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1914: Influx of troops into Mid Sussex - opportunities and challenges

The Mid Sussex Times November 24th 1914

The clerk of the weather did not give a very kindly greeting to the khaki clad troops who poured into mid Sussex last Thursday.

The day was very cold, and when the snowflakes ceased to fall, down came the rain, giving everybody the pip. Some of the Terriers came from London, and were men of good social position, and it can be imagined that their impressions of country life were not such as local residents would care to have published in guidebooks. But on Friday Jack Frost made his appearance and old Sol too, and spirits rose accordingly, and the men began to feel it is good for us to be here. 

2nd battalion of the 8th City of London Post Office Rifles in Cuckfield High Street 1914

They are billeted at Haywards Heath, Lindfield, Cuckfield and Burgess Hill, and on the very first day of their arrival day began to spend freely at certain shops. That they are present in mid Sussex will be good for trade is certain, and if shopkeepers are wise they will put their goods in the window as attractively as possible.

The Wesleyans, Congregationalists, and Primitive Methodists have opened their school rooms to the troops, and nightly they can go there and enjoy themselves in their own sweet way. Then Mr H. M. Knight has very kindly placed two fields at the disposal of the troops for football. A committee of ladies has arranged for the mending of clean garments and socks of the men at Haywards Heath, free of charge, and it would be deeply appreciated if residents who have baths would allow the men to use them.

Printed cards may be obtained from the orderly room at the battalion headquarters, the council offices in Boltro Road, by those householders who are patriotic and generous enough to allow the men to use their baths, and they are asked to place the card in their window, so that the men, who will bring their own soap and towels, may know where they can go. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays the Drum and Bugle Band will play the retreat at 4 pm on Muster Green, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays the last post will be sounded at 10 pm at the same place. 

We suppose there is nobody in these days who believes the Berlin wool comes from Berlin, otherwise they would be but small chance of our soldiers getting knitted comforts this winter. Why then do the British public still persist in thinking that all Christmas cards come from Germany? They may have at one time, but for the last 20 years the manufacture of Christmas cards has been a growing British industry, and now all the best are made in England. The business is one of vast extent, employing thousands of men and women.

The private Christmas cards is absolutely a British industry, and we hope that the public will buy as usual, and that's keep up the cheery custom, particularly at a time when everyone wants good wishes more than ever. By so doing they will help in keeping a vast number of people in work, which is a matter of great importance at such a time is this. Balcombe people are showing their patriotism by preparing a hospital for the reception of 12 or 15 soldiers.

The house known as Knowle which is only a stones throw from the Working Men's Institute, has been taken, and there is every intention to equip it in a manner which will leave nothing to be desired.

All classes have been made acquainted with the needs of the hospital, which are many, and on all sides there appears to be a readiness to give, either in cash, kind or service. A sound knowledge of Red Cross work has been acquired by persons of both sexes in the village and consequently no difficulty has experienced in selecting a competent hospital staff. Mrs L. C. R. Messel, a lady greatly beloved in this parish, will be the commandant, while Mrs Newton is eminently well fitted for the post of Lady superintendent and Mrs Oxley for that of quartermaster. The medical officer and pharmacist will be Mr Reginald Newton, F. R. C. S., L.R.C.P. and Miss Fitzroy, daughter of Lord Frederick Fitzroy, will be responsible I for the secretarial work. As to the nurses, their names are not before us, but a little bird whispers that they have just that mental temperament and kind of way of doing things that will make the stay of the soldiers in the hospital one to be happily remembered.



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