Ceremony in Haywards Heath to mark outbreak of war

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To mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War One, the Haywards Heath Branch of the Royal British Legion in conjunction with Haywards Heath Town Council will be holding a ceremony on Muster Green on Monday July 21.

Starting at 10am and involving local primary schools, this event is being held earlier than the official anniversary date of August 4, to allow the schools to take part before the summer holiday.

The ceremony is to pay tribute to the fallen heroes of WW1 who came from Haywards Heath or had family connections with the town.

The idea of involving the local schools was borne from the fact that 75 of the servicemen went to St Wilfrid’s School, which at the time was the only school in Haywards Heath.

The pupils of the current St Wilfrid’s School will be honouring their past pupils by laying a wooden poppy cross on Muster Green around the perimeter of the large flowerbed nearest to the war memorial.

The British Legion will be laying the remainder 105 crosses which means that all the servicemen whose names are on the war memorial on Muster Green, or the Roll of Honour in St Wilfrid’s Church will be represented at this occasion.

Northlands Wood and Harlands School will also be present and pupils from these schools will be reading poems.

Standards will be represented from Sussex Branches of the Royal British Legion, Royal Sussex Regimental Association, Royal Artillery Association Mid Sussex, Royal Air Force Association and the Canadian Forces.

The Canadian Forces are being represented as Arthur George Knight who was born in Haywards Heath, but later moved to Canada, served in the Canadian Forces.

Sgt Knight won the Victoria Cross for his bravery in the second Battle of Arras in September 1918, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Lieutenant-Colonel Jean Trudel, the Assistant Army Advisor at Canadian Defence Liaison Staff will be attending to represent the Canadian Forces and the High Commissioner.

Members of the public are welcome to join in with this Centenary Commemoration and can obtain their own poppy crosses for a donation to Royal British Legion from Lock & Cobblers shop in The Orchards.

These poppy crosses can be laid at the base of the war memorial at the western end of Muster Green during or following the service.

For any further information, please contact the Town Hall 01444 455694.