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WHISPERING SMITH: He paid the price in the Battle of Boar’s Head

EXACTLY 100 years ago, at 11pm on August 4, 1914, ‘a state of war was declared’. . . Six simple words that spelled death, misery and destruction to millions.

Today I want to remember them all, but especially Private Cecil James Brown, who served in the 12th Southdowns’ battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment, a young man who lived in Littlehampton and enlisted in Littlehampton, a man who lived in Norfolk Road and died, aged 20, in the Somme Valley on June 30, 1916.

He was killed in the Battle of Boar’s Head, at Richebourg l’Avoue, a diversionary action just prior to the disastrous Battle of the Somme.

Pte Brown is buried in the French cemetery at St Vaast, in the Pas de Calais, and his name is on Littlehampton’s war memorial.

During the Boar’s Head assault, the regiment’s Southdown’s Brigade lost 17 officers, 349 soldiers killed in action and more than 1,000 wounded or taken prisoner.

Greg and Cheryl Koiston who now live in his one-time Norfolk Road home, have visited Pte Brown’s grave and honoured his passing and that of his comrades for us all.

My great sadness is that we have learned little in the past 100 years and slaughter and misery persists the world over, seemingly endlessly.

I PURCHASED Beck Sian’s haunting version of Waltzing Matilda, and played it to a friend who also loved the song and introduced me to the Eric Bogle version, And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda.

This poignant and bitter lyric relates to an injured Australian soldier who survived the Gallipoli Campaign of 1916 in which there were more than 200,000 casualties.

The song may be familiar to you but is new to me. Music opens so many doors.

THE candlelit vigil at St Mary’s Church to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War was a moving experience. There were readings of scripture and poetry by members of the community and councillors from both Arun and Littlehampton Town Council with the opening and closing readings by mayor Jill Long.

I wish more folk had been there but I guess the live nationwide coverage on television was the larger draw.

 

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