New book for West Sussex council’s war commemoration

Territorials, probably 4th battalion Royal Sussex Regiment, leave for France from Chichester, 5th August 1914 - picture submitted by West Sussex County Council picture archive
Territorials, probably 4th battalion Royal Sussex Regiment, leave for France from Chichester, 5th August 1914 - picture submitted by West Sussex County Council picture archive

West Sussex County Council will be taking part in a poignant commemoration to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War on Monday (August 4).

The council will join people across the country to take part in LIGHTS OUT which will see people turn off their lights between 10pm and 11pm to mark the hour that Britain entered First World War.

The county council will be switching the lights off at County Hall in Chichester, with just one light left on at historic Edes House as a mark of respect and to reflect on the significance of the time.

Monday will also mark the launch of a new book about the impact of First World War on West Sussex.

‘Great War Britain: West Sussex, Remembering 1914-18’ has been a massive undertaking by West Sussex County Council Library and Archive services and the book is the culmination of an 18 month project involving more than 150 volunteers.

The project, which was funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of almost £90,000, was designed to chart the impact of the First World War on residents.

Much of the initial research work was undertaken by volunteers who listed over 10,000 events from local newspapers and researched nearly 100 case studies of servicemen and Home Front topics.

A team of academics, archivists, librarians and researchers all contributed to the book. These included Dr Caroline Adams, Justin Burns, Martin Dale, Dr John Godfrey, Professor Keith Grieves, Martin Hayes, Martin Mace, Alan Readman, Professor Brian Short, Katherine Slay, Tim Stanton and Emma White.

There are chapters on: Agriculture and Food, Billeting & Military Installations, Churches, Home Front, Hospitals & Convalescent Homes, Invasion Counter Measures, Local Economy and Morale, Mobilisation & Recruitment, Those Left Behind & Those Who Returned, Royal Sussex Regiment, War Memorials & Peace, and Women.

Professor Gary Sheffield, a leading Great War academic and author, said: “This book is a significant piece in the mosaic which, when combined with the various other local histories, will give us a more balanced understanding of the British experience of the First World War.

“Great War Britain - West Sussex is a fine achievement and could stand as a model for collaborative local histories of this type. I congratulate everyone involved in it, and commend it warmly to a wide readership.”

Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council, added: “It is wonderful to see the project come to fruition with this book.

“It is a genuine community project, which has drawn on the wealth of information brought to light by a committed team of volunteers and the specialist expertise of a dozen authors.

“It is fascinating to read the story of our county’s contribution to the war effort, both on the battlefield and on the home front.

“We are proud in West Sussex to play our part in acknowledging the debt we owe to the generation of 1914-18.”

Great War Britain: West Sussex, Remembering 1914-18 is published by the History Press and will be available from Monday August 4.

It will be on sale at all public libraries in West Sussex and at the West Sussex Record Office in Chichester, priced at £12.99 – saving £2 on the recommended retail price of £14.99.

Throughout the year, a number of special events will be continuing to take place at libraries across West Sussex. Find out more by visiting

For more information on LIGHTS OUT and other national events being arranged as part of the centenary of First World War, visit