We Will Remember Them

After reading our tweets asking for people to share their World War One memories with us we’re pleased to share this new story with you all – and again to ask for your help.

Shannon writes:

I recently discovered my Great Grandfather’s bible in a drawer and this made me want to learn more about him, for he died aged 29 in 1917.

YMCA Bible belonging to John Wells

Inside cover of John Wells’ Bible

At this point all I knew about him was that he left behind a widow (my great-grandmother) and two children – my Nan and her brother.

After some encouragement on Twitter I started to some more research and very quickly the internet turned up some amazing information!

Simple research on the Commonwealth War Graves Website has confirmed that Pte John Wells of the 8th Bn Norfolk Regiment died on 11th August 1917, during what would become known as the 3rd Battle of Ypres.  I’ve also discovered that he has no known grave but is commemorated on the Menin Gate, the thoroughness of the War Graves Website lists exactly where to find him (Bay 4 Stone K) and an image of exactly how that stone is laid out.

The plans for Bay 4 Stone K of the Menin Gate. Photo from Commonwealth War Graves Commission

There is also a beautiful certificate to download commemorating him. Historian and Battlefield Guide Steve Smith provided this photo of the panel on the Gate too.

Norfolk Regiment Stone on the Menin Gate, image from Steve Smith

As well as being commemorated in Ypres, John is also commemorated in Santon Downham church where he is one of three men from the area not to return from the war.

Santon Downham Roll of Honour and War Memorial

Some more investigation online lead me to the Brandon Remembers website  where for the first time I learned more about his life.

The full details can be read on the website but I was interested to see that he initially signed up in 1915 but was placed as a Reserve at this point. From the time he arrived in France he seems to have had an unlucky war with a lot of illness and injury prior to taking part, and dying during the 3rd Battle of Ypres.

Whilst looking into John Wells I was astonished to discover that he also had a brother, Samuel – a relative I had no idea existed.

Thanks to the Brandon Remembers website again I now know about his war, and sadly it is no happier than John’s.

Samuel was a career soldier who served with the 2nd Bn Norfolk Regiment. At the outbreak of war he was in India but then posted to Mesopotamia. He was taken ill there in 1915 and evacuated back to India but sadly he too died.

Incredibly I have also found a third son, Arthur, who also served with the Norfolk Regiment during the First World War but preliminary research has shown him as having survived – right through until 1973 in fact.

I can’t imagine how my Great Great -Grandmother felt losing her two of her sons, and also John’s wife being left a widow with two small children.

While I now know so much more about these relatives I would love to know what they look like and if anyone has any photos that might include either Samuel or John Wells I would be very grateful if they could be shared with me.


If anyone can help Shannon with this query we’d be very grateful – a picture of the 8th Service Bn was tweeted yesterday and a face looks familiar in that but we’d love to know for sure. If you can help please leave a comment here or email Norfolkinworldwar1@gmail.com

Mummy, what did you do in the Great War?

Norfolk Women in the First World War – a call for stories

The Forum, Norwich recently contacted us to see if we could help them with their next First World War project.

The Forum, Norwich, is appealing for people to share their stories and memories of Norfolk women in the First World War who were either on active service or remaining strong on the Norfolk home-front.

Continue reading

The Mystery of a Military Cross Award.

On the Norfolk Regiment pages of this blog a conversation has been taking place regarding a one of the regiment’s own but that has subsequently thrown up more questions than answers…

One of our readers has restored a trench watch that belonged to Captain R B Caton of the 4th and contacted us to see if we could help him fill in some of the details relating to Cpt. Caton.

Captain Caton

Continue reading

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.