The Wood Norton War Memorial

memorial

Wood Norton War Memorial, All Saints Church

As part of the Wood Norton Heritage Project, work began in June 2015 on researching the war memorial in All Saints Church and the men whose names appear on it.  The memorial, For God, King and Country, was made by Hughes, Bolckow & Co. Ltd, battleship breakers in Blyth, Northumberland.  An advertisement taken from The Bystander in February 1917 offers the memorial at a total cost of £6 10s 0d, as a fitting and enduring Memorial to the Patriotism of Britain’s Sons.  The memorial is made from teak and copper materials salvaged from H.M.S. Britannia, and takes the form of a triptych, with a shelf at the bottom of the central panel upon which flowers or a commemorative wreath can be placed.  The names of the servicemen are inscribed on the left and right hand panels under the heading Roll of Honour.  The central panel bears a copper cross under the heading Greater Love Hath No Man Than This, and the names of the servicemen who died are here inscribed, each name bearing a gold asterisk which corresponds with the words The Heroic Dead at the bottom of the panel.

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An advertisement in The Bystander, February 28, 1917

The church service of 21 June 1917 notes the dedication of the war shrine by the Bishop of Thetford, John Phillips Alcott Bowers.[1]  The memorial now lists the names of all the men who served and died, as well as those who served and survived the conflicts of World War 1 and World War 2.

The initial focus of the research was on the men listed on the memorial who lost their lives in World War 1 – The Heroic Dead – and we have now been able to identify all of them:

Name Died Where Age Regiment
William Forbes Norris 25 August 1915 Suvla Bay, Gallipoli 21 1/5th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment (Lieutenant)
Alfred William Ducker 15 April 1916 Persian Gulf, Basra 18 2nd Battalion, Norfolk Regiment (Private 19342)
Wilfred George Lake 10 September 1916 France, the Somme 20 Norfolk Yeomanry (1520);

1st Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment

Robert Cecil Burlingham 2 November 1917 Palestine, Gaza 21 1/5th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment (Private 240688)
Nicholas Robert Colman 30 November 1917 France, Cambrai 20 7th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment (Private 9566)
Alfred Wright 8 December 1917 Palestine, Jerusalem 20 3/1st Norfolk Yeomanry (2632);

179th Company Machine Gun Corps (95831)

Edward Barber Leeder 31 January 1918 North Sea (submarine) 22 Royal Navy (SS/5311)
Stanley Sadler 15 August 1918 Dutch coast (torpedoed) 21 Royal Navy (K/37377)
George Dawson 19 September 1918 Salonika, Greece 40 14th Battalion, The Queens (Royal West Surrey Regiment) (G/20883)
Thomas Walter Doughty 24 March 1918 France, the Somme 26 Royal Army Service Corps (Driver T4/045185);

1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles  (Rifleman 47409)

Arthur Robert Buck 25 May 1918 France, the Somme 41 4th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment (29227)
Charles Dew 21 December 1918 Wood Norton 19 6th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (Private G/75229).

Charles was discharged from the army on the 2nd October 1918 due to wounds received, and died of pneumonia/influenza on 21st December 1918.  He is buried in the churchyard; his headstone bears the inscription ‘One of the Heroes’.

In addition, The Heroic Dead panel bears the name of the only serviceman who died in World War 2, Robert Martin Bell.

Both Roll of Honour panels not only include the names of the servicemen who died in both world wars, but the names of those men who survived, and they are:

Roll of Honour :  left hand panel Roll of Honour : right hand panel
Walter Blomfield Andrews Albert Edward Ellis
Charles William Burlingham Henry Gibson
Percy George Meale Ernest Percy Doughty
Ernest Charles Harvey Alfred Frederick Williamson
Ernest Barnet Bray Samuel Charles Dye
Sidney Alec Winterbone Sidney Herbert Myhill
Edward Wright Fred Sadler
Albert Robert Hastings Cubitt George Bowman
Herbert George Mindham Robert Henry Doughty
Frederick Dawson Cyril Frederick Myhill
Herbert Dawson Cyril Raymond Dye
Augustus Elmar Doughty Arthur Sadler
Sidney Herbert Rutland Edward Sadler
Arthur Charles Farrow John Kittle
Leonard Leslie Mitchell Frank Mitchell

 

The last four names on the right hand Roll of Honour panel are in a slightly different typeface suggesting they were added at a later date, and may therefore have been World War 2 servicemen.

Our research on the Word War 1 servicemen has provided the following details.  All the men who died were unmarried, the youngest being 18 and the eldest 41.  One man (Alfred Ducker) lied about his age on enlistment – he said he was 19 when in fact he was only 17; his Commonwealth War Grave inscription has his correct age when he died (aged 18).  Alfred was killed in action in the attempt to relieve the Siege of Kut in April 1916.  Edward Barber Leeder died in a submarine accident off the Isle of May in January 1918, the HMS K4 submarine sinking with the loss of its entire crew of 270 men.  Edward was a miner in Blyth (Northumberland), who signed up with the Border Regiment but was rejected by the army, so he signed up with the Royal Navy instead.

As you would expect in a small farming village (according to Kelly’s Directory of Norfolk, the population in 1911 was 316; by 1921 this had dropped to 287), neighbours and relatives went off to fight.  Alfred Ducker and Alfred Wright lived next door to each other in Brush Cottages.  Arthur Robert Buck, the oldest serviceman to die, was the uncle of Alfred Wright.  They are both remembered by inscriptions on the Wright family headstone in the churchyard.  Wilfred George Lake is remembered by an inscription on his family headstone.  One of the two Burlingham brothers who went to fight survived the conflict, and there are other family surnames on the memorial (e.g. Doughty, Dawson) where the men must have been related – further research will tell.

Some men who are recorded on the war memorial did not live in the village, but were related to those who did – Stanley Sadler, the grandson of Mary Bacon who lived at Raw Hall, and Edward Barber Leeder, the son of Mary Graveling who lived at Dukehouse Bridge.  It is intriguing that one of our servicemen, George Dawson, is remembered on the North Elmham war memorial, and it will be interesting to see if this puzzle, and the connection between Wood Norton and North Elmham, can be solved.

Looking at the extant service records for those who died, it seems by modern standards that they were small, slightly built men, ranging in height from 5’ 3” to 5’ 11”.  They were mostly farm workers, general labourers, horsemen.  Robert Cecil Burlingham was an underkeeper (a gamekeeper’s assistant), Arthur Robert Buck was a gardener, and William Forbes Norris (the only officer, and the tallest of the men at 5’ 11”) had just graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge.  By 1917 it appears that all eligible men had gone off to fight, but the land still needed to be worked, as the Wood Norton Parish Council Minutes March 16, 1917 records:

Two circulars were read from the County Council with regard to asking people to join the National Service.  It was proposed by the Rev C.B. Lipscomb seconded by Councillor C.W. Hunt that the Chairman write to the County Council, saying that it seemed unnecessary to urge either the farmers or agricultural labourers to join & there were only three others, two of whom had already volunteered, & the other was helping on the land part time.[2]

The Wood Norton Heritage Project has held exhibitions and remembrances in the church on the anniversary of each serviceman’s death, and they are remembered on the British Legion’s Every One Remembered website (www.everyoneremembered.org).  We hope that they will be remembered through the Norfolk in World War One website (https://norfolkinworldwar1.org).

Information on our servicemen appears on our War Memorial site on the Wood Norton Village website (http://woodnorton.norfolkparishes.gov.uk); much more information on our servicemen is available in folders in the church for anyone to consult.  We are pleased to have been contacted by some relatives of these servicemen, who have passed on some family information and photographs, and for Thomas Walter Doughty a photograph of his Memorial Plaque.

Finding out information on the servicemen who survived the conflicts has proved to be the more difficult task, especially where the service records have not survived, and this is in hand.  We would be most grateful to receive any relevant information, particularly from relatives of those who served in either of the two world wars.

 

With many thanks to the Wood Norton Heritage Project and Joanne Burd for sending us this article. The group are keen for anyone to contact them if they have any information regarding the servicemen (either those who died, or those who survived in both World Wars.) Please email norfolkinworldwar1@gmail.com if you can help. 

 

[1] From the Register of Services 1915-1930, All Saints Church, Wood Norton.

[2] Norfolk Record Office, Acc 2007/375 (Box 1) : Wood Norton Parish Council Minute Book : 1895-1925

 

 

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2 thoughts on “The Wood Norton War Memorial

  1. Pingback: Wood Norton War Memorial – Your Ancestor Search

  2. Pingback: Wood Norton War Memorial – part 2 – Your Ancestor Search

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