Heene Heritage Open Day 2021 took place on Saturday 18 September 2021 where Sarah Nathaniel from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CGWC), led some guided tours at Heene Cemetery.
Heene Heritage Open Day 2021 took place on Saturday 18 September 2021 and we spoke with Sarah Nathaniel from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CGWC).Tweet
On 13 August 2021, we proudly announced that we’d been able to put up a sign to let visitors know that there are war graves at Heene Cemetery.
We had worked with representatives at the CWGC to gain permission for this and Sarah Nathaniel was one of them. We asked her what she thinks is the significance of having a CWGC sign for a place like Heene Cemetery?
I think it’s a fabulous achievement!
So many more people may now be drawn to the site.
They can now clearly see that there are war graves there, that they might not otherwise have known about.
It also helps promote the Friends of Heene Cemetery and the fantastic work they do.
What can people learn by visiting a site that bears a CWGC sign?
By visiting one of these sites, I’d hope that people would be able to see the range of men and women we commemorate: all different ages, services, experience and understand that behind every one of our headstones or memorials lies a person with a story that needs to be told and remembered.
Can you tell us about what CWGC in the South East does? What is your key focus?
The key focus for the CWGC in the South East, as it is across the UK, is to raise awareness of the casualties from both world wars who are commemorated by us in the area.
Many people know of our work in France and Belgium but don’t often know that there is likely to be a Commonwealth war grave or two in their local churchyard!
Across the UK we commemorate 300,000 service people from both world wars.
Tell us a little about the work that you do for the CWGC – if there’s a typical day what does it look like?
My job is Public Engagement Coordinator for the South East region and it’s a fantastic job!
I educate and engage audiences of all ages in the work of the Commission. Yes, we talk about our history, but there is so much work that is ongoing and current too.
Some days I might be giving a talk to a local history or WI group, leading a tour at a cemetery in the area, representing the Commission at events or, my favourite, working with schools and youth groups, helping the next generation understand the importance of what we do and remembering our war dead.
No two days are the same!
What have you found interesting about the casualties from the First and Second World Wars buried at Heene?
One of the main things that fascinated me about Heene was the worldwide nature of those remembered there.
For such a small cemetery, in the middle of Worthing, there are casualties who died that are commemorated by us on sites all over the world.
Some as far away as Iraq, Palestine, Egypt,
Many of the casualties are listed on our great memorials to the missing, at Thiepval in France and the Menin Gate in Belgium.
Every cemetery is such a microcosm of the bigger picture of both wars and our work.
I’m also very drawn to the story of Lancelot Prickett and not only because of his fabulous name!
As a member of the Royal Flying Corps, even before the RAF was created in 1918, Prickett was a pioneer in military aviation, which was a really new venture in those days.
The number of deaths of pilots in accidents, just like Lancelot’s, highlights just what a dangerous profession this was.
There are also local lads such as Walter Stevens who left Worthing to fight in France with the Royal West Surrey Regiment. Walter was badly injured on the Western Front and sent back to a hospital in Kent to recover.
When he sadly died of these injuries and because he was in this country, his parents were able to request that he was returned to them for burial in Heene Cemetery.
Many parents of those who died abroad were unable to do this due to the policy of non-repatriation.
Are you are interested in the work that the Commission does?
Follow the South East Supporters Facebook Page – anyone is welcome to join. The team regularly share what’s happening on behalf of the Commission locally and it’s a very friendly group for sharing stories and asking questions.