Alciston and Selmeston war memorial
At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the armistice came into effect, ending the First World War (the so-called war to end all wars).
Just about every city, town or village throughout the UK had lost men in this Great War, and the public wanted them to be remembered for ever by some form of local memorial. Usually, these memorials were built using public funding. In the case of the Alciston and Selmeston memorial, a generous gift of land was made by Cecil Thomas Chandless, who lived in Sherrington Manor and also owned other land and property in Selmeston. This land is located at the southernmost part of The Street, at the junction with the main A27 road. The memorial is now a grade II listed structure. (OS Map ref:- TQ 505 066) Further fundraising was undertaken in both parishes and by June 1923 a roughly hewn granite stone cross mounted on a stone plinth and bearing the names of the fifteen fallen, had been paid for and erected on the site by C.F. Bridgman Stonemasons (formally Parsons) of Lewes. The names were preceded by an inscription leaded into the stone:
TO THE MEMORY OF THE MEN OF SELMESTON AND ALCISTON
WHO FELL IN THE GREAT WAR 1914-18
Image taken in June 1923
White painted metal poles and wooden posts were later erected around the memorial, making it more visible and attractive. On November 2, 1932, an official conveyance was drawn up between Cecil Chandless and the Parish Meetings (Daniel Marchant for Selmeston and Alfred Mockford for Alciston), gifting the land permanently to the joint parishes.
By the end of the Second World War two further names had been added, headed by a new inscription:
Unfortunately, proper foundations had not been laid in 1923, and although the memorial and site had been regularly attended to by various residents, time had taken its toll. The ground under the memorial had sunk,and the cross was destabilised. In addition, the names had become faded.
Over time, some of the metal poles of the fencing had gone missing, and weeds had taken over the whole site, making it difficult to see the cross as plainly as intended. By 2004 the cross had become a public hazard because it was leaning so much, and the site was fenced off. A small committee was formed from among the residents of the two parishes, and a public appeal was made for funds for the refurbishment of the memorial and site. Within months some £11,000 had been raised, which included a donation from Wealden District Council and Viridor (Waste Management). Burslem Stonemasons of Tunbridge Wells won the contract to re-align the cross and stabilise the foundations, and to enhance the inscription and names on the stone plinth. Richard Bartlett of Alfriston won the contract to restore the metal pole fencing, along with landscaping the site. By May 2005 a full restoration was completed, and for the first time in its history, details of the site was lodged with the Land Registry and Wealden District Council. It is, once again, a memorial to be proud of, seen by all travellers on the A27 and those entering Selmeston village itself. Each year, parish residents attend its rededication on the Sunday closest to Remembrance Day, when the names of the fallen are read out, followed by a two-minute silence.
Names shown on the memorial
Seven men from Alciston along with ten men from Selmeston are commemorated on the memorial. Unfortunately, it has not been possible to ascertain full details of some of the names shown (even with the help of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Imperial War Museum). Some details have been taken from the brass plaques in St Mary’s Church Selmeston, and Alciston Church. If anyone can help with further information, please make contact via: firstname.lastname@example.org
World War I
PHILIP GEORGE BOYS 35 years. Died 8.12.18. From Alciston (No other details known)
ARTHUR HENRY CHILVERS 19 years. Private 27466 -1st Battalion Wiltshire Regiment. Killed in action 17.4.18. Son of Frederick William and Alice Orpha Chilvers of Manor Villas (now The Little Manor) Selmeston. Shown on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium. Panel119-120.
D. F. GUMBRILL 28 years. Lance Corporal G/4800 -11th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment. Born Stoneham and enlisted in Eastbourne. Killed in action 20.9.17. Shown on Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium, panel 86-88. From Alciston ( No other details known)
CHARLES CLARKE 28 years. Killed in action 22.3.18. From Selmeston (No other details known)
GEORGE CLARKE 24 years. Killed in action 23.8.17. From Selmeston (No other details known)
SIDNEY FRANK COLEMAN 19 years. Private K/9923 – 2nd Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment. Born at Arlington, enlisted at Eastbourne. Killed in action 2.11.14. Shown on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium, Panel 120. From Selmeston (No other details known)
GEORGE FEARS 24 years. Private 17027 – 1st/6th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment. Died 11.11.18 (last day of the war). Son of Eli George and Caroline Fears, of Bo-Peep, Alciston. Buried in Alciston churchyard.
WALTER DAVID FOORD 27 years. Private G/2592 – ‘D’ Company 8th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment. Died of wounds 26.1.16. Buried in the Meaulte Military Cemetery, Somme, France Row B 30. Born in Alciston, son of Daniel and Louisa Ford of 18, Swingate Cottages, Firle.
WILLIAM ROBERT WEST 19 years. Private G/13342 – 2nd Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment. Born Chalvington and enlisted in Eastbourne. Killed in action 20.4.18. Son of J. West of Selmeston Croft, Chalvington. Buried in the Woburn Abbey Cemetery, Cuinchy, Near Bethune France, I G 24.
JAMES WILLIAM HAYWARD 32 years. Private G/50672 – 20th Battalion Middlesex Regiment Killed in action 4.3.17. Shown on the Thiepval Memorial, France, Pier and Face 12D and 13 B. Father of James H Hayward of 50 Alciston.
CHARLES HYLANDS 24 years. Private G/210 – 6th Battalion The East Kent (The Buffs) Regiment. Born Selmeston, enlisted at Ramsgate. Killed in action 13.10.15. Shown on the Loos Memorial, France, Panel 15-19. Son of J.H. Hylands of Old Town Cottage, Selmeston.
WILLIAM MACKAY 52 years. Killed in action 7.12.17. From Selmeston (No other details known)
GEORGE MOCKETT 21 years. Private 48203 – 8th Battalion East Surrey Regiment. Died 24.10.18. Buried in Preux-Au-Bois Communal Cemetery, Nord France, Row B8. Son of George and Mary Mockett of 42, Alciston.
CHARLES WALTER SHORT 21 years. Gunner 97959 – ‘C’ Battery 47th Brigade Royal Field Artillery. Born at Firle. Killed in action 22.1.16. Son of Sidney Walter and Emily Short of Fairchildes Farm, Warlingham, Surrey. Shown on Hagle Dump Cemetery, Elverdinghe, near Ypres, Belgium. (This cemetery was begun in April 1918 during the Battle of Lys.)
RALPH SQUIBB 39 years. Private 320490 -16th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment. Killed in action 7.1.18. Buried in Alexandria (Hadra) Cemetery. Son of George and Annie Squibb – Native of Milton Clevedon, Somerset.
World War II
HUGH McLAREN STACEY 19 years. Lieutenant 324582 – 141st (7th Battalion Royal East Kent (The Buffs) Regiment) attached to Royal Armoured Corps. Killed in action 1.3.45. at Weeze, West Germany. Awarded the American Bronze Star. ( This decoration was awarded to individuals who, while serving in any capacity with the Armed Forces of the USA in a combat theatre, distinguished themselves by heroism, outstanding achievement or by meritorious service). Buried in Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany, 13 A 25.Son of Hugh and Cecillia Stacey of Alciston. A marble tablet dedicated to Hugh Stacey is located in Alciston Church.
CHARLES PETER GOWERS 39 years. Able Seaman (Gunner) D/J 76630 – Royal Navy, Killed in action at Narvik 10.4.40. serving on HMS Hunter.( H Class Destroyer, sunk by German destroyers, with a loss of 110 men.) Shown on Plymouth Naval Memorial, Panel 37 Column 3. Son of Herbert and Annie Gowers, husband of Annie Gowers of Selmeston.