Very pleased to have had the opportunity to meet Patricia Reed recently, the daughter of Cyril Flower Martindale who served with The Royal Sussex Regiment as part of the former Southdowns battalion (also known as Lowther’s Lambs) at the Battle of Boar’s Head. Although born in Watford, he grew up in Brighton and lived there apart from during WWI and WWI all his life.
This key battle, taking place on 30th June 1916 (the day before the start of the Somme) was also known as The Day Sussex Died, a diversionary battle to disguise plans for The Somme offensive which went horribly wrong, and left many hundreds of Sussex men dead or injured on the same day.
Cyril was injured with shrapnel at the battle and taken to hospital to recuperate, which meant that he didn’t then participate in the Battle of the Somme, something which is daughter feels was actually what saved his life.
Cyril instead was transferred in 1917 on the “Good Ship” Carrissima along with other Royal Sussex men to India to Karachi to quell fighting in tribal lands, and possibly for the third Anglo Afghan war. He then spent the rest of WWI in the Indian Subcontinent – now Pakistan, along with visits to Deolali, and the Indian seaside resort of Clifton Sands.
Demobbed in 1920, Cyril lived a long life, and carefully kept all the Lowther’s Lambs photos, reunion invitations and writings, along side his documents for his ongoing participation in World War II.
Cyril attended every single annual memorial of the Southdowns regiment and kept each of the programmes complete with poems by noted poet Edmund Blunden who also fought with the Royal Sussex, along with other documents.
Cyril married Ethel (above) from Watford a shop girl in the West End of London in the mid 1920s and they remained married until she died eight years before him at the beginning of the 1970s. Their only daughter Patricia still lives in Brighton.
His daughter remembers him as a happy man and good father who lived until the late 1970s. Until the end, she said she could still feel the shrapnel in his arm from that fateful day in 1916.
All images with kind permission of Patricia Reed.