Cooden Beach Red Cross Hospital Sports Day 1917

From the Bexhill Chronicle 28th July 1917


At first one might have thought that the Clerk of the Weather had put his veto on the Sports and Fair that was to be held at Cooden Beach V.A.D. Hospital on Wednesday. But it turned out not to be so, for by the time fixed for the opening of the function the rain had ceased and the grass was well on the way to drying. Spirits rose with the drying up and so did the courage of the visitors, for after a brief time the cars from Bexhill were well packed with intending supporters who soon found their way to the hospital grounds. The sun came out and the afternoon proved to be one of the most pleasant that we have had for some time, after a decidedly unpromising morning.

Cricket match . Patients watching. 18th September 1915 ChronicleAnd as the sun warmed everyone with its genial rays, the visitors settled down to have a good time. What a remarkable ingenuity wounded men possess, and those at Cooden seem to have struck particularly brilliant ideas in organising their side shows. The voices of the “proprietors” rang out loudly as they invited everyone to “try their luck”. One was met in the entrance by a smiling Tommy, who desired you to guess the weight of an enormous cake. Needless to say, the winner got the cake, but for ingenuity the competition “took the cake”. The donors of the cake were Mr Arscott and Mr Addison. The gentleman at the coconut shies advertised their show lustily, and the nuts “all milky were fast bowled over, and the sixpences gathered in. Oh, it was great sport, making one marvel at times what an elusive thing a coconut is. Passing on from there, on a nicely arranged table, we found the “Hoop La”, with bottles of “ginger pop”, toys and other trifles all set out waiting to be “ringed”. Not a few pennies came into the coffers of this attraction.

Electricity is a tricky sprite but it was put to good use on Wednesday. It appeared real money or nothing indeed, for there reposing at the bottom of a bowl of water was a sixpence, and for the privilege of picking the sixpence out and keeping it you paid a penny. Confidently you stood before the bowl, and the gentleman in charge thrust a metal arrangement into your hand. You prepare to calmly take the sixpence and walk off, but it is there that the electricity came in, for as soon as the water was touched it seemed to have quite an affinity for the sixpence, and it did its best to frustrate your efforts. Still, it gained the cash for the cause.

In a little corner all to itself there was a fish pond, and for the sum of fourpence, and a considerable degree of dexterity, one was able to fish up with a rod and line mysterious packages which might have contained anything from a diamond necklace downward. One minute was the time you were allowed to pursue this fascinating sport, and after that you paid another fourpence for another minute.

Besides all the other interesting and exciting attractions one could have the experience of “walking the plank”. It consisted merely of walking along a plank fixed edgewise in the ground, and then at the end there was a poppy which had to be picked. A further condition was that a parasol be carried, which did not help matters in the slightest. Carefully, very carefully, you managed to preserve your equilibrium to the centre, when with another step up went the plank like a see-saw, and if you were prepared for the descent you progressed, and then bending oh, so carefully, plucked the tricky flower and took your prize.


Next one encountered two gentlemen baring the strange device “A Goose for Threepence”. It was a fine goose too, and to obtain it you paid three pence and guessed its weight. The nearest guess won the bird, and how careful the competitors were in their judgement, and how the guesses varied!

Behind a mysterious curtain, in a little hut, was situated the palmist. There for the sum of sixpence the past, present and future could be revealed, and many a nimble sixpence went to fill the money bags of the fortune-teller.

Teas and refreshing ices were obtainable, while all the time the band of the C.T.S. provided music which added greatly to the pleasure of the afternoon.


Cricket match. Unnamed VAD. 18th Septemebr 1915 ChronicleA splendid programme of sports had been arranged, the first event being the hundred yards race. This was keenly contested, the men showing that, though they had sustained wounds, they were none the less active. The winners were Boswell, Hall and Jones. Throwing the cricket ball was an event that caused much interest, the winners being Williams, Jones and Crane. The humming race was won by Nurse Taylor, Nurse Allison and Nurse Knapkin. One of the open events was the children’s race for visitors. There were a good number of entries and the race caused considerable amusement, the youngsters putting their best in to it. The winners were Margaret Jones, Bessie Kent, and Jack Hampton. An item that was very diverting was the blindfold soldiers led by nurses race. Its title fully explains it, and the winners were Nurse Grey and Young, Nurse Homes and Boswell, and Nurse Chapman and Ogden.

Of all the events the one that was the funniest was undoubtedly the “sticky bun” competition. The row of buns all covered in treacle soon had entrants ready to get to business. The buns were chased round and round, the “chaser” getting freely smeared the while. After the whole of the bun had been consumed a bottle of ginger beer had to be drunk. The winners were Young, Baling and Butler.

The relay race was between the respective wards, the winners being: First Pam Ward; Second Spud Ward; Third Southdown Ward. After that came the thread and needle race between pairs of wounded men and nurses. The winners were as follows: 1st Nurse Warren and Hill; 2nd Nurse Bailey and Boswell; 3rd Nurse R. Allison and Lewis. The long jump was won by 1st Jones; 2nd Mason; 3rd King. The high jump by: 1st Skeggs,; 2nd Crane. These events were finely carried through, the entrants showing excellent form.

The men of Sussex 33 Red Cross Detachment had a little race all to themselves. It consisted of an egg and spoon race and the number of entries were very satisfactory. Steady hands and plenty of patients won the race for: 1st Orderly Bristow and 2nd Roberts. The tug-of-war was another interesting item between Spud and Pam Wards. It was a long pull and a strong pull and the winners were Spud Ward.

(Details of entertainment and prize giving omitted).

The stern duties of war which has made it necessary to establish a hospital at quiet Cooden were all placed in the background for the time being, and wounded soldier and summer visitor set out to have a merry time. They were successful. The men helped those present to spend an entertaining afternoon, while the visitors helped to make the men’s efforts a success. A word must be said regarding the work of the nurses. They assisted in so many ways that without them the fete would have been impossible. The dainty teas that were arranged, the tasteful ices, and the fruit and cream were all due to their attention, and any success that has been attained – and we are sure that successful it was — is thoroughly deserved by all who were responsible for the organisation of one of the most enjoyable events of the war-time summer.

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