Service pays fitting tribute to Pagham soldiers killed in war

Jane Upton with the metal plaque awarded in memory of Angus Norman McKay SUS-140408-094759001
Jane Upton with the metal plaque awarded in memory of Angus Norman McKay SUS-140408-094759001

JANE Upton carried a personal reminder of the first world war to a special commemorative service at Pagham’s parish church.

She took along the Death Penny awarded in memory of her father’s brother, Angus Norman McKay.

Private McKay was killed in action in Flanders on July 28, 1918, while he served with the 8th Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders.

He is buried at the Bezancy Military Cemetery in France.

His name is also remembered in memorials in his home city of Inverness in Scotland.

Jane, 82, of the Aldwick Bay estate, said she kept the Death Penny on show in her home to remind her of Pte McKay. It states ‘He Died For Freedom and Honour’.

“I found the service very moving. I wanted to come and I found myself thinking of Angus,” she said.

She also took along a detailed history of 
Pte McKay’s life in the Army as well as a family tree.

Dennis Witcomb, 80, of Springfield, carried miniatures of his father’s medals from the war. 
Pte Albert Witcomb survived the horrors of Gallipoli in the Royal Army Medical Corps and died at 76.

He said: “It was a special service and a different one because we could concentrate on this one issue – that it is 100 years since the first world war started. I liked the way the vicar spoke about the sadness of the ongoing conflict. They said the first world war was the war to end all wars – but it wasn’t.”

Frank Parvin, 72, of Gossamer Lane, had his great-uncle killed in March 1918 aged 28 after he had served since the start of the war.

Frederick Parvin was a gunner in the Royal Field Regiment. “I’ve been to his grave in Beaulencourt, a rural cemetery in France, and it was really emotional, seeing the same initials as mine on the gravestone. I felt it was important to be here this afternoon. I found the service very emotional,” Mr Parvin said.

Former servicemen Stephen Cox-Rusbridge said: “It’s important to remember these types of occasions and it’s important for children to know about them.

“It’s so easy to forget in today’s society. We are all so busy. But, if we don’t remember them, we don’t teach the generation below us to remember and the conflicts in which those 21 gave their lives will be forgotten.”

He served in the Household Cavalry from 1984-99 and ended as a farrier corporal of horses. He was joined at the service by his son, Benjamin Cox-Rusbridge, 15, and Alice Cox-Rusbridge, 13.

Sandy Sell has researched Pagham’s first world war fallen in a book of remembrance. She said: “It was a lovely service. I’m so glad they remembered the 21 servicemen. The book has been well looked at.”

Some 80 worshippers attended the 40-minute service on Sunday afternoon at St Thomas a’Becket Church.

A single bell tolled 21 times to honour each Pagham man killed in the war.

The Rev Mark Eminson told the congregation the service was a time of mixed emotions.

“Of course, 100 years ago it was pure excitement and joy and the challenge of serving one’s country. But, 100 years on, we can look back and know what happened in the next four years,” he said.

“The pall of carnage of the Great War and its conflicts hangs over us as well.”

The service consisted of readings from Alice Meynell’s Summer in England 1914, Psalm 46 and Revelation 
21: 1-7 as well as three hymns, prayers and a litany.

Those remembered were: Frederick Blackman, Maurice Blackman, Douglas Davis, Reginald Dell, Charles Griffin, George Hale, C Herbert Hartmann, Alfred Holden, Albert Janman, Ernest Keates, William R Keates, John L Mathews, John E Miles, Frank Misselbrook, Stephen Misselbrook, Alfred Norris, James Patten, Frederick Stoner, Leonard Waller and Albert Williams.

Thomas Venus is missing from the church’s memorial but he was also a Pagham resident.