Rudgwick parish books mark war centenary

Roger Nash with one of the sponsors, Tim Harrison SUS-180924-100800001
Roger Nash with one of the sponsors, Tim Harrison SUS-180924-100800001

A Rudgwick group has produced two books to remember the parish in the war years, in time for the centenary of Armistice Day in November.

The books are written by the chairman of the Rudgwick Preservation Society, Roger Nash, who says he now understands how long the war lasted as work on the books began early in 2014.

The books were launched at an event at The Fox Inn, Bucks Green on Saturday September 22, with the help of landlord Tristan, and attended by many contributors to volume two. The pub also provided finger food at no cost.

Volume one is in two sections - The home front, and For king and country.

Its pages cover every angle on Rudgwick, and are illustrated, both with old postcard village photos and with pictures of servicemen.

In the home front, the pre-war parish is described, followed by a war diary in two-monthly sections covering the whole war, based on sources including the parish magazine, the headteacher’s logbook, and local newspapers such as the County Times.

Roger Nash said: “The post-war period up to the mid-1920s was full of interest, there were so many changes in the village, and a number of ex-servicemen of note came to live here.

“1919 in particular was a year full of optimism, as well as sadness which led to the commissioning of the war memorial in the church, and later the war memorial club.”

The men and a few women who fought or served are given a section of their own.

In for king and country, new research has doubled the number of fatalities associated with the parish.

A list of 200 others who served and returned has been created, all with thumbnail biographies.

The array of online sources available, and a few basic family history skills, teased out many more than were previously known from the absent voters list of 1918.

Unlike some parishes, Rudgwick already has a website devoted to its fallen, created by Andy Bailey, at www.rudgwickremembers.com. This book complements the website. Volume one is available for £10.

Roger added: “Volume two was an inspiration which eventually worked better than we dared hope! The idea was to bring the community together by calling for contributors who live in Rudgwick to suggest names of relatives (no matter where the relative lived) who served in the war in any capacity, who could be the subject of a short illustrated biography.”

The aim was 100 stories to mark the centenary. By the end they reached 114.

The biographies contain stories of childhood, youth, service in the war (some fatal, others emerging with long term health issues).

Some led very ordinary lives, some very short lives.

Others went on to very successful lives and careers; overall an eclectic mix which adds up to a unique record and fascinating stories.

Volume two, entitled remembrance, is available for £6.

These low prices have been made possible by generous sponsorship by Rudgwick Parish Council, Horsham District Council, Berkeley Homes, Firebird Brewery, Harrison Rural Partners Ltd and Restoration to Agriculture, the last three all closely connected to Rudgwick’s Old Brickworks.

The books have been created online at Lulu.com and are published by Rudgwick Preservation Society. Buy a copy at rudgwick-rps.org.uk, where there are details of the books, and a contacts tab to email directly, or via the Facebook page ‘Rudgwick Preservation Society’.

Both books bought together may be obtained at the discount price of £14.

The books are also on sale in Horsham Museum and West Sussex Record Office.