Vigil for Great War dead

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The service at St Mary's for the fallen of World War 1

Rye commemorated the start of World War 1 with a Vigil Service at St Mary’s Church at 6pm on Sunday, September 17. Among the families who lost sons were the Tiltmans. Five Tiltmans died and at least three, or possibly four, came from one family. Another family, the Elliotts, lost three sons, and five families lost two sons. A Zeppelin bombed the town without causing any damage, and the Conduit Hill monastery became a hospital.

Three hundred men volunteered in Rye to go to war and there are 145 names on the war memorial in St Mary’s churchyard, including five Tiltmans – Charles, Edward, Harry, Walter Thomas and William E. The 1881 census had recorded 32 Tiltmans in Rye, and another Tiltman (Alec, son of William Charles and Anne) died in the World War 2.

The Great War and a great loss: five of the Tiltman family did not return
Great War and great loss: five of the Tiltman family did not return

The monastery became a hospital in 1915. Some photographs of the wounded at that time are displayed around the front door of 4, The Strand, opposite the Ship Inn. In 1917 a Zeppelin dropped three bombs on Rye. Unlike World War 2, no damage was recorded . . . or casualties.

Rye’s East Street Museum has various displays of WW1 items including memorabilia of Frank and Lily Wright from Ferry Road and the Penfold Brothers from Playden. There is also a Roll of Honour compiled by Chris Comber in 2007.

The service commemorated all the fallen from J. Adams to S .Wood, including the Elliotts of Cinque Ports Street who lost three sons, the Brazils of Peasmarsh and the Fowles of Landgate Square who both lost two sons, and the Hilders of South Undercliffe who lost two sons when a trawler was mined in Rye Bay. Major and Mrs Jameson lost two sons (both officers) and the Jordans of Sloan Terrace and the Jarretts of The Mint also both lost two sons.

Fanny and William Tiltman of West Cliffe lost William E (aged 25) in 1917, Harry (22) the same year, and Edward (21) in 1918. Richard and Ellen Tiltman of Alma Place lost Charles (30) in 1916. Walter Thomas Tiltman (26) also died in 1917, but the names of his parents were not recorded. However he might have been another son of Fanny and William, and the brother of the William Charles who lost a son in the next world war.

* St Mary’s holds a one-hour prayer vigil for peace in the Middle East every Monday evening in the Clare Chapel at 6pm until further notice.

Photos: Tony Nunn