DAY BEFORE THE SOMME: The 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme will be commemorated on July 1. Everyone knows something about the Somme, a battle which lasted five months and which began with the worst day in British military history, when the British Army sustained 57,470 casualties including 19,240 killed. Very few people know about the preceding Battle of the Boars Head, little-reported at the time or subsequently but which went down in local history as The Day Sussex Died.
DIVERSIONARY TACTIC: Like the men of many northern towns who joined up and fought together in the Pals’ Battalions, many of the recruits from the Downland villages and towns of Sussex went off to war together, joining one of the three South Downs battalions (11th, 12th and 13th Sussex) known as Lowthers Lambs after Colonel Lowther of Herstmonceux who had had been recruiting enthusiastically. By 1916 the three battalions, now part of the 39th Division of the British Army, were in France. As the planned offensive on the Somme loomed, they were ordered to take part in a diversionary attack on German lines at the Boars Head near Richebourg. When the plans were sent to their commanding officers, Lt Col Harman Grisewood, commanding the 11th Battalion protested that his men were not ready and he was not going to sacrifice them as cannon-fodder (his words). He was promptly relieved of his command and the attack went ahead, preceded by several days of heavy bombardment. The poet Edmund Blunden described the attack as a massacre, with the Sussex men scythed down in rows as they approached the German lines. Total casualties amongst the three Sussex battalions from the morning’s attack were 15 officers and 364 other ranks killed or died of wounds and 21 officers and 728 other ranks wounded, a total close to 1100 South Downers. Cyril Humble-Crofts, one of our Rector’s sons was killed as he led his men into action. In the same action another Waldron man called Ambrose Driver was wounded and died the following day. 30 June 1916 became known as The Day Sussex Died. The following day the Battle of the Somme began and the Boar’s Head action was almost forgotten. Except in Sussex where few villages can have escaped the loss of men from within their communities. From then until the end of 1916 Waldron lost a further eight men either born locally or with family connections. The total killed during the entire Great War as listed on our war memorial was 54.
ROAD RUNNERS: The Heathfield Road Runners hold their Midsummer 10k this Sunday. The event starts at the top of Back Lane at 10am and follows the usual route via Browns Lane, Fir Grove Road, North Street and the centre of Waldron before running through Lions Green, passed Burnt House Farm and Hanging Birch Lane and Back Lane to the finish. The majority of runners will be through within an hour and any encouragement from bystanders taking an early Sunday morning walk will be most welcome. Equally, drivers are asked to be patient and careful. Anyone who would like to help with the event please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
QUIZ NIGHT: After a break last month the Pub Quiz will take place again this month on Monday starting at 7.30pm. Teams of up to six as usual, make up your own team or come prepared to join up with others. One-course meal included in the evening.
SERVICES: Please note. This Sunday both morning services will be at St Bartholomew’s at 8am for Holy Communion and at 10am for Parish Eucharist. Anyone looking in their Parish Diary may be puzzled to see incorrect information that services are at All Saints’, but believe me, (I’ve double-checked) they really are at St Bart’s. I’m told that anyone turning up by mistake at All Saints’ will be redirected to St Bart’s.
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