How the experience of war impacted on the town, from the initial enthusiasm for sorting out the German kaiser in time for Christmas 1914, to the gradual realization of the enormity of human sacrifice the families of Seaforth and Eastbourne were committed to as the war stretched out over the next four years. A record of the growing disillusion of the people, their tragedies and hardships and a determination to see it through. The Sussex seaside towns of Seaford and Eastbourne were closer to the action than most places; the sound of naval battles could be heard from the coast (and sometimes witnessed by those with a good pair of binoculars). When the wind was in the right direction the rumble of artillery from France bought the frontline into the streets. At the start of the Great War, Eastbourne was an elegant and blossoming resort and did its best to maintain its tourist trade despite the arrival of soldiers, aeroplanes, refugees and the wounded. Seaford was a much smaller resort with a population of under 4,000 however thousands of troops from all over the Empire were billeted in the area either at private homes or in two massive camps.
The Seaford camps were the venue for training, parades, fighting, murder and even rioting. Nearby Newhaven became an important port in which provisions were transported to the front. Conscientious Objectors, some under threat of the death penalty worked on the docks and the nearby roads. In his book "Seaford and Eastbourne in the Great War" local historian, Kevin Gordon tells the story of how the conflict affected, not only these seaside towns but also of the soldiers (many of them teenagers) who answered the call to battle. It is a story of spies, schoolchildren and sacrifice; a story that, for many, ended in the cemetery at Seaford which today is one of the largest Commonwealth War Graves in the South of England.
Kevin Gordon is a retired British Transport Police Officer who has lived in Sussex for most of his life. Kevin's family have always been based in Eastbourne. His grandfather fought in the Great War and his great uncle was a printer who produced the journals for the war-time Summerdown Convalescent Camp. Kevin is an accredited guide for the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament) and also provides tour of Seaford, Eastbourne and Lewes. He is the Vice Chairman of the Alfriston and Cuckmere Valley Historical Society and a committee member at Seaford Museum. He is the author of several local history books and writes a weekly history column in a local newspaper.