Images from the Archive

This shows the Norwich War memorial in original position outside the Guildhall. It 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 www.picture.norfolk.gov.uk (the online picture archive run by Norfolk County Council Library and Information Service).

Norwich War Memorial survey EOS Neal and Bacon donation

Call for help from Newfoundland

We recently received an email from Newfoundland, Canada asking if we could help identify a soldier from a photograph that has ended up in Mr Collins possession.

 

On the back of this image are the words “8359 Mrs M J Nichols, Digby, NS”

Mr Collins has undertaken some research and discovered two soldiers (so far) with this regimental number.

One is  Herbert S Peggs  who was born in Stalham,  and who enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces with the number #8359. The other is Pr. Herbert Victor Moores was was born in Salford Manchester and who was sadly KIA 1916 while serving with the Manchester Regiment.

While there is no guarantee that either of these men are the one in photograph Mr Collins is very keen to try and put a name to ‘his’ soldier and as there is a possible Norfolk link wonders if anyone can help, and also possibly help fill in the story so we discover why his photo has arrived in New Foundland.

close up of unknown soldier

As ever please do get in touch with us with any ideas or information you might have via comments here, Twitter or our email address, and if you have any queries like this of your own please do contact us too.

War Memorials in South Norfolk

Following on from our recent call for help regarding War Memorials in the county, Sally one of our county librarians has sent this piece to us.

Almost every parish in Norfolk has some form of monument as a memorial to the fallen of the parish; men who lost their lives in World War 1.  These monuments are the focus for annual commemorations on November 11th each year and are often tended by local groups. Most parish councils took responsibility for erecting a memorial to ‘The Fallen’ after the war although it may have been paid for by public subscription and erected on land donated by wealthy individual landowners. On occasion the landowner, squire or lord of the parish would pay for a memorial, such as the impressive column at Elveden near Thetford.

Elvedon Memorial (image from Wikimapia)

As the centenary of the outbreak of WW1 approached in 2014, many parishes looked again at these memorials. Some, such as at Diss, found that there were names missing from the memorials of soldiers who should have been honoured. The Diss memorial was inscribed with the missing names and re-dedicated in 2014.

Diss War Memorial (image from Diss Parish Chirch http://www.dissparishchurch.org/WarMemorial.html)

In Harleston Ruth Walton, a local historian, decided to research and publish a book about the lives of the men commemorated on the town memorial. This research uncovered sad stories behind the carved names; the Borrett family from Wortwell lost three sons within seven months in 1917; Frederick aged 29 died in Mesopotomia in April 1917, John aged 31 died in France in July and Stanley aged just 22 who was also killed in France in  October. Another son, Thomas, was serving as a stoker in the Royal Navy and had been interned in Belgium in 1914 after the fall of Antwerp. He came through the war safely and returned to Norfolk. As seems to have happened quite often these brothers are commemorated on both the Harleston and Wortwell memorial.

Ruth Walton’s book We Will Remember; the lives of the Harleston men who fought and died in two world wars is available in Norfolk libraries.

The Waveney Valley Community Archaeology group dedicated time to researching ‘hidden’ memorials in the Waveney Valley: those “more discrete and personal memorials to losses suffered by our communities.” These can take many forms from the rededication of a hall or other local amenity, to the keeping of a Roll of Honour or ‘Flanders Cross’ within the parish church. The group’s website www.waveneyarchaeology.org states that hidden memorials may ”also include street names and street signs, parks, hospitals and bowling greens as well as smaller items of ephemera. Many of these less formal memorials now lie overlooked and unrecorded, with their significance forgotten to the wider population and their loss remains a very real threat.”

If you have completed research in to any aspect of WW1 in your community please do consider sharing the information with us so we can share your research with our readers.

A tour of some of Australia’s War Memorials

We’ve just been sent this lovely piece from one of our blog readers who took a trip to Australia earlier in the year.

The tour began in Melbourne, Victoria, with a visit to the Shrine of Remembrance set among the lush and beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens. 114,000 Victorians enlisted in the First World War. Of the 89,000 of them who served abroad 19,000 were killed. They were buried in distant graves far from home at a time when most Australians did not travel abroad. The Shrine provided a place where Victorians could grieve as individuals, as families or as a community. It also served to honour the courage of the men, women and children who remained at home.

The shrine was built by public subscription at a time of considerable national hardship in Australia as in Britain. The inspiration for the external outline came from one of the seven wonders of the ancient world – the mausoleum at Halicarnassus to Mausolus, King of Caria in South West Asia Minor. It was opened by the Duke of Gloucester in November 1934 in front of a crowd of  300,000.

The Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne

The shrine is equally spectacular inside, but achieves a profound sense of calm conducive to remembrance of the ANZACs who gave their lives in two world wars and in subsequent conflicts.

The great vault of the Shrine of Remembrance open to the sky

Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) was formed in December 1914 and was heavily engaged in the disastrous British-led campaign in the Dardanelles. Otherwise known as the Gallipoli campaign, the very word has a deep resonance for Australians. In keeping with the composition of the ANZAC, the flags of Australia and New Zealand hand vertically facing each other inside the shrine.

The flags of Australia and New Zealand within the Shrine

James Lawson was born in Halifax, Yorkshire and went to Australia in 1905. On 20 August 1914, just weeks after the outbreak of war, he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and was commissioned second lieutenant in the 4th Light Horse Regiment. He served first on Gallipoli and later in Sinai and Palestine. In May 1917 he was promoted major and placed in command of A Squadron. On 31 October 1917 Lawson’s squadron, and another from the 12th Light Horse Regiment, led the charge at Beersheba. Lawson’s regiment later took part in the capture of Damascus led by General Allenby in September 1918. He returned home in January 1919 and lived out his life in Wimmera, Victoria, a modest but much admired and respected citizen.

major James Lawson, 4th Australian Light Horse Regiment
in the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, Vic.

Sergeant James Offord of Bendigo, Victoria, enlisted in the 4th Light Horse Regiment and served in the Sinai-Palestine campaign, and was awarded the Military Medal. He made a souvenir of a Turkish flag after the battle of Beersheba, 31 October 1917.

Turkish Flag from Beersheba in the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, Vic.

Also in the Shrine is one of the only two landing craft to survive from Gallipoli: the other is at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

A Gallipoli landing craft

 

Troops of the Australian 4th Battalion landing at Anzac Cove, 25 April 1915
Public Domain image : Australian War Memorial, ID Number: P00035.001

Northwards into upstate Victoria and  seemingly every city, town and village has its war memorial, always lovingly cared for and usually surrounded with trees and flowers. In Bendigo, the domed war memorial lies a few hundred metres from the cenotaph. Bendigo’s wealth came from the Victorian gold rush of the 1850’s and the town centre is a filled with elegant buildings from that time and later.

Bendigo, Victoria: The War Memorial and Cenotaph

At the end of World War One, the small rural community of Tooborac raised £600 by public subscription to remember the seventeen soldiers who did not return. The memorial consists of a granite column with a white marble figure of a soldier standing to attention.

Three views of the War Memorial at Tooborac, Victoria

On the Murray River, which forms the border between Victoria and the state of New South Wales, lies the town of Echuca. It was once a thriving trans-shipment point for the steam-driven paddle steamers bringing cargo hundreds of miles up the river from the sea near Adelaide. It is now a flourishing tourist centre and a welcoming place to visitors from England. Here, the memorials to the men who fell in the South African wars, as well as the two world wars and later conflicts, are grouped together outside the quiet  of the public library against a backdrop of the gum trees along the river. The memorial remembers all those from the Echuca District who went to fight, not only those who did not return.

The War Memorials at Echuca, Victoria

The Australian War Memorial in Canberra is the national memorial. It stands elevated on the slopes of Mount Ainslie and lies in ceremonial alignment with the old and new Commonwealth Parliament Buildings across Lake Burley Griffin.

The Australian War Memorial, Canberra, viewed looking up Anzac Parade, and the view from the Memorial to the Parliament buildings.

On a sunny Sunday morning walking up Anzac Parade the temperature is 30°C, the air is dry, clear and fragrant with the smell of eucalyptus, Holy Communion is being taken nearby in the Anglican church of St. John the Baptist, and all is peaceful and quiet. Anzac Parade is lined with memorials that capture the eye and the camera.

The Mounted Memorial shows Australian and New Zealand Army horse riders in action. The horse of the New Zealander on the right has been injured or shot, and the rider is falling to the ground; the rider on the left is supporting his mate. The original memorial stood in Port Said, Egypt, but was badly damaged in 1956 during the Suez Crisis. This is a replica unveiled in 1968.

The original memorial bore this inscription: ‘Erected by their comrades and the governments of Australia and New Zealand in memory of the members of the Australian Light Horse, the New Zealand Mounted Rifles, The Imperial Camel Corps and the Australian Flying Corps who lost their lives in Egypt, Palestine and Syria 1916 – 1919’

The Mounted Memorial on Anzac Parade, Canberra

The Australian War Memorial is a place of remembrance, a museum and an archive. It contains the Tomb of the Australian Unknown Soldier. The heart of the commemorative area is the Hall of Memory, a tall domed chapel with a small floor plan in the form of an octagon. In front of the Hall of Memory is a narrow courtyard with a memorial pool surrounding an eternal flame and flanked by sidewalks and shrubbery, including plantings of rosemary for remembrance.

The Hall of Memory, Australian War Memorial, Canberra

Above the courtyard to either side are long cloisters containing the Roll of Honour, a series of bronze plaques naming the 102,185 Australian servicemen and women killed in conflict or on peacekeeping operations. The plaques include names dating back to the British Sudanese Expedition, the Second Boer War, and the Boxer Rebellion. The entire long wall of the west gallery is covered with the names of the 66,000 who died in World War I. The east gallery is covered with the names of those who died in World War II and conflicts since.

A section of the West Gallery with the names, but not the ranks of the 66,000 Australians who were killed during World War One. Australian War Memorial, Canberra

Plans to honour an unknown Australian soldier were first put forward in the 1920s, but it was not until 1993 that one was at last brought home. To mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the First World War, the body of an unknown Australian soldier was recovered from Adelaide Cemetery near Villers-Bretonneaux in France and transported to Australia. After lying in state in King’s Hall in Old Parliament House, the Unknown Australian Soldier was interred in the Hall of Memory on 11 November 1993. He was buried in a Tasmanian blackwood coffin, on which were placed a bayonet and a sprig of wattle. Soil from the Pozières battlefield in France was scattered in his tomb.

Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier
Australian War Memorial (www.awm.gov.au/visit/hall-of-memory/tomb/)

Among the many displays in the museum are the paintings of George Lambert. Lambert served as an official war artist in Sinai-Palestine and was a member of the Australian Historical Mission that went back to Gallipoli in 1919. During this period he recorded, in hundreds of small oil and watercolour studies, the landscapes in which Australians fought and the details of their everyday lives.

A Sergeant of the Australian Light Horse by George Lambert. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

He later undertook larger commissions, one of the most famous of which is ‘The Charge of the Australian Light Horse at Beersheba’, which captures some of the drama and chaos of the 4th Light Horse Brigade’s thunderous charge on the Turkish trenches south of Beersheba on the late afternoon of 31 October 1917.

Detail from The Charge of the Australian Light Horse at Beersheba 1917 by George Lambert
Australian War Memorial, Canberra

Onward to Sydney, by train through rural Victoria and New South Wales. On an overcast and humid Australia Day (26 January – the date on which the First Fleet arrived at Sydney Cove in 1788), the ANZAC Memorial in Hyde Park did not look at its best. The reflecting pool struggled in its greyness to reflect the pink marble cladding of the Art Deco memorial.

The ANZAC Memorial, Sydney

…and with better lighting conditions and a far more competent photographer:

ANZAC Memorial, Sydney

The interior is largely faced in white marble, and features a domed ceiling adorned with 120,000 gold stars – one for each of New South Wales’ military volunteers during World War I.

However, the centrepiece of the interior is the monumental bronze sculpture of a deceased youth, representing a soldier, held aloft by a caryatid comprising three female figures, representing his mother, sister and wife. There are two allusions which strike one when first seeing the figure: the Spartan mother’s farewell injunction to her son to uphold Spartan values of bravery as he went to war, “[Return] either with it [your shield] or on it”. A hoplite could not escape the field of battle unless he tossed away the heavy and cumbersome shield. Therefore losing one’s shield implied desertion and cowardice. The youth in the ANZAC Memorial returned dead, carried on his shield, and hence, brave. His arms are extended along a sword in the manner of Christ crucified, and one is reminded of the three women who tended Christ after his decent from the Cross.

‘Sacrifice’ by George Rayner Hoff, the centrepiece of the ANZAC Memorial, Sydney
With thanks to: sydneyemeraldcity.blogspot.co.uk/ – my photograph is terrible!

‘This is the central motif of the Memorial’s design. … Thousands of women, although not directly engaged in war activities, lost all that was dear them – sons they had borne and reared, husbands, fathers of their children, friends, lovers. … There was no acknowledgement of them in casualty lists of wounded, maimed and killed. They endured all men’s sacrifice quietly. In this spirit I have shown them, carrying their load, the sacrifice of their menfolk. … Sacrifice is a shift away from the rhetoric of honour, glory and manly deeds manifested in earlier memorials – Hoff had seen too much of war to glorify it. From the AWM website.

Four white marble panels inside the memorial appear almost as regimental standards bearing Australian battle honours for the First World War, including the largely forgotten (in Britain) battle of the Cocos Islands, the Royal Australian Navy’s first victory at sea on 9 November 1914.

A visit to some of the war memorials of Australia (and New Zealand) remind us that 1914-1918 was indeed a World war.

Detail of the war memorial at Oamaru, South Island, New Zealand, visited in 2004
nzhistory.govt.nz/media/photo/oamaru-war-memorial

Unless a URL is quoted, the photographs are those of the writer and may be freely used for non-commercial purposes, with an acknowledgement to the Norfolk in World War One blog: https://norfolkinworldwar1.org/ (the images have been reduced in size/quality for publication on the Internet and higher resolution ones can be shared on request.

Images from the Archive

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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 Picture Norfolk (the online picture archive run by Norfolk County Council Library and Information Service).

A walk in the cemetery part two.

After drawing a little bit of a blank into my research into Private Reford’s grave in the Earlham Cemetery, as written about here (and thanks to those who did add more information to the story via Twitter) I turned my attention to the second grave that caught my eye.

The inscription on this one is also quite simple:

R. OVERTON

Boy 1st Cl. RN. J/21987

H.M.S. “Bulwark”

26th November 1914

Using the library subscription to FindMyPast I have discovered that R. Overton is in fact Reginald Overton who was born in Dereham on 22nd August 1897.

His official service records (also accessed through FindMyPast) show that he enlisted for 12 years service with the Royal Navy on his 16th birthday but that he had in fact been in training with since January 1913.

His record shows that he initially trained on the land based training ‘ships’ HMS Ganges I & II but that in June 1913 he was stationed on HMS Hawke. At this time she formed part of the training station based in Queenstown, Ireland. A month’s further on shore training in the autumn of 1913 followed and then Reginald was posted to HMS Bulwark on 28th November 1913.

HMS Bulwark, 1899. Images from Wikipedia

HMS Bulwark’s history is fascinating, she was a pre-dreadnought battleship and sailed in the Mediterranean Fleet at first and then served with the Home Fleet after 1907 (Polar explorer Captain Robert Scott was her commander at one point). She was refitted in 1912 and by the time Reginald joined her she was part of the 5th Battle Squadron. On the outbreak of war that entire squadron became part of the Channel Fleet and conducted patrols in the English Channel.

However it wasn’t enemy action that killed Reginald Overton, and 700 or more of his shipmates. It was a tragic accident – probably caused by the overheating of cordite charges left near a boiler room.

Explosion of HMS Bulwark 26/11/14. Image from Wikipedia

There is full account of the explosion and subsequent inquest here and a full BBC account of the 100 year commemorations of the accident here.

Only the explosion of HMS Vanguard in 1917 has caused a bigger loss of life in a naval accidental explosion and the names of all those who died are listed on the Naval History.net page here.

Reginald Overton is also remembered on the Imperial War Museum ‘Lives of WW1’ site and I will add the photo of his grave to his record.

Spring flowers from the area near Reginald Overton’s grave

 

 

‘Quidquid delirant reges plectuntur’ – Whatever errors the great commit, the people must atone for. The Second Battle of Gaza April 1917

From the records held at the Norfolk Record Office.

While Joseph Emms of the 5th Norfolk Regiment gives a graphic account of one particular battle in Gaza in April 1917, others wrote at greater length of the fighting within the context of their day to day life in Gaza; of the heat, the hardships, the comradeship and of the natural beauty of the landscape.   Two such men were Geoffrey Palgrave Barker and Major Thomas Wood Purdy.  MC 2847/Q7 and ACC 2015/244 Part 67 (Part 5).

Geoffrey Palgrave Barker arrived in Rafah on 8th April 1017 then travelled on to Deir Al-Balah.  The landscape made an immediate impression on him:

Like Salisbury Plain, rolling hills and dusty, but covered with thin grass and barley. . . . . . The present railhead about 7m S.W. of Gaza . . whole place a huge camp. . . . Turk aeroplanes about, our guns keep them pretty high but they are always about.

His first impressions also took account of the military implications realizing that the many gardens and farms with cactus hedges would be difficult to cross.

In the days leading up to the battle Barker wrote of heavy shelling. On 16th April they took up an outpost line at Wadi Sharta then retired to a position at Piccadilly Circus.  The next day they rested in hot sun with no shelter.  They then moved up to Charing Cross under heavy artillery fire.  On 19th April they moved to Sheihk Gibbas Ridge.  Despite heavy bombardment along Khirlet Sihan and the Beersheba Road, they suffered only a few minor casualties.

The Turk seems to love sprinkling strings of camels with shrapnel so we don’t like them too close to us. . . . .A lot of wounded from Australian Camel Corps came through us, they got it rather badly.

Between the end of April and Barker’s last entry in June, his daily life is occupied with troop movement, trench digging and occasional attacks from the Turks. His diaries resume in October 1917 when he was in Beersheeba and Jerusalem.

Thomas Wood Purdy from Woodgate near Aylsham was Major of the 5th Battalion Norfolk Regiment.  His war diary seamlessly mixes his account of the fighting, his great concern for his men and his passionate interest in wildlife, particularly birds.

Purdy was involved in the first battle on 26th March which gives some context to what followed in April.  On 26th March he wrote:

We being intended as a surprise packet for the Turk in Gaza who it was hoped would move out of the Town to attack the Mounted Divisions who were to make a feint attack to the S.E. . . . . we had, as we usually do, gravely underestimated the Turk. He was present in the Town in much greater numbers and put up a tremendous fight. 

By nightfall the British had almost cleared the town of the enemy. Later that same day they were in action again.

We started without drawing water or food under the idea that the camels would accompany us, a grave error for which we suffered heavily. Brigade again.

In the days following, Purdy reflected on events:

Photo 1 29 March 1917- ed

Purdy’s diary entry 28th and 29th March 1917

 

Purdy did not actually take part in the second battle having been taken to Ras El Tin hospital in Alexandria with kidney inflammation. Ironically it is probably because of this that he was able to give such a detailed account of the battle because he was able to meet up with some of his wounded men who ended up in the same hospital.

23rd April.  Heard the awful news that Gardiner and 12 men of the Battalion are reported killed. . . . .In other words the Battalion is wiped out and worse than at Sulva. God has indeed been good to me once more. 

Amongst the names he mentions is Captain Blyth who was with Joseph Emms in Tank Redoubt. However, on 24th April, on returning to the hospital after visiting the town he was overjoyed to find some of his men there including Blyth who he had thought dead.

Photo 2 25 April 1917-ed

Purdy’s diary entry 25th April 1917

 

Purdy tells the story of the second battle from the account given by his wounded men.

Apparently they took Sheikh Abbas Ridge and the 52nd took Mansura on Tuesday morning without much trouble.  On Thursday they attacked the Turkish position along and the other side of Beersheba Road.  Byford said they had to advance over absolutely open country under a tremendous barrage of shrapnel and H.E. from the left for about a mile and a half.  They went in 4 lines and were extended to 10 paces.  The 162nd Brigade were on our left and the 52nd Division on their left.  There was a gap between the 162nd and the 163rd.  In the latter Bdge. 4th Norfolk were on the left, 5th Norfolk on the right, 1/8 Hants. In support and barrage, machine guns opened on them from either flank.  He got about 200 yards from Turkish Trenches but was absolutely alone the rest of his men having become casualties.  Gibbons said he got quite close to the Turkish wire.  Apparently they were not supported and lay in the open until wounded, when they crawled back into a little hollow, and then got back at night.  The 52nd on the left had got as far as Green Hill but then had to withdraw.  The 53rd took Samson Ridge by the Sandhills, but apparently withdrew from it two or three days later.  Two Tanks supported the 54th.  One was stopped by a direct hit from an H.E. soon after it left our trenches and then was hit twice again.  The other reached the Turkish trenches and then went up and down them clearing away the wire, but then one of its caterpillar wheels came off and it was set on fire.  It is rumoured that 4 more tanks have been put out of action.  Our guns bombarded the Turkish trenches for two hours before the attack, but Byford said that as far as he could see, our shells were directed mainly against some dummy trenches on rising ground and not against the front trenches which were 400 or 55 yards in front of the dummy ones and so beautifully sited that they were invisible till one was nearly on them. He had heard that the Camel Corps and the Imperial Mounted Division attacked on our right with no better success and lost heavily, that the 74th Division were afterwards brought up on the right and dug in on the Beersheba Road; that we still held Sheikh Abbas and Mansura. 

Compiled by Daryl Long, NRO Research Blogger