Scars of War reading 5

As promised here as some of the readings/research made in West Norfolk for the Scars of War project in the autumn of 2018: The research for this piece was undertaken by Lindsey Bavin, manager at the True’s Yard Fisherfolk Museum

The Nurse

At the outbreak of war in August 1914, the means of transporting the sick and wounded had advanced little since the Boer War some twelve years previous. They were still using horse drawn ambulance wagons and nurses were sent on horseback to tend to the wounded when the ambulance was too slow.

The earliest weeks of the war shattered any illusion this could continue and motorised ambulances quickly replaced the horse drawn wagon across the Western Front. Ambulance drivers like Violet Tillson and Mem Custance were on the front lines of the Western Front helping wounded soldiers at Ypres, The Somme and Verdun.

Field Ambulance Unit soldiers, First World War. This image forms part of the Percy Trett Collection, from the Time and Tide Museum/Picture Norfolk

Perhaps the most famous nurse of the First World War was Edith Cavell. Continue reading

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Scars of War reading 4

As promised here as some of the readings/research made in West Norfolk for the Scars of War project in the autumn of 2018: The research for this piece was undertaken by Lindsey Bavin, manager at the True’s Yard Fisherfolk Museum

The Munitions Worker

King’s Lynn had two main munitions factories during World War 1. To the north His Majesty’s Factory on the Alexandra Dock and Cooper Roller Bearings to the south. Savages had also converted their ironworks for war work in the manufacture of aeroplanes.

King’s Lynn, fabric department staff of Savage’s factory in 1917 – image from Picture Norfolk

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Scars of War reading 3

As promised here as some of the readings/research made in West Norfolk for the Scars of War project in the autumn of 2018: The research for this piece was undertaken by Lindsey Bavin, manager at the True’s Yard Fisherfolk Museum

The Christmas Truce

By December 1914 soldiers on both sides had settled into the routine life of living in the trenches of Northern France. Between battles there would be periods of quiet and trenches were often close enough that the soldiers began to banter and barter for items such as cigarettes.

An old pack of British Woodbine cigarettes, photographed at the Musée Somme 1916 of Albert (Somme), France – image from Wikipedia

One such soldier was Harry Bloom, the son of Charles and Jenny Bloom of 18 Checker Street. At seventeen he Joined the Militia and transferred to the Regular Army in 1906 for service in the Norfolk Regiment. He served in South Africa and India prior to the war. In 1913 he joined the Army Reserve and worked at Cooper Roller Bearings which became a munitions factory during the war. He married a woman called Jeannie and they lived at 11 Edwards Yard off Providence Street.

King’s Lynn, interior of the Cooper Roller Bearings factory. Image from Picture Norfolk

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Scars of War reading 2

As promised here as some of the readings/research made in West Norfolk for the Scars of War project in the autumn of 2018: The research for this piece was undertaken by Lindsey Bavin, manager at the True’s Yard Fisherfolk Museum. The museum holds photos from 1915 showing the damage caused in the Zeppelin raids.

The Zeppelin Raid of Lynn

Alice Maud Rowe was born in July 1888. In 1909 she married Percy George Gazley from Wisbech. He had enlisted in the Army in 1904 and served as a private for three years. With the outbreak of war Percy was once again called up to fight in the 3rd Battalion, Prince Consort’s Own Rifles. On 27th October 1914 he was killed shortly before the First Battle of Ypres.

Riffleman Gazley is commemorated on Panel 10 of the Ploegsteert Memorial (image from G Skinner)

On the night of 19th January 1915, Alice was dining with her neighbours Mr and Mrs Fayers of 11 Bentinck Street (now St James Street and Blackfriars Street) just a few doors down from her own Rose Cottage.  She was unaware that two Zeppelins had set out across the Channel.  Their original target had been the docks and industrial areas of Humberside but strong winds instead led to their arrival at Norfolk’s coastline around 7.55pm. Continue reading

Scars of War reading 1

As promised here as some of the readings/research made in West Norfolk for the Scars of War project in the autumn of 2018: The research for this piece was undertaken by Lindsey Bavin, manager at the True’s Yard Fisherfolk Museum. You will find a memorial to these three ships at the museum.

The Aboukir, Cressy and Hogue
The Live Bait Squadron
William Allen, John Rose and Hubert Penny

  During a conference Churchill had been annoyed to overhear the expression ‘Live Bait Squadron’ and to learn it was the Fleet’s nickname for the Southern Force’s cruisers which were over fourteen years old.  

The ships were manned by reservists, who were mainly married men, and young cadets from Osborne House Naval College and Britannia Royal Naval College. It was thought these ships would not be involved in great battles, so would be safe. Churchill pointed out the danger of exposing cruisers so close to enemy positions especially without any destroyer escort and where numerous fishing boats could report their movements. Churchill said:

“The risk to such ships is not justified by any service they can render. The narrow seas, being the nearest point to the enemy, should be kept by a small number of good modern ships.”  

Although First Sea Lord Louis Battenburg agreed with Churchill two days later, on Saturday 19th September, Admiral Sturdee persuaded the First Sea Lord to approve an order for the cruisers to stay in their original patrol area and not move to the western approaches of the Channel as Churchill had ordered.

Thus the scene was set for the morning of 22nd September 1914 Continue reading

Inspired by a trip to the Somme

Over the past 4 years we have enjoyed sharing stories from research undertaken at Gresham’s School into their Old Boys and a recent email about how the research, and a trip to the Somme, have inspired current pupils is wonderful.

History competition inspires pupils to create poignant World War One tributes

Year 9 pupils at Gresham’s School in Holt have created some impressive replicas of World War One trenches for a History competition following their recent trip to the Somme Battlefields in France.

Ben Hunt, from Holt, was awarded first prize for his outstanding tribute entitled “Far Field” made all the more poignant as he had individually made 115 poppies for his trench to represent the staff and pupils from Gresham’s who had lost their lives in the Great War.

Ben said, “I feel extremely proud of what I have created as I spent so much time perfecting my trench to ensure it looked as authentic as possible.” The fourteen year old used a shoebox, wood, barbed wire and even some clay he had gathered on a recent trip to France to help recreate his trench.

Head of History, Mr Simon Kinder said, “This term we are studying the Great War and I have been really impressed with how the pupils researched and developed their entries for this competition.  The standard this year has been particularly high and this is a consequence of how important commemorating the Great War centenary has been at Gresham’s. The students have clearly embraced the challenge and learned so much from constructing their trenches.”

More than 500 former pupils fought for their country, leaving a lasting impact on the school and the surrounding community. As part of the commemorations of the end of the Great War, the school held Remembrance Services where the 115 pupils and staff who lost their lives were remembered.

Continue reading

Field Dressings by Stretcher Bearer – a new book

Field Dressings by Stretcher Bearer

We have recently been contacted by the Ellis family to let us know about a new World War One book that they are officially launching today.

Called Field Dressings by Stretcher Bearer this is a book of poetry written by Alick Lewis Ellis between 1916 and 1919 while he was serving in France, little is currently known about his war service apart from what can be learned through his poetry.

Alick’s was born in Terrington St. Clement here in Norfolk and was one of 10 children, for several generations the family had been shopkeepers, butchers and grocers and it is thought that the children attended the local school.

The census of 1911 shows that Alick had gone in to the family trade but in Kent rather than in Norfolk. In 1915 he volunteered for Territorial Army service with the 3rd London Field Ambulance.

The family were unaware of Alick’s poetry until they were contacted by the Herts at War Society in 1917.

You can read more about Alick’s life, war and poetry on the dedicated website http://www.fielddressings.co.uk/ where you can also buy copies of the book.