A Message from the King ….

In August 1914 as British troops started leaving for War, the King sent this message to them……

“You are leaving home to fight for the safety and honour of my Empire. Belgium, whose country we are pledged to defend has been attacked and France is about to be invaded by the same powerful foe.  I have implicit confidence in you, my soldiers. Duty is your watchword and I know your duty will be nobly done.”

“I shall follow your every movement with deepest interest and mark with eager satisfaction your daily progress: indeed, your welfare will never be absent from my thoughts”

“I pray God to bless you and guard you and bring you back victorious”

(Taken from the Lynn News 18th August 1914)



Broadland During the First World War

To commemorate the centenary of the Great War, The Museum of the Broads 2014 exhibition, ‘Broadland During the First World War’, highlights the impact of war on the people of the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads.

Broadland exhibition

The First World War was an international conflict but what happened to individuals was not always recorded. This special exhibition, focuses on the stories of local people in Broadland and how they coped with zeppelin raids, farming, food rationing, black outs, nursing injured servicemen, romance from a distance, and being called up to fight.  Displays include a series of postcards, maps and items from the trenches, photos, medals and mementoes, and a series of letters written from the front line by a local lad, Percy Bird of Brumstead, who was killed in what is now modern day Iraq, in 1916.

The Museum worked with students from Stalham High School and local people to record the stories. The film can be viewed at the Museum of the Broads at Stalham until the end of October and on the dedicated website, www.broadlandfirstworldwar.org.uk.

The team that made the film outside Stalham High School in June

The team that made the film outside Stalham High School in June

The Museum of the Broads at Stalham received £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for, ‘Broadland During the First World War’.  Awarded through HLF’s First World War: Then and Now programme, the Museum worked with Stalham High School and Media Projects East.  The exhibition, including the film, will run to Sunday 2nd November and will be repeated again in 2018.  It was curated by Nicola Hems.

The Museum of the Broads is open daily, 10:30-17:00, until 2nd November.

Museum LogoHLF logo

August 1914 – News from West Norfolk

4th – Territorials leave Lynn on embodiment

5th – Lord Kitchener appointed Secretary of  State for War

5th – At Lynn, soldiers stop and question all travellers over the Freebridge by motor-car, motor-cycle, bicycle, or horse-drawn vehicle; also at Gaywood railway crossing. The military occupation of these points on the high roads excites much public interest.

11th – Town’s meeting at Lynn, convened by the Mayor to support the Prince Of Wales’s National Relief Fund; £8OO promised in the room

15th – Due to lack of wood pulp, the local newspapers will reduce the number of their pages

15th – Sandringham Grounds and Gardens are closed to visitors

15th – German spies are reported to be using racing pigeons to carry messages to Germany

28th – German floating mines reported off The Wash

28th – Bank Holiday, a showery afternoon. Over 9,000 attend Lynn Gala


Catching up on projects we’ve blogged about!

Since we’ve started blogging here we’ve mentioned several events and projects that staff from all over the county have been involved in, and after the big commemoration events on August 4th we thought we’d let you know how some of them have gone.

ww1 forum


We’ve posted several times about our projects with young people in Norwich and Yarmouth run in conjunction with the Society of Chief Librarians – and we hope that some of you managed to see the films while they were on the screen in Fusion at The Forum.

Norfolk was just one of several areas taking part in this project and now work from all over the country can be seen on the Digital Memorial.


Back in July we posted about the Wymondham School’s project. This comprised a day of event in Wymondham and then an exhibition held at the Forum in Norwich.  The organisers of the events have been in touch to let us know that many of the comments left by the public at the exhibitions are now on their blog.

I’ve had a read though of these and they are very moving, as was the exhibition in the Forum (the photo at the top of this page comes from that exhibition!)



Finally we hope that some of our readers were in Norwich on 4th August and perhaps did pop into the Forum to see some of our activities to commemorate the start of the war.

The day was a great success and as well as staff having fun dressing up we also hope that those who came enjoyed the activities – we know that on the military history stand we helped to uncover some new family knowledge for people.

Our events were rounded of with a superb talk from Neil Storey and then those who stayed in the city for the “Lights Out” commemoration have all said how moving it was.

Photographers from The Forum have posted their pictures on Flickr for anyone to see.






England Expects – an original First World War poster from the Norfolk Heritage Centre

001This is just one of several hundred newly digitised original posters, photographs, notices  connected with the First World War in Norfolk. The material is all held in the collections of the Norfolk Heritage Centre and  over the course of the next four years will be posted on http://www.picture.norfolk.gov.uk  (the online picture archive for Norfolk County Council Library and Information Service)

The Norfolk Regiment in August 1914: A Letter Home

Hello, we’re the Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum (RNRM) based at Norwich Castle. We’ll be writing monthly blogs about what the Norfolk Regiment was doing this time a hundred years ago during the First World War.

Every month we’ll introduce you to a star object from our collection that tells the story of the Norfolk Regiment in the First World War. For August, and the beginning of the war, we have chosen this letter from Lance Corporal Sidney Smith to his family.

Sidney Smith letter

Here at the RNRM we have a collection of letters written by Sidney to his family between May 1914 and 29th July 1916. There are more of Sid’s letters on display in the Regimental Galleries at the Castle.

Sid was already a regular or professional soldier in the 1st Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment when war broke out in August 1914. The 1st Battalion were a regular battalion, and had been stationed at Holywood Barracks in Belfast during that summer.


The 1st Battalion depositing the Regimental Colours at Holywood Cathedral.

For the regular soldiers this transition from peace to war was something that they had practiced for many times, but for young soldiers like Sid the war was the first time that they would come face to face with the real enemy.

Sidney Smith never did come back “alive and kicking” to his large family in Upwell, Norfolk. He went to France as part of the B.E.F (the British Expeditionary Force or “Old Contemptibles”) and was involved in fighting at Mons, the Ypres Salient and the Somme.

Sid’s last letter to his mother tells her that his brother Bert, also a soldier with the Norfolk Regiment, was missing, but not to worry and that when they met the previous week they had shaken hands and wished each other well. In fact, Bert had been killed in action. Sid was killed soon afterwards, on July 31st 1916.

The Smith Brothers

Sidney Smith standing, and his brother Bert seated.

The RNRM holds a large collection of First World War objects, documents, diaries and letters, like this one written from Sid to his family. As part of the First World War centenary commemorations, the RNRM will be providing local history research sessions in which the collection can be explored. Please call 01603 493640 for more information.

The Lighter Side of War – An Exhibition

An Exhibition Commemorating World War One

Docking Ripper Hall

Opens 2pm Saturday 2nd August then 10-4 every Friday-Monday 10-4 throughout August


This exciting sounding exhibition being held in Docking is taking the lighter side of war as its main theme with a focus on Great War humour, especially through the ‘comic’ postcards that were available for soldiers to send home from the Front.

To balance this out there will also be displays of material relating to the Zeppelin attacks on the North Norfolk Coast,  to the aircraft factory Boulton and Paul and many other items.

Refreshments with a World War One them will be on sale when the exhibition is open as well as reproduction postcards.

A great number of books will be available for those interested in reading more about the war, postcards and Norfolk.

Entry is £2 for adults and £1 for concessions on the first visit but half price on subsequent visits.

docking event