George Thomas Simmons

 George Thomas Simmons was born on the 24th March 1888 in East Grinstead, Sussex. He died in 1962 at the age of 73 in East Grinstead, Sussex. His regiment was the The Royal Sussex Regiment and his rank was private with the service number: GS 6824.

Family life

There are at least three generations of George Simmons. Our particular George Thomas Simmons was born on 24th March 1888. It would appear that the Simmons family have lived in the area of East Grinstead for several generations. George’s father is a Plumber. His parents George and Eliza were married in 1887 in East Grinstead, Sussex. George was the first child born. He was baptised on 10th June 1888 at East Grinstead.

The 1891 Census of England and Wales finds the family living at 68 Glen Vue, East Grinstead. George is a 3 living with his parents George and Eliza. Another child has been born; Jessie Emily was born on 22nd April 1889 and is now 2.

Home life

The 1901 Census finds George as a 13 years old. No occupation is shown for George or his sister Jessie who is now 11, they are probably at school. The family are all still at the same address of 68 Glen Vue, East Grinstead.

On 18th May 1907 George is 19 and employed at East Grinstead Railway Station as a Porter according to the UK Rail Employment Records 1833 – 1956. The 1911 Census for England and Wales finds George as a boarder at 5 Goodwood Road, New Cross, London. George is now 23 years old and is a Railway Guard.  It is interesting to note at this stage that one of the daughters living at the same house where George is boarding, Lillian Young, later becomes his wife. On 20th May 1912 George became a Police Constable with the Brighton Borough Police Force. It is not known where he was living.

On 27th May 1913 George married Lillian Young at East Grinstead Parish Church. Lillian is the daughter of Mrs Young who boarded out rooms to George.

Military career

George Thomas Simmons appears on both WW1 Plaques within The Old Police Cells Museum at Brighton Town Hall. 

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Police Cell Plaque

George Simmons received permission to join the Army from the then Chief Constable Mr William Gentle on 12th May 1915. He left the Police on the same day and attested to join the Army. He stated his age was 27 years and 1 month, a Police Constable living at 59 Sandgate Road, Brighton.

Other Police Officers that had applied for permission to join the Army and released on the same day are shown below:- Arthur H Avis, Edward Eade, Edmund N Funnell, Christopher Gaston, Clifford Gaston, William Daniels, William J Berry, Frederick Stephenson, Samuel V Kitchener and Ernest Lynn.

George Simmons has a service number of GS/6824 which is consistent with joining The Royal Sussex Regiment between 2nd May 1915 and 1st June 1915. The “GS” signifies those that joined up for General Service but was not always prefixed on their records.

George was initially sent for training with the 10th Battalion on 21st May 1915 at Colchester the same day as Sydney MillenOn 8th September George passed a course of instruction in stretcher bearing and first aid. Catt, Avis, Cheesman, Clinch, Lynn, Lintott and Millen were also on this course.

Whilst all of George’s Police colleagues were being posted, mostly to the British Expeditionary Force in France, for some reason he remains in Colchester with the 10th Battalion. According to his war record George is posted to The Royal Engineers on 7th March 1916. His new Service number is 128008RE. He is a Pioneer. He went to France for training. On 20th June 1917 George receives a gunshot wound to his left arm. He was sent home and taken to the University Hospital, Gower Street, London. He is posted on 8th July 1916 to the Royal Engineers 3rd Pioneers Company in England.

On 13th March 1917 George is posted and embarks for the British Expeditionary Force in France with the Royal Engineers Special Brigade. The First World War witnessed the first use of Chemical Weapons in armed conflict. Chlorine Gas was first used on the Western Front by the Germans against French units in the Ypres Salient in 1915.

Special units of the Royal Engineers were established to use chemical weapons. They were wholly a wartime innovation – prior to 1915 the British Army had no capability for using Gas. In retaliation for the use of Chlorine by the Germans at Ypres, retaliatory measures were authorised by Lord Kitchener.

The British Army first used Gas in the preliminary stages of the Battle of Loos in September 1915. Although it had a very limited effect at Loos, the decision was taken to formalise the special Engineer units. A Special Brigade was formed, containing 4 Battalions, each of four companies. These would handle gases discharged from cylinders. Four other special companies were also formed to fire gas shells from Stokes Mortars, and four special sections to use flamethrowers. The total establishment of the whole Brigade was 208 officers and 5,306 men.

George was only in France for a few months when he was transferred back to England on 3rd July 1917. On 20th April 1918 George was promoted to unpaid Lance Corporal, He is with B Company 110 Royal Engineers Special Brigade. In 1916 Army Council instruction No. 1733 was issued with regards to The Military Police. The instruction is long and tedious but in short explains that the system of Policing such large numbers of Soldiers at home and abroad required trained Police Officers. As a result it would appear that soldiers who were Police Officers prior to the war were being transferred to either the MMP (Mounted Military Police) or MFP (Military Foot Police).

On 23rd July 1917 George was temporarily transferred to the Military Foot Police for the duration of the war. He remains a Lance Corporal and his new service number is P15921. On 17th August George is posted to Italy where he remained until 23rd March 1919. George report for disposal and was demobilized on 22nd April 1919. George was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal.

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Victory Medal

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British War Medal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post war

George rejoins Brighton Police on 10th April 1919 along with another returning Police Officer Alfred Hobden. It has not been possible to prove with any certainty that George and Lillian had any children. The 1939 Register reveals that George is a Widower. It has not been possible to establish a date of his wife Lilian’s death at present. George is living with his sister Jessie at 17 Sackville Gardens, East Grinstead. The record states that he is a Sewerage Pumping Station Attendant. George died in 1962, at least 22 years after his wife. His death is registered in Uckfield but he probably died in East Grinstead.

Jessie Emily Simmonds, George’s sister died the year after in 1973.

Research problems

Lack of information between rejoining Brighton Police in 1919 to his Death in 1973.

Copyright Researched and reported by Ian Borthwick 2017, retired Sussex Police Officer AB579, served between Nov 1976 to March 2007.

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Ernest Henry Lynn

Ernest Henry Lynn was born 22nd January 1890 in East Grinstead, Sussex. He died in 1975 in Brighton at the age of 80. His regiment was the Royal Sussex Regiment and his rank was sergeant with the service number 6815.  

Family life

Ernest Henry Lynn was born on 22nd January 1890 in East Grinstead, Sussex. Although it cannot be certain he was probably born at 42 High Street, East Grinstead. It would appear that Ernest comes from a long line of Builders and Monumental Masons. His father, Grandfather and Great Grandfather are all Masons

Home life

Ernest is baptised in East Grinstead on 30th March 1890, His parents are shown as George Henry Lynn and Mary Jane Lynn. The 1891 Census of England and Wales finds Ernest as a 1yr old boy living with his family at 46 High Street, East Grinstead. His parents George and Mary were married in 1876. The marriage is registered at Steyning. Ernest has five elder siblings ; Florence Mary 13, Bernard George 10, Frederick Charles 8, Alice Lilian 6 and Henrietta Louisa 3.

The 1901 Census finds Ernest still at home with his father and siblings at 46 High Street, East Grinstead, Ernest is 11. His mother Mary does not appear on the Census and cannot at present be found. His brother Frederick who is now 18 is not on the Census and cannot be found either.

Ernest’s remaining siblings are all still living at home. Florence is 23 and is a Housekeeper, Bernard is 20 and is a Mason, Alice is 17 and is a Shop Assistant. Hernrietta is now 13.The 1911 Census of England and Wales find Ernest still living at home with his father at 46 High Street, East Grinstead. Ernest is now a Mason. He is single. Ernest’s father George is now 63yrs. He states that he is married and has been so for 34 years. There is still no trace of his wife Mary.

Bernard is still at home and is a 30 year old single Mason. Frederick Charles has returned home, he is married and is a Carpenter. He Married Fannie Istead and now has a son Reginald. Henrietta is now 23 and is a Housekeeper. Florence has left the family home and cannot at present be traced.

Ernest was a member of the 4th Royal Sussex Territorials which he left in order to become a Police Officer. On 6th July 1911 Ernest became a Police Constable with the Brighton Borough Police Force. It is not known where he was living at the time.

Military career

Ernest Henry Lynn appears on both WW1 Plaques within The Old Police Museum Cells at Brighton. He is shown to be with The Royal Sussex Regiment.

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Police Cell Plaque

Ernest applied to the then Chief Constable of Brighton Borough Police William Gentle for permission to join the Army. With others, Arthur H Avis, Edward Eade, Edmund N Funnell, Christopher Gaston, Clifford Gaston, William Daniels, William J Berry, Frederick Stephenson, George Simmons, Samuel V Kitchener. Ernest Lynn was granted permission to leave on 12th May 1915. Ernest Lynn attested on 13th May 1915 at Brighton, Sussex along with William Berry for the Royal Sussex Regiment.

Ernest declared his age to be 25 years and 5 months old. He declared his father George, of 46 High Street, East Grinstead, Sussex to be his next of kin.

On 21st May, along with PC Avis, PC Catt, PC Cheesman, PC Lintott and PC Clinch he was posted to 10th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment for training at Colchester until 13th September 1915. He was allocated service number GS/6823. (This is the number after Arhur Avis 6822 and before George Simmons 6824). His record shows the number prefixed with the letters “GS”, which was used to signify that the soldier was conscripted for “General Service”.

On 8th September Ernest passed a course of instruction in stretcher bearing and first aid. Catt, Avis, Cheesman, Clinch, Lintott and Millen were also on this course. Despite all the other Brighton Police Officers being posted to different battalions after initial training it would appear Ernest remained in the UK for just over 11 months.

On 1st October 1915 Ernest was promoted to Lance Corporal whilst remaining with the 10th Battalion where he remained until 1st March 1916 when he was promoted to Corporal. On 3rd March 1916 Ernest was posted to the Pioneer Depot Royal Sussex Regiment where he remained in the rank of Corporal until 30th May 1916 when he returned to the 10th Battalion.

On 29th June 1916, a year after several of his Police Colleagues had been in France Ernest is posted to join 9th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment at the front. Ernest would have caught up with 9th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment at a time when the Battalion was due to be relieved and moved by buses and trains away from the Ypres area and travelled to Montagne.

Ernest Lynn probably did not travel with the 9th but instead was posted to 7th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment on 15th July 1916. He was promoted a Lance Sergeant. The 7th Battalion had been part of the “push” at the notorious Battle of the Somme around Ovillers and on 7th July was still fighting. The 7th Battalion had fought with great credit but suffered its highest number of deaths and casualties for any single day in the war. Twenty five officers and 650 other ranks went into the attack but only 5 officers and 220 other ranks remained unscathed. As a result of the severe losses suffered, the 7th Royal Sussex Regiment and 9th Royal Fusiliers were merged to form a battalion.

Ernest would have remained with 7th Battalion. Several more attacks were launched against the enemy in early August 1916 until they were sent for a well-earned rest but were soon to return in the area of Agny. The King and the Prince of Wales visited the Battalion on 10th August.

The Battalion remained in the area of Agny throughout September. October 1st brought the Battalion into the Somme front line once more, moving to the area of Flers and Gueudecourt. Front, support, and reserve trenches were shelled by the German for the first ten days. It was at this time that Ernest was wounded suffering from Shell Shock.

On 10th October 1916 Ernest was promoted to Sergeant.

The war continued for Ernest including his participation in the Battle of Arras and the third Battle of Ypres and the continued scramble of the Battle of the Somme.

October saw the 7th Battalion in intensive training near the 15th century battlefield at Agincourt which involved the first use of Tanks. They were training to be Tank support infantry. Upon completion the Battalion were involved in the first major tank offensive at the battle of Cambrai on 20th November 1917. This involved 380 tanks. The enemy were taken by surprise and their resistance was feeble. The 7th Battalion attained every one of their allotted objectives and it proved to be the most successful attack ever made by the 7th.

Early February found the 7th Battalion had moved to Doulieu. At 5.30 am on 4th February the Germans raided a post held by “A” Company, which resulted in the first injuries of 1918. Ernest Henry Lynn received Gunshot wounds to the neck and back and returned to England with his injuries. We next find Ernest being posted to the Royal Sussex regiment depot at Colchester on 25th February 1918.

On 25th November 1918 Ernest is posted to the Military Provost Staff Corps where he is basically a prison officer with the rank of Sergeant at a Military Corrective Training Centre at Aldershot. Ernest remains at this post until he is demobilized on 26th June 1919. His address was shown as 99 Queens Park Road, Brighton. Sussex. Ernest was awarded The British War Medal and Victory Medal. The medals below are not the actual medals issued to Lynn.

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Victory Medal

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British War Medal

Post war

It is known that Ernest rejoined the Brighton Borough Police after returning from the War. On 11th September 1929, Mary Jane Lynn, Ernest’s mother died. The Administration was granted to Ernest who is a Police Constable and his Sister Lilian. The 1939 Register is our next insight into Ernest, he is living at 3 Reading Road, Brighton. Ernest is shown as being a Retired Police Constable. He is shown as being born on 22nd January 1890.

Ernest is living with his wife Florence Agnes Cross whom he married at Newton Abbott, Devon in 1920. Her date of birth is shown as 26th March 1890. Further research reveals that Ernest and Florence had two children, Peggy Lynn born in 1921 and Ernest Lynn born in 1922. Florence died in 4th June 1952 at 45 Norton Road, Hove aged 62yrs.

Ernest Henry Lynn survived his wife for twenty three years. He died on 31st January 1975 aged 85yrs. His death is registered at Brighton.

Research problems

The only research problem was sorting out the sequence of events from within his army service records. Copyright Researched and reported by Ian Borthwick 2017, retired Sussex Police Officer AB579, served between Nov 1976 to March 2007.

Henry Frederick Hayter

Henry Frederick Hayter was born on the 27th February 1892 in St. George’s, Hanover Square, London. He died in 1973 in Worthing at the age of 81 years. His regiment was the Sussex Yeomanry and his rank was Corporal.

Family life

Henry Frederick Hayter was born on 27th February 1892 in the registration district of St. George’s Hanover Square, London. Henry appears in the 1901 Census as a 9 year old. He is living at the family home in 66 Arthur Street, Chelsea, London, along with his parents and sister.

Home life

Henry appears to be the second child of Henry John and Rachel Anne Hayter. His father was a Police Inspector with the Metropolitan Police. Henry John Hayter and Rachel Anne married in the registration district of St George’s Hanover Square, London. Henry Frederick has one elder sister Elizabeth Harriet. 

The 1911 census of England and Wales shows that the family have moved house to 1 Palmerston Terrace, Park Road, East Molesey. Henry is single and unemployed. His father is now a retired Metropolitan Police Inspector and his mother is working as a registration agent for the Conservative party. Elizabeth, his sister, no longer lives at home. She can be found working as a barmaid in the area of Hampton Court.

On 3rd September 1914 Henry Frederick Hayter joins Brighton Borough Police along with Arthur John Green, Ernest Griggs, Frederick White and Thomas Arthur Matthews. It is not known at present where Henry was living.

On 6th January 1918, 13th January 1918 and 20th January 1918 Banns are read in St Stephens Church, East Twickenham for the marriage of Henry Frederick Hayter, a batchelor soldier in service and Amy Cordelia Lear a spinster. 
The marriage took place at St Stephens Church on 9th March 1918. It would appear that Sydney Barrow, a Brighton Borough Police Officer is Henry’s Best Man. Henry’s sister Elizabeth is a witness.

Military career

Henry Frederick Hayter appears on both WW1 Plaques within The Old Police Museum Cells at Brighton. He is shown to be with The Sussex Yeomanry.

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Police Cell Plaque

Henry applied to the then Chief Constable of Brighton Borough Police William Gentle for permission to join the Army. With others, Herbert Boxall, Sidney Barrow, Thomas Ford, Ernest Griggs, Charles Moorey andGeorge Sutton permission was granted to leave on 19th May 1815. It is probable that Henry joined the Military Police at some stage.

No information of any certainty has been forthcoming with regards to Henry’s military career apart from his wedding certificate and the wedding Banns which show him as a Corporal with the Sussex Yeomanry and the records of the Watch Committee.

The Chief Constable of Brighton Borough Police, William Gentle, reports to the Brighton Police Watch Committee that Frederick V Redman, Henry F Hayter, Bertram Winter, John W Bayley, Samuel Cornford and James H Tipping had all been demobilized and had reported back for Police Duty on 30th January 1919.

No other war records can be found.

Post war

It is known that Henry Frederick Hayter was a member of the Brighton Borough Police after the war. The question that is to remain unanswered at present is “Did he go to war? Or did he remain at home with the Sussex Yeomanry?

The newspapers help us trace Henry. The Hastings and St Leonards Observer dated 4th September 1920 details Detective Sergeant Hayter of Brighton Police arresting a man for theft of a bicycle. On 25th May 1925 The Police News reported that a woman had bitten a detectives hand. On July 30th 1926 the Shepton Mallet Journal reports on a runaway Army Horse that kicks and injures PC Hayter.
During 1929 Amy gave birth to a baby boy Henry M Hayter. Unfortunately baby Henry died. His birth and death are both registered in the 1st quarter at Brighton.

In 1937 A Guildford Voters register shows both Henry and Amy at the Malabar Hotel, Epsom Road, Guildford.

The 1939 Register is our next insight to Henry Hayter and his wife Amy. They are both living at 11 Park Crescent Terrace, Brighton. Henry’s date of birth is shown as 27th February 1892. Cordelia Amy has her birth shown as 24th June 1893. Henry is a retired Police Constable.

Amy Cordelia Hayter died in the first quarter of 1973 in Worthing aged 82. Her husband Henry Frederick Hayter also died in 1973. His death is registered in the 3rd quarter at Worthing. Henry was 81 years of age.

Research problems

The frustration of not having any Army records.
Copyright Researched and reported by, Ian Borthwick 2017, Retired Sussex Police Officer AB579, served between Nov 1976 to March 2007.

George William Henry Hackett

George William Henry Hackett was born on the 4th of September 1881 in Horsham, Sussex. He died in 1933 in Horsham at the age of 52.  His regiment was the Sussex Yeomanry / MFP. His rank was sergeant, with the service number: 3432/ P7579. 

Family life

George William Henry Hackett was born on 4th September 1881. His birth was registered in Horsham during the 3rd quarter. Within his Army records George’s birth date is shown as 4/8/1880 at Brighton. It is unknown why this should be a different date other than an error. George is 33 at attestation.

George appears in the 1891 Census as a 9 year old. He is living at the family home at 9 Railway Cottages, Worth, Three Bridges along with his parents and siblings.

Home life

George is the second child of George and Ellen Hackett. His father was a Yardsman for the Railway. George Hackett Senior and Mary Jessie Harvey married within the Horsham registration area in 1904. George has one elder sister, Annie and four younger brothers Albert, Charles, Alfred and Frederick. George William Henry Hackett cannot be found within the 1901 Census. It may be that he is fighting in the Boer War with the Cape Mounted Rifles.

According to The Army Attestation document of George Hackett he stated that he has previously served with the Cape Mounted Rifles. The Cape Mounted Rifles, previously the “Frontier Armed and Mounted Police” were fully militarised in 1878 as a unit of the Colonial Forces. They were used in the 2nd Boer War of 1899 – 1902. During peacetime the “CMR” served as a Police Force.

On 12th August 1903 George joined Brighton Borough Police. The picture below was taken before the war.

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In 1904 George married Mary Jessie Harvey in the registration district of Horsham. Mary gave birth to twins John Henry and George William on 6th September 1905 and later in 1910 Charles Sydney is born.

The 1911 census shows the family living at 48 Spring Gardens, Brighton. George is a Police Constable with the Borough force. It would appear the Mary had given birth to four children. One did not survive. There is no further information available.

Military career

As already stated, George declared that he had previous military experience with the Cape Mounted Rifles. There is no other information available with this regards and no records can be found. George, whilst being employed by Brighton Police as a Police Sergeant was “loaned” by the police to The Royal Sussex Regiment as a Drill Instructor in 1914. The Chief Constable reported to the Brighton Borough Police Watch Committee that from 19/4/1914 four Drill Instructors Hackett, Hibbs, Pearson, and Read had been loaned to the War Office.  The Chief Constable, William Gentle recommended that due to George Hackett and other Officers being taken for War duties that he, along with others be replaced as members of the Fire Brigade.

On 11th December 1915 George attested to join the Army and was immediately posted to the Army Reserve, where he continued to be a Drill Instructor with the Royal Sussex Regiment. On 5th April 1916 The Chief Constable again reported to the Brighton Borough Police Watch Committee that Sgt Robson, PC Vigar, Pc Hackett, and PC Reid had applied for permission to rejoin the Army. They have previously been employed as Drill Instructors at Chichester. Permission was granted.

On 7th April 1916 George was mobilised and posted to The Sussex Yeomanry with the 8th Cycles Regiment. His service number was 3432. It is believed that George had attested under the “Derby” scheme which was devised to encourage men to voluntarily register their name on the principle that once registered they would be called up for service only when necessary. As an added incentive married men were advised that they would only be called up once the supply of single men was exhausted.

George was classed as a group B Soldier due to his age and marital status which did not allow him to go abroad to fight. He remained on home territory for the duration of the war.

On 21st June 1916 George was promoted to Sergeant and remained with the Sussex Yeomanry until, like most other Police Officers from civilian life he was transferred to the Military Foot Police, where he served firstly as a Lance Corporal and promoted to Sergeant at number 8 area in Kent. His new service number was P7579. Herbert Robson also from Brighton Police was with him at demob. Robson was P7580.

On 2nd March 1919 George was at the Crystal Palace dispersal unit where on 29th March 1919 he was posted to group Z reserves and demobilised. On 19th March 1919 The Chief Constable of Brighton Police reported to the Brighton Police Watch Committee that Hector Bradley and George Hackett had been demobilized and returned to Police duties on 13th March 1919.

Two of George’s brother saw action. Albert was killed in action on 12th October 1916 whilst serving with 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment. Alfred was injured and awarded a Silver Badge.

Post war

It is known that George returned to the Brighton Borough Police after the war.

George William Henry Hackett died aged 52yrs in 1933 in the registration district of Horsham. The 1939 Register finds Mary Jessie Hackett as a widow. Mary is living at 46 Ellen Street, Hove. Mary survived her husband until 1947. She died in Hove.

Research problems

The Army records were complicated and the chronology was difficult to ascertain.

Copyright Researched and reported by, Ian Borthwick 2017, Retired Sussex Police Officer AB579, Served between Nov 1976 to March 2007.

Robert Funnell

Robert Funnell was born in 1889 in Brighton. He died on the 21st of March 1918 in France. at 29 years old. Robert was in the Royal Sussex Regiment 11th Battalion. His rank was acting Lance Corporal, service number was SD/3842.

Family and Home life

Robert’s father Robert Funnell was born in 1857 in Danehill, Sussex, the son of William and Mary Funnell and the seventh of nine children. He married Jemima Eager in 1879 at St Peter’s Church in Brighton.

In 1881 they lived at 9 Frederick Gardens with their daughter Jemima aged one and George Taylor, who was a ‘carriers carman’, lodged with them. Robert, also worked as a ‘carriers carman’.

In 1882 their daughter Emma Mahala was born, followed by Alice in 1886/88 and Robert Trainton in 1889. In 1891 the family lived at 6 Queens Street and Robert senior worked as a ‘carman’.

The 1901 census showed the family home was still in Queens Street, and two boarders also lived there, but daughter Jemima who had married Harry Barker in January 1901 lived in Trafalgar Street and her sister Alice was possibly working as a servant in London.

The 1911 census showed Robert was, like his father, working as a ‘carman’, and he and his parents had moved to 7 Foundry Street. Arthur Montgomery, a boot and shoe salesman boarded with them.  

Robert’s father died in 1916 aged 59 years. In 1918 his Mother lived at 28, Newtown Road, Hove.

Military Career

Robert enlisted with the Royal Sussex Regiment 11th Battalion, his service number is SD/3842. He was killed in action during the German Spring offensive sometime between 21 of March 1918 and 3rd of April 1918. He is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial in France.

He was posthumously awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.

His effects were sent to his Mother in August 1919.

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Victory Medal

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Post War

Robert’s Mother died in Worthing in 1936.

Research Notes

Little information about Robert’s military career appears to have survived. From the 1911 census the Funnell name has been transcribed as Tunnell. Various branches of the Funnell Family have researched their history and much information can be found on the Funnell’s Wood website. 

Queen Street was demolished to make way for a coal shed, which was opened in 1905 as part of Brighton Railway Station. The Hall Genealogy Website states that a carman is a driver of (horse-drawn) vehicles for transporting goods. Carmen were often employed by railway companies for local deliveries and collections of goods and parcels.

Robert Funnell is listed on the Brighton Roll of Honour website in the following way:

Lance Corporal SD/3842, 11th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment (1st South Downs). 39th New Army Division. Killed in action during the German Spring offensive 3rd April 1918.

Aged 29. Born and enlisted in Brighton. Next of kin, Brighton. Listed in St. Peters Memorial Book under L/Cpls. Commemorated on The Pozieres Memorial MR. 27.

http://www.roll-of-honour.com/Sussex/Brighton_WW1_F.html

Thomas Ford

Family life

Thomas Ford was born on 1st February 1886 in Ringmer, East Sussex. His birth is registered at LewesThomas appears in the 1891 Census as a 5 year old. He is living at the family home in Bishops Lane, Ringmer, East Sussex along with his parents and siblings.

Home life

Thomas appears to be the second child of John and Eliza Ford. His father was a Bricklayer. John Ford and Eliza Stoner married in the Lewes registration area in 1882. Thomas has one elder sister, Eliza, an elder brother John and a younger brother Joseph.

The 1901 Census finds the family complete. They are all living in the same house in Bishops Lane, Ringmer, East Sussex. John, the father is now a Foreman Bricklayer. There are now 8 children. Tom has 3 more sisters Edith, Harriet and Ellen along with one more brother Ernest. Thomas is a Bricklayers Labourer.

The 1911 census shows that the family has started to fly the nest. Only 3 children John, Ernest and Ellen remain at home.

Thomas is living with his sister Eliza and her husband at 123 Gloucester Road, Brighton. Thomas Joined Brighton Borough Police on 16th November 1910 with George Hemsley and George Chisnall. Thomas is now 25 years of age.

On 11th August 1917 Thomas Ford married Grace Lintott. Thomas is shown on the wedding certificate as 31 years of age, a bachelor, Police Officer (Sussex Yeomanry).

Grace Lintott is the younger sister of PC Richard Lintott MM. Grace is 23 years old, a spinster living at Fisher Lane, Chiddingfold.

Military career

Thomas Ford appears on both WW1 Plaques within The Old Police Museum Cells at Brighton. He is shown to be with The Sussex Yeomanry as well as the Warwickshire Regiment.

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Police Cell Plaque

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Sussex Yeomanry Cap Badge

Sydney Barrow received permission from Chief Constable William Gentle to join the Army from the then Chief Constable Mr. William Gentle on 19th May 1915. He left the Police on the same day as Herbert Boxall, Sidney Barrow, Ernest Griggs, Henry Hayter, Charles Moorey and George Sutton.

No information of any certainty has been forthcoming with regards to Thomas’ military career apart from his wedding certificate which shows him as a Police Officer (Sussex Yeomanry) in 1917.

The Chief Constable William Gentle reported to the Brighton Police Watch Committee that Thomas Ford had reported back for Police duties on 13th February 1919 along with Charles Moorey and George Hibbs.

No information with regards to The Royal Warwickshire Regiment or any awards he may have received have been found.

Post war

It is known that Thomas Ford was a member of the Brighton Borough Police after the war.

The question that is to remain unanswered at present is “What happened to Thomas Ford during the war years? Did he go to war? Or “Did he remain with Brighton Police and at home with the Sussex Yeomanry? There is no trace of him within the Military Police. 

The 1939 Register is our next insight to Thomas and Grace. They are both living at 17 Dale Crescent, Brighton. Thomas’ date of birth is shown as 1st February 1886. He is a retired Police Officer. Grace is born on 4th August 1894. There is no trace of any children being born.

Thomas Ford died aged 70 years on 30th June 1956 at the Brighton General Hospital, Brighton. Probate as seen below was awarded to his Widow.
Grace survived her husband by another 17 years. She died on 5th October 1973 in Surrey.

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Research problems 

The frustration of not having any Army records.

William Clinch

Family life

William Clinch was born on 24th March 1895 in Pagham, West Sussex. His birth is registered at Westhampnett, West Sussex. Westhampnett was the registration area for the Bognor Regis area until 1835 when it was consumed by the Chichester Registration District. William was baptised on 21st April 1895 in Pagham.

William is found in the 1901 Census as a six year old boy living with his parents and his siblings at Bognor Road, Pagham. His Grandmother Fanny Madgwick is also at the house at the time of the Census.

Home life

William appears to be the third child of his father William and mother Eleanor (Ellen) Clinch. His father was an Agricultural Labourer and his mother was a Laundress. William senior, and Eleanor Matilda Madgwick married in 1892. The marriage is registered in Westhampnett.

William has two elder sisters, Nellie and Lillie, and two younger brothers and sister Henry, Leonard, and Edith.

The 1911 census found William, who is now 16, as a Gardener. He is still living with his parents although the family has moved to Old Barrack Lane, Aldwick, Pagham, West Sussex. His parents have now been married 19 years. The elder girls have left the family home and six other additions have been made. His new brothers and sisters are Frederick Enos, Bertie Edwin, Alfred Ernest, Millicent Elsie, Albert Edward and Violet Matilda. The grandmother is still at the premises. William Senior is a Farm Labourer.

On 16th October 1914 William became a Police Constable with the Brighton Borough Police Force. It is not known where he was living at the time. 

Military career

William Clinch appears on both WW1 Plaques within The Old Police Museum Cells at Brighton. He is shown to be with The Royal Sussex Regiment.

William applied to the then Chief Constable of Brighton Borough Police William Gentle for permission to join the Army. With others, Jack Cheesman, Sydney Millen, Richard Lintott, Sidney Waylan, and Frederick White permission was granted to leave on 11th May 1815.

William Clinch attested on 11th May 1915 at Brighton, Sussex along with Jack Cheesman, Richard Lintott, Sid Millen and George Catt for the Royal Sussex Regiment. William declared his age to be 20 years and one month. He declared his father William Clinch of Hall House, Barrack Road, Aldwick, West Sussex to be his next of kin.

William Clinch stated his home address was 10 Terminus Street, Brighton.

On 21st May, along with PC Avis and PC Catt and PC Cheesman he was posted to 10th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment for training at Colchester until 13th September 1915. He was allocated service number GS/6815. His record shows the number prefixed with the letters “GS”, which was used to signify that the soldier was conscripted for “General Service”.

On 8th September William passed a course of instruction in stretcher bearing and first aid. Catt, Avis, Cheesman and Millen were also on this course. After initial training William was posted to Shoreham Depot between 13th September 1915 along with Catt, Cheesman and Avis.

On 23rd September 1915 he was posted to France to join the 9th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment. On 28th September he was promoted to a Lance Corporal. On the same day he embarked for France at Folkestone.

The 9th “Service” Battalion was raised at Chichester in 1914. At the time the 9th Battalion was already in France and had been so since 1st September and had moved up to the battle trenches at Vermelles on 25th September. The 9th had joined up with other battalions to become part of the 24th Division. William would have joined up with the 24th.

The 24th Division was a completely untried unit and although it is unclear exactly what day William would have caught up with the Division he was probably thrown into “the thick of it” at Vermelles where they were ordered to advance on “Fosse 8”, a large and conspicuous mining slag heap. The Fosse was to be held at all costs despite several German attacks from heavy artillery and machine gun fire and a lack of food and water. The 9th Battalion held on until withdrawn to Sailly-Labourse during the night of 27th.

The following months found the 9th Battalion at Proven near Ypres after several days of marching, trains and lorry journeys. The rains were constant and the trenches were flooded. The Battalion was busy filling in excess of 200 sandbags daily, a total of 5000 were required to stem the flooding. The men were exhausted and were receiving little respite from the trenches and training.

The whole of December was spent in Houlle, some 35 miles west from the fighting zone. Intensive training continued. Christmas and the New Year were spent safely in that quiet area of France.

January 1916 found William still with the 9th Battalion in France.  It was at this stage that George Catt had joined the Battalion when they entered the trenches at Zouave Wood on the 18th where significant enemy shell and sniper fire was experienced for four days until relief arrived. The Battalion was so close to the enemy line that gas masks had to be worn day and night.

The Battalion Heavy shelling continued into February near Hooge where the 9th were still occupying trenches. On 13th February the Germans put down a tremendous bombardment over the British front line causing a great deal of damage. 30 casualties along with several fatalities were recorded. 

The 6th July brought the Battalion out of the trenches for a period of rest only for them to return on 11th where on 20th they were relieved and moved by buses and trains away from the Ypres area and travelled to Montagne.

August continued to see the 9th Battalion in the thick of it, and was involved in hand to hand fighting in the village of Guillemont where over the course of two days casualties amounted to 7 officers and 183 other ranks. After 7 days rest they were again in the trenches where they were attacked by the Germans after heavy bombardment on 31st August. The 9th managed to hold on and repulsed the attacking party. 30 men were killed and 80 injured. The problem was exasperated by the complete lack of food and water during continued attack.

During the first week of October three men died from wounds while the Battalion held the line in front of Souchez, north-west of Arras prior to returning to trenches in Loos.

On 27th October 1916 The London Gazette published the following in a special supplement: “His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to award the Military Medal for bravery in the field to the undermentioned non-commissioned Officers and men:-

Page 10477 6814 Cpl.J Cheesman R. Suss. R.

Page 10477 6815 L./C. W. Clinch R. Suss. R.

Page 10481 6812 Cpl. R. Lintott R. Suss. R.

The Sussex Daily News on 1st November 1916 published the following

Honours for Brighton Policemen, in the list of NCO’s and men of the Royal Sussex Regiment awarded the Military Medal which appeared in Saturdays Sussex Daily News, the names of Corporal R Lintott, Corporal J Cheesman, and Lance Corporal W Clinch were included. It is interesting to learn that these gallant men were all in the Brighton Police Force.

It can now be proved that the Trio of Cheesman, Clinch and Lintott were together at the time of an amazing act of bravery between the three of them, which earnt them the Military Medal each.

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Military Medal

November and December were quiet months considering the history of the rest of the year. The Battalion remained around the Loos area either in the front line or in reserve and enjoyed a Christmas dinner. The beginning of 1917 found William on leave in the United Kingdom between 15th January to 25th January. February was also relatively quiet. The Battalion was at Hesdigneul, where they had “moved out” to rest.

March found the 9th Battalion back in the thick of it, returning to the line in the area of Arras where an enemy attack was thwarted. The German bombardment caused several casualties.

April came in with a blast of cold weather, snow blizzards and fighting. In full action on 12th and 13th the British attacked the German positions in Bois-en-Hache. At the cost of 60 Battalion casualties, through a snow blizzard, the enemy’s first and second lines were taken. The ground had been churned up through shelling activity and snow into a sea of mud. The Battalion finally was given a well-earned rest falling back to Estree Blanche for a week of reorganisation which ended with a forced march to Houchin where during May they rested, trained and integrated new men.

June 1917 saw one of the most successful British attacks of the war at the Battle of Messines Ridge. The 9th were fully involved on the 7th despite gas attacks and shelling. The battalion suffered 134 wounded with 3 men missing. This action was the prelude to the 3rd Battle of Ypres.

On 13th June 1917 William along with others was transferred as a Corporal to the Military Foot Police under Army Council Instruction No. 1733. The instruction is long and tedious but in short explains that the system of policing such large numbers of soldiers at home and abroad required trained Police Officers. As a result it would appear that soldiers who were Police Officers prior to the war were being transferred to either the MMP (Mounted Military Police) or MFP (Military Foot Police).

The General Duties of a Military Police Officer include:

  1.  The detection of crime, and the arrest of offenders.
  2. The maintenance of order under all circumstances.
  3.  The surveillance and control of all civilians and followers within the area occupied by their formations.
  4. Assisting in maintaining march discipline of troops and transport and in regulating traffic.
  5.  The collection of stragglers.
  6.  The custody of prisoners of war until their transfer to railhead or to a P.O.W. working company.
  7. The protection of the local inhabitants against acts of violence on the part of soldiers or followers.

In addition there were numerous special duties they were expected to see to, amongst which were :—

  1. Taking measures to prevent troops getting into contact with undesirable characters—prostitutes, enemy agents, provocateurs, etc.
  2. Ill-treatment of animals.
  3. Civilians found within the lines without passes or identity cards.
  4. Plundering, marauding and looting.
  5. Ill-treatment of inhabitants.
  6. Soldiers and civilians trafficking in rations or Government property.
  7. Unauthorised cameras and photography.
  8. Collecting and returning of horses.
  9. Careless talk and the apprehension of anyone giving military information.
  10. Arrest of suspicious individuals.
  11. The shooting of dogs found unattended near the forward lines, and search of the bodies for messages, etc.
  12. Seizure of carrier pigeons.
  13. Surveillance for means of communication with the enemy.

William was temporarily transferred to the Military Foot Police for the duration of the war.

On 12th December 1917 he joined up with the 2nd Army at the Adjutant-Generals Office in Rouen, probably for training. William is still a Lance Corporal. He remains until 8th December 1917 where he joins the 3rd Army in the field. The same date that Jack Cheesman also joins the 3rd Army.

William is on leave in the UK during February 1918. He is still with the 3rd Army on 1st June 1918. On 11th January 1919 William is sent on leave to the UK until 7th February and although not stated probably returns to the 3rd Army.

William was medically examined on 25th 1919 where he signs that he has no disabilities. William is transferred to Class Z reserves at Aldershot on 29th August 1919 having arrived at the dispersal unit Crystal Palace on 2nd August 1919. His address on demobilisation is 2 North View, Chichester Road, Bognor Regis. He notifies the Army that although the Bognor Regis address is his home address he permanently lives at 2 Quebec Street, Brighton. 

William was awarded the Military Medal along with the 1914-1915 Star, The British War Medal and Victory Medal. The medals below are not the actual medals issued to Clinch.

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1914- 1915 Star

1380778063-victory_medal3-original

Victory Medal

British War Medal

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British War Medal

Post warIt is known that William rejoined the Brighton Borough Police after returning from the War. The Chief Constable of Brighton Borough Police, William Gentle reported to the Brighton Watch Committee that the William Clinch had reported for duty on 28th August 1919.

At some stage William Clinch is promoted to Sergeant and becomes a Detective Sergeant. He is a Detective Sergeant in July 1931 where he is mentioned in the Kent and Sussex Courier as a Brighton Detective Sergeant investigating a Golf Club burglary.

He was a Detective Sergeant until his promotion to Uniform Inspector on 21st May 1937 as reported below by the Brighton Post on 26th May 1937.

The 1939 Register is our next insight to William and finds him living at 129 Overhill Drive, Brighton. William is shown as being born on 24th March 1895. He is shown as a Police Inspector. William is living with wife 45 year old Cecilia Croke who he had married in 1922 at Brighton.

Also living at Overhill Drive was his son William K Clinch born 1923 along with a daughter Maureen E Clinch born 1932.

No death certificate for either William or his wife can be found. It may be that they emigrated but no records can be found with regards to their possible travel.

Copyright Researched and reported by

Ian Borthwick 2017 Retired Sussex Police Officer AB579, Served between Nov 1976 to March 2007.

George Edward Spencer Shirley Catt

Family life

George Edward Spencer Shirley Catt was born on 20th October 1892 in Ore, which is now part of Hastings East Sussex. George is first found in the 1901 Census as a seven year old schoolboy living with his parents and his younger brother. The family appears to be living in a cottage which is part of the Grange School in Ore.

Home life

George was the first child of his father George and mother Ellen. His father was a jobbing gardener. Leonard, his younger brother was born in 1900 in Whitstable, Kent although apart from the birth record no reason can be found to explain the location of the birth.

The 1911 census found that George, who is now 17 and is working as a market gardener. His father is still a gardener. Leonard is still at school and George has a new brother Freddie who was born in 1908 in Ore.

On 1st April 1914 George became a Police Constable with the Brighton Borough Police Force. It is not known where he was living at the time. It is interesting to note that he joined Brighton Borough Police on the same day as Jack Cheesman.

Military career

George appears on both WW1 Plaques within The Old Police Museum Cells at Brighton. He is shown to be with The Royal Sussex Regiment.

George applied to the Chief Constable William Gentle for permission to leave the Brighton Borough Police Force which was granted. His leaving date was 10th May 1915. George attested on 11th May 1915 at Brighton, Sussex, along with William Clinch, Jack Cheesman, Richard Lintott and Sid Millen.

George declared his age to be 21 years 9 months. On 21st May along with PC Arthur Avis, PC Jack Cheesman and PC William Clinch he was posted to 10th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment for training at Colchester until 13th September 1915.

George was allocated service number 6819. His record does not show the number prefixed with the letters “GS”, which was used to signify that the soldier was conscripted for “General Service”.

After initial training George was posted to Shoreham Depot between 13th September 1915 to 25th November 1915. He was promoted to being a paid Lance Corporal.

On 25th November 1915 he was posted to France to join the 9th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment. The 9th “Service” Battalion was raised at Chichester in 1914.

January 1916 found George still with the 9th Battalion in France. The Battalion first entered the trenches at Zouave Wood on the 18th where significant enemy shell and sniper fire was experienced for four days until relief arrived. The Battalion was so close to the enemy line that gas masks had to be worn day and night.

Heavy shelling continued into February near Hooge where the 9th were still occupying trenches. On 13th February the Germans put down a tremendous bombardment over the British front line causing a great deal of damage. 30 casualties along with several fatalities were recorded. It was as a result of this action that George received a gunshot wound to his right shoulder.

George was sent the same day to 72nd Field Ambulance This was a mobile medical unit, not a vehicle. Each British division had three such units, as well as a specialist medical sanitary unit. The Field Ambulances provided bearer posts but also established main and advanced (that is, forward) dressing stations, where a casualty could receive further treatment and be put in such a condition where he could be evacuated to a Casualty Clearing Station. Men who were ill or injured would also be sent to the Dressing Stations and in many cases returned to their unit after first aid or some primary care.

On the following day he was taken to number 10 Casualty Clearing Station at Poperinghe and then onwards to number 15 Casualty Clearing Station. He was discharged from the clearing station after 7 days and returned to duty.

April and May and June were relatively quiet until the 17th June when the Germans gas bombed the Battalions position. The Battalion was moved away after a tirade of shelling and enemy fire, only to return to the trenches on 20th June.

The 6th July brought the Battalion out of the trenches for a period of rest, only for them to return on 11th where on 20th they were relieved and moved by buses and trains away from the Ypres area and travelled to Montagne.

August continued to see the 9th Battalion in the thick of it, and was involved in hand to hand fighting in the village of Guillemont where over the course of two days casualties amounted to 7 officers and 183 other ranks. After 7 days rest they were again in the trenches where they were attacked by the Germans after heavy bombardment on 31st August. The 9th managed to hold on and repulsed the attacking party. 30 men were killed and 80 injured. The problem was exasperated by the complete lack of food and water during continued attack.

September saw the Battalion moved by trains and lorries to Camblain-l’Abbe  and finally on 24th to Villers-au-Bois. George is wounded after a Howitzer was fired in his close proximity on 25th September 1916. There is no detail in the war diary to explain the injury; however he was suffering from Otitis which is an inflammation of the ear. He was sent to 73rd Field Ambulance and onward to number 23 Casualty Clearing Station where he remained until 26th September 1916. His condition did not improve. On 27th September he was transferred to the 18th General Hospital at Camiers which is situated south of Boulogne. On 30th September 1916 George was transferred to one of the Auxiliary Hospitals in Exeter. He is suffering from nervous debility (Neurasthenia or in modern days “Shell Shock”)

Whilst in hospital George is posted to 3rd Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment Depot. He is discharged to duty on 25th October 1916. It is uncertain where he went at this time, but he is shown at the Command depot on 8th December 1916.

On 11th December it would appear that George was still suffering from shell shock and was sent from the depot in Newhaven to Hospital. The sequence of events are unclear at this point however because on 15th January 1917 George was once again in hospital with phimosis. He is at the Eastern Hospital until 14th February 1917 when he was transferred to Summerdown Camp, Eastbourne until 21st April 1917 having undergone a circumcision. He was discharged to duty back to 3rd Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment. Reserve Battalion.

On 18th July 1917 George is transferred to The Kings Own Scots Borders. His new service number is 32130. George is posted to Farm work to assist his recovery between 7th August 1917 to 6th September 1971 when he returned to Depot

On 19th January 1918 George was once again in hospital. He was still complaining of Neurasthenia (a medical condition characterised by lassitude, fatigue, headache and irritability, associated chiefly with emotional disturbance). He was sent to King George Fifth hospital in Dublin until 8th February 1918 which was a Red Cross Hospital. On 8th February he was discharged from the hospital. The recommendation was for him to find work within the Army or to be discharged permanently as unfit to serve.

On 22nd February 1918 George is transferred to 11th Royal Scots Fusiliers. His new service number is 51966. On 20th March 1918 George had a septic heel and was with the 330th Field Ambulance in London. He received treatment and was returned to duty on 2nd April 1918.

George returned to the Fusiliers and had some leave between 10th July and 14th July 1918. On 27th July he was promoted back to a paid Acting Lance Corporal and on 22nd August he was promoted to a paid Lance Corporal.

On 30th November he was posted to the 13th Royal Scottish Fusiliers School of Musketry at Hythe, Kent and on 17th November was posted to the Royal Scottish Fusiliers depot as an instructor at Gailes barracks.

On 11th December 1918, George was posted to the dispersal centre at Wimbledon where due to his previous Police experience he became a “Dispersal Demobiliser” (Police).There is no information that he became an MFP or MMP. On 10th January 1919 George was posted to Class Z reserves and was demobolised  from the Army. His home address is still shown as “Over Bennet Works, St Helens, Hastings.

George received The 1914-1915 Star along with the British War Medal and Victory Medal.

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1914- 1915 Star

1380778063-victory_medal3-original

Victory Medal

 

Post war

On 27th December 1918 George Edward Spencer Shirley Catt returned to Brighton Borough PoliceThe 1939 Register is our next insight to George and finds him living at 2 Colbourne Avenue, Brighton.

George is shown as being born on 20th October 1894 a 45 old. He is employed as an Engineering Works Watchman and Timekeeper. George is living with wife 47 year old Irene Millicent Allen who he had married in the third quarter of 1917 at Hastings.

Also living at 2 Colboune Avenue was his daughter Eileen M Catt born 10th September 1920 along with a son George Peter Catt born 21st August 1924

George died in 1967 at 62 years of age. His death is registered in Brighton.

Irene Catt died in 1981 aged 89 years.

 

 

 

The Orange Lilies film shorts

shot_1493220388754.jpgJust to let you know about the new four short films we’ve created with young people from Brighton & Hove about life in the city in WWI supported by film maker Tracey Gue for The Orange Lilies – Brighton & Hove in the Somme project.

They’re a talented bunch!

You can see them online on You Tube, link here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEhJKbkBIHqf4dJQ7mnptzYi_qqn3yp2O

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Our final event!

20170630_170652-e1499443215907.jpgWe marked the end of our The Orange Lilies – Brighton & Hove in the Somme project with a big community history event on 30th June 2017 at Jubilee Library in Brighton.

It was a roaring success with a great variety of speakers and around 150 visitors to the drop in day, listening to presentations, visiting stalls and exhibitions at the venue, followed by the unveiling of a memorial stone to those who fell at The Battle of Boar’s Head on 30th June 1916.

Just to say a huge thank you for your support and delivery for The Orange Lilies project since June 2016.
Your time and expertise has really served to make the project happen and is so very much appreciated. I really can’t thank you enough for your involvement!
We are still uploading research to the project website, so things won’t end right away, but in terms of project delivery we are now complete.
I must say it’s come round far too soon and I feel in some ways like we’ve just got started, so am sad to finish, but on to projects new for now.
We’ve had great feedback from visitors for the day in general and also each specific session. The day was a real success and we had around 150 visitors ongoing through the day to hear your presentations. I hope you enjoyed it too!
‘I was glad to catch Geoffrey Mead’s talk. Fascinating!’
‘The speakers were of an extremely high standard’
‘Chris Kempshall’s talk was my favourite part’
‘A fascinating day, thank you!’
‘Really enjoyed it’
‘The speakers were all inspirational, amusing, entertaining, relevant and inspiring’
‘It was an illuminating and fascinating day of events’
‘All the presentations (including the Q+A) were of an extremely high standard’
‘Many congratulations on a superb project’
If you’d like to join the Strike a Light mailing list for future project activities and events, do let me know and I’ll add you to the newsletter. 
To keep up with us in other ways you can ‘Follow’ the Strike a Light website – https://strikealight.org/
or on Twitter – @strikerlight