The donation of a diorama which depicts the terrible conditions of the trenches will help Shoreham Fort educate children about the horrors of the First World War.
Lee Wares presented his diorama of the ‘Day Sussex Died’ to the Friends of Shoreham Fort on Tuesday afternoon. Chairman and founder of the friends Gary Baines, 37, from Durrington, said the metre-long model would form part of the fort’s vision of hands-on learning of history, including building a replica First World War trench on the beach.
He said: “It’s going to make a massive difference as an educational tool. It stops history being just pen and paper and brings it to life, which is really important for us. The kids learn so much more that way than they could by reading a book.”
Mr Wares, from Withdean, Brighton, is a councillor for Brighton & Hove City Council and was inspired to build the diorama after listening to a speech about the Battle of the Boar’s Head, also known as the ‘Day Sussex Died’, during a meeting.
More than 300 soliders from Sussex died in the battle on June 30, 1916, the day before the Battle of the Somme.
The retired chartered surveyor set to work on Boxing Day and finished six months later, after 150 hours of research and work.
He said: “I would say this is probably one of the best models I’ve made. Because Armistice Day is coming up it is even more poignant.”
Using a trench construction manual from the period, Mr Wares cut wood down to size for the frame. He made the battlefield from polystyrene roof insulation, which he carved and painted to recreate the muddy terrain, with puddles made of hardened resin and a gnarled tree courtesy of a twig from his garden.
He even printed out scaled-down images of trench signs and newspaper front pages from the day to add to the effect. He said: “It is the detail you see subliminally that makes it feel real.”
The diorama will complement a new collection of diaries purchased by the Royal Sussex Living History Group, which works closely with Shoreham Fort. The diaries and ration cards are from two generations of a Shoreham family during both World Wars and were bought in an auction in Wales.
The Friends of Shoreham Fort will be hosting an event to remember the sacrifice made by our armed forces during the First World War.
From 5.30pm on Sunday, guests are being invited to the fort in Forthaven, Shoreham, to light a candle to remember the fallen, or any loved ones.
People dressed in First World War solider uniforms will fire rounds to mark the start of a two-minute silence for the dead.
This will be followed by the lighting of the Jubilee Beacon, a fire basket at the fort which produces flames as high as five feet and can be seen for miles around.
The Friends of Shoreham Fort tea hut will also be open.
The group’s secretary Sharon Penfold stressed the importance of remembering the fallen.
She said: “We need to keep history alive and give it a future.
“It is so important to learn about the mistakes of the past to prevent them from happening again.
“Children especially need to be made aware of the sacrifices of the generations that preceeded them.”