Making connections through family stories

Last summer we posted the research undertaken by Alan Riches in to his great-uncle’s war service.  We’ve now been contacted by another blog reader who’s great-grandfather probably served alongside Harry Hazel.
Simon Potter has shared what he knows about Herbert Potter but it is currently an incomplete picture:

Herbert was my great-grandfather who died in 1958, before I was born but my father remembers him. He was a rather tall and elegantly dressed man but over time developed a pigeon chest as he struggled for breath after a WW1 gas attack.

Herbert enlisted on 25th March 1915 in the same company as Sapper 84711, just 839 men before so they maybe knew each other?

There is some debate as to when Herbert came under gas attack, I think this happened on 8 August 1916. From the company war diary, it looks like he and 35 others were casualties of high explosive and (possibly chlorine gas) attack whilst making a communications trench from brigade HQ on the south-west side of Bazentin-le-Petit Wood. His service record shows shell shock from an exploding shell and that he spent a week with 104th field hospital, however it doesn’t mention the gas so it’s possible that it occurred later, my father thinks he heard mustard gas at the Ypres/Battle of Poelcappelle/Passchendaele in Oct 1917.

 

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In this torn image Herbert could be in the middle row, second from left with the blue mark on his hat.

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These are the photos I have, I always thought they were of (part of) the 208th, but the cap badges worry me a bit, perhaps as a territorial unit they were different? I think there are only 70 men in this picture not the 217 that you mentioned in the previous post so perhaps it’s not a Company but a Platoon?  I also notice that unlike other similar photos they have no rifles. From the tents in the background could these photos be from training camps in England in 1915?

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Not sure about this one either, perhaps a field kitchen in Kirkby Malzeard or in France, although the corrugated iron walls in the background look similar to photos of some temporary buildings I have seen at Sutton Veny on Salisbury Plain.

The most amazing thing for me is that his record shows that in Feb/March 1918 he was granted 10 days leave to the UK. Imagine having experienced the horrors of the trenches over 2 winters (including being shell-shocked and gassed), then going home, then after a rest returning to the war!

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Herbert he survived the war returning to his work as a boot maker in Norwich where after short retirement he died peacefully in 1958 aged 76. Herbert was born in Norwich in 1881 but spent a lot his youth in Bethnal Green.

Herbert many years later on holiday in 1937, on the RHS with his eldest son (also called Herbert) on the LHS and his grandson (Brian).

Herbert many years later on holiday in 1937, on the RHS with his eldest son (also called Herbert) on the LHS and his grandson (Brian).

 Herbert on the left in the Homburg hat in 1939. He died in 1958 at 83 Rosebery Road, Norwich, in his final years he liked to sip half pints of stout in the back room of the Lord Rosebery pub and play draughts. Like most them, he never spoke of the war.

Herbert on the left in the Homburg hat in 1939. He died in 1958 at 83 Rosebery Road, Norwich, in his final years he liked to sip half pints of stout in the back room of the Lord Rosebery pub and play draughts. Like most them, he never spoke of the war.

Herbert has two brothers, one older (Charles Frederick b. 1876) and one younger (George James b.1888).

Charles Frederick Potter was already a professional solder being #4163 in 2nd Bn Essex Regiment and who participated in the second Anglo-Boer War of 1896. He had already retired from the army by the outbreak of WW1 but rejoined as Pte 45624, 2nd Garrison Battalion Essex Reg, forming part of the Nasirabad Brigade, India in 1917. I think he lived until 1960 but not sure.

George James  joined the 2nd Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps as Rifleman 7696 on 22 August 1914, but died less than a year later on 10 July 1915. He is buried in the Lillers Communal Cemetery, Nord-Pas-de-Calais Region, France Plot: II. A. 34. This is just 3 1/2 months after Herbert joined up.

As ever we are very grateful to Simon for sharing his family story with us – please do comment below or email norfolkinworldwar1@gmail.com if you have a story to share or indeed if you can help with any of Simon’s questions.

Another exciting project from The Forum Trust

Hot on the heels of the announcement from the Forum Trust about their Gaza project they’ve contacted us about another project that they think our readers might be interested in:

Call for volunteers

The Forum, Norwich are looking for volunteers to help research content for their HLF funded World War One Exhibition ‘WWI Women of Norfolk: On Active Service’ which will be held at The Forum and Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library in November 2017. Volunteer’s time on the project will include research, developing written work, exhibition talks and the co-creation of a project film.

Volunteers will be supported by the Project Historian Neil Storey and they will receive training on how to research the stories of Norfolk women in the military services and hospitals, on the land, in the factories and on the home front. Heritage skills training offered to volunteers will include an introduction to the collections of the Norfolk Heritage Centre and the Norfolk Record Office and how to use online sources for family history and military ancestry research. They will also receive training in public speaking and media engagement and be offered the opportunity to learn digital skills including filming and film editing.

If you have an interest in heritage, previous experience of using primary sources for historical research and are willing to promote your project work in the public arena, then this could be the opportunity for you.

This volunteering opportunity is from May-November 2017.

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IMAGE: A GROUP OF NORWICH MUNITIONS GIRLS DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR CREDIT: NEIL STOREY ARCHIVE

 

If you are interested in finding out more about volunteering with the Norfolk in the First World War project, The Forum warmly invites you to come along to the ‘WWI Women of Norfolk: On Active Service’ Talk and Information Evening.

Join Frank Meeres, Archivist at the Norfolk Record Office for a talk on Norfolk Women at War 1914-1919. Then meet Neil Storey and the Norfolk in the First World War Project Team to learn more about the opportunities available at The Forum to research the role of Norfolk Women on Active Service during the First World War.

This event is FREE, but booking is essential.

For further information about volunteering with The Forum’s Norfolk in the First World War: Somme to Armistice Project please visit www.theforumnorwich/learning/volunteer or email Lizzie Figura-Drane, Heritage Project Assistant heritage.assistant@theforumnorwich.co.uk

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The Battle of Gaza – a call for family stories

The Forum, in the heart of Norwich recently contacted us to see if we could help them with their next World War One project…

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The Forum, Norwich, appeals for stories about Norfolk soldiers who fell in the Second Battle of Gaza, 17-19 April 1917.

We are appealing for the people of Norfolk to share their stories and memories of relatives who fought in the Second Battle of Gaza to mark its centenary in April 2017. There are hundreds of Norfolk men who served in The Norfolk Regiment & fought in this battle and here at The Forum we’re keen to hear from local people who may also have photographs, letters and objects relating to the Second Battle of Gaza.

Information and stories of local soldiers will help add to the research for The Forum’s community project ‘Norfolk in the First World War: Somme to Armistice’. The project honours Norfolk’s First World War heroes and runs until November 2018 with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

If you have any information on connections to the Second Battle of Gaza please get in touch with The Forum’s Learning Manager, Sarah Power via email: sarah.power@theforumnorwich.co.uk or telephone: 01603 727977.

The Forum is currently working with primary and secondary schools from King’s Lynn and North Norfolk on the young person’s strand of the project called ‘Finding the Fallen’. Students are spending three days with local military historian, Neil Storey, to include research sessions, object handling and a visit to their closest war memorial to uncover information about soldiers’ local roots and their fates in the Battle of Gaza.

While The Forum is particularly keen to receive stories about men from these areas, we also welcome any information about the involvement of any Norfolk men in the Battle of Gaza that people may hold.

All of the research and learning from the project will culminate in a Battle of Gaza exhibition starting at The Forum and the Norfolk & Norwich Millennium Library on 18 April 2017. Following this, the exhibition and an accompanying film will go on tour to other schools and community venues around Norfolk.

 

We need your help

To paraphase Lord Kitchener terribly – blog readers The Norfolk in World War One blog needs you!questionmark

 

We’ve been contacted by one of our readers, Stella, who is looking for a photo of a fallen family member:

My ancestor Nelson Dagless was in the 1st/5th battalion…I have been trying so hard to find a photo of him.
His roll of honour lies in Dereham, he was just 20 years old when he lost his life 

All I know of Nelson, is that he was born in Norfolk in 1897. He enlisted for WW1 service  in East Dereham and was a Private in the Norfolks 1st/5th battalion, number 240428.
He lost his life in Palestine on the 2nd November 1917. 
We know that so many of our readers have undertaken research in to the Norfolk Regiment that we thought it was worth passing on Stella’s request in the hope that someone will be able to help.
If you can please leave a comment here or email norfolkinworldwar1@gmail.com – many thanks in advance.

We Will Remember Them

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission Living Memory Project.

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All summer we and many others have been commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.  The Commonwealth War Graves Commission project is called “Living Memory” and they want to make a point of remembering the war graves that are located in the UK – amazingly there are about 300 000 of them.

The Norfolkinworldwar1 team have been contacted by the CWGC to see if we can help remember the war graves that are located in Norfolk – their research has shown that there are 514 graves in the Earlham Road cemetery in Norwich and 275 graves in Caister Old Cemetary.

The Battle of the Somme officially ended on 18th November 1916 and the CWGC would like to remember the men (and possibly women) who are buried in Norfolk’s cemeteries – not necessarily just the two we’ve mentioned here.

If you are interested in finding out more about tVhis project and would like to lay flowers on these graves to remember these people please do contact the @CWGC #LivingMemories project coordinator Virginia – her email is virginia.crompton@bigideascompany.org and she’d love to hear from you.

 

If you do get involved in this project then please do let us know and we’ll mention it here too.

Many thanks on behalf of the Norfolkinworldwar1 team and the Living Memory project!

 

A treasure trove of images

Historian and author Steve Smith got in touch with us recently to share this new collection of images he’d just been shown:

Recently, after a conversation on Facebook, I met up with Gill Sidell to discuss her Father, Private 2063 George Leonard Bindley, who served in the 1/4th Battalion Norfolk Regiment in the Great War.

Private 2063 George Leonard Bindley, who served in the 1/4th Battalion Norfolk Regiment in the Great War.

Private 2063 George Leonard Bindley, who served in the 1/4th Battalion Norfolk Regiment in the Great War.

I helped Gill piece together a few things about George who served with them all through the war, officially serving in a theatre of war with them from the 9th August 1915 onward when the battalion transferred from HMTS Aquitania to the SS Osmaniah to land Gallipoli on the 10th August. Having served in that campaign he eventually ended up in Egypt when the Gallipoli Campaign ended in December 1915 and also served in Palestine. One of the postcards records the fact that the battalion marched past General Allenby is Cairo

George Bindley's company seen marching past General Allenby during a parade in Cairo.

George Bindley’s company seen marching past General Allenby during a parade in Cairo.

and the note on the back states, Our Coy marching past Gen Allenby in Cairo look for me.

I am certain that he was wounded on 19th April 1917 when the 1/4th Battalion took part in the 2nd Battle of Gaza and it is said that he spent time with the Camel Corps helping to transport supplies across the desert.

George Bindley seen stood in the foreground whilst on active service. It is said he spent time with the Camel Corps transporting supplies across the desert.

George Bindley seen stood in the foreground whilst on active service. It is said he spent time with the Camel Corps transporting supplies across the desert.

George sent a number of postcards to his Mother and Brother whilst serving overseas and also collected photographs of men who served with him. Some of these are named but many are not and remain unidentified. Looking at the men all either served in the 1/4th or 1/5th Norfolk Regiment.

1/4th Battalion Norfolk Regiment seen after a football match.

1/4th Battalion Norfolk Regiment seen after a football match.

These are a snapshot into another time and show a number soldiers in different poses who went to serve their King and Country. Some were taken prior to the Norfolks shipping out to Gallipoli but a number of them show men who were serving in the Middle East.

A platoon of 1/4th Battalion Norfolk Regiment in Egypt.

A platoon of 1/4th Battalion Norfolk Regiment in Egypt.

One of the images is quite poignant and you can see that what happened to the lad affected George.

Private 240868 Edward Arthur Bubbings of the 1/5th Battalion Norfolk Regiment who died of wounds on 17th July 1917

Private 240868 Edward Arthur Bubbings of the 1/5th Battalion Norfolk Regiment who died of wounds on 17th July 1917

On the back of a circular photo it notes,

‘In Loving Remembrance of Pte E Bubbings 1/5 Norfolk Regt who gave his life for his country in Palestine 1917.’ “Greater love hath no man than this that he gave his life for his friends.”

The soldier in question can be identified as Private 240868 Edward Arthur Bubbings who was the son of W.G. and Alice Bubbings of 91 Harley Road in Great Yarmouth. Edward was only 18 when he died of wounds on 14th July 1917 serving with the 1/5th Battalion Norfolk Regiment. During this period both the 4th and 5th Battalions were in trenches spanning from the Gaza-Cairo road over Sniper’s Post and Samson Ridge and then ending up by the sea at Sheikh Ajlin. Their war diary and history notes that casualties for this period were caused by Turkish shelling. Edward is now laid to rest in Deir El Belah War Cemetery in Palestine.

Another postcard image simply states,

Private 241000 Daniel Rout who served in the 1/5th Battalion Norfolk Regiment.

Private 241000 Daniel Rout who served in the 1/5th Battalion Norfolk Regiment.

‘Rout Red Sea’

This can be traced to Private 241000 Daniel Rout who served in the 1/5th Battalion Norfolk Regiment. Looking at the 1911 Census and the age of the soldier I would say this is Daniel Rout who was born in West Lynn in 1898 who was the son of Joseph and Elizabeth Rout. Daniel had worked as a Farm Labourer prior to joining up and the picture would have been taken when he was about 18 or 19 years old. Daniel survived the war.

One other postcard notes ‘Mr A Brighty No 9 Eton Village.’

rivate 1852 Arthur George Brighty from Eaton who served in the Royal Army Medical Corps and in the 1/4th Battalion Norfolk Regiment.

rivate 1852 Arthur George Brighty from Eaton who served in the Royal Army Medical Corps and in the 1/4th Battalion Norfolk Regiment.

This can be linked to Private 1852 Arthur George Brighty who initially served in the Royal Army Medical Corps landing at Gallipoli on 4th October 1915 before becoming Private 204670 Brighty in the 1/4th Battalion Norfolk Regiment. He survived the war and was disembodied on 4th April 1919. Arthur was born in Eaton in 1896 and was the son of Amelia Brighty who was living at 4 Branksome Road in Norwich during the 1911 Census.

Luckily George also survived the war and was disembodied from the Army on 4th April 1919.

group of 1/4th Battalion Noroflk Regiment men seen stood together whilst serving in Egypt.

group of 1/4th Battalion Noroflk Regiment men seen stood together whilst serving in Egypt.

We are very grateful to Gill who has given permission for these images to be displayed here in the hope that we might be able to identify the unknown men and if you feel you can help with that then please contact the blog team by emailing norfolkinworldwar1@gmail.com.

 

Gill has kindly shared many more pictures with us and we will be posting them both here and on the @Norfolkinww1 Twitter stream over the next few weeks and months, should you recognise anyone in the images please do get in touch as we’d love to know more.

Operation Norfolk Remembers

The Forum in Norwich (home to the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library) will be commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme between 6th and 10th July, with a full day of events on Saturday 9th July.

From Weds 6th people will be able to take part in the Great War Trench Experience:

Transport yourself to the Western Front during WW1 with a visit to the War and Peace Great War Trench Experience.

This above-ground trench evokes the sights and sounds of life on the front line and the experienced educational team help bring the trench to life for visitors with story-telling and drills.

Enter the trench and look in on the Officers’ Dugout, where the commanders are discussing strategies over a glass of the local tipple. Creep along the trench or hop-up and look over the top – but don’t disturb the sleeping soldier hidden away in his bunk.

Handle a replica WW1 weapon, and for students, try on battledress to get a sense of how it felt for soldiers. The trench experience is an educational and entertaining way to learn more about life on the front line… with a surprise or two in store.

Set in a 40 foot trailer, the trench was built by professional set-designer, Michael Whiteley, with input from a theatrical lighting company and historian.

The on Saturday 9th July the day becomes Operation Norfolk Remembers – a project organised by the British Army, UEA, The Cambridge University Officer’s Training Corps and more with the aim of getting an image of every war memorial in Norfolk taken on the same day to create a new digital legacy to those who lost their lives in World War One.

The images will be able to be seen as they come in at The Forum, King’s Lynn Library and Great Yarmouth Library making it a countywide event. The information below explains more.

Operation NORFOLK REMEMBERS is a county-wide partnership involving Cambridge University Officers’ Training Corps (CUOTC), The University of East Anglia (UEA) and partners. It aims to mobilise the communities of Norfolk to submit photographs of their nearest WWI war memorial, in order to create a unique digital display that will show every WWI war memorial in Norfolk on the same day. This ambitious community project invites everyone in Norfolk to commemorate and remember local people who gave their lives during WWI and build a digital legacy for future generations. 

Photo: Denise Bradley / Archant

Here’s how you can get involved on Saturday 9 July:

  •  Please register your interest to be involved in the photography of your local WWI memorial as soon as possible via Twitter@OpNR2016, Facebook facebook.com/OpNR2016  or emailop.norfolk.projectofficer@gmail.com 
  • Either alone, or with family, friends and colleagues, visit your nearest WWI memorial with a camera (it might be worth trying this out prior to the day so you know that it will be accessible).
  • Take a photo of you / your group next to your local memorial AND a photo of the memorial on its own, showing the list of names from WWI of the people who are commemorated on the memorial.
  • Visit the CUOTC website at www.army.mod.uk/UOTC/30757.aspxto download the “How To Guide” for details of where your photographs should be sent.   

As photos arrive via email from all over Norfolk, a team of experts create a digital collage on three big screens outside The Forum, as well as in the libraries of Kings Lynn and Great Yarmouth. 

Join the other activities taking place inside and outside The Forum including The War and Peace Great War Trench Experience, equipment and vehicles from the WW1, archive film and photographs, the Battle of the Somme exhibition, craft activities, children’s storytelling and much more.