Pevensey – St. Nicolas Church & Churchyard

And it all started with such promise.

An easy to navigate churchyard.

War graves, a decent day (in fact two days, four apart, as I had to persuade the churchwarden to open the place on my second visit).

Actually 455 (R.A.A.F.) Sqdn., Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, although his parents lived locally.

Nice, not untypical, East Sussex church spire.

Another war grave.

One name on a headstone is bad enough.  This one has three.  Deck Hand W. G. Gell survived the war by just five days, dying on 16th November 1918.  Two brothers were already dead, and are mentioned at the base of the headstone, possibly because the bodies of both had been lost.  Lance Corporal Charles Gell, 13th Bn. Royal Sussex Regiment, died on 30th June 1916, his name now inscribed on the Loos Memorial, and Private Walter Henry Gell, 7th Bn. Royal Sussex Regiment, died on 3rd May 1917, and his name can be found on the Arras Memorial.

The headstone on the left…

…remembers, on this side, Private Arthur John Miller, Royal Sussex Regiment, aged 28, who was killed in action near Morlancourt in France on 13th August 1918.  His body was either lost or could not be identified, and he is remembered on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial, seven and a half miles west and a little south of Arras.  The wire shenanigans going on in the background behind his headstone do not bode well, methinks.

Ah.

Still, we can overcome, but this is tricky for us amateurs, I promise you.  But that’ll do okay, actually.

Blind shots,…

…taken with one hand, camera extended through a small gap in the wire.  Good enough again, though.

It’s a good job I looked on the other side of Private Arthur Miller’s headstone.  Like the Gells, the Miller family also suffered terribly during the Great War.  Thirteen year old Lennie died in March 1916, Private Wilfred Lawrence Miller, Royal Sussex Regiment, was killed in action on 30th August 1916, aged 21, and is buried in Englebelmer Communal Cemetery Extension on the Somme, and Private Stephen Miller (couldn’t find his details but the look was cursory), died in November 1916, aged 23. And yes, along with Arthur John, that’s four sons dead in less than two and a half years, three of them within eight months.

And then I finally got to see the inside of the church.

Ah.

Ah.

As I always like to think on occasions like this, look on the bright side; perhaps this is the only known photograph of the Roll of Honour wrapped up for protection, making it a unique (and very soon forgotten) part of its history.

Morag, this is all your fault.  You too, Sid.

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10 Responses to Pevensey – St. Nicolas Church & Churchyard

  1. Sid from Down Under says:

    I gladly accept your delegation of responsibility on account of it provides all we mere mortals with such magnificent photographs, descriptions, records and, on my part, adding to knowledge (Thank you, Sir)

    I must admit that before I got to your closing comment, your two photos of the wire fence hard against R.F. Davis’ headstone made me think of the 1970s wanton destruction of the St John’s Stoke western churchyard, in particular the Admiral Sir James Stirling smashed memorial that you know about. My immediate thoughts were “Please don’t let similar desecration occur at St Nicolas'” especially as the headstone(s) are on the construction side of the security fence. Keep you eagle eye on that please mate.

  2. Morag Sutherland says:

    I love you xx

  3. Nick kilner says:

    Another really great post, and a very enjoyable read, if enjoyable is the right word. Thank you for taking the time to fill in the details.
    I often wonder when I see families devistated in such a way, whether the loss of the first sibling has affected the others in such a manner that they begin to push harder and take more chances than they might otherwise have done. It’s certainly not uncommon to find brothers killed a few months, sometimes just a few weeks apart. Bearing the grief of a lost brother would be bad enough under normal circumstances, but when the misery of life in the trenches is taken into account, just unimaginable.

    • Magicfingers says:

      Cheers Nick. The read can be enjoyable, I think, even if the content is less so.
      And I think that’s a decent point. Whether from revenge or simply not caring so much any more about themselves. I have no brothers, though, so maybe I’m not the one to comment.

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