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.

 

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Mesopotamia Norfolk Regiment Casualties of War – 1st November, 1915 until 30th April, 1916

Mesopotamia: The Norfolk Regiment Casualties of War – 1st November, 1915 until 30th April, 1916

Our Mesopotamian researcher is back with a post to commemorate the fallen of the Norfolk Regiment during the final 6 months in Kut and the surrounding areas. 

If readers have pictures or recollections of soldiers of 2/Norfolk who served in the Mesopotamian campaign which they would be happy to share on this site please contact the NorfolkinWW1 team via comments here or by emailing norfolkinworldwar1@gmail.com. All contributions will be treated with respect and much valued.

Further details of grave numbers and panel commemorations for individual soldiers can be found at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead.aspx

November 1915-April 1916

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Many men died during the battle of Ctesiphon, 22nd – 25th November, 1915, or shortly afterwards, of wounds received during the battle. The retreat to Kut al Amara was also hazardous for the 2nd Norfolks as they frequently formed the rearguard.

Kut War Cemetery

Kut War Cemetery

Kut War Cemetery was completely renovated in 2014. Work carried out by the Commission in 2014 involved the general clearance of vegetation, the installation of a concrete retaining wall, raising of the cemetery levels, construction of a new shelter building, the formation of new headstone beams and the installation of 410 headstones.   (www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/69700/KUT%20WAR%20CEMETERY)

Lieutenant Arthur Richard Russel, 2nd Battalion Norfolk Regiment, who died on Christmas Day, 1915, and who is buried at Kut War Cemetery.

Lieutenant Arthur Richard Russel, 2nd Battalion Norfolk Regiment, who died on Christmas Day, 1915, and who is buried at Kut War Cemetery.

Privates Herbert William Hammond, Leonard Thomas Pratt, and E.Tite also died on Christmas Day, but sadly we do not (currently) have their likenesses.

February 1916 – April 1916

jan april

 

Private Charles William Greenacre was born at Westwick, but his mother was a Bergh Apton girl and the family returned there to live. Charles died on 22nd April 1916, aged 23. However, it is not known whether he was in the besieged garrison of Kut or with the relieving force which was desperately trying to lift the siege. His sacrifice is commemorated on the Basra Memorial in modern-day Iraq, and on the war memorial in the churchyard of St. Peter and St. Paul, Bergh Apton. Charles’ brother, Henry, of the 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards, who died on the Western Front, is also commemorated on the Bergh Apton memorial. The brothers died just 26 days apart.

War Memorial at Bergh Apton, Norfolk

 

The diary of Major F.C. Lodge, commanding the 2nd Battalion includes a photograph of the the cemetery at Kut which was erected for those who died during the siege and were buried before the surrender. It is not known whether this photograph was taken in 1916 or later, after the British recapture of Kut in 1917. The diary titles it Our Cemetery Kut-el-Amara.

'Our Cemetery at Kut-el-Amara', from the Diary of F.C. Lodge

‘Our Cemetery at Kut-el-Amara’, from the Diary of F.C. Lodge (Regimental Museum)

Some men of 2/Norfolk who were injured during the campaign were repatriated to India where they convalesced, and where some of them died. They too should be remembered.

November 1914 – April 1916

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The Kirkee 1914-1918 Memorial stands amidst the graves, manicured lawns and tropical plants of the Kirkee War Cemetery where are buried the dead of the Second World War.

Kirkee War Memorial Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Kirkee War Memorial
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Again as we said at the beginning – if you have any information about any of the men mentioned in this memorial post (or any of the others we’ve posted over the past year or so) please do get in touch so that we can share their stories too.