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Eastbourne, Sussex: A Camp for Thousands of Injured Soldiers

The convalescent camp that could hold 3,500 men at any one time

In 1915, a convalescent camp called Summerdown opened in Eastbourne to treat some of the thousands of soldiers injured in World War One. The camp could hold 3,500 men at any one time and was a dominant feature in the town for the remainder of the war.

More than 150,000 soldiers were treated at the camp and the techniques used were pioneering for the time. The men at the camp were encouraged to take up different practical skills like gardening and basket-weaving and there was a blacksmith’s forge in the hope that these activities would help them get mentally as well as physically fit. Many of these activities were run by local people.

The soldiers were a familiar sight in Eastbourne during the war, and there is evidence that some met and married local women.

Now, a project is underway to find out more about the people who worked at Summerdown and the soldiers who were sent there. Steven George explains.

Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex BN20 8BX
Image shows Summerdown Camp, courtesy of Katherine Buckland
Presented by Steven George

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