Branching out into Suffolk (slightly)

We’ve been contacted by another blog reader looking for some help filling out the final details of some family history research which has led him from Suffolk to Norfolk.

 

My grandfather, Albert Holmes from Newmarket Suffolk, was born in  1883.  Albert was a Bricklayer before he joined up to the B Company of the 2nd Btn Suffolk Regiment. He was born in Exning (nr Newmarket) and lived in Newmarket. He married just before he joined up and his widow (my grandmother) never remarried but lived until 1971 aged 88 –  much of the time in the house they moved into after the marriage!

We know he was home on leave late 1916/1917 as I have a photo of him with his wife and my mother – who was born in April 1915.

Albert with wife Edith and daughter Beryl.

He is recorded on the War memorial in Newmarket but until I contacted the Suffolk Regiment Museum with a photograph I did not know that he was in the Norfolk Regiment.  More research has let us know that Albert died of his wounds on 6th Aug 1918 and was buried in North Gate Cemetery in Baghdad.

Albert is believed to be the man in the front row of seated privates on the immediate left of the central officer.

I knew from my grandmother that he was buried in the Middle East  but I don’t know if she even knew exactly where. I have two requests:

Does anyone have any photos of his grave or memorial in the North Gate Cemetary? At present I don’t know if he even has a grave or if this cemetary is still in existance.
Also I would also love to know is more about his service, things like when he returned from leave (which would more positively date my family photo),  when he joined the Norfolks, when he arrived in the Middle East, when and where he was injured and in hospital.

I know that other readers of this blog have helped fill in the gaps for other people and I hope the same comes true here – thank you in advance, Mike Browne.

As ever if you can help tell Albert’s story please do drop us a line (norfolkinworldwar1@gmail.com), leave a comment here or reach us on Twitter (@Norfolkinww1).

Announcing our 2018 commemoration project

The eagle eyed among our regular blog readers might have spotted that we have added a new page to the blog:

 

This is where you can find all the information regarding how the Norfolkinworldwar1 team are planning to commemorate Armistice Day in 2018.

In short we are asking the people of Norfolk to help us create 15,500 poppies – one for each person commemorated on the county’s war memorials – for us to display in the autumn of 2018.

On this new page you can find all of the important details such as size, where to send them when they are completed along with some pattern ideas for the poppies.

15,500 poppies is a huge number which is why we are starting early but we know that the people of Norfolk (and further away possibly) will get behind our idea and soon desks at the library will resemble a poppy meadow rather than a work space!

Below is a poster about the project – please do share this far and wide – if you’d like it in another format then please just leave a comment here and we’ll get back to you.

Thank you so much in advance for your help,

Sarah and all the Norfolkinworldwar1 team

 

Call for help from Newfoundland

We recently received an email from Newfoundland, Canada asking if we could help identify a soldier from a photograph that has ended up in Mr Collins possession.

 

On the back of this image are the words “8359 Mrs M J Nichols, Digby, NS”

Mr Collins has undertaken some research and discovered two soldiers (so far) with this regimental number.

One is  Herbert S Peggs  who was born in Stalham,  and who enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces with the number #8359. The other is Pr. Herbert Victor Moores was was born in Salford Manchester and who was sadly KIA 1916 while serving with the Manchester Regiment.

While there is no guarantee that either of these men are the one in photograph Mr Collins is very keen to try and put a name to ‘his’ soldier and as there is a possible Norfolk link wonders if anyone can help, and also possibly help fill in the story so we discover why his photo has arrived in New Foundland.

close up of unknown soldier

As ever please do get in touch with us with any ideas or information you might have via comments here, Twitter or our email address, and if you have any queries like this of your own please do contact us too.

Asking for your help, again!

Behind the scenes here in the Norfolkinworldwar1 team we’ve been working very hard on the logistics for a countywide commemoration project to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armistice in 2018 – in fact some of you may have heard us talking about our project at the Norfolk Record Office conference back at the end of February!

The final details are just being worked out and then we’ll share all of our plans with you but for now Sarah needs your help…

Over the past six months I have been trying to assertain the number of men (and women) from Norfolk whose deaths are commemorated on war memorials, plaques and rolls of honor around the county. 

I now am missing the data from just 14 villages and I would be most grateful if readers of the blog could help me fill in these final gaps.

The missing details come from: Arminghall, Bittering Parva, Carleton St Peter, Gately, Hassingham, Holverston, South Acre, Sparham, Stowbridge, Stratton Strawless, Themelthorpe, Thwaite St Mary and West Raynham.

If anyone is near these locations and can share the numbers of people commemorated in each location it would be wonderful. If there is no memorial in some of these places it would be great to know as well please.

Please feel free to share this call for help with anyone who might be able to help – the image below should print off easily to be shared – and as ever thanks in advance for your help.

A Walk in the cemetery part one.

Earlier in the spring, when the weather was decidedly changeable my husband and I went for a walk in our local cemetery, we were primarily looking for the drifts of snowdrops but then we came across one of the two Commonwealth War Graves plots within the Earlham Cemetery here in Norwich.

Two graves in particular caught my eye and I have spent a little bit of time investigating the two men commemorated on them:

This headstone reads:

7717 Private

J.Reford

Royal Inniskilling Fus

21st August 1914 Age 30

The first thing that caught my eye was that he died just 17 days after war was declared. We then had to find out if he was wounded in France very early on and returned to the UK where he then died. I pretty much instantly dismissed this thought as I didn’t think that an injured soldier would have been transferred to Norwich with wounds this early in the war.

Thanks to the Long Long Trail website I have discovered that Private Reford served with the 2nd Btn of the Fusiliers, who at the out break of were stationed in Dover but that sometime that month they were moved to Norfolk. They weren’t here for long however as they landed at Le Havre on the 22nd of August, the day after Pte. Reford’s death.

I wanted to know more and so using the National Archives site I discovered that the War Diaries for the Btn were available online for the dates I was interested in so I paid to download them. While they are a totally compelling and fascinating read sadly they are prefaced with a handwritten note:

WO 95/1505/2

Arrrrrrrrrrrrrghhh – the diary starts on the 25th August, the rest of the month isn’t there as it was assumed it had already been sent in!

The Regimental Museum for the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers does offer a tracing service (temporarily offline) and I will be contacting them and also using some of the resources they suggest to see if I can find out any more about the death of Pte. Reford.

However, as ever, if anyone else has already researched this man and his death and would like to share them with us we’d be very grateful.

 

Helping a family with information 100 years after the event.

Another blog reader has contacted us and once more we’d love some help in fleshing out his story for family members as the 100th Anniversary of his death approaches.

The young man in question is Private Samuel Riches, we know he was registered as No 43491 within the 8th Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment, although his original documents show that he originally enlisted with the 6th Cyclist Bn in October 1914.

More family research has shown that Samuel was a cook within the service

Samuel Riches (on the right)

and that his date of death is recorded as 11th August 2017.

Samuel is commemorated on the Menin Gate in Ypres and sadly his exact place of death is not known.

It is with this fact that the family are asking for help.  We know that at the time of Samuel’s death the Third Battle of Ypres was taking place but the two questions the family have are:

  • As a cook would Samuel have been fighting in the front line and thus killed in battle or would he have been killed accidentally behind the lines?
  • Can we work out the likely location of his death from the date?

We really hope that some of our readers may be able to help with these questions so that when Samuel Riches descendants travel to Ypres in August they can have as much information about his last days as possible.

If any of our readers can help answer any of these questions, or can give any insight into the life of a cook in the Trenches during WW1 please do leave a comment or email Norfolkinworldwar1@gmail.com.

Equally if you have a similar question within your own research please do get in contact.

 

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.

 

ww1-herbert-frederick-potter-1

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

ww1-herbert-frederick-potter-2

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?

ww1-herbert-frederick-potter-3

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!

1919-h-potter-army-discharge-documents-page-2

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.