The Great War was over; the 1914-18 conflict was the biggest, bloodiest, and the evilest war in our history to that date. The men that fought on the battlefield where, as in all wars, just boys.
Eighteen years old, and early twenties, when they went to war, but they came back as men, having made the transition in the most frightening way possible. Sadly, of course, so many did not come back at all. These young men in rural areas like ours came mostly from a feudal way of life enjoying few privileges.
When they returned they felt they had earned a better way of life and had learned the value of comradeship. Meetings were held to find a way in which they may band together to achieve their ambitions.
At a General Meeting on 2nd May 1919 held at The George Hotel, it was decided to form a Post of The Comrades of The Great War, an association which was forming across the country for similar reasons.
Captain Miller was elected Chairman of the Branch with a committee of twelve, and Mr T. Clarkson, Secretary. Captain Miller was asked to act as representative of the Post at a Divisional Meeting to be held in Brighton on the 3rd of May, which perhaps demonstrates the speed at which things were happening.
Fifty-four members were elected at the meeting on the 2nd May, but this number increased rapidly at frequent regular meetings. On the 9th of May, a letter was sent to the Henfield Parish Council asking them to call a Parish Meeting to discuss Peace Celebrations. All of their meetings were being held at The George Hotel which was fine as far as it went, but it rapidly became clear that they needed a home of their own where they could meet on a daily or nightly basis. Approaches were made at various places in the village, but none was successful at this stage.
Entertainment and sport were very much in the minds of these young men and it has to be remembered that there was no radio, television, or any means of mass communication. So entertainment was very much a thing that they had to provide for themselves. It is probably true that many were able to stand up and sing or to play a musical instrument in front of their fellows.
So it was that frequent “Smokings” or “Smoking Concerts” were held where members and other local people entertained each other. “The Comrades of the Great War” was strictly men only of course, but for these events, ladies were very welcome, and often provided part of the entertainment. Eventually “The Henfield Comrades Concert Party” was formed to entertain members and other local groups, and in fact travelled to places like Steyning and Brighton. Similarly, visits from other travelling concert parties from places like Brighton were organised and well attended.
All the while attempts were being made to find themselves a permanent home, considerations were even being given to building one, but all to no avail until at a meeting on the 9th January 1920 it was announced that negotiations were underway to purchase, and adapt, “The Scout House”. This is the building which we continue to occupy today, and it would seem that it had been the home of the Boy Scouts, presumably until they obtained the space they use today.
The above was taken from an article by Don Scutt in the BN5 magazine.
Today, The Henfield Club is fully engaged in the community working with the British Legion, the Parish Council, the BP Guild, local Churches and with volunteers to participate in village events.The photograph is one such one major yearly event - Remembrance Sunday.