A Shilling For The War Memorial
In 1919 Worthing Gazette (now Worthing Herald) launched the Worthing War Memorial Gazette Shilling Fund and registered as an official War Charity in the October. The paper decided to spearhead the campaign for a memorial after the Council’s scheme was abandoned. The Fund Raising Committee’s Honorary Secretary was Frederick Adsett, one of the newspaper’s directors. He worked tirelessly to raise funds for the memorial and kept up pressure on the council to record the names of all the fallen men who had lived in Worthing. In July 1920, the Town Clerk granted him permission to display the names of the dead on a noticeboard in the Town Hall for a two week period. It had taken at least two different committees to agree!
On 3 June 1920 the Town Clerk informed Adsett that the council planned to purchase Tudor Lodge as temporary council offices. Formerly Tudor Cottage, it had been built around 1840 by Charles Hide for a Mr Vernon. The council wanted to erect the memorial in the garden at the corner of Stoke Abbott Road and Chapel Road. Hopefully subscribers to the shilling fund warmly approved of this plan as several letters to the Gazette’s editor had expressed a desire to see the memorial placed in front of the museum in Chapel Road. One local business man, Charles Thomas, wrote: ‘…Let every name be shown in endurable metal or stone so that the children’s children of those who have fallen may have a memorial of the sacrifice of their fore fathers always before them…’ There was wide spread concern that the memorial would just be a token ornamental feature and several of the letter writers made it very clear that they would ask for their money back if their wish to have every name listed on the memorial was ignored. A few of them expressed an interest in Worthing having a small-scale replica of London’s Cenotaph which was unveiled in November 1920. The town’s MP Earl Winterton sent in 100/- ‘…my donation would be larger were it not for the fact that I have, as you know, a very large constituency and have many calls upon my purse for donations to war memorials…’ By November 1920 the Gazette had raised sufficient funds and was able to instruct the council to proceed with laying the memorial’s foundation.
After much haggling, letter writing and trips up to London, the War Memorial Committee commissioned Whitehead and Sons Ltd to make a bronze figure for £550 and four bronze wreaths. The figure is a life-size bronze figure representing Victory as a British soldier, in full gear. No individual artist can be credited with the design of the figure. Adsett did write and enquire but the company made it very clear that the artists in the Design Department worked as a collective and that probably more than one was responsible. Initially the company quoted for the whole memorial but after much debate the committee thought it prudent to have the pedestal supplied locally. Made of Portland stone the engraved pedestal was purchased for £400 from Francis Tate a ‘Monumental Mason and Sculptor’ of Charrara Marble Works in North Street. It was several months before the figure could be made and delivered to Worthing. Some of the correspondence from Whitehead’s refers to foundries all over Britain working flat out making war memorials and that only three of them specialised in making figures.
The unveiling of the war memorial was planned for 11 April 1921. Organised in a matter of weeks it wasn’t without drama. Neighbouring Chichester was to have its memorial unveiled by Field Marshall Sir William Robertson. The Gazette’s War Memorial Committee thought it only right that ‘…some equally distinguished soldier could be induced to honour Worthing in such a manner…’ especially as Worthing’s South African War Memorial in Steyne Gardens had been unveiled by General Sir Leslie Rundle and that had been a much smaller conflict. Adsett wrote to Earl Winterton for help in finding someone suitable, he replied that he’d be very ‘…pleased to write to any distinguished General of my acquaintance, but I do not know many…’. Eventually he asked Robertson to unveil Worthing’s memorial as well as Chichester’s.
Then there was the matter of organising the ceremony. One issue under discussion was whether there would be a military Guard of Honour present. Robertson, according to Winterton, had no intention of turning up in his uniform if there wasn’t one, as he much preferred wearing plain clothes. The honour fell to Horsham based 4th Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment. Winterton urged Adsett to find ‘…two competent Trumpeters or Buglers…’ to sound the Last Post as ‘…nothing is more deplorable than when the trumpeter or bugler is inefficient…’. The Regular Artillery Battery at Brighton provided two ‘boys'. After the ceremony their Lieutenant asked for 6/10d to cover their expenses ‘…I trust that the performance and the behaviour of the boys were satisfactory…’ he wrote.
The timetable for the unveiling was finalised by Robertson and Winterton. It was decided that it would commence at 3pm so that Robertson would be able to catch the 4.16 train back to London. As late as April 6 there were doubts whether it would take place five days later as a coal strike was planned for April 11, and there were fears that railway and transport workers would also strike, making it impossible for Robertson to travel down from London.
In the end the unveiling went without a hitch and was attended by at least 7,000 people including many local trades’ people who had closed especially for the ceremony. The memorial was accepted by the Mayor of Worthing, Alderman Mrs Chapman, J.P. The memorial was moved slightly in 1933 when the New Town Hall was built on the site of Tudor Lodge. After paying Tate a further £87. 18s. 11d and covering administrative costs of £10 2s 11d the fund was left with £16 8s 2d which was handed over to Worthing Hospital for its Maternity Extension fund regarded by many local residents as another memorial to commemorate the war.
Researching the War Memorial
Worthing Museum and Art Gallery is the repository for documents relating to the war memorial and the lives of Worthing residents during both wars including records of the names of civilians and service personnel who died as a result of enemy action:
- Borough of Worthing List of Men Who Fought In The Great War And Roll Of Honour.
- Particulars of Worthing Men Killed In The (Great) War – archive of forms completed by residents who had lost a member of their household during active service:
- Name and address of serviceman
- Date of joining up
- Army/Navy/Air Force details (if known)
- Details of death and Campaign
- Date of Death (if known)
- Worthing Gazette Shilling Fund – archive of correspondence dealing with establishing the war memorial.
- List of Officers and Other Ranks Domiciled in the County of Sussex Who Died In The 1939 World War While Serving In His Majesty’s Land Forces:
- Name and Army Number
- Place of birth
- Where lived
- Where died
- Date of Death
- War Service Casualties (WW2):
- Name and address
- Rank, Regiment and Decorations
- Date Reported Missing or Killed
- Members of Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets - Residents of Worthing Who Died From Enemy Action (at Sea or Shore) Or Other Courses Arising Out Of The War Between 3 September 1939 and 30 September 1947 Who Were Reported To The Register Of Shipping And Seamen:
- Rank or Rating
- Age at death
- Address (seaman’s last known address or that of next-of-kin)
- Date of Death
- Cause of Death
- Name and official number of vessel in which deceased lost life
- Borough of Worthing Book of Remembrance (WW2) – listing service personnel or civilians from Worthing killed during the war. (copy of rough draft).
- Rank, Regiment or Service
- Extract From Roll Of Honour Of Civilians Killed BY Enemy Action In United Kingdom Kept by The Dean And Chapter Of Westminster Abbey – covers Worthing and surrounding area.
Enquiries regarding the war memorial and related material can be done by letter, telephone or email. Alternatively an appointment may be made to study the documents, researchers are required to give at least 7 days notice and are advised to have some alternative dates to hand.