The Day That Sussex Died – free illustrated talk

SATURDAY 26TH JULY 2014 AT 1.30pm.  Venue open from 10am.


A grim tale of young men from Sussex dying on the battlefields of World War One can be heard at the Eastbourne Under Ground Theatre, on the final weekend of a series of events marking the centenary of the Great War.  The story will be told at 1.30pm on Saturday, 26th July, by Brighton-based author Ray Kemp.  And entry will cost you nothing.

Ray will recount how recruits to the Royal Sussex Regiment were installed in camps on the South Downs, overlooking Eastbourne, before being sent over to France.  There, in 1916, the Regiment suffered huge losses in the Battle of the Boar’s Head, on 30th June.  In less than five hours, the Royal Sussex lost three-hundred-and-sixty-six officers and men, including twelve sets of brothers; a further one thousand were wounded or taken prisoner. The official regimental history called it “The Day that Sussex Died”.

There will be much else from Ray Kemp that will capture Sussex, as it was a hundred years ago.  For example: he will tell of enormous queues of men desperate to enlist on the day that war was declared; of recruits being supplied with uniforms left over from the Boer War, because nothing else was available; of men from all over the country boarding ships for France from Newhaven – so that, for many of them, the beauties of the Sussex countryside were their last views of their homeland.

Ray researched the period as background for his first novel, published last year, and entitled “Harold: the Dog who mended Broken Hearts”.  It is dedicated, he says, to his two grandfathers “who both served in WW1 and returned to Sussex with severe injuries”.

At the Under Ground, you’ll be able to buy copies of Ray’s book – while tea, coffee and cakes will be on sale in the theatre coffee-bar.