Bastille Day 2016 has been overshadowed by the terrible events in Nice, but before that story happened one of our blog readers celebrated in the town where he was holidaying and shared this with us:
Bastille Day Despatch from a Small Town in France
Bastille Day is a public holiday in France which commemorates the storming of the Bastille Prison in Paris on 14 July, 1789. This event is usually described as the start of the French Revolution and the beginning of the French Republic. Today, in Pauillac, a small town set among the vineyards of the Medoc north of Bordeaux, Bastille Day was marked in the town square before the memorial to the men of the town who died in the First World War.
On this day in 1916, while the 8th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment were engaged on the Somme at the Battle of Bazentin Ridge, our French allies were in the ‘mincing machine’ of the battlefield of Verdun. The Germans expected to break the French Army, but France’s Commander-in-Chief, General Joffre, was determined to hold Verdun at all costs. It was never captured, but by December 1916 it had cost 540,000 French casualties, many thousands of whom were killed. Wives and sweethearts sent postcards to loved ones at the front, but there was, naturally, some questioning of the cost of the war in human misery as the wounded returned home.
The Bastille Day review in Paris in 1916 was one of military parades in the face of continuing war. In Pauillac, in 2016, the review comprised men and women of the fire service and the municipal police. Two military standards were lowered in salute to the war memorial, and the Mayor, M. Florent Fatin, young and stylish, wearing the mayoral sash and carrying the dignity of the town, led the singing of Le Marseillaise.
Vive la France!
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 held in the collections of the Norfolk Heritage Centre, Norfolk Record Office and Norfolk Museums Service. Over the course of the next few years the images will be posted on http://www.picture.norfolk.gov.uk (the online picture archive for Norfolk County Council Library and Information Service).
Please join us on the evening of 22nd September for our illustrated talk with Steve Smith all about the Norfolk Regiment during the 4 1/2 month long Battle of the Somme in 1916.
To book a place please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01603 774703, tickets are £2.
On the 18th July we posted a long piece all about Charles Vere Ferrers Townshend, a man very important to the Norfolk Regiment during their time in Mesopotamia in World War One – and a fascinating man in his own right.
In this article we included a picture of a drum:
Imagine our surprise and delight when we received an email from the man who owns this drum!
Mr Leroy is actually based in Brooklyn, New York and as well as being a member of the “Baggage Battles” team he is also a collector of memorabilia featuring the 12th Sudanese Regiment. This drum really has travelled the world as Mr Leroy purchased it ten years ago in New Jersey…
In even more of a coincidence only a few weeks ago Mr Leroy also purchased another 12th Regiment item – this time in Paris. He has kindly shared the photos of this sword, the officer who owned it is not known, but it was manufactured by Wilkinson’s.
While this post isn’t directly about World War One we always love hearing from people who can add more to things we post – please do email us if you can add any colour to previous posts here or if you have a #WW1 / Norfolk Regiment story to share.
There is a ‘Visiting Exhibition’at the RAF Air Defence Radar Museum, Neatishead put together by Neatishead, Irstead and Barton Turf Community Heritage Group. It commemorates the Battle of the Somme which took place from 1st July to 18th November 1916 and has come to symbolise the enormous losses and dreadful conditions of the First World War.
Almost every community across the United Kingdom was deeply affected by the loss of men who had gone to fight.
A summary and accompanying maps explain the plans beforehand and the course of the battle.
Read about the lives of the 12 men from the villages who paid the ultimate sacrifice together with the Norfolk Regiments’ involvement in the Battle.
The exhibition will be there all of August.
This is part of a WW1 project undertaken by the group, details of which can be found at www.greatwar.nibchg.org.uk
Chair, Neatishead, Irstead & Barton Turf Community Heritage Group
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