Looking back to when the Arundel war memorial was unveiled by Lord Leconfield, 1921

Arundel War Memorial as it is today
Arundel War Memorial as it is today

The date November 11, 2018 marks the centenary of the end of the First World War, an event which will no doubt be commemorated in a variety of ways, not only in this country, but also across Europe.

A century ago, when the horror of war was still fresh in everybody’s minds, people began considering the best way to remember the servicemen who had been killed.

Lord Leconfield unveils the Arundel War Memorial

Lord Leconfield unveils the Arundel War Memorial

The idea of war memorials quickly spread and most towns and villages began collecting the necessary funds to erect something suitable.

In Arundel, the suggestion of a memorial was made by Henry 15th Duke of Norfolk whilst the war was still in progress.

Unfortunately, he did not live to see it completed, as he died in 1917.

The site chosen for the memorial was at the lower end of the High Street, at the point where it is at its widest.

Market day in Arundel town square - c1880.

Market day in Arundel town square - c1880.

In previous centuries, this area had been used as a livestock market, as shown in this photograph.

The reason for this positioning is that the old Courthouse that until the mid/late 1700s was also located nearby.

Later the town well was erected on this square and for years this supplied the town’s water supply.

An outbreak of enteric fever was traced back to the well in 1890 and an alternative piped supply was provided by the Duke of Norfolk.

War memorial unveiled

War memorial unveiled

Charles Wyndham, also known as 3rd Baron Leconfield was an appropriate choice to unveil the memorial, as he had served.

He was in the Life Guards from 1892 to 1898, re-joined the unit during the First World War and became Commander of the Royal Sussex Volunteers from 1917 to 1918.

In addition to his military career, he also served as Lord Lieutenant of Sussex between 1917 and 1949.

The family connection with Sussex comes through the ownership of Petworth House.

Unveiling of the Arundel War Memorial

Unveiling of the Arundel War Memorial

Duchess Gwendolen, the widow of the 15th Duke and mother of Bernard, the future 16th Duke was also present at the ceremony, but Bernard did not take part as he was still a minor.

Originally, the memorial was in the middle of the roadway, but it was later altered to make the base wider and to create a large traffic island.

The names of 93 men who died during the First World War were carved into the stone in the order of their rank.

Strangely, some of them are also included on the Lyminster memorial, which is currently housed in St. Mary Magdalene Church, near Arundel.

Following the Second World War a further 26 names were added.

Three men, however, were omitted. One was Ernest Ross Ballantyne, who was in the home guard and another was James O’Brien who died in the air raid on Ford Airfield on 6th June 1940.

Technically, they both died whilst serving their country during the War, but the tradition is that only the names of soldiers, airmen and sailors are included on war memorials.

The third was Arthur James Cunningham, who died as a result of injuries suffered in another raid on Ford Airfield on August 18, 1940. He was in the Royal Marines Police, which consisted of ex-Royal Marines, not currently serving officers and as such, it raised problems regarding his status with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. It was only in January 2011 that they agreed to add his name to their lists and he is now included in their Civilian Roll of Honour for the Chichester District.

Arundel still holds a service of remembrance each November on the Sunday closest to November 11, with the beginning of the two minute silence being sounded from the Castle. The High Street is closed to traffic to allow friends and family to gather around the memorial to pay their respects and to lay poppies.

This is not the only memorial to Arundel’s war dead however, as there is also a white marble tablet in the Post Office dedicated to the four postal employees who died in action.

Further details of the servicemen recorded on the memorial can be found on the Roll of Honour site - http://www.roll-of-honour.com/Sussex/Arundel.html