Armistice Day in Norwich Market Place 11th November 1918
We’ve just been told about this wonderful World War One art/history project that has been running in King’s Lynn this autumn…
From late September until early November six heritage and educational organisations in King’s Lynn and West Norfolk
worked together on a World War One remembrance project called Scars of War.
This project used the soldiers’ graffiti of the tower of King’s Lynn Library as the inspiration. The name alludes to the physical and emotional scars on those involved in the Great War and the “scars” the graffiti has left on the buildings.
True’s Yard Fisherfolk Museum, Stories of Lynn, St Nicholas’ Chapel, Lynn Museum, King’s Lynn Library, and The Custom House were the locations chosen as all have some historic graffiti as part of their archives [this unique historical resource was discovered and researched by Kevin Hitchcock and we will be sharing this fascinating story very soon – ed.]. These snapshots of history became the inspiration for creating our own modern graffiti in an artistic way to commemorate World War One and keep the memory of our historic past alive.
Each location ran a lino cutting and printing workshop lead by artist Rebecca Hearle and work from these 6 sessions were collected together to form an exhibition which was celebrated at a special event at King’s Lynn on Monday 12th November.
This was an evening of remembrance hosted by Mayor of the Borough of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, Cllr Nick Daubney. The evening revolved around the telling of stories of the figures from King’s Lynn’s history in World War One.
We’ve been very lucky in that Lindsey Bavin from True’s Yard has sent through many of the readings from this event and we will be posting them all over the next few weeks, we also plan to the fascinating stories behind the original graffiti which inspired this wonderful project.
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 run by Norfolk County Council Library and Information Service).
From the records held at the Norfolk Record Office (ACC 1997/143)
Norwich Cemetery is situated off Earlham Road in Norwich and was used for burials of soldiers from across the Empire, many of whom had been brought to Norwich War Hospital at Thorpe St Andrew.
An undated list names all soldiers interred. In 1914 eleven were interred, in 1915 forty-two, in 1916 fifty-two, in 1917 6 sixty-seven and in 1918 one hundred and ten. There were also a further forty-two interments between 1919 and 1921.
The first burial, on 25 August 1914, was that of Joseph Reford a Private in the Royal Irish Fusiliers. The last burial during the war took place on Armistice Day itself and was that of Cecil George Marshall a Captain in the Army Service Corps.
The Imperial War Graves Commission (IWGC), now known as the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), had defined the period qualifying for a war grave as being between 4 August 1914 and 31 August 1921. In 1921 an agreement between the IWGC and Norwich Corporation set out to keep in good order and condition the soldiers’ graves at the Norwich Cemetery. The IWGC would pay 2s 6d per annum for the upkeep of the graves and 3s 6d for the turfing of each new grave. Everitt, cemetery superintendent, calculated that this would give a total payment for upkeep of £32 7s 6d. The agreement named all 259 graves. There are actually 265 on the list but six were excluded as these were already being maintained by relatives.
Eighty-two of the graves were those of Canadian soldiers (a mis-match with CWGC records today). In November 1916 the Canadian Administrative Headquarters asked if temporary oak memorial crosses could be erected on the graves pending a permanent headstone. A sketch plan was attached. Permission was given.
In September 1918 a plan was submitted for a designated Australian burial ground. This necessitated the exhumations of 11 Australian Imperial Force (AIF) soldiers who had previously been buried together due to lack of space. A designated burial ground meant they could now be interred individually. The work was carried out with great sensitivity and it was planned for before Anzac Day on 25 April 1919 when relatives and friends might visit.
24 hours’ notice was requested so that an AIF representative could be present. A special licence ensured that the exhumation be affected with due care and attention to decency, early in the morning. . . .The proposed removal will not involve the disturbance of any other remains.
The eleven men, all Privates, had died at the Norwich War Hospital. Their names were Adams, Donovan, Edwards, Evans, Fitzgerald, Gillespie, Hurley, Missen, Mitchell, Russell and White.
The Australian Commonwealth Office wrote to Everitt in April 1920:
It is understood that in many cases in the United Kingdom relatives, friends, comrades, hospital staffs and others have very generously at their own expense erected headstones, marble crosses, and other forms of permanent memorials on the graves of late members of the Australian Imperial Force. For the information of the staff in Australia engaged in the preparation of Australia’s official history of the war, I have been directed to communicate with you and request that you may be good enough to afford me, on the attached form, particulars of any headstones erected on an Australian soldier’s grave.
In October 1921 the IWGC requested the levelling of grave mounds to facilitate maintenance and to erect war grave headstones as used elsewhere in the world. It was keen to reassure Norwich citizens that Norwich’s duty of care for Canadian and Australian graves was replicated to the fallen of Norwich whose graves were in foreign soil:
No pains have been spared to preserve undisturbed in perpetuity the graves of the many whom Norwich gave to the war, and for their sake may be glad of the opportunity of paying a similar tribute to the memory of those who, though perhaps not belonging to the City, have been buried there during the war, by granting the Commission the exclusive right of burial in all graves for which those rights have not already been granted.
Everitt had mixed feelings about the plan to level the graves:
The suggestion of levelling the graves would certainly facilitate work and improve the appearance of ground. . . . The proposed laying out will take about 500 spaces . . . The Australian Government purchased 50 spaces, the Canadian Government 5 and relatives 4. . . . To level the whole of the graves in the Cemetery would be a large undertaking. Each grave would require to be marked. The Public are somewhat against it.
Everitt was also concerned about the headstones. While fixing them in concrete would secure the graves’ positions, it could make it difficult if the graves had to be reopened at a later date. The IWGC said that the headstones would be fixed so that it would not prevent reopening in the future should a family member wish to be added at a later date eg. a widow. By 1922 a detailed list had been compiled.
Norwich Cemetery also contains the graves of two German prisoners of war. In June 1922 the IWGC informed Everitt that they had taken over the responsibility for enemy graves from the HM Office of Works. The German soldiers were Hans Hessor/Hesser who died 13 April 1914 and Karl Grause who died 11 November 1918, Armistice Day.
These records show that work on the war graves continued long after the war. A letter in 1924 confirmed there were 307 war graves and headstones were still being erected in 1928. It is evident that Everitt showed great sensitivity in his work. Despite the scale of the task, sensitivity and care was taken over each individual grave.
The IWGC was renamed the CWGC in 1960. Applications for war graves are still accepted today. These NRO records include the CWGC book which lists all the war graves in Norfolk.
Today the CWGC lists 349 war graves at Earlham. There is some discrepancy between the CWGC list and Everitt’s records and further research would be needed to find out why.
Daryl Long NRO Blogger
From records held at the Norfolk Record Office. MC 3036
The popularity of albums, scrapbooks and autograph books during the First World War serves the historian well. They bring a visual perspective to the war and, in the case of postcards, express a sentimentality and emotion which may have been difficult to express in words.
While this blog uses only the photos and postcards from Alice Gooch’s photo album (MC 3036), there are many other such examples to be found at the Norfolk Record Office, some of which are included in the blog post on embroidered cards.
Alice was born in Norwich in 1893 and attended St Augustine’s School. She later worked as a machinist in the shoe industry. Alice’s album is a substantial book and it must be testimony to how well she was thought of by her colleagues because it was given as a birthday present in 1915 with the inscription:
Presented by the Workgirls
For her Birthday
August 9th 1915
Many postcards wished the recipient well, sending appropriate greetings to coincide with special events. The following postcard is ironic in its use of the swastika to send a good luck message given the events some twenty years later. The swastika, a derivation of the Sanskrit word svastika means good luck. The symbol had been used for thousands of years before Hitler adopted the symbol for the Nazi party.
This card was sent from Sid in France and reads: Just a few lines to let you know that I received a slight wound in right hand but it has healed up and am allright again & back with the Battalion.
None of Alice’s postcards or photos reveal names which allow us to find out who they were. Some names may have been family, there is one from Uncle George, while others have no connection with Norwich such as M MacLeod from the Cameron Highlanders. These were soldiers who Alice met while working at Bracondale Auxiliary War Hospital where she volunteered as a pantry maid at the weekends.
Two postcards appear to be linked although the connection to Alice is not clear. Both are from different members of the same family – the Ruscoes from Lancashire.
This postcard was sent to Alice from Miss Ruscoe of Southport as part of the “Girls Friend Exchange”.
This postcard was sent from A Ruscoe. There are records showing an A Ruscoe serving in the Lancashire Fusiliers who was invalided out of the Army after being wounded in France in 1918.
Alice’s album also contains several photos. Again, we have some names but know nothing else about them.
The back of this photo has the name ‘Harry Newman’. It would be lovely to know which one he is and what happened to him.
Who is this young man standing proudly in his uniform?
The back reads: With fond love Freddie.
Alice’s album captures a period in time when an uncertain future strengthened friendships through correspondence and photos. Her album continued for some time after the war.
Compiled by Daryl Long, NRO Research Blogger
From the records held at the Norfolk Record Office
This blog uses NRO records JLD 1/8/1/10 and ‘The Auxiliary Hospitals of the British Red Cross Society & St John Ambulance in Norfolk 1914-1919’ compiled by C.E. Knight.
Sunnyhill was one of two auxiliary war hospitals (AWH) in Thorpe, the other being Cooner. In addition there was the large war hospital at Thorpe St Andrew. All were well placed to receive wounded soldiers arriving by train at Thorpe Station in Norwich.
The hospital at Sunnyhill was originally at Larchwood in Thorpe. On 1st December 1914 a letter details the acquisition of Larchwood for an AWH and posting Detachments 7 (Men) and 16 (Women) of the Red Cross there.
However Larchwood proved too small and on 25 March 1915 the Red Cross wrote: “The difficulty has been met by Mr. Geoffrey F Buxton’s most generous offer of his beautiful House and Grounds ‘Sunninghill’ Thorpe, for a hospital, where it will be possible to have a much larger number of beds”.
Mrs W Jarrold was appointed Commandant of the hospital and her husband Mr W Jarrold was its official secretary. The Quartermasters were Miss Leathes Prior for the women and Mr Taylor for the men. While the Red Cross in the First World War is often associated with women, it is worth noting the contribution of the men’s detachments. The Men’s Red Cross Detachment at Thorpe, whose Commandant was Dr Davidson, helped with the wounded arriving at Thorpe Station and provided a night orderly at Sunnyhill.
Records for Sunnyhill largely cover the running of the hospital rather than detailing the lives of individual patients. There is one letter written in 1917 by Corporal J Carson. He wrote to Mrs Jarrold thanking her for her kindness while he was at Sunnyhill as a patient then as an orderly. Grandma is still in bed & wants me to stay at home now . . .I myself should have liked very much to have gone back (to Sunnyhill) only I’ve got to consider what grandma wants me to do.
All AWHs depended on the goodwill of the local community and Sunnyhill was no exception. It had begun with the Buxtons offering their home to the Red Cross and it continued with donations from local residents and events which brought the community and the hospital together. An article in the Eastern Daily Press (EDP) in July 1918 reports on a garden fete held at the hospital. Parties of wounded men were present from various other hospitals, and the crowd was further swollen by a contingent from an American unit who threw themselves heartily into the sports, and contributed most efficiently to the music. . . Strauss was the life of the party. His song in honour of the nurses, “I don’t want to get well” was an electrical success. The fete made £63 10s 8d.
The Red Cross continued to keep the Buxtons informed about the use of their home as a hospital. In April 1918 Mrs Astley, a leading figure in the Norfolk branch, had written to them about Sunnyhill. We owe you a great debt of gratitude for your generosity in allowing the Hospital to exist so tranquilly in such eminently suitable surroundings . . . in no other hospital do they (inspectors) see such difficult cases trusted to an auxiliary.
In November 1918 plans were made to close the hospital and return Sunnyhill to its owners. The hospital closed on 30th November 1918. During its time it had treated 1152 patients from all corners of the Empire and from all services.
In 1919 plans were made to commemorate the work undertaken at Sunnyhill. In April Mr Jarrold was tasked with writing to members of staff to thank them for their service. His draft letters were sent to Mrs Astley for approval. She replied: The enclosed letters are charming . . .but Mr Taylor’s isn’t quite personal enough you haven’t thanked him for his own personal effort & really he is the best & most enthusiastic conscientious supporter of all. She sent Mr Jarrold an altered letter for him to consider which he duly sent writing: “We are confident that your work has been done often at personal sacrifice owing to your personal health being far from good”.
In May 1919 a commemorative tablet was unveiled at Sunnyhill. The ceremony was attended by Mr Jarrold who spoke of his gratitude to the Buxtons. The County Director of the Red Cross spoke of the free use of the house and that, out of the 62 Norfolk AWHs, the Red Cross had only had to pay rent for 8 which was why they had been able to run so many. The EDP reported:
Sunnyhill, at Thorpe St. Andrew, was generously placed by Mr G F Buxton and Mrs Buxton at the disposal of the Red Cross Society for use as a hospital during the war. . . The Thorpe Red Cross was one of the first detachments to be formed, and to be ready for any emergency. . . Mr Jarrold paid a tribute to the many kind services to the hospital of Mrs D G Astley of Plumstead Hall. She had, he said, stood by detachments Nos. 7 and 16 in sunshine and cloud.
Two interesting press cuttings from the EDP put Sunnyhill’s success, as part of the Norfolk branch, into a national perspective. In March 1918 it reported on a meeting of the Norfolk Branch. Lady Ampthill (head of Devonshire House) spoke of the excellent work being done in Norfolk. Norfolk stood second to none in its work and reputation . . . the recruiting for the V.A.D. has been better in that county than in any other”.
The second article appeared in September 1919. It was entitled “Red Cross Hospitals. Their Proud War Record”. It gave interesting details of AWH expenditure and an overview of the work done nationally. Excluding private hospitals, 1,260,523 patients had been treated at cost of 3s 9d a day. The total cost of AWHs was £10,488,650 excluding 1914 when no accounts were asked for. Of this, £2.5 million pounds was met through voluntary donations, the rest by the Army and Ministry of Pensions. Norfolk was one of fifteen counties credited with running their AWH at less than 4s a day for each patient. No-one would deny that the work of the auxiliary hospitals during the war has been successful beyond all expectation.
Compiled and written by Daryl Long, NRO Research Blogger