Remembering Worthing’s fallen on The Day Sussex Died

A previous ceremony at Worthing Town Hall to mark 100 years since the start of the First World War
A previous ceremony at Worthing Town Hall to mark 100 years since the start of the First World War

Today marks 100 years since the First World War Battle of the Boar’s Head, when 366 Sussex men lost their lives on ‘The Day Sussex Died’.

June 30, 1916, was the day when three battalions of the Royal Sussex Regiment – the 11th, 12th and 13th – went over the top in Richebourg, France.

All three were pals battalions, which means they were made up of male volunteers who had enlisted together in local recruiting drives.

Pals battalions were specially constituted by the British Army during the First World War.

The battle came to be known as the Battle of the Boar’s Head as the salient here looked like the head of a boar on trench maps.

The battle was a diversion to try to make German troops think that the main attack was coming there, and not at the Somme a few days later.

At the end of that day of fighting 100 years ago, 1,100 men were dead, missing or wounded. A number of these were brothers.

The following day, July 1, 1916, was the start of the Battle of the Somme and by the end of that day, 60,000 men were dead, missing or wounded. It remains the bloodiest day in British military history.

The Worthing Combined Ex-Services Association (CESA), in conjunction with Worthing Borough Council, will hold a Drumhead Ceremony outside Worthing Town Hall this afternoon (June 30), at 5pm, to honour the 100th anniversary of the loss of 366 men and boys.

The Worthing ceremony will mirror the ceremony being held in Richebourg, France, where representatives from Worthing, including mayor Sean McDonald, will be in attendance.

In Worthing, a message from the deputy mayor of Richebourg will be read out and 22 pupils from St Andrew’s C of E Boys School will lay crosses, representing the 22 fallen soldiers from Worthing.

The Last Post will be performed by 12-year-old Grace Heath, from Sompting, who is the official bugler for the CESA.

The Lancing Brass Band of the Royal British Legion will also be playing.

Councillor Tom Wye, who has organised this event and advised on the service in Richebourg said: “The 30th June 1916 was the worst day of the entire WW1 conflict for Worthing, with at least 22 killed.

“Whilst other towns and cities commemorate the 1st July, the starting of the Battle of the Somme, it is fitting that Worthing commemorates and remembers those young men who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

“We will remember each as an individual and will read out details of their all too short lives.”

There is an exhibition in the Worthing Town Hall foyer to mark the anniversary, which is open to the public today and tomorrow, from 9am to 5pm, with free entry.

Pick up a copy of this week's Herald (June 30) to read about the 22 Worthing men who were killed during the Battle of the Boar's Head a hundred years ago.

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