“I had pleasure in coming face to face with Bombardier Wells, what a magnificent looking chap he is.”
Letter from William Plaskett, 1916, Royal Fusiliers, Hut 33, Shoreham Camp. (Quote credit 4)
Boxing, rink hockey and football: just three of the popular sports played by soldiers at Shoreham Camp in their free time.
One of the earliest reported sports matches in the local papers was an informal ‘international’ rugby match held at the Goldstone Ground, Hove, to raise money for the Prince of Wales’ Fund and the Belgian Refugees’ Fund. The game was between England (represented by men from Shoreham Camp) and Wales (men from Seaford Camp).
A most popular past time was boxing. The Camp had a chalk pit converted into a boxing arena where boxing matches would be held in front of huge audiences. One of the fighters in the early bouts was Bombardier Billy Wells who is believed to also have helped with training at Shoreham Camp before going over to France to train troops there.
Watch one of the boxing matches at Shoreham Camp, filmed by British Pathé 1914-1918:
Teams from the Camp would often pit themselves against local groups especially when it came to rink hockey at Worthing Dome; an event regularly reported on in the Worthing Gazette. The civilians regularly did well against the military teams, even the ladies team beat them on occasion.
Shoreham Army Camp was touched by the lives of many sportsmen, for example, Edgar “Mobbsy” Mobbs, the famous Northampton rugby player who raised men for the 7th Northamptonshire Regiment and famous boxer, Bombardier Billy Wells, who boxed at Shoreham’s chalk pit boxing ring.
Find out more
Watch a film created by Worthing College Students about the Sports and Entertainments in the Camp.
To view a selection of articles and find out how to search for more, visit the West Sussex County Council’s website: Great War West Sussex 1914-1918.
Key Sources: West Sussex Gazette, Worthing Gazette and Horsham Times. Accessed at Worthing Library, Courtesy of West Sussex County Council Library Service www.westsussexpast.org.uk