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1882: Cuckfield Rifle Volunteers march to recruit

Updated: Dec 8, 2023

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 21 February 1882




On Saturday evening the members of the A and B Companies of the 2nd Sussex Rifle Volunteers, to the number of about 60, mustered at the head-quarters, the Armoury, Cuckfield, at 6 o’clock, and having fallen into line, marshalled by their commanding officer, Major Sergison, with Drill-Instructor Sergeant Middleton, and Quarter-master Sergeant Jupp, and headed by the band (to the number of 15) proceeded through a drizzling rain to Lindfield, effecting an entrance to the latter place shortly after seven, the column being lighted up by torches, which had rather a pretty effect, as the gallant redcoats marched into the secluded town, and woke up its echoes - and also its inhabitants - pro tem.

Arrived at the Tiger Inn, a public meeting (as previously announced) took place to take into consideration what steps should be taken to further the Volunteer movement in Lindfield, and thus, if possible, increase the force. The room was crowded, amongst the company present being Rev. T. H. Edwards (vicar) who presided, Major Sergison, Lieutenant- Colonel Dudley Sampson, Messrs. C. B. Warre, G. F. Eastwood, G. Masters, J. Guy, Drill- Instructor Sergeant J. Middleton, Quarter- Master Sergeant P. Jupp, &c.

The Chairman, in opening the proceedings, said he had been requested by Major Sergison to take the chair that evening, and he felt pleased in doing so. There were several reasons, he thought, why the young men of the village should become volunteers.

In the first place, it was beneficial, and it gave upright carriage and demeanour to the person, and helped to develop a man’s frame properly; and they must agree with him that such an exercise was extremely beneficial. Why, he had to pay for the drilling of his daughters even.

(Laughter, and hear, hear.) And then they could always tell an old soldier when they saw him, by his upright and manly bearing. (Applause).

Again, it was good for the physical health, and not only that, but he felt free to advocate the movement on moral grounds as well as physical. Being a volunteer, trained one in habits of discipline and obedience and smartness—(hear, hear) —and also healthy rivalry.

There was the gaining of prizes, and he understood that last year there was a great distribution of prizes—some of the members gaining large amounts. They were open to the best marksman, whether he be a lord or a captain, or belonging to the humbler classes. They all knew how proud they felt when an Englishman competed successfully with a Canadian or Scotchman at Wimbledon.

And then, a great reason why they should join the Volunteer movement was because it developed patriotism (applause) and a pride in defending their country.

In conclusion, the chairman said he thought no clergyman could be out of place in recommending any young man to join the force. Let them look at their friend Jupp for instance—what wonders the movement had done for him. They knew what smart, decisive, and business habits characterised him, and they could take a lesson from him. (Hear, hear, and laughter).

Mr. Edwards then called upon Col. Sampson, as an old calvary officer, for a few remarks. (Applause).—Lieut.-Col. Dudley Sampson said he had great pleasure in coming there that evening. He hoped they would soon see many more from Lindfield belonging to the Volunteers than they did at present. He understood that there were only four at present from their little town. Well, there ought to be a score. (Hear, hear). Mr. Edwards had mentioned patriotism in his speech. Now, patriotism was just everything in this country, and especially in a seaboard county like theirs, and in a large parish as theirs was. If they were not up to the mark, they would cut a poor figure in case of invasion by the side of the regulars and it was possible—though he would not say probable—that one day they might have somebody to see them whom they would not much like to see. (Laughter). The fact was, as their chairman had pointed out, there were an immense quantity of advantages in joining the force, and no disadvantages. He understood that Mr. Godsmark, the landlord of that house, had volunteered to give them the use of that room as a drill hall. (Cheers). He hoped he would shortly have the pleasure of meeting them all at Buxshalls, in conjunction with the assembly of some infantry there. (Applause.)—

Mr. Eastwood, in few remarks, said that Englishmen were by nature sportsmen, and it was necessary that they should be instructed in the use and practice of the rifle. He found this out during his residence in Africa. Why was it that our army suffered such a terrible defeat during the late war? Simply because the Boers were such magnificent shots. (Hear, hear). The irregular forces were far better shots than the regulars in that war, and the English volunteers were second to no force as marksmen. (Applause).

He should like, if they could, for them to obtain ranges rather nearer than Cuckfield, where he hoped they would obtain frequent practice. They knew that each year handsome prizes were offered to each different corps. And besides it was wonderful how the women could be interested in the Volunteers. (Laughter).

They appreciated the smart appearance of their husbands, sweethearts, or sons, as the case might be, and many a girl would rather have an upright, smart, military man by her side, than one slouching at her petticoats. (Laughter). They set the females off too. (Much laughter). He hoped they would contribute largely to the force. (Applause).

Major Sergison said that the Volunteer movement was one of the principal defences of England, and not only that, the movement itself lessened the taxation. They had to pay £160,000 for a standing army of 130,000 men, but the Volunteers only cost £400,000, with 210,000 men. Thus, Volunteers were saving their own pockets, and the increase of taxation.

They had not to do so very much, after all, to be a volunteer. They were required to attend 60 drills for the first two years, and one afternoon’s shooting at the range at Cuckfield; the drills could all be done there (at Lindfield) if they liked. In the third year there would be nine drills three battalion drills at Arundel, and six company drills at Cuckfield.

If they could muster 16 men, they could have the drills there. He understood that the principal landowners and residents of the neighbourhood were quite willing that their men and servants should join. Mr. Sturdy had wished all his men to join. He hoped that on Whit- Monday—and they could have no better way of spending a Whit-Monday - they would go down to Arundel for a few days’ training, and no doubt would come back with £5 or £6 in their pockets. (Laughter and hear, hear). One of their men in Brighton had carried off no less than £25 in that war.

In conclusion, the gallant major read an extract from the Standard of that day, advocating the Volunteer movement, and hoped that Lindfield would contribute some volunteers that evening. (Applause). Recruits were then invited, and 16 gallant youths of Lindfield were duly measured as to height, breadth, &c., by Sergeant Middleton, gave in their names as volunteers, and the proceedings terminated.

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