‘The great adventure of it all . . . .’: The Wartime Volume of Hilda Zigomala

From the records held at the Norfolk Record Office MC 2738/14

An essential part of exploring the Norfolk Record Office for archives relating to the First World War, is to spend some time with Volume 15 from the Zigomala collection. It may not be relevant to your particular piece of research, but it will allow you to pause a while and reflect on the impact of war on one particular family.

Hilda Frances Zigomala was the daughter of Charles and Augusta North of Rougham Hall. In 1889 she married Major Pandia John Zigomala and this is when she started to create her collection, reflecting her personal life set, in the case of Volume 15, against the context of war. Each volume is a feast of exquisite watercolour paintings, photos, press cuttings and other memorabilia.

Unfortunately Volume 14 is missing from the archive. Volume 15 is the final volume Hilda Zigomala created and covers the period 1916 to 1918 with an envoi written in 1920.  Various themes emerge; wartime England, the contrast between active service and being home on leave and, most importantly, her only son John’s military career.

Photo 1 First page

Photo 2 Carpentering together

Hilda Zigomala was extremely talented in all manner of crafts and it was a talent she shared with her son John. The above photo is the first page of Volume 15 and starts with Christmas 1916 and a painting of John at his “carpentering”.  The photo on the right shows Hilda and John “carpentering” together.

 

 

 

Photo 3 Dance

Many pages illustrate the stark contrast between life in high society and being on active service. When home on leave all manner of events would be organized, mainly at their London home in Egerton Gardens which was clearly a grand affair.

 

Photo 4 On leave

In September 1918 Hilda went on holiday to Dymchurch staying with friends. John, home on leave, was able to join her.  Even on holiday war is reflected in her paintings.  Although playing on the beach the men are in uniform and warships and aeroplanes are in the background.

Photo 5 Dymchurch Photo 6 Dymchurch

 

Photo 7 potatoes

Hilda’s paintings also give a glimpse into everyday wartime life, particularly in London. Food supply was critical, particularly in the latter years of the war.  Dig for Victory may have come later but here we see that potatoes had been planted outside Buckingham Palace.

Photo 8 air raid

 

 

With the development of aerial warfare, air raids were also becoming more frequent. This image shows an air raid just outside Hilda’s front door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo 9 John in uniform

Hilda’s son John Copeland Zigomala was born in 1898 and was in the Irish Guards in the First World War. The Irish Guards were deployed to France and they remained on the Western Front for the duration of the war.

While celebrating Christmas, the first page of Hilda’s volume also includes a newspaper cutting from the London Gazette January 1917 announcing his promotion to Lieutenant. His regiment was based at Warley Barracks, Brentwood, Essex.

John was injured on more than one occasion. In February 1917 Hilda records that John is passed for light duty and rejoins his regiment at Warley.  On a later occasion he suffered a gunshot wound to his left elbow.

In November 1917 John was sent back to France in command of 280 men and 6 officers. He was only 19 years old.  Describing action he was involved in, The Times on 29 November 1917 recounts:

From house to house they fought their way, bullets streaming from countless loopholes. The toll of prisoners mounted rapidly for the Germans showed no particular desire to come to grips with the stalwart British Guardsmen.

Further action in April 1918 was reported in the Daily Mail on 24 April 1918:

The Guards Division, after five days of heavy fighting at Boiry-Becquerelle (south of Arras) completely repulsed hostile attacks delivered in great strength.

While Hilda’s collection focuses largely on her son; her husband Jack was also away and she had to endure much time alone. She helped at the Ciro YMCA Centre in London which gave soldiers an opportunity to meet up with friends and relatives.  For this work she was awarded The Order of the Red Triangle by the YMCA in June 1919.  At other times she would visit friends across the country.  The photo below is a full page from her volume.  Hilda was visiting Wroxton in Oxfordshire for Christmas.  The card on the right is a Christmas greeting from John.  Hilda has painted herself feeding the chickens – in her fur coat of course!

Photo 10 Chickens

Photo 11 armistice day

 

Armistice was a time of great celebration and relief.

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, in May 1919 John volunteered with the Russian Relief Force and left for Russia.

Photo 12 john leaves for russia

Earlier in the war John had been awarded the MBE for bravery when there had been a bombing accident at Warley. Tragically a second incident in Russia had a different outcome.  On 25 August 1919 a fire had broken out on board an ammunition barge.  John went out with others to try and put it out when there was a massive explosion and he was killed.  Hilda wrote:

Everything in this life ended for me when our boy was killed in Russia . . . my world consisted of my husband and our boy . . all too soon the time came when he went to Sandhurst and Jack to France and my anxieties began – & then the awful day came when the boy went to France . . . I prayed as I never prayed before, and yet suffered tortures of anxiety. Then the Armistice came and I felt all my anxieties were over.   . . . He went off radiant with happiness at the great adventure of it all. . . Even now I can hardly even think of those black hours of acute agony . . Gradually a reason & object in life came back to me – I would work for others with the small talents God has given me

After John’s death Hilda dedicated herself to teaching crafts to disabled former servicemen. She was awarded the CBE for her work. Hilda died in London in 1946.

Daryl Long, NRO Research Blogger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Too Young to Fight? The Anomalies of War

From the records held at the Norfolk Record Office

This blog explores the very different stories of two teenage boys who saw active service in the First World War; one a legitimately recognized naval rating and the other an enthusiastic under-age volunteer whose enlistment was fully aided and abetted by his superiors. You had to be 18 to join the Army and conscription was not introduced until 1916.  By contrast you could join the Navy at 16 and be fully involved in naval engagements.

The Oldham journals (MC 2201) recount in detail naval engagements from 1914 to 1918.  It includes the story of John Travers Cornwell, from a scrapbook, NRO,

Photo 1 Cornwell-ed

John Travers Cornwell. NRO MC 2201/5, 935×3

 

Cornwell enlisted in 1915 and was a Boy Seaman First Class. He was sixteen and serving on HMS Chester during the Battle of Jutland in 1916.  The press reported that Cornwell was mortally wounded early in the action. He nevertheless remained standing alone at a most exposed post, quietly awaiting orders till the end of the action, with the gun’s crew dead and wounded all round him.  (MC 2201/5 935×3).  Cornwell died in hospital in Grimsby the next day.  He was initially buried in a common grave but, as news of his bravery spread, he was reburied in the same cemetery with full military honours.  Cornwell was awarded the Victoria Cross, the third youngest recipient to do so.

Photo 2 Cornwell at his post-ed

Cornwell at his post. NRO, MC 2201/5, 935×3

 

By contrast the personal account of William Kemp from Gorleston tells a very different story. (ACC 2003/49 Box 26).  While keen to do his bit, Kemp did not initially set out to enlist at the age of sixteen. A month after his 16th birthday Kemp wrote:

Was coming up Regent St; Yarmouth and in front was the 5th Norfolks band on a recruiting march, a Sergeant whom I knew, came to me and asked me to enlist, I told him I was too young and on top of that my Mother would not let me go although I wanted to, in any case he put my name down  and told me to be at York Rd; Yarmouth, Drill Hall, that evening, I finished work, told my Mother what I had done and she straight away forbid me to go, I got round her by saying it was for Home Service only.

Kemp volunteered and the following Monday we were marched down to the old R.G.A Barracks Yarmouth and the majority of us passed fit, before going there we were told not to give our correct ages but to put a year or two on. I was not the only one under age by far.

Following a short training spell in Dereham, Kemp was sent to Peterborough for further training. Kemp then volunteered for the 1/5th Battalion Norfolk Regiment and went to Bury St Edmunds.  While there was an aim to keep the Yarmouth men together, they had to be split to make up the numbers and Kemp became part of C Company.

On arrival at Bury we were issued with full kit and a long Lee Enfield Mk. 1 and started soldiering properly . . . . we were at Bury when the Zepps dropped bombs on the Butter Market. . . . we were then moved to Watford . . . . we came off Church Parade towards the end of July and were issued with tropical kit . . the tale was we were off to Egypt.

As Kemp left for Liverpool, his landlady threatened to write to his mother as she knew he was under age but he persuaded her not to. His company left Liverpool docks for Egypt and, after seven days at sea, they arrived at Mudros.

A sight for sore eyes, ships of all sorts from cruisers, destroyers British and French and even one Russian, the General something but called by the lads the packet of Woodbines as she had five funnels, besides troopships etc. not forgetting the “bum-boats”.

From Mudros they went onto Imbros on the Osmanieh.

The next day off again and we then came in sight of Gallipoli and could hear rifle firing etc; of course everybody crowded to that side and I remember the old Colonel shouting to us to spread out as the old boat was heeling over.

On 9th August they arrived at Suvla.  They were given a white linen bag containing food supplies and told to tie it onto their backpacks. What an ideal target for snipers but we did not realise it then.

At Suvla they marched in the darkness passing through different battalions of the Naval Brigade who were among the first to land at Suvla, the stench of dead bodies was awful.

A few days later Kemp’s company went sniper driving. Coming across a seriously wounded Australian scout, Kemp offered his own first aid kit but was told “keep that, you may need it yourself”. The scout died later that evening.   I had not experienced death before.

Death followed swiftly the next day. As Kemp and another soldier stood up to stretch, after hours of digging, his fellow soldier was shot and killed instantly. He came from Bury St Edmunds, I never knew his name.

The next part of Kemp’s account is as confusing as the incident itself. He appears to have been separated from the rest of his company and was not sure where he was or what had happened.  He spent some time wandering on his own eventually reaching a beach near a dressing station. I dropped where I was absolutely done and fell asleep . . . . I finally reached our dump to be greeted with the words “We thought you were killed”.

Kemp had clearly suffered some injuries because he was put on a hospital ship and went to Wharncliffe War Hospital in Sheffield. He returned to duty in June 1916.

There is much more I could put about my Army days both humerous and serious, but I think for the time this is suffice, other than to say I finished up with the 1st Battn. in France being wounded in the left thigh on 21st August 1918 when we went over on the Somme.

Kemp wrote that his main records never did show his correct age despite his mother sending his birth certificate to the authorities. Fortunately, unlike Cornwell, he did survive the war.

I had always said as a youth that I would never join the local regiment or marry a local girl, I did both, for I met some of the best lads one could wish to be with and I married one of the best girls there was in Yarmouth.

 Compiled by Daryl Long, NRO Research Blogger

The Armistice Exhibition Preview at the Royal Norfolk Show

Thank you to all that came to see us at the Royal Norfolk Show last week. We really appreciated the opportunity to introduce you to our upcoming exhibition, Armistice: Legacy of the Great War in Norfolk, as well as hear your memories of First World War veterans.

At our stall we showcased one of the most unique sources in our collection, the Norfolk Regiment Casualty and Sickness book. The book, originally intended as a recruitment ledger, records casualty and sickness details for more than fifteen thousand soldiers of the 1st and 2nd regular battalions, and the 7th, 8th and 9th service battalions of the Norfolk Regiment. The original large hardback volume was compiled by clerks in the Regimental Depot Orderly Room in Britannia Barracks and includes entries running from August 1914 through to the early months of 1919.

The entries are all handwritten in ink, each entry record listing the individual soldier’s number, rank, name, and battalion or battalions they served in, as well as details of casualty, sickness, including details of hospitalisation. Some of the entries contain additional details such as or prisoner of war status and the place of burial immediately after death in battle. A lot of this information would not appear in routine Army Records Office printouts, making the ledger an interesting and unique source. This type of record of World War I casualties is exclusive to the Royal Norfolk Regiment as no other regiments seem to have such a kept such a record.

Norfolk show 1

Sarah and Kate using the Casualty Book to answer a family history query on Twitter.

Currently public access to the Casualty Book is limited to a photocopied version held in the Shirehall Study Centre and can be seen by arranging a study visit with the Regimental Museum. However, recognizing the value that the ledger, our volunteer team is in the process of creating an interactive, digitized version of the ledger, which will include an online searchable database, linking the entries to other sources held at the Regimental Museum such as the War Diaries. We hope to have the online data base up and running by the end of this year.

Norfolk show 3

Nigel Amies and his 1914 drum.

We would also like to extend a big thank you to SSAFA, Armed Forces Charity for lending us a space in their tent, and to Nigel Amies, a freelance historical educator, who did a great job engaging the public with his original restored World War drum from 1914.

 

Wartime June – From the Journals of Artis Oldham

From the records held at the Norfolk Record Office

June – the height of summer. A time today to think of holidays, sunshine and long summer evenings.  By contrast the June months of 1915, 1916, 1917 and 1918 were continuing times of victories, defeat and loss of life.  The evidence was clear that it would not be over by Christmas and neither did there appear to be an end in sight.

Arthur Artis Oldham was born in 1886 in Wisbech. He was employed in a clerical capacity by the Royal Navy in the First World War.  Initially based in Canterbury he later served in the Shetland Isles.  After the war he returned to Wisbech then to Thorpe End in his latter years.

From the very start of the war, Oldham kept detailed journals chronicling on an almost daily basis the actions of the Royal Navy in the war. These journals, entitled by Oldham “Naval Engagements of the Great War” span eight volumes (MC 2201/1-8 935×3).

The volumes were initially completed by Oldham himself. They include newspaper cuttings (no names of the newspapers are shown), postcards, his own commentary and a wealth of facts and figures about ship tonnage and naval losses.  When he joined the Navy on 11th April 1916 the task of continuing with the journals was handed over to his sister.  These journals are predominantly newspaper cuttings.  The source of the newspapers is not known.

Photo 1 Oldham MC 2201 5 935x3-ed

Artis Oldham. NRO, MC 2201/5, 935×3

 

June 1915 – the first June of the war. On 6th June the Chief of the General Naval Staff had described naval operations in the Adriatic to the press.  Oldham commented: the cables uniting the continent to the islands of the Dalmatian Archipeligo were cut. All the lighthouses and lookout stations on these islands were destroyed.  The following day there was a vivid account of the brave actions of Flight Lieutenant R A J Warneford who had attacked and brought down a zeppelin which had dropped six bombs.  The force of the explosion turned Warneford’s aeroplane upside down and he had to make a forced landing in enemy territory.  Fortunately he was able to restart his plane and get home safely.  Warneford was awarded the VC for destroying the zeppelin single handed and he also received the Legion of Honour from the French.  Sadly he died shortly after during a trial flight near Paris.

Photo 2 Warneford-ed

R A J Warneford. NRO, MC 2201/3, 935×3

 

Two significant events dominated the news in June 1916. While it started on the last day of May, the Battle of Jutland raged into the early hours of 1st June.  Much of Oldham’s journal for June 1916 consists of newspaper cuttings giving an almost minute by minute account of the battle.  Britain lost three of its battleships; the Indefatigable, the Queen Mary and the Invincible.

Photo 3 Jutland headline MC 2201 5 935x3-ed

Battle of Jutland headlines. NRO, MC 2201/5, 935×3

 

Interestingly Oldham’s journal includes a cutting from the German press who reported “we damaged the great battleship Warspite”. The English press responded: “The Germans declared that the Warspite was destroyed.  There is nothing in our own official statement to indicate that she was even damaged”.  Fake news?  Propaganda?  One midshipman’s letter home after the battle was published in the press.  “I told you I had the best action station in the ship, and so I jolly well have. . . . I was alarmed on arriving back here to find I was dead in the Scotsman”.

On 5th June the press reported on the death of Lord Kitchener.  The cruiser Hampshire he was on was blown up in the Orkneys.  Many others also lost their lives, either in the explosion or in trying to swim to safety off the rocky shores of the islands.  Kitchener had been such a national symbol for the war and his loss was keenly felt. In a report for the inquiry the Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Fleet expressed his sorrow “that so distinguished a soldier and so great a man should have lost his life whilst under the care of the Fleet”.

June 1917 began with a “Strange German Story”. It told the tale of a German U-boat and a British submarine who had got so close to each other in the Channel that the submarine rammed the U-boat.  The shock of the collision brought the submarine to the surface bringing the U-boat with it.  “Both made frantic efforts to get free in order to attack”.  However by the time the Germans were ready to do so the British submarine had disappeared.

On the 18th June there was a lengthy report on a zeppelin shot down in East Anglia.  “To judge by the distance from which the destruction of this morning’s Zeppelin could be seen, the fight must have been witnessed by at least a quarter of the county’s population. . . . The zeppelin was fighting a life and death duel with the aeroplane”.  The damage to the town (not named) was extensive.  “Today this is a town of shattered windows… among the numerous premises denuded of glass were those of a plate-glass insurance firm”.  Three of the Zeppelin crew survived and were taken prisoner.

 

Photo 4 MC 2201 5 935x3-ed

Cartoon attempts at humour may have helped life the nation’s mood. NRO, MC 2201/5, 935×3

 

June 1918 – the last June of the war although this clearly was not known at the time. The news was largely concerned with Canada and the USA with the latter having entered the war in April 1917. On 6th June there was a U-boat raid on the Eastern coast of the USA and several ships were sunk.  This was followed by a report that fifty German enemy aliens were arrested in New York having been caught celebrating the raid in various nightclubs in the city.  As a result New York citizens, like many of their British counterparts, experienced their first lighting restrictions as a precautionary measure.

Photo 5 Journal cover page MC 2201 1 935 x 3-ed

The title page of Oldham’s first volume. NRO MC 2201/1, 935×3

 

Oldham’s first volume began with the start of the war in August 1914. How sadly prophetic then that, when the general view was that “it would all be over by Christmas”, the front page of his first journal bears the title “The Great European War”.  Perhaps he completed the title page at the end rather than the beginning of the war.  Even this would demonstrate a reservation on his part about the duration of the conflict to come.

Daryl Long

NRO Blogger

 

 

 

GDPR, Privacy and the Norfolkinworldwar1 blog

As you are probably aware there is a new data protection law (commonly called GDPR); as part of this we have been updating our regulations and ensuring that in all things regarding your personal data, we are transparent, fair and lawful.

We have always wanted to make sure that the Norfolkinworldwar1.org site was a community project and we thank everyone who has shared their stories, left comments on the site or emailed us over the past few years. Rest assured we plan on continuing to share stories, histories and events with you up until the end of this year at the very least.

Please also be assured that we do not share your contact details without seeking your permission first – I know that in several instances friendships have been made through stories published on the blog and we are very happy to have facilitated this.

As part of GDPR we are responsible for ensuring we have your consent to keep your comments and their associated email addresses on our blog. Please ensure that you email norfolkinworldwar1@gmail.com to give us your consent again otherwise we will need to delete your comments.

Comments and usernames are in the public domain, as you are aware, but if you wish us to remove your comments at any time please email the above address. Your email addresses are stored in the WordPress software which a few members of Norfolk County Council staff have access to. We do not share or use your email addresses; please be aware that to leave a comment on our blog your email address will need to be stored in the software.

WordPress are owned by a company called Automattic, and they are the data controllers. For their privacy notice please visit: https://automattic.com/privacy/ or https://automattic.com/privacy-notice/

For the general NCC privacy notice please visit: www.norfolk.gov.uk

 

Armistice: Legacy of the Great War in Norfolk Exhibition – Call for Information

Does your  family have memories of life in Norfolk during the First World War? Share your memories with us at the Royal Norfolk Show!

Welcome to our first exhibition blog entry. In anticipation to the opening the Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum’s new exhibition Armistice: Legacy of the Great War in Norfolk on October 20th in Norwich Castle we want to provide you with exclusive behind the scenes sneak peeks at the exhibition preparations. We will showcase different objects, introducing you to some of the incredible stories which will feature in the exhibition.

RM13820

Billeting outside of the Carrow Works Clubhouse.

 

Although the exhibition will commemorate the First World War’s armistice centenary, its main aim will be to celebrate people’s resilience and the emergence of a more understanding society. We will highlight the success of the Suffragette movement and the construction of Homes for Heroes. The exhibition will be unique in its focus on the experience of the First World War specific to Norfolk, with objects for the exhibition having been selected based on their local connection to the county.

The Armistice exhibition will be divided into seven key sections: air, sea, town and industry, country and agriculture, at home and children, soldiers in the county – hospitals, and peace. Each section will be populated with a rich array of objects gathered from museums around the county. Some of the key objects will include an original torpedo and Paddy Hartley’s Papaver Rhoeas poppies.

The exhibition space will be populated by large number of textiles and costumes on open display. There will be something to do for all age groups including family-friendly activities, a home front nursery area with wooden toys and a sailor dress up station.

RM20971

During the First World War there were over sixty War and Auxiliary hospitals in Norfolk.

Now we need your help. As the Armistice exhibition focuses on local history, we thought it would be a good opportunity to ask you, members of the public, about your family’s stories about life in Norfolk during the First World War. We believe there is a hidden history of the hardships faced by returning soldiers and their families. We want to expose how the war changed the life of ex-servicemen and their families and how they dealt with the often trying circumstances.

If you would like to contribute your family’s memories you can reach us by e-mailing regimental.museum@norfolk.gov.uk. If you are attending the Royal Norfolk Show next week, we will have a stall set up adjacent to the SSAFA – the Armed Forces Charity vehicle, so come by and say hello. We would love to hear from you.

 

all partner logos

The Demand for Land The Impact of the Defence of the Realm Act on Agricultural Land in Norfolk

 

From records held at the Norfolk Record Office

The Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) was passed on 8th August 1914, four days after war was declared.   It gave the government wide ranging powers.  There were various social control mechanisms such as censorship and certain seemingly trivial activities were banned eg. flying kites.  It also gave the government the power to requisition land and buildings for the war effort.

This demand for land was felt acutely in Norfolk. Norfolk land was in demand both for food production and for military use given its strategic military position on the east coast.

Aerial warfare was in its infancy but its growing importance led to farmland being requisitioned for aerodromes and landing grounds. The minutes of the Norfolk War Agricultural Committee (NWAC)  (NRO, C/C 10/16, C/C 10/17 and C/C 10/18) record various issues relating to these sites.

No better example of the tensions between the military and local landowners exists than the ongoing difficulties and disputes which occurred at the Earl of Orford’s estate at Weybourne. A detailed file,  (NRO, WLP 8/114) kept meticulously by the Estate Manager Douglas Smith, records the almost daily difficulties encountered by Smith as he worked on the Earl’s behalf to help the military while appearing to receive little but trouble in return.

In June 1915 Smith received a letter concerning the establishment of a military camp at Weybourne for the 67th Provisional Battalion.  Smith replied that Lord Orford was agreeable to this ‘provided that you agree to compensate the tenant for any damage to the Agricultural Value of the Land’. Thus began the saga of Field 163.  A temporary rent of £2 15s a month was agreed to include the loss of future crops.  The full amount would be calculated later.  A formal agreement was drawn up stating that possession of the land would be from 20th June 1916. It stated that compensation would be paid for all damage as long as any claim did not exceed ‘the actual present freehold value of the said premises as agricultural land’. The document has Smith’s annotations written alongside – perhaps the most pertinent of which was “Not Agreed To”!

 

Photo 1.jpg-ed

Defence of the Realm Order. NRO, WLP 8/114

 

Photo 2.jpg-ed

Site of land to be taken. NRO, WLP 8/114

 

 

It was not just the loss of crops to be considered. Mr Lane, the tenant at Weybourne Hall, held an annual shoot on the land.  In April 1916 Lane wrote to Smith. ‘I find that the Military Authorities have taken possession of the best part of my partridge shooting at Weybourne’. Lane gave up the shoot and, a month later, terminated his tenancy at Weybourne Hall.

Other land appeared to be taken without permission. Mr Dixon, a tenant farmer, complained that one of his fields was being used as a recreation ground when it should have been planted with wheat.  Smith wrote:  ‘as agent for the Owner, I think that I am entitled to be notified in accord with the Defence of the Realm Act for any lands taken under the Act. Believe me that I write in no antagonistic manner’.

Trees were another source of dispute. Trees were felled without permission and there were a series of fires caused by the troops damaging both woodland and heath.  The estate woodman Mr Humphrey reported the fires to Smith.  Lieutenant Paynter wrote to Smith: ‘the loss sustained by the matters referred to appear to be very trivial and there are no grounds which enable me to recommend payment’. Smith replied:  ‘I cannot regard the loss as “trivial” as suggested by you. I am entitled to repayment of the actual loss sustained.  Half an acre of peat has been destroyed and also 734 Birch trees, 18 Scots Pine, 16 Oak, 33 young Douglas Pine & Sitka Spruce.  To refuse any compensation for this loss, to my mind speaks for itself’.  As Smith penned this reply he received a telegram from Humphrey: ‘Great fire occurred caught Bulmans much damage Humphrey’. The matter was not resolved and a Court of Enquiry was finally arranged for July 1918.  The outcome is unknown.

Other disputes included the removal of the top of a sea defence wall. The Military’s response was that ‘it has considerably strengthened the defence of this locality from a military point of view’. It no doubt did, but it did not strengthen the defence of the locality from the sea itself.

In 1919 a detailed compensation claim was submitted which included:

  • Loss of rental of Weybourne Hall
  • The encampment in Field 163.
  • Agricultural depreciation.
  • Portions of Weyboune Heath and Woods used as a gun station and for manoeuvres. Sheringham Rifle Range had also mistakenly been handed over to the Territorials after the war.
  • Cutting of bracken in the area.
  • Roads constructed between Kelling Camp and Sheringham. The Macadamized roads are so laid out as to be of no use to the Estate.
  • Taking other fields for training.
  • Defense measures along the cliff, beach and Estate.
  • Destruction of game.
  • Conversion of Weybourne from a peaceful health resort into an encampment of great magnitude.
  • Woods, trees and peat damaged by fire
  • Turf cut from the cliff or damaged. Some of it was used to create a lawn in front of the Officers’ Mess.

 

Photo 3-ed

Sheringham Riffle Range. NRO, WLP 8/114

 

The claim, totaling £593 14s 4d, was disputed. In March 1920 Captain Biggs proposed that once the road, paths and foundations were taken up the fields would be good in two years.  Smith disagreed: ‘at least 4 years cultivation would be essential with the application of artificial manure. The bulk of the land has been used as a parade and drill ground’.

An offer of £375 was rejected. Biggs pointed out that the War Department had the right to compulsorily purchase the land and, if it did, would only pay £375 for it.  He wrote: ‘it is not the wish of the department to be compelled to purchase land, and I do not think it is Lord Orford’s interest that this particular field should be sold away from the Estate. . . . . I have never yet had to ask Headquarters for authority for the land to be compulsorily purchased, and I shall be very disappointed if this has to be the first case in my Area’.

Smith was not one to be threatened. He replied:I fear there is little chance of his (Lord Orford) accepting your offer of £375, which, to my mind is little less than robbery. . . . . I am quite sure that His Lordship will require Field No 163 to be reinstated to its original condition, which was the conditions on which it was acquired by the Military Authorities . .. failing your acceptance . . I fear we shall have to fight the matter out’.

There is a great deal of admiration for the diligence of estate manager Douglas Smith. He did his best to help the Military Authorities throughout the war and to seek justice for his employer at the end of it.  While DORA’s aims were understandable, those carrying out the legislation sometimes demonstrated a lack of understanding of or respect for agricultural life.

Daryl Long NRO Blogger