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
2. Project Remember Team Contact Details
David Breakell (01424) 812964
Cllr. Chris Saint JP (01424) 813047
Martin King (01424) 814078
Paul Draper (01424) 814154
Fran Rogers (01424) 812964
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?
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