Marching soldiers will be seen in Maresfield Park once more when a squadron from the 11th Signal Regiment returns to its roots on Remembrance Sunday.
More than 40 soldiers will parade from the Manor House and through the Park Arch to the 10.45am morning service in St Bartholomew’s Church, on November 12, where a service will be led by the Rev Nick Cornell.
St Bartholomew’s ancient bells will toll the hour of 11am and a two-minute silence will be observed, and heralded by a bugler.
The congregation will be supported by the full church choir and organist David Bailey who will play the fine, and historic, Walker 1890 organ.
Wreaths will be laid at the church memorial.
The church will provide refreshments at the end of the service and a warm welcome will be extended to anyone who would like to be part of this special Remembrance Service.
Maresfield Park estate became an army camp after it was confiscated from the German Prince Munster of Derneburg in 1914 but it wasn’t until 1920 that a training centre for the Royal Corps of Signals was formed at Maresfield.
When the camp closed in 1924 the Signal Training Centre and School of Signals moved to Catterick, and Blandford Camp, in Dorset, where the 11th Signal Regiment is still based.
The Army returned to Maresfield Park in 1941. There was a camp in Batts Bridge Road and prior to D Day a Canadian Regiment camped under canvas in the main drive of Maresfield Park, according to the late local author Betty Turner in her book Maresfield.
The camp was home for about 30 years until the 1970s to many English and Canadian Regiments and to Asian refugees when it was used as a transit camp.
Soldiers from the 11th Signal Regiment will be spending the whole of Remembrance weekend at Maresfield and have offered to undertake tasks in the village, helping with leaf clearance, gardening in a closed graveyard around the church, and cleaning up pathways and cutting back vegetation.
They will also give a talk about the regiment at Maresfield Village Hall on the evening of Remembrance Day, Saturday, November 11, starting at 7pm. There will be refreshments and all are welcome to attend.
East Sussex County Council Libraries have published photographs taken at Maresfield Army Camp on Flickr. See them here.
Local author Betty Turner published photographs taken at Maresfield Army Camp in her book about Maresfield and a fascinating account of her war years in the village can be read on the BBC WW2 People’s War website.
Betty also writes in her account of the People’s War about how she saw a “Polish” pilot – identified only in recent times as Belgian Spitfire pilot Eugene Seghers – tip the wing of a V1 turning it away from Uckfield only to have it blow up and claim his own life.
Read more about Flt Lt Seghers in a report of the unveiling of a memorial to him in Uckfield in July 2014.
An exhibition on World Wars 1 and 2 held at Bridge Cottage earlier this year included information about Maresfield Army Camp and photographs of soldiers stationed there. Read more here: Not to be missed, an exhibition on World Wars 1 and 2.
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