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THIS WEEK Summer makeover: Surface dressing programme to ‘pothole-proof’ county roads

COMMUNITY UPDATE: Pevensey Mini History Festival

JOBSBOARD LATEST ON JOBSBOARD: Sussex Police: Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs)


Image credit: Memorial Hall Pevensey

Christmas 1942: Fascinating blog post about Canadian troops here in Pevensey during the Second World War

An interesting note to us (Wednesday 19 December) from D Sadki, who works on an ad hoc basis with the Pevensey Bay Journal offering all kinds of useful research about a variety of historical matters related to Pevensey and Pevensey Bay.

D Sadki was responsible for drawing our attention to the links between Tony Hancock and his stay at the Bay Hotel and Prince Aly Khan, son of the Aga Khan and husband to Rita Hayworth, who also stayed at the Bay Hotel. She pointed to the coincidence that a sketch staring Tony Hancock in Hancock’s Half Hour includes a character titled Aly Aga Khancock,

After the first architect working on a three storey plan for the site of the Beach Tavern confidently explained based on his extensive research to Wealden Council in his ‘design statement’ that the date of build was not known, ten minutes later, she pointed to the deed of sale (1905) for the land, adding the location of the repository that holds the deed in Scotland.

Here she points local people to a fascinating blog post about Canadian troops in Pevensey during the Second World War, asking a question about possible further documentation. She says,”thought this may interest, wonder if a photo exists?

This article has already seen a response by local resident, Christine Pollard. she said (Dcember 20), “I don’t have a photo but they definitely did but it was the old wooden memorial hall, I was at school across the road during the war and remember the Canadian soldiers”.

The Pevensey Bay Journal said, “thank you so much for this comment, which will now be added to the article. If there is any possibility of a photograph emerging of the event in some family album somewhere in the world (which seems highly unlikely but you never know), that would be wonderful as a historical record for the community at Christmas (and for the family). However unlikely, we will see what happens”.

The post comes from The Defence of East Sussex Project http://www.pillbox.org.uk/blog/239688/. The project, established online by Peter Hibbs in 2006 is a fascinating inside look at social and economic aspects of the “anti-invasion landscape” during the Second World War. He points to “an entire battlefield beyond the immediately obvious evidence”.

In setting up the project he says, “it quickly became apparent that much of what was “known” of the anti-invasion landscape was based on the surviving evidence, typically concrete structures.The documents, however, were allowing me to uncover an entire battlefield beyond the immediately obvious evidence”.

He describes beginning by accident: “The project began by accident back in 2006; this story behind this happy event is told in my 10 Year blog post. Launching myself into the war diaries and reports at the National Archives (TNA) I quickly uncovered a wealth of hitherto undiscovered evidence in the landscape”.

This post is detailed “Wartime Christmas in East Sussex”.

Canadian troops came to the Pevensey Mess (where the Memorial Hall now is, I suppose) during the war to entertain the children at Christmas, and one came not as Santa Claus but in traditional dress as a ‘Red Indian’ (thankfully terminology has changed since!) and performed a war dance.

(I wonder what happened to the Native Americans so far from home shortly afterwards in France? There is a big Canadian war cemetery on the hill outside Dieppe…)

The Edmonton Regiment entertained 215 “under-privileged youngsters” in the Leaf Hall in EASTBOURNE. A sing-song was followed by three short movies, and then the floor was given to a Private WARD, a Native American. (Note: the terminology used below is quoted verbatim and reflects that in use at the time.)

The crowning event was when…Private WARD, A., Chief Little Eagle, appeared in full Indian dress and performed a war dance. The youngsters, many of whom have never seen a Red Indian and probably never will again, were most interested and pleased.

The Seaforth’s party was on Boxing Day, and Private WARD again stole the show in Pevensey this time.

The weather is still cold, but not particularly noticeable, owing to the number of hangovers from an exciting Christmas…. “C” Company endeared themselves to the youngsters at PEVENSEY by putting on a party this afternoon at 1400 hours, in the Mess hall. Candy and sandwiches were provided, while the Pipe Band and Company artists supplied the entertainment.The chief turn, as far as the kiddies were concerned, was a full-blooded Indian, from another battalion who amused them with Indian dances. His fancy battledress, complete with feathers, in true Highland style.

——Peter Hibbs, The Defence of East Sussex Project