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Author Topic: Newhaven War Memorials (Memorial Gardens)  (Read 75 times)
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« on: May 09, 2017, 08:27:36 AM »

Newhaven is a town and sea-port in the Lewes District of East Sussex.  It lies at the mouth of the River Ouse which, over a long period of time, cut through the South Downs and flows out into The English Channel.  The River Ouse didn't always exit at Newhaven - in medieval times the mouth of the river changed several times between Seaford and Newhaven with the movement of masses of shingle with the weather and tides. These natural changes prevented either Newhaven or Seaford becoming important ports.  In the mid 16th Century a cut was dug below Castle Hill creating the first sheltered harbour - this was the beginning of the Newhaven port that exists today.  The first sheltered harbour was progressively developed over the next 300 years - the present breakwater was built in 1890. 

Newhaven's importance as a sea-port was established by the arrival of the railway in 1847. The London Brighton and South Coast Railway constructed their own wharf and facilities on the east side of the river, and opened the Newhaven harbour railway station. Just over 60 years later the port would become one of the major embarkation points for servicemen crossing the Channel to the Western Front in WWI - and then just over 20 years further on, Newhaven would become one of the Country's strategic Naval sea bases in WWII.

There are a number of War Memorials in Newhaven and this post concentrates on the four that stand on Memorial Gardens. There are three 'stone' memorials and also a dedicated 'holm oak' with a commemoration plaque. Memorial Gardens is close to the junction of South Way and Riverside North which leads to West Quay.  Of the three stone memorials on the green only one is in its original place - the other two having been moved by Newhaven Town Council to the present site - a move which I think, personally, was a good one.   To explain this I will quote straight from Newhaven Town Council's website which states :


Newhaven’s Memorial Garden in South Way is the setting for three war memorials and is the location for annual remembrance ceremonies, not only in November, but also in August to commemorate the anniversary of the Dieppe Raid of 1942.

The first memorial to be placed in the gardens was the Royal Canadian Engineers Memorial.  This memorial was erected in 1977 in honour of members of the Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers who lost their lives as a result of the Dieppe Raid of 19th August 1942.  It was erected and financed by a group of veterans of the Royal Canadian Engineers, based in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, who chose Newhaven as the location for their memorial because so many of them trained here before sailing for Dieppe from Newhaven, and because so many of the wounded were put ashore at Newhaven following the Raid.  Although strictly speaking the memorial is dedicated to 27 men of the Royal Canadian Engineers, it has come to be regarded as a tribute to all the Canadian forces who took part in the Raid, and indeed to all those who served during World War II.

The two other memorials in the gardens were originally erected elsewhere in the town after the First World War.  The first to be moved was the Newhaven Transport Memorial, erected to commemorate the officers and men of the Merchant Navy who lost their lives whilst sailing in and out of the port of Newhaven.  These men were engaged in the essential work of getting supplies to the troops in the trenches in France. Newhaven was one of the major supply ports during the First World War.  There are 99 names listed on the memorial and it is perhaps a mark of the esteem in which the townspeople held these men that this was the first memorial to be unveiled after the War, in August 1920.  Originally sited at the junction of Dacre Road and Meeching Road, the memorial was moved to the Riverside to make way for the one-way system around the town centre in the 1970s.  In the 1990s it was moved again to its present position in the gardens due to the development of the West Quay.

The third memorial is the Newhaven Town Memorial, which was originally erected at the junction of Chapel Street, South Road and Fort Road to commemorate the men of Newhaven who gave their lives for their country during the First World War.  There are 120 First World War casualties listed on the memorial, which was designed by Mr C T Hooper, the Town Surveyor of Newhaven, who had also designed the Transport Memorial.  The memorial was moved to its present position in the gardens in 2005, thus uniting all three war memorials in one setting.   The addition of the names of the 90 Newhaven people who lost their lives as a result of the Second World War was completed in 2007.

Attached are some photographs that I took a few days ago.

Photograph 1 - Memorial Gardens, showing the three stone memorials : the Holm Oak and plaque are just to the left and slightly behind the central WWI memorial.
Photograph 2 - the central WWI memorial.
Photograph 3 - the Royal Canadian Engineers memorial
Photograph 4 - the Merchant Navy Newhaven Transport Memorial
Photograph 5 - the commemoration plaque next to the Holm Oak

I'll go into a bit more detail about the individual memorials in due course -  but should anyone wish to add anything then please do.  I will also try to list all of the Newhaven memorials and cross reference them.  I know for certain there are a number of memorial plaques in Newhaven Fort and also the H.M. Auxiliary Patrol memorial in Newhaven Cemetery and one in St, Michael's Church. 

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« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2017, 08:52:50 AM »

The Transport Memorial has a white light on top, this being a maritime signal for at anchor or rest. The original light was stolen years ago and replaced when it was moved to the green by an anonymous donor. There is also a memorial plaque on the front of the Catholic Church dedicated to the crew of the French Ferry ss Maine  sunk in WW1 of which many of the crew used the church.

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« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2017, 07:21:45 AM »

Following on from Pete's comments, above, it seems appropriate to start with the Transport Memorial. It was also the first of the memorials now standing at this location to be commissioned and unveiled.

Thank you Pete.   I wasn't aware of the theft of the original light from the Transport Memorial, and to be quite honest I didn't actually notice the light on the top when I photographed the memorial.  Does it actually work ?  I've never been to Newhaven in the dark !

I've attached photographs of the front panel, the script from the information board in the Memorial Garden and a close up of the light that Pete refers to.  Also a newspaper article about the unveiling and dedication :

Portsmouth Evening News - Saturday 14 August 1920

A memorial was unveiled yesterday at Newhaven to the memory of captains, officers and seamen of his Majesty's transports who lost their lives while sailing from Newhaven during the Great War, and also in commemoration of valuable services rendered by the Mercantile Marine of the United Kingdom.  The unveiling was performed by the Earl of Bessborough, Chairman of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway, in the unavoidable absence of Mr. W. Long, M.P., First Lord of the Admiralty.  The memorial was dedicated by the Bishop of Lewes.

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« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2017, 11:35:12 AM »

The Town's War Memorial.

Newhaven's War Memorial to the fallen of WWI and WWII now stands with the others on Memorial Gardens.  When it was first unveiled and dedicated it was sited at the corner of Fort Road, Chapel Road and South Road.  It was moved to its present location in 2005.

The only newspaper article that I can find regarding the unveiling ceremony is very brief :

Sussex Agricultural Express - Friday 07 October 1921


Newhaven's war memorial was unveiled on Sunday afternoon by Lord Leconfield.

Lord Leconfield (Charles Wyndham, 3rd Baron Leconfield) was the Lord Lieutenant of Sussex, a position he held between 26 March 1917 – 25 January 1949.

I've attached a close up of the information notice board from Memorial Gardens as this gives a good deal of information about the memorial.  I've also attached a closer picture of the front commemoration plaques - a full photograph of the memorial can be seen in the opening post. The last photograph is one from the dedication ceremony in 1921 (not 1919 as some internet sites show).

The names of the WWI fallen are inscribed on the memorial. A plaque to their fallen comrades from WWII was added but not the names of the WWII fallen.  In 2007 the names of the 90 local residents who were killed in WWII were added to the memorial.

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« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2017, 08:12:19 AM »

The Royal Canadian Engineers Memorial.

The third of the memorials at Memorial Gardens, Newhaven, is actually the one which has been at this location the longest.  It has come to be regarded as a tribute to all the Canadian forces who took part in the Dieppe Raid on the 19th August 1942 but is, in fact, a memorial to the  honour of members of the Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers who lost their lives as a result of the raid.  The names of the 27 Canadian Sappers who died are inscribed below the formal memorial inscription - of these 27 fatalities – 23 were Killed in Action, one Died of Wounds, and three died while Prisoners of War.

The memorial was unveiled on the 17th August 1977.

The Canadian Military Engineers Association website has a section dedicated to this memorial and this includes a full list of the Canadian Sappers who lost their lives - please see the   Royal Canadian Engineers Memorial: WW II Dieppe Raid

I've attached a closer photograph of the formal memorial inscription - for a photograph of the full monument please see the first post.  I've also posted a photo of the memorial information board at Memorial Gardens which gives more information - but the The Canadian Military Engineers Association website has the most.

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