War Diary October 1915

War Norfolk
German aircraft deployed on the Western Front


The German Fokker comes into service on the Western Front, able to fire forward through the propeller German air superiority is achieved.


Music Hall in Norwich


High Class Vaudeville entertainment comes to the Theatre Royal in Norwich as it changes name to ‘The Empire Music Hall’.


Execution of Edith Cavell


Norfolk-born nurse Edith Cavell is executed by the Germans in Brussels as a spy and for aiding escaped Allied prisoners.


New Social Housing


The master of the rolls declared open for occupation a block of residential flats in Recorder Road, Norwich. Built by Miss Ethel M. Colman and Miss Helen C. Colman, in memory of the Right Honourable James Stuart, they were built as social housing with low rents.


The Norfolk Regiment in October: Cecil Upcher’s recovery

Each month staff at the Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum look back to what the Norfolk Regiment was doing 100 years ago, and tells their story through objects from the museum’s collection. See previous blog posts here.

For the Norfolk’s 9th battalion, October 1915 was a month of rest. The end of September had been marred by serious fighting around the quarries of Hulluch, a small mining commune, and so October was spent largely recovering from this. At Hulluch, the battalion had suffered a total of 209 casualties, including 5 Officers killed and 9 wounded.

Cecil Upcher, architect turned soldier.

Cecil Upcher, architect turned soldier.

One of these wounded Officers was 2nd Lieutenant Cecil Upcher. After the battle, he wrote in a letter to his fiancee,

“I got a bullet through the fleshy part of my left thigh…. Feeling a bit of a humbug to be leaving it all, but walking is rather a job at present.   We had to take a Bosch position at 7 am yesterday… and I got bowled over with a lot of others I fear…. It’s rotten luck being knocked out first go in.”

For Upcher, an architect before the War, October 1915 was spent in a hospital in Britain. His wound was tended, and he spent time with his fiancee, Hilda Ward, whom he had written to on a daily basis.

Transcriptions of Upcher’s letters are kept in the Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum today and prove remarkable reading. Upcher’s architectural background and keen eye for detail are ever-present; he includes vivid sketches of his current dugouts and gives exact measurements.

One of many dugout sketches that Upcher drew for his fiancee.

One of many dugout sketches that Upcher drew for his fiancee.

These beautiful sketches continue after Upcher’s return to action in 1916, and reveal a great deal about day-to-day life of a 9th battalion officer during the War. On the whole he wrote about long marches and troop movements, but his sketches and occasional anecdotes are particularly insightful. One such story to his fiancee goes;

“This afternoon…. we played soccer against the officers of a neighbouring Regt.   About the first time I’ve ever played the game or any of us for that matter.   We had quite a good match but just lost.”

Upcher marrying Hilda Ward.

Upcher marrying Hilda Ward.

Unfortunately for Upcher, October 1915 and the days of playing soccer were to be short lived. In mid 1916 he succumbed to shell-shock and was gripped by deep depression. He was invalided home.

After the war he married Hilda and returned to architecture. He designed the First World War Memorial Cottages at Mousehold, and later the Second World War Bungalows close by.  He helped restore Pull’s Ferry and worked on many church projects across Norfolk. As his remarkable letters home show, it was a labour of love.

Another of Upcher's wonderfully detailed drawings.

Another of Upcher’s wonderfully detailed drawings.

From 23rd November the Regimental Museum and The Museum of Norwich at The Bridewell will be launching exhibitions based on Upcher and the Memorial Cottages. For more information email joseph.hoyle@norfolk.gov.uk


‘No Hatred or Bitterness’: Edith Cavell and Norfolk Women in the First World War.

‘No Hatred or Bitterness’: Edith Cavell and Norfolk Women in the First World War.


Edith’s baptism entry. NRO catalogue reference: PD 199/4

Edith Cavell is perhaps Norfolk’s best-known twentieth-century heroine. Born in Swardeston, she was nursing in Brussels when the First World War broke out. After Brussels was occupied, she continued in her post and also helped Allied soldiers to break through enemy lines and escape to Britain. Executed by the Germans on 12 October 1915, her death became an enormous propaganda weapon for the Allies.

Propaganda postcard. From the Norfolk Heritage Centre.

Propaganda postcard. Image courtesy of the Norfolk Heritage Centre.

As this October is the centenary of her death, many heritage organisations are shining a spotlight on Cavell’s life, as well as the role of nurses during World War One. From Monday 5 October The Norfolk Record at the Archive Centre will have a free exhibition entitled ‘No Hatred or Bitterness’: Edith Cavell and Norfolk Women in the First World War.

This exhibition includes original documents that have never been displayed in public before, including letters from both Edith and the soldiers she helped. The exhibition also looks at Edith’s story and how she has been remembered, both at the time and in later years. It delves into the background to her story – the role of other Norfolk nurses, abroad and at home, and at the many roles played by Norfolk women in wartime, even those whose courage took the form of opposing the war. Each, in her own way, was a true Heroine of Norfolk.

Related events will accompany the exhibition. On Thursday 15 October there is a drop in event called ‘Women at War’ at which you can discover the wide range of experience of Norfolk women as nurses during the First World War, from Norfolk to the Mediterranean. Plus, find out how Edith Cavell was portrayed in film. There will also be the opportunity to learn about useful resources for tracing nurse ancestors. There is no need to book for this event, but see our Eventbrite page for more information.

There are also children’s activities taking place in October. On Monday 26 October, during the Autumn half term, children will look at cards and propaganda and choose to either create a propaganda postcard or an embroidered card.

On Tuesday 27 October an activity run jointly with the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital will reveal the history of Edith Cavell, and teach children how to use a bandage and create their own letters with invisible ink or in code.

Booking for the children’s activities is essential, for more information see our Eventbrite page. 


Photograph of nine girls fund-raising for the Red Cross. NRO catalogue reference: MC 84/206, PH10

Recruitment poster for The Derby Scheme

Group system recruitment posterr

The Derby Scheme was introduced in the Autumn of 1915,  it required each eligible man aged between 18 to 41 (who was not in a an essential or reserved occupation) to make a public declaration as to whether or not he would attest to join the forces. Those who did attest undertook to go to a recruiting office within 48 hours, but many were taken to one immediately. The enlistee was assigned to a married or unmarried age group (there were 46 groups) and they were given the promise that only entire groups would be called up for active service and given 14 days’ advance notice. Single men’s groups would be called before married.

This is just one of several hundred newly digitised original photographs, posters and 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 few years will be posted on http://www.picture.norfolk.gov.uk (the online picture archive for Norfolk County Council Library and Information Service)

Group Photograph Comes to Life for Centenary of the Battle of Loos, 25th September 2015 – an exhibition by Norfolk artist Andrew Tatham

This piece has been submitted by local artist Andrew Tatham about his forthcoming exhiibtion in Ypres.

Starting from a single 11”x 8” First World War group photograph, I have created an exhibition that fills a hall two full tennis courts in size. Having tracked down relatives of all 46 men in the photograph, I have been able to get a view on the long-term effects of the War for the families of both casualties and survivors, and that is what informs my artwork.

It is the first time that internationally renowned In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres has hosted an exhibition of this magnitude where the content has almost entirely been generated by an external contributor. That they have done so is testament not just to the fruits of the

21 years of research undertaken, but also to innovative new ways of presenting history, in particular the history of the First World War and its relevance to us living today. As well as traditional displays of the interesting and sometimes astonishing letters, photographs & artefacts that I discovered in my research, there are major artworks:

  • an animated film that shows the men’s family trees growing over 136 years with contemporary pictures and music and the passing of the seasons
  • a 34 metre wide vista of the men’s family trees growing in a landscape with their ancestral roots going back 100 years before the First World War and the branches depicting their parents’ descendants growing up to today
  • a monumental construction 3 metres high and 9 metres wide presenting contemporary “stained glass window” portraits for each of the 46 men
  • photomontages showing every picture found of the men’s faces as well as their memorials (including over 1500 photographs).

The final piece in the exhibition is a new group photograph showing these men’s families today. 150 relatives from 22 of the men’s families are travelling from across the UK and as far afield as Canada and South Africa to commemorate the Centenary of the Battle of Loos. On 25th September 1915 many of the men in the group photograph fought and died in what at the time was the biggest battle ever fought by the British Army. That battle has since been largely forgotten, but this exhibition remembers these men as if they were part of all our families.

Exhibition catalogue cover

Exhibition Catalogue 

Exhibition open to the public from 27th September 2015 to 3rd January 1916 at In Flanders Fields Museum, Ypres, Belgium.



Lighting Order & Burrell’s Employees’ War Levy Fund

By September 1915 there were rumblings that some Thetford residents were not heeding the Lighting Order. Letters in the local newspaper complained that some inhabitants did not realize what a Zeppelin raid would mean and local residents continued to appear before the local magistrates for infringing the order.

The annual meeting of the Messrs. Burrell’s employees’ War Levy Fund was held at the works in September 1915. Between August 1914 to September 1915, £551 9s 8d had been raised:those earning £1 per week and over paid 3d into the fund, while those earning under £1 paid 2d, shop collections produced £14 4s 4d and a donation was received from Mr. C. Burrell.

The Treasurer’s report revealed that £385 19s 4d had been given to charities and good causes associated with the war effort during this period: for  example the British Red Cross Relief Fund received £150, Grand Duke Michael received £10 for mittens and gloves, Princess Mary’s fund £5 (for the sailors’ Christmas comforts), while grants to local widows, mothers and wives totalled £97 5s.


Study Group Details

World War One Study Group details.

book piles

A couple of weeks ago we told you of our plans to support people studying the free World War One on line courses this autumn, we’re now in a position to let you know what we’ll be doing.

On Tuesday evenings between 5.30 and 7pm we will be in the 2nd Air Division Memorial Library to provide a space for you to get together and share your discoveries from the courses.  We’ll also have staff members on hand to help you research further using all of the resources that the library can provide.

We’ll even have tea, coffee and biscuits!

These study/discussion sessions will run on Tuesday 20th and 27th October, and November 3rd, 17th and 24th.

On Tuesday 10th November we are hoping be holding a bigger event to commemorate Armistice day, again details of this will be available as soon as we have firmed them up!

For more details or to guarantee a place please leave a comment here or email sarah.salmon@norfolk.gov.uk

For more details about World War One online then they are all listed here.