Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace exhibition

Although I have now lived in Norfolk for over 20 years I return to Kent to see family on a regular basis, my last visit coincided with a 14-18 Commemoration Project in my home town’s Remembrance Gardens.

Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace is a large out-door exhibition which covers much of the history of World War One (accompanied by amazing modern photography) which is interspersed with panels explaining how the war impacted on Ashford and the surrounding area.

It took well over an hour to wander around the whole exhibition and read the panels and even after how much work and research I’ve undertaken in the past few years there were so many bits of new information to pick up.

This exhibition is touring and if you missed it in Ashford it will be visiting Worcester and London before November – full details here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to the panels around the park I also found two more moving tributes to those who served in WW1, and I think that these will remain in situ after the exhibition has moved on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On leaving the park we discovered one more World War One art installation. Many tanks were given to towns and cities after the war but Ashford has one of the only remaining ones left on display. This piece of unique history is commemorated in, of all things, topiary…

 

If you can get to see this exhibition as it tours the country I do recommend it. It ticked all of my interest boxes – history, local history, personal stories and excellent photography – to which these images from my mobile phone do no justice at all.

If you visit any exhibitions like this, or any other WW1 related places this summer please do let us know – we’d love to share them with others.

 

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The Armistice Exhibition Preview at the Royal Norfolk Show

Thank you to all that came to see us at the Royal Norfolk Show last week. We really appreciated the opportunity to introduce you to our upcoming exhibition, Armistice: Legacy of the Great War in Norfolk, as well as hear your memories of First World War veterans.

At our stall we showcased one of the most unique sources in our collection, the Royal Norfolk Regiment Casualty and Sickness book. The book, originally intended as a recruitment ledger, records casualty and sickness details for more than fifteen thousand soldiers of the 1st and 2nd regular battalions, and the 7th, 8th and 9th service battalions of the Royal Norfolk Regiment. The original large hardback volume was compiled by clerks in the Regimental Depot Orderly Room in Britannia Barracks and includes entries running from August 1914 through to the early months of 1919.

The entries are all handwritten in ink, each entry record listing the individual soldier’s number, rank, name, and battalion or battalions they served in, as well as details of casualty, sickness, including details of hospitalisation. Some of the entries contain additional details such as or prisoner of war status and the place of burial immediately after death in battle. A lot of this information would not appear in routine Army Records Office printouts, making the ledger an interesting and unique source. This type of record of World War I casualties is exclusive to the Royal Norfolk Regiment as no other regiments seem to have such a kept such a record.

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Sarah and Kate using the Casualty Book to answer a family history query on Twitter.

Currently public access to the Casualty Book is limited to a photocopied version held in the Shirehall Study Centre and can be seen by arranging a study visit with the Regimental Museum. However, recognizing the value that the ledger, our volunteer team is in the process of creating an interactive, digitized version of the ledger, which will include an online searchable database, linking the entries to other sources held at the Regimental Museum such as the War Diaries. We hope to have the online data base up and running by the end of this year.

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Nigel Amies and his 1914 drum.

We would also like to extend a big thank you to SSAFA, Armed Forces Charity for lending us a space in their tent, and to Nigel Amies, a freelance historical educator, who did a great job engaging the public with his original restored World War drum from 1914.

 

War Diary July 1918

War Norfolk
Execution of the Tsar

Former Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his family are executed. There are no survivors.

Norfolk Women War Workers  Big Parade

Representatives from all sectors of the women’s war effort were present including Land Army, Waacs, Wrens, munitions workers, RAF, railway workers, Naval and Army canteen workers and a woman’s fire brigade. The parade, its purpose to encourage recruitment, was watched by huge crowds of county and city folk.

Fourth Battle of Champagne

 The fifth major German attack since March is launched. On a smaller scale, German troops assault the French line facing the River Marne. For the first time the German attack is unsuccessful.

Vicar fined for food hoarding

A vicar, who appeared for summons under the Food Hoarding Order, claimed he had obtained the cheese for distribution amongst his friends and that the sugar had been bought before the order was made. He was told that he should have surrendered the sugar or not used his sugar ration as he had done neither.

Wartime June – From the Journals of Artis Oldham

From the records held at the Norfolk Record Office

June – the height of summer. A time today to think of holidays, sunshine and long summer evenings.  By contrast the June months of 1915, 1916, 1917 and 1918 were continuing times of victories, defeat and loss of life.  The evidence was clear that it would not be over by Christmas and neither did there appear to be an end in sight.

Arthur Artis Oldham was born in 1886 in Wisbech. He was employed in a clerical capacity by the Royal Navy in the First World War.  Initially based in Canterbury he later served in the Shetland Isles.  After the war he returned to Wisbech then to Thorpe End in his latter years.

From the very start of the war, Oldham kept detailed journals chronicling on an almost daily basis the actions of the Royal Navy in the war. These journals, entitled by Oldham “Naval Engagements of the Great War” span eight volumes (MC 2201/1-8 935×3).

The volumes were initially completed by Oldham himself. They include newspaper cuttings (no names of the newspapers are shown), postcards, his own commentary and a wealth of facts and figures about ship tonnage and naval losses.  When he joined the Navy on 11th April 1916 the task of continuing with the journals was handed over to his sister.  These journals are predominantly newspaper cuttings.  The source of the newspapers is not known.

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Artis Oldham. NRO, MC 2201/5, 935×3

 

June 1915 – the first June of the war. On 6th June the Chief of the General Naval Staff had described naval operations in the Adriatic to the press.  Oldham commented: the cables uniting the continent to the islands of the Dalmatian Archipeligo were cut. All the lighthouses and lookout stations on these islands were destroyed.  The following day there was a vivid account of the brave actions of Flight Lieutenant R A J Warneford who had attacked and brought down a zeppelin which had dropped six bombs.  The force of the explosion turned Warneford’s aeroplane upside down and he had to make a forced landing in enemy territory.  Fortunately he was able to restart his plane and get home safely.  Warneford was awarded the VC for destroying the zeppelin single handed and he also received the Legion of Honour from the French.  Sadly he died shortly after during a trial flight near Paris.

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R A J Warneford. NRO, MC 2201/3, 935×3

 

Two significant events dominated the news in June 1916. While it started on the last day of May, the Battle of Jutland raged into the early hours of 1st June.  Much of Oldham’s journal for June 1916 consists of newspaper cuttings giving an almost minute by minute account of the battle.  Britain lost three of its battleships; the Indefatigable, the Queen Mary and the Invincible.

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Battle of Jutland headlines. NRO, MC 2201/5, 935×3

 

Interestingly Oldham’s journal includes a cutting from the German press who reported “we damaged the great battleship Warspite”. The English press responded: “The Germans declared that the Warspite was destroyed.  There is nothing in our own official statement to indicate that she was even damaged”.  Fake news?  Propaganda?  One midshipman’s letter home after the battle was published in the press.  “I told you I had the best action station in the ship, and so I jolly well have. . . . I was alarmed on arriving back here to find I was dead in the Scotsman”.

On 5th June the press reported on the death of Lord Kitchener.  The cruiser Hampshire he was on was blown up in the Orkneys.  Many others also lost their lives, either in the explosion or in trying to swim to safety off the rocky shores of the islands.  Kitchener had been such a national symbol for the war and his loss was keenly felt. In a report for the inquiry the Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Fleet expressed his sorrow “that so distinguished a soldier and so great a man should have lost his life whilst under the care of the Fleet”.

June 1917 began with a “Strange German Story”. It told the tale of a German U-boat and a British submarine who had got so close to each other in the Channel that the submarine rammed the U-boat.  The shock of the collision brought the submarine to the surface bringing the U-boat with it.  “Both made frantic efforts to get free in order to attack”.  However by the time the Germans were ready to do so the British submarine had disappeared.

On the 18th June there was a lengthy report on a zeppelin shot down in East Anglia.  “To judge by the distance from which the destruction of this morning’s Zeppelin could be seen, the fight must have been witnessed by at least a quarter of the county’s population. . . . The zeppelin was fighting a life and death duel with the aeroplane”.  The damage to the town (not named) was extensive.  “Today this is a town of shattered windows… among the numerous premises denuded of glass were those of a plate-glass insurance firm”.  Three of the Zeppelin crew survived and were taken prisoner.

 

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Cartoon attempts at humour may have helped life the nation’s mood. NRO, MC 2201/5, 935×3

 

June 1918 – the last June of the war although this clearly was not known at the time. The news was largely concerned with Canada and the USA with the latter having entered the war in April 1917. On 6th June there was a U-boat raid on the Eastern coast of the USA and several ships were sunk.  This was followed by a report that fifty German enemy aliens were arrested in New York having been caught celebrating the raid in various nightclubs in the city.  As a result New York citizens, like many of their British counterparts, experienced their first lighting restrictions as a precautionary measure.

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The title page of Oldham’s first volume. NRO MC 2201/1, 935×3

 

Oldham’s first volume began with the start of the war in August 1914. How sadly prophetic then that, when the general view was that “it would all be over by Christmas”, the front page of his first journal bears the title “The Great European War”.  Perhaps he completed the title page at the end rather than the beginning of the war.  Even this would demonstrate a reservation on his part about the duration of the conflict to come.

Daryl Long

NRO Blogger

 

 

 

GDPR, Privacy and the Norfolkinworldwar1 blog

As you are probably aware there is a new data protection law (commonly called GDPR); as part of this we have been updating our regulations and ensuring that in all things regarding your personal data, we are transparent, fair and lawful.

We have always wanted to make sure that the Norfolkinworldwar1.org site was a community project and we thank everyone who has shared their stories, left comments on the site or emailed us over the past few years. Rest assured we plan on continuing to share stories, histories and events with you up until the end of this year at the very least.

Please also be assured that we do not share your contact details without seeking your permission first – I know that in several instances friendships have been made through stories published on the blog and we are very happy to have facilitated this.

As part of GDPR we are responsible for ensuring we have your consent to keep your comments and their associated email addresses on our blog. Please ensure that you email norfolkinworldwar1@gmail.com to give us your consent again otherwise we will need to delete your comments.

Comments and usernames are in the public domain, as you are aware, but if you wish us to remove your comments at any time please email the above address. Your email addresses are stored in the WordPress software which a few members of Norfolk County Council staff have access to. We do not share or use your email addresses; please be aware that to leave a comment on our blog your email address will need to be stored in the software.

WordPress are owned by a company called Automattic, and they are the data controllers. For their privacy notice please visit: https://automattic.com/privacy/ or https://automattic.com/privacy-notice/

For the general NCC privacy notice please visit: www.norfolk.gov.uk

 

Armistice: Legacy of the Great War in Norfolk Exhibition – Call for Information

Does your  family have memories of life in Norfolk during the First World War? Share your memories with us at the Royal Norfolk Show!

Welcome to our first exhibition blog entry. In anticipation to the opening the Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum’s new exhibition Armistice: Legacy of the Great War in Norfolk on October 20th in Norwich Castle we want to provide you with exclusive behind the scenes sneak peeks at the exhibition preparations. We will showcase different objects, introducing you to some of the incredible stories which will feature in the exhibition.

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Billeting outside of the Carrow Works Clubhouse.

 

Although the exhibition will commemorate the First World War’s armistice centenary, its main aim will be to celebrate people’s resilience and the emergence of a more understanding society. We will highlight the success of the Suffragette movement and the construction of Homes for Heroes. The exhibition will be unique in its focus on the experience of the First World War specific to Norfolk, with objects for the exhibition having been selected based on their local connection to the county.

The Armistice exhibition will be divided into seven key sections: air, sea, town and industry, country and agriculture, at home and children, soldiers in the county – hospitals, and peace. Each section will be populated with a rich array of objects gathered from museums around the county. Some of the key objects will include an original torpedo and Paddy Hartley’s Papaver Rhoeas poppies.

The exhibition space will be populated by large number of textiles and costumes on open display. There will be something to do for all age groups including family-friendly activities, a home front nursery area with wooden toys and a sailor dress up station.

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During the First World War there were over sixty War and Auxiliary hospitals in Norfolk.

Now we need your help. As the Armistice exhibition focuses on local history, we thought it would be a good opportunity to ask you, members of the public, about your family’s stories about life in Norfolk during the First World War. We believe there is a hidden history of the hardships faced by returning soldiers and their families. We want to expose how the war changed the life of ex-servicemen and their families and how they dealt with the often trying circumstances.

If you would like to contribute your family’s memories you can reach us by e-mailing regimental.museum@norfolk.gov.uk. If you are attending the Royal Norfolk Show next week, we will have a stall set up adjacent to the SSAFA – the Armed Forces Charity vehicle, so come by and say hello. We would love to hear from you.

 

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The Norfolk Regiment in Mesopotamia

After a well deserved rest (and undertaking more research) our Mesopotamian correspondent is back with the further experiences of the Norfolk Regiment’s officers during their captivity in Mesopotamia. 

Captivity in Turkey: from the diaries of Lieutenant Colonel Francis Cecil Lodge

Part 3: 1918

This is a continuation of the postings of 16 November, 2016, 26 May, 2017 and 16 June, 1917. Some entries have been omitted if they are unduly repetitious, or where they contain financial details other than about pay or refer to private family matters. The diaries are held in the archives of the Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum.

After being transferred from captivity at Yozgad (Yozgat), Lodge had arrived at Afion Kara Hissar (Afyonkarahisar) on 1st November 1817. It is at this place that his diaries continue.

The book into which F.C. Lodge transcribed his written journal
Source: Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum

 

1st January, 1918

Rain during the night, with snow in the morning – dull.

2nd January, 1918

Paid Julius 12 liras for messing – dull.

3rd, 4th, 5th January, 1918

All dull days, and more snow on Friday night [4th-5th].

6th January, 1918

Brighter and freezing 11° [F.]. Recd. 5 liras Embassy Money. Letter from Robert Berry d/ 27 Oct and post card from M. [his wife, Margaret] d/ 25 Oct.

7th January, 1918

Posted letter 63 to M. – Capt. Berry – Mrs Kerr

10 officers p of w arrived early this morning from Palestine Front. One of them, Gardiner, had been in our first Bn. We moved into a new house today. I have now a small room to myself. Still bitterly cold 18° [F.] of frost.

8th January, 1918

Freezing hard 7° of frost during the night. Thomas lies with us now.

9th January, 1918

They have stopped our bread ration from gov. [government] supply. We now have to buy it in the bazaar at 8½ ps [piastres] a loaf instead of 2½. A splendid thaw, it is now quite mild.

10th, 11th, 12th January, 1918

Milder. We hear that they are going to reduce our pay. This will make living all the harder – even now it’s impossible to exist on what we get.; this has been supplemented by private income.

Made 2 beds – one for L/Cp Swift and the other for Wigger.[their orderlies]

Wrote letter 64 to M – and to Genl Mariott & Richardson.

13th, 14th, 15th January, 1918

Fine bright weather with frosts ar night & early morning. Philpot R.F.C. Who arrived here sick with dysentery, died and was buried today.

16th January, 1918

We had 3 shocks of an earthquake during breakfast – 3 at dinner & 2 during the night. Some were strong & shook our house considerably.

Post card d/ 12th Nov. from M.

17th January, 1918

Fine & sharp. Letter from Robert [his 3-year-old son] d/ 13th Dec.

18th, 19th, January, 1918

Both days bright & frosty.

Two letters from M. 89 & 91 d/ 9th 14th Nov.

Letter from Mother 31st Oct.2 letters from Ethel d/ 28 Sept 6th Nov.

Letter from Mrs. Bryans [his mother-in-law] d/ 28 Sept

Co. Wilson, Father Mullen, & Foster left after dinner for Stamboul [Constantinople / Istanbul] all are unfit & hope to be discharged.

20th January, 1918

Misty & raw. Another mail in.

2 letters & 1 p.c. from M d/ 4 Oct. 24 Nov., et al

21st January, 1918

Still misty and beastly cold. Wrote 65 [to M]. Also to Mother & Mrs. Bryans [his mother-in-law]

22nd, 23rd, 24th January, 1918

All misty days, except on Tues. the sun came out after lunch.

25th January, 1918

Misty cold. Stace R.E. Came to live with us in Col. Wilson’s place

2 letters from M. 77 & 84 d/28th Sept. & 21st Oct, et al

26th January, 1918

Began to snow again this morning – it is milder.

27th January, 1918

Bright intervals, milder: but walking in the street very muddy.

7 letters from M. & 1 containing snapshots of the kiddies, etc., et al

Julius had a splendid batch of clothing parcels: he gave me a blanket, 2 shirts, 2 towels, 3 pr. of socks, 2 pr. pyjamas & a pair of shoes.

28th January, 1918

Bright & frosty. The 4 Frenchmen who were sent to Stamboul for exchange all returned this morning.

Wrote 66 to M – Evelyn – Mrs Daunt.

29th January, 1918

Parcels given out this morning – I got 8.

  1. Old green suit
  2. Gumboots, shirts, socks, medicines, tie
  3. 1lb. 3 Nunns tobacco & pipe.

4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Food Fortnum & Mason

These arrived in the nick of time, & were most welcome. A shell from Cecilia [his daughter, twin to Robert]. Went to watch a rugger match.

30th January, 1918

Fine & bright, only a slight frost.

Received money for a £10 cheque I had signed some weeks ago. It was paid through the American Express Coy – really a German company*, I only got 1128 ps a pretty good swindle considering the real rate of exchange. Had tea with Trelson [?] R.F.C.

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