War Memorials in South Norfolk

Following on from our recent call for help regarding War Memorials in the county, Sally one of our county librarians has sent this piece to us.

Almost every parish in Norfolk has some form of monument as a memorial to the fallen of the parish; men who lost their lives in World War 1.  These monuments are the focus for annual commemorations on November 11th each year and are often tended by local groups. Most parish councils took responsibility for erecting a memorial to ‘The Fallen’ after the war although it may have been paid for by public subscription and erected on land donated by wealthy individual landowners. On occasion the landowner, squire or lord of the parish would pay for a memorial, such as the impressive column at Elveden near Thetford.

Elvedon Memorial (image from Wikimapia)

As the centenary of the outbreak of WW1 approached in 2014, many parishes looked again at these memorials. Some, such as at Diss, found that there were names missing from the memorials of soldiers who should have been honoured. The Diss memorial was inscribed with the missing names and re-dedicated in 2014.

Diss War Memorial (image from Diss Parish Chirch http://www.dissparishchurch.org/WarMemorial.html)

In Harleston Ruth Walton, a local historian, decided to research and publish a book about the lives of the men commemorated on the town memorial. This research uncovered sad stories behind the carved names; the Borrett family from Wortwell lost three sons within seven months in 1917; Frederick aged 29 died in Mesopotomia in April 1917, John aged 31 died in France in July and Stanley aged just 22 who was also killed in France in  October. Another son, Thomas, was serving as a stoker in the Royal Navy and had been interned in Belgium in 1914 after the fall of Antwerp. He came through the war safely and returned to Norfolk. As seems to have happened quite often these brothers are commemorated on both the Harleston and Wortwell memorial.

Ruth Walton’s book We Will Remember; the lives of the Harleston men who fought and died in two world wars is available in Norfolk libraries.

The Waveney Valley Community Archaeology group dedicated time to researching ‘hidden’ memorials in the Waveney Valley: those “more discrete and personal memorials to losses suffered by our communities.” These can take many forms from the rededication of a hall or other local amenity, to the keeping of a Roll of Honour or ‘Flanders Cross’ within the parish church. The group’s website www.waveneyarchaeology.org states that hidden memorials may ”also include street names and street signs, parks, hospitals and bowling greens as well as smaller items of ephemera. Many of these less formal memorials now lie overlooked and unrecorded, with their significance forgotten to the wider population and their loss remains a very real threat.”

If you have completed research in to any aspect of WW1 in your community please do consider sharing the information with us so we can share your research with our readers.


Connecting with other WW1 projects around the country

One of our blogging team is also a qualified genealogists and recently she was contacted by a team in Oswestry who are researching the men who fell in the Great War and are commemorated on the Oswestry War Memorial Gates.

They have discovered that one of the men has links to Norfolk thanks to Elizabeth’s blog and they have completed some more research into Francis Harold Carless who is also commemorated on the Norfolk Teachers War Memorial.


Francis H Carless

Francis Harold Carless was originally from Walsall and was born in 1892. His father, Frederick, was a shoe and boot dealer but by 1911 was working as a currier or leather worker. His mother was Ada, he was the eldest of 4 children with siblings Ernest, Maggie and Stanley. By 1911 the family had moved to Oswestry and lived at 45 Park Avenue. His early education was at Oswestry Council School, later he won a scholarship to Oswestry Grammar School where he won many school prizes.

After school he trained as a teacher and worked for Salop County Council as a master at Gobowen Council School. He was also actively connected with work of Salvation Army and other religious bodies in the district.

He later moved to Fakenham in Norfolk to take up a teaching appointment. He enlisted at Norwich in October 1915 joining the Royal Army Medical Corps and went over to France in August 1916 as a reinforcement posted to 60 Field Ambulance.

Francis was wounded twice, for the first time in September 1916 when he was hit in the arm, back and head and spent a month at Rouen Base Hospital. On returning to duty he was posted to 56 Field Ambulance, attached to 18 Division.

He was wounded for a second time in July 1917 but not so seriously and he soon returned to duty.

He was killed in action on 22 October 1917 probably serving as a stretcher bearer in the front line during the battles at Passchendaele, he has no known grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

His personal property was returned to his father who now lived at Bridge Terrace, Whittington Road. Among his effects were a Welsh New Testament and a Bible as well as  French/English and Welsh/English Dictionaries.

Francis is also commemorated on the Norfolk Teachers War memorial at County Hall in Norwich and at Oswestry Grammar School.

Research by the Men on the Gates team has them also listing Carless as a possible Non Combatant/Conscientious Objector due to his religious outlook but at present this is not backed up by any evidence.

We’ll be following the Men on the Gates project over the next few years as they find out more about the men commemorated  (an early website for their project can be found here) but as ever if you can help with their project or have a similar one of your own please let us know so we can share details. norfolkpoppy

Something to do this weekend…

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Representatives of the Neatishead, Irstead and Barton Turf Community Group have been in touch to let us know that this Sunday – March 8th 2015 – they will be holding an open afternoon in Neatishead to showcase all that they have found so as they research their community during World War One,

More information can be found on their website – but don’t worry if you can’t get there this weekend, they are currently writing us a piece for this blog so we can all find out more.  The project is a Lottery Funded Project and hopefully representatives of the group will keep the blog updated during the centenary years,

poppy n poppy n2

The afternoon with take place on Sunday 8th March from 2.30-5.00pm at New Victory Hall, Neatishead, NR12 8AD

Many thanks to Claire from the group for letting us know about this event.