The real life stories of our fallen heroes

Morgan Sanger-Davis (Centre)
Morgan Sanger-Davis (Centre)

The Hastings Remembers exhibition at Hastings Museum introduces us to the real-life stories of local people caught up in the events of the First World War.

Two families who are featured are the Sanger-Davies and the Scrivens. Llewellyn Sanger-Davies was studying for a degree at Cambridge when the war broke out.

He received his commission in September 1914 and by January 1916 he was a Captain in the 15th Battalion Durham Light Infantry.

He was reported missing on 2 July, 1916, after taking part in the Battle of the Somme.

It was later confirmed that he had been killed in action on 1 July. Six months later his identity disc was returned to his family but his body was never identified.

Llewellyn-Davis-Sanger is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial; he was just 22 when he died.

His brother Morgan, two years younger, was already in the Officer’s Training Corps. This didn’t guarantee immediate active service, so he enlisted at Middle Street Drill Hall on 4 September 1914 and entered the army as a private. He received his commission whilst serving in France and became a Second Lieutenant with the 5th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment.

He was wounded in August 1916 and spent many months in hospital recovering, but went on to serve in Italy in 1918. Morgan survived the war and later emigrated to Canada. He re-joined the army during the Second World War and was stationed at several Prisoner of War camps across Canada.

He died in 1963, aged 67. The sister of the Sanger-Davis brothers, Olwyn, kept a remarkable scrapbook of newspaper cuttings, letters and photographs throughout the war. It provides an astonishing record of life both at the war front and in Hastings. It has been loaned to the exhibition by her descendants.

Thomas Scrivens was taken prisoner in March 1918 but returned home after the war. His son Leonard also had many memories of Hastings during the First World War. Born in 1911, he lived in Silverhill and was allowed to roam quite freely, going as far afield as the Fishmarket and the East Hill. He remembered picking wild strawberries from the banks of Sedlescombe Road North, just south of Junction Road, when the most exciting traffic were the two trams an hour. He also had clear memories of the 1917 pier fire, a beached coaster, the Blimps (small airships stationed at Polegate) and the stranded U-boat, which was washed up opposite the Queen’s Hotel on his 8th birthday. In the exhibition you can learn more about these local people and many others, including conscientious objector Henry Sargent and William Gray, head teacher of St Paul’s CE Primary School. Thanks to the families for images and Hastings Museum for research. Ann Kramer, writer and historian, will give a talk at Hastings Museum on Saturday November 15 at 2pm on the subject of conscientious objectors. Further Reading “Conscientious Objectors of the First World War. A Determined Resistance” by Ann Kramer, available from Waterstones priced £8.99.