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.

 

Notes from the author

Author Edward Glover has recently been in contact with the NorfolkinWW1 blog team to tell us about his newest book A Motif of Seasons not only does this have a WW1 setting is has an intriguing dedication:dedicated-to-the-memory

Here Edward tells us why he dedicated his book to this one man.

A Motif of Seasons

There were two reasons why I decided to dedicate my book – A Motif of Seasons – to Private Charles Alfred Lawrence of the 9th Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment.

First, I decided from the beginning that my story (spread over three books) of the tempestuous relationship between two families – one English in Norfolk and one German near Berlin linked by an unexpected marriage in 1766 – should end in the tragedy of the World War 1. In Britain and in Germany no family was spared the bitter consequences of such a terrible conflict.

Second, the Royal British Legion campaigned in 2014 for every British soldier killed in the Great War to be personally commemorated. My wife and I wished to participate, not least because the war memorials in Norfolk villages like mine are ever present reminders of the losses these small communities endured.

Whether by design or accident, we received a certificate bearing Private Lawrence’s name and recording that he fell (at the age of 21) on the 15th of September 1916 in the Battle of the Somme. With no known grave his name is carved on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. I thought it duly fitting that the last book in my trilogy should be dedicated to him, serving to all who read the book as a poignant reminder of the sacrifice that young men like him made.

Arising from this dedication, it has been an honour and a privilege to establish contact with the present-day Lawrence family who were deeply touched that I should remember their ancestor in this way and who have shared with me some personal information about him. Moreover, last summer I travelled to France to see where he fell and his name on the Thiepval Memorial.

Author Edward Glover

Author Edward Glover

Copies of A Motif of Seasons will be available to borrow from the library very soon and we hope to plan a talk with Edward before too long in 2017.

edward-glover-cover

 

Exploring the Salient part 2

With many thanks to blog reader and artist Rebecca Hearle for this, the first of two posts, about her trip to the Salient and the art it inspired her to create. 

Salient

Before my visit to Flanders I had hoped to read the signs of the war on the landscape; to still see fields marked with trench lines, redoubts and bomb craters.  I also expected Flanders to be a similarly flat and open landscape like my home landscape of the Fens.  However, Ieper’s landscape is more picture-book like; rolling hills and small farmsteads reminiscent of childhood toy farms.  Apparently, before modern farming techniques it was quite possible to see the trace of the trenches on the landscape but now, with deeper ploughing, the landscape itself is forgetting.

Paul Nash, The Menin Road, 1918-19 oil on canvas Imperial War Museum(c) Tate; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Paul Nash, The Menin Road, 1918-19 oil on canvas Imperial War Museum(c) Tate; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

My original idea had been to superimpose period photographs of the Great War landscape, using the process of photo-lithography onto my own linocut images of the present day landscapes.  However, this didn’t fit with what I had found, the landscape just didn’t marry up to the old images anymore and nor would that approach communicate what I experienced.

I returned home with no idea of what to make.  I felt that I could not just make linocuts of the landscape as it now hid the War so well; it would just be fields or woods, conventional landscapes that could be anywhere.  I definitely could not make images of the landscape how it had been during and after the fighting.  That had been done by War artists such as C R W Nevinson, Paul Nash, John Nash and Otto Dix, artists who had experienced first-hand those great and terrible battlefields.  I felt I do not have the right to make those kinds of images and that nobody alive today does.

Otto Dix Bei Langemarck (Februar 1918), 1924 etching and drypoint MoMA

Otto Dix Bei Langemarck (Februar 1918), 1924 etching and drypoint MoMA

There are few physical remains now, but what is there is a landscape of words.  To cycle The Salient is to encounter name upon name; Flemish names; Ieper, French names; Ypres, German names; Ypern and English names; Wipers.  Names of CWGC War graves; Woods Cemetery, The Bluff Cemetery, Hedge Row Trench Cemetery, finger-post after finger-post and of course in those cemeteries and on those memorials the names of the dead, so many names.

What I decided to do was to map the journey, every road and pathway cycled or walked in and around Ieper during our stay.  I carefully traced our journeys using the modern-day map of Ieper that had guided our visit.  This tracing was then divided up and enlarged to make eleven separate sheets.  The images were reversed and transferred on to blocks of lino and cut away; I printed each different block in varying tones of grey.

Work in progress

Work in progress

These lino prints were then overprinted, using photo-lithographic plates which had been etched with hand-drawn texts of place names, place markers, cemeteries and quotes, with which I’m trying to communicate the written and over written nature of the place.

I scoured many different sources for the texts.  An assortment of maps were used; the tourist’s maps we had used whilst cycling, a modern facsimile of the Ypres Area trench maps as used by the British, and even a German map that the author Edmund Blunden took as a souvenir from a pillbox near St. Julien that now is archived with his papers at the University of Texas.

Edmund Blunden’s souvenir World War I map: St. Julien, Belgium, July 31, 1917 n.d. [image online] Available at: http://blog.hrc.utexas.edu/2010/08/17/edmund-blundens-souvenir-world-war-i-map-st-julien-belgium-july-31-1917/ [Accessed 13 November 2013].

Edmund Blunden’s souvenir World War I map: St. Julien, Belgium, July 31, 1917 n.d. [image online] Available at: http://blog.hrc.utexas.edu/2010/08/17/edmund-blundens-souvenir-world-war-i-map-st-julien-belgium-july-31-1917/ [Accessed 13 November 2013].

The typographic style for the text, though it was hand drawn, was inspired by a the Michelin book Ypres and the Battles of Ypres which is a tour guide produced in 1919 as part of their Illustrated Michelin Guides to the Battle-Fields (1914-1918) series.

I read WWI poetry, prose and memoirs including the invaluable Undertones of War (Edmund Blunden was stationed near Ypres), the moving  All Quiet on the Western Front and Ernst Jünger’s brutal memoir Storm of Steel.

On one map I indicate the place of the Yorkshire Trench, a preserved trench that we visited on our second day with a quote from Eric Maria Remarque’s All Quite on the Western Front; “The dugout shakes, and the night is all roars and flashes.  We look at each other in the moments of light, and shake our heads, our faces pale and our lips pressed tight.”  In this way, by using a quote from German source to illustrate the experience in a British trench, I wanted to show the equality of experience; that, regardless of nationality, to sit in a dugout during a bombardment was terrifying.

The maps were displayed in a group show with other MA Printmaking and MA Fine Art students from Anglia Ruskin in the temporary space at number 10 Green Street run by Changing Spaces Cambridge.  The use of the old shop window – it was formerly a music book retailer – allowed the maps to be strewn across the space as if shifted about by users.  To this display I added the pencils and compass I had with me on the journey around Flanders and my Michelin Guide to Ypres and The Battles of Ypres.

Salient maps installation view 1 Changing Spaces, 10 Green Street Cambridge

Salient maps installation view 1 Changing Spaces, 10 Green Street Cambridge

 

Salient maps installation view 2 Changing Spaces, 10 Green Street Cambridge

Salient maps installation view 2 Changing Spaces, 10 Green Street Cambridge

 

Salient maps installation view 3 Changing Spaces, 10 Green Street Cambridge

Salient maps installation view 3 Changing Spaces, 10 Green Street Cambridge

 

Salient maps installation view 4 Changing Spaces, 10 Green Street Cambridge

Salient maps installation view 4 Changing Spaces, 10 Green Street Cambridge

Exploring the Salient part 1

With many thanks to blog reader and artist Rebecca Hearle for this, the first of two posts, about her trip to the Salient and the art it inspired her to create. 

Railway Wood and Tyne Cot

“And where do they find themselves, that autumn, separately but as part of the same beleaguered army?  In a flat, rain-swept, water-logged land.  A land not unlike their own native Fenland… A land where in 1917, there is still much digging, ditching and entrenching and a pressing problem of drainage, not to say problems of other kinds…. The wide world is drowning in mud.  Who will not know of the mud of Flanders?”   Waterland – Graham Swift

As an artist my subject is landscape, particularly that of the Fens where I live, which was brilliantly captured by Graham Swift in his novel Waterland.  I couldn’t help but be intrigued by Swift’s mention of Flanders as a landscape so similar to my own and yet the stage for the terrible events of WWI.  Whilst I was studying at Anglia Ruskin University I was lucky enough to win the Anglia Foundation Trust Scholarship which allowed me to travel to Ypres and then to produce a piece of work about the landscape.

On the 5th of June 2013 I travelled to Ieper with my husband Nick.  We stayed in a B&B on the outskirts of the town and hired bikes to explore the countryside on.  Cycling in Flanders is a joy; it’s the national pastime and all the roads have cycle paths and routes are clearly signposted; car drivers even give way to cyclists!

The first place I wanted to visit was Tyne Cot Cemetery.  After hiring our bikes we cycled off through the green park where the bicycle hire shop was and back up to the Menin Road.  We didn’t realise that we’d already missed our turning as the cycle route out of Ieper runs through a quiet residential area; instead we cycled along the main road almost to Hellfire Corner – now a round-a-bout – before we consulted the map and regained the right path.  I had been confidently cycling in front and over the next few days whenever I was leading we’d inevitably miss our turning. Without Nick’s map reading skills and innate sense of direction I would have been horribly lost many times.

After leaving the town up, what for us Fenland natives was, a steep hill we crossed the main road.  The cycle route then took to quiet, narrow country lanes.  We passed a couple of houses ensconced in a copse on the right.  At one a woman sat on her porch watching us pass and possibly wondering why I was cycling so slowly, unused to it as I was.  Then, ahead of us on the left, we saw a white cross topping a rise backed by another wood.  The soon to be familiar Commonwealth War Grave Commission sign finger pointed the way to the R. E. Grave Railway Wood. This sight, the white Cross of Sacrifice against the verdant green of Railway Wood was to become the hub of our cycle trips; we were to pass this point near to or from a distance each day.

Railway Wood from the track to Bellewaarde Farm

Railway Wood from the track to Bellewaarde Farm

Unplanned, we detoured up the grassy path to take visit the Cemetery.  The base of the Cross is engraved “Beneath this spot lies the bodies of an Officer three NCO’s and eight  men of or attached to the 177th Tunnelling Company Royal Engineers who were killed in action underground during the defence of Ypres between November 1915 and August 1917” followed by the names of those twelve men.  Unusually they have no grave markers as their bodies were never retrieved and still lay where they died underground.

Railway Wood Cross of Sacrifice

Railway Wood Cross of Sacrifice

Adjacent to the Cemetery is a large pond, a crater from the War.  There are many more nearby, remnants of the terrible fighting that took place in what is now a peaceful and quite beautiful spot.  These craters and bomb pools are considered war memorials and it’s now illegal to fill them in.  Standing looking at these ponds, verdant with wildlife, you wonder who lies beneath in the benthic layer; they are strange oasis.

Crater near Bellewaarde Farm

Crater near Bellewaarde Farm

Further up the path from the R. E. Grave is a memorial to the Liverpool Scottish a regiment.  It states that they lost over 180 men as they advanced up the slope on 16th June 1915.  That slope is today a potato field, nondescript and commonplace.  I was overwhelmed by the seeming pointlessness of their deaths; they had died for this small field?

Bellewaarde Ridge

Bellewaarde Ridge

We cycled on to Zonnebeke; now a busy town with a cheerful looking school, it was wiped off the map in WWI.  Cycling along a former railway line we passed farmhouses that had been completely destroyed yet rebuilt almost exactly as before.  At the British named Thames Farm are the remains of a bunker Flandern I; just a corner still stands and a doorway.  A small wooden cross with poppy had been placed on the muddy floor.  This bunker had been built by Germans as a dressing station and used, as is the case with many structures, later by the British and Canadians.  For me the poppy was for all who died regardless of nationality.

Tyne Cot Cemetery

Tyne Cot Cemetery

We approached Tyne Cot Cemetery late in the afternoon, hot and tired from the unaccustomed cycling.  Leaving our bikes we walked half way around the outside of the cemeteries’ grey flint walls to the entrance.  Tyne Cot lies on a slope looking towards Ieper and the cemetery, as you enter it, stretches out before you, colossal in size and gleaming white against the perfect summer blue sky; the remains of 11,960 lie within.  Ahead stands the Cross of Sacrifice which has been built up over a German pill-box; the original British named Tyne Cottage.  Behind the Cross arcs the Tyne Cot Memorial containing the names of almost 35,000 who died after 16th August 1917.

Within the cemetery, amongst the ranks of graves are two more pill-boxes, their rough concrete a contrast to the smooth Portland stone.  Strange to stand in a place so peaceful, with the sky so blue and cloudless, with the sound of Belgian children playing in gardens the other side of the cemetery wall, and be able to reach out and touch the past, a place I would never want to stand in 1917.

Tyne Cot Cross of Sacrifice

Tyne Cot Cross of Sacrifice

Between the Cross and the Stone of Remembrance, engraved Their Name Liveth Forever More, stand a few haphazard graves, the original burials from when the pill-box was used as an ADS.  Among those graves are two German burials.  Their gravestones differ slightly in shape and text but the men buried there, respected and honoured just the same, have more in common with their one time enemies than differences: they all surely “died in Hell”.

When visiting the cemeteries guide-book in hand it will tell you the notable graves to find, those who were exceptionally young (we never found one older than 34) or those who’d been decorated or are famous in some way.  To keep my rucksack light I left the guidebooks at the B&B so we found ourselves wandering among the markers reading here and there the names, rank and regiment of the deceased.  As I wasn’t looking for one single grave I started to feel compelled to read them all.  With so many lying unknown in their graves to read a row becomes a repetitive prose poem, a litany of the dead:

A Soldier of the Great War Known Unto God

A Soldier of the Great War Known Unto God

A Soldier of the Great War Known Unto God

 

Bastille Day Despatch from a Small Town in France

Bastille Day 2016 has been overshadowed by the terrible events in Nice, but before that story happened one of our blog readers celebrated in the town where he was holidaying and shared this with us:

 

Bastille Day Despatch from a Small Town in France

Bastille Day is a public holiday in France which commemorates the storming of the Bastille Prison in Paris on 14 July, 1789. This event is usually described as the start of the French Revolution and the beginning of the French Republic. Today, in Pauillac, a small town set among the vineyards of the Medoc north of Bordeaux, Bastille Day was marked in the town square before the memorial to the men of the town who died in the First World War.

The Pauillac Memorial to the Héros de la Grande Guerre, 1914-1918

The Pauillac Memorial to the Héros de la Grande Guerre, 1914-1918

On this day in 1916, while the 8th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment were engaged on the Somme at the Battle of Bazentin Ridge, our French allies were in the ‘mincing machine’ of the battlefield of Verdun. The Germans expected to break the French Army, but France’s Commander-in-Chief, General Joffre, was determined to hold Verdun at all costs. It was never captured, but by December 1916 it had cost 540,000 French casualties, many thousands of whom were killed. Wives and sweethearts sent postcards to loved ones at the front, but there was, naturally, some questioning of the cost of the war in human misery as the wounded returned home.

‘My heart is always close to You’

‘My heart is always close to You’

14 July, 1916 : A day in Paris : Outside City Hall, the Spoils of War

14 July, 1916 : A day in Paris : Outside City Hall, the Spoils of War

The Bastille Day review in Paris in 1916 was one of military parades in the face of continuing war. In Pauillac, in 2016, the review comprised men and women of the fire service and the municipal police. Two military standards were lowered in salute to the war memorial, and the Mayor, M. Florent Fatin, young and stylish, wearing the mayoral sash and carrying the dignity of the town, led the singing of Le Marseillaise.

Bastille Day, Paris, 1916 With thanks to markspostcards.wordpress.com/tag/bastille-day/

Bastille Day, Paris, 1916
With thanks to markspostcards.wordpress.com/tag/bastille-day/

Bastille Day, Pauillac, 2016

Bastille Day, Pauillac, 2016

Vive la France!

Guided Tour – The Norfolk Regiment in World War 1

I have been guiding the battlefields of the Western Front for twelve years and take both adult and school groups across each year. No matter where the groups come from I will always intertwine my visits with stories of Norfolk Regiment men. On my latest tour, which I conducted between 21st and 22nd March with Lydiard Park Academy, who come from Swindon, I introduced them to a number of areas where the Norfolk Regiment served and where men fell whilst also showing them various aspects of WW1.

According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission 741 men from Norfolk Regiment now lie in Flanders Fields. Whilst there I took the group to four specific sites where you will find them. These are Tyne Cot Cemetery and Memorial, the Menin Gate, Hooge Crater Cemetery and Essex Farm Cemetery.

Guiding for me is a mixture of showing groups some of the well-trodden areas of places on the Somme and the Ypres Salient and also being able to go off the beaten track to show areas that do not get visited as much. On my last tour it was looking at sites around Ypres. It is also about trying to get a balance right were myths are debated and the truth is told.

The first area on my itinerary was Hooge. Hooge is situated on the Menin Road and was a central point for the Germans pushing towards Ypres during the 1st Battle of Ypres between October and November 1914. Later on in the war this area became a focal again when we pushed the Germans back either side of the same road. 18 men from the Norfolk Regiment now rest in Hooge Cemetery. 16 men come from the 1st Battalion and 2 come from the 8th Battalion. They fell between August and October 1917 during the 3rd Battle of Ypres. Two of these men are Alan Jack Dix who was the son of Robert and Maud Dix of 87 Mill Hill Rd in Norwich and Horace Andrew Pembroke who was the son of Peter and Margaret Pembroke from Ilford in Essex.

The graves of Alan Jack Dix and Horace Andrew Pembroke who now lie in Hooge Crater Cemetery.

Horace was killed on 7th October 1917 when the 1st Battalion was relieved by the 16th Royal Warwickshires around Inverness Copse and Alan died two days later when the battalion was put back in the line to assist in the assault on Polderhoek Chateau. The Norfolks assaulted at 05.20hrs and the attack was a failure due to the battalion on the right being held up and the weather conditions being atrocious. In that period alone the battalion lost 38 killed, 144 wounded and 112 missing.

We next moved onto Hill 60 and the Caterpillar Mine. The 1st Battalion Norfolk Regiment came here in March 1915 serving both around Hill 60 and Verbranden Molen from that time onwards until June of that year. In that time they fought at the 2nd Battle of Ypres and many of their casualties were lost to artillery and gas. One of the most notable was the battalion’s Adjutant Captain William Cecil Kennedy Megaw. William was killed in action on 31st March 1915.Captain William Cecil Kennedy Megaw who was killed in action serving around Hill 60 in March 1915.

Captain William Cecil Kennedy Megaw who was killed in action serving around Hill 60 in March 1915.

I use Hill 60 as a point of reference for the fact that Germans often held the high ground and from this point you can look towards Ypres. I also talk about the mine warfare that occurred here, culminating in the Hill 60 and Caterpillar mines being exploded here on 7th June 1917 at the opening phase of the Battle of Messines.   

Essex Farm is situated on the Yser Canal and was once used as an Advanced Dressing Station between 1915 and 1917. Men would be transported there from the battlefield and treated prior to being evacuated. Sadly 1,200 Commonwealth and German servicemen did not recover and are now buried there. This includes 3 Norfolk Regiment men. They are Eli Cox, Alfred Knights and William Mason. Both Alfred and William were killed in action serving with the 9th Battalion on the night of 1st/2nd June 1916 during a working party. Alfred was the son of Arthur and Emma Jane Knights of 6 Cozens Road in Norwich and had served with the battalion since 4th October 1915. Not much is known about William but he had served with the battalion since 30th May 1915 and was born in St James.
Image 3

Alfred Knights who was killed in action 2nd June 1916.

Eli is listed as serving with the 7th Battalion but at the time of his death he was attached to the 173rd Tunnelling Company Royal Engineers and was killed in action on 9th June 1916. Like a number of men in the 7th Battalion Eli had been posted to the 7th Norfolks from other parts of the country and he was the son of Mrs. E. Cox, of Red Cottage Greenfield near Ampthill in Bedfordshire.

Image 4

The graves of Alfred Knights and William Mason in Essex Farm Cemetery.

Essex Farm is also the final resting place of the most visited 15 year old in this sector. Valentine Joe Strudwick was serving with the 8th Battalion Rifle Brigade when he and a number of other men were killed in action when a shell landed in their trench. They are buried in a row next to each other. Secondly the dressing station was home to John McCrae who was serving with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in May 1915. He was inspired to write the famous poem In Flanders Fields after his friend Alex Helmer was killed. Whilst at Essex Farm I show my student groups both of these famous individuals and ask someone from the group to read out In Flanders Fields.

54,395 men are recorded on the Menin Gate, 138 of them are recorded on the Norfolk Regiment panel. Every evening, 365 days of the year, come rain or shine, members of the Belgian Fire Service play the Last Post at 8 p.m. in a ceremony that has been carried out since 1928 and only was only stopped in WW2 during the German occupation of Belgium. Every group I take over attend a ceremony and many lay wreaths on behalf of their school. This was the case on the night of 21st March when two pupils from Lydiard Park Academy laid a wreath. It is always a humbling experience.

Image 5

The Norfolk Regiment panel on the Menin Gate.

Tyne Cot is the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the world. It now holds the remains of 11,962 men, 8,374 of those are unidentified. At the rear of the cemetery the Tyne Cot memorial records the names of 35,000 men who have no known grave and whose names could not be put on the Menin Gate Memorial. Within Tyne Cot there are 7 identified Norfolk Regiment men and 257 Norfolk Regiment are commemorated on the memorial.

One of the Norfolk Regiment men buried in Tyne Cot is William Hampston 11th August 1917. William was born in Kirton In Lindsey in Lincolnshire and was living at 7 Melbourne Street, Kings Lynn working as a Butchers Manager and was the son of Rebecca Hampston.

Image 6

The grave of William Hampston in Tyne Cot Cemetery.

On the day that William was killed the 8th Battalion were in the line around Inverness Copse. The Germans attempted a number of attacks on a strong-point vacated by the 11th Battalion Royal Fusiliers. The Norfolks were ordered to counter attack which they did and the strong-point was recaptured and consolidated. The Germans attempted a number of counter attacks, all of which were beaten off, and the battalion then reorganised the line. In this action the 8th Battalion lost 60 men killed.

From Tyne Cot you can look back towards Ypres. On a clear day you can see the spires of the town silhouetted against the skyline approximately 4.5 miles away. The bunkers within the cemetery were used as a stretcher bearer post and a doctor and his staff were in another who were part of the 11th Canadian Field Ambulance. On 26th October 1917 the stretcher bearers lost 10 men and one of them that survived noted that, ‘Hell was never like that…’

Tyne Cot is now a focal point of virtually every group that visits this area. The King visited Tyne Cot in 1922 and it is said that King George V had expressed his views that the largest German blockhouse be retained, rather than removed as planned, so it sits under the cross. The architect of the cemetery Sir Herbert Baker noted,

‘I was told that the King, when he was there [in 1922], said that this blockhouse should remain. He expressed a natural sentiment, but in order to avoid the repellent sight of a mass of concrete in the midst of hallowed peace, which we wished to emphasize, a pyramid of stepped stone was built above it, leaving a small square of the concrete exposed in the stonework;…’

Image 7

The Cross of Sacrifice at Tyne Cot

If you do climb up the cross of sacrifice and look back towards Ypres it is a good place to stop and reflect on the sacrifice made by men from the Norfolk Regiment who now lie in Flanders Fields.

Submitted by Steve Smith.