PROJECT REMEMBER – UPDATE FOR SPRING 2019
The signs of Spring are all around us. Soon, you will see plant life emerging in a new location – Pett’s War Memorial. Our small border around the stone paving will shortly be host to the plants that we have ordered. These will be dwarf varieties: Buxus and Nandina, for those with a taste for Latin when it comes to their horticulture. The idea behind the choices is to provide year-round cover and a suitably formal style, but also to provide some variation through the seasons, including some red tones among the green foliage in Autumn, particularly with Remembrance Sunday in mind. We hope you will like it.
Once that work is complete, everything that Project Remember set out to do just a year or so ago will have been delivered. We should also find ourselves with a small financial surplus of a few hundred pounds, which we intend to keep in a dedicated fund administered by the Parish Council for the occasional maintenance of the Memorial site. On a regular basis, the Memorial site should need very little by way of upkeep – and the planting scheme is also intended to be low maintenance – but we do want to ensure as best we can that the Memorial is kept in the condition you see today. A condition which hopefully prompts all of us to remember, keeping faith with its original intention.
But the project is not merely backward-looking. Thanks to our contractors, Ashley Developments, significant donations have recently been made to three charities, recognised for their work helping the veterans of today and their families: BLESMA, SSAFA and The Poppy Factory. Yesterday (as I write this) Chris Saint and I visited the headquarters of one of these three, The Poppy Factory in Richmond. Contrary to what many may assume, The Poppy Factory is an independent charity and is not owned by The Royal British Legion. Nor does it manufacture the poppies you wear on your lapel, although a small number of disabled veterans there work on items such as bespoke wreaths commissioned for Remembrance services. Its principal role today is to assist veterans from all over the country, disabled in mind or body, to find worthwhile, lasting and suitable employment in the wider workplace. We were impressed, not to say moved, by what we saw and heard. Our special thanks must go to William and Alison Copp of Ashley Developments for their very generous donation.
Chris Saint, Deidre Mills, (Chief Executive, The Poppy Factory), and David Breakell at the Poppy Factory, Richmond-upon-Thames: David and Chris made the poppies they are holding!
Finally, I should mention that the book to commemorate the Memorial and the men on it, penned by Martin King and myself, is currently for sale. “The Fallen of Pett” has been well received and we are undertaking a further print run. The book retails at £12, but can be purchased by local residents for £10, excluding postage. Please contact David Penfold, our Parish Council Chairman, ,if you would like a copy. All proceeds, after covering printing costs, will go into the project and will enable further donations to be made to representative veterans’ charities.
PROJECT REMEMBER – COMMEMORATIVE BOOK COMING SOON
We are pleased to announce that a book commemorating the 2018 restoration of Pett War Memorial is to be published shortly. Entitled “The Fallen of Pett “, the book will be around 70 pages long, and printed in full colour. Given last year’s centenary, the book will focus on the men of the First World War who are named on the Memorial, incorporating updated versions of Martin King’s magazine articles over the last four years, but it will also include a broader look at remembrance and its context as well as a history of the Memorial, its creation and restoration. It is fully illustrated with many previously unpublished photographs.The book will retail at £12 a copy, but for those who place an order direct, the publishers are offering it at the discounted price of £10. The first print run will be limited in order to keep costs down, so to be certain of reserving your copy, please contact us initially.
After covering printing and any other direct costs (publishing is being provided free of charge), all proceeds from the book will be donated to Project Remember. The funds held in Project Remember’s account, after completion of the remaining works (as described in previous issues of this magazine), will establish a reserve for maintenance of the Memorial, with the balance going to veterans’ charities selected by the Project Remember Committee.
We very much hope that you will want your own copy of this book.
“The Fallen of Pett”
Authors: David Breakell and Martin King
Publisher: Edgerton Publishing Services
No payment is required at this stage.
PROJECT REMEMBER – NEWS UPDATE – NOVEMBER 2018
THE SOUND OF SILENCE
It was shortly after half past ten. The Rector and I glanced at one another. It was nearly time. We walked down the nave, which already had over a hundred sitting patiently in the pews, and stepped outside. Dozens more of the congregation were standing in the space outside the door. We reached the War Memorial. It was then I saw the crowd standing beyond the church wall on Pett Road. I had noticed people arriving there in their twos and threes during the course of the morning, but to see so many at once, all of them focussed on the space where we were standing, was not something I will quickly forget. One of our young musicians, bugle in hand, asked in a hushed voice, “Are we playing for these people too?” Indeed we were.
It is a little early for me to reflect on the events of Remembrance Day which, as I write this, was mere days ago. It’s still a highly charged jumble of sights and sounds. Like the silence when the only thing you could hear was the Union Flag rippling in the breeze. And for the Project Remember team, it wasn’t just one emotional day, it was also the climax of a whole year leading to the rededication of the War Memorial. But at its heart was the service of remembrance. Your presence there, in such numbers, made it a day befitting the 63 men of Pett and Fairlight that we came to honour. So our heartfelt thanks to each and every one who attended. Thanks also, to our Rector and the members of the Parochial Church Council and the Methodist Church for their preparations for the service itself; to all those who laid wreaths or spoke at the ceremony; to our young buglers, whose wonderful playing touched everyone; to the Royal British Legion, who provided the 63 wooden crosses that now frame the Memorial; and to the Pett Women’s Institute and other local organisations and residents who made the poppies that provided such a striking backdrop to the occasion.
Well, perhaps I do have one reflection that I can share at this point. It was always our hope, when the restoration of the War Memorial was being planned, that the result should be a commemorative space which was open to all, in which everyone in the community could take pride. Your presence in such numbers on Sunday suggests to me that you will. Whether or not you ever go to church, I hope that you will always feel that this particular space belongs to all of us.
PROJECT REMEMBER DIARY
For those who attended on Sunday, but were unable to get a copy of the commemorative Order of Service because they ran out, you can see it now on the PettNet website – https://www.pettnet.org.uk/service-of-remembrance-sunday-11-november-2018
If you wish, you can download and print a copy – or get someone to do it for you. This incorporates much of the text of the Remembrance service and the Rededication. PettNet is also carrying other materials and photographs from the day.
Talking of a written record, we are intending to publish shortly a commemorative book. Written by Martin King and myself, it tells the history of the War Memorial and the stories of the men of World War One who are named on it, incorporating articles previously published by Martin in the magazine over the last four years, as well as some new pieces and unpublished photographs. Details will follow shortly.
As at the end of 1918, the Silent Soldiers are appearing in the village in increasing numbers. People are still asking how they can obtain their own soldier, so please email one of the Project Remember team and we will send you the details.
Project Remember’s work is nearly done, but we have still to plant the border around the Memorial. We decided recently that this was best left until after the ceremony, given the prospect of significant numbers of pairs of feet in close proximity on the day! In practice we will probably defer the planting until the Spring. And in the meantime, the 63 wooden crosses have pride of place.
For those who take note of such things, the parish council will in due course provide a financial summary of funds raised and spent. Based on current projections however, we expect that there will be sufficient money remaining to establish a small reserve. This will be held over by the Parish Council and will be spent in future years maintaining the War Memorial and its plant border. So that in the years to come it will remain a fitting space to pay our respects to the Fallen of Pett.
Remembrance Day – Mark Knopfler (from the album ‘Get Lucky’)
PROJECT REMEMBER – NEWS UPDATE – OCTOBER 2018
The Reason Why
As I write this, Remembrance Sunday is only four weeks away and the culmination of all our efforts is in sight. Our thoughts are naturally turning to the day itself, although there are still a few important elements of the project to be completed between now and then. As people come to visit the Memorial and look at what has been done, I have had some interesting conversations in recent days. That the ripples of this particular ‘stone’ spread out well beyond the boundaries of the parish, there can be no doubt.
But surprisingly, the most striking conversations I had were those about children. One Pett Level resident with grandchildren made the point that a child of six, being told today about the First World War, was being asked to envisage a conflict which began 98 years before they were born. Imagine the equivalent for the Baby Boomers generation. What if they had taught us about the Crimean War in our 1950s and 60s primary schools? How would we have perceived it then? As ancient history no doubt, with cavalrymen in exotic uniforms and nurses in floor-length skirts mopping the brows of the injured. That the Great War was by far the more terrible, the more significant, the more costly conflict has been obvious to us all our adult lives, but that is with the benefit of everything we have learnt since we were six.
Another conversation was with the father of two small boys, both pupils at Guestling Bradshaw Primary School, who came to my house. He was seeking information about Project Remember, to help his elder son with his homework. (The school is currently running a school-wide project about the First World War). He had taken his boys to see the Memorial since the recent works and was impressed with the changes. But then he said that the Memorial had really helped him to explain to his son what the First World War was about. Something tangible upon which to hang a story for a small boy. It was only after he’d left and I’d closed the front door that his casual remark began to resonate. Because, for all that Remembrance Sunday is about remembering the past and honouring the sacrifices of earlier generations, it is surely just as much about the future?
Our generation’s view of the day itself is probably infused by the mental images we retain of the past, from say, TV broadcasts from the Cenotaph. The rows of elderly gentlemen standing sombrely, but proudly, with their medal ribbons across their chest. The palpable sense of history, echoing off the buildings of Whitehall. In the service each year, we are enjoined not to forget, we promise to remember. Those promises are rightly central, but surely we should also recognise our obligation to future generations, to explain to them what happened and why it is important. Today’s children cannot ‘remember’ those two world wars, but we can surely help them to see these events as more than just history. In the hope that when they are adults, they will help to shape a world which finds better ways to resolve its conflicts.
Those conversations have subtly changed my own view of Project Remember. So on the day, when the names of Pett’s Fallen are read out beside their Memorial, I will try to think of them not just as men in uniform, but as they were before all that. Children in school with their futures ahead of them and all the time in the world.
PROJECT REMEMBER – NEWS UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 2018
I am delighted to report that as I write this (in mid-September) the refurbishment works are well under way. If you’ve driven past the church recently, you may have noticed the orange safety fencing around the War Memorial. If you’ve paused to take a look, you will have seen our newly paved area with its York stone flags. Call me biased, but I think they look superb. These large, weathered flagstones that were donated to us, look as though they’ve been there as long as the Memorial itself and they set it off beautifully. Already you can clearly see that this is a Memorial and not just a headstone in the churchyard, as we always intended. Our superb builders will soon be finished, with the laying of the replacement steps completing their element of the works.
The Memorial itself has had its by-hand cleaning by the stonemason, and once again, that has made a big difference and given it additional ‘presence’. The names of all the Fallen are fully legible once more.
A number of other developments will emerge in the next few weeks. We are re-siting the flagpole away from the cherry tree (so the tree can grow and be pruned, when required, symmetrically) and, in its new location, the Standard can be raised without fouling any nearby branches. A Memorial bench has been purchased and will be sited close to where the flagpole stood previously. Our additional stone plaque commemorating the “Missing 10” has been ordered (it will be carved in stone from the Forest of Dean, as was the original Cross). We expect it to be installed on the churchyard wall in October. Finally, our minds are now turning to the creation of the low plant border around the paving, and especially what sort of planting would be most appropriate. (Gardeners’ suggestions welcome!)
All in all, we are confident that when you survey the Memorial around the time of Remembrance Day, 11th November, you will see a transformed space and one worthy of the men it honours and worthy of the centenary of the Armistice. The arrangements for the Remembrance Day service itself are yet to be finalised, but we envisage that prior to the service there will be a short act of rededication of the Memorial. Details will be circulated with next month’s edition of the magazine.
PROJECT REMEMBER – NEWS UPDATE – AUGUST 2018
Fundraising success: donations continued to come in during July, including a significant three-figure sum from one local family. At the time of writing, we have raised nearly £5000 and that, together with the promised community grant from Rother District Council, means that on present information we have enough to cover all our anticipated costs for the refurbishment of the War Memorial, which is a tremendous result. We are therefore delighted to announce the closure of the fundraising campaign.
Commencement of work: by the time you read this in the magazine, the initial works to prepare the ground around the Memorial will be under way. A small section of the churchyard will therefore be fenced off, as temporary protection. That will be rapidly followed by the laying of our donated yorkstone slabs and the widening of the steps from the church path. Later in September, a stonemason will be in attendance to carry out cleaning of the Memorial itself. The final groundwork aspect will be the preparation and planting of the small border around the paved area.
Additional aspects: as mentioned in last month’s edition, we are intending to honour the so-called “Missing 10” with the erection of an engraved stone plaque on the boundary wall close to the Memorial. Quotes have been obtained from several stonemasons and this aspect will be committed shortly. Our plan is to use a similar Forest of Dean stone as that originally used for the Memorial itself. Once all these works are completed, we will acquire a memorial bench for the paved area so that, if they wish, visitors to the Memorial can pause a while for reflection.
Silent Soldiers: given the successful conclusion of the fundraising stage, our soldiers have been recently “stood down” from their vigil, as you may have noticed. But they will not be forgotten. You may see them again later in the year, when the project is complete, and on Remembrance Sunday. Thank you once again for all your support.
PROJECT REMEMBER – NEWS UPDATE: JULY 2018
We’re under way: as predicted last month, the fantastic success of the fundraising campaign has enabled us to press the button for the commencement of work. A local firm based in Pett has been selected for the project. They provided us with the most competitive quote and they have experience of public works. By the time you read this, preparations will be in hand to lift and store the York flagstones which have been donated for the project. Groundworks in the churchyard will take place in the second half of August when the sub-base will be prepared, the flagstones will be laid around the Memorial and the steps up from the church path will be repaired and widened. Once these works are completed, our appointed stonemason will work on the task of cleaning the Memorial itself, in line with previous technical advice. This is planned to take place in September. The final stage will be the creation of narrow planting borders around the flagstones.
All required consents are now in hand, including the formal grant of Faculty (planning permission) from the Registrar to the Diocese. The works will be monitored by the Diocese architect.
The “Missing” Ten: readers will recall the issue of the ten men (from each of the World Wars) whose deaths are recorded in the archives of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and who are either buried in Pett churchyard or are shown, by the CWGC records, as having next of kin from this parish. The Project Remember team has had to consider whether it is appropriate for these names to be added to those already on our Memorial. Despite our lengthy researches however, we have not been able to establish definitively that any of these men actually came from Pett or Pett Level prior to their wartime service. In some cases it is probable that the widow or parents moved here after the death of the man in question. After much agonising therefore, we have concluded that it would not be right to add these names to the existing names on the Memorial, which would alter it irrevocably.
That is not to say that the sacrifice of these men should not be recognised. Our proposed solution, funds permitting, is to have erected near the Memorial a separate plaque which not only records the names of these ten men, but which also recognises the broader contribution of the men and women from this parish who served in those wars, in whatever capacity.
Fundraising – where are we now: as it stands, we have raised in the region of £5000 from public donations and council grants. This covers the cost of the above groundworks and of cleaning the Memorial. It will also enable us to purchase a Memorial bench to be placed in the newly paved area. As for the memorial plaque referred to earlier, we are seeking quotes from stonemasons for this and will then review the options.
For the time being, we are continuing to invite donations to the fund to ensure we can cover any final contingencies. While we don’t expect a significant overrun given our current position, we have always said that if, at the end of the project, there is a small financial surplus in the fund, that this would be donated to suitable charities such as those for injured servicemen and women.
ONCE AGAIN, thank you all for your support which has enabled us to make this project a reality.
PROJECT REMEMBER – UPDATE: JUNE 2018
“PROJECT REMEMBER – A STEP CHANGE”
This month’s entry is a brief one, but even so, the last few weeks have seen significant developments in the project.
Most importantly, due to the particular generosity of one Pett Level couple, we have received a donation of reclaimed York Stone paving. There is sufficient available to cover our requirement for the area to be paved around the War Memorial. The stone is nicely weathered and appears more than suitable for its new role. We have now had approval to use it from the relevant planning authorities at the Diocese of Chichester.
For the project, this is a big – er – step forward. I won’t continue the metaphor about solid foundation etc., but as everyone will appreciate the cost of quality stone paving was always a big budget item for us. Coupled with what has been raised to date, this donation effectively means that we can confidently assume that we will get to our financial target and complete the works as envisaged. We will be therefore be choosing contractors and announcing the building programme in the next few weeks.
With this hurdle behind us, we continue to raise funds to ensure that, after the main building work is done, there is enough left for the cleaning of the Memorial and the other aspects of the project. More of that anon, but at the time of writing (4th June) the public campaign has raised a very impressive £3,222 , which combined with our council grants puts us in touching distance of the overall target.
The exhibition in the parish church has recently been taken down, to facilitate their forthcoming Flower Festival, but we will be installing it down at St Nicholas, Pett Level soon, incorporating some new photographs and memorabilia. Keep them coming!
PROJECT REMEMBER – UPDATE: MAY 2018
Our report this month can be summed up in two words: terrific response! Our campaign to raise the necessary funds for restoration of the War Memorial via local donations, has generated a most impressive tally. At the time of writing this (14 May), we have received donations approaching £3,500 which is a great result. We endeavour to thank personally everyone who can be identified, but our warmest thanks to all of you who have made contributions, great and small.
What does this mean for the project overall? Well, in essence it means that we are very close to pressing the button to start the works. Taking the above funds in combination with the money promised by the Parish Council and Rother District Council, we are within sight of the target. So much so, that we envisage selecting the winning contractor in the next few weeks, in consultation with the Parish Council, and booking the work in for a convenient date in late summer. As we stand now, August is looking like the likely month. More news on that in our next update.
The only disappointment along the way has been that the War Memorials Trust have been forced to scale our award right back. This was nothing to do with the merits of our application, but was entirely down to the huge number of applications from around the UK they are receiving in this centenary year. Their budget is finite and all awards are being drastically reduced in consequence. However, the fantastic local response means that we can to an extent take this on the chin and still proceed. And we may in any event find that the Heritage Lottery Fund will make up some of the shortfall.
In the meantime, if you come across people who are unaware of the campaign, do please encourage them to support us in any way they can. And just a final reminder to those with information or even memorabilia relating to the men named on the Memorial and other aspects of Pett’s history in two world wars, to get in touch with one of the team.
EXHIBITION NOW OPEN
The exhibition for Project Remember is now open in St Mary & St Peter Church, Pett. Do come and take a look (and donate!) – some wonderful exhibits.
PROJECT REMEMBER – APRIL 2018
News Update from David Breakell
A lot has happened since the project to restore the War Memorial was presented at the annual parish meeting just a few short weeks ago.
The Silent Soldiers
Our “Tommies” have attracted a great deal of comment, most of it very favourable. They certainly seem to have pricked your curiosity, which was always the intention. A number of you have been sufficiently impressed to ask us where you can acquire your own “Soldier”. We look forward to seeing them ‘on guard’ outside your houses. We should however acknowledge that not everyone feels this way. For some, the appearance of men in the uniform of the trenches was not welcome. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but to our minds, there is nothing about these men which seeks to glorify military might or wallow in nostalgia. Quite the opposite: the ordinary enlisted men and women that these figures represent are unarguably part of the reason (assuredly not the whole reason: others have made great sacrifices too, over the centuries) why we have the liberties we enjoy today. They also remind us of the terrible cost of war and urge us to find other ways to preserve peace among nations. Perhaps those who approve our broad objectives for the restoration of the Memorial, but dislike the Soldiers’ presence, can accept that our simple aim was to draw people’s attention to our fundraising campaign and in that we have succeeded.
It was apparent from questions raised at the annual parish meeting that several of you had reservations about some aspects of the restoration work. It would certainly have been surprising if we had put forward a scheme to which no one had any objection. But we have listened to your concerns and we have had more detailed discussions with a number of you. One aspect which generated more comment than any other was the proposed installation of low relief railings behind, and on the flanks of, the Memorial itself. As a result of these further deliberations, I can confirm that we will not proceed with the railings but instead there will be a narrow bed of low planting around the perimeter to indicate the border between the Memorial and the rest of the graveyard. It was always our intention that, after the restoration is completed, there will be ongoing maintenance of the Memorial at appropriate intervals, so care of this plant border would form part of that programme.
A copy of the revised drawings showing these changes is now published below and you can also see them at our exhibition referred to below.
The money – how are we doing?
Since we invited you to contribute to the project fund via our brochure distributed just a few weeks ago, we have made great progress. Just before going to press for this issue (and just 3 weeks after the annual parish meeting) we had received around £1500 in public donations. Apart from that being a goodly amount in itself, it means we have matched the £1500 in grants already promised by the Parish Council and Rother District Council. An important milestone. In addition, we have applied for more than £2000 of grant from the UK’s War Memorials Trust and we expect to hear back from them by about the middle of May. And that is without any contribution from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s WW1 grant scheme, to which we are also applying. In short, we are well on our way to raising the total amount we need. But there is still more to do, so we will not let up on the fundraising campaign. People naturally ask how much we actually need to finish the job. It will be understood that there are inevitably some price variables (for example around the issue of adding further names to the Memorial – stonemasons charge by the letter!). And we might need to make minor changes to the specifications depending on the final outcome of our fundraising efforts. But broadly, we are working on the assumption of a total budget of around £7000 before VAT. As the past few weeks have demonstrated, that is more than achievable. We will of course update you via this magazine and PettNet as the campaign proceeds.
In the meantime, our heartfelt thanks to all those who have contributed so far and for those who have yet to do so, thanks in anticipation!
Our small exhibition to accompany our fundraising effort has recently gone on display in St Mary and St Peter’s Church. Do take the time to have a look at it. It covers the known history of the Memorial, the stories of some of the men named on it and of Pett’s wartime role more generally, as well as giving details of the project itself. The exhibition is free, but naturally we hope that visitors will be generous and slip a donation in the Project Remember collection box we’ve installed there. In a few weeks’ time the exhibition will move to St Nicholas Pett Level. Naturally if readers have any documents or photographs that would enhance the displays, do get in touch.
Can I close by repeating our appeal for any historical information you have regarding the Memorial, the men named on it and in particular, any of the men who are NOT named on it. The “missing 10” as we refer to them.
On behalf of the whole team thank you for your support.
To the casual passer-by, it’s not immediately apparent that this IS the village’s War Memorial. There is not much sense that it is distinct from the larger gravestones in its vicinity.
The paving around the cross, added at a much later date, is uneven and breaking up. The small viewing area (by the wall) is covered with uneven, tufted grass.
While in some places the lichen indicates the maturity of the Memorial, in others it is obscuring the design and, critically, the inscriptions.
The steps from the church path are narrow and uneven and require repair.
SKETCH OF THE FRONT ELEVATION (REVISED APRIL 2018)
(Not to scale)
- Improving access to the Memorial from the path and incorporating safety handrail
- Discouraging visitors from walking over graves to access the Memorial
- Cleaning the Memorial to make it more visible against the background of the church itself
- Distinguishing the Memorial space from the surrounding graves with low planting in a narrow bed.
The drawings in the brochure shows rails around the memorial and an opening in the wall, with steps. Both these initial proposals have been modified after consultation and the revised sketch shows the modified appearance.
We have had a lichen specialist check the Memorial stone for any rare species. There are none in his view. However, he noted there were two unusual ones on the rough-hewn base of the Memorial. It has been decided to leave the base in its current condition, save for the inscription itself.
The cleaning of the Memorial will be done professionally and will follow the guidelines of the War Memorials Trust.
DETAILS OF PLAN (Revised April 2018)
- Extending paved area between the wall on Pett Road and the existing paving, allowing for water run-off.
- Installing a proper sub-base to ensure paved area is level and weed-free.
- Incorporating flagpole within paved area for use on Remembrance Day and other occasions.
- Widening the existing steps.
- A soft border of low planting.
The tree by the flagpole will be trimmed to allow access for flying the standard.
PROJECT REMEMBER – MARCH 2018
1. Our objectives
2. Team contact details
3. Renovating our War Memorial
4. Plan and specifications of the project
5. Our sources of funding
6. The Men on the Memorial
7. Our photo album
8. The ‘missing’ nine – appeal for information
9. Questions and answers
10. Latest news
11. How to donate
12. Remember us?
1. Project Remember – Our Objectives
Project Remember has been conceived by a small group of local residents who have got together to carry out the renovation of Pett War Memorial. The aim is to have the works funded and completed this year, in good time for the Remembrance Day commemorations on 11th November 2018. An important deadline, since that day will be the exact centenary of the Armistice which brought World War One to a close. The project has the full backing of Pett Parish Council, who have constituted the team as an official Working Party, and of the Pett Parochial Church Council, in whose churchyard the Memorial stands. Our contact details are listed below.
The War Memorial honours seventeen men from this small community who fell in World War One, as well as a further seven men who did not return from World War Two. Our recent researches have however uncovered the names of several more men with apparent connections to the parish, giving rise to the project that their names should be inscribed as well. This research is ongoing.
Our Memorial was erected and dedicated in 1920. It shows the signs of nearly a 100 years of weathering and is in need of cleaning and restorative attention if it is not to deteriorate further. The carved letters are becoming illegible in places. In addition, the Memorial stands rather anonymously in the graveyard, giving the outward impression of being merely another headstone or private monument. Access to the Memorial is also not easy and probably does not meet current safety standards. Overall, the Memorial’s setting is less than ideal. Rather like a newly discovered Old Master, it needs a proper frame to show it to its best advantage.
On the pages that follow, we describe the project in more detail, how we intend to fund the work and our fundraising progress so far, and the stories of the men on the Memorial, in so far as these are known. There is an appeal below for reader donations, with details of how your payment can be made. Also a request for any information that you may have regarding the men whose names are not (yet) inscribed on the Memorial. And if you have any old photographs or other archive items relating to the men or the Memorial, do send them in. You can either contact the PettNet website direct or write to any member of the Project Remember team.
The pdf version of this web page for downloading and printing can be found here
3. Renovating Our War Memorial
By David Breakell
Do you know where the War Memorial is located? This was the (rhetorical) question I put to the audience at the recent Pett AGM. You might be surprised to learn that some residents who have lived here for several decades did not know the answer.
Why should that be? In part, it is simply the passage of time. The Memorial was dedicated in 1920 and the men of the First World War, whose memory it was initially designed to honour, died a century ago. And it is over seventy years since the names of the Fallen in World War II were added to the Memorial. Those wars are slowly but inexorably passing from memory into history. It may be that in this present year and especially on the morning of Remembrance Sunday, the exact centenary to the hour of the 1918 Armistice, our consciousness of these events will be momentarily stirred.
But I believe there are other, simpler, reasons why our Memorial is currently so anonymous. In case you are still wondering, it stands just inside the wall of the churchyard on Pett Road, to the left of the church door and to the right of the flagpole. It is a fine Celtic cross, of Forest of Dean stone, but it shows the signs of nearly a century of weathering. The inscriptions are slowly becoming illegible. And its immediate surroundings scarcely show it to best advantage. The paving around it is uneven and covered in moss, and too small for any sizeable group to stand on. The steps leading to the Memorial are narrow and in need of repair. The flagpole appears marooned in an area of grass nearby. To the casual observer, it could easily be taken for a typical gravestone in a Victorian churchyard.
The Project Remember team believe that this must change. This is our community’s memorial to its own and it should be a recognisable landmark which residents and visitors alike can view at any time and, on appropriate occasions, gather around to pay their respects. Not just in this centenary year, but in years to come. To achieve this, the work we are planning includes professional cleaning of the stone; enlarging the paved area with reclaimed flagstones; widening the steps; and demarcating the Memorial from the rest of the churchyard with sympathetically styled low railings. Our aim is to raise the necessary funds and complete the work this year, in good time for the Remembrance Day commemorations on November 11th.
The project only got going in December, but we have made significant progress since then. Pett Parish Council has endorsed the project and provided a financial grant. They have also opened a dedicated bank account into which all donated funds are to be paid. The Parochial Church Council for St Mary & St Peter’s, on whose ground the Memorial stands, has given its blessing to the plans and the necessary legal approvals by the Diocese are being obtained. Rother District Council has recently agreed to provide a community grant. We have pre-qualified for a further grant from the War Memorials Trust: applications to them, and to the Heritage Lottery Fund under their WW1-themed ‘Then And Now’ scheme, are both under way. So we have a strong foundation for the project, one which entitles us to move forward with confidence. But to make it a reality, we also need the support of the community. By which I mean you, dear reader. More of that below.
You should soon notice, if you haven’t already, signs of Project Remember appearing around the village. In particular, the silhouettes of our Silent Soldiers guarding various locations. Their image, recently developed by the Royal British Legion, says more than a thousand of my words ever could, about the huge sacrifices made by those earlier generations. Sacrifices which are part of the reason why each of us is free to enjoy Pett and Pett Level today.
That these soldiers are ‘silent’ is worthy of comment. Silence is, of course, built into each Remembrance Day ceremonial: two minutes at 11 o’clock when all is still. The Royal British Legion sees these new figures as representing the ‘silence’ which greeted the men’s return from war. Not for them the tickertape parades through New York that greeted returning US servicemen in 1918 and 1945. A trickle of returning figures, demobilised in small groups, coming home to town or village without fanfare. Not even a pint of beer in 1918 Pett, because the local pubs were shut.
And I sense another kind of silence. Those of us with grandfathers who fought in that war will know that the men of 1918 rarely if ever spoke about what they had endured. No doubt it was just too hard for them to put into words or perhaps they felt, in the words of Jerome Kern’s hit song of the time to which the soldiers put their own satirical words, “They’ll Never Believe Me.” And just perhaps, they felt that saying nothing was a way of keeping faith with their silent comrades, the ones that hadn’t returned.
We owe these silent men. Surely it isn’t too much to ask that once in a hundred years we spend a little of our time and money to ensure that their memory is properly preserved? This is not to glorify war in any way, nor is it nostalgia, it is a simple matter of respect for what two previous generations did for us.
If you want to know more, printed pamphlets are being hand-delivered to each household and are also available at various local outlets. There is yet more detail on Pett on the Net (see our dedicated page “War Memorial Fund”). And there will be a small exhibition inside Pett Church – do take a look at the Memorial itself, if you visit. Our PettNet webpage also contains articles and materials, researched and written by members of the team, about the individuals honoured on our Memorial. And about our ongoing research into the stories of other men with connections to the parish, men whose names don’t appear on the Memorial and probably should be added.
There are several ways you can make a donation: just consult our pamphlet or look on the PettNet page. There are also contact details there for each of the Project Remember team, should you have any questions or useful suggestions. I urge you to support our project.
Thank you in anticipation.
[THIS ARTICLE APPEARED IN THE APRIL 2018 EDITION OF THE VILLAGE MAGAZINE]
4. Specifications, Plan and Sketch of Pett War Memorial as renovated
The plan for renovating the War Memorial comprises two main elements: work to restore and enhance its immediate surroundings and work on the Memorial itself.
In relation to the former, we intend to: raise the existing ‘crazy paving’ slabs and set them aside for possible re-use within the churchyard; take up the existing turf from the area between the Memorial and the church wall on Pett Road, extending laterally to reach the steps from the church path on the western side and to encompass the flagpole on the eastern side; level the exposed ground and lay a concrete sub-base; lay reclaimed York flagstones over the base; rebuild the steps from the church path so that they are doubled in width and install a handrail; install low relief decorative wrought iron railings around three sides of the perimeter of the War Memorial, leaving the northern side open. The plan and not-to-scale sketch below show how this would be done.
In relation to the latter, the plan is to have the Memorial itself and the stone trough in front of it professionally cleaned to remove weathering, moss, lichens and other material which obscures its design and the inscriptions on it; secondly, to have carved into the stone (in matching font) the names of any other serving men or women who fell in either World War and are demonstrated to have sufficient personal connection with Pett or Pett Level.
These works are to take place on church land and require their consent. We already have the formal approval of the local Parochial Church Council for our plans. Because the Diocese of Chichester has ultimate jurisdiction in these matters, we have also made a formal application for their consent. The scheme has just received a positive recommendation from their Diocesan Advisory Committee. There are planning fees applicable to such consent, but we hope that the Pett Parochial Church Council will be able to assist us with the cost.
5. Our Sources of Funding – How Project Remember will be funded
At the time of writing, we have identified an approximate figure for the total cost of the project work, but we are still going through the details of the tender process with stonemasons and contractors. One particular variable in terms of cost will be the extent of any letter carving of additional names on the Memorial, because our research into the names is ongoing. However, we will have a per letter indication of that cost from tendering stonemasons.
The total cost is not small, but even though the project only kicked off in December 2017, we already have a solid foundation.
Firstly, we have the backing of Pett Parish Council who have provided us with a very useful lump sum and equally importantly, have opened a dedicated bank account into which public donations can be paid, giving confidence to donors that their money will be safely held and prudently spent.
Secondly, Rother District Council have approved us for a substantial community grant. At the time of writing we await the written terms, but do not anticipate any conditions we cannot readily meet. It is likely to be subject to our seeking donations from residents, which we intend to do in any event.
Thirdly, we have had confirmation that our project is pre-qualified for a grant application to the War Memorials Trust. For information on this Government-supported fund see http://www.warmemorials.org
We are therefore very hopeful of a significant contribution from them towards the repairs and cleaning aspects of the project, as well as name inscriptions potentially. (They do not fund aspects of the work they regard as ‘new’, only the restorative parts).
Fourthly, we are eligible to apply for a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, under their World War One centenary-themed programme entitled “Then And Now”. We intend to apply very shortly, as soon as we have sufficiently detailed pricing information from contractors.
Finally, via donations from and purchases by members of the Project Remember team and from other local donors, we have already received contributions worth over £1000 even before our public campaign has begun.
The above mix of public sector and private funding gives us a great foundation for this appeal to readers to help us reach our final target. The outcome of our applications to the War Memorials Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund, will obviously affect how much we will need to raise from the general public. But we know that we need your support to achieve our goal. There is information elsewhere on these pages as to how you can make a donation.
We are confident that we can get to our financial target in good time. If we are fortunate enough to generate a small surplus above the final cost, it would be our intention to donate it to appropriate military veterans’ charities.
6. The Men on the Memorial
On the front (northern) face of the Memorial cross itself are carved the names of seventeen men who came from this parish and who fell in the 1914-18 War. On the reverse side of the cross are the names of another seven men who did not return from the 1939-45 War. These are the names.
First World War
Henry Charles Beeching
Frederick James Cooke
George Frederick Cooke
Arthur James Fleet
Sydney Edward Fleet
Henry Percival Griffen
George Reginald Jenner
Frederick Ernest Osborne
George Edward Weston
Second World War
Douglas Victor Barden
Henry Lewis Barnes
Preston John Ebbutt
George Edward Glazier
Gilbert Arthur Newton
As well as being named on the Memorial, the above men are named on the Roll of Honour inside Pett Church. In addition, there is a Roll of Honour inside the Methodist Chapel which honours the men of Pett who fell in the First World War.
Short biographies of the men from the First World War and their military service have been written by Martin King, a Pett Level resident and member of the Project Remember team. They have been published as an occasional series over the last four years in the village magazine. We attach one of these stories below. To read more of these stories, follow this link
7. The Pett Fallen
An occasional series to commemorate the men of Pett who died in the Great War 1914 – 1918.
Frederick Ernest Osborne, son of Anthony and Matilda Osborne, was born in Ewhurst in 1881. He lived in Guestling, Fairlight and Pett, and was employed on a farm and then as a bricklayers labourer. In 1903 he married Alice Cooke, and they had 6 children. When war broke out, they were living at 3 Old Coastguard Cottages, Pett Level.
In January 1915 Fred enlisted as a Private, SD/3643 in the 13th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment, in Hastings, becoming one of “Lowther’s Lambs”, (see below). They sailed for France in March 1916.
The first major battle in which the battalion was involved was a diversionary attack at Richebourg, which took place on 30th June 1916, the day before the start of the battle of the Somme.
During this battle Fred Osborne was wounded. He was evacuated to a hospital in St Omer, where he died of his wounds on 14th July 1916. He was buried in Longuenesse (St. Omer) Souvenir Cemetery.
In September 1914, Colonel Claude Lowther, of Herstmonceux Castle in Sussex, received permission from the War Office to raise a Battalion of local men. He recruited all over Sussex, but mainly in Hastings, Bexhill, Eastbourne, Brighton, Worthing and Bognor, starting on September 9th. Within two days 1100 men had volunteered, and by December three battalions had been raised.
They became known as “Lowther’s Lambs”
After training at Cooden, Detling, Kent and Witley Camp in Surrey, they sailed for France on March 4th 1916, landed at Le Havre, and proceeded to Fleurbaix, a front line sector, for instruction and further training.
The battle at Ferme du Bois near Richebourg has largely passed out of popular memory. The men of the 11th, 12th, and 13th Southdowns Battalions that would lead the fighting there were unaware that their assault was a diversionary raid. Their objective was the nearby salient, a bulge in the line, known as ‘The Boar’s Head’ and it was to be “bitten out”.
At 3:05am on 30th June 1916, the Southdowns went over the top.
The Germans had anticipated the attack and, as would be discovered in 24 hours at the Somme, the artillery bombardment at Richebourg had had little effect on the German wire.
As a result, the attack was a disaster.
The discovery of a hidden dyke meant that crossing this obstacle made men an easy target for opposing guns. Those men who managed to clear No Man’s Land soon found themselves caught in a smokescreen that was supposed to blind the Germans and were unable to see where they were going.
The 13th Battalion was almost entirely destroyed with over 800 men being killed, wounded or captured. In total, the three Battalions suffered 366 killed and over 1000 wounded or taken prisoner.
This became known as “The Day That Sussex Died”.
8. Our Photo Album
Please submit your own pictures
9. The Missing Nine Names
Four other servicemen not named on the Memorial, who fell in World War Two, are buried in Pett Churchyard. Each grave has a Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) headstone as the certificate below confirms. Their names also appear on the Roll of Honour inside Pett Church. We have yet to determine any reason why their names do not appear with the other seven men from that war inscribed on the Memorial.
Thomas Alfred Barnes
Frederick James Butler
Frederick John Butler
As it stands, we see no reason why, funds permitting, these names should not be added to the Memorial. If anyone reading this has further information, we would be delighted to hear from you.
Additionally, the CWGC has on its files the names of a further five men, one from World War One and four from World War Two, whose families are stated as having come from Pett or Pett Level. Currently, we do not have sufficient evidence to determine whether there is a significant personal connection between each of these men and this community. It is possible they were accidentally omitted from inclusion on the Memorial. Equally, it is possible that the relevant next of kin moved here after the man’s death and therefore a sufficient connection is not there. Either way, we need to know.
WW1: William Lloyd-Worth
WW2: Evart William Batchelor
John Wynne Blower
George Edward Milham
Philip David Redhead
Once again, we are in need of further evidence about these men and their families. If you have any relevant information, please get in touch with us as soon as possible.
9. Your questions and answers will appear here
Watch this space!
10. Latest News
Watch this space!
11. How to donate – Ways of giving to Project Remember
1. Bank Transfer (BACS) direct to
Pett Parish Council
Ref “Pett PC Project Remember”
Sort Code: 30-97-66
Account Number: 53331968
2. Donation Boxes
Available around the village at our
- Public Houses, and
Just look for the ‘Silent Soldier’
3. Call one of the Project Team
We will collect
4. Cheque made payable to
“Pett Parish Council”
Write on back “Project Remember”
Post or hand-deliver to:
Cllr. Chris Saint
12. Remember Us?
Click here to add your own text
Click here to add your own text
Click here to add your own text
Click here to add your own text
Click here to add your own text
Click here to add your own text
Click here to add your own text