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.
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.
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.