Shoreham Army Camp tours precede Marlipins exhibition

Project co-ordinator Gail Mackintosh opens the door to the bell tent, a replica of one the soldiers would have used, initially sleeping 18 to a tent before being cut to 12
Project co-ordinator Gail Mackintosh opens the door to the bell tent, a replica of one the soldiers would have used, initially sleeping 18 to a tent before being cut to 12
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GUIDED walks on to Slonk Hill have given people the chance to see the sheer scale of Shoreham Army Camp.

Worthing Museum curator Hamish MacGillivray and Training For War project co-ordinator Gail Mackintosh took two groups up to a mini replica camp on Friday.

Ashley Keith, 11, with the horseshoe he found and a nail

Ashley Keith, 11, with the horseshoe he found and a nail

The tours started at Buckingham Park, where First World War recruits paraded while at the camp.

On the walk up to Happy Valley, the area where the Royal Artillery was based from 1914 to summer of 1915, there were stops on the way to talk about aspect of camp life.

Extracts from letters written by the soldiers gave a picture of camp life and a map of the camp, overlaid on to a more up to date map of the area, showed where the huts would have been.

Gail said: “During the early days in the camp, recruits were quite upbeat and cheerful. For many, this was the best time for them in the war.”

Shoreham Army Camp bell tents, which were set up in three days in September 1914

Shoreham Army Camp bell tents, which were set up in three days in September 1914

She said a camp for 12,000 men was put up in just three days in September 1914, with hundreds of bell tents erected.

Hutments later replaced those tents but before they could be completed, the soldiers were washed out of the tents in winter 1914 and had to be billeted with families in the area.

Hamish said entertainment was important in the camp.

“One of the first things they did was to set up a cinema and YMCA hut, which would have been where Parkside is now.

The cinema and YMCA hutment at Shoreham Army Camp during the First World War

The cinema and YMCA hutment at Shoreham Army Camp during the First World War

“Around 1,000 cups of tea a day were given out at the hut and the troops absolutely loved The Iron Claw serial, featuring Pearl White.”

At the end of the walk, a bell tent, loaned by 3rd/5th Lancing Sea Scouts, had been put up to illustrate where around 18 men where expected to sleep.

People were also shown sharp nails used for the horses to help them walk up Slonk Hill, as well as horseshoe, identified as a Royal Artillery example from around 100 years ago and found by 11-year-old Ashley Keith on the site.

The Training at War exhibition opens at the Marlipins Museum in High Street, Shoreham, on September 2 and people can take local finds to be identified by experts on September 19.

People on Friday afternoon's tour see how many they can fit inside the bell tent

People on Friday afternoon's tour see how many they can fit inside the bell tent

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