Sunday, 7 September 2014

Four Letters

The following four letters all appeared in the local press during the first weeks of September 1914 and give a very clear idea of just what was happening in Crawley a hundred years ago.

Crawley Parish Church


Arrangements are being made to chime one or more of the bells daily, at noon, during the war, in order that all who hear them may remember the brave men who are fighting for out Country and Empire in this great and terrible struggle. May I beg all who hear the bells to say a silent prayer to Almighty God and ask Him to bless our Naval Military Forces, and to crown their arms with victory and to restore peace among the nations of the world.

I remain, yours truly,

H.L.B Lennard.
The Rectory, Crawley, Sussex,
September 1st 1914.

A Turners Hill Record


I find that we have had 24 of our boys join the colours from this village. How do the surrounding villages compare with this?

Yours faithfully,

Noah Whitman.

Late 4th Royal Sussex Regt.
Turners Hill, September 2nd 1914.

Recruits at Crawley


Lord Kitchener has got his first 100,000 men: the second 100,000 is now being enrolled. What are we going to do? Crawley and Ifield are remarkable for their devotion to athletic sports and games. They should therefore have numbers of young athletic and healthy men, the very sort that are wanted.

Within the last few days I hear of a number of our playing members of the Cricket Club, who have joined. J. A. D Dempsey was gazetted to a commission in the Army and is now at the Front. Several others who have kept wicket, batted or bowled for Crawley will keep their honour bright and be bold to battle for their King and country. I hope that the club may soon see its way to publish its Role of Honour – the names of its members who would serve the King and save their homes and ours. I hope also that the Football Clubs and the Harriers may set up a similar role; a wholesome emulation will ensue.

I most seriously deprecate hasty condemnation of those who do not immediately join. No one but the man himself knows his circumstances, his duties and the calls upon him which constitute his duty. As time goes on we shall become aware of those who can and those who won’t go. Again, all men are not alike, as there are many weak in body, so there are some that are so mentally constituted that they are weak in spirit. Let us not be too hasty to condemn, but rather pity those whose spirit is in their stomachs or their courage in their boots. And such pity will be hard enough to bear.

The better educated and richer in this worlds goods are setting a splendid example. I have no doubt it will be followed. Courage and energy are the property of no class and of no family alone. But time presses. The sooner men join the sooner they will be trained and the sooner will they have the honour and credit of fighting and of striking that blow for England and freedom which must in the end prevail. As Mr Kipling has just written –

“Who stands – if freedom fall? Who dies – if England live?”

Your obedient Servant,

W.J. Chalk.
Crawley, Sept 2nd, 1914.

Letter from the War

Writing to his mother at Tindsley, Mr Tom Thorns says:

“Before we started fighting we were all very nervous, but after we joined in we were all happy, and most of us laughing till was finished. Then we all sobbed and cried. Even if I never come back, don’t think I’ve died a painful death. Everything yesterday was as quick as lightning. We were in action on Friday morning of Heligoland. I had a piece of shell as big as the palm of my hand go through my trousers, and as my trouser legs were blowing in the breeze I think I was very lucky.”

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