Joy as hero is added to town war memorial

WH 220514 New names being added to WW1 memorial outside Worthing town hall. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-140522-153357001
WH 220514 New names being added to WW1 memorial outside Worthing town hall. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-140522-153357001

A WAR hero’s name has finally been added to Worthing’s memorial – seven decades after his plane was gunned down.

Sergeant Arthur John Rickeard, known as Jack, was killed in action at the age of 20 as he took part in a raid over Germany with the Royal Air Force in March, 1944.

On Thursday, surviving members of his family, including his brother Douglas and sister Margaret, gathered at a short ceremony to see his name on the newly-refurbished memorial in Chapel Road, Worthing.

Mr Rickeard, 88, who now lives in Littlehampton, said: “He was one of the best. We were great pals and we got on really well.

“It was sad when we realised his name wasn’t on there and I just hoped there was some way I could get it on. The council were quite keen to get it on.

“It feels fantastic that it is finally on here and it was done why I was still here.”

Sgt Rickeard lived in Angola Road, Worthing, all his life, before joining the air force.

It is believed he was just a short time away from gaining his wings as a pilot, before his death.

His brother said: “He first went to a munitions factory when he was 16 or 17, and then he decided to join the air force. Of course, he wasn’t in long before he was killed.

“He was 20 when he died so he must have joined when he was 17 or 18.

“He was in a Lancaster at the time, flying over Germany on a raid, and they were shot down. It was March 27, 1944.”

The family were joined at the memorial by the mayor of Worthing Bob Smytherman, major Tom Wye and Worthing West MP Sir Peter Bottomley.

Mr Wye said he was unsure of why the name had been left off but in the first instance, the town hall relied on the families to inform the council of an individual’s death.

He said: “It is lovely to see new names added and the family are over the moon.

“They have always thought ‘why isn’t his name on the memorial’? Now it is.

“I think they thought it was only for those who were in the Army.”

The memorial has undergone a renovation, with new stone and engraving on the bottom, which had required repair.

The bottom section contains names of those killed during World War Two.

Mr Wye said: “This new name came, fortunately, while this was being done.

“It is absolutely great. Worthing can be very proud of its memorial.

“I go around and see other town’s memorials falling in disrepair. We made the commitment.”

Despite the new name being added, Mr Wye believes there are dozens of others still missing from the memorial. He said: “We haven’t got close with the ones left off.

“I estimated probably about 50 names were missing for World War One and probably 10 or 20 for World War Two.”