The Great War Centenary 11th November 1918-2018  Poppy

To mark the 100 years since the cessation of hostilities we have produced a database of over 2,700 service personnel who lost their lives in the conflict. Most of these were born and or lived in the Hastings & Rother Area. A significant number were connected only by having lost their fight for survival in the local hospitals which took them in from the battlefields; some thousands of miles from home.

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Alexandra Park War Memorial, Hastings

The names have been collected from the many public memorials in the towns, villages and churches in Hastings, Bexhill, Battle, Rye and the surrounding communities.  Their ages range from 15-58. They represent both men and women.

HRFHS Founder, Stan Tomlin, with Society members, undertook a collection of most of the names in 1998; the 80th Commemoration year. This formed the basis of the work which has added to that list and included a range of information about the individuals. For nearly all, the Database includes Regiment, Regimental Number and the date of death. Where possible, additional information of birthplace and address is also provided. The HRFHS would be pleased to help anyone seeking further details on a family member discovered in the lists.

The full publication is available here in Excel format. Apologies if you find difficulty in opening it but at the moment this is the only means we have. It is too large for PDF and as Compiler I can only work in this medium.     Simply click:  War Memorials WW1 Database

  Commonwealth War Graves Section, Hastings Borough cemetery

Those service personnel who died in this area and the very few whose bodies were repatriated from the Front were buried in local cemeteries and graveyards. Some were brought “home” from elsewhere in the Country. Most are laid to rest in the Hastings Borough Cemetery and most of them are together in the Commonwealth War Graves (CWGC) Section. However, 91 were interred elsewhere. Our Database Supplement lists each individual and includes details of where to find the grave.  Two options here – one is for Hastings Borough Cemetery and the other is for the other sites in the Rother Area:

WW1 Hgs B Cemetery Burials                          WW1 Rother Burials

Poppy   Every month within this Feature we have provided a short biography of just one serviceman as it reaches the 100th year since his loss. Those and the many personal stories shared by HRFHS members will be gathered in an anthology.  The full list of those killed in action or died of wounds is available by clicking:  WWI Killed in Action HRFHS Area

 PLEASE NOTE: all of these databases have been compiled in an exclusive format which is the (c) of HRFHS. Please feel free to use them for reference but permission MUST be obtained for any copy – partial or entire – in any form.  Go to contacts if you need to

Image result for Hastings MuseumHastings Museum & Art Gallery, Johns Place, Cambridge Road

RECOMMENDED

Exhibition “Hastings Remembers” at Hastings Museum & Art Gallery, Johns Place, Cambridge Road NOW until 27 January 2019. Including this “Special Afternoon”:

Saturday 10 November – 2-3.30 pm Step back in time to WW1 with tea, songs and children’s activities – email the Museum to attend: museum@hastings.gov.uk 

Many of the Canadian troops in WW1 were first generation immigrants from what was then a “young” Country. Canadians are very keen to learn more about their brave forebears who willingly crossed the Atlantic. Many were only recent immigrants from Britain not least from the Hastings and Rother area. This website could be a worthwhile start to find your own Canadian links: canadianukgravesww1.co.uk 

You may well wish to search for photographs of those lost and there is an ideal website which provides just that – all those lost from the area are included. Pictures of the fallen were published in the Hastings Advertiser at the time and these have been painstakingly collated by Kieron Pelling. You can visit the website:http://www.ww1rollofhonour.co.uk

NB Kieron Pelling is not a member of the HRFHS and the Society has no interest in his website other than to recommend it.

Our War Memorials Database could not have been produced without the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. It is easy to search … and FREE  www.cwgc.org 

What is your family’s story?

HRFHS Area Servicemen Who lost Their Lives in WWI, October 1918

Click on the link:  WWI Killed in Action Oct 1918

To see all those from the HRFHS area who were lost during the month

Each month, one of those who gave their lives is researched in order to present a short biography. This is just one, representative of the many, not only in this little corner of the Country but across the World. They were ordinary men who had dreams and hopes and they left behind ordinary families whose dreams and hopes were shattered. This month it is:

Percy James Palmer FELLOWS –

Private G/25999 The Buffs East Kent Regiment  – died of wounds, France, 13th Oct 1918

James was born in the hamlet of Three Oaks which is officially part of Guestling on the outskirts of Hastings. The Fellows – sometimes spelt Fellowes – families had long been established in the area with many branches living as neighbours. There were plenty of relatives spread around the many farms between Hastings, Westfield and Battle. Very few moved away from the area and youngsters took on very similar work to previous generations. They would either be general agricultural labourers or drive the wagons.

The Fellows families tended to be large in common with most  others at the end of the 19th Century. Percy’s grandparents, Thomas and Eliza (nee Baker) had 13 children. Only one was lost in infancy which was an indication that the family were reasonably healthy and enjoyed a relatively good standard of living. That is not to say they were well off, of course – agricultural workers lived from hand to mouth – but the poor living conditions of many families of the time took a far greater toll on the lives of the children.

James’ father, Jesse, was the fifth child of the twelve being born in Three Oaks in 1875. He became a gardener taking advantage of the growing popularity of private horticulture.  He married James’ mother, Eliza Annie Collins, 21st August 1898. Eliza was born in Winchelsea but the couple were married in Guestling. They found a house in Three Oaks and set about building family.

James was their first child of six. He was born in the Summer of 1899. He was followed by four brothers and a sister until the last one, Alfred, arrived in 1913. James had the best education that the local village school could provide until he was old enough to take on some kind of local labouring work. He would have been entering his teens. He was 15-years-old when war broke out. He may well not have thought about his own part in the conflict which began far off in another country, particularly as he optimistic feeling was that it would be “over by Christmas”.  That was not to be, of course, and as the years passed and the news of heavy losses was repeated day after day, James and his parents would have thought his time was edging closer. The Nation’s calls for more brave men were never quiet.

None of James’ younger brothers would be destined for action in the Great War. They were all too young. William Arthur, who followed James, was still only 17-years-old when the Armistice was signed. But there were precedents for enlistment amongst the  Fellows relatives. James’ father was in his forties but he had younger brothers. At least two of James’ uncles, Frederick and Charles enlisted early on. They had each served short terms voluntarily in their late teens and early twenties. Now, Uncle Frederick joined the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment in July 1915 when he was 33-years-old. He served in France until his discharge in February 1918. Uncle Charles enlisted as a Driver in the Army Service Corps 23rd December 1914. After a few months he was sent to France where he remained until August 1918 when he was placed in the Reserves. He was finally discharged a year later. Both these men left brave women back home to bring up their young children and worry if they would ever see their husbands again.

Image result for the buffs east kent regiment ww1

Image from www.kentfallen.com

James had no chance to marry. Because of his tender age he may well have been able to defer his enlistment but he was no doubt quite eager to answer the call to arms. Many regiments had already been decimated. New battalions were formed as the fields of conflict spread and changed. James made his decision in 1917 when the Buffs East Kent Regiment had formed its 10th Battalion, The Royal East Kent and West Kent Yeomanry. It had been merged in Egypt from the previous – no doubt diminished – units. Following a few months’ training, James joined the Battalion when it was mobilised to France in May 1918. They saw action in the Second Battle of the Somme and the Battle of the Hindenburg Line before a final advance to Artois which would take them on to Flanders.  James was wounded in one of these actions and he died as a result of those wounds on 13th October 1918.

His loss would have been deeply felt by not only his parents and younger siblings but by so many of the wider relatives in this close-knit family and the community in which they all grew up and in which they worked so closely together.

James’ life was cut short almost before it began. All he had to show for it in his personal effects was £8 8s 3d sent to his father in March 1919. When Jesse himself died, aged 63, in 1938, talk of the impending World War II must have seem like history repeating itself in his last months. James’ mother, Eliza was 80-years-old when she died in 1956.