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1915: Talented P.O. Rifles artist exhibits his work in the Queen's Hall

The 2nd Battalion of the 8th City of London Regiment Post Office Rifles were billeted in Cuckfield for six months between November 1914 and May 1915, training before leaving for France.

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 16 March 1915


It was our privilege yesterday (Monday) evening to inspect an attractive little exhibition of sketches in the Queen's Hall at Cuckfield, where a Y.M.C.A. is now established, and also to have a chat with the artist, Rifleman H. C. Fendt, of the Post Office Rifles.

The Post Office Rifles at the top of the High Street in 1915. Rifleman/artist H.`C. Fendt was among them

We were very pleasantly surprised at the skill which was evinced in the pictures on view. The subjects principally of a humorous nature—were all original, and were treated in either carbon or pencil in an easy and natural way.

There were about 80 altogether, and very few of them were weak in point or feeble in execution. The humour was spicy, and the facial expressions and physical attitudes were wonderfully good, proving the artist to be a keen and clever observer of human nature, just as his backgrounds showed his admirable sense of proportion.

Rifleman Fendt, who is a Lewisham postman, drew nearly all this exhibition work in his spare mornings during four months last summer, before he joined the Army. He has always had an aptitude for drawing, and his talent is shared—though manifesting itself in different branches of art his two brothers. Some of his fellow soldiers told him last night that the Army was no place for him, and that he ought to be a Royal Academician.

Without being quite so high-flown as that, we can confidently say that if Rifleman Fendt took up art as a definite profession he would not fail for the lack of the instinct which is the companion of genius.

We were shown a capital specimen of his skill as a cartoonist. It was entitled “The Kaiser's Bodyguard," and was decidedly good. Some fine pencil work was displayed in a couple of portraits of the artist's sister, but the chef d'oeuvre (1) was a framed French pastel painting with the simple title, "Comrades.” This was an equestrian study—a war horse standing , guard by the dead body of a Lancer—and was noble in conception and happy in representation. As a special favour, the public will be permitted to visit the exhibition tomorrow (Wednesday) and Thursday—on the first day from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m., and on the second day from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and from 2:30 to 5 p.m. Admission will only by silver collection at the door, the money to go towards the Y.M.C.A. work amongst the troops.

Metal plaque to P.O. Rifles affixed to a granite block just inside the lychgate of the church. Erected in 1968.

Sussex Agricultural Express - Friday 02 April 1915

A CLEVER ARTIST.—With the Post Office Rifles at Cuckfield is a remarkably clever crayon artist. His name is Rifleman H. C. Fendt, and in ordinary everyday life he is a postman at Lewisham.

In view the excellence of his drawings the wonder is that more has not been heard of him, but it just goes to show that unless one has influential friends the chances are ninety-nine to one that a man of talent will remain hidden from the world.

At Cuckfield. in his rooms, he has no fewer than eighty drawings, most of them humorous. " The Kaiser's Bodyguard" is a good subject, but the one that appealed to most was "Comrades."

Upon the ground lies a dead soldier, and beside him stands his horse. It is wonderfully realistic, and an offer of £20 for the picture, we understand, has been refused.

Rifleman Fendt is a very unassuming man. He is happy with his lot, and has loved art since a child. His comrades in the Post Office Rifles are real proud of him.

(1) - a masterpiece especially in art or literature.

Note: Rifleman Henry C. Fendt survived the War; a register dated 1939 lists him as a postman, 52 years old, living with his wife Ivy at 144 Oakridge Road, Lewisham - his home town. Unfortunately there seem to be no existing copies of his art work.

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