Will you take in a soldier?

“I hope I don’t get sent back to Shoreham, I am very comfortable and happy here”.
Arthur Goodchild, 21st Jan 1915, writing from billet at Rose Hill Terrace, Worthing(Quote credit 2)

As the winter of 1914 drew in the tents of Shoreham Camp were washed out by dreadful rain. The locals of towns like Shoreham, Worthing and Brighton opened their doors to ‘billet’, provide accommodation, for the soldiers.

Despite early confusion over what to provide for the soldiers by December 1914 there was an agreed billeting allowance reported in the Worthing Gazette of 2s 6d per soldier per day to cover accommodation and rations. Worthing took in around 5000 troops including the Goodchild brothers, Arthur and Edmund. The billeting allowance was a great support to local households although the local press reported that it was still 10d less than Portslade and Lewes.

‘We are very comfortable here, three of us, we have a nice bedroom to ourselves and two beds and we can make ourselves quite at home.  We have our meals with the tenants of the house and they try and make us as comfortable as possible . . . We went on church parade this morning at nine 15 and we go on at nine tomorrow.  We have got a cupboard for the rifles and chest of drawers for our clothes and there is plenty of room for them.  It is quite different to Shoreham camp, we are just as comfortable as if at home…’
Edmund Goodchild, 19th Dec 1914, writing from billets at 17 Crescent Road Brighton. (Quote credit 2)

Public spaces were set aside for the men to drill and train. At Southwick the local green was used by the 7th Northamptonshire Regiment.

View a fantastic collection of images of the Northamptonshire men at billets in Southwick, courtesy of Neil Deville.

When it became clear the men would soon return to their new ‘hutment’ Camp in spring 1915 the press expressed local regret at the end to a ‘pleasing and profitable association’.

‘On behalf of all ranks of the [Seventy-second Infantry] Brigade the General expresses his sincere thanks for the [. . .] generous and sympathetic manner in which Officers and Men billeted in the town were treated by the householders, “which will” he adds, “make the four months’ stay in the town a very pleasant memory.”’
‘General Mitford’s Thanks’, Worthing Gazette, 14th April 1915. (Quote credit 3)

Find out more

Visit Henry Finch’s website to find out more about the Goodchild brothers experiences in billets in Worthing: www.goodchilds.org.

Key Sources: 
West Sussex County Times, West Sussex Gazette, Worthing Gazette and Horsham Times. Accessed at Worthing Library, Courtesy of West Sussex County Council Library Service www.westsussexpast.org.uk 
www.goodchilds.org courtesy of Henry Finch.