The curator, staff and those who have kindly loaned items are to be congratulated on the Great War centenary exhibition on public view at Horsham Museum.
I write as a former member of the Western Front Association who – with my wife – have tramped over the Flanders battlefields over a number of years.
We were fortunate to be guided on each occasion by Colonel Graham Parker of Flanders Tours – a leading expert in the field.
Also by his daughter, Joanna, who worked for the Imperial War Museum as a translator and who was able to provide an informed commentary from the German perspective.
My own father served in the infantry for some three years in the trenches – having volunteered for a London TA regiment – the Queen’s Westminster Rifles – for which he was required to pay an entrance fee!
He went ‘over the top’ on the Somme on July 1, 1916 and was wounded and referred to a field hospital. On his recovery, he was posted to the 15th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles – mainly recruited from north Belfast and saw action at Messines Ridge also the bloodbath of Passchendaele. He was discharged in 1918 suffering from, ‘severe neurasthenia’ or more bluntly, half-mad!
Interestingly, a distant relative – Sgt Frank Worley, DCM of the Royal Sussex Regiment – and who came from Worthing – formed a close relationship with the celebrated poet, Edmund Blunden and is mentioned in Blunden’s war poem, ‘Pillbox’. They remained great friends for many years after the end of the war.
It is good to know that schools are increasingly sending parties of students to see the battlefields first-hand, also the beautifully kept military cemeteries – showing youngsters of 16 or 17 who made the ultimate sacrifice. We should all think twice before grumbling about our lot today!
ROBERT B. WORLEY
Ayshe Court Drive, Horsham