Image from the Archive

This portrait is thought to be from the studio of the photographer Olive Edis and probably depicts a member of the Cox family.

This portrait is thought to be from the studio of the photographer Olive Edis and probably depicts a member of the Cox family.

We’re cheating slightly with our image this time as it isn’t actually World War One related – however the photographer Olive Edis was the first female war photographer and in 1919 she did travel to France and Belgium to document the aftermath of the fighting.

There is just one more day to see the excellent Fishermen and Kings exhibition at the Norwich Castle Museum however from March 2017 you will be able to see a new Olive Edis exhibition at Cromer Museum.


Heritage Sunday at the Millennium Library

Norfolk at War


The team from the Norfolk Heritage Centre are continuing with their monthly family sessions in 2017, and their first event on Sunday 22nd January will be about Norfolk at War.

Maps, photos and more more from our collection will be on display and Chris the Archive Specialist will be running some family-friendly activities too – I heard talk of making model gas masks…

The session is suitable for accompanied children aged 4-11 and is free – just pop in to the Children’s library between 2.30-3.45.

Labour Shortages & A Shortage of Government Funding

To relieve food shortages , in some part caused by German U-Boat action, the government wanted more land to be cultivated in each county.One of the problems for farmers was to overcome the shortage of suitable labour. So, early in 1917 , the government scheme of National Service for civilians was unveilled at Westminster. The aim of the National Service was to recruit 500,000 men aged between 18 – 61 years for agricultural work, forestry work, ship building and construction. Neville Chamberlain made it clear that recruiting women to fill labour shortages would be dealt with as a separate issue.

Volunteers, who were to be allotted to occupations for which they were most suited, were supplied with forms, which could then be sent (without a postage stamp) to the Director -General in London.Those volunteers whose services were needed would then be sent a coupon for railway travel and a warrant for subsistence allowance. The rate of pay would be the going rate for the job in each particular district.

Locally, a Thetford and District War Agricultural Committee was formed and had its first meeting in the spring of 1917.

The government used a range of borrowing structures during WW1 to fund the war effort.One of the most important was the war loans initiative, issued in November 1914, June 1915 and January 1917. Each investor in war loans was effectively lending money to the government to fund the war effort. The loans were for fixed periods, during which interest was paid.War loans were seen as a relatively attractive investment.

For the loans to succeed, they had to secure a broad subscriber base, both geographically and across different sectors of the economy.

In February 1917 a War Loan Association was started in Thetford, with a management committee consisting of local dignitaries and the Barclay and Co., Ltd bank.The association was formed to enable those subscribers who were unable to make an immediate payment, the opportunity of subscribing to the 5 percent war loan by instalments spread over two years. Any person or society in the borough of Thetford ,or elsewhere, could apply for stock, from £25 upwards.


Connecting with other WW1 projects around the country

One of our blogging team is also a qualified genealogists and recently she was contacted by a team in Oswestry who are researching the men who fell in the Great War and are commemorated on the Oswestry War Memorial Gates.

They have discovered that one of the men has links to Norfolk thanks to Elizabeth’s blog and they have completed some more research into Francis Harold Carless who is also commemorated on the Norfolk Teachers War Memorial.


Francis H Carless

Francis Harold Carless was originally from Walsall and was born in 1892. His father, Frederick, was a shoe and boot dealer but by 1911 was working as a currier or leather worker. His mother was Ada, he was the eldest of 4 children with siblings Ernest, Maggie and Stanley. By 1911 the family had moved to Oswestry and lived at 45 Park Avenue. His early education was at Oswestry Council School, later he won a scholarship to Oswestry Grammar School where he won many school prizes.

After school he trained as a teacher and worked for Salop County Council as a master at Gobowen Council School. He was also actively connected with work of Salvation Army and other religious bodies in the district.

He later moved to Fakenham in Norfolk to take up a teaching appointment. He enlisted at Norwich in October 1915 joining the Royal Army Medical Corps and went over to France in August 1916 as a reinforcement posted to 60 Field Ambulance.

Francis was wounded twice, for the first time in September 1916 when he was hit in the arm, back and head and spent a month at Rouen Base Hospital. On returning to duty he was posted to 56 Field Ambulance, attached to 18 Division.

He was wounded for a second time in July 1917 but not so seriously and he soon returned to duty.

He was killed in action on 22 October 1917 probably serving as a stretcher bearer in the front line during the battles at Passchendaele, he has no known grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

His personal property was returned to his father who now lived at Bridge Terrace, Whittington Road. Among his effects were a Welsh New Testament and a Bible as well as  French/English and Welsh/English Dictionaries.

Francis is also commemorated on the Norfolk Teachers War memorial at County Hall in Norwich and at Oswestry Grammar School.

Research by the Men on the Gates team has them also listing Carless as a possible Non Combatant/Conscientious Objector due to his religious outlook but at present this is not backed up by any evidence.

We’ll be following the Men on the Gates project over the next few years as they find out more about the men commemorated  (an early website for their project can be found here) but as ever if you can help with their project or have a similar one of your own please let us know so we can share details. norfolkpoppy

Images from the archives

Royal Norfolk Regiment, 2/5th Battalion group 'somewhere in England' 1917

Royal Norfolk Regiment, 2/5th Battalion group ‘somewhere in England’ 1917


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 (the online picture archive for Norfolk County Council Library and Information Service).

Notes from the author

Author Edward Glover has recently been in contact with the NorfolkinWW1 blog team to tell us about his newest book A Motif of Seasons not only does this have a WW1 setting is has an intriguing dedication:dedicated-to-the-memory

Here Edward tells us why he dedicated his book to this one man.

A Motif of Seasons

There were two reasons why I decided to dedicate my book – A Motif of Seasons – to Private Charles Alfred Lawrence of the 9th Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment.

First, I decided from the beginning that my story (spread over three books) of the tempestuous relationship between two families – one English in Norfolk and one German near Berlin linked by an unexpected marriage in 1766 – should end in the tragedy of the World War 1. In Britain and in Germany no family was spared the bitter consequences of such a terrible conflict.

Second, the Royal British Legion campaigned in 2014 for every British soldier killed in the Great War to be personally commemorated. My wife and I wished to participate, not least because the war memorials in Norfolk villages like mine are ever present reminders of the losses these small communities endured.

Whether by design or accident, we received a certificate bearing Private Lawrence’s name and recording that he fell (at the age of 21) on the 15th of September 1916 in the Battle of the Somme. With no known grave his name is carved on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. I thought it duly fitting that the last book in my trilogy should be dedicated to him, serving to all who read the book as a poignant reminder of the sacrifice that young men like him made.

Arising from this dedication, it has been an honour and a privilege to establish contact with the present-day Lawrence family who were deeply touched that I should remember their ancestor in this way and who have shared with me some personal information about him. Moreover, last summer I travelled to France to see where he fell and his name on the Thiepval Memorial.

Author Edward Glover

Author Edward Glover

Copies of A Motif of Seasons will be available to borrow from the library very soon and we hope to plan a talk with Edward before too long in 2017.



War Diary January 2017

War Norfolk
The Zimmerman Affair

German Foreign Secretary, Arthur Zimmerman, sends a secret telegram to the German minister in Mexico telling him to offer German support to the Mexicans if they were to attack the United States. The telegram is intercepted by British Naval Intelligence.

Disappointment for Farmers

 One farmer’s wife reports her disappointment that of the number of women who stated that they were prepared to work on farms, many were not up to scratch or found other work considered “more suitable.”

Help for Farmers

 The Norfolk War Agricultural Committee was informed that Norfolk would be supplied with 10 tractors by the War Office to help improve badly cultivated land.