LETTER: Regiment’s work after the war

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Since there has been so much interest in the papers regarding troops going off to war in 1914, I thought it would be good to remind the people of Horsham, and the surrounding area, of what was done by the men of the Royal Sussex Regiment on returning home, which was particularly salutary.

Led by Captain Rupert Middleton MC the men of the regiment formed the Blue Flash Company and the Blue Flash Cinemas to provide employment to the many unemployed bandsmen in the Sussex area. The name blue flash comes from the blue flash on the regimental uniform. Then in 1923 they built the Capitol Theatre, which stood in the area now occupied by Marks and Spencer.

The Capitol was a rear projection cinema so that the stage could be a free space for any film to be accompanied by a band. It must have been the latest thing in those days.

Whilst looking for a suitable name for our charity in 2002 the most appropriate name had to be the Blue Flash Music Trust, as a way of celebrating what the men of the Royal Sussex Regiment had achieved in the area of music, having played and entertained right across the Sussex area, for many years. They had another cinema in Worthing.

Another interesting fact about the regiment and its connection with music is the story of Lieutenant Harry Triggs, and his trench cello, which was recently come to light. The trench cello featured on the In Tune programme on Radio 3, September 19.

Harry Triggs of the Royal Sussex Regiment took the cello to the trenches. In 1963 he sold it to the famous instrument restorer Charles Beare, who restored it and it was played by the cellist Steven Isserlis on the In Tune programme, and it proved to have a very lovely sound. The instrument can be packed away in four minutes into its body, essentially an ammunition box.

The frog of the bow has a small mouthorgan to sound the note A. The instrument will be on display at the Royal Academy of Music until the middle of October. Another name for this type of cello is a holiday cello.

The trust has written to Charles Beare about the Blue Flash story and also passed on our letter to our patron Julian Lloyd Webber telling him the whole wonderful story. Julian said he was fascinated to read about it all.

ROBERT MAYFIELD

Blue Flash Music Trust, East Street, Horsham