The Day that Sussex Died: Service in Worthing marks 105th anniversary of the Battle of the Boar’s Head

Wreaths have been laid in Worthing today to commemorate the 105th anniversary of the Battle of the Boar’s Head, known as The Day that Sussex Died.

Wednesday, 30th June 2021, 1:48 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th July 2021, 1:46 pm

Veterans were among those gathered at the dedicated memorial in Beach House Park for the annual service, which included two minutes’ silence.

There were 21 Worthing men who died at Boar’s Head, three of them brothers, in a First World War battle that was intended to draw attention away from the Somme.

Ian Newman, who organised the service on behalf of the Royal Sussex Regiment Association, said: “The Royal Sussex Regiment took the brunt of it and a lot of Worthing men took part in the action near Richebourg.

Standards are lowered during the service to mark the 105th anniversary of the Battle of the Boar’s Head
Standards are lowered during the service to mark the 105th anniversary of the Battle of the Boar’s Head

“Worthing gave a lot of money to Richebourg after the war to rebuild the place, which gives us a connection with this event today.

“My wife and I have upgraded the markers this year as they were becoming difficult to read and need to be preserved for future anniversaries.”

Among guests at the service were staff and students from St Oscar Romero Catholic School in Goring, which designed and created the memorial and associated artwork in 2016 as part of a Legacy 110 project.

Mrs Pat Newman gave a Bible reading during the service and led the Royal Sussex Regimental Collect.

David Lester read his Wraiths of Morning poem, words spoken at the final reunion meeting of the Southdown Battalions Association on May 12, 1979.

Worthing mayor Lionel Harman laid a wreath with the message: “In under 5 hours, you gave so much. You will never be forgotten.”

Wreaths were also laid on behalf of the Lewes branch of the Royal Sussex Regiment Association, Worthing Veterans Association, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Royal Sussex Living History Group.

Andrew Byford, who was a Colour Sergeant in the Queen’s Regiment, read the exhortation and the words of the Kohima Epitaph.

The Battle of the Boar’s Head took place during the First World War at Richebourg-l’Avoué in France, the day before the Battle of the Somme began.

It was planned on June 30, 1916, as a diversionary action to make the German Command believe this area of the Pas de Calais was the one chosen for the major offensive of the year. Soldiers from the Royal Sussex Regiment led the attack and the battle lasted less than five hours. The South Downs Brigade lost 17 officers and 349 men, the 13th Battalion being all but wiped out. More than 1,000 were wounded or taken prisoner.