NOSTALGIA: A parish plunged into mourning by the Great War

Under construction ... the area appears to be devoted to market gardens or allotments
Under construction ... the area appears to be devoted to market gardens or allotments

Eastbourne resident and keen historian Phil Gardner has been researching the loss suffered by the town and its people during the Great War.

He writes, “I have recently completed compiling a Memorial Book for St Andrew’s Church, Norway, Seaside, and I was struck by the impact that World War I must have had on the parish. Overall 114 men and boys from the parish died as a result of this war.

“I therefore felt compelled to write this article to make people aware of how much families suffered as a result of the Great War.

“I am afraid it is very much a list of facts but each fact tells a story.

“Almost every road in the parish suffered the loss of someone and some roads lost a number of young men. Several families suffered the loss of two or three sons and it is their stories that are told here.

“Take a few minutes to read this and then imagine the impact these deaths must have had on what at the time was a much smaller parish than the one that exists today, and of course what must have been a much more tightly knit community.

“One horrific day was June 30 1916 when eight men, who all lived in the parish, were killed in one day at the battle of Rue De Bois. They were all were members of the Royal Sussex Regiment.

“Two were brothers, Frederick and George Bradford, who lived at 70 Beach Road. George was aged 21 and Frederick was 32. A third brother, Thomas, who was a Gunner with the Royal Field Artillery, died in October 1918 aged 23.

“Two brothers, George and Thomas Button of 4 Rye Street both died in the war. George was killed in action in Mesopotamia on November 22 1915, and Thomas was killed in action at the Battle of Loos on September 25 1915. Both were aged 37 at the time of their death implying that they were twins.

“Roselands Terrace was a group of semi-detached houses that now form part of Roselands Avenue. These properties suffered a disproportionate loss of life when you consider the number of houses that were there.

“William Charles Short of 6 Roselands Terrace was killed in action at the Battle of Gallipoli on September 6 1915, aged 19. His brother Arthur died of gas poisoning after being repatriated.

“The Davidge family at 10 Roselands Terrace also lost two sons in the war. Thomas died on the Somme on September 9 1916, aged 28. Arthur died of wounds near Ypres on November 2 1917, aged 20.

“The Fenwick family of 41 Seaford Road lost three sons. Sydney was killed in action on October 23 1916, aged 21. Albert was killed in action on the Marne Front on May 27 1918, aged 23. A third son, Frederick Thomas, also died but there is no record of when and where. However the 1911 Census confirmed that he lived at the same Seaford Road address.

“Whilst all the deaths were tragic the story of the Haffenden family is particularly sad. The family were farmers living at 4 Wartling Road. One son, George, was killed in action near Ypres on April 26 1915, aged 27. His brother William was one of the eight local men killed in action on the Rue De Bois on June 30 1916. He was aged 24. Their father was so distraught at the deaths of his two sons that he killed himself.

“Another family to lose two sons was the Haggar family of 421 Seaside, just two buildings along from the church. Harold was killed in action near St Eloi on June 24 1915, aged 19. John was another of the local men killed in action on the Rue De Bois on June 30 1916, aged 20.

“Samuel Novis of 48 Bexhill Road died of disease in Rawalpindi on February 19 1916, aged 35. His brother Frederick died of wounds at home after the war on June 14 1919, aged 20.

“The story of the Tingley family of 14 Vine Square is of particular resonance as three sons were killed, all of them being great uncles of a member of the St Andrew’s congregation, Margaret Wooler. William was killed in action on Gallipoli on May 31 1915, aged 23. Arthur Tingley was another of the local men killed in action on the Rue De Bois on June 30 1916. He was aged 18. Albert was killed in action during the German Spring Offensive on March 22 1918, aged 22. These three young men were the eldest of twelve children, what an impact their loss must have had on the family particularly when you look how young they were.

“Having read this article I hope that you can now sense some of the emotion that I felt when I read the details of all the deaths of 114 men who gave their lives for us.

“To paraphrase the immortal words of John Maxwell Edmonds, ‘For our tomorrow they gave their today’.

“This article will be added to the St Andrew’s Memorial Book which has now been completed. Work is in hand to make a display case for the book which will be placed in the church.

“All of the information that I have included in this article came from an amazing website - www.roll-of-honour.com, which contains information about War Memorials and Rolls of Honour across the whole of the UK.

“As part of producing this article I was sent a copy of a photo that shows Roselands Terrace and some of the houses under construction. The photo shows the position of Roselands Terrace relative to Seaside. Look carefully and you will see the canopies of the row of shops in Seaside where you will still find Chipperfields today. You can also see Seaford Road.

“I assume the photo was taken from the top of the Destructor Works chimney as it shows one of the incinerator towers in the foreground. Also of interest is that the whole area appears to be devoted to market gardens or allotments. Was the area famous for growing roses and did this give rise to area’s name, Roselands?

“If anyone has any similar information or photos about the parish please contact me at standnorway@talktalk.net as they could provide the basis for further articles about the history of the parish.”