H07182 — Fawssett Group of 10 men at table, October 1914

Box 42


‘Close to Newhaven’ – Dr. Chris Kempshall, Project Officer for East Sussex County Council’s First World War Centenary Project

Audio transcript at bottom of page


‘Sussex Express 17 September 1914 – Billets & Numbers’– Richard Attlee, Actor.

Audio transcript at bottom of page


Ten recruits billeted at the home of Cecil Fawsett, 83 High Street. 11,000 recruits arrived in Lewes in September 1914, and were billeted in public buildings and private homes before departing to training camps and the Front.


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“A significant number of men were billeted in Lewes during the First World War. Lewes was the County town and an administrative hub for the South Coast. Also its proximity to Newhaven and the South Downs meant that it was a focal point for the gathering of men of the Army during the First World War. The proximity of Newhaven and East Sussex to France also meant that men would be shipped out of the ports along the South Coast at regular intervals. Newhaven port was the port for supplying the Army in France with the vast majority of munitions and equipment moving out of Newhaven during the First World War”


“Billets & Numbers


A later estimate of the troops at present in Lewes is put at 11,000, and appended are some of the buildings, together with the approximate number of billeted at each: Town Hall and County Hall together, 850: Old Naval Prison, 1,000; Old Lewes Workhouse, 1000; Tabernacle School Hall, 240; St. Michael’s Parish Room, 50; Co-operative Hall, 50; Ragged School, 250; Baptist School Room, 150; Ham Lane Drill Hall, 150; British Workmens Institute, 80; Bridge Glee Room, 80; Southover Church Hall, 100; Old Grammar School, 200. It was pay-day for many of the recruits on Wednesday, and as they lined up in the street they were particularly happy. Tobacco pouches and tins were quickly replenished, supplies of cigarettes were got in, and, of course, there were various other channels through which the money filtered. Last night (Wednesday) military pickets were on duty for the first time, and the public-houses closed at 8 p.m. Members of the Fire Brigade are about throughout the night, and every precaution is taken against fire.


We understand a football match is being arranged for Saturday afternoon in the Dripping Pan, when Wales will oppose Lancashire. Some of the players come to Lewes with a high reputation, and a good game should be witnessed. Admission is free, but a collection will be made on behalf of the National Relief Fund. Mr. H. G. Cottrell will be the referee.


The Salvation Army visited the town on Wednesday evening, and held a service at the top of School Hill.”