On Saturday, May 9, one hundred years after his death, Robert Griffin was remembered again in Winchelsea, where he was born and where his name is engraved on the war memorial. Robert was 21 when he was killed at Richbourg L’Avoue on 9 May 1915, going into action with the Cinque Port Battalion of The Royal Sussex Regiment during the Battle of Aubers. The battalion was in one of the two brigades leading a southern attack on a strong German position called La Cliqueterie. Many men were lost to fierce machine-gun fire.
At Saturday’s ceremony, attended by members of the Griffin family, who still live in the area, a prayer was offered by the Rector of Winchelsea, Robin Whitehead. A two-minute silence was observed and a wreath carrying the arms of the Royal Sussex was laid by Robert’s grandnephews, Stephen and Paul (Paul also served in the regiment). A standard was lowered in honour of Robert by members of the Vipers, the regimental association of the Queens’ Division, into which the Royal Sussex was merged in 1966 (which has now become the Princess of Wales’ Regiment). In addition, a ceramic poppy carrying Robert’s name was placed in St Thomas’ Church, alongside two others commemorating those of Winchelsea’s Great War dead who have already been commemorated. These can be seen above the three tombs on the north side of the church. The wreath and poppy were provided by the Winchelsea Bonfire Boyes.
Next year, Winchelsea will recall another of its sons, William Freeman. There will be four ceremonies in 2017 and three in 2018. These will take place at sunset, when the Last Post will be sounded, as it has at previous remembrance ceremonies.