Monday, January 16, 2012

Also Five months ago

While we were walking in Cuckmere Haven, we came upon this curious and poignant marker. The pictures show two directions from the marker - south toward the sea and north up the river valley toward Alfriston.

The marker says:

"This plaque commemorates the soldiers who died in this area and specifically in this field during World War II. Their numbers are unknown but their memory lives on.

The following is personal testimony from Corporal Leslie Edwards 1920-2004, a local man who served in the area and laid poppies on this spot every Remembrance Day until his death.

'I will never forget the day in 1940 when a Canadian company came to Cuckmere and pitched their tents in this field. I was stationed here and knew that bombers regularly used this valley for navigation purposes. I tried to tell the commanding officer, but he was not interested in what I had to say. Two mornings later the Messerschmitts arrived. Just as the sun was rising they came skimming over the water and up the valley. Around Alfriston, they banked hard and came back. Bearing down on the tents, they opened fire. Steam, soil, and grass rose in front of them as bullets and bombs entered the ground. All the young men in the marquees and bell tents were killed. The commanding officer, who was shaving at the time in the middle coastguard cottage died instantly when a shell went through the wall that held his mirror.'

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