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.

 

Norfolk Boys and ‘The Nutty’ Capture Tank Redoubt: Second Battle of Gaza April 1917

From the records held at the Norfolk Record Office.

During 1916 the British had steadily advanced from the Sinai desert in Egypt as part of their plans to invade Palestine in 1917. By January 1917 they had defeated the Turks at Rafa and the borders of Palestine were in sight.

However Turkish strongholds in Gaza prevented the British advance. The first battle of Gaza on 26th and 27th March had been unsuccessful following a British retreat. This failure only strengthened the Turks resolve to make a stand at Gaza.

The second battle of Gaza took place between 17th and 19th April.  It involved the 163rd (Norfolk and Suffolk) Brigade which was made up of the 4th and 5th Territorial Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment drawn mainly from North Norfolk as well as the 54th (East Anglian) Division.

map

Private Joseph Emms, service number 3247, was in B Company of the 5th Norfolk Regiment. He recounted in detail his part in the attack.  FX 296/1.

“On the 19th of April we made the attack on a very ancient town in part of Palestine.  The 5th Norfolk Regiment was in the first line to advance & suffered rather heavy losses”.

At 5am that day they were told they would be advancing about 2000 yards and that they would be under heavy fire throughout. The gunfire was so intense that the regiment, initially in artillery formation, extended themselves out and went at intervals.  Emms approached a Turkish redoubt with his friend Dent on one side and a comrade, Eastie (sic), on the other. Both Dent and Eastie were hit.

“I began to think my time was coming, but luck was good for me that day and I managed to get as far as any man in the line”.

The Turkish redoubt was strongly fortified and comprised lines of trenches one behind the other forming a half circle. As they approached they encountered barbed wire in front of the trenches.  Emms wrote that as they considered how to get past the wire “we suddenly heard a tremendous rattling noise coming from behind & keeping my head as low as possible I chanced a look behind & saw a tank coming at full speed not a hundred yards behind & firing all her guns which was a fine sight to see”.

The tank was known as ‘The Nutty’. As it made short work of the wire, Emms and his company followed behind and made it to the second trench.  The Turks shot at the tank hitting one of its wheels and putting it out of action.  Rather than let the Turks get hold of the tank, the tank crew set fire to it and joined Emms and the others in the trench.  Emms found himself with a group of men all of whom appeared to be wounded.  This included his company officer Captain Blyth.

“By the amount of blood on his shorts I saw that he was hit rather badly in the lower part of his body, but he said nothing about it & only smiled”.

Things then took a turn for the worse. The line retired leaving Emms with eighteen others in the trench. They were heavily outnumbered.

“Almost at once there were scores of Turks swarming round us and I began to think it was all U.P”.

There were two Lewis guns in the trench but no ammunition. The men emptied their pockets and used what they had to fire the guns.

“When it was all done we sat down on the dead Turks who were in the trench as there were so many that we couldn’t help it”.

Having no more ammunition they waited for the next onslaught. After a few hours around a dozen Turks arrived.

“We only had our bayonets to fight them with. Someone managed to find a “bomber’s” coat full of bombs and we kept them off for a short time with these”. 

Captain Blyth then shouted that it was either surrender or make a dash for it. They chose the latter but only one officer and seven men, including Emms, managed to get away.  Blyth was treated in hospital in Alexandria and survived his injuries.

“All of us who came back recommended him for his coolness & bravery which he showed in many ways, one by way of using & cleaning a Turkish rifle & by sticking (at) it though severely wounded”.

Photo 1

5th Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment. Norfolk Record Office ACC 2015/244

 

The capture of Tank Redoubt by Blyth and his men was a significant gain for the British until all their ammunition was spent. The 4th and 5th battalions suffered heavy losses and the second battle of Gaza was another defeat for the British.

It is not known what happened to Emms after his escape from Tank Redoubt. While his account is particularly graphic, others also wrote not only of battle but of the daily monotony and also beauty of this foreign landscape. We will explore these records next month.

Complied by Daryl Long, NRO Research Blogger

Sharing research

Recently some of the team from the Norfolkinww1 team went to the day conference organised by the wonderful Norfolk Record Office.

We had a great time talking to other local history researchers and sharing details of our forthcoming project (details here very soon). One of the best things was talking to people who’ve already completed research into their town/village WW1 history and hopefully over the coming months we’ll be able to share their stories here too.

First up we have been given permission by John Ling from Bergh Apton to share the start of their work into all of the men listed on their war memorial.

This is just an excerpt from a wonderful document – and if you email John on John.Ling@btinternet.com he can send you the full document, or you can see the document for yourself in the Sanctuary of the village church.

Burghapton [Bergh Apton], St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church.
Author: Ladbrooke, Robert. From Picture Norfolk

THE MEMORIAL: ITS DESIGN, RESTORATION & ADDITIONS

War memorials erected after the First World War could be a contentious issue. The Eastern Daily Press (EDP) of the time carries many reports of disagreements as to style, form and even decisions taken to do nothing at all. Controversy took many forms. The EDP of 15th March 1920 reported, for example, that the proposal to erect a memorial at Brisley met opposition because it might arouse resentment outside the parish!

There is no record of opposition in Bergh Apton. The request for a Faculty (church planning permission) to erect the memorial was submitted by the Rec-tor and Churchwardens on 4th December 1919 following unanimous agreement by the Vestry on a design submitted by Southampton architect W G Houseman.

There is a hint of controversy, however, after the Second World War in the fact that there was a twenty year delay in adding the names of five Bergh Apton men killed in that conflict. The matter was not settled until 1965 when the Church-wardens’ Minute Book recorded the success of the late Miss Betty Denny-Cooke, clearly in the face of some procrastination by others, in her insistence that the work be done.

Norfolk Record Office has an original drawing of the war memorial proposed in 1919. If one compares the drawing with the memorial itself one sees that the real thing differs little from Houseman’s proposal. It has been restored twice in its lifetime. The first occasion coincided with the addition of the World War Two names 1965. The second was in 2007 when major restoration work was carried out with financial support from English Heritage via the War Memorials Trust together with a fundraising campaign in the village and some very generous do-nations from well-wishers far and wide.

The 2007 work was carried out by stonemason Matthew Beesley of Fairhaven of Anglesey Abbey. He repaired cracks and stabilized metal corrosion, cleaned the stone, re-carved the dedication and the names of the existing men and then protected the memorial against erosion and fungal attack. At the same time, with the approval of the Parish Council and the PCC, the names of sixteen men were added.

The completion of these works was marked on 25th May 2007 by a re-dedication service led by the Bishop of Thetford. It was attended by the Deputy Lord Lieu-tenant for Norfolk, members of the men’s families, Standard Bearers and representatives of many Regiments and Services with whom they had served and by residents of Bergh Apton. The congregation numbered in excess of two hundred people.

Since then the names of more men with appropriate village bone fides (principally birth, baptism, education, livelihood or residence greater than one year) have been added.

BERGH APTON’S WAR DEAD

Only five months after the Great War ended Bergh Apton’s Vestry considered ideas for a village war memorial. A design for a simple war memorial was agreed on 4th December that year and received Diocesan planning approval on 21st February 1920. When it was dedicated on 28th May 1920 it carried the names of twenty men who died in that war. In 1965 five more were added for the Second World War.

Research begun in 1999 revealed that other men whose lives had begun in or had been shaped by the village of Bergh Apton had died in war but their deaths were not recorded on the memorial. A key reason lay in the peripatetic nature of life on the land; by the time that the call went out in 1919 for names to be put for-ward for the memorial many of the agricultural labouring families who had lost sons whilst living in Bergh Apton had moved away to work on farms in other villages.

In 2007 the Parish Council and PCC agreed that Bergh Apton birth, baptism, education, or employment would entitle a man killed in either World War to be added to the memorial. Residential qualification was added in 2009. On this basis the names of thirteen more men from the First World War and seven from the Second were added between 2007 and 2009 to make a total of forty six men. Two more candidates are being considered as this is written.

We are grateful to the many people who have given us help, advice and materials that have enabled us to set down these accounts of lives lost in war. The most important source was the families of the men themselves. Invaluable help came from the Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum and the Norfolk Records Office; from the National Archives at Kew; and from the official military records of the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

Many of our sources, such as battalion war diaries, record the sweep of battle not the actions of individual men. In these cases we have surmised, at the time of his death, what a man might have been doing rather than what he is known to have been doing. Where we have done this we have tried to make it clear in the text.

An invaluable source for information about our County Regiment’s men has been “The History of the Norfolk Regiment, August 1914 – December 1918” by F Lorraine Petre OBE. It covers in great detail the battles in which the men in our County regiment were killed or wounded.

Finally, we cannot over-emphasise the value of the World Wide Web without which we could not have achieved this record. Key helpers via this medium have been friends such as Dan Breen and Barb Hogan in Canada, Phyllis Bar-nes in Western Australia, Jan Sim in Adelaide, Moominpappa06 on Flickr.com and innumerable other contacts, websites and Internet discussion groups.

 

ROLL OF HONOUR: IN ALPhABETICAL ORDER 

ALEXANDER, Walter Ernest 5 July 1916 Page 21
ANNIS, Arthur William 24 July 1916 26
BARNES, Eric Benjamin(1) 21 July 1940 24
BARNES, Maurice Charles(1) 9 September 1940 38
BEAUMONT, Robert George 4 October 1917 46
BLIGH, Alfred(1) 19 November 1916 52
BOGGIS MM, Alfred John 8 October 1918 47
BRACEY, Walter Wilfred 2 September 1914 37
CAIN, Leonard Walter George 8 August 1944 33
CARR, Leonard Edward(5) 7 June 1917 20
CUBITT, Alfred Alec Arnold(1) 26 September 1915 43
DAVEY, Edward William(1) 26 December 1915 56
ETHERIDGE, Horace Charles(3) 22 April 1917 15
EVERETT, Leonard George(6) 3 April 1917 11
GIDNEY, Robert Kitchener(1) 18 November 1941 51
GILLINGWATER, Victor George 17 February 1917 8
GREENACRE, Charles William 22 April 1916 14
GREENACRE, Henry George Valentine 27 March 1916 10
HALE, Harry Charles(4) 2 June 1944 18
HALLETT, Stephen Cyril Garnier(4) 21 November 1944 53
HARBER, Freeman(1) 14 September 1914 39
HARVEY, Albert Edward(1) 13 August 1915 35
HOOD, Henry John(1) 26 July 1944 27
HUNT, Ernest James(1) 27 July 1916 28
KEELER, Sidney George 27 July 1918 30
KEDGE, Sidney Richard 8 July 1916 22
KING, Alfred George(5) 28 November 1915 54
LEEDER, Ernest Albert 16 April 1917 13
LINCOLN, Clifford(5) 31 July 1944 31
LOVEWELL, Jack Edmond 16 August 1943 36
MACE, Albert George(3) 19 July 1915 23
MARKS, Sidney Herbert 8 October 1917 48
MAYES, Archie Russel 19 February 1941 9
MAYES, Harry Samuel 1 October 1915 44
MAYES, Jack Arthur 23 October 1941 50
MITCHELL, Reginald James(2) 2 October 1917 45
PARKER, Albert William 9 February 1917 7
PODD, Herbert Charles George 28 June 1942 20
PRESTON DCM, John Henry(1) 9 January 1920 6
ROPE, Alfred Hubert 5 May 1917 16
ROPE, Leonard Godfrey 7 April 1916 12
STARMAN, Albert Edward Hamilton(1) 21 September 1944 42
STARMAN MM, William Edward(1) 16 September 1918 41
STONE, Aubrey Samuel 15 September 1916 40
STONE, Thomas(6) 9 May 1915 17
THROWER, Herbert Charles(1) 27 July 1916 29
THROWER, Walter Albert(1) 8 August 1916 32
TOLVER, William Leonard(1) 23 July 1944 25
WALL, Clement Sidney 11 August 1917 34
WEDDUP, Charles Daniel 17 October 1915 49
WRIGHT, James Robert 17 December 1918 55
(1) Added for re-dedication (25 May 2007) ( 2) Added for Remembrance Day 2007
(3) Added for Remembrance Day 2008 (4) Added for Remembrance Day 2009
(5) Added for Remembrance Day 2011 (6) Not yet on Memorial

If your town or village has undertaken similar research, or has a locally produced book/booklet about WW1 connections, please do let us know – we’d love to feature it on the the blog.

Images from the Archive

Feltwell, Sopwith Camel aeroplane crash in 1916

Feltwell, Sopwith Camel aeroplane crash in 1916

This is just one of several hundred newly digitised original photographs, posters and notices connected with the First World War in Norfolk. The material is held in the collections of the Norfolk Heritage Centre, Norfolk Record Office and Norfolk Museums Service. Over the course of the next few years the images will be posted on http://www.picture.norfolk.gov.uk/ (the online picture archive for Norfolk County Council Library and Information Service).

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.

War Work at Boulton and Paul, Norwich.

One of a number of major long-lasting Norwich companies, Boulton and Paul came into being in 1869, although the company had existed in various forms since it originally opened as an ironmonger’s shop in the centre of Norwich in 1797. By the early 19th century the proprietors had started making stove grates – the beginning of a manufacturing business that was to exist in the city for almost 200 years. In the mid-1860s William Staples Boulton was the sole proprietor of the business, but this didn’t prevent him from opening a small factory that included a foundry in Rose Lane in 1865 and a few years later he sold the original ironmongery in order to concentrate his attention on the manufacturing business.

In the 1860s a wide range of products was being made, including domestic, agricultural and horticultural implements, iron hurdles, fencing, park gates, garden chairs, iron bedsteads, kitchen ranges, hot-water systems, railings, palisades and wire-netting, which was to become a staple product for decades to come. 

Image from 1888 catalogue

In 1869 J. J. Dawson Paul, who had started working for the company in 1853 as a 12 year old apprentice and risen to the role of factory manager, was taken into partnership by the proprietor William Staples Boulton, with the company being renamed Boulton and Paul.

By the early twentieth century, the company had added to their range of metal products and boasted a carpentry, smithy and fencing workshops and a galvanizing plant within their site. They were now famous internationally for their pre-fabricated wooden buildings including dog kennels, aviaries, garden-houses and even bungalows and metal products and buildings ranging from wheelbarrows to conservatories, glasshouses, orangeries, vineries and palm-houses.

Rose Lane Works

Dawson Paul, running the business alone after the death of William Boulton and the dissolution of an unsuccessful partnership during the 1880s, eventually appointed Henry Fiske as manager. Like Paul, Fiske had worked his way up through the company and proved to have an excellent business brain which was ready to face the challenges and opportunities of the new century, which he proceeded to do after Paul made him his partner in 1893.

With the variety of pre-fabricated buildings in the catalogue, and customers around the world, business was booming and orders for bungalows were received from South Africa, South America and elsewhere, with teams of staff often being sent out along with the shipments to erect the buildings on site. Even though these wood and iron buildings were selling so well, Fiske and his son William, who was also rising through the company, realised that a rival material – steel – was becoming established as a mainstay in construction. The decision was made to open a ‘constructional engineering department’ in 1905 on the Rose Lane site, however its potential was not fully realised and after some time it was transferred across the river to a site leased from the railway company at Thorpe Yard, where light steel structures for agricultural use such as barns were the main output. By this time there was also an Engine department, making motor boat engines for the developing market that had been identified.

Initially it appeared that the First World War might be bad news for Boulton and Paul, with telegrams and letters cancelling orders flooding in during the first weeks of August 1914, resulting in teams of workers from around the country and further afield having to abandon construction work in progress and return home. Very quickly, however, the War Office started issuing drawings of barrack huts and stables required for camps in the south and west of England, with invitations to tender for their supply. The designs were judged by Boulton and Paul to be defective in various ways, but suggestions for improvement were rejected, so the company chose to supply large numbers of doors and windows to the agents who had taken on the contracts – at better rates than would have been quoted for direct supply to the War Office.

The Admiralty was soon placing orders with the company, initially for a Naval Hospital at Dover and then for the creation of extra office space in London, which was achieved by raising the building’s original flat roof in order to insert another floor below it.

In September 1914 Boulton and Paul submitted quotes to the War Office for the supply and erection of huts and stables in 11 camps spread throughout Norfolk and Suffolk. Much to the managers’ surprise, all eleven tenders were accepted, prompting a whirlwind period when accommodation for 6000 men and 6000 horses had to be manufactured, transported and put up within less than three months. Astonishingly, all the work was completed in time, and a number of extra buildings, ordered as work progressed, were also completed within the contracted period. Almost all of the 1500 men employed on this enormous project were taken on specifically to work on it and did an amazing job, overcoming the difficulties of lack of transport to bring in the building materials; the pilfering of timber from sites by soldiers wanting to build fires to get warm and dry; and the dreadful working conditions of flood and mud caused by the atrocious weather during the building period.

Other war work carried out included the supply of buildings for a prisoner of-war camp in Jersey; hangars for the Royal Flying Corps and buildings at the Royal Aircraft Factory in Farnborough; steel framed buildings in arsenals and dockyards, and warehouses in various locations throughout the country. Several hangars were sent to France, accompanied by teams of staff to erect them. Many more buildings for naval and military purposes were supplied and erected throughout England, including 16 in a gunpowder factory in Kent. The Fencing Department diversified and produced a range of items including field kitchens, drum barrows for telegraph wire, water carts and sack barrows and the Engine Department made electric lighting plant for mobile workshops and portable pumps for trenches as well as marine engines for naval launches.

Probably the company’s most exciting contract was awarded in 1915, when they took on the role of aeroplane manufacturers. Boulton and Paul’s directors were concerned that their workforce should be contributing to the war effort as much as possible, so they offered their services to the government for whatever war work might be required. Having undergone official inspection, the War Office asked if they could make aeroplanes. An agreement was made with Stanley Howes, whose engineering business was based in Chapel Field, and representatives from both companies went on a fact-finding visit to the Royal Aircraft Factory at Farnborough, which led them to conclude that they were capable of taking on the task, and so contracts were signed.

Boulton and Paul undertook the woodwork on these planes, using the Rose Lane Works and a mix of their own skilled workmen together with as many capable recruits as could be found – many of these had already enlisted, and were found in army camps throughout East Anglia: they were given the choice of staying with their units or returning to the factory floor, where they remained in uniform and were known as R.C. (returned colour) men. In the event of military emergency, the employers of these men would receive a cipher telegram which would prompt them to give the R.C. men rail travel vouchers and instructions on where they were to go.

Stanley Howes’ men were to install the engines in the completed fuselages, but the location of his workshops meant that another venue was needed for the planes’ final assembly, together with an airfield from which the finished aircraft could take off. Initially the plan was to use the new Aircraft Acceptance Park that the War Office was building at Thetford, but William ffiske succeeded in convincing representatives from the War Department that with a small amount of work, the Cavalry Drill Ground at Mousehold Heath would make an excellent airfield. The result was that Boulton and Paul were soon invited to tender for all the buildings required at the site, and duly erected them in record time: they were occupied by the Royal Flying Corps, which set up a School of Flying Instruction in them.

By October, 1915, the first aeroplane had been completed and when, after some initial problems with firing up the engine, it made its maiden flight, it reached the dizzying speed of 60 miles per hour! Once production of the first 50 planes was progressing smoothly, another order for 100 was placed, with a request for a speedier supply time. Since there was no space to expand the Rose Lane Works, the decision was made to build a new factory on land on the opposite bank of the River Wensum that the company had bought from J. J. Colman & Co. This site was marshy and had to be drained before buildings could be erected, but work proceeded quickly, with the buildings ready for occupation in three months and a smooth transfer of all machines and materials taking place in just one week, so that the workforce could start work in the new premises, christened Riverside Works, at Easter 1916.

In total, Boulton and Paul built 550 FEs, then moved on to produce 1,550 Sopwith Camels, followed by 425 Snipes – a modified and improved version of the Camel.  A handful of other modified Camels were also made for American pilots.

Sopwith Camel

Before the war ended, the company was asked by the Seaplane department of the Ministry of War if they could build the hulls of flying boats. Even though this was a totally new product for Boulton and Paul, it was agreed that the work was manageable, especially if a significant order could enable economies of scale to be made. The order was forthcoming, with an agreement that if any of the 50 hulls contracted for proved to be unsatisfactory, payment would not be made. A mass production unit was set up, with 10 hulls being worked on simultaneously, resulting in their completion and delivery before any other contractor had delivered two.

The scale of war work undertaken by Boulton and Paul, and the uncertainty of obtaining adequate supplies of components led the company to adopt the policy of making everything except the engines and armaments, in-house. Although this was more expensive than relying on sub-contractors, it meant that there were never any delays due to the lack of parts, and the company eventually developed a good business supplying parts to other manufacturers. The company had also taken on propeller manufacture before the move to the Riverside Works, after General MacInnis, the first Controller of Supply, had mentioned the need for more expert manufacturers to take on this specialised process. By the end of the war, Boulton and Paul had produced 7,835 propellers of various types.

Propeller varnishers

If you’re wondering what became of the wire netting business, it went from strength to strength during the war, as it was used in revetments to help support trench walls from falling in; laid down in the desert to provide a firm surface for soldiers to march over, and erected and covered with camouflage to screen troop movements from the enemy. By 1918 the company had produced more than 5,300 miles of wire netting!

Wire netting as advertised in a 1902 trade catalogue

Post compiled by Clare, Local Studies Librarian.

Sources

Books available in the Norfolk Heritage Centre, Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library:

Boulton & Paul, Ltd. Catalogue No.43 1888

Boulton & Paul, Ltd. Catalogue No.120 1902

The House of Boulton and Paul Limited Norwich

The Leaf and the Tree: the story of Boulton and Paul Ltd 1797-1947

The Boulton Paul Association: Boulton Paul Aircraft

Alec Brew: Boulton Paul Aircraft

William H ffiske: Boulton & Paul Ltd and the Great War

Surveying War Memorials

About a month ago I was lucky enough to go on a course run by Civic Voices all about surveying the country’s war memorials.

The course was run on behalf of the War Memorials Trust and there are two ideas behind the campaign:

  • to get complete record of all of the nation’s war memorials doesn’t currently exist and this is a drive to get them all noted down while there is interest in commemoration.
  • to survey all the memorials, many were designed and built just after WW1 and so are now about a hundred years old and could be in need of repair or even be in danger of falling down.

The course was really interesting, our tutor Anna took us through the wheres/whys/hows and then we got the chance to put what we’d learned into practice and went out to complete a survey on a Norwich memorial.img_4671

After a chilly hour outside we came back and discussed our findings and then looked at how to record what we’d noted on the website.

There are still some courses around the country that you can attend to learn about this project in person but to help in this project you don’t need to actually go to one of these – all the details are explained in on line in their toolkit. The video is most helpful – I’ve rewatched it ready to go out and do my first survey!