Sussex in the Somme
On 1st July 1916, the commencement of the battle of the Somme, it was said you could hear the cannons from France at a cricket match in Brighton. At a key battle taking place on the eve of the Somme, that of the Battle of Boar’s Head, it quickly became known as ‘The Day that Sussex died’, due to the huge amount of fatalities sustained on the battlefield.
The men of the 11th, 12th and 13th Southdowns Battalions (all Sussex regiments) leading the fighting were unaware that their assault was a diversionary raid. Their objective was the nearby salient, a bulge in the line, known as ‘The Boar’s Head’ and it was to be ‘bitten out’.
Southdowns Battalions suffered 366 killed and over 1000 wounded or taken prisoner. Around 70% of those that died came from Sussex with estimates including up to 12 sets of brothers.
We plan to commemorate these epic events; the anniversary of the Somme, Sussex lives lost at war and subsequent changes on the homefront from this epic six month battle. Through this moving new project, we will create and install a new WWI commemorative plaque in Brighton and Hove to remember those lost at the Battle of Boar’s head. The plaque would memorialise soldiers from Brighton & Hove who fought and fell during this particular part of the Great War. These men are the ordinary, forgotten heroes of WWI, also known as Lowther’s Lambs.
From June 2016 – June 2017 we will discover the effects of the Somme on the city of Brighton and Hove, including the impact of this significant part of WWI on local soldiers, their families and wider community. We will connect this tangible heritage with the present, linking the stories of lost soldiers, those left on the home front, and the city – with participants and volunteers, new and established audiences and project partners, with young and older people.
Through partnership with Fabrica gallery, Brighton and Hove Libraries, Gateways to WWI and existing archives, we plan to create a project about the role of Sussex in the battlefields of the Somme and the impact of this epic, life shattering battle in the city of Brighton and Hove. We will do this through:
- A series of short film about the Somme in Sussex created by young local filmmakers, mentored by a professional filmmaker with input from a respected local historian
- A series of six WWI themed outings to local and regional places of relevance to the Somme, an Armistice event in 2016 Two film Great War themed film events at Fabrica
- Two historian talks about our theme at different venues
- A partnered study day with Gateways to WWI project
- Ten historic and creative WWI postcards to be disseminated to local organisations and schools
- A Brighton and Hove libraries young people research group compiling information about the battle of Boar’s Head and the Somme, collaborating with our volunteer filmmakers, and mentored by Fabrica gallery staff.
- Meeting with a now retired 1st Battalion, Sussex Regiment member who will advise on military matters.
The Orange Lilies project is delivered by
In Partnership with the following organisations:
with support from