work schemes provided structures that enabled women to directly contribute to the war effort.

In Lindfield organising charitable war work, fund raising and similar tasks, to a large extent, fell to ladies of the middle to higher social order. An exemplar being Miss Maud Savill, who lived at Finches, throughout the war she made a major local contribution to the home front, giving generously of her time and money to literally every good cause; from paying for the rifle range building to providing land for allotments. She was also a significant supporter of the Red Cross VAD Hospital.

Every woman had a role to play in helping fight the Country’s first total war, by saving food and fuel, reducing waste and unnecessary purchases, avoiding hoarding and saving small amounts for war certificates. Women, whether rich or poor, contributed to the war effort.

Lindfield Red Cross Working Centre

At the outbreak of war, the British Red Cross in Sussex appealed for women to make or help fund the purchase of materials for items and clothing, urgently wanted for hospital wards. Mrs Dudley Sampson acted as the Hon Secretary for Lindfield and organised for work to be given out twice weekly at King Edward Hall. Women in Lindfield quickly rallied to the call and the Red Cross Lindfield Branch soon established a productive ‘working centre.’ Making hospital supplies provided an opportunity for women, of all classes, to contribute to the war effort.

In autumn 1915, the Joint War Committee of the British Red Cross and the Order of St John established a central organisation, to co-ordinate the activities of hundreds of working centres across the country.

This resulted in the Lindfield Red Cross Working Centre becoming the Lindfield War Hospital Sub-Supply Depot in October 1915.

War Hospital Sub Supply Depot

The Depot with Mrs Cumberlege as chairman, had a work room at Old Place provided by Mrs Tower. The volunteer women either worked there or in their homes.

During the first six months the women produced and delivered to the Hove Hospital Supply Depot:
138 sleeveless vests
38 pairs of pyjamas
18 limb pillows
48 casualty bags
42 handkerchiefs
92 towels
24 feeders
6 knitted swabs
7 operation stockings

The materials for these items were purchased with money given by the women themselves and Lindfield residents or from fund-raising events.

In June 1916, the War Hospital Supply Depot amalgamated with the Lindfield Voluntary Work Organisation, and funds of £26 were transferred.

Lindfield Voluntary Work Organisation

The Mid Sussex Voluntary Work Association with rooms at the Council Offices in Haywards Heath was established in late 1915. It was part of the national organisation approved by the War Office and a registered war charity. Twelve depots were established in local towns and villages, enabling women to make a structured contribution to the war effort.

The Lindfield Voluntary Work Organisation, similarly a registered war charity, opened its depot at the Bent Arms on 12 January 1916. Mrs Cumberlege was in charge with Miss Masters as secretary. Within a week the first order for 100 mufflers and 20 pairs of mittens was completed, destined for the British base at Calais. Volunteers undertook the work in their own homes delivering the completed items to the depot each Wednesday afternoon and collected new orders and materials.

In June 1916, the Lindfield War Hospital Supply Depot and the Lindfield Voluntary Work Organisation amalgamated, with Mrs Cumberlege becoming the Branch President. Mr W Sturdy provided a new base and workrooms for the enlarged organisation at Fardels, in the High Street. Work was undertaken there three days a week, it was also the hub for home workers.

In January 1917, the depot undertook to supply Casualty Clearing Stations with 20 capeline bandages, 20 pneumonia jackets and 1500 swabs per month, the latter needed a great deal of hand sewing. It was noted that Lady Edwards’ working party, Mrs Cumberlege’s working party and the Congregation Church working party were particularly productive. In July that year over 4500 items were made, mainly surgical requisites.

The depot had to fund the purchase of materials used, so the organisers had to request donations and regularly organised events to raise the funds; they became one of the largest fund raisers in the village.

Musical and dramatic entertainments held at the major houses were a popular method of fund raising. One such event was held in the gardens of Townlands, courtesy for Mr and Mrs Steer on Wednesday afternoon, 26 July 1916. Tickets cost three shillings or two shillings for reserved seating and one shilling for unreserved seats. The programme comprised numerous and varied songs, recitations, dance performances, duologues and a one act play all performed by local ladies and men. The afternoon concluded with tea. This event contributed over £34 4s 3d to the funds.

Well attended whist drives and games in the Reading Room and jumble sales at the Tiger were regular events. The February 1917 jumble sale, with jumble being collected by the boy scouts, raised £34 which was equivalent to the cost of five months’ bandage material.

The major summer event in July 1917 was the Grand Fete, which raised over £240, sufficient to fund work until the following spring. This fete took place in the grounds of The Welkin. Stalls included Flowers and Fruit, Produce, Fancy Articles and Lavender. There was a Skittle competition for a live pig, Swings, Coconut Shies, Clock Golf, Donkey Rides, Bean Bags, Bowls, a Ration Tea for 6d, entertainments, and in the evening dancing. Also a giant jumble sale was organised by Mrs Comer, with help from the Boy Scouts who assisted by collecting jumble items from houses.

Thanks to regular fund-raising events, the generosity of residents and willing workers, the Lindfield depot was very productive making a wide range of hospital items and comforts. Later in the war, it specialised in surgical dressings, including sphagnum moss dressings, often making over 2000 a month, plus many garments. It was regularly among the highest producers.

Items were made to order using specifications and patterns provided by the national organisation, eventually it provided limited amounts of some material free or at moderate cost. However the sphagnum moss required for surgical dressings merely had to be collected from local woods.

Women who completed three months regular work received the Government’s Voluntary Works Badge which could be kept provided they continued to work.

In January 1919, although the work was ongoing, subscribers to the monthly collection were asked to stop payments as sufficient material was in stock for three months production. Production ceased during February 1919 and the following month a valedictory tea with entertainments was held in the King Edward Hall to thank all volunteers, subscribers and supporters.

Lindfield Women’s Institute

The organisation had started in Canada a few years earlier and spread to Britain early in the war. Sponsored by the Government there were over 120 branches in the United Kingdom ‘doing good work for the country and Empire’. A well-attended meeting at the Tiger on 16 June 1917 decided to start a Women’s Institute for Lindfield. Mrs Dearden was elected President, Miss Keigthley the Vice President and Miss G Savill the Hon Secretary and Treasurer.

The first meeting was held on 18 July 1917 at the Tiger. After the President’s opening address, Miss Sellens of the Food Production Department gave a talk on preserving fruit and vegetables and demonstrated the oven method of bottling without sugar. Also to make sugar go further in jam making, a quarter of a teaspoonful of salt to a pound of sugar was recommended. An ‘excellent tea’ followed provided by Miss G Savill, with an opportunity to inspect war souvenirs. After tea, a competition for ‘the best dinner for a child to take to school’, was won by Mrs Tee of The Grove, Beckworth. Her menu consisted of an egg pastry, a piece of jam sandwich and an orange, the cost being 5d.

A paper prepared by Miss Hawkins, one of the lady gardeners at Finches, on Garden Hints for August’ was read by Mrs Dearden. To close, Mrs Massy-Dawson spoke on ‘that terrible pest, the fly’ and exhibited a patent chemical spray favoured by the Army Medical department. She offered to go to any cottage with a fly nuisance and spray the rooms in ‘the interest of the children’. This agenda set the scene for future wartime meetings.

By the end of its first month, membership was well on the way to 50 and reached 100 members in November 1917. With Christmas approaching, the Institute had made or collected 92 gifts of soldiers’ comforts for the Royal Sussex Regiment.

The December 1917 meeting, ahead of the Christmas party, was addressed by Major A Herbert-Kenney and Rev Mead on the urgent need for food economy and reduced waste, as management of food resources would ‘win or lose the war’. Voluntary food rationing was patriotically promoted. At the Christmas party, with entertainments and dancing, the refreshments accorded with the spirit of the League of National Safety voluntary rationing scheme.

A review of activities, at the January 1918 meeting, noted the soft-toy making class had been a great success and would continue in readiness for next Christmas, also that cobbling classes would be held at the Girls Friendly Society Home of Rest. The meeting was given a talk on health issues, the advantages of hay-box cookery and also featured an exhibition of potato cookery. At the close tea without sugar was served.
The monthly meetings continued with topics that enabled members ‘to learn something and to do something that would help’, such as how to clean and renovate old clothes, sewing and making, growing food crops, and cooking. Membership had increased to 125 by February 1918.

With thoughts on returning servicemen, the Women’s Institute took particular interest in the housing needs for the working class and the insanitary conditions in many existing dwellings; views which Lindfield Parish Council were not keen to take on board.

The Institute continued to remain active after the war and thrives in the village to this day.

Collecting and Fund Raising

Britain’s unpreparedness to support a lengthy major war can be seen in the constant need for charitable assistance to provide money and goods for the war effort. Socially active ladies of a certain class rallied to the calls and did ‘their bit’, the following are a few examples of charitable work they undertook in addition to many being involved with the Red Cross Hospital and the Voluntary Work Organisation.

With hundreds of hospitals being established at the outbreak of war there was a shortage of pillows and a countrywide appeal to poultry keepers for feathers was made. Mrs L Prideaux of Spring Cottage volunteered as the local collector. Within two weeks she despatched one and a half hundredweight of feathers to London on 31 August 1914. At the end of September 1914, Mrs Prideaux pleaded for no more feathers, having despatched over three hundredweight! (About 150kilo)

The Princess Mary Fund was set up to provide soldiers and sailors with Christmas presents, the local representative, Mrs J Tester of Lewes Road collected £6 12s in autumn 1914.

In response to a call by the 9th Royal Sussex Regiment, based at Shoreham for blankets, Mrs Lambart and Mrs Knowles collected 150 blankets from Lindfield residents within a matter of days.

Miss Masters collected 100 pipes and 70 mouth organs which she sent in January 1915 to the men of the Sussex Regiment at the Front.

Another local collection in support of a national initiative to supply ‘cut throat’ razors for men at the front was again undertaken by Mrs Prideaux of Spring Cottage. Between March and September 1915 she collected 427 ‘cut throat’ razors which were sent to Sheffield to be reground before despatch to the troops.

In June 1915, Mrs Eycott-Martin, the Misses Catt and Mrs Twiss sought subscriptions and help in making sandbags for the front. A dozen sandbags cost five shillings to make. After seven weeks, £14. 19s 6d had been received and 500 sand bags made and despatched.

Mrs Jocelyn Shaw and Miss Gertrude Savill organised an afternoon concert on 21 October 1915 in the Assembly Room, Bent Hotel for the benefit of the Red Cross.

Miss Catt organised a Lindfield ‘Pound Day’ on 14 February 1916 in aid of the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton and raised £12 and 200 pounds weight of goods.

Soldiers and Sailors Families Association, with Mrs Strachan-Davidson of White Gates as local president and subsequently Mrs Dudley Sampson, worked tirelessly to raise funds. In addition to regular subscriptions, over £300 was raised at the start of the war and fund raising continued throughout the war years.

In July 1916 a cake and apron sale, with refreshments at Finches on behalf of Lindfield Home of Rest for Tired Working Girls organised by the Matron raised £8 13s. The home was also grateful for donations of fruit and vegetables.

A whist drive and dance on 2 August 1916 organised at Criplands Court by Mrs Howden on behalf of the British Prisoners of War Fund raised £111.

The village collection for the 1916 Daily Telegraph Christmas Pudding Fund was organised by Mrs J Shaw with £24 given to a Royal Sussex Battalion undertaking coastal defence duties.

In January 1917 the Royal Sussex Regiments Prisoners of War Fund benefited by £15 from a children’s dance at Bedales organised by Mrs Willett and Mrs Dearden. It is reported 140 children danced in the central hall.

Throughout the war, Mrs Strachan Davidson was involved in collecting money for the RSPCA to assist the Army Veterinary Corps provide care for wounded and sick horses and mules in France.

Hardly a week passed without a charitable appeal, ranging from cricket bats for soldiers on the Western Front to flag days in support of a national cause to major fund raisers such as the annual Red Cross Our Day or the YMCA Hut Weeks, and all seemed to receive support.

Perhaps the highlight of the ladies’ fundraising was the annual Red Cross ‘Our Day.’ This comprised a week long programme of events. In 1917, these included an animal and vegetable auction, processions, house to house collections, sales of toys and fancy goods, competitions, fish and chips sold at the Tiger, fortune telling, whist drive, bridge tournament and entertainments. All the notable ladies of the village participated and assisted by men from the village raised £232 3s 8d. The Mid Sussex Times reported ‘Lindfield is known as a wealthy area, and to the credit of the inhabitants – no matter to which class they belong – they readily give according to their means whenever an appeal goes forth for a worthy cause’. It is worth noting that in the same month as the £232 was raised for the Red Cross, Vice Admiral Guy Twiss reported his local collection for the Royal National Life Boat fund amounted to £148.

Comforts for Soldiers

The local Recruiting Agent for A Company 4th Royal Sussex Regiment, which comprised men from Lindfield, Cuckfield and Haywards Heath, regularly appealed via the Mid Sussex Times for woollen comforts, also periodicals and tobacco. In response they regularly received knitted mittens, scarves and other comfort items from local women; Miss Drummond of Eldon Lodge was a noted contributor. On one occasion the girls at Mid Sussex Laundry, Lindfield had a ‘whip round’ sending pants, vests, cigarettes and other gifts to the soldiers.

All requests were enthusiastically responded to, such as finding three cricket bats for a Sussex Regiment in France by the village postmistress.

For Christmas 1917, Margaret Beale and Miriam Godman, wife and sister respectively, of the Major in 4th Royal Sussex appealed for money which they cabled to the Battalion.

The funds were made available in the canteen, rather than sending gift parcels as in previous years.

Women and the Military

While a good number of Lindfield women undertook voluntary work or charitable duties, many more entered employment locally and further afield for the first time. Only a very few volunteered to serve or work with the military or to work abroad, the following women are in this category:

Florence May Sutton, aged 25, in 1916 was living at 14 Gravelye Cottages, working in domestic service at a local house. She applied for a job with the Women’s Legion and started as an assistant cook at St John’s Wood Barracks on 22 May 1916. Florence was transferred in 1917 to the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps.

The Women’s Legion, established in July 1915, provided cooks and waitresses for military canteens. It was formally recognised by the Army Council in February 1916, and took over some soldier’s work in cookery and canteen duties, motor transport and ambulance work and general duties, enabling the men to be sent abroad. Women had to pay one shilling to enrol. The Women’s Legion provided the nucleus of the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps when it was formed in 1917. The women, as well as cooking and waiting on officers, served as clerks, telephone operators, store-women, drivers, printers, bakers and cemetery gardeners. All members of the WAAC had to do physical exercise every day, this included morris dancing and hockey. In April 1918, Queen Mary became patron of the Corps in recognition of their overall conduct and bravery. It was renamed Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps.

Daisy Whall

was the daughter of Joseph and Alice Whall, who owned a hairdresser’s in the High Street. After leaving grammar school she worked as an assistant at Lindfield Post Office for four-and-a-half years before joining the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps, in June 1917, aged 19.

After training in London she was posted to France as a clerk. Her brother had been killed in France two years earlier, thankfully she returned safely to Lindfield after the war.

Martha Nellie Field was born in Lindfield on 20 February 1889, the eldest child of Charles Field, an agricultural labourer, and his wife, Margaret. On leaving Lindfield School she worked as a live-in cook. When Martha applied to join the WAAC as a cook in July 1917, she was working and living at Townlands. Her father had died and her mother had re-married and was living at 1 Francis Road, Lindfield.

The WAAC application process took some time as two references, a selection board interview and a medical in London were required. Martha’s references were very good and included ‘she is a very nice minded girl’ and in answer to the question about suitability for employment in a military camp, ‘yes & you are lucky to get her’. Her service with the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps started on 22 September 1917, serving as a cook at Lympne, Hastings and Thetford. She was promoted to Assistant Forewoman Cook in December 1917 and six weeks later to Forewoman Cook. She was discharged from the WAAC on compassionate grounds in August 1919.

Minnie Anscombe was born 19 April 1880, the eldest daughter of Parker Anscombe, the owner of a building firm, and his wife Kathleen. The family lived at Eldon Lodge, but later moved to Pond Croft. As a young woman she trained to be a nurse at Steyning Union Infirmary. Subsequently she worked for three years as a nurse at a railway company hospital in Chile, returning to Lindfield in February 1915.

On 27 May 1915, Minnie joined the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve and was initially posted as a charge nurse at a military hospital in Nottingham. An overseas posting followed as a staff nurse in Mesopotamia and India, where suffering from dysentery Minnie was invalided home in October 1916. After recovering she worked at the Military Hospital, Oswestry and Lord Derby War Hospital, Warrington. Unfortunately, ill health continued and she eventually had to resign from QAIMNSR on 29 September 1918. Minnie was awarded the 1915 Star, Victory Medal and British War Medal.

Ruby Florence Wearn

Although not in the military, Ruby undertook arduous nursing service overseas to help soldiers.

Born in 1885, Ruby was the third of four daughters and a son of Arthur George and Elizabeth Ann Wearn. Her parents owned a Grocers and Drapers shop at 1 & 2 Albert Terrace, High Street. Initially the family lived above the shop but later moved to Beatsonia, 49 Compton Road.

She trained as a nurse in London and by the start of the war, with 10 years nursing experience, Ruby had achieved the grade of Sister at the London Fever Hospital. As a fever nurse, her skills would have been much in demand because of the incidence of infectious diseases such as typhoid and dysentery, which were endemic in the close confines of the front line.

In 1915, Ruby joined the French Flag Nursing Corps, which despite its name was set up by an English woman, Miss Grace Ellison. She had witnessed the large number of French sick and wounded being nursed in appalling conditions. Miss Ellison approached the French Army Medical Corps for permission to send fully trained British nurses to undertake nursing duties. The offer was accepted and she organised the supply of 300 trained nurses which included Ruby. On arriving in France in May 1915, Ruby was posted to a military barracks that had been turned into a hospital at Rèbeval, Neufchâteau, in the Vosges Mountains. There were six nurses nursing 600 patients, Ruby was in charge of a large typhoid ward.

Upon arriving at the ‘hospital’, Ruby highlighted the absence of pillows and towels, lack of bed linen and that the casualties arriving from the trenches had not even been washed, and how very different it was from hospitals run by English doctors. Her first priority was to get her ward straight. She wrote to her sister, Hylda, with the request that ‘the good ladies of Lindfield’ be asked if they can provide pillow cases, towels and dusters, but more importantly any number of homemade bags, ‘half a yard square, preferably of some dark material, for my poor men to keep their little treasures in – purses, letters, etc.’

The Mid Sussex Times published this request and the response was magnificent. As well as the items requested many people sent soap, socks, tea, tobacco, haberdashery and stationery. Also received were slippers, lemonade essence and other little luxuries for the sick men. The cost of sending the items was high but by using the Croix Rouge Français they were certain of delivery.

By June 1915 the number of patients had increased to 3,000 but eventually the number settled at 1,400. The hospital received, on average, 70 French casualties and sick a day, though the number often reached 100 admissions. The hospital was constantly getting new doctors, and in the five months since May 1915, five had been sent home owing to ill health, ‘broken down by the bad atmosphere’.

The hospital had a high turnover with soldiers being returned to the front before being fully fit to make room for new patients, including German prisoners. In one letter she bemoans the hundreds of injured horses, ‘fearfully cut about’ that are also brought to the hospital. Keen to maintain standards, she recounts walking to a local village and buying a strange looking flat iron ‘wherewith to iron my caps’.

The requests for comforts for the sick and wounded French troops continued to be made throughout 1915; jam, soap tablets, linen of all kinds and even money were donated. A large consignment was being sent to France every fortnight. Ruby commends her sister for sending hundreds of the little bags but still wanted more, as besides always having one behind every bed she liked to give each man on discharge a bag for his ‘little treasures’.

Normally positive in the face of adversity, Ruby in her later letters reports feeling the strain of working against the odds. Particularly as the patients trained to act as orderlies were returned to the front as soon as ‘fit’, requiring the nurses to train a new set of orderlies. Ruby returned home from France early in 1916, the work having told upon her health. She returned to her duties as Sister at the London Fever Hospital for the next 2 years.

In June 1918, Ruby joined the Girton Newnham unit of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals which had been set up by Dr Inglis and staffed entirely by female doctors, nurses, orderlies and ambulance drivers. She was sent to the Balkans and stationed at Salonika, nursing mainly Serbs and Russians. Typhus and malaria was endemic. Ruby herself suffered from touches of malaria ‘but not sufficient to go off duty, though the temperature goes up to 102 and 103 suddenly, it only lasts a short time’. Conditions at Salonika were harsh with the nurses billeted in tents in the coldest weather. She reports wearing ‘relays of jerseys, mufflers and mittens’ with nothing in the way of fires or stoves and the tent flapping, shaking and everything blowing about. Also due to much banditry in the area, she always slept with a loaded revolver under her pillow. She stayed in the Balkans until May 1920, travelling to Belgrade where typhus and smallpox were rife, before returning home.

Ruby was awarded the 1915 Star, the Victory Medal and British War Medal for her active service in France in 1915 and the Balkans in 1918.

There may possibly have been other Lindfield women working with the military or abroad but these have yet to be discovered.

Enduring Hardship, Poverty and Shortages

The Mid Sussex Times in fulfilling its patriotic duty, and mindful of censorship, regularly reported the ‘good news’ of women’s contributions to the war effort, such as organising fund raising events, collecting for good causes and voluntary work. Little was said of the women whose circumstances precluded them from such activities. Perhaps the most vital role fulfilled by these women was holding the family together whilst the men were away. Many women, especially those in the working class, with large families, often living in poor housing, faced considerable financial hardship. Families reliant on the Separation Allowance were even more financially hard pressed than they were before the war.

The 1911 Census showed that a not inconsiderable number of families in the village were living in difficult circumstances, with husbands in poorly paid work, a large number of children, over-crowded poor housing, etc. Little had changed by 1914 and the onset of war only served to worsen their plight, particularly with the departure of their husbands, and adult sons who had helped the family finances. In addition to having to cope with the harsh realities of life, they also had the constant fear of receiving bad news. When such news was received they still had to carry on.

Inflation during the war, particularly the rise in food and fuel prices made life very difficult for women with large families, especially those solely reliant on the Separation Allowance. Evidence of the hardships being endured can be gleaned from a few phrases in the Mid Sussex Times when reporting on Lindfield, such as the Parish Council debate on food shortages, ‘many of them existed on bread and a scrape of margarine and a dab of jam’ and the Infant Welfare Centre selling inexpensive meatless dishes and a Women’s Institute member offering to spray fly infested cottages. Similarly, jumble sales were eagerly awaited and provided ‘cottagers with a few pennies in their pockets’ the opportunity to buy ‘a few old hats and a skirt or two and a blouse’.

Keeping families together and healthy assisted the social cohesion that was essential to the nation’s ability to continue the fight. This was recognised at the Welcome Home dinner by Major Willett, who in his speech paid a tribute to ‘the womenfolk at home’ with the words, ‘There was a saying “Keep the home fires burning”. The women had done that and more than that. It had been simply splendid the way women had carried on throughout the war’.


The War Office in 1908 issued its ‘Scheme for the Organisation of Voluntary Aid’ as it recognised that in the event of a major European war existing medical arrangements would be wholly inadequate for the care of the returned wounded. In response the Red Cross began to establish Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs) to recruit and train local volunteers. There were separate detachments for women and men, led by a Commandant

Sussex 150 Women’s Detachment

The detachment was formed in Lindfield in March 1912, with Mrs Florence Hooper as Commandant. Local women were recruited and trained at Cuckfield Hospital to enable them to pass proficiency examinations in readiness for mobilisation.

Sussex 11 Men’s Detachment

This Detachment was also formed in Lindfield in March 1912 with Mr Godfrey Hooper as the Commandant. It mobilised on 20 November 1914 to provide orderlies for Lindfield and Haywards Heath Red Cross Hospitals.

It would appear that the Detachment never achieved its full complement of volunteers, as Mr Hooper indicated that in 1917 the 35 registered members were serving as follows: seven night orderlies and one day orderly at Lindfield, one orderly at Haywards Heath Red Cross Hospital, two orderlies at Red Cross Hospital, Netley, Hampshire, 19 serving in the Army, two working in munitions and 3 unable to help.

Few details exist as to the members of this Detachment, other than:

Leonard Broadbridge joined 3 October 1914 and worked as a part time volunteer night orderly at Lindfield until March 1916 when he entered munitions work.
Edward Bristow joined 3 October 1914 and worked as part time volunteer night orderly until being called up in June 1916.

Lindfield Red Cross Hospital

Mobilised shortly after the war started, the Sussex 150 Women’s Detachment prepared to establish the Red Cross Hospital, also commonly known as a VAD hospital. It was an Auxiliary War Hospital attached to the 2nd Eastern General Military Hospital, Brighton and thus the patients remained under military control. It was one of over 3000 auxiliary hospitals administered by the Red Cross and typical of such hospitals across Sussex and the country.

The Hospital was situated on the ground floor of King Edward Hall, the village hall opened in January 1911.

Shortly after the outbreak of war an appeal was made for items necessary to establish a hospital such as sheeting, old linen, bedding, clothing, hot water bottles, forks, various items of equipment, cleaning products, money and even coal. The response was immediate and generous from Lindfield residents and businesses; a trait that continued throughout the war as local financial and other support was an ongoing necessity.

To assist in equipping the Hall for use as a hospital, the Haywards Heath Gas Company supplied free of charge large cookers and a geyser for hot water.

The hospital opened its doors on 3 November 1914 and received an initial intake of 20 wounded Belgian soldiers. The ward situated in the main hall had 20 beds, this increased to 24 and then 26 by 1918. The patient’s nationality shifted to mainly British soldiers as the war progressed. In 1917 six beds were reserved for those who had lost limbs and sadly all were usually occupied.

When the soldiers were fit enough to leave the ward on a fine day they would sit outside King Edward Hall under an awning and enjoy the view across the Pond and chat to passers-by.

King Edward Hall Extended

By 1917 the domestic facilities in the hall were becoming increasingly inadequate, never having been designed to cope with a 22 bed hospital. To address the demands of the busy hospital an extension was built, funded largely by public subscription. Described as a permanent asset, it was designed by Mr Walter Tower and constructed by Norman & Burt of Burgess Hill, who had built the hall.

The extension to the rear of the hall comprised an outside brick wall with a temporary roof to form a corridor. Within this space was a scullery, nurses’ cloakroom, two extra baths and an additional small room for patients.

Completed in July 1917, the total cost was £286 13s with £185 7s 10d coming from the Lindfield residents and the balance from Red Cross funds.

Hospital Personnel

On opening in November 1914 the personnel at the Hospital were:
Commandant – Mrs Florence Hooper, Firs Cottage, Lindfield.
Medical Officer – Dr Child (village doctor)
Lady Superintendent (Ward sister) – Miss Simpson
Quartermaster – Miss Leslie
Superintendent Cook – Miss Scott

VAD Nurses – Mrs Crosbie, Mrs Helme, Miss M Adams, Miss M A Adams, Miss H Catt, Miss J Fitzmaurice, Miss F Humphrey, Miss A Johnstone-Smith, Miss Pestell, Miss S Speer, Miss V Stilwell.

Other Helpers – Miss G Alban, Miss Abbott, Mrs Barker, Mrs Bagley, Mrs Cattley, Miss O’Callaghan, Miss J Dickenson, Miss Hill, Miss Knight, Mrs Marchant, Miss L Stilwell and Madame Ludiaux.

Statistics Clerk – Miss G Pennethorne
Assistant Clerk – Mrs N Whittall
Auditor – Mr G Hooper

Additionally Mrs Katharine Dudley Sampson as the Red Cross Local Secretary held the position of Honorary Commandant.

The hospital could not have existed without its team of dedicated volunteers, three such volunteers were:

Faith Humphrey joined the VAD 150 detachment in January 1913 and served as a volunteer nurse from 3 November 1914 until 16 December 1918, clocking up 3592 hours. It was noted ‘this member gave up all her recreation and spare time to working in the evenings at the Hospital: although employed in a shop all day’. VAD Nurses who had registered over 1000 hours unpaid nursing service were awarded the British Red Cross War Medal.

Another known recipient of the War Medal was Jane Fitzmaurice, known as Jean, the elder daughter of Dr Richard and Alexina Fitzmaurice, who lived at Everyndens. She joined the detachment in January 1913 and between the hospital’s mobilisation and December 1915, when she moved to Littlehampton, completed 1750 unpaid hours.

Likewise, Mrs Frances Lee, of Beckworth Cottages, a part time volunteer, cooked at the hospital 2 or 3 times a week for two years from January 1917, in addition to working as a dairy woman.

In addition to the unpaid volunteers, the hospital was staffed with a Lady Superintendent (ward sister) and one or two qualified nurses employed by the Red Cross, these included:

Laura Williams, nee Miller, Ward Sister, 11 April 1917 – 1 December 1917
Mabel Pineo, Nurse Masseuse, 4 January 1918 – 29 November 1918
Violet Tanner, Staff Nurse, 22 May 1918 – 21 December 1918.

These nurses were not local women and had served at several hospitals across England before and during the war. The pay for a senior nurse was £1 1s a week and qualified nurses 15s 5d a week. Additionally a very small number of local women were employed on non-nursing duties, such as Mrs Jane Piper of 5 Eastern Cottages employed at 12s 6d per week, who it is recorded ‘never once failed to come on duty at 6am for over 4 years that the Hospital was open to light kitchen fire, clean up, etc. and help with breakfast’. She worked 8,146 hours.

Mrs Florence Hooper served as Commandant throughout the war and received the MBE for her service and in recognition of caring for the wounded Belgian soldiers she was decorated with the Belgian Order of the Palms of the Crown.
The Mid Sussex Times reported that Miss E Miller, Sister-in-Charge, and Miss L Leslie, the Quartermaster, had their names brought to the attention of the Secretary of State for War for their good hospital war service.

Hospital Patients

The Hospital received its first intake of 13 wounded Belgian soldiers on 3 November 1914, with seven more being admitted a few days later. All were suffering from bullet and shrapnel wounds received whilst fighting around Antwerp and Dixmude.

Their presence in the village so early in the war must have seemed strange. They were treated as minor celebrities and even had their autographs collected. As their recovery progressed they were taken on outings, entertained to tea and received invitations to the Haywards Heath Picture Theatre.

Once recovered, they returned to the fighting and were replaced by new patients. By mid-1915, the Belgians had been largely replaced by British soldiers sent to Lindfield to convalesce following treatment in 2nd Eastern General Military Hospital at Brighton. The average duration of their stay in Lindfield was three to seven weeks, although some badly wounded soldiers stayed much longer.

The British soldiers wore the distinctive ‘hospital blues’ uniform of wounded servicemen, a blue suit, white shirt and red tie.

By all accounts the patients were pleased with the care they received and enjoyed their time in Lindfield

.One departing Belgian soldier told Mrs Hooper, Commandant, that the two months he had spent in the hospital were the happiest in his life.

Private J Whitney of the 5th Royal Berks, who had been wounded twice, told the Mid Sussex Times, ‘I have been in five hospitals and I have never been more comfortable than at Lindfield. The hospital is top-hole, and a nicer Sister I have never met. The nurses are also kind and most attentive, and it is the first Hospital I have been in as a patient where you could send your plate up for a second helping of vegetables and meat.’ Another soldier commented ‘If it’s our luck to get bowled over again at the front we hope they’ll send us here again.’ There was even a lengthy poem ‘Appreciation’ published in the paper.

Participating in Village Life

The patients were allowed into the village and to participate in its social life.
Lindfield Club, on the first floor of King Edward Hall, was open to patients in the daytime for a drink and billiards. Similarly Lindfield Bowling Club allowed patients to sit around their green and play games during the season. Occasionally informal matches with tea were arranged. In June 1915, virtually the entire hospital, 20 patients plus staff, were entertained by the Bowling Club.

Village social events and entertainments always received good support, and a number of the wounded soldiers even attended Lindfield Baby Day. The soldiers were made welcome wherever they went.

Throughout the war, to keep up morale, Mrs Knowles arranged regular entertainments in the hospital with local performers. Similarly, as a thank you, the wounded soldiers from time to time held concerts to entertain staff and friends of the hospital with music, songs and sketches. Some proved to be surprisingly talented, one group of men fond of acting were described as ‘more or less “inventive geniuses” being capable of making their lines up as they go along.’ Patients also lent their vocal support to events, such as the Red Cross Our Day concerts at Horsted Keynes.

At a number of village weddings, with the groom serving in the Army, the wounded soldiers formed up outside the church as a guard of honour. They made an archway with their sticks for the newly-wedded couple to pass under. This tradition appears to have continued throughout the duration of the Hospital. The soldiers even helped to decorate the Parish church for Harvest Festival.

Support from the Village

Residents and trades people rallied to support the hospital by giving money, plus every week providing a comprehensive range of goods and services. Help ranged from accommodation for the paid nurse to darning by Lindfield School girls, from mutton to newspapers, sausage rolls to milk, vegetables, butter and even kippers. A donated piano gave the patients much pleasure.

In addition to proceeds from concerts many other fund raising events were organised to help hospital funds, such as:• An auction of gifted items.
• Gate money from a RAMC v Locals football match.
• Sales of photographs showing the hospital ward, taken by W Marchant of Lindfield, at 1s 6d each with 6d donated to hospital funds.
• Proceeds of the Ye Old Lindfielde Waites singing carols around the village on Christmas morning, a traditional village event, raised £5 3s 0d
• Pumpkin seed competition at 1d per guess, with the nearest three guesses to 516 seeds winning 4s, 2s 6d and 1s 6d. The giant pumpkin grown by Mr J Sharman weighed 88lbs! Additionally the seeds were sold at 2d each in aid of Fire Brigade’s Widows’ and Orphans’ Fund.
• Whist Drive for the patients’ Tobacco Fund; raised £11.
• Whist Drive and Dance; raised £61 14s 6d.
• The “Sweet Lavender” performances in Haywards Heath raised £11 for the Lindfield VAD Hospital.
• An entertainment by the Girls Club in the Reading Room raised £10.

The Hospital also received donations from outside the parish, such as jam, perishable fruit and vegetables, the offerings from the 1916 Harvest Festival service at St Peter’s Church, Ardingly.

Nevertheless it was the regular donations and subscriptions to the Red Cross that were the most vital support. Particularly generous with their support were the Savill family and Mr W Sturdy. Without this financial support the hospital could not have survived, as the daily War Office allowance per patient was 2s in 1914 rising to 3s 3d for 1918. It was always insufficient to meet patient costs which were on average 40 percent higher.

The unpaid time given by VAD members and other volunteers was also essential to the hospital.

Throughout the war, the wounded soldiers were held in high regard and treated as heroes deserving of support by their host communities. In addition to financial and material support, communities acted to raise the morale of hospital patients. Such an event, under the patronage of H S Cautley, the local Member of Parliament, was held on 12 June 1918 at Victoria Park, Haywards Heath. The fete and entertainment was organised for the benefit of soldiers from the Red Cross Hospitals in Lindfield, Cuckfield, Balcombe, and Haywards Heath plus the town’s Cottage Hospital. It aim was to ‘take them out of themselves and raise money for the hospitals.

The fete included an amusing and financially successful Dutch auction. A programme of sports ‘proved very popular, some of the events tickling onlookers immensely’, the events included ‘100 yards race for Wounded Soldiers, Pillow fight for Wounded Soldiers, Blind Boxing for Wounded Soldiers and Kiss the Pan for Wounded Soldiers’ there was also an inter hospital Tug of War. A nice tea was given to the soldiers followed by an evening concert.

As a mark of respect to those who ‘fought and bled for England’ many dwellings were decorated ‘as an outward sign of an inward gratitude for what the lads in hospital blue had done for their Country’.  The cost of the event was borne by local residents and over 3000 attended. The proceeds of ‘rather more than £200’ were shared between the five hospitals.


With the coming of peace the number of wounded servicemen needing hospital treatment decreased and the Hospital closed on 16 December 1918. During the time it was operational the hospital treated 877 patients. In appreciation of the Hall’s services to the war effort a framed scroll, signed by Winston Churchill, Secretary of State for War, was given by the War Office.

Following the hospital closure, Anscombe & Son were engaged in February 1919 to renovate the Hall, making it as new for its reversion to the village hall

 A Few Facts and Figures

The hospital was required to make regular returns on patient numbers and expenditure to the Red Cross who in turn presented annual statistical reports to the War Office. The following are extracts from the Red Cross Sussex Annual Reports.
Annual Report 3 November 1914 – 31 December 1915
Average daily number of beds – 20

Number of patients admitted -204
War Office contribution per patient per day – 2s

Annual Report 1 January 1916 – 31 December 1916
Average daily number of beds – 22
Average daily number of patients – 21
Number of patients admitted – 144
Average number days’ stay of patient – 48.5
Average total cost of each patient per day – 3s 10d
War Office contribution per patient per day – 3s

Annual Report 1 January 1917 – 31 December 1917
Average daily number of beds – 24
Average daily number of patients – 22.76
Number of patients admitted – 282
Average number days’ stay of patient – 27.27
Average total cost of each patient per day – 4s 2½d
War Office contribution per patient per day – 3s

Annual Report 1 January 1918 – 31 December 1918
Average daily number of beds – 26
Average daily number of patients – 21
Number of patients admitted – 244
Average number days’ stay of patient – 25.1
Average total cost of each patient per day – 4s 9½d
War Office contribution per patient per day – 3s 3d

Number of patients admitted -204
War Office contribution per patient per day – 2s

Annual Report 1 January 1916 – 31 December 1916
Average daily number of beds – 22
Average daily number of patients – 21
Number of patients admitted – 144
Average number days’ stay of patient – 48.5
Average total cost of each patient per day – 3s 10d
War Office contribution per patient per day – 3s

Annual Report 1 January 1917 – 31 December 1917
Average daily number of beds – 24
Average daily number of patients – 22.76
Number of patients admitted – 282
Average number days’ stay of patient – 27.27
Average total cost of each patient per day – 4s 2½d
War Office contribution per patient per day – 3s

Annual Report 1 January 1918 – 31 December 1918
Average daily number of beds – 26
Average daily number of patients – 21
Number of patients admitted – 244
Average number days’ stay of patient – 25.1
Average total cost of each patient per day – 4s 9½d
War Office contribution per patient per day – 3s 3d

Number of patients admitted -204
War Office contribution per patient per day – 2s

Annual Report 1 January 1916 – 31 December 1916
Average daily number of beds – 22
Average daily number of patients – 21
Number of patients admitted – 144
Average number days’ stay of patient – 48.5
Average total cost of each patient per day – 3s 10d
War Office contribution per patient per day – 3s

Annual Report 1 January 1917 – 31 December 1917
Average daily number of beds – 24
Average daily number of patients – 22.76
Number of patients admitted – 282
Average number days’ stay of patient – 27.27
Average total cost of each patient per day – 4s 2½d
War Office contribution per patient per day – 3s

Annual Report 1 January 1918 – 31 December 1918
Average daily number of beds – 26
Average daily number of patients – 21
Number of patients admitted – 244
Average number days’ stay of patient – 25.1
Average total cost of each patient per day – 4s 9½d
War Office contribution per patient per day – 3s 3d


Before the war, Britain imported 60 percent of its food. There was little mechanisation on the farms – the work was done by men and horses. Thousands of both were sent to the Front as soon as possible after war was declared. For the next two years there was little recognition of the serious effect this would have on the nation’s food supply. Although on 11 August 1914, the Board of Trade asked farmers about shortages of labour for harvesting. Also the Slaughter of Animals Act was passed a few days later to prevent farmers sending for slaughter immature or breeding animals.

The Early Years

The government believed farmers would be prompted by increasing corn prices to grow more cereals, and would also plough old grassland for food production.

Foxhunting was allowed to continue, but shortage of horses meant other methods had to be employed. As the war progressed rabbits and wild birds were also killed in an attempt to increase crop yields. Pheasants could only be reared under licence and wood pigeons became a particular target. A count of the content of a wood pigeon’s crop by H. C Foster, caretaker of the Lindfield Village Hall, on a bird he shot on the Old Place estate revealed ‘494 grains of black oars, 54 of tares, 69 of barley, and 19 stones!’

The East Sussex War Agricultural Committee was set up in December 1914 by the County Council to provide directions to farmers. There was some resistance from farmers when encouraged to take on unskilled labour and, worse still in some cases, women. Neither did farmers respond to requests to increase the land under plough. The Army’s demand for horses also adversely affected farming.

The demand for hay and oats by the Army was immense. During 1915, the Women’s Forage Corps was set up as an offshoot of the Army to supply fodder for the many thousands of horses now involved in the war. The Corps had a depot at nearby Burgess Hill.

Women and Farming

The introduction of conscription and tribunals in 1916 worsened the situation. In spite of the shortage of farm labour, local farmers were still reluctant to employ women. In conjunction with the Board of Trade, the East Sussex Women’s Agricultural Committee was established to locally promote the employment of women in agriculture. Its chairman, Lady Wolseley, toured East Sussex, speaking at numerous village meetings, in an effort to encourage farmers to employ women and for women to come forward to work on the land.

In April 1916, a drawing room meeting was held by Mrs Rodgers at Great Walstead to explain the role of the Women’s National Land Service Corps, which was to encourage women onto the land and provide training courses. Among those attending were three young lady farm workers, their ‘attire indicated they were bent on not being handicapped by long skirts and petticoats. They wore breeches and gaiters’ and stated they were very happy in their work at Woodgate Farm, Danehill.

The following day a meeting was held for farmers. Their views were broadly that women, if trained could do some jobs such as milking but were unsuited to ploughing, hoeing, cleaning out cow stalls and labouring jobs. It was a topic that had been much discussed but to date no farmers in the district had registered an interest in employing women. Mrs Eggins, a Lindfield farmer’s wife, said she and her daughter worked on her husband’s farm. She did not see why women should not do ploughing, as they showed more common sense than men and readily adapted themselves to work on the farm. This was greeted with laughter from the farmers and the meeting appeared to have done little to dispel the farmer’s prejudices.

The East Sussex Women’s Agricultural Committee was the Official Registrar for farmers wishing to apply for women’s labour and for any woman willing to work on the land. The Registrar for the Lindfield area was Mrs Rodgers. It would appear that she not only promoted the cause, but may have worked on her farm, as she advertised for ‘Two house-parlour maids for Ladies working on the Land’ at Great Walstead

.There were a total of 2,832 women registered for work on farms by November 1916, but it was reported that Mid Sussex farmers are still too pig-headed and often preferred to employ 12 year old boys who had left school. Children aged 11 to 14 years could be released from full time schooling to work on farms during the war.

The Women’s Land Army was established in March 1917 and farmers were encouraged to use women, but there continued to be little interest by both farmers and women in the Lindfield area.

Agricultural Problems and Growing for Victory

By the end of 1916 there was only six weeks’ worth of wheat left in Britain. Wheat, meat and sugar imports were becoming seriously reduced by German attacks on shipping. Consequently from early 1917 the possibility of starvation had become a reality, as merchant ships suffered losses to German U- boat attacks. The seriousness of the situation was at last recognised and the Government introduced the National Service Scheme to manage manpower.

Following the ‘combing’ out of the remaining fit men for military service, the tribunals were told to grant exemption to farm workers thus easing the labour shortage.

The ineffective War Agricultural Committees were replaced by County Agricultural Executive Committees at the beginning of 1917. The East Sussex Agricultural Executive Committee, with power to implement ‘Cultivation of Land Orders’ started to aggressively manage land usage. A constant stream of committee meeting reports and announcements were carried in the Mid Sussex Times, ranging from, ‘Utilisation of Horse Chestnuts for Industrial Purposes’, to ‘Shooting of the Young Rooks’ at rookeries.

To assist farmers, soldiers unsuitable for active military service were now conscripted into Labour Gangs. Each gang comprising 12 men, in the charge of a sergeant, had all the necessary equipment to bale hay and straw, which had been pre-purchased by the government. One gang billeted at the Sergison Arms in Haywards Heath, used a local blacksmith, perhaps Mr Sharman of Lindfield, to repair their machinery, before working at farms in Cuckfield. Gangs of four or five soldiers were also available to undertake threshing.

In 1918, the ‘Middy’ reported the 1917-18 winter had been so bad that tractors had been unable to cope on the heavy land in Mid Sussex and that another draft of horses were being offered to help with the ploughing.

The Board of Agriculture encouraged farmers with the pronouncement that ‘Victory would go to the nation that had the last sack of wheat and the last stone of meat’. In addition to the continuing effort to get women onto farms, the ‘War Ag’ ordered the ploughing up of grassland and the improved cultivation of arable land, and even commandeered unproductive farms. In February 1918, a part of Sunte Park, Lindfield, was ploughed up.

The Government was now controlling the supply and distribution of all animal feeds and fertilisers, also fixed prices were paid to farmers for cereals and milk. The amount of home-grown food increased sufficiently, together with rationing, to reduce the threat of starvation.

Managing the Food Shortage

In addition to shortages, the cost of food increased dramatically during the war, making life difficult for the poor. From the start of the war, food hoarding by those who could afford to do so was seen as morally unacceptable and increasingly damaging to the national interest.

To counteract the attempt by Germany to starve Britain into surrendering, the recently established Ministry of Food, in addition to increasing production, sought to address the serious shortages by promoting economy, reducing consumption, and reducing waste. To make matters worse there was also a serious shortage of potatoes in 1917. To implement the Ministry’s initiatives, district councils were required to establish Food Control Committees.

The Cuckfield Rural District Council Food Control Committee asked Parish Councils to request that people economise their food consumption. Lindfield councillors discussed this important topic at very great length during their November 1917 meeting. Mr C Masters remarked ‘that there were some people who would not economise all the while there was food to be had, and he should like to know how the pigs could be kept from the lambs’. The Chairman, Mr E Stevens replied, ‘that those who loyally followed the orders of the Food Controller should tactfully approach their fellows with a view to getting them to do the same’ and that high prices and no increase in wages ‘would tend to make people economical’ and it was the duty of every class to economise. This prompted Mr R Humphreys to point out, ‘if they went asking the working class to economise they would get pushed away from the door. Many of them existed on bread and a scrape of margarine and a dab of jam’.

Agreement was eventually reached that it was a patriotic duty to economise and people needed to be persuaded. Mr Stevens suggested that ‘the Lindfield Womens Institute had 100 members and if all of them used their powers of persuasion in the interests of food economy it would be a good thing’. Likewise the Scaynes Hill Women’s Institute.

The Council duly resolved that a Sub Committee ‘be formed with powers to invite the co-operation of parishioners for the purpose of impressing upon the parish the need for the utmost economy.’ The next item on the agenda addressed the collection of food from Haywards Heath to feed the swans on the Pond. Mr Masters agreed to do this task, rather than see the swans removed from the Pond.  The results achieved by the Council’s Sub Committee are not known.

Ahead of the Parish Councils deliberations in November 1917, the Government’s message had already been taken forward, a month earlier, by Rev A Mead at the Parish church’s Harvest Festival. He emphasised the importance of strict food economy, as ‘every morsel of bread eaten was bought at a terrible price. Our gallant sailors and merchant seamen faced all sorts of dangers unflinchingly that we might live, and for that reason we should, without murmuring, tighten our belts and deny ourselves and hold on until victory was secured’.

At the Lindfield Women’s Institute’s December meeting, Major A Kenney-Herbert spoke of the urgent need for food economy. He asserted that food economy would ‘win or lose the war’ and stressed the aim of the ‘campaign was to secure that persons should get their fair share of food, and so enable us to hold out in the war’. ‘People at home had to go into the trenches’ and appealed to women ‘to face sacrifices and not to be found buying food that their husbands might have more meals than other people’. He then ventured to give his audience some useful hints on home cookery.

His address was followed by Rev Mead who similarly took a patriotic approach urging food economy and reduced waste. He promoted voluntary adherence to the rationing scheme of the League of National Safety and by making it a success women would be ‘doing their bit for the country’.

The same message was being communicated by editorial comment in the Mid Sussex Times, stressing the importance of managing our food resources ‘increases with the sinking of every ship, the eating of every loaf’. The message continued, ‘A woman who because she has a full purse and an empty patriotism, “manages” to get more than her share of butter or bacon, tea or sugar, or some food commodity of which there is a shortage, is making her poorer sister go hungry’. Furthermore, the housewife ‘who stocks her larder in defiance of the Director of Food Economy, and disregards the privation her selfishness will cause women with less money to spend – is playing into the hands of the enemy and betraying her country’. The underlying fear was that food shortages would ferment social unrest among the poor and working class.

Voluntary restraint provided insufficient savings to safeguard food supplies and rationing was subsequently introduced.

Parish Council and Potato Production

Apart from potatoes to eat, seed potatoes became scarce as without an adequate supply the eating crop could not be increased.

The need to increase production of home grown vegetables, especially potatoes became a priority and featured on the Parish Council’ meeting agendas. To facilitate increased production by villagers, Maud Savill gave over land to the Council for the provision of allotments.

To manage the shortage of seed potatoes, Lindfield Parish Council invited orders for seed potatoes at cost price, from people wishing to grow potatoes, in accordance with the Board of Agricultures scheme for increasing supply of War Food. The maximum order was 5 hundredweight. This was to ensure the country’s limited stock was made available to everyone. Nevertheless in February 1917, Box’s shop was advertising commercially available seed potatoes for immediate delivery.

Also to help ensure a healthy potato crop, Mr Sturdy of Paxhill agreed to fund, on behalf of the Council, the purchase of a potato sprayer and chemicals, as potato blight was a major concern. Villagers could borrow the sprayer and chemicals for 24 hours, without charge, although a five shillings charge applied, if returned late. Mr Comer, landlord of the Bent Arms, controlled the loan arrangements.


The Parish Council meeting in January 1918 reviewed the national initiative to encourage the preservation of food by bottling. The Food Production Department had issued a circular about the availability of glass jars for preserving, stating “Arrangements have been made for retailers to stock glass jars….Orders must be placed with a local retailer….. Maximum retail price for glass jars, screw top, glass cover and rubber ring type are 1 lb jars 6s 6d per dozen….4lb jars 11s 6d per dozen…..’

The aim was to encourage individuals and especially local groups to preserve vegetables and fruit by bottling thus reducing waste. Since its formation the previous year, the Lindfield Women’s Institute had been actively involved in promoting bottling.

Rationing Introduced

To safeguard the food supply and ensure equitable distribution, restrictions on sugar were introduced in December 1917, followed by rationing based on price of meats and fats in April 1918. The rations at that time equated to:
15 ounces uncooked meat – beef, mutton or lamb.
6 ounces butter/margarine
2 ounces lard
4 or 8 ounces bacon or ham
8 ounces sugar
1.5 ounces cheese
1.5 ounces tea

Bread was not rationed but bakers had to comply with restrictions relating to the sale of bread and people were asked to eat less. Due to the shortage of wheat flour the quality reduced with other ingredients added to bulk out the dough.

German Prisoners of War

To help the continuing labour shortage on the land and accommodate the increasing number of German prisoners of war, a camp was opened at Summerhill, Lindfield. There were between 30 and 40 prisoners at the camp, all of whom had an agricultural background. They arrived in late March 1918.

Farmers could hire the prisoners to work on their land through the local agent, Mr Mackellow of Burstye Farm, Ardingly. It is understood that the prisoners were paid for their work. The farmer was responsible for guarding the prisoners while at work and in the event of an escape was required to notify the authorities as soon as possible. No reports appeared in the local newspaper of any escapes.


Lindfield Fair

Many regarded Lindfield Fair held annually at the beginning of August to be the highlight of the village calendar. Reporting on the 1914 fair, the Mid Sussex Times noted ‘This year the Fair was entirely devoted to pleasure. Very few people visited it, however on Saturday morning (8 August 1914) or afternoon, but in the evening several hundreds of young people turned up and patronised the swings, roundabouts and joy wheel. …………… The gipsy stall-holders complained that there was “little doing,” and it is safe to say that they took nothing like the amount of money they would have done had not the country been engaged in war’. During the fair Army Remount officials visited and purchased ‘several horses suitable for their requirements’ from their gipsy owners.
The shadow of war was starting to fall across the village and the traditional fair was not held again for four years.

Social Events

The social life of the village continued throughout the war with virtually all events being linked to fund-raising for either local war related causes or the wider war effort. There was a wide range of events, such as dances, concerts, musical entertainments, plays, garden parties, fetes and whist drives. The venues being the Bent Arm’s Assembly Room, the Reading Room and the major houses or their grounds.

During their time billeted in the village, the RAMC men contributed significantly to the social life with regular smoking concerts and dances. Similarly for the wounded servicemen regular entertainments were held at the Red Cross Hospital. The men also arranged concerts in which they performed at the hospital, as a way of thanking supporters. They also performed at events in Lindfield and nearby.

The varied social events ranged, from posh soirees to modest entertainments performed by village children. One such event in the former category was the Shrovetide Festival Concert at Paxhill organised by Mrs Study. It was in aid of the Princess Louise Military Wards, for educative convalescence for wounded military men, at the Heritage School, Chailey. The one hundred and fifty tickets for the event were bought by the great and the good, from near and far, including a number with titles. Unfortunately, heavy snow on 7 March 1916 made travel difficult but nevertheless, the event was described as a social, musical and financial success. The extensive and varied programme of music, recitals and dance, ranged from Boccherini’s Minuet to a display of national dances by children from the Guild of Play.

At the other end of the scale, but similarly very well supported, was the Lindfield Girls’ Club entertainment organised by Mrs Mead in the Reading Room on 9 May 1917. The evening performance was so popular children sat two or three to a chair and the adults ‘crowded up to each other just like lovers are wont to do’ as ‘It was a case of rubbing shoulders or going out’. Songs included God Send You back to Me, The Sunshine of Your Smile and A Long, Long Trail; and recitations of, The Grumbler and The Field of Battle. The main feature was a performance of the musical play, Ten Dancing Princesses. A rousing singing of the National Anthem closed a much enjoyed evening. Proceeds of £10 were shared between the Girls’ Club and the Red Cross Hospital.

Perhaps the most prolific and financially successful organiser of social events was the Voluntary Work Organisation, with all types of event being used as fund raiser, particularly their jumble sales, garden parties and Grand Fete.

An ever popular social event used to raise funds for many good causes was the whist drive. Easy to organise they guaranteed good support albeit with relatively modest proceeds.

After the war, returning servicemen are said to have expressed disquiet that the social life, such as whist drives and entertainments, they had read about in the Middy when serving abroad had ceased with the ending of war related fund raising. To help address this concern a whist drive for ex-servicemen and those on leave was held in January 1919 at the Reading Room. The event produced a surplus of £3 which was donated to St Dunstan’s Hostel for Blinded Soldiers and Sailors.

Sporting Activity

At the commencement of hostilities many young men started to think about volunteering for the military and the mood generally was not favourable to sporting activities. The first sporting event to be cancelled was the Swimming Sports due to be held on 12 August 1914. By September 1914, organised sporting activities had ceased in Lindfield, as increasing numbers of men enlisted, although most of the clubs continued to exist albeit in a dormant state throughout the war years.

Lindfield Football Club and the Mid Sussex Football league suspended play throughout the war years. Although a few informal ‘friendly’ games were played in 1917 and 1918 by a team called Lindfield Rovers comprising young lads and discharged servicemen.

At the end of August 1914, the Lindfield Cricket Club played their last match of the season. It was resolved at the Club’s Annual General Meeting in March 1915 that no matches would be arranged that year and this position continued throughout the war years. However, the pitch on the Common was maintained, insofar as limited resources would allow. This allowed the Royal Army Medical Corps to play a few games in April and May 1915.

The Cricket Club re-established itself in spring 1919, but by this time much preparatory work on the pitch and pavilion was required. Competitive play started that season.
Similarly, the Lindfield Tennis Club ceased play and without any games and upkeep the courts deteriorated. The club was reformed for the 1919 playing season with Mr W Knowles as president and to raise funds a whist drive was held.

Lindfield Bowling Club also ceased playing competitive matches against other clubs following the outbreak of war. However, no doubt due to the age profile of its members, the club continued to operate and maintained their green in as good condition as possible. From the start of the 1915 season through to 1918, the Bowling Club allowed the wounded soldiers from the Red Cross Hospital to sit around the green and play games. Occasionally, members organised informal matches with the hospital and turned the games into social events for patients and staff with tea being provided. Once, virtually the entire hospital was entertained. The matches were usually won by the Club. The Club was able, without too much difficulty, to bring the green back to good condition for the start of the 1919 season when competitive matches recommenced.

The Swimming Club was also re-started early in summer 1919.

Miniature Rifle Range and Lindfield Rifle Club
Arising from the invasion threat in the Great War, the proposal that Lindfield should have a miniature rifle range was first made in early autumn 1914, but did not proceed due to the absence of a suitable site. Suggested sites for the range included the School Yard and the Common.

Consequent upon the formation of the Lindfield Volunteer Training Corps and the Lindfield Boy Scouts, Mr Parker Anscombe raised the subject again at the January 1915 Parish Council meeting. However the meeting decided the initiative should not come from the Council.

Support from residents gathered momentum and the search for a suitable site was renewed. Mr W Sturdy agreed to provide a site in Tentermead adjoining Alma Lane that had been leased to J Box. Miss Maud Savill offered to fund the building of a 25 yard four-target indoor range and equipment. Mr Parker Anscombe put the work in hand, although Cuckfield Rural District Council formal approval of the plans was not given until their meeting on 26 March 1915. The building had a brick wall at the eastern end, behind the targets, the other walls had brick footings with wooden framing covered in corrugated iron, as was the roof.

This was announced at a well-attended meeting on 13 February 1915 and it was agreed a miniature rifle club affiliated to the Association of Miniature Rifle Clubs should be formed. Miss Maud Savill was elected President along with six Vice Presidents and a large committee, all prominent residents. Mr Rotherham and Mr Jesse Newnham volunteered to give shooting instruction and Miss Savill agreed to fund the purchase of four rifles.

The rifle range opening ceremony, performed by Colonel Dudley Sampson, took place at 3.00pm on Wednesday 31 March 1915. A Guard of Honour was provided by Lindfield Boy Scouts and the drum and fife band of the 2/2nd London Field Ambulance, RAMC played. Following speeches, including thanks to Maud Savill for her generosity and George Forrester Scott for organising the range, Colonel Dudley Sampson proceeded to fire the first shot, with ‘a bullseye being recorded’.

The Club’s annual subscription was 2s 6d for men and 1s for boys under 16 years. The range was open each weekday evening and Wednesday afternoons. The Lindfield Boy Scouts and the Volunteer Training Corps were allocated use of the range on Wednesday and Thursday evenings respectively.

At the Club’s first AGM in March 1916, subscriptions totalled £9 7s 0d. Membership numbers are not known. However the Presidents, Vice Presidents and Committee totalled 25; largely the same individuals as the Lindfield Volunteer Training Corps, indicating the ‘great and the good’ recognised the need for rifle practice in support of home defence. The meeting decided ladies should be allowed to join the Club and were allotted Wednesday afternoons for their shooting. Between March 1915 and March 1916, some 50,000 rounds were fired at the range. Members had to buy the ammunition at cost from the Club.

The range continued to be widely used throughout the remainder of the war. With the coming of the peace the Club closed as it was felt the last thing men would want to do was handle a rifle again. Following a short break, the Club was re-established in October 1919 with Maud Savill being re-elected as president. The club continues to thrive to this day.

Friendship, Romance and Weddings

The billeting of soldiers in Mid Sussex and especially the RAMC in Lindfield with their frequent concerts and dances provided a much larger pool of young men for village girls to socialise with. As a young Kathleen Charman recalled, ‘They certainly made life more exciting’. Later she was to marry Leonard Box of 2nd London Field Ambulance, RAMC. Similarly, Private Ernest Hince from Highbury Hill, late of the 2nd London Field Ambulance, who had also been billeted in the village, married Miss Hilda Crossly from Lindfield at St Katharine’s Church, Merstham in January 1916.

Likewise, through work and voluntary duties women had greater opportunities to meet men from far beyond Lindfield. For example a local girl married an Australian soldier.
Friendships, romance and marriages resulted. Between 1914 and 1919 there were 38 marriages conducted at All Saints, with the groom serving in the military.

Lindfield Parish Council

Lindfield was in the administrative area of East Sussex County Council and Cuckfield Rural District Council, with local matters being managed by the Parish Council.
Meeting on the 10 August 1914, the Parish Councillors decided, ‘That this meeting of the Lindfield Parish Council resolves itself into a Committee, with power to add to its numbers from outside the Council, for the purpose of assisting to the best of its powers other Committees or central authorities in any endeavour for the public weal, having special regard to this parish’.

In effect, the Council continued to deal with local matters, but for any war related matters requiring action the Councillors formed a sub-committee and co-opted residents to help pursue any decisions. The work of the sub-committees is covered under the specific topics.

Lindfield Fire Brigade

The Lindfield Fire Brigade, run by the Parish Council, had its fire station in Lewes Road, behind the King Edward Hall. The Fire Brigade managed to keep going throughout the war despite problems with manpower and shortages. The Captain, John Sharman, was the village blacksmith and as such he obtained exemption from military service. All the firemen were volunteers and worked in jobs around the village.

By 1916 five firemen were serving in the military and others had volunteered under the Lord Derby scheme and were awaiting call up. Conscription made the situation worse and temporary replacements had to be found. It was reported in July 1916 that no drill had been held in the previous quarter and half of the men were now in the military, and replacements continued to be sought

The Fire Brigade suffered the loss of Ernest Wood, initially reported missing in action during November 1916, his death was not confirmed until January 1918. As he belonged to the National Fire Brigade Union Voluntary Death Levy his wife was then entitled to about £18 from the fund.

Reflecting the increased risk of air attack in 1916, an electric bell was fixed up in the Fire Station and one volunteer fireman was required to be on duty all night, assisted by a boy scout; if one could be found. As the war continued there was a shortage of boots, problems with obtaining horses to pull the boiler and finding a suitable time to drill the men when they all had extra work or other duties.

However, Fireman Turner gave up some of his home leave from the Army to service the engine’s boiler. When the pre-war fireman, John Lacey, was invalided out of the forces, the Parish Council paid him to keep the Fire Station heated and the appliances ready for turnout during the very severe winter of 1917-1918.

At the end of the war five pre-war volunteers were still serving though some were by then in their fifties and four fresh men brought the squad up to nine, compared with twelve prior to the war.

Supporting Good Causes

In pursuing the war, the Government relied heavily on the patriotism of the nation to supply welfare, food for the forces and all manner of essential items. Whilst women took a major role in undertaking charitable works and fundraising, as described in Chapter 4, it was not the sole preserve of women. Many men not undertaking military duties also supported the war effort through good causes.

The following are three such examples of good causes established in response to Government prompted initiatives.

The Prince of Wales National Relief Fund

This fund was launched at the outbreak of war by the government, under the patronage of the Prince of Wales, to aid wives and families of servicemen, and others in distress caused by the war. The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families Association would have first call on the funds with the residue going to the local relief funds for the benefit of other claimants.

The message being, ‘those of us who cannot fight for our country must do our best to sustain the battle at home’ by contributing to the fund. A national structure was established that cascaded down to every level of local authority and the local committees had to remit 75% of money raised to the central fund.

Local communities wanted to be seen to be responding to this patriotic appeal and Lindfield was quick in its support. By the beginning of September 1914, the Lindfield War Relief Fund Committee had been established, numbering 25 committee members, it comprised all Parish Councillors and other eminent residents with Mr W Knowles as Treasurer.

A local Lindfield landowner ‘suggested’ that his servants and estate workers should each contribute a day’s pay per week. The Mid Sussex Times patriotically communicated this initiative. After three months, subscriptions to the Lindfield War Relief Fund totalled £261 18s 6d, which included a donation of £6 13s 6d from the ‘Indoor and Out Employees of Paxhill Estate’.

The Lindfield fund was closed in December 1914, with the announcements that ‘Subscriptions for the Fund as originally constituted are no longer being solicited by the Committee but should occasion arise an appeal on an amended basis will be made’. It is thought there was disquiet at such a large percentage being sent for relief outside the village. Subsequently a Local War Fund was established to deal with local cases of distress, under the stewardship of Messrs Dudley Sampson, Tower, Knowles and G T W Ward.

The National Egg Collection Scheme

This scheme, supported by the War Office, was formed in December 1914, with Queen Alexandra as patron. The Scheme had the responsibility of supplying sufficient new-laid eggs for every wounded soldier and sailor in hospital. Donations of either eggs or cash were sought from the public.

Local depots were established and arrangements made for consignments of eggs to be conveyed by the railways without charge. The Mid Sussex Depot at Asylum Road, Haywards Heath was managed by Mr E Doughty with Mrs Prideaux as the Lindfield co-ordinator.

In its first two months 20 dozen eggs were collected and good support was received throughout the war. During August 1915, the Mid Sussex Depot received 430 eggs for distribution to hospitals in France. Mrs Prideaux was one of four main contributors. The Mid Sussex Times commented that eggs were becoming scarce and such a good response was not to be expected in the future.

The Lindfield Boy Scouts helped with the collection of eggs from the village and on one round in November 1915 they received 68 eggs and 16s 3d, which Mrs Prideaux spent on ducks eggs.

A National Egg Collection ‘Children’s Week’ held in February 1916 received 183 eggs from the children at Lindfield School; girls’ classes 68, boys 58 and infants 57 eggs.
The demand for eggs increased during 1917, with over 300,000 eggs being sent to France each week. Demand was now exceeding eggs collected and to raise money to purchase eggs, a national Half Crown Week was held in November 1917. By this time, over 33½ million eggs had been collected by the scheme.  Lindfield residents contributed both eggs and cash throughout the war.

The National Vegetable Products Committee

This Committee was set up in late 1914 to provide Royal Navy sailors with fresh fruit and vegetables. Local committees were established to assist and a depot was opened in Haywards Heath for the fortnightly collection of produce.

Lindfield residents regularly contributed, and foremost among the regular donors were Mr W Sturdy, Mr W Tower, Mr H Cumberlege, although no doubt through the efforts of their hard working gardeners. Mrs Broadbridge of Spongs was also a noteworthy contributor. The Lindfield Boy Scouts were actively involved, carrying out a weekly door to door collection.

It was not unusual for consignments weighing a ton or more to be despatched from the Haywards Heath depot to naval bases. In August 1917, 22 cases of produce were despatched, with Messrs James Box being among the noted contributors. A special ‘Orange Day’ appeal resulted in 4,456 oranges being sent to the Navy from the Haywards Heath depot.

Helping to pay for the War

To help pay for the war, in addition to increased taxation and borrowing, the Government issued War Loan Stock, War Bonds and War Savings Certificates. A National War Savings Committee was established and with help from local committees encouraged individuals, businesses and organisations to save and deposit money in Government securities.

At a crowded meeting, to encourage personal savings, chaired by Mr W Sturdy in the Tiger Inn on 15 February 1917, Major Kenney-Herbert of Cuckfield, the Government’s area organiser, expounded the national virtue of a War Saving Association. It enabled small amounts of money to be saved in War Savings Certificates, which helped fund the war. Certificates cost 15s 6d each and returned £1 after five years.

The assembled gathering agreed that an Association for Lindfield should be established and Rev A Mead and Messrs Sturdy, Cumberlege, Houlding and Steer formed the Management Committee. Members could enrol and deposit contributions at the Tiger on Monday evenings. The minimum deposit was 6d.

To enable ‘very poor subscribers to benefit from early dated certificates’ a pledge was made by Miss Maud Savill and Messrs Study, Helme and Cumberlege to fund the immediate purchase of 60 certificates, with Mr Masters agreeing to purchase a further 20 certificates if needed.

Some nine months earlier, the Girls Friendly Societies had nationally been asked to promote war savings. The local annual festival of Girls Friendly Societies from eight surrounding parishes was hosted by the Lindfield members on 28 June 1916. After a special war intercession service at All Saints’, the girls adjourned to the Reading Room for tea, where they were addressed on War Savings. The speaker reminded them what a great opportunity they now had of helping to win the war. They could not go to the front and fight as their brothers and sweethearts did, but the Government had asked that they encourage everyone to save and buy War Saving certificates.

As an illustration of the wealth possessed by some in Lindfield, during 1917 residents purchased £1000 in War Bonds. The Parish Council accounts for the year ending 31 March 1919 showed for the first time half year interest of £1 14s 6d on 5% War Loan Stock, indicating that during 1918 the Council had invested £69 in this stock, which it continued to hold until converted in 1933.

Caring for the Children

Having regard to the number of men being lost in the war, the Government recognised that every baby was immensely important to the Empire. To address poor infant health and high rates of mortality across the nation initiatives were put in place to improve the situation.

In response to this concern, the Lindfield Infant Welfare Centre was established, with Mrs Cumberlege as its figurehead, to improve the health of village babies. Half the Centre’s expenses were funded by the government, and the balance through local donations and fund raising events.

Meetings were held monthly on Friday afternoons at the Reading Room in Lewes Road. Children up to five years were weighed and medically examined free of charge by Dr Childs. Talks on the care of children, for example ‘The Feeding of Infants’, were given by Nurse Randolf of the Sussex County Nursing Association. It was hoped that mothers would follow the advice given, so ‘the babies of Lindfield and Scaynes Hill will grow up happy and strong’

Reflecting the poverty being suffered by many mothers in the village, and the scarcity of affordable meat, one meeting advertised, ‘some meatless dishes for sale at cost price, with a view of showing mother what can be done in this way.’

In addition to addressing infant health issues, the meetings were also intended as social events for mothers to relax and meet. Admission was free, with a cup of tea provided for one penny, although mothers with a sweet tooth were asked to bring their own sugar. This request reflected the sugar shortage in 1917 and 1918.

To address the Government’s ongoing concerns and increase public awareness a National Baby Week Council was formed to encourage communities to hold a Baby Week in 1917. The Council’s slogan was ‘It is more dangerous to be a baby in Britain than it is to be a soldier’.

As part of this initiative, the Lindfield Infant Welfare Committee organised a Baby Week in July 1917, with the highlight being a Baby Day. Held in the Mission Rooms due to poor weather, the event was well attended by ‘mothers with babies, representatives of all ages of the fair sex, … the gathering also included a sprinkling of mere men, notably a group of soldiers from the VAD Hospital.’

There was a Baby Show with four age classes and many displays and competitions, such as ‘Feed a Man for Six Pence’, ‘Frock costing no more than 1s 6d’ and ‘Best turned out and decorated perambulator’.

A particular feature of the event was the essay competitions, the mothers’ topics being, ‘How I would like to cloth my baby at six months’ and ‘One day’s diet for a child at six months old’. The school children’s subject was ‘If mother were away all day how I would feed and take care of baby’.

Mrs Osborne, a visiting member of the National Baby Week Council, gave a talk on ‘Mothercraft and Infancy’, and implored mother to attend the Infant Wefare Centre. She expressed the view many babies were not as fit as they should be and that the public were callous in this matter. She also commented on the problems of housing, poor sanitation, lack of hygiene and ignorance.

At the close of the day mothers and babies were entertained to tea and sports for the toddlers.

Lindfield School

Throughout the war, Lindfield School in common with most other schools faced staffing problems due to male teachers volunteering or being conscripted into the military. Lindfield’s problems started in September 1914 when Mr Brooks volunteered for active service. The school log noted the work of the school has suffered due to ‘incomplete staff’. Replacements were inexperienced or untrained women.

In December 1915, Mr Woolcock, the headmaster, and Mr Markwick attested under the Lord Derby scheme. The latter was called up in June 1916 and left the school. Earlier that year, faced with the loss of the headmaster, the County Authority applied for Mr Woolcock’s exemption from military service. This was not granted, despite a local petition, and Mr Woolcock was required to be released at the end of the 1916 school year. However his medical found him unfit for general service and his call up was postponed. The Army’s relentless need for manpower continued and Mr Woolcock was re-examined by the National Service Medical Board in May 1918 and being passed fit joined the Army six weeks later.

Miss Hilda Stevens took over as Acting Head Teacher until Mr Woolcock’s return in February 1919.

School life

Pupils were expected to contribute to the war effort in a number of ways. For example, reflecting increasing shortages in 1916, it was announced that no school prizes would be given and that the children understood and accepted the position. Practical help was also given with the girls putting their sewing skills to good use for darning and sewing for the wounded soldiers at the Red Cross hospital.

Similarly the boys were taught gardening as part of their syllabus and maintained a thriving school garden. In 1917, the County Authority awarded the school the Challenge Spade for the best school garden of the year. As the food shortages became more serious in 1917, the boys tended the gardens of men away on military service, enabling their families to have a supply of vegetables, especially potatoes.

The School Log records details of gardening activities, such as:

23 February 1917
‘Instead of having organised games the gardening boys trenched the allotment of a father who has been called up staying there until quarter to 5 o’clock. All boys who are able have offered to give two or three evenings per week and Saturday morning or afternoon to the digging.’

26 February 1917
‘As the school plots are practically ready for planting, we are spending three afternoons per week on the digging in the village.’

19 March 1917
‘There are so many gardens in the village to dig that we are out the whole of every fine afternoon, in fact quite 6 boys commence at 1 o’clock every day.’

9 April 1918
‘I had hoped to get all the soldiers’ gardens finished during the Easter Vacation but the weather was against the work. Several boys turned out with me whenever the atmospheric conditions were favourable and we dug those furthest from the school. The gardening boys are going out one gardening afternoon and Friday afternoon to complete the work.’

Due to the labour shortage on farms, boys were permitted to have time off to help with the harvest, and the resulting very low attendance is noted in the school log on 6 July 1917.

Boy Scout Troop

Following the pre-war demise of the Church Lads Brigade, the village was without a disciplined organisation for boys to join gain and learn life skills, also to help prepare them for possible military service. A Baden Powell Scout troop was proposed following the outbreak of war and was duly organised by Jessie Newnham, Snr with Walter Tower as Treasurer. Scouting proved popular with a good membership being achieved.

The scouts performed various duties, such as collecting jumble sale items, collecting eggs, fruit and vegetables for the national schemes, assisting and parading with their drum and bugle band at village events including funerals, serving as runners for the Fire Brigade and collecting waste paper for recycling. Regulations precluded waste paper being collected by dustman, so the scouts called at houses twice a month to collect waste paper with the despatch being supervised by Miss Leslie.

To help prepare the boys for military service the troop was allowed to shoot at the miniature rifle range on Wednesday evenings. To encourage skilled marksmanship Lady Fleetwood Edwards in 1915 donated a challenge cup for an annual shooting competition to find the best shot in the troop. The 1916 event is a typical example, and was attended by many leading residents. Following being entertained to tea at the Bent Arms by her Ladyship, the scouts marched to the rifle range. After an exhibition of shooting at targets, called the ‘War Lord of Europe’ featuring the Kaiser, came the prize giving with the challenge cup, other prizes and badges being presented. Thanks with three cheers and speeches followed, together with the National Anthem played by the scout band.

After Jessie Newnham, Snr entered military service, Mr Woolcock, Lindfield School headmaster, became the Scoutmaster before resigning due to pressure of school duties. The role was then taken by Mr A Rotherham, who had been the shooting instructor. Consequent upon Mr Rotherham moving to Tunbridge Wells, scouting ceased in December 1917. As the boys would have no meeting place in the evenings other than on the streets, Rev A R Mead formed a committee and established a Boys Club to meet weekday evenings in the Reading Room.

The Prime Minister stays at Great Walstead in 1917

Great Walstead, the home and farm of Mrs Rodgers, was associated with ‘far-reaching decisions’ regarding the Great War, according to Mr Lloyd George, in response to a letter of enquiry in 1927. Mr Lloyd George replied:

“In August 1917, while Lord Riddell and I occupied this house (Great Walstead) several important Conferences took place. Some of the distinguished persons present were Lord Milner, Lord Robert Cecil, General Smuts, General Roberson, General Maurice, Lord Burnham, Lord Reading, M. Albert Thomas (French Minister of Munitions) and Baron Sonnino (Italian Prime Minister). At the Conferences, the questions of munitions and the position of the Western and Italian Fronts were discussed and far-reaching decisions arrived at.”

Following an overnight gale, the telephone line to Great Walstead was down and Lloyd George had to use the telephone at Lindfield Post Office to keep in touch with his Government.

Lloyd George stayed at Great Walstead for six weeks. Following his departure a reporter from the Mid Sussex Times visited and spoke to Mrs Johnson, the head dairymaid, who commented, ‘There’s no side about him and when he visited us at the dairy he was just like one of us. He took a hand at churning and asked a great many questions.’ An old farm hand recounted, ‘He asked me what I thought of women as farm workers and I said to him, well Sir some be all right and some baint’.



Lindfield Post Office

The Lindfield Post Office played a vital role during the war in the collection and delivery of letters and parcels. The volume of mail increased dramatically during the war years. Three deliveries were made from the Post Office and up to five collections from pillar boxes on weekdays. However, in 1916, the service was reduced as labour shortages started to bite. In March 1916, the last despatch from Haywards Heath to Lindfield for delivery was at 2.15pm; the 10.20am and 5.15pm deliveries being suspended. Also the last post box collection would now take place at 8pm.

When the village postman was called-up in 1916 and replaced by a woman, it was regarded as sufficiently newsworthy to warrant mention in the Mid Sussex Times; apparently female postal workers made many uncomfortable. Similarly, the newspaper commented that a postman of military age doing deliveries in Lindfield was an ex-soldier who had been medically discharged having been twice wounded.

Post from Lindfield to all military bases, theatres of war, naval ships and prisoners of war went to the Home Depot, in Regents Park, London. Mail for the Western Front was forwarded to depots at Le Havre and Boulogne, where the Army Postal Service distributed it to the battalions. Generally a letter posted in the village would be received by a soldier at the front in two days. A letter from the Western Front took the same route and time. Mail to other than the Western Front took considerably longer and risked being lost at sea.

Letters and Parcels from Home

Letters and parcels from home were much valued and essential in maintaining morale. Whilst those serving their country looked forward to receiving letters from home, parcels were even more sought after.

Parcels containing ‘treats’, made life a little more bearable and could be shared with mates. Popular treats included chocolate, sweets, home-made cakes, various proprietary food products, magazines, newspapers, particularly the Mid Sussex Times, cigarettes, tobacco and until banned matches. Items of warm woollen comfort clothing such as mittens and mufflers, also underwear and socks, were much valued.

Letters to Home

News from men and women serving their country was eagerly awaited by family and friends. Most correspondence from the front was subject to censorship

Greetings postcards purchased locally, if available, were particularly popular for special occasions particularly cards embroidered with an affectionate message or trimmed with lace.

Field Service postcards were a quick and popular method of conveying essential information, as they were not subject to censorship. Pre-printed statements not required were erased. If anything apart from the sender’s name, date and recipient’s address was written the card would be destroyed.

Field Service postcards usually contained positive news, such as in the case of Mrs Pink, a mother of eight children living at Town Hill Cottages. She was worried at not having heard from her husband in France for several weeks and asked Mr W Tower his former employer, if he could make enquiries of the War Office. They subsequently advised that Private Pink had been missing since 18 November 1916. To her great relief, in the Christmas morning post, Mrs Pink received a Field Service postcard posted on 24 November 1916 advising that he was quite well and a prisoner in Germany.

Letters in the Mid Sussex Times

Sometimes a letter was forwarded by the recipient to the Mid Sussex Times for publication. The following are a few examples.

Mrs Bowers of Luxford Road received a letter dated 15 September 1914 from her son, Private Barrington Bowers, Machine Gun Section of 20th Hussars, 5th Cavalry Brigade. He wrote:

‘Having a few minutes to spare I thought I would drop you a line to say I am still all right, luckily. Nearly all of us got cut up yesterday. There were shells bursting all round us, and we had to gallop away for our lives. That was the third time we were caught like that. We have had some bad weather. I don’t think the war will last much longer, as they say the Russians are in contact with them. A battle started last Saturday, and it is still raging all round. We live pretty fair, considering the times. I have seen Arthur Pullen since I have been out here.’

In another letter published in March 1915, Barrington Bowers said:
‘We have lost a lot of men in ‘C’ Squadron – more than in the other two. We had to turn out to reinforce the 16th Lancers, as they had their trench blown up by the Germans. Our Squadron made a counter attack at nine o’clock on Sunday morning – that is how we lost so many. I think myself lucky that I am alive to write this letter, as the bullets were coming like hailstones around us.

I have received a box of cigarettes from the schoolmaster at Lindfield, for which the scholars had subscribed. We are getting some very cold weather here, and we’ve had a good fall of snow.’

Private Bowers survived the war.
Private Sidney Dean, aged 19, joined the Royal Flying Corps as a Fitter on 13 January 1914 and went to France with the Expeditionary Force in August 1914. Writing to his parents at Walstead Place Farm, in a letter published on 6 October 1914, he told them:
‘I have had a rough time since I left Old England, and have been wounded by German fire in the shoulder and thigh, but am nearly all right again now. We have scattered a few Germans, and hope to scatter a few more. We have done good work here. I hope to be back in the firing line again soon. It is fine to see the British troops, they stand their ground to the last minute. Please remember me to all friends as you see them. Tell them I am not dead yet, but hope to have another go at the Germans yet.’

Interestingly although a Fitter in the Royal Flying Corps, he talks of having ‘scattered a few Germans’ perhaps he was firing from an aircraft, and similarly in an aircraft when wounded. Sidney Dean served in France and Egypt surviving the war with the rank of Sergeant Mechanic. He remained in the RAF becoming a pilot with the rank of Flying Officer, attached to No 5 Flying Training School when he died in 1938.

John Newnham, Royal Marine Artillery, on HMS Tiger sent a letter home following the Battle of Dogger Bank on 24 January 1915:
‘I expect you have heard or seen in the papers of the splendid work we have accomplished, and of our remarkably low percentage of casualties. Our poor fellows died with a good heart, I am sure, because one and all of us have been anxiously waiting for the day to come when we might try our strength with the Germans. We are proud to be able to say that we are on the conquering side. ….. On Sunday morning at daybreak, we were all closed up at our guns, waiting in case anything should happen. To our great delight something did happen. The enemy’s ships were sighted on the horizon, and we started pouring down lead upon them. After about an hour’s fighting we noticed that two of the German ships were badly burning, so we altered our target and came to the Blucher. Then she suffered grief and pain from our guns, and pretty soon caught alight and sank.’

It is worth remembering that letters home were subject to censorship and an account of the engagement records Tiger’s gunners fired 255 shells during the battle but scored just one hit on the Seydlitz. Tiger was hit six times resulting in ten men killed and 11 wounded. Following repairs HMS Tiger continued regular patrols of the North Sea throughout 1915 and into 1916 without further encounters with the enemy.

In March 1916, his mother received a cheery letter for John saying:
‘We live well. This is one day’s menu:- For breakfast, fresh haddock or tinned salmon. Dinner, fresh pork and apple sauce, carrots, roat potatoes, cabbage, suet pudding and jam pudding. Tea, pan cakes and jam and bread and butter. Supper, sausages. And very nice, too!

We have experienced much snow and the weather is bitterly cold. I have a fur coat and a pair of fur-lined gloves and do my best to keep smiling.’

John Newnham continued to serve on HMS Tiger and was killed when HMS Tiger next went into action on 31 May 1916 at the Battle of Jutland. There is further information about John Newnham in Chapter 14.

Private Cecil Anscombe, 2nd Royal Sussex, in a letter to his parents published in May 1915 describes how he was evacuated from the Western Front after being wounded:
‘It was about 6.30 on Sunday morning, May 9th, that I got hit between our lines and the Germans’’, during a charge we made; in fact, the whole line made an advance, the Sussex being in the front line of the ground occupied by our Division. . . . At 5.30 our guns fired for half-an-hour at the German trenches: then, at a given time we got up and charged. It was then that I stopped one in the forearm.

I threw off my equipment, etc., and crawled back to our trenches, where my field bandage was tied up. I then walked about two miles back to the dressing station; from there to Bethune by motor. After my wound was dressed at Bethune I went to another camp, arriving about 12 o’clock. I left again at 6.30, and got to Boulogne at 4.30 on Monday morning. Stayed there till Tuesday night, then went to Rouen, which I left on Wednesday night, reaching Harve on Thursday night. On Friday morning I was booked for the hospital ship ‘Asturias’ and left Harve on Sunday morning at two o’clock and arrived at Southampton at two o’clock Sunday afternoon. We were met at Warrington Station by motors and driven to the hospital, which is about two miles from the station.
Cecil Anscombe arrived at Lord Derby War Hospital, Warrington at three o’clock on Monday morning, 17 May 1915; eight days after being wounded.

Charles Ford, 8th Royal Sussex Regiment, sent this letter from France in August 1915, to his mother Mrs Emily Ford of 12 Albert Cottages, Sunte Avenue, telling her of recent events at the Front:

‘I am still all right. We have had a bit of sport this last week. We have been under shell fire. The Germans found out what time we came through a little village before we went into the trenches, so they thought they would send us a present or two. But they got behind, as we were a quarter-of-an-hour sooner than usual. But they put it into ‘B’ Company. Laugh! I thought I should have split my sides! You should have seen them run. Talk about rabbits, they are not in it! We have to run into holes in the ground – ‘dug outs’ they call them. We are working with the engineers, digging trenches and mine chambers. We have had one or two chaps hit. The shells come quite close enough to be pleasant. Some are very nervous of gun fire, and in bobbing down they nearly drop their tools. It makes me roar to see some of their antics. The Germans last evening banged away with their heavy artillery, machine guns and rifles. I do not know how they got on. We gave them a rough time of it the other day. We caught a party of Germans working the same as ourselves. Our artillery shelled them, and as soon as they got out of their trenches to make a bolt our machine guns started on them, so they had a warm shop for a little while, I can tell you. Spies and snipers are what we have to look out for. They are a crafty lot of bounders. We keep on catching spies. One was caught in a church steeple after he had shot two of our chaps while they were bathing. He won’t shoot any more now!’

Sadly, Charles Ford, aged 31 and married with two children, was killed at the Somme in July 1916.

Private Lionel Brazier of the Royal West Sussex Regiment, with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, wrote to his parents in August 1915 from Gallipoli:

‘I expect you are wondering how I am getting on. I am glad to say I am well and happy. We landed here on ——-, and went into action on ——. My mate was killed, and also Tom Pranklin. Joe Whall was with me in the trenches on Tuesday. We went to the base on Thursday for twenty four hours’ rest. Have since been in the back trenches, where it is not so dangerous. I have to thank God that I came through safely. I went into action very well and not feeling a bit nervous. Paper is short here. As you know I am alright do not worry. Please God we shall be out of it soon. It is hot out here in the day. But chilly at night. We amuse ourselves by making tea and stew in the trenches. We get some lovely water here from the wells. The warships bombarded the hills terrifically all day, and it is very interesting to watch the effect of the falling shells. We do plenty of trench digging which keeps us fit. I shall have a lot to tell you when I see you all again – and hope that won’t be too long.’

Lionel Brazier survived the war but his two Lindfield comrades were less fortunate, Tom Pranklin, aged 23, and Joe Whall, aged just 19 years, were killed at Gallipoli

Corporal William Winn wrote from India in February 1916 to a friend, G Watkin of Lewes Road:

‘Here we are, here we are, here we are again! Quite a surprise, eh? I am practically the oldest one from Lindfield on this war job, and to-day I find my poor old bag of bones dumped down at Karachi, India –thousands of miles from the ‘good old talking shop.’ Are we downhearted? No! I hope to be out here until this job is done – which will be a great deal sooner than some expect! – and then come home and rest on my cabbage leaves – ‘laurels’ I should say! It will be a satisfaction to me to know that I did my little bit, however small. …………………….

I send my kind regards to Bobby Howell and to all the other youngsters of ‘our Parliament’, and trust they will be alive and well when German sausage is extinct and the world comes to enjoy a well-earned peace. It will then be a double pleasure to me to come and have a quiet chat and a pipe of baccy in the good old shop. By the way, we get our baccy at 2d per ounce. Nice, isn’t it? But we cannot send it home, worse luck! I had to go into hospital for a time, due to illness caused through bad meat on the boat.

Karachi, as far as I have seen it, is not a bad station to be in. There is a good zoo, several nice buildings, two picture houses and plenty of sand. We did not know where we were going until we had got three days past Aden. We were on the way to Bombay when we were picked up by wireless and sent on to this post. We are going to start a string orchestra in the regiment, so that will help to pass the time away. …………………………………………………………………….

Our voyage had its excitement. We were subjected to submarine attack, but, thanks to God and the Skipper, we came safely through. Captain Hansen was as crafty at his work as the ‘gentle Hun’ was at his. Had we had a less tactical skipper the ship would have been lost.’ ………………. On leaving Alexandria we hugged the coast until midnight, when of all of a sudden, we went out to sea, cutting all kinds of capers. The Captain told us afterwards we had had the nearest shave of our lives. A U boat had sent a torpedo at us and had just missed. …..

Mrs Blaker of Lewes Road received the following news in September 1916 from her husband, Gunner J T Blaker, who had recently arrived in East Africa:

‘We arrived quite safely, and I am in the best of health. We are a good many miles up the country, and there are plenty of wild beasts to contend with. We are hard up for pipes and tobacco, and also for books and writing paper, and should be very glad if the friends at home could send us these things. We have nothing to read, and there isn’t a house near us for miles. I shall be very pleased to see home once again, and we all feel it will be a good thing when the war is over.’

Gunner Blaker survived the war.

In December 1917, Private R Mighall, Royal Sussex, wrote from hospital in Alexandria, Egypt to his parents, Mr and Mrs Robert Mighall of Eastern Road:

‘I expect by now you have received my card saying I am wounded. I got it in the right arm and right side, but nothing serious. The doctors told me I am jolly lucky I haven’t got a broken arm. The bullet went right through my arm into my side and it is still in there. I expect they will have it out tomorrow. I was wounded on November 6th, and was just a week getting here. I was not sorry. It was getting a bit too hot for me. I shall never forget the ride we had on the camel stretchers, or the sand carts: it was agony the whole time. …..

It don’t know if Bert Oram got hit or not, as I haven’t seen anything of him for a long time, but I know Frank Gasson is all right because he has got a job on the divisional water dump.

It is nice to get into a bed again after eighteen months on the ground.’

Reginald Mighall recovered from his wounds and survived the war.


The established Church of England and the free churches supported the Government’s position and unquestioningly delivered patriotic messages through sermons.

The message was that as Christians, it was everyone’s moral and patriotic duty to God, King and Country to fight the evil oppressor. Despite the rising casualties, sermons continually encouraged men to do their duty. Belief in this position never wavered nor that Britain would ultimately win, as right was on our side. Good would always triumph over evil.

In addition to the normal calendar of services this message was delivered through nationally instigated special services. Throughout the war years all churches held many special services, the first in August 1914 marked a National Day of Intercession. As with all the special services the congregations were large.

There was also good support for the National Day of Prayer, instigated in 1915, by the King. Each anniversary of the start of the war was marked by a service with prayers said for the fallen.

The services were also an opportunity for further fund raising for local and national war related causes.

Another major role fulfilled by all churches in the parish was as comforter to those suffering distress through the loss or injury to loved ones.

All Saints’ Parish Church

All Saints’ played a leading role in delivering the national message and as a comforter to its parishioners. It also fulfilled the happier duties associated with the many weddings and baptisms that took place.

The first of many special war services, ‘A Form of Intercession with Almighty God on behalf of His Majesty’s Navy and Military Forces now engaged in War’ was held on 21 August 1914. The three services in the parish church were led by Rev Crosbie, using words authorised by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The £27 collected at the services that day at Lindfield and Scaynes Hill parish churches was sent to the Prince of Wales National Fund.

In January 1916, Rev Edward d’Auvergne who had been the vicar for 28 years retired and was replaced by the Rev Arthur Mead.

The usual calendar of services, often with an emphasis on the war, and parish events continued, in so far as possible, throughout the war years. The well supported Sunday School provided children with a sense of normality. The annual outing in September 1916 was a trip by train from Haywards Heath to Hassocks, spending the afternoon at the Orchard Tea Gardens. At the 1917 annual prize giving the winners mainly received War Saving Certificate with 146 being distributed. The children were entertained with a magic lantern show and all received a bun and an orange on leaving. The latter being a real treat for children from financially hard pressed-families.

On 22 October 1916, an evening open air service was held on the Common in connection with the National Mission, a large gathering listened to Rev A R Mead and joined in the prayers and hymns. The drums and bugles of the Boy Scouts led the procession of clergy and choir to and from All Saints’.

At the Harvest Festival in September 1917, Rev Mead’s sermon reinforced the Government’s message regarding the importance of strict economy in the use of foodstuffs and the hazardous role undertaken by merchant seaman.

Rev Mead, in addition to his demanding pastoral duties, was very active in the village serving on many committees. Mrs Mead similarly played a full part in the life of the village, including the well-attended Girl’s Club at the Reading Room.

Following the introduction of the National Service scheme, Rev Mead duly filled in the forms offering, with regard to his previous experience, to serve as a chaplain in the Royal Navy but also confirmed a willingness to do agricultural work. However he was not called until early 1918 and served as Chaplain at the 2,200 bed Whalley Military Hospital, Lancashire.

For Christmas 1917, Rev A R Mead sent all Lindfield men in the forces a greeting card with the words ‘Your King and Country thank you’ and that they would be remembered by those worshipping at All Saints’.

By 1918 life had become grim and on the anniversary of the outbreak of war, to help raise morale the Mid Sussex Times published patriotic messages from well-known local men. Rev Mead in his message asked ‘Can we put what we are pleased to call “our bit” into the Hands of God and honestly say that it is our best’ and urged that ‘we must do much more, we must pray without ceasing and work as and where we can for the triumph of honour and right’.

Perhaps the most notable event during the war years was the purchase, by subscriptions, in autumn 1916 of the adjacent Tiger Inn, as the church house for meetings and events.

Congregational Church

The well supported Congregational church mirrored the parish church in its wartime services and activities.

Early in the war, a special Toy Service was held to collect toys for Belgian refugee children. Also for Christmas 1914, the congregation and Sunday school children collected for the ‘Daily News Christmas Pudding Fund for Soldiers’ and Sailors’.

When the RAMC troops arrived in November 1914, the church opened the School Room as a reading and writing room. The ladies provided coffee and cakes. They also organised a social event in March 1915 for the men billeted in Lindfield and Cuckfield. It is recorded that many soldiers attended services and sang in a ‘very hearty manner’.

A ladies’ working party was established to make comforts for soldiers, sailors and their wounded comrades. The cost of material was paid for by selling Harvest Festival produce and fund raising.

The fear of Zeppelin raids in 1915 resulted in the church lights being dimmed and curtains hung at the windows. Responding to the increasing risk of air attack, the following year the church took out insurance against aircraft damage.

The Rev Jessie Taylor had accepted the pastorate on a temporary basis nine months before the outbreak, but continued throughout the war. The pastoral needs of his congregation were much in demand as the distress caused by the conflict escalated.

For the 1918 anniversary of the war, Rev Taylor’s patriotic message stressed the ‘righteousness of the war’ and expressed his ‘full confidence in ultimate victory’ and that we ‘are indebted to our brave men’ describing them as the ‘splendid manhood of our nation’. He called upon everyone to ‘Trust in God and do the right’.

Sewell Memorial Mission

At the outbreak of war, the Rev Arthur Ellems was the pastor at the Sewell Memorial Mission, the forerunner of Lindfield Evangelical Free Church. Like the other churches, the Mission played its part in the wartime life of the village. Special services were held and comfort provided to its members. The Mid Sussex Times reported very little with regard to activity at the mission.

Additionally, the Mission Hall was used for a number of village events, such as Lindfield Baby Day in 1917. It may also have been the RAMC military cookhouse when the troops were billeted in Lindfield.


From the start, repatriation of war dead was prohibited and burials took place in a foreign field or at sea.

There are six graves in the Lindfield Burial Ground at Walstead recognised by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. All are local men with five dying in England. However the burial of Lieutenant Twiss RN is unusual as he was ‘killed in action’ in the Dover Straits. Perhaps his ship returned to port before a burial at sea could take place.

Captain Thomas Weatherby

Thomas Weatherby lived at Barrington House, Lindfield, the home of his parents Alice and the late Charles Weatherby. He attended Winchester College between 1907 and 1913. As a keen cricketer, Thomas played for the school’s first team and was a prominent player with Lindfield Cricket Club.

He joined the Army at the outbreak of war and was commissioned Second Lieutenant in September 1914. Three months later he was promoted to Lieutenant in the 9 (Service) Battalion, The Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment). The Battalion was part of Kitchener’s Second New Army. Thomas was further promoted to Captain in February 1915.

From November 1914 his Battalion was under training in Dorset. While stationed at Wimbourne, Thomas Weatherby contracted spotted fever (meningococcal meningitis) and he died at the Alexandra Military Hospital, Cosham, on 8 May 1915, aged 20.

His body was brought home and buried at Walstead Cemetery with full military honours. A detachment of 150 soldiers from the 2nd London Rifles lined the approach to the cemetery and fired three volleys over the grave. Their Bugle Band played the Last Post.

Lieutenant Guy Twiss

Guy Twiss died on 17 June 1917, aged 28, when his ship, HMS Tartar, hit a mine in the Straits of Dover. While patrolling down the channel between Bassure de Bas and the French coast, the ship went inside a buoy marking a danger area and was mined. The damaged Tartar was towed to safety but the incident cost the lives of 45 men.

His parents, Vice Admiral and Mrs Twiss of Lindfield House received the honour of a telegram from the monarchy, which read: ‘The King and Queen deeply regret the loss you and the Navy have sustained by the death of your son in the service of his country. Their majesties truly sympathise with you in your sorrow.’

His body was brought back to Lindfield for interment. The coffin covered with the Union flag was carried from Lindfield House to All Saints’ by members of the Sussex Volunteer Regiment, for the funeral service conducted by Rev A Mead. Outside the church, the Sussex Volunteer’s local platoon, Ardingly College’s Officer Training Corps buglers and Lindfield Boy Scouts paraded.

Afterwards the Sussex Volunteers escorted the coffin, carried on a car, to the burial ground at Walstead. As the coffin was lowered into the ivy and rose lined grave, the Ardingly OTC buglers sounded the ‘Last Post’.

Wilfred Winn

Wilfred Winn was born in 1897, the oldest son of Thomas and Marion Winn of Walstead.
Prior to the war he worked as a cowman on a local farm. He enlisted at Haywards Heath and served as a private in the Royal Fusiliers, later transferring to the Labour Corps.

Whilst serving on the Western Front he was badly gassed and was brought back to England but sadly died of pneumonia at Hemingford Street Auxiliary Hospital, Birkenhead on 26 May 1918, aged 30.

Wilfred Winn was privately buried at the Lindfield Burial Ground, Walstead, and the coffin being draped with the Union flag.

Reginald George Burtenshaw
Born at Haywards Heath in 1884, he later lived at Scaynes Hill with his parents, Alfred and Alice Burtenshaw. His father was a builder employing many men.
Reginald Burtenshaw had a motor and cycle agency at Scaynes Hill. He enlisted at Brighton in February 1917, joining the Royal Engineers (Inland Water Transport) and served as a second engineer, holding the rank of Corporal, in the Mediterranean area and elsewhere.

In October 1918, he was admitted to the military hospital at Stoner Camp, Sandwich, Kent with heart trouble. While there he contracted bronchial pneumonia and died on 24 October 1918.

Reginald Burtenshaw’s funeral service took place at Scaynes Hill parish church followed by interment at Walstead Burial Ground. The Mid Sussex Times reported ‘the deceased had a good name as a most capable and obliging tradesman’.

William John Winn

William Winn was born in 1868 and aged 16 joined the Army serving with the 2nd Royal Sussex Regiment in India for nearly 12 years and took part in the Egyptian campaign between 1883 and 1895. At the outbreak of the Boer War he again served his country.
In 1914, he was the caretaker at the Reading Room, living with his wife Alice and children at South Malling Cottages, Lewes Road.

Aged 46, he re-enlisted in October 1914 with the Royal Sussex as a drill instructor, but was soon discharged on health grounds. On recovering his health in 1916 he joined the 1st Garrison Battalion, Norfolk Regiment and served as a corporal at Karachi, India. This Battalion had been raised at Seaford for home service only as it was made up of men unfit for the front but was sent overseas.

William Winn was discharged in February 1917 with bronchitis. He died of influenza aged 51 at home on the 27th May 1919. His coffin covered with the Union Jack was conveyed to Walstead Burial Ground on a gun carriage and the funeral was conducted with military honours. His grave has a Commonwealth War Graves headstone, but his name is not included on the Lindfield war memorials.

Harold Tingley

Harold Tingley was born in 1894, the son of Florence Tingley of Ardingly, and later lived at Fountains Cottages, Lindfield. Prior to the war, he worked as a cowman at Hammonds Farm, Scaynes Hill.

In August 1914, he volunteered and joined the Royal Sussex Regiment, 8th (Service) Battalion, which became a Pioneer Battalion in February 1915. Following training on Salisbury Plain, the Battalion landed in France in July 1915 and he served on the Western Front until the war ended.

Whilst on leave in 1918, he married Emily Dann, the daughter of his former employer, at the Parish Church. Sadly, having survived the war, Harold Tingley died of influenza at Haywards Heath Cottage Hospital on 3 September 1919.

His grave is officially listed as a War Grave by the Commonwealth War Grave Commission and his name appears on the Scaynes Hill War Memorial.



The Armistice

On 11 November 1918, news of the Armistice bringing to an end the fighting ‘reached Lindfield shortly after eleven o’clock on Monday morning [11 November], and soon the old-time evidences of rejoicing were in full swing. Flags were displayed everywhere, bells rung, anvils charged and fired, and later fireworks let off and a tar barrel ignited and placed upon the historic bonfire site. Note the least appreciated token of rejoicing was the ringing of the Church bells’

There were no organised public celebratory events, perhaps because everyone was war weary through enduring daily hardships, grieving for the dead, worrying about the injured and concern for loved ones.

A further report in The Mid Sussex Times the following week, portrayed a joyous mood, but with life largely continuing as usual, commenting:

‘During the past week the inhabitants of Mid Sussex have been in high spirits because of the cessation of hostilities. Joyous peals have been rung upon the church bells. Cottagers have displayed from their humble homes such flags as they could get hold of, bonfires have been lighted, and rich and poor have mingled together in the Services of Thanksgiving.’

Some took high spirits further than others, as in the case of Ellen Baxter brought before Haywards Heath magistrates. It would appear Ellen Baxter of Horsted Keynes, a woman in her thirties and wife of Sergeant Ambrose Baxter serving in France, had been celebrating with her friends in Lindfield, and was ‘found lying beside the road drunk and incapable, at Town Hill, Lindfield. She was taken back home by PC Powell on November 12th. This was the first case of drunkenness before the Bench for a long time. She was with other women, but they got away. Superintendent Anscombe had been unable to find out where she got her drink from. Fined 5s’.

Welcome Home Day

Lindfield received praise from the Mid Sussex Times for being first to start planning a welcome for returning servicemen, as within weeks of the Armistice, thought was being given to Welcome Home celebrations for the returning servicemen. At a well-attended meeting in the Reading Room, a committee of twenty was formed and a fund opened for donations. The date was set for 28 May 1919, as it was expected most servicemen would have returned by then. However a good number were still to be demobilised, which continued into 1920.

On that day, shops and houses were decorated with flags, bunting and banners. The Welcome Home started at 5.00pm with a Service of Thanksgiving in All Saints’ church. In his address Rev H Thomas said ‘we thank God for your safe return: and all we say is just this – May the service that you have rendered your King and Country in the dark days of the war be an earnest of the service that you are going to render to your God in what we trust will be the happy days of peace’.

Afterwards, the men formed up behind the Ardingly Band and to the tune ‘Sons of the Brave’ marched down the High Street accompanied by their families and watched by a large crowd. Outside the King Edward Hall, the crowd cheered the men into the Hall.

Following a warm welcome by the committee, about 140 men sat down in King Edward Hall to a ‘capital spread’. The menu was:

Roast Beef
Steak & Kidney Pies
Veal & Ham Pies
Braised Beef
French salads, Tomato Salads, Potatoes
Strawberry Creams
Lemon Jellies
Fruit Salad
Cheese & Oliver Biscuits
Ale, Lemonade, Ginger Beer, Coffee
Cigars & Cigarettes

The meal was followed by speeches of thanks and toasts from the top table. Major Willett paid special tribute to the womenfolk for the splendid way they had carried on throughout the war. Mr E Stevens, the Parish Council chairman, toasted ‘The Ladies’ praising their hospital and voluntary war work, saying ‘they had raised in Lindfield hundreds of pounds and made thousands of articles for the benefit of the men in the fighting forces’.

Respects were paid to Corporal William Winn, medically discharged during 1917, who had died the previous evening from influenza. He had been looking forward to participating in the event.

After the formalities, the men were treated to musical entertainments and a ‘sleight of hand’ show. The evening closed with the National Anthem and Auld Lang Syne.

The Welcome Home Committee also arranged for discharged and demobilised soldiers and sailors to have complimentary membership of the Lindfield Club for 1919. From the funds donated there was a surplus of £55 which was used to start the War Memorial Fund.

Peace Day

The Great War did not officially end until the Treaty of Versailles was signed on 28 June 1919. The government decreed Saturday 19 July 1919 as Peace Day and called for towns and villages to organise events to celebrate the war’s end.

Funded by generous voluntary subscriptions, the Lindfield Peace Day featured a full programme of events:

10.00 Church service at All Saints’.
10.30 Decorated cycle parade down the High Street.
11.00 Cricket match on the Common; Cricket Club Captain’s Team v Wednesday Captain’s Team. Tennis and bowls matches were also played.
2.00 Children’s sports on the Common followed by tea in the Reading Room. The adults’ tea buffet was provided in King Edward Hall from 4.00 pm.
5.00 Adult sports on the Common, together with aquatic sports on the Pond including tub and barrel racing plus a parade of decorated floats, punts and gondolas.
7.00 Ball in the King Edward Hall
10.00 Fireworks and bonfire on the Common.

A Victory Ball was also held in the King Edward Hall on Wednesday 23 July 1919 with some 90 people attending, many in fancy dress. The dancing continued into the early hours of Thursday morning.

Land Fit for Heroes

The mood in the country was that returning servicemen should live in a land fit for heroes. In January 1919, with men starting to return, Cuckfield Rural District Council asked about additional housing for the working classes.

The need for new low rent houses was discussed at length by Lindfield Parish Council. It was also considered by the Lindfield Women’s Institute, whose members were concerned by the lack of workers’ houses and the insanitary conditions prevailing in many existing properties. This was emphasised by some ex-servicemen’s call for the war memorial to take the form of public bath facilities.

The Women’s Institute advised the Parish Council that many modern cottages were needed in Lindfield. However, after much deliberation, regarding rents and costs, Lindfield Parish Council advised the District Council only 10 or 12 new houses for the working classes were needed. Less than half these numbers would appear to have been built.

War Trophies

The Parish Council wrote to the War Office enquiring about war trophies and was told to contact their Lord Lieutenant. At the September 1919 council meeting the Chairman read letters from Lord Leconfield, Lord Lieutenant of Sussex, intimating that twelve rifles would be available for Lindfield as war trophies.

‘It is not what we hoped to receive’, commented the Chairman, with Mr Comer suggesting ‘the centre of Bents Wood would be a good place to put them or they might dispose of them at a jumble sale’. However, it was resolved to accept the rifles.

Clearly, the Parish Council were disappointed, as it is thought they were hoping to receive an artillery gun! What happened to the rifles is not known.



Village War Memorial

Initial thoughts on a memorial, as a permanent testament to the sacrifice made by local men, were first expressed in early 1919. However, it was not until 1920, following formation of a War Memorial Committee by the Parish Council that discussions started in earnest. Over numerous meetings, the Committee considered various suggestions to be funded by public subscription, including a memorial, public bath facilities, housing for ex-servicemen, endowed beds at Haywards Heath hospital and a scholarship fund for village children. After protracted discussions agreement was eventually reached on a stone monument as this would be a lasting tribute where flowers could be placed by relatives.

Various sites were considered including in the middle of the High Street at the junction with Lewes Road. A site on the Common at the southern approach to the village became much favoured, although there were concerns about possible damage to the monument. At a meeting of subscribers held in August 1921, All Saints’ churchyard was unanimously decided upon as the preferred site for the memorial.

The Committee commissioned Ninian Comper (knighted in the 1950s) to design the monument and he visited the churchyard producing a design to specifically address the location and space available. The chosen position for the memorial cross was in the west boundary wall, which would ensure the memorial could be seen by passers-by in the High Street and all entering the church.

Sir John Ninian Comper (1864-1960) regarded as the greatest British church architect of the 20th century and one of the last great gothic revival architects. Noted for his churches, their furnishings and stained glass, he attended Ruskin School of Art at Oxford. Afterwards he worked as an assistant to Charles Eamer Kempe, the renowned stained glass artist and church decorator, before being articled to Frederick Bodley then Joining Thomas Garner, later going into partnership with William Bucknall.

After the Great War he received a number of commissions for war memorials, the most notable being the Welsh National War Memorial in Cardiff. Memorial crosses with Calvary or lantern heads were his favoured designs for monuments in town and villages. Lindfield War Memorial Committee is thought to have chosen Ninian Comper due to his connection with Charles Eamer Kempe whose country house had been at Lindfield, and was now occupied by his nephew, Walter Tower, a prominent member of the memorial committee and as owner of C E Kempe & Co, probably knew Ninian Comper.

The estimate for the Calvary cross design chosen for Lindfield was £328 plus £37 extra for inscribing the names, totalling £365 excluding architects fees. The sum subscribed to the fund stood at £425.

Comper worked in collaboration with William Drinkwater Gough (c1861-1937), a mason and sculptor based in Kennington, south London, and the making of the cross is attributed to him.

Description of the Village War Memorial

Facing west onto the High Street, the memorial takes the form of a churchyard cross built into the churchyard boundary wall of All Saints’ parish church.

Made in Clipsham stone from Rutland, the tall tapering octagonal column ascends to a cross. It stands on four classic scrolls mounted on a square plinth set at an angle into the boundary wall and has a total height of some 20 feet.

At the head of the column is a cross, upon the west side is the Calvary with the elaborately sculptured figures of Christ crucified, and standing on a ledge beside Christ, are John, his beloved disciple, and Mary Magdalene. At the top of the cross is a scroll bearing the letters INRI standing for ‘Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews’; being the sign placed over Christ’s head during the Crucifixion. In the centre of the ledge beneath the feet of Christ is a shield with stylised Greek letters for alpha and omega with a pattee cross; a device for naming the figure on the cross as Christ the Redeemer, as in ‘I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end’ (Revelations I:8).

Upon the reverse of the cross, facing east is the figure of the Madonna with the Divine Child. Centrally on the ledge is a shield inscribed with the letters IHS. The letters are recognised as having a number of meanings relating to Jesus, the most appropriate being ‘in this cross is salvation’.

Engraved on the left side of the inward facing base is ‘1914’ and below the inscription ‘CHRIST DIED FOR ALL MEN’ and on the right ‘1918’ and ‘THESE FOR THEIR COUNTRY’. On either side of the base on stones set into the wall are inscribed the 61 names of the fallen in alphabetical order without rank.

Dedication of the Village War Memorial

On Sunday 12 November 1922, almost 100 ex-service men assembled on the Common and marched to All Saints’ church, headed by the Lindfield Boy Scout’s Drum and Bugle band, for the Dedication Service. Lining the roadway outside the church were the Lindfield Boy Scouts and Wolf Cubs, Lindfield Girl Guides and Scaynes Hill Girl Guides. In addition to the ex-service men, the congregation included relatives of the fallen, members of the Parish Council, the Voluntary Aid Detachment and War Memorial Committee.

After the service, which included the recital of the names of the men who died, the congregation was led to the memorial behind the processional cross borne by Jesse Newnham Jnr. A large crowd had gathered awaiting the dedication. The Bishop of Lewes pulled away the flag covering the names and read the prayers of dedication followed by a well-received address.

This was followed by John Arkwright’s hymn ‘The Supreme Sacrifice’, the bugle calls ‘Last Post’ and ‘Reveille’, a minute’s silence, the laying of wreaths and the National Anthem.

Mr Stevens chairman of War Memorial Committee, then handed over the memorial to the village with the words: “On behalf of the subscribers to this memorial, I hereby deliver it to the village of Lindfield, to be tended and cared for through all generations.”

Afterwards, the ex-service men were entertained to tea in The Tiger.

All Saints’ War Memorial

In the South Transept of the church is an elaborately carved oak shrine to the fallen and lists their names.

Designed by John Lisle, the chief designer for Charles Kempe & Co Ltd, it was carved by Norman and Burt, builders, at Burgess Hill.

The memorial, erected in 1921, shows St George, Clad in armour, he holds a shield emblazoned with the cross of St George and a golden lance with his pennant His head bared, helmet having been removed, and wearing a laurel wreath portraying victory. The slain and evil shape of the formidable dragon is at his feet depicting the triumph of good over evil.

The memorial’s iconography reflects that displayed in the Cumberlege window in the South Chapel installed in 1919, which was also designed in the Kempe studio.

It carries the inscription:

Remember ye with thanksgiving
and with all honour before God and
men, those who went forth from this
place in the service of their Country
during the years of the Great War
1914-1919 and returned not again
to whose memory their fellow
parishioners have set up this memorial.

On either side of the carving are panels listing the fallen.

Individual Memorial Plaques

Following requests for the fixing of individual memorials in the church by families wishing to commemorate a relative who died serving their country, the subject was discussed at the annual Parish Vestry meeting on 30 October 1916.

It was agreed ‘to fix fees to act as a check upon the natural desire’ for a memorial, at the rate of £2 2s 0d per square foot for parishioners. For non-parishioners the rate was double. No memorial was to exceed three square feet in size.

There are two individual Great War memorials both are in the north transept:
A brass plaque, on the north wall, dedicated to Reginald George Hill whose parents lived in Sunte Avenue. The inscription reads:

1st Canadian Battalion
Son of CAPTAIN E N Hill Late 30th Regt
And of FREDERICA his wife
Killed in Action 26th April 1916 near Ypres, Flanders
Aged 48

On the east wall is a marble and alabaster tablet, dedicated to Captain Geoffrey Prideaux.

The tablet, measuring 35 x 25 inches, displays the Prideaux family crest and the inscription:

“Until the day break and the shadows flee away.”

Above the tablet is the original inscribed wooden cemetery cross, with a bronze laurel wreath at the top. Attached to the base of the cross are the ribbons and badge of the Somerset Light Infantry.

The 1917 Vestry Meeting minutes record that ‘The meeting considered it an honour to have in the parish church a monument to so gallant an officer.’

The Cumberlege Window

Henry and Blanch Cumberlege of Walstead Place donated the three light window in the east wall of the South Massets’ Chapel in gratitude for the safe return of their three sons from the Great War:

Captain Geoffrey Cumberlege, DSO, MC, Royal Fusiliers and Oxfordshire & Bucks Light Infantry
Captain Reginald Cumberlege, Royal Field Artillery
Lieutenant Commander Marcus Cumberlege, Royal Navy

The window made by C E Kempe & Co was installed in 1919. It depicts in the left light, St Michael holding a sword aloft sword in triumph with his lance impaled in the dragon at his feet. The Virgin and Child is in the middle light and to the right is St George with the three golden Lions of England emblazoned on his shield, witnessing and upholding the faith in the Incarnation.

An inscription in the window reads “The Lord brought them out safely” These words are here inscribed and this window dedicated in humble thanksgiving to Almighty God for the preservation of their three sons through the Great War by Henry & Blanch Cumberlege. A.D. MCMXIX.’

In the lower left corner of each light is a small insignia depicting each sons’ military service. Also, the left light has the C E Kempe & Co motif of a black tower on a golden wheat sheaf.

For King and Country

Death on military service was always expressed in terms of patriotism and honour in newspapers. However, the War Office communicated and dealt with the subject in a perfunctory manner. In contrast rich and poor alike had to deal with their grief, an emotion rarely touched upon in newspapers.

The Next of Kin Memorial Plaque and Scroll, was the official token of gratitude issued in the name of King George V by the Government. It was given in respect of service personnel whose death between 4 August 1914 and 30 April 1920 was attributable to the war.

The Plaque cast in bronze gun metal, five inches in diameter, incorporates images of Britannia holding an oak wreath, a lion, two dolphins representing Britain’s sea power and the emblem of Imperial Germany’s eagle being torn to pieces by another lion.

 The individual’s name is cast without rank signifying equality in sacrifice and around the outer edge are the words ‘He [She] died for freedom and honour’.

The plaque was not always well received and resembling the penny coin it was disparagingly and commonly referred to as a ‘Dead Man’s Penny’.

William Baldock’s plaque

The Scroll bearing the individuals service details declared ‘He whom this scroll commemorates was numbered among those who, at the call of King and Country, left all that was dear to them, endured hardness, faced danger, and finally passed out of the sight of men by the path of duty and self-sacrifice, giving up their own lives that others might live in freedom. Let those who come after see to it that his name be not forgotten’.

The Welcome Home Committee, using the funds donated by residents, gave a wooden picture frame for the scroll to families who had suffered a loss. On the back, the frames carried the message ‘This frame from the inhabitants of Lindfield is given to you as a token of sincere sympathy for the loss you have sustained in the Great War’.



Around 550 people from Lindfield were directly involved in military activities. These are some of their stories.

Leslie Ayling

Leslie Ayling enlisted on 13 April 1915, joining the City of London Yeomanry (Rough Riders) but was rated unfit for foreign service due to defective vision. Determined to go abroad and fight he was later passed fit for general service.

He married Elizabeth Rogers on 7 August 1915, setting up home at Spring Cottage, Lyoth Lane, Lindfield. After serving in England, a posting to France followed in September 1916 as a Lewis Gunner. Their baby daughter, Betty, was born three months later on 4 December 1916. Leslie Ayling served in France and Belgium until killed at the end of the Battle of Cambrai on 7th December 1917. His Division played a major part in holding the furious German counter attack. He has no known grave.

Sadly he never saw his baby daughter. Mrs Ayling received a widows pension of 20s 5d [£1.02] a week.

Baldock Brothers

The late Edward and Annie Baldock had 17 children. Soon after the war started, four brothers of military age volunteered for service, two were living at the family home at 15 West View, Lindfield.

Charles Baldock, the fourth son, aged 19 years, enlisted at Haywards Heath in the newly formed 9th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment in September 1914. Before enlisting he was employed as a houseboy at The Star Hotel, Haywards Heath.

Following a period of training, the Battalion went to France on 31 August 1915 arriving at their billet four days later for further training in preparation for the Battle of Loos. On 21 September 1915, the Battalion started an arduous march to the front arriving tired and hungry on the 25 September 1915. They were immediately ordered into action and under heavy attack the Battalion fought for three days without food or water.

The 9th Battalion received very heavy casualties and Charles was listed as missing. He was subsequently recorded as missing killed in action and is commemorated on the Loos Memorial.

William Newton Baldock was born in 1887. In the decade prior to the war, he served with the Royal Sussex Regiment but purchased his discharge and emigrated to Australia in 1907 with his brother Harry. William worked as a labourer until he responded to the call to fight for the Empire.

On 7 September 1914, at Black Hill Camp, Western Australia, he enlisted in the Australian Army Service Corps and went to Gallipoli as part of the 1st Australian Expeditionary Force.

Suffering from a disease, he was evacuated from Gallipoli and on 26 August 1915 he jumped overboard and drowned while in transit to aboard SS Port Lincoln. His death is commemorated on the Chatby Memorial, Alexandria, Egypt.

Lewis Frederick Baldock worked as a groom prior to the war. During October 1914 he joined the Hussars and in July 1915 transferred to the Gloucestershire Regiment going to France in August 1915. The following April he joined the Machine Gun Corps continuing to serve on the Western Front until the war ended, without injury.

Frank Baldock born in 1891, worked in domestic service before volunteering in December 1914. He joined the Royal Buckinghamshire Regiment as a trooper. Following a transfer to the Oxford Yeomanry, he also joined the Machine Gun Corps in 1916.
Frank survived the war returning home to Lindfield.

Jack Caplin

A pupil of Lindfield School and member of the Church Lads Brigade, he was born at Lindfield in the third quarter 1896. His parents were Thomas and Betty Caplin of 1 Prospect Place, Lewes Road and had two other sons also in the war.

Jack joined the Royal Sussex Regiment as a regular in 1913, aged 17. He went to France in August 1914 with the British Expeditionary Force, when under the minimum age for foreign service.

He was wounded by shrapnel in the foot on the Marne in September 1914 and recovered at the 2nd General Hospital, Chelsea. After returning to the front, he was killed at Richebourg l’Avoue, Aubers Ridge, Flanders, on 19 May 1915 aged 18 years 9 month and was thus ‘a boy soldier’.

Both his brothers survived the war, George in the Royal Field Artillery. Harold served in the Navy and was taken prisoner by the Germans whilst serving on HMS Crusader. He was a member of a rescue party sent to the aid of men of HMS Maori which struck a mine on 8th May 1915. The Germans opened fire from shore batteries and rescuers and rescuees were taken prisoner.

Harold Eycott-Martin

Prior to the war, Harold was a student living at the family home, ‘Hardwicke’ [26 Sunte Avenue]. At age 18, in October 1915 he was commissioned into the Royal Engineers and subsequently joined the Royal Flying Corps

On 29 March 1917 he was appointed Flying Officer and shortly afterwards was posted to 41 Squadron in northern France. Harold crashed a Royal Aircraft Factory FE8 on take-off on 11 May 1917 and was admitted to hospital. His injuries prevented him flying again until November 1917.

Harold joined 66 Squadron in February 1918 in Italy. This was the start of a successful five month combat period during which he claimed eight victories achieving ‘ace’ status and was awarded the Military Cross for his actions in one combat. Qualified to fly several different types of fighter aircraft, it was with a Sopwith Camel that Harold achieved his aerial combat victories. Promotion to Captain followed. After the war, he had a difficult and turbulent service career; returning to the Royal Engineers, before being discharged from military service, having been declared bankrupt and going absent without leave.

The Fitzmaurice Family

Dr Richard and Alexina Fitzmaurice had eight children and lived at Everyndens in the High Street. All of their six sons, educated at Belvedere School, a respected private school in Haywards Heath, were of military service age during the war years. Four joined for the Army with three dying for their King and Country. The other two sons, Henry and Nicholas, had joined the Colonial Service prior to the war and served the Government as diplomats in Asia.

Alexander Fitzmaurice was born in Lindfield on 18 April 1885. Upon completing his schooling he was admitted to London University in June 1903, joining Guy’s Hospital to study medicine that October.

Alexander Fitzmaurice qualified as a doctor in 1909 and held a number of house appointments in several hospitals. Following a course

Alexander left England in April 1914 for Berbera, British Somaliland, where he was attached to the Camel Corps with the rank of Captain. While at Burao, treating Indian troops wounded during the fighting in the Somaliland Protectorate, he contracted a disease dying on 11 January 1915.

Lindsay Fitzmaurice, born in 1893, upon completing his schooling, was admitted to London University, where he joined the University Officer Training Corps.

Followings calls for young men to join Kitchener’s New Armies, in September 1914, he enlisted in the 18th (Service) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (1st Public Schools & University); in effect a pals’ battalion. After two months basic training as a Private at a camp near Epsom, he was commissioned into the 8th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry.

The Battalion went to France in September 1915 going into action two weeks later at the Battle of Loos. Four hours into the attack he was shot in the elbow, fracturing bones. At about the same time his brother, Richard Fitzmaurice, was killed in the same battle.
He was sent back to England for hospital treatment returning to his Battalion in France eleven months later.

During autumn 1916, the 8th Somerset prepared to take part in the Somme offensive and Lindsay Fitzmaurice was promoted to Captain. On the 18 November 1916, the Battalion went into action at the Battle of the Ancre. Attacking across difficult ground swept by continuous shell, machine gun and rifle fire the advance failed after reaching its first objective. Lindsay was killed in this action which cost the Battalion over 100 lives and a great number wounded.

Richard Fitzmaurice prior to the war worked as a bank clerk. In autumn 1914 aged 23, he enlisted in the 2/14 London Scottish, a socially exclusive battalion. To ensure the ‘right sort’ were recruited, a high standard of education from a good school and Scottish ancestry was required, together with a £10 joining fee.

After training at Dorking, he was drafted to France in April 1915 to join the 1/14 London Scottish.

On 25 September 1915, the first day of the Battle of Loos, the 1/14 London Scottish came under shell and rifle fire suffering many casualties on their initial advance to the front line and during their subsequent advance across ‘no man’s land’. Reaching the German line, the men were confronted by an intact belt of wire, twenty yards wide, which earlier in the day had stopped the 2nd Brigade advance. Further advance being impossible, the men lay down, answering the German fire with their rifles. Serious losses were suffered, especially when machine-guns began to enfilade from the right. Richard Fizmaurice was killed in this action.

Francis Fitzmaurice joined 1/6th (Cyclist) Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment, Territorial Force in September 1914 aged 19 years and gave his occupation as student. As part of the enlistment process he had to certify being ‘able and willing to provide myself with a bicycle during my period of service as cyclist’. The Battalion undertook coastal defence duties in England.

He was commissioned, in September 1915, into the Royal Field Artillery and posted to 32nd Divisional Artillery at Heytesbury, Wiltshire.

Francis Fitzmaurice went with the Division to Egypt in January 1916 and then in March 1916 to France, for service on the Western Front.

It is believed he remained with the Royal Field Artillery, serving as a Lieutenant, on the Western Front for the remainder of the war, returning home in February 1919.

Fox Family

George Benjamin Fox lived with his wife, Alice, nee Mason, and their five children at 1 West View, Lindfield. A blacksmith by training, he worked as a chauffeur and mechanic prior to joining up.

Aged 38, George Fox volunteered for the Army enlisting on 24 November 1915 at Haywards Heath. Reflecting his trade, he joined the Mechanical Transport Section, Army Service Corps. In April 1916 his unit was posted to France and was attached to 78th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery.

During summer 1916 his wife became seriously ill and the Army granted George compassionate leave. Sadly, Alice Fox died on 14 September 1916 shortly after he had returned to France. He was allowed home again for ten days to attend her funeral. George Fox had to return to the front leaving behind four young children; the youngest was only three years old.

He continued to serve with various Motor Transport units of the British Expeditionary Force until the war ended, returning home in spring 1919.

Herbert William Fox was born in the third quarter 1899, the eldest son of George and Alice Fox and lived with his parents at 1 West View, Lindfield.

During the absence of his father serving in France, as mentioned above, his mother died and 16 year old he had to register his mother’s death. He subsequently left his young siblings in the care of Miss M Fox, an aunt, and joined the Royal Fusiliers and later the 9th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment. Prior to joining up he worked in Lindfield as a plumber and was a member of the village Fire Brigade and Volunteer Training Corps.

While serving in France on the Western Front, Herbert Fox was killed in action on 10 October 1918 during the pursuit of the Germans to the River Selle, part of the 2nd Battle of Cambrai. The Battalion was moving forward and was subjected to heavy shelling, and he was killed almost instantly when a shell landed close to his Lewis gun limber.

Herbert Fox had been in France for about six months and was only a little over 18 years old at the time of his death, that is to say, he was an underage boy soldier at the time of being sent overseas to fight.

He is buried at St Aubert British Cemetery.

Reginald Legge

D Company Officers at Canada Farm, Elvenden prior to leaving for France in August 1916.

Reginald Legge’s parents lived at ‘Greenwoods’, High Beeches Lane, Lindfield. After leaving Brighton Grammar School, he worked for a wholesale draper in Cannon Street, London before travelling the world as a merchant. A well-travelled adventurer, he was working on the Gold Coast prior to the war. Returning to England in January 1915, Reginald Legge joined the 2/1 Bucks Yeomanry (Royal Bucks Hussars) as a Trooper.

On 4 March 1916 he attended a six week officer training course and following being commissioned on 15 April 1916, aged 34, was posted to the Heavy Machine Gun Corps. A month later he became one of the first officers to undergo tank training at Canada Farm, Elvenden, near Thetford, going to France as a tank commander in August 1916. At this time the tank was a new and untried weapon and was to be used in the Somme offensive.

On the night of 13 September 1916, the crews fuelled the tanks, collected rations and ammunition ready for their debut . The following day, Reginald Legge and his fellow officers received final instructions and reconnoitred the route to their front line start point. It was extremely rough terrain heavily damaged by shell holes and cut by trenches for the 28 ton monsters to traverse. That evening the tanks moved forward in readiness to take part in the Battle of Flers at zero hour on 15 September. Along the battle front only 30 of the 42 tanks made it to their start points, the others had either got stuck or broken down.

Seven tanks supported the 41st Division, organised into four groups, the male tank D6 commanded by Reginald Legge, the only tank in C Group, was to be the leading tank in the assault in the sector.

From his start point tank D6 supported the infantry advance and made good progress towards Flers, reaching Division’s the first objective. A British soldier described the tank as ‘lumbering past on my left, belching forth yellow flames from her machine gun and making a gap where the Flers road cut through the enemy trench!’

Reginald Legge then turned D6 east and north to move down the eastern side of Flers, once inside village he helped the infantry clear out the Germans. As the assault continued towards the third objective northeast of the village, the role played by D6 was recognised by the Commanding Officer 26th Royal Fusiliers recording that ‘This tank was of the greatest material use and the party in charge of it distinguished themselves considerably’. Leading the advance, Reginald Legge got ahead of the British infantry line and in danger from enemy artillery he continued north towards his next objective. Aware that there was a German gun battery nearby, he went on the attack destroying one field gun but was fired upon by the remaining three guns. Receiving a direct hit, D6 burst into flames and burnt out.

One crewman died in the burning tank, two died from their wounds at the scene, three made it back to the British line and one was captured. There is some uncertainty regarding Reginald Legge’s precise fate. A crew member saw him in a nearby shell hole, possibly suffering serious wounds, he is thought to have been captured by the Germans, dying of his injuries the next day. However, they have no record of him having been taken a prisoner nor a grave. He was posted missing by the British.

In 1917, Reginald Legge’s identity disc and will was sent from Germany by the Red Cross and eventually received by his mother confirming his death over a year after going missing.

His brave actions received no official recognition.

The Newnham Family

Jesse Newnham snr, after service in the Army, he worked as a groom and coachman, and with his wife, Elizabeth, the family settled in Lindfield in 1902. A few years later he was appointed the School Attendance Officer for the district. Jesse Newnham was active in many aspects of village life.

Jesse and Elizabeth Newnham had nine children and in 1914 the family home was at Laburnham Villas, Compton Road. All their sons joined the military as soon as age permitted.

In 1915, he re-entered the Army, first as a Recruiting Sergeant then in September 1915, at the age of 46, enlisting as a Private in the Army Veterinary Corps. Two months later he was with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force bound for Egypt.

His unit transferred to France in mid-1916 and, promoted to sergeant, Jesse spent the rest of the war on the Western Front at Ypres, Arras and the Somme tending wounded horses.

Thankful, he returned unharmed to Lindfield at the end of the war.

Alfred Edward Victor Newnham was born in 1894 and after completing his schooling in Lindfield worked as a gardener. Aged 14 years he joined 4th Royal Sussex Regiment, Territorial Force, as a Bugler. In 1913 on reaching the age to enlist in the Regular Army he joined 2nd Royal Sussex Regiment. The Battalion left for France with the British Expeditionary Force on 12 August 1914.

The German advance on Paris was stopped when the Allies counter attacked at the first Battle of the Marne on 31 August. The 2nd Royal Sussex went into action for the first time near Priez, suffering over 100 casualties. The German army started to retreat north to the far bank of the Aisne River chased by the Allies who wanted to follow up their success at Marne. At the start of the Battle of Aisne on 14 September 1914, the Royal Sussex occupied the high ground above Vendresse, near Troyon. Heavy fighting raged for three weeks with neither side making any gains and both becoming entrenched. This was the start of trench warfare and the creation of the Western Front. The 2nd Royal Sussex suffered over 300 casualties out of some 13,000 British Expeditionary Force casualties.

Despite having been engaged in heavy fighting, Alfred Newnham sent a cheerful post card dated 23 September 1914 to his parents thanking them for a recent parcel. Two weeks later, on 7 October 1914 during the Battle of Aisne, Alfred received severe wounds to both legs. Six days later he was admitted to British Red Cross No 1 Hospital, at the Hotel Astoria, Paris. The matron wrote to his parents, ‘we fear greatly that his chances of recovery are very small.’ With a nurse’s help Alfred Newnham was able to send a last message to his family. Before he passed away on 16 October 1914, his last regret expressed to a nurse was that he would not play football again.

Before leaving for France, Alfred Newnham promised his little sister, May, he would bring her back a doll from France. Realising he would be unable to buy the promised doll, Alfred Newnham asked one of the nurses to go into Paris and purchase a doll for him, which she willingly did. After his death, the nurse made a special journey to Lindfield delivering the doll to May.

John Francis Newnham, born in 1896, gave up his gardening job and volunteered for military service, enlisting in the Royal Marine Artillery at Eastney Barracks, Portsmouth on 21 August 1913.

In October 1914, HMS Tiger was hastily completed and John Newnham joined the ship as a Gunner, part of the Royal Marine Detachment on board and assigned to the ship’s X turret. He wrote home expressing his pleasure in the ship and her 13.5 inch guns. The ship joined the First Battle Cruiser Squadron of the Grand Fleet and made regular patrols of the North Sea, engaging the German fleet at the Battle of Dogger Bank on 24 January 1915. Despite being hit six times by heavy shells, the damage suffered was slight, and after repair Tiger returned to service on 8 February 1915.

Three further missions in the North Sea followed during the next couple of months but the enemy were not engaged.

HMS Tiger was next in action at the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916. Seven minutes after the start of the battle, HMS Tiger’s X Gun Turret was hit by a German 11″ shell on the barbette, directly between the guns. The shell did not explode but the shell and a large piece of the barbette penetrated the turret hitting John Newnham, the centre site setter, throwing him against the turret roof. He died instantly. The turret resumed firing after only missing three salvoes.

His body was buried at sea the next day.

Noel Newnham , a choirboy at All Saints church and a member of Lindfield Boy Scouts, left school aged 14 and worked for Mr. Driver, fishmonger & poulterer in the High Street.

In September 1916, at 15 years of age he volunteered for military service enlisting on 29 April 1916 in the Royal Marine Artillery at Eastney Barracks, Portsmouth as a Bugler. On completing his bugle training he joined the battleship HMS Vanguard.

Boys were able to join the Royal Marines as buglers from age 14 and when trained serve with the Royal Marine Detachment on a warship. On completing his training Noel Newnham was drafted on 1 January 1917 to HMS Vanguard, part of the 4th Battle Squadron, Grand Fleet, based at Scapa Flow.

On the morning of 9 July 1917, HMS Vanguard undertook routine exercises around Scapa Flow. The ship returned to its anchorage with the rest of the fleet at about 6.30pm.

At 11.20pm that night while the warship lay at anchor in Scapa Flow, with most of her crew asleep, a fire was observed from ships nearby. Almost immediately there was a massive explosion, the centre of which was located amidships. HMS Vanguard was literally blown apart and sank. All of the crew aboard that night perished, apart from two survivors. The death toll was over 800 men and his body was never recovered.

Jesse Newnham jnr, born 22 October 1898, worked as a gardener for Walter Tower at Old Place, Lindfield. Aged 14, he joined A Company, 4th Royal Sussex Regiment, Territorial Force in 1913 as a Bugler. The battalion was mobilized at the outbreak of war, thus at age 15 years he entered into full time military service.

At age 18, he decided to follow in his brothers footsteps and requested a change of service joining the Royal Marine Artillery at Portsmouth.

Following training Jesse Newnham was posted to the battleship HMS St Vincent on 15 October 1918. His war ended peacefully and he was discharged from the Royal Marines in 1920.

Harold Newnham after leaving school worked briefly as a grocer’s errand boy. On 17 September 1917, just two months after his third brother had been killed, at the age of 14years 7 month he volunteered to join the Royal Marine Artillery, as a bugler at Eastney Barracks, Portsmouth. On enlisting he measured just over 4 feet 8 inches tall.

Harold Newnham remained based at Eastney Barracks throughout the war and in September 1920 joined a ship for a few months. A posting ashore followed until November 1921 when he joined HMS Barham before being discharged and returning home on 22 May 1922.

George Robert Powell was born at Brighton in 1887 and on marrying Lillian Elsey of Lindfield in 1910 the couple lived at ‘Pendennis’, Compton Road. He joined the Royal Army Medical Corp in 1905 serving for one year followed by eleven years as a reservist. George re-joined the RAMC in 1912 and served until the end of the war in Egypt, Palestine, France, Belgium and Malta.

He took part in the infamous ‘Retreat from Mons’ in 1914, while attached to the Howitzer Brigade and for a time was listed as missing, and was lucky to have been uninjured in the chaotic and dangerous retreat. When the British started to advance, George Powell did a duty escorting German prisoners and a suspected spy. On attempting to escape the suspected spy was shot. From mid-September 1914 he worked on hospital trains conveying the badly wounded.

On 1 November 1914, while loading a hospital train, the train was hit by German guns and George Powell received serious internal injuries and was returned to Britain for an operation. After recovering, he was again posted overseas.

When stationed in Malta he worked in a fever ward treating patients arriving from the Dardanelles and continued to serve overseas throughout the war

Captain Geoffrey A Prideaux was born on 1 August 1891, his parents Arthur and Louise Prideaux maintained a house in London together with Spring Cottage on the outskirts of Lindfield village. Throughout the Great War, Mrs Prideaux was very active in the village collecting for the war effort and supporting many good causes.

After leaving Eton in 1909, Geoffrey Prideaux attended the Royal Military College Sandhurst, and was commissioned into the 1st Battalion Somerset Light Infantry in March 1911. Promotion to Lieutenant followed in April 1914 when he was appointed the Battalion’s Transport Officer. At the outbreak of the Great War, his Battalion went to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force.

Geoffrey maintained a daily account of events, from the tragic to the humorous, such as:

19 September 1914, ‘One of the civilians who, by the way, was still living in our cellar, keeps a cow two doors away. He refuses to let us have any milk, so when we want some our two servants get it in the following way. One talks to him whilst the other stands behind a big door. The latter suddenly whistles like a shell and kicks the door hard. The old man thinks it is a shell and rushes into the cellar, into which he is securely locked. Then we milk the cow’.

He was at the battles of Mons, the Marne, and the Aisne and in much of the severe fighting in the Ypres salient. Geoffrey Prideaux commanded a double company of his Battalion from October 1914 to July 1915, when he was appointed Staff Captain of the 11th Brigade. In June 1916, he received the Military Cross, and in the following month was promoted to Brigade Major. He took part in much of the fighting on the Somme, and was mentioned in dispatches.

During his time in France he had been gassed and wounded. While visiting a front line trench on 19 January 1917, the German artillery became active, in what had been a quiet period, Geoffrey Prideaux was killed by a burst of shell fire which landed close by where he was standing. He was described by his Regiment as a ‘gallant young officer’ and is remembered on a memorial tablet on the east wall of the north transept in All Saints church.

Scutt Family

The family lived in the High Street opposite the Bent Arms. James Scutt ran a coal merchant’s business delivering coal around the Lindfield area on a horse-drawn wagon.

James Scutt and his first wife, Isabella, had six sons; their eldest had been killed in the Boer War. With four sons serving in the Great War, James Scutt, aged 60 and in poor health, struggled to continue the business with just one son to deliver coal.

Donald Crear Scutt joined the Royal Horse Artillery as a regular soldier before the war. His name appeared on the first list of Lindfield men away from the village serving King and Country, posted in the church porch in August 1914.

By that time, he was already in France with the 3rd Royal Horse Artillery, attached to 1st Cavalry Division of the British Expeditionary Force. Equipped with light mobile horse-drawn guns their role was to provide firepower in support of the cavalry. He fought and was wounded at Mons.

Donald is believed to have remained on the Western Front throughout the war, and with the rank of Sergeant returned home to Lindfield in 1919.

Edward George Scutt working in the family business, attested under the Lord Derby Scheme on 10 December 1915, the penultimate day of the Group Scheme. Having enlisted, an appeal could then be made to the Local Tribunal for deferment or exemption based on the importance of his work. Jams Scutt as his employer subsequently applied to the Tribunal, on the grounds he was needed for the essential work of delivering coal. Edward, married with one child, was granted six months’ exemption.

In September 1916, he joined the Army Service Corps as Private 208124 and was promoted to Acting Corporal in March 1918, returning safely to his family after the war.

Harry Charles Scutt, a gardener at Borde Hill, Cuckfield, volunteered for the Royal Navy in June 1915 and shortly afterwards joined HMS Diadem, as an Able Seaman. He served on this ship until being transferred to HMS Barham in October 1915.

HMS Barham, a battleship, was part of the 5th Battle Squadron, Grand Fleet, which took part in the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916. Despite HMS Barham being hit six times and seriously damaged, Harry Scutt survived unharmed.

However, in November 1916, while serving on HMS Vernon, he was involved in a gun turret accident injuring both his hands. Harry Scutt subsequently died of blood poisoning in RN Haslar Hospital, on 31 January 1917, aged 20 years, and was buried with full military honours in the Royal Navy Haslar Cemetery at Gosport. Sadly his father was unable to attend due to ill health.

William Scutt, shortly after leaving Lindfield School, joined the Royal Navy in 1899.

In September 1914, he was serving as Chief Yeoman of Signals on HMS Minerva and later as Signal Boatswain. He then served with the same rank on HMS Inflexible, before taking part in the Gallipoli campaign.

After being landed at Gallipoli in 1915, William Scutt was in charge of the Wireless Station at Anzac until evacuated at the end of the disastrous campaign. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his meritorious service at Gallipoli, receiving the medal from the King at Buckingham Palace on 10 May 1916. His homecoming in March 1916 on a short leave was ‘of a joyous character many flags being displayed in the village’.

William Scutt was promoted to Mate, the equivalent to a Sub-Lieutenant for men rising from the non-commissioned ranks. At the end of the war, he was commissioned and promoted to Lieutenant.

Alfred Thompson, a keen footballer, he played in the Lindfield School team that won the Mid Sussex Schools Football League in the 1912/13 season. On leaving school he was apprenticed as a tailor in his father’s tailoring business at Marlow House (107 High Street).

In September 1916, aged 17 years 3 months, Alfred Thompson went to Brighton and volunteered under Lord Derby’s Group Scheme. He was duly attested and medically examined; returning home that day to await call up by age group. The following day the police delivered a khaki armlet with a red crown for him to wear, signifying he had enlisted.

On 18 June 1917, aged eighteen, Alfred Thompson was called up as a Rifleman and after a brief period of training was sent to France, serving with the Kings Royal Rifle Corps.
While at the Front he became a victim of a German gas attack, and was sent back to England to recuperate at Leicester Military Hospital. When passed fit, he returned to the fighting in France.

Alfred Thompson was required to serve after the war ended, being promoted in July 1919 to Acting Sergeant attached to 118 Company, Chinese Labour Corps. He had the dirty and truly gruesome job supervising battlefield clearance.

His Army discharge came on 31 March 1920. Still suffering from gas poisoning in 1922, he was declared 30% disabled and awarded a pension of 12 shillings (60p) per week for one year. The effects of the gassing remained throughout his life.

Walder Family

George Walder retired as village sexton in 1912, a role the family fulfilled for 70 years. He had four sons, all served in the Great War and thankfully three survived.

Mark Walder took over as sexton from his father in 1912 and lived at Cemetery Lodge, Walstead, with his wife, Emily, and their two children. The Parish Council failed to get him exemption from military service but, in view of his good services to the village, it agreed that his wife and family could remain at the Lodge and his job would be kept open for him. It was also agree his wife would act as sexton in his absence.

He was conscripted into the Military Foot Police in July 1916, aged 32, and served in Egypt.

In January 1919 the Parish Council applied for his early release as he was “very much needed” but had to wait another year for his return. Emily was thanked by the Parish Council for the way she “had borne her position (as sexton) during the long absence of her husband”. Sadly Mark died just a few years later but was replaced as sexton by his brother Ralph.

Frank Walder was born in Lindfield. He worked as a gardener before joining the Royal Artillery as a Regular in the early 1900s and served abroad for four years. Prior to the war, he moved to Steep, near Petersfield, living with his sister, Alice, and worked at Bedales School in the gardens.

Early in the war, he enlisted in the Hampshire Regiment. When en-route to Gallipoli, aboard the troop ship ‘Royal Edward’, the ship was attacked by a German U-boat and sank. Frank Walder was among the hundreds that died.

Alban Walder joined the Police Force with the aim of avoiding conscription. However, with increasing army manpower shortages he was eventually conscripted into the Grenadier Guards in 1918. Alban survived the war and returned to Lindfield.

Ralph Walder born in 1894, he was the youngest of the Walder boys and worked as a gardener at Criplands Court and Messrs Charlesworth’s orchid nursery in Lyoth Lane.
Despite wishing to volunteer, he was rejected three times due to bad eyesight. In 1916, he eventually passed the medical examination and was drafted into the Royal Fusiliers and went to France.

Ralph Walder was captured on 30 December 1917 during the second German counter attack at Cambrai. He was taken by cattle truck to Westphalia arriving on 9 January 1918. Working on farms he was forced to march from camp to camp. At Herzlake, he was set to work cutting heather and caught frostbite, and recalled ‘very hard work and not much to eat, only Jerry’s soup.’

In poor health ‘through want of food’, Ralph Walder was moved again in summer 1918 and continued working on farms. During December 1918, he was repatriated via Holland arriving in Lindfield January 1919 and given two months home leave before being demobilised shortly afterwards.

Joseph Albert Whall was born in Lindfield, during the third quarter 1896, the son of Joseph Albert Whall, a hairdresser, and his wife, Alice. On leaving Lindfield School he was employed by Mr Mellor Brown in the gardens at Beckworth.

On 13 March 1913, Joseph Whall enlisted at Haywards Heath joining the 4th Royal Sussex Regiment, the local Territorial Force battalion. His name was listed on the notice displayed in the church porch in August 1914, as being away from the village on military service.

Joseph Whall was killed in action on 26 August 1915 at Sulva Bay, Gallipoli. At that time he was just 19 years old, so he must have served overseas when underage and was therefore a boy soldier. He is buried at Green Hill Cemetery, Sulva Bay along with three other Lindfield soldiers.













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