Special service marks centenary of West Grinstead war memorial

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A special service has been held in West Grinstead to mark the centenary of the dedication of a First World War memorial.

The memorial – a window at St George’s Church – is one of three memorials John Peter ‘Pitt’ and Laura Hornung of West Grinstead Park financed after losing their third son, John Peter – always known as Peter – in the First World War.

The window, created by stained glass artist Florence Camm, is registered with the Imperial War Museum and with the War Memorial’s Trust.

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The memorial inscription reads: “This window is erected by John Peter and Laura Hornung, of West Grinstead Park, in Memory of these, their beloved son and sons-in-law: Second Lieutenant John Peter Hornung, MC, Royal Field Artillery. Born 18 th December, 1894; killed in action in France February 20 th , 1916.

Peter HornungPeter Hornung
Peter Hornung

“Major and Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur Houssemayne Du Boulay, DSO, Royal Engineers. Born 18th June 1880 died in France, October 25 th 1918.

“Captain and Brevet Major Francis Spencer Collin, Royal Engineers. Born August 5th, 1885; died in Ireland March 17th 1920.”

It was unveiled by Lord Winterton MP on September 21 1922.

St George’s Church also has a war memorial plaque fixed to its north wall and there is also an Old Comrades War Memorial at Midway House in Mill Lane, Littleworth, which Pitt Hornung had bought for his brother, the author and journalist E W Willie Hornung and his wife Constance, youngest sister of Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle.

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Arthur Houssemayne Du BoulayArthur Houssemayne Du Boulay
Arthur Houssemayne Du Boulay

Horsham Hospital was also built as a First World War memorial and Pitt and Laura Hornung were major benefactors. They used most of the trust fund set up for their son Peter after he was killed-in-action.

On display at the service marking the centenary of the dedication of the memorial window at St George’s were medals awarded to Peter, and the citation for the Military Cross: "Temporary Second Lieutenant John Peter Hornung Royal Field Artillery. For conspicuous gallantry when directing the fire of his battery from our front trenches. He enabled the enemy's wire entanglements to be cut very thoroughly and his parapet to be breached in two places.

"Later, when the enemy retaliated on his trench, he repaired, under fire with one telephonist, his telephone wire which had been cut, and then went back and finished the wire cutting."

Frank CollinFrank Collin
Frank Collin

Among those attending the service was Pitt and Laura Hornung’s great grandson Bernard and relatives, along with relatives of the Houssemayne Du Boulay and Collin families.

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Diane Villax spoke about great grandparents ‘Pitt’ and Laura Hornung and Bernard talked about Peter – “the great uncle we never knew.”

Philippa Grindal spoke about her grandfather Arthur Houssemayne Du Boulay, and Andrew Collin spoke of his grandfather Frank Collin.

John Peter Hornung’s name is also on the War Memorials of Sandroyd, Harrow, and Trinity College Cambridge, and also in Flanders.