The camps on the Downs for the brave men of WWI

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Archivist Rosalind Hodge was interested in our recent feature in Looking Back of the Summerdown Camp, used to house First World War soldiers .

She is also hoping readers will help in her quest to find out more about World War I casualties and in preparation for the Willingdon Church and Memorial Hall 100th anniversary next year.

She writes, “I was interested to see the photograph of the Summerdown Camp in Looking Back and also to read about the camps on the Downs and the disastrous Boar’s Head offensive when so many young men of the Royal Sussex Regiment were killed.

“This photograph of one of the camps at Willingdon was taken in August 1915, It shows tents set up on land that is now Upper Kings Drive and the area where the main A22 road was built on land of Spots Farm some 19 years later.

“Men and horses are clearly visible and even some clothes spread out to dry on a hedge. Willingdon Church, the Hoo and the houses in Church Street can be seen in the background.

“Also visible are the old barns and farmyard of Townlands Farm where the Memorial Hall was built in 1920 in memory of the young men of the village who were killed.

“The second photo shows a camp in the fields at Wannock in an area known locally as Broughton. My grandmother told me how some of the ‘Blue Boys’, young soldiers recovering from their injuries at Summerdown Camp, regularly visited their house and others at Willingdon for tea.

“They were called the ‘Blue Boys’ because they wore special blue uniforms whilst convalescing. Both her brothers in the Royal Sussex Regiment were killed.

“Her younger brother Ernest Wooller aged 20 was killed with Nelson Carter when he won the Victoria Cross at the Boar’s Head on June 30 1916, the day before the Battle or the Somme commenced.

“As archivist at Willingdon church, I am researching the World War I casualties named on the war memorials in the church and Memorial Hall for next year’s 100th anniversary.

“There are various national sources for research and our old parish magazines of that time mention most casualties sometimes with snippets of personal information.

“I shall be including photographs of my great uncles and would like if possible to include photos of the other young men. There may be some readers who are descendants or families of those on the Willingdon memorial that might have a photograph.

“If anyone does have information or a photograph of any of those named below and would be willing to share them for the project I would be most grateful.

“The names are Edwin Baldwin, Lionel Dennis, William Albert Foord, Albert T Hendley, Ernest Percy Martin, Thomas Martin, William Read, William Stevens, Arthur White – all these men are of the Royal Sussex Regiment.

“Those in other regiments are Amos Bailey, William Baldwin, Charles H Boniface, Hon. Gerard Frederick Freeman-Thomas, Albert Hylands, James H Cowshall, Alfred Larter, Victor Martin, Edmund Read, William Reid, Arthur Stevens, Robert Stanley Vigers, Ernest Wooller, Harry Wooller and George Wright.

If anyone can help Rosalind she can be contacted at info@parisharchives.co.uk