Reports from home and away during wartime


Browsing through yellowing copies of extremely old papers can give a fascinating insight into the lives of our ancestors.

In 1915, the Sussex and Surrey Courier shared news from the front lines as well as the more mundane exploits of the people at home.



The news ranged from good to bad, with something a little bit odd and a few adverts thrown in for good measure – the more things change...

In June 1915, while men were signing up to serve their country on foot or on horseback, one colonel was on the lookout for 30 cyclists.

A report in the Courier stated: “Thirty cyclists are required at once to bring the 3rd Battalion of the 6th (Reserve Cyclist) Royal Sussex Regiment to full strength for foreign service.

“Full equipment, including cycles, will be supplied on attestation, and training will take place at Brighton. The pay and separation allowance is the same as for mounted regiments.”

As the good men of Chichester headed off to war, one less savoury character was starting his time in the cells.

Albert Wright, 44, had a fondness for setting fire to hay ricks – a crime which had landed him in prison in 1893, 1905 and 1909.

He found himself behind bars again after pleading guilty to ‘feloniously setting fire to a stack of hay’ which belonged to one Percy Habin.

Old Albert was well known to Supt Ellis, of Chichester, who described him as ‘a man who would not work’.

The tale had something of a sad ending as Albert, who would barely be considered middle aged today, was locked up for seven years with the judge declaring ‘Probably he ought not to be given a chance of coming out again’.

Harsh times...

Another scoundrel was a lad named Peat who was hauled before the courts for causing a riot and assaulting a Revenue Officer.

Young Peat had just been found guilty of an undisclosed offence against said officer so, instead of taking his punishment and leaving well alone, he dragged him through the City of Chichester ‘amid the sounds of rough music’.

What became of Peat is anyone’s guess but the court seemed more concerned with the ‘rough music’ – which was made using tin kettles, marrow-bones and cleavers – rather than the poor Revenue Officer!

Over on the calm side of life, the Courier reported Colonel William Kenyon Mitford CMG, ADC, of Pitshill, Petworth, had been appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Sussex; while Miss Margaret Egerton had arrived at the Red Cottage, Hartfield, which she and Mrs Davidson had taken ‘for a term of years’.

There was also good news for Colonel HD Fryer, late of the 4th Battalion the Suffolk Regiment, Militia, of Bognor, who announced to the world he would be marrying Mary Elizabeth Moor.

She was the daughter of Henry Moor, who served as MP for Brighton between 1864 and 1866. Here’s hoping their marriage was a long and happy one.

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