PRESS RELEASE – On Tuesday 11th 2014 at 11 O clock all over the United Kingdom, churches and Official Places relating to the War, held service and commemorations to honour the soldiers of the Great War.
In the Sussex town of Seaford, the Royal British Legion paid tribute to two St. Lucians who are buried in the local War Cemetery. The men Private Dennis Fevrier and Private Nelson Fevrier were both from Micoud and were members of the British West Indies Regiment.
The cousins who joined up from St. Lucia, were members of the 2ndBattalion, of the British West Indies Regiment. Their rank numbers of 1149 and 1150, respectively from a Regiment numbering some 16,000 recruits, prove that they were indeed early voluntaries.
JD Douglas who placed a wreath at the memorial Grave takes up the story. “Sadly these two brave sons of St. Lucia would never see actual battle. The winter conditions aligned with the poor conditions of the huts where the men were stationed would prove to be their undoing.
Nelson died on 5th January 1916 at the age of 22 years. He was the son of AlponseFevrier and his wife Brebin Louis both of the district of Micoud. Dennis his cousin died the same month on the 23rd of January 1916. He was also 22 ”.
Local Historian Kevin Gordon author of the book Seaford and Eastbourne in the Great War, was more than happy to acknowledge the presence of these two brave St. Lucians whose bodies lie in Seaford War Cemetery.
The Reverend Paul Owen who conducted the service was more than encouraging and delighted to point out the grave stones of these two St. Lucians.
The coastal town of Seaford lies between Newhaven and Brighton, with a population of some 23,000. Clementine Churchill wife of Winston Churchill lived in the area. Sir Anthony Blunt, former keeper of the Queens Paintings, who was unmasked as a Soviet Spy is another famous son of Seaford.
Between October 1915 and March 1916, Seaford was used as a training camp for men from the West Indies, in preparation for fighting in Europe. 19 West Indians died at the Camp.
Among the 19 were two St. Lucians. The new arrivals were badly clothed for the harsh realities of the British cold in Winter. The huts in Seaford were badly insulated, and the camp was rife with diseases.
After the Service and wreath laying the gathered crowd adjoined to the Royal British Legion Seaford Headquarters. At the British Legion Headquarters representatives, of the Canadian Veterans Association, the Irish Veterans Association and the West Indian Association of Service Personnel spoke of their country’s contribution to the first World War.
When it was Douglas’ turn to speak, he told his audience than although his island was small compared to others who participated in the War, St. Lucia’s effort was more than its fighting weight.St. Lucians also joined up early and in larger numbers per capital than many other territories.
The war would also change the architectural look of his country as all the iron gates, and iron fixtures would be dismantled and sent to England to be smelted for aeroplanes. St. Lucia also provided limes, which would be used for the presentation of scurvy.
Historian Kevin Gordon reiterated that there will for ever be a link with the people of Seaford and St. Lucia. He himselfhad spent his honeymoon on the island some twenty years ago.
Another Local said he had visited the island in the early days of the Tourism, as a British Airways representative, twenty five years ago. Douglas again. “A lady asked me if I was from Castries, and I asked her if she had visited St. Lucia ? No she replied but I have been collecting St. Lucian stamps all my life”
Gordon ended by saying, “There are two St. Lucians buried in Seaford War Cemetery, they gave their lives for Empire and country. We are pleased that JD was able to lay a wreath in honour of their memories and all St. Lucians who served in the First World War.”
Also present was the grand niece of Dennis Fevrier,Timothea James who lives in London. As a child in Micoud, she remembers playing with his medals not realising its high honour and significance. She first attended her grand uncle’s grave in 2006, when the BBC contacted the family.
As Britain and her former colonies Commemorate the first world war in the next four years, local organisations will no doubt bring St. Lucia war effort to the fore, with a programme already set in place. Equally important that others are shouting out loud, our contributions on the world stage.
As JD Douglas remarked “we can all take our lead from Kennedy when he said “think not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country. We all have our part to play, I am one of many, and I must mention the late Ben Bousquet who before me, did so much. Long may it continue.”