8 March 2018

Memorial ceremony for World War One hero

A commemorative stone will be unveiled at the Old Steine War Memorial in Brighton on Friday 16 March to honour a World War One hero.

Second Lieutenant Ernest Beal VC, from Brighton, was awarded the Victoria Cross after being killed in action in March 1918 at the age of 35. 

Ernest’s bravery will be remembered at the ceremony at the war memorial, which is being organised by the city council and open to all.

War memorial ceremony to honour Ernest Beal

People will be gathering at the memorial from 11am. The Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, Peter Field, will arrive at 11.25am accompanied by the Yorkshire Regiment and Princess of Wales Royal Regiment Guard of Honour and members of the Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas. The unveiling ceremony will begin at 11.30am.

Guests will include Ernest’s great nephew and his fiancee’s great niece, the mayor Councillor Mo Marsh, the High Sheriff of East Sussex Maureen Chowen, and representatives of the Sussex Yeomanry, Royal Sussex Regiment, Yorkshire Regiment, The Green Howards, Royal British Legion and the Boy’s Brigade.

Council leader Warren Morgan, who is chair of the city's Civil Military Partnership Board, said: “The commemorative stone will provide a lasting memorial to Ernest’s bravery.  Local residents and anyone else interested in paying their respects are very welcome to attend.”  

Blue plaque to be unveiled on Lewes Road

Later the same day, a blue plaque will be unveiled by the mayor at Ernest’s birthplace at 148 Lewes Road, in a ceremony organised by the Brighton & Hove Commemorative Plaque Panel*. People will be gathering from 1.45pm to watch a 150 strong procession starting at St Martin's Church, Lewes Road, proceeding to his birthplace. The procession will include school children from both St Martin's and Fairlight schools. The unveiling will be at 2pm.

Lewes road will be closed between St Martin’s Church and the junction with Pevensey Road to allow the procession to take place. There are likely to be some delays in the area. The road will be closed from 1.45pm to 2.15pm

About Ernest Beal

Ernest was born in 1883 and attended Brighton Grammar School before working at Beal’s, his father’s stationery business in East Street. 

He enlisted in the Sussex Yeomanry at the outbreak of war and went on to join the 16th Royal Sussex Regiment and the 3rd Yorkshire Regiment, serving at Gallipoli and on the Western Front.

Ernest was awarded the posthumous VC for conspicuous bravery on 22 March 1918 at St Leger.   Later the same day he died from wounds suffered when saving the life of one of his men under fire.

The Victoria Cross commemorative stone is part of a national scheme that will see every VC recipient of WW1 commemorated with a paving stone.

  • A display featuring a portrait of Ernest is on show at Brighton Museum until January next year as part of the museum’s 1918-2018: 100 years Remembrance Season. (See image attached, credit Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton & Hove.)
  • Val Bundy, the great niece of Ernest’s fiancée May Bundy, is giving a short talk about Ernest at the museum on Tuesday 13 March at 12 noon. (Museum entry is free to Brighton & Hove residents with proof of address.)
  • The Sussex Yeomanry Association will be celebrating its centenary early in 2019.

*For further information about the blue plaque ceremony contact Brighton & Hove Commemorative Plaque Panel, Roger Amerena 07785 235585.

Image credit: Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton & Hove.