Book review

I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of David Snell’s new book Sing To Silent Stones: Violet’s War recently after responding to a request for readers on Twitter. It sounded just up my street being sold as “a stunning historical debut from David Snell, based on his own family’s journey through the wars.

snell

It arrived with quite a thump as the book is over 500 pages long but once I’d started it I found it almost impossible to put down – even the recent successes of TeamGB competitors couldn’t drag my nose from the pages.

The story starts just after the First World War with a little boy playing in the snow, his world is about to be turned upside down as he discovers that the people he’s called mum and dad are just foster parents and that the newly appeared Violet is in fact his mother.

The main book then takes up back in time to just before the war and a sheltered young lady, and only daughter of a wealthy, snobbish business man falls in love with an unsuitable, lower class man.  Their actions on the day before Frank leaves for war reverberate through the rest of the book as Violet falls pregnant…

Whilst a fiction novel the story draws heavily on the family stories from both David and his wife; and I’m glad to know both of these things. The story is so details and well written that it felt real, I was almost convinced I was reading a biography at times but yet, just sometimes the plot becomes just a little too coincidental and I was worried that family stories had been embellished, and taken for real whereas  it was just narrative licence.

If I’m honest I did prefer the part of the book set during the First World War and just after, it felt more real than the bits from the 1930s but once I got to the end I realised that this build up was necessary to create atmosphere for the sequel – Frank’s Story which is published in 2017 and that I can’t wait to read!

 

Many thanks to the publisher for offering the chance to discover a great novel, the book is now published and copies can be reserved from Norfolk’s Libraries.

Images from the Archive

First World War poster for a a fete and garden party.

First World War poster for a a fete and garden party.

 

The programme includes sports for the wounded, a decorated bath chair contest, a ‘Kaiser’s Head’ and an exhibition of war trophies.This item is one of several hundred original posters, notices, documents and photographs (relating to the First World War locally) and held in the Norfolk Heritage Centre’s collections of ephemera.

Bastille Day Despatch from a Small Town in France

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.

The Pauillac Memorial to the Héros de la Grande Guerre, 1914-1918

The Pauillac Memorial to the Héros de la Grande Guerre, 1914-1918

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.

‘My heart is always close to You’

‘My heart is always close to You’

14 July, 1916 : A day in Paris : Outside City Hall, the Spoils of War

14 July, 1916 : A day in Paris : Outside City Hall, the Spoils of War

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.

Bastille Day, Paris, 1916 With thanks to markspostcards.wordpress.com/tag/bastille-day/

Bastille Day, Paris, 1916
With thanks to markspostcards.wordpress.com/tag/bastille-day/

Bastille Day, Pauillac, 2016

Bastille Day, Pauillac, 2016

Vive la France!

Images from the Archive

Great Yarmouth was a North Sea submarine base. The early years of the Twentieth Century saw the development and widespread adoption of submarines by many nations, they were used by the Royal Navy from 1902. By the start of the First World War, the Royal Navy had the world's largest submarine service, with 74 boats of the B, C and D classes. Here Jewson's warehouse can be seen behind.

Great Yarmouth was a North Sea submarine base. The early years of the Twentieth Century saw the development and widespread adoption of submarines by many nations, they were used by the Royal Navy from 1902. By the start of the First World War, the Royal Navy had the world’s largest submarine service, with 74 boats of the B, C and D classes. Here Jewson’s warehouse can be seen behind.

 

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).

The internet is a wonderful place…

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:

The Ceremonial Drum of the 12th Sudanese Regiment It bears the flags of Egypt and the Regiment's battle honours including 'Firket' public domain image

The Ceremonial Drum of the 12th Sudanese Regiment
It bears the flags of Egypt and the Regiment’s battle honours including ‘Firket’
public domain image

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.

Officer's Sword from the 12th Sudanese Regt. With Thanks to William Leroy

Officer’s Sword from the 12th Sudanese Regt. With Thanks to William Leroy

Officer's Sword from the 12th Sudanese Regt. With Thanks to William Leroy

Officer’s Sword from the 12th Sudanese Regt. With Thanks to William Leroy

Officer's Sword from the 12th Sudanese Regt. With Thanks to William Leroy

Officer’s Sword from the 12th Sudanese Regt. This picture of the sword very clearly shows the same crest as on the drum.  With Thanks to William Leroy

 

 

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.

Battle of the Somme Visiting Exhibition at RAF Air Defence Radar Museum

Walter (sitting) and Richard (standing) Allard, born in Barton Turf, both lost their lives during the Battle of the Somme – aged 21 and 23 respectively.

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.

Grave at St Peter’s Church Neatishead of Alfred Tooley who was fatally wounded at the Battle of the Somme.

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

Claire Penstone-Smith

Chair, Neatishead, Irstead & Barton Turf Community Heritage Group