Military Training & the beach – Hastings June 1918
From interviews conducted in 1992 with Jack Wilson.
We got general military training at Hastings.
It was old hat to me; I’d done it all with Durham Light Infantry in 1915 and then I had two and a half years on the Front Line. I should have gone straight on to Bristol.
We were taught drill, discipline, military law, aeronautics and gunnery.
We drilled and exercised in the various parks in Hastings and at low tide we went down onto the beach and put on a drilling display by the pier. Other times we marched along the front, everyone taking their turn to lead the whole squadron.
We used to go on the front and take the whole squadron drilling them.
You had to take your turn. You marched the lads to the lectures we had in front of all the holidaymakers. They put pictures of us in ‘The Hastings and St.Leonards Pictorial Advertiser.’
You got topography, sort of local map reading, and Morse Code. I never forget S.O.S.
As well as holidaymakers there were convalescing soldiers in blue uniforms on the pier; they were looked after by nurses from Old Hastings House
There were fisherwomen laying clothes on the beach to dry and horses turning capstans to bring boats up the beach.
We swam in the sea; I have photographs of that.
And I did this lovely ‘sand scratching’ of a Roman Soldier on the beach that could have been viewed from the pier.