Seaford’s first casualty of the Great War

Standards: The scene at the Remembrance Day service at Seaford Cemetery on Tuesday SUS-141114-123401001
Standards: The scene at the Remembrance Day service at Seaford Cemetery on Tuesday SUS-141114-123401001

Remembrance Day on Tuesday was a particularly poignant occasion in Seaford.

It marked the 100th anniversary of the death of a young man believed to be the town’s first casualty of the Great War.

Private Harold Stanley Ford, of the 1st Battalion, Scots Guards, died on November 11 1914 during the Battle of Nonne Bosschen, a few miles to the east of Ypres. He was just 21 years old.

Research by local historian Kevin Gordon, assisted by Ian Everest, has revealed Harold was born in Bishopstone and lived in Field Cottages.

His family were all from Bishopstone and his father, Thomas Ford, was the Parish Clerk for the village.

In April 1911 Harold was working at the Seaford Convalescent Home but a few months later he joined the regular army (The Scots Guards) and on the outbreak of the First World War was posted to Belgium.

One hundred years ago this week, 161 Scots Guards including Harold were killed. Sadly only six have a marked grave.

Harold is remembered on the Seaford War Memorial in Sutton Park Road and on the War Memorial in Bishopstone Church. His name is also carved onto the Menin Gate in Ypres.

The Remembrance Day service at Seaford Cemetery allowed people to pay their respects at individual graves, including the memorial to Cuthbert Bromley VC.

The local man was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious medal for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be given to British and Commonwealth forces, for his actions on April 25 1915 during the Gallipoli landings.

The 36-year-old Captain in the 1st Battalion of The Lancashire Fusiliers went ashore at W Beach, while being subjected to murderous enemy fire.

He was one of three soldiers selected by their comrades as “having performed the most signal acts of bravery and devotion to duty”. Capt Bromley, wounded three times in the campaign, was killed when his troopship was torpedoed in the Mediterranean on August 13 1915.