Veteran has memories of uncle killed in 1914

Fred West remembered his uncle in Bognor Regis exactly nine decades after the end of the conflict which claimed his life.

Mr West was among the 150 or so people who gathered around the town's war memorial at 11am on Tuesday, November 11.

It was at that time in 1918 the guns of the First World War fell silent as a result of the armistice between the British and German armies.

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Mr West's uncle, Albert Bailey, died in 1914 among the first of the more than one million British and Commonwealth servicemen killed in the trenches in France as the countries often fought over yards of territory.

He said: "I remember my friends and my uncle at these ceremonies. I was left all my uncle's medals, and I usually wear them out of respect for him, and his tobacco box. I've still got that as well."

Mr West (83), of the Mill Farm estate in Nyetimber, was an Able Seaman in the Royal Navy between 1943-47. He served in Burma. Also among those observing the two minute silence was Crawley man Robin Sayers (75). His brother, Ronald Sayers, is among those commemorated on the war memorial.

An RAF sergeant, he is buried in Israel after dying in Palestine during the Second World War at the age of 21 when his Spitfire was mistakenly shot down by his own side. That fact has been recorded in a book, Spitfires over Israel, of which Mr Sayers only became aware when he was 60.

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"My brother was about ten years older than me," he said. "He was very keen on flying and went to America to get his wings. I remember him making his own glider.

"I always come to these November 11 services to pay my respects to him and to thank him and the others on the memorial for what they did for us."

The short remembrance ceremony featured the standards of the Bognor branch of the Royal British Legion, carried by secretary Ron Anderson, and the town's RAF Association branch, carried by Cliff Mewett. Legion branch chairman Tony Tucker read the exhortation.

Mr Anderson was pleased with the turnout. "It's good considering it's a Tuesday morning. Bognor is a town from which we get a lot of support. There's no doubt about that," he stated.

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The silence was immaculately observed by those present but was marred by a constant procession of cars along Belmont Street and Clarence Road past the memorial.

Former Royal Engineers sapper Alfred Wheble (88), of St Thomas Drive, Pagham, served throughout the Second World War.

He said: "I lost a lot of friends and I wanted to pay my respects to them. But they should stop the traffic during the ceremony.

"The roads should be shut. When I was younger, everything stopped."

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Three poppy crosses had been placed on the Great War roll of honour of some 350 names at the town's war memorial hospital, built in tribute to those from the town who died, for Tuesday's anniversary.

Two of them - for Edward Burnard (died September 13, 1914, aged 19) and for Arthur Percy Bale (December 1895-October 17, 1916) - were accompanied by photographs to show the human cost of the conflict.

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