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Mr.Spigot

The Great War in Eastbourne

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Mr.Spigot

My grandparents were living in Eastbourne during the Great War and my father clearly remembered the day war was declared (4th August 1914). He was up in the top floor of their house in Devonshire Place, playing with his sisters when they heard a huge commotion outside and rushed to the window. There had been a regiment of cavalry at camp on the Downs and they had hurriedly saddled up and galloped down the seafront to get to the station. My father clearly remembered the sound of galloping hooves, clinking bridles and stirrups and the cloud of dust thrown up as they galloped down Devonshire Place towards the station. Something that stuck in that 5 year old's memory for the rest of his life.

A cousin was married to Mark Perugini who was editor of a magazine called Ladies Pictorial, similar to The Tatler. He visited the family in 1917 and was intruduced to the family pet, 'Gyp', as well as my father and his two sisters, then aged 8, 10 and 6 respectively. A little later (1st December 1917)  a photo of the 3 children and the dog appeared in the Lady's Pictorial with a little poem underneath about 'Soldiers three and comrades four...' 

Here is a copy of the photo and the poem taken from a family history produced by my great aunt.

P1010395.JPG

P1010396.JPG

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Liz in Eastbourne

Thanks very much for this interesting post, Spigot.

 

I wonder who the 'cavalry regiment' were, does anyone here know?  I wonder if it could be that this was not a cavalry regiment but 4th Battery, Royal Horse Artillery of the 2nd Home Counties Brigade, who were at a summer camp and returned  to the Drill Hall in the Goffs before proceeding to Dover, according to R A Ellison's 1999 book, 'Eastbourne's Great War' (p 14)? They would have had plenty of clattering, though perhaps not galloping, hooves.

Edited by Liz in Eastbourne

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Mr.Spigot

Yes, it could well have been the RHA, although my father never mentioned any guns.

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Liz in Eastbourne

I suppose it's possible they were exercising with horses and didn't have the guns at their camp on the downs?   Left at/near the Drill Hall, perhaps. They couldn't have gone straight to the station, anyway. That must have just been his idea when people told him they'd have to travel by train.  Loading a lot of men and horses on trains took some organising,  even without artillery, after all.  Elliston says they ended up serving in India and Mesopotamia, by the way.

 

Sorry  for missing off your title, by the way, Mr S!

Liz

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Liz in Eastbourne

Here's the illustration from R A Elliston's book.5ad4945033085_Artillery2ndHomeCounties1914Eastbourne.jpg.508bc9c51c400eb6ab85e2af92bd338c.jpg

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Steven Broomfield

The 3rd Hussars were at Shorncliffe: my geography of the South Coast being imperfect I'm not sure whether that is close enough to be possible. The other option, given the summer season, is a Yeomanry outfit at Annual Camp.

 

What about a local Troop/detachment of the Sussex Yeomanry, en route to their War Station?

Edited by Steven Broomfield

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Liz in Eastbourne

Shorncliffe isn't possible, as it's miles away to the east in Kent and not on the Downs.

 

I've never heard of any regular cavalry here - there was the Cavalry Command Depot convalescent camp from1916, which gives people the idea there were.

 

Yeomanry might be,  as you say, but I just don't know.  There were military manoeuvres of all sorts on the Downs in the 19th and early 20th centuries ,and there was a camp on the Downs just  above Eastbourne of the 2nd London Division of the TA in August 1914, whose men had to go back to London quickly.  But they wouldn't have created the impressive effect Mr Spigot describes.  A search through the local papers might provide the answer.  But Elliston did good research, I think, and did search the papers pretty thoroughly, so I  still favour the  artillery, until more evidence comes up.

 

Liz

Edited by Liz in Eastbourne

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Steven Broomfield

On balance, I favour the artillery too. Given that the person remembering was aged 5 (and we don't know how long after the event his memories were passed on), he can hardly be expected to be perfect!

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