German bandsmen get hard labour for Sussex Oak assault
In May 1985, George Thomas Adams appeared in East Grinstead Police Court with his head bandaged to accuse four members of a German band of assaulting him near the Sussex Oak. Mr Adams, a gardener at Beech Green, told the court he had gone to the Oak at lunchtime ‘on business’ to meet Herbert Ashby. While the two stood talking in the road, the four prisoners – Peter Schanz, Jacob Hammoen, Henry Schmidt and George Brown – came from the direction of Holtye and started to play ‘a tune with brass instruments,’ which according to bystanders amused horses and cows in nearby fields and caused them to run towards the gates. Pennies When the band had finished playing Schmidt approached Adams ‘in a demanding way’ and said, “Haven’t you pennies?” Adams replied: “As an Englishman I have to work for mine and I shan’t give you any.’ That clearly annoyed the musicians. Brown swore at Adams and aimed a blow at him with his bass tuba. Adams managed to ward off the first blow which caught him on the shoulder but the second attempt caught him on the head.
‘As the Germans were apparently closing on him he ran round the corner to escape out of the way and as he was trying a door at the rear of the premises, the prisoner Schmidt struck him on the head with the euphonium he had in his hand. ‘The blow caused him to fall on his knee and whilst in that position, Brown struck him again on the head with his big instrument, knocking him completely down.’ Sanctuary Adams recovered his feet and tried to escape but the assault continued. Ashby then challenged the assailants, asking, “Do you mean to kill the man,” at which the quartet turned on him. Adams finally made it into the sanctuary of the pub where his
wounds were bandaged. The police were called and the Germans were later arrested in Tunbridge Wells. Sucking a lemon Mr Ashby, a Blackham coal dealer, backed up Mr Adams’ account but Brown denied having assaulted Adams and said that someone had tried to put them off while they were playing by sucking a lemon and then spitting them. He further alleged that Adams ‘wanted him to fight and hit him on the mouth, nose and arm. He told Adams he could not fight and held up his instrument to protect his face but he denied striking prosecutor with it.’ He claimed that the damage done to his instrument was as a result of
falling down on the train to Tunbridge Wells. Self defence Schmidt said he had only used his instrument in self-defence and the other two accused said they had not been involved at all. The police surgeon gave evidence that he had examined Adams and found ‘his head swollen on the left side above the ear. There were five very superficial wounds on the scalp which had been bleeding. The left eye was bruised and swollen and a bruise the size of a shilling was visible on the top of the right shoulder.’ He concluded, “Considerable force must have been used to produce this bruising and wounds” The prisoners were committed for trial and ‘were removed in custody, looking very downcast.’ They appeared again a few weeks later and even though Mr Knight of the Temperance Hall Eastbourne said that he had known them for seven years and that he wished his fellow countrymen were as sober and quiet as the Germans, all four were found guilty and sentenced to three weeks’ hard labour. Based on report in Kent & Sussex Courier 14 May 1895
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