The Day War Broke Out..... (September 3rd 1939)

Jenny Pigott

World War II…” The day that war broke out…” *

On Sunday 3rd September 1939 the British people had been told that the Prime Minister, Mr Chamberlain, would speak to the country on the radio at 11 am, so the churches in Lewes had arranged for worshippers to be informed of his speech. As you’ll know, Germany had not undertaken to cease warlike actions against Poland, and so the Prime Minister told his people:


“I regret to tell you that no such undertaking has been received and we are therefore now at war with Germany.”


At St John sub Castro, the Parish Clerk Miss H Sandles, who had listened to her radio at home in Church Row, hurried into the church to give Rev H E Langhorne the news, which he announced from the pulpit.

As he spoke the first air raid warning was sounding, sending ARP services to their stations.

This alert proved to be a false alarm, as were others until the Battle of Britain in June 1940 – but by then many men from Lewes had joined the services, or been called up, some to travel to far countries, and a number from St John’s parish would have their names added below the list of casualties from the Great War.


*(We are very grateful to the late Mr R A Elliston for this information – from his book
‘Lewes at War’, published in 1995 by Alma Cott Publications.)

This page was added on 25/02/2018.

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