The research work for this parish was a joint effort by David Earley and Alison Goodenough building on the work done by Chris Comber a few years ago for the Roll of Honour website.
There are five names on the War Memorial in the former parish church of West Lavington which is now closed to the public. There is also a separate memorial in the church to Charles Clement Lucas who was the son of a prominent London surgeon and whose two aunts lived at Oaklands House. On searching online, we found his obituary in a medical journal, from which we discovered that he had attended King’s School, Rochester. We contacted the school who supplied us with an extended obituary that had been published in the school magazine. In return, we have supplied the school with a copy of our article, which they are planning to publish in a special edition dedicated gto the memory of the school alumni who fell in the First World War.
Two of the other men named, George Sageman and Henry Tree, were already regular soldiers at the outbreak of war in August 1914. They were both members of the Royal Sussex Regiment and died on the same day in September 1914 in what must have been a particularly terrible day’s fighting for their battalion. Recently the War Diary for their unit has been made available on line and reading this gives a very sharp picture of what they must have gone through in the final days of their lives.
In the course of our research we spoke to Di Ponting the former head teacher of West Lavington primary school who kindly allowed us access to some documents from the school which are still in her possession. We are very grateful to her for this permission. It was very poignant to find the names of three of our five men in the School Admissions Book and to realise that almost all the others named in their classes probably also took part in the war in some capacity.
Looking at the census entries for West Lavington on-line has helped us to find out more about the lives of those killed and their families with a general feel for the life of the parish in general through the end of the nineteenth and the start of the twentieth centuries.
Visits to the West Sussex Record Office have proved very helpful in this research and there we found details of the funding of the War memorial and of the service at which it was unveiled.
More details of the military history which underlies the deaths of our five men are becoming available all the time as regimental records are computerised and placed in the public domain. Thus it may be that there will be further additions to the biographies of the men of West Lavington as more information comes to light.
We would welcome any further information or enquiries in this matter.