Commemorative Crafting

Commemorative Crafting

There’s nothing better on a grey and drizzly Saturday afternoon than spending time with friends – chatting, snacking, and making things! My friend Felicity and I like to tackle new craft projects, and when Norfolk Libraries decided to mark the 2018 Armistice Centenary with a handmade poppy to represent each fallen Norfolk soldier we really wanted to take part.

The poppies can be made from any material you like – felt, wool, paper, card, fabric, or we’ve even had stained glass ones donated. The only stipulations are that they have to be made by hand and we need 15,500 of them before November 11th, 2018. So we decided to have a go!

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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.



The Norfolk Regiment in April: Lodge Diaries

Each month staff at the Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum look back to what the Norfolk Regiment was doing 100 years ago, and tells their story through objects from the museum’s collection. See previous blog posts here.

April 1916 was a disastrous month for Norfolk’s 2nd battalion’s in Mesopotamia. Their winter campaign (which included defeat at the battle of Ctesiphon, and their retreat to Kut – Al – Amara) ended with the eventual collapse of Kut and the surrender of the whole fighting force, numbering over 10,000 men.

The events that took place through April and the following months are extremely well documented through the diaries of Lieutenant Colonel F C Lodge, of the 2nd Norfolk’s, who was present at the surrender. These diaries are now kept at the museum.

Lodge, far left, with Strickland, Gordon and Jickling, officers of the Norfolk Regiment

Lodge, far left, with Strickland, Gordon and Jickling, fellow officers of the Norfolk Regiment

On 29th April and over the following days, Lodge wrote;

“All guns and howitzers were destroyed this morning, also a large percentage of rifles and bayonets. Ammtn. [ammunition], revolvers, field glasses, thrown into the Tigris… Turkish Infantry entered Kut about 12 noon.”

“Many men fell out owing to feebleness…. The men were so ravenous that they ate some of the Turkish biscuits dry. This caused an outbreak of acute enteritis, due possibly to their interiors being in a weak state and quite unable to assimilate the hard tack. This caused a good many deaths in some of the units.”

'Adjutants of the 2nd Battalion'. Lodge is second from right, second row.

‘Adjutants of the 2nd Battalion’. Lodge is second from right, second row. Officers were treated extremely differently to their men following the surrender at Kut

For the Norfolk’s, some of whom were were already tired, starving and extremely ill, April marked the beginning of the end. Captivity under the Turks resulted in forced marching, extreme heat, disease, malnutrition and for many, death. Lodge’s diaries, like many other Officers, show a different picture however. It is startling to compare the fate of many Officers with the the fate of their men. On 4th April, Lodge writes;

“We were ordered to embark [by steamer] for BAGHDAD. We were sent up in echelons: the 1st… consisted of 100 British officers, including 4 Generals, 50 native officers with an orderly apiece. Each General was allowed a cook and 2 orderlies; a colonel 2, Lt. Col 2, others 1 each. I as a temporary Lt. Col. Took two – Rogers, and Wigger as a cook… The men were then left with the NCOs.”

Indian Army Soldier after Siege at Kut. Taken from the UK National Archives

Indian Army soldier after Siege at Kut. A very different picture to Lodge and his fellow officers. Taken from the UK National Archives

Although still in a dire situation, Lodge’s following entries suggest a degree of comfort not shared by men, that improves over time. On 9th, 10th and 13th May he writes;

“arrived at a ramshackle empty hotel called Hotel Babylon., an evil smelling place. More delay whilst rooms were allotted…  were taken to a restaurant where we had a meal – the best I’ve had had in months…. Slept fairly well. Our room smelt so much, caused by a cesspool immediately below the window, we moved out and slept on the verandah which was a very large one… Our little party pitched out belonging near a Greek engineer’s house. They were very kind to us, giving us what they could spare – tea, cheese, milk.”

We may never know the extent to which which Lodge and of his fellow Officers were told of the fate of their men. Perhaps they never knew, or were simply naive. His diaries illuminate a great deal about the Officer class during 1916, and spark some real emotion. It is difficult to empathise with Lodge, who still celebrated “PAYDAY”, and received 3 parcels on his birthday, including 2 from Fortnum and Mason. Regardless, the diaries are an invaluable source to the museum and well worth a read.

One week left to visit the Norfolk in the First World War exhibition!

A moving exhibition commemorating the lives of Norfolk people at home and abroad during the First World War is in the Long Gallery at the Norfolk Record Office for one more week!

Visitors to the free exhibition which runs until 31 October can find out through first hand accounts about the effects of rationing, invasion fears and air raids – Norfolk was the first place in Britain to experience a fatal air attack.

Stories of the war’s impact on Norfolk people’s lives, both those serving on the various war fronts in the army and navy and also of those back at home, are told through photographs, letters, diaries and other documents held by the Norfolk Record Office.

And the exhibition looks at the roles of women in The Great War – those taking on jobs traditionally reserved for men such as engineering and working on the land, and others serving in the over sixty wartime hospitals in the county.

Frank Meeres, Project Archivist and exhibition curator, said: “This is very much a ‘people’s exhibition’ – most of the documents in it are donations made by Norfolk people proud of their family heritage.”

Gresham’s School students joined the Norfolk Record Office to learn about using an archive, handling documents and gaining experience finding and interpreting documents. Using their new skills, they wrote the text for two of the exhibition panels – one on rationing in WWI, the other on the Zeppelin raids – and the students chose the items that would be photographed and/or displayed in the cases.

So come along to see this diverse and informative exhibition. The Norfolk Record Office is located at: The Archive Centre, Martineau Lane, Norwich, Norfolk NR1 2DQ (opposite County Hall)

Opening Hours:
Monday, Wednesday and Friday: 9am – 5pm
Tuesday: 9.30am – 5pm
Thursday: 9am – 7pm

Norfolk’s War

Last Friday I was invited to give a presentation about this website and the holdings at Norfolk Heritage Centre that can help with WW1 research at a conference called ‘Norfolk’s War’.

Keith Simpson MP hosting 'Norfolk's War'

Keith Simpson MP hosting ‘Norfolk’s War’

The day, organised by Keith Simpson MP for Mid Norfolk and eminent military historian, with support from the Forum Trust fell in to two distinct halves – the morning focusing on national commemorations and fund-raising, followed by a talk by local historian Neil Storey setting the scene for the afternoon’s presentations given by myself, Liz Budd of Norfolk Record Office and Kate Thaxton of the Regimental Museum about local sources for research.

The keynote address was given by Dr Andrew Murrison MP, a government minister at the Ministry of Defence. He gave the audience an insight into the commemorations planned at a national level, whilst reminding us that the government is keen that commemoration of the First World War is done at a community level.

Having said that, Dr. Murrison told the audience about some big ‘set piece’ events that are planned, starting on 4th August with a service at Glasgow Cathedral at the end of the Commonwealth Games. Commemorations will also take place that day at St. Symphnorien in Belgium where the first and last British casualties of the war are buried. A service will also take place that night at Westminster Abbey, starting at 10pm. Senior members of the royal family will attend each of these events which will be televised.

Over the four years of commemorations there are events planned for April 2015 to commemorate Gallipoli. 2016 will see events to mark the Battles of Jutland and the Somme, whilst 2017 will commemorate Passchendale. Amiens and the road to Armistice will be remembered in 2018. Commemorations will continue on a smaller scale to 2020.

Dr. Murrison also spoke about the educational programme that has started. The programme, jointly funded by the DCLG and the Department for Education will see children and teachers from maintained schools visiting battlefields in Flanders. On their return to the UK, it is anticipated that the young people who have taken part in the visits will become ambassadors for the commemorations, sharing their experiences and what they have learnt not only with their peers but also with their parents.

Programmes supported at a national level such as the 1418Now Cultural Programme (we blogged about their fantastic ‘Letter to an Unknown Soldier’ project earlier this year) and the Centenary Poppy Fund were highlighted, along with the HLF Centenary Fund, which has already issued grants of c. £50 million to over 700 projects (including Wymondham’s wonderful commemoration event). Money is being invested in sprucing up War Memorials and £35 million has been granted to rejuvenate the Imperial War Museum in London, which the cabinet of 1917 decided should be founded as the National War Museum. It re-opens on the 19th July this year.

However, Dr. Murrison stressed emphatically that it is the smaller projects going on at a local level that will give the country’s  WW1 commemorations their richness.

He concluded by stating that key to our commemorations must be ensuring that future generations understand the enormity of the First World War and ensuring such a thing can never happen again.




Lights Out

“The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time” – Sir Edward Grey, August 1914.


In this year of commemorations many exciting projects are being announced all of the time and some of them are truly innovative.

The 14-18 Now project, which is commissioning lots of arts based memorials,  has just announced  a nationwide initiative to mark one hundred years to the hour from the declaration of war:

At 11pm on 4 August 1914 Britain declared war on Germany, ushering in one of the darkest periods in our history.

As the moment approached, the British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey made the famous remark: “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our life-time”.

In a dramatic UK-wide event LIGHTS OUT is an invitation to everyone to turn off their lights from 10pm to 11pm on 4th August, leaving on a single light or candle for this shared moment of reflection.

Part of 14-18 NOW, WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, LIGHTS OUT have invited artists to create large-scale, site-specific artworks at locations across the UK. A digital artwork will also be commissioned in response to LIGHTS OUT.

LIGHTS OUT, working closely with the Royal British Legion, will be one of the largest participatory events of its kind ever seen in the UK, and will complement the candlelit vigil held at Westminster Abbey on 4th August.

LIGHTS OUT is commissioned by 14-18 NOW, WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund

Details of the 14-18 Now projects, and this one in particular can be found on their website, and as we find out what is happening around Norfolk we will update the blog and the events listings.