By Chris Comber
The coverage over the summer of the Great War in the media appears to be mesmerized by the mud and trenches of the Western Front in France and Flanders. It is often forgotten that this was a world war, with major operations in Africa, Egypt, Gallipoli, Mesopotamia, Salonika, China, Italy and the far-flung islands of the South Pacific. To give one example, the British Corps sent to aid the Italians in 1917 numbered nearly 150,000 men, far exceeding our miniscule standing army of today.
There is little mention of the Royal Navy (personnel numbered 400,000 in 1918), which was at the time a colossal force controlling the global trade of the Empire and its enormous merchant fleet, and maintaining the Grand Fleet, based at Scapa Flow, and bases overseas.
Five Lindfield men lost their lives whilst serving in the Royal Navy. Seventeen year old Harold Spiers was serving on the Cruiser HMS Hawke when she was torpedoed by U9 in the North Sea on 15th October 1914. He was just one of 524 men lost out of a crew of 544. Imagine the outcry in today’s news if this was reported!
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