Spike Milligan 1919 – 2002

spikeBexhill was very empty when I was there – I was the only one there

Spike Milligan was born at Ahmednagar in India where his father was serving as a gunner in the army, as had his grandfather and great-grandfather. The family came to England in 1934 and prior to the start of World War II he played trumpet in a jazz band. Spike Milligan’s connection with Bexhill started with his posting on 2 June 1940 to D Battery 56th Heavy Regiment Royal Artillery which was stationed in ‘Worthingholm’ in Hastings Road. Although the unit was moved around the area in the usual military fashion they did not finally leave until 6 January 1943, on their way to Algeria.

The Battery Farewell Dinner and Dance had been held at The Devonshire Arms on 18 December 1942. He met Harry Secombe whilst in the army and they teamed-up for concerts and, through the Windmill Theatre, met Peter Sellars and Michael Bentine. Thus ‘The Goon Show’ was born. One broadcast is of special local interest – The Dreaded Batter Pudding Hurler (of Bexhill-on-Sea). Apart from that creation Spike Milligan has written several books including wonderful verse for children and his trilogy of wartime memories. He acted on the stage and in films, his last role was in Gormenghast on BBC2 in January 2000.

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