Unknown but not forgotten

The church of St Thomas the Martyr

On Monday August 4, Winchelsea will be commemorating the anniversary of Britain’s entry to the First World War with a number of events. The acts of remembrance will include an exhibition in the Court Hall between 11am and 4pm about the men of Winchelsea who went to war in 1914-18 and the town they left behind. At sunset, at exactly 8:38pm, a bugler will play the Last Post at the war memorial and a wreath will be laid by a resident in honour of Edward Watson, a name on the memorial about whom nothing is known, not even the date of his death. Following the playing of the Last Post there will be a vigil in St Thomas’s church. At 10pm many houses in the town will turn off their lights as part of the Royal British Legion’s Lights Out campaign. This remembers the sad words of Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey, who remarked on August 3, 1914: “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.” The Last Post will be played in Winchelsea at sunset between now and 2018 to mark the anniversary of the death of every soldier named on the town’s war memorial. As the date of Edward Watson’s death is not known – despite extensive research into Army and other records – it was decided he should be remembered on the anniversary of the start of the war for Britain. The bugler is a member of Sussex Brass and the performance has been arranged by the Winchelsea Bonfire Boyes, who mark the start and end of the two-minute silence on November 11 each year. The Bonfire Boyes will ask passing traffic to slow or stop during the ceremony. Earlier this year a poppy field was planted in a verge by St Thomas’s to remember the war. Although poppies are notoriously difficult to cultivate, some have come up this summer. It is hoped more will appear next year.