The Last Cowboy in Sussex ~ William (Bill) Lindfield
William Lindfield 23.3.1927 - 28.11.2011
Born and bred in Sompting, Bill’s left school at the age of 14 to work with his father Bill senior and grandfather Jack Stoner on St John's Farm in the Cokeham part of Sompting. His youthful memories are of time on the farm in Sompting with his cattle and as a carter driving his much loved horse, “Old Blossom”.
Bill worked for the War Agricultural Committee at Lee Farm on the Duke of Norfolk's estate between 1947-1950. Lee Farm was a substantial arable farm in a valley straddling the parishes of Clapham, Patching, Angmering and Storrington. It was farmed with Cobden Farm, Sulllington, and together extended over 2000 acres. It had been used as a training ground for the Canadian Army during the Second World War and immediately afterwards returned to agricultural use under the War Agricultural Committee before returning to private ownership in 1950.
He then served as a career soldier in HM Forces making Sergeant-Major, and married Hilda Jackaman in 1949, with whom he lived to the end of their lives in Halewick Lane, Sompting.
During his later life Bill shared widely his deep aﬀection for Sussex as a broadcaster, writer, raconteur and poet. He was a much loved member of Lancing & Sompting Pastfinders https://sites.google.com/site/lancsompastfinders/ local history group from its early days, leading the group on journeys through Sompting's memory lanes.
Bill started to write the book about 1985. He wanted to share his Sussex roots with his family and others. Pastfinders members obtained a grant from WSCC in 2007 to have it retyped. A small number of copies were self-published and a few copies printed for Bill's family and friends.
Those who knew Bill, reading the book, hear his voice. You can hear Bill reading from an excerpt from The Last Cowboy on this link - the sound quality is poor but does improve after the first two or three minutes. Hearing Bill's voice is essential to fully appreciating his writing style.
Wider publication as a physical book remained unviable because of its length. Towards the end of Bill's life Mike Tristram discussed with him the possibility
of publishing his writings online, and sharing more widely his cassette recordings. Bill was pleased to support both ideas which through Lancing & Sompting Pastfinders
have now come to fruition. Click here to read 'The Last Cowboy' The volume on the link above is the first, unillustrated edition. A second edition is in progress which will
include illustrations in particular from Bill's own collection of old photographs. Click here for Ernie Wenborn's map of places in the book
Lindfield's Poetry in Old Sussex Voice
Bill Lindfield also captured an era, and a way of looking at life, in his Poetry on a number of occasions, the last, memorable time being in the Sompting Downs Barn on 2 August 2011.
NB The above links are to the first edition. A second edition is planned for which we hope to find some or all of the missing numbered poems, in tape recordings made by Bill, together with appropriate illustrations. Most importantly these recordings of Bill reading his own poetry will allow you to hear them as they should best be heard, in his own voice, on links from this website.
With thanks to Ray Hamblett and Brian Drury for digitising the tapes.
As mentioned,after the war Bill worked on the WARAG farming scheme which brought him to a farm, where with his mates they came
upon the escape tunnel from what he later learned to be a Special Home Guard Auxiliary (Churchill's Secret Resistance) hideout in the
woods near Warningcamp.
You can read his report of the event in the following leaf from his manuscript:
A Memoir of Sompting Past: 'The Last Cowboy'
Bill regularly talked about the “old days” in the Village, writing his memories in a book "The Last Cowboy" - which takes its title from an incident where he had to lasso an out-of-control bull.
The extract below is from the website of CART (Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team) and it tells how the base, which had
by now collapsed, was rediscovered and Bill taken back to renew his memories.
Below is a picture of Bill making his unsteady but determined way through the trees to the dugout, where he became
This is a photo of the Candle Holder
referred to by Bill in his diary page above
and recovered during the excavation.
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