August 15, 2014 by Whispering Smith
Whispering Smith Column published in the Littlehampton Gazette August 7th. 2014
Exactly 100 years ago at 11.00pm on August 4th 1914 ‘a state of war was declared…’ Six simple words that spelled death, misery and destruction to millions. Today I want to remember them all but especially Private Cecil James Brown, a private in the 12th Southdowns’ battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment, a young Littlehampton man who lived in Littlehampton and enlisted in Littlehampton, a man who lived in Norfolk Road and died in the Somme Valley on June 30th 1916 killed during The Battle of Boar’s Head, at Richebourg l’Avoue, a diversionary action just prior to the disastrous Battle of the Somme. He is buried in the French cemetery at St. Vaast in the Pas de Calais and his name is on the Littlehampton War Memorial. He was twenty years old. During the Boar’s Head assault the Southdown’s Brigade of the Royal Sussex Regiment lost seventeen officers, three hundred and forty nine soldiers killed in action and over one thousand wounded or taken prisoner. Greg and Cheryl Koiston who now live in the Norfolk Road house have visited Private Brown’s grave and honoured his passing and that of his comrades for us all. My great sadness is that we have learned little in the past one hundred years and slaughter and misery persists the world over, seemingly endlessly.
I PURCHASED Beck Sian’s, haunting version of Waltzing Matilda, and played it to a friend who also loved the song and introduced me to the Eric Bogle version, And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda. This poignant and bitter lyric relates to an injured Australian soldier who survived the Gallipoli Campaign of 1916 where there were over 200,000 casualties. The song may be familiar to you but is new to me. Music opens so many doors.
THE candlelit vigil to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War at St Mary’s Church was a moving experience. Readings of scripture and poetry from members of the community and councillors from both Arun and Littlehampton Town Council with the opening and the closing readings by the mayor Jill Long. Contemplative silences and lovely music. I wish more folk had been there but I guess the live nationwide coverage on television was the larger draw.