Tag Archives: Shoreham Fort

Trench Day with Shoreham Sea Scouts

Did you know that 100 years ago volunteer recruits for the British Army were learning how to build trenches on the Downs above Shoreham?  All that remains today are faint traces on the grass to show where hundreds of trenches were dug by the recruits stationed at Shoreham Army Camp.

Arthur Goodchild, a volunteer recruit wrote 100 years ago from the Camp on Slonk Hill, “It takes a long time to dig a trench here, for when we get down a foot we come to solid chalk, and we have to pick it up.” (Courtesy of Henry Finch, www.goodchilds.org)

On Sunday 5th July we worked with local Shoreham Sea Scouts and the Friends of Shoreham Fort to create a representation above ground of the walls of one of these training trenches.

Trench building plans, end elevation.
Trench building plans, end elevation.

Our trench building challenge was taken up by an intrepid ‘four person army’ – 3rd Shoreham Sea Scouts Aiden, Millie, Ruari and William who were supported by young leader James and Scout leaders Sandra and Colin.

Manning the wheelbarrow.
Manning the wheelbarrow.

We built up the walls of our trench representation with metal fencing and wooden pallets, created a floor with duckboards and filled at least 40 sandbags to top the walls and build up a firing step along the sides of the trench. We also created periscopes to spy over the top of the trench wall – all this in only 4 hours!

filling sandbags. 5.7.15Members of the public were constantly popping by to see what we were up to and the families of the Scouts came along to help out later in the afternoon. All of which was  a great way to raise awareness of our Heritage Lottery Funded project, ‘Training for War: Exploring Shoreham Army Camp 1914-1919’.

The Scouts learnt a bit about the trenches the recruits at Shoreham were building 100 years ago through maps, postcards and aerial photographs provided by Worthing Museum. Gary from The Friends of Shoreham Fort gave a great tour of Fort and treated the Scouts and their families to an unique handling session with some original WW1 materials.

 

Scouts defend their trench.
Scouts defend their trench.

The days activities will go towards the Scouts’ Local Knowledge Activity Badge where they have gotten involved in a project to preserve an aspect of Local Heritage – in this case knowledge of Shoreham’s First World War Army Camp.

The Scouts really enjoyed the day and worked very hard. The consensus was it would have been so much harder if they had had to dig the trench before they built up the walls and it would have been very scary trying to do it in the war.

on the firing step. 5.7.15

Many thanks to the the 3rd Shoreham Sea Scouts, their leaders Colin and Sandra Strong and the Friends of Shoreham Fort for their efforts on the day. Also thanks to SIG Roofing, Worthing who helped supply some of the equipment.

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On This Day 1916: Military honours for Canadian soldier’s funeral.

Private Archibald Lea of the Fifteenth Canadian Highlanders, who died in the London County Council’s Military hospital at Epsom, was buried locally with military honours attended by many soldiers from Shoreham Camp.

His father was a local Worthing business-man but Archibald was in Toronto when war broke out and immediately signed up to the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

In July, 1915, he was wounded but recovered and went back to the fighting line in November. He remained abroad until the 28th of April 1916 when he was wounded again in the fighting at St. Eloi. Unfortunately, on this second occasion this more serious wound led to tetanus to which he succumbed.

His funeral was well-attended with a firing party and gun carriage supplied by the Royal Fusiliers from Shoreham Camp and accompanied by every indication of widespread respect and esteem.

Section of a First World War toy gun carriage. Courtesy of Worthing Museum and Art Gallery.
Section of a First World War toy gun carriage.
Courtesy of Worthing Museum and Art Gallery.

Check out the full story in the Worthing Gazette:

 17.5.1916

(Worthing Gazette, 17/05/1916)
West Sussex County Council Library Service www.westsussexpast.org.uk

WW1 Living History Workshop

Wednesday 15th October:

  • How do you put puttees on?
  • How heavy is an Enfield rifle?
  • How do you put a Vickers machine gun together?
  • How close were the German trenches to the British soldiers?

These are just a few of the questions answered by Gary Baines and Sharon Penfold from the Friends of Shoreham Fort Living History Team.

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Gary and Sharon arrived at Worthing College on a drizzly Wednesday morning and began decanting an array of original World War One artefacts from their van. They had everything from a selection of uniforms to an entire original Vickers machine gun.

The film and media students were joined by the public service students for an interactive workshop detailing some of the training drills and conditions experienced by British soldiers in the First World War.

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After having a go at putting puttees on correctly the public service students were put through their paces with gun and bayonet drills under the watchful eye of Gary.

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As they practised the film and media students got up close with the original guns, feeling just how heavy some of these weapons were.

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On display at the same time were a range of other weapons and personal items that soldiers carried. There was also a poignant symbol of remembrance made during the war itself. A Death, or Dead Man’s, Penny. This was issued for John Searle a young man from Sussex who joined the army at the age of 14 and was listed missing in action at the age of 15. This penny would have been given to his family in memory of him and recognition of his service.

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After the public service students’ drill passed inspection, three film and media volunteers were challenged to take apart, run with and reassemble the Vickers machine gun in the College tennis courts.

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Everyone was then challenged to try and imagine what it was like doing this in mud, barbed wire and under fire.

Many thanks to Gary and Sharon, their enthusiasm and knowledge really engaged the students and gave them a unique hands-on experience.