Remembering a man from the Norfolk Battalion

Mr Foreman has recently been in touch with us here at Norfolkinworldwar1.org with both some information about his family’s service during the First World War and also to ask if anyone can help fill in some of the blanks as he starts his journey in to family history research.

I am Robert Dennis Foreman and I was wondering if you were interested in the story of my 2nd Great Uncle William George Foreman who was born in April 1884 in Blo Norton Norfolk and who died on 7th Nov 1916 in Basra; and also in his brother’s (my Great Grandfather Dennis) war?

William Foreman was part of the 2nd Norfolk Battalion and Dennis (1881 – 1966) was in the RAMC as a despatch rider. Dennis was also born in Blo Norton to John Foreman and Harriet Foreman (nee Ayers) but moved to Simonstone in Lancahsire to work on the Huntroyde Farm estate of Nicolas Le Gendre Starkie who was a wealthy landowner here.

My Great-Grandfather lived after being taken prisoner in Cassel after what looked to be a harrowing war experience but sadly my 2nd Great Uncle was not so fortunate.

He was taken prisoner on April 29th 1916 in Kut-el-Amara (in the Siege of Kut) when the battalion was forced to march to Aleppo. Many men died along the way but William survived this march – only to die of malaria according to his record. His regiment number was 8013 and he rose to the rank of Sergeant. Dennis Foreman’s Regimental Number was 103030 and he became a Lance Corporal.

There are 2 letters existing in William’s file where his mother (my 2nd times Great-Grandmother Harriett Ayers 1854 -1931) pleaded with the War Office to let her know what had happened to her son. They are heartfelt as shortly after she penned the letters it became known he had died while a prisoner. In these documents someone has written on the soldier’s small book DEAD in red pen and this was sent to my grandmother with a report stated there was no grave and therefore she couldn’t visit if she wanted to and was able. (Some research on the Commonwealth War Graves site tells us that W.G. Foreman is commemorated on panel 10 of the Basra War Memorial, along with 40,639 other names )

While I do have a picture of my Great-Grandfather Dennis, I sadly have no picture of William and I would dearly like to have one if anyone reading this can help?

Dennis Foreman

Some further research into William’s life and death has shown a discrepancy into cause of death. The Norfolk Regiment Casualty book records William as dying of dysentery not malaria and Robert and the Norfolkinww1 team are wondering which is most likely to be accurate…

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A Canadian in the Norfolk Regiment

Here at the Norfolkinworldwar1 blog we were recently contacted by Mr King-Seguin who let us know about the research he and other family members were undertaking about their Grandfather, who came from Canada yet still served with the Norfolk Regiment. 

Below is a short introduction from William John Grummett’s grandson (Mr. Snell) and a link to the website showcasing all of their fascinating research.

The First World War through the Lens of William J. Grummett, 2nd Lieutenant, Norfolk Regiment: A Soldier’s Story.

William John Grummett (1891-1967) was a young law student living in Canada when the First World War began in 1914.  Honouring a promise made to his parents, he held off enlisting until 1915 and the formation of the second Canadian contingent of soldiers preparing for war in Europe.  Like most young men who signed up to go to war, he was off on the “adventure of a lifetime”.   As it turns out, his journey went much farther than most: to the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains and the headwaters of the sacred Ganges River, to the sun blasted deserts of Mesopotamia and the twin rivers, Tigris and Euphrates that had held between them the very cradle of civilization.  He travelled more than 24,000 nautical miles, 4500 miles by train and countless miles on horseback and on foot.  And, he took photographs documenting the events, places and most remarkably, the people: children, parents, fellow soldiers, street performers, holy men, the devout, herdsmen and refugees, as the journey unfolded.

William John Grummett, 2nd Lieutenant, Norfolk Regiment

Read the story: a new chapter will be added every month completing the tale by November of 2018.   See the pictures: themed photo galleries representing stages of the journey are added to with each new chapter of the story.  The First World War through the Lens of William J. Grummett, 2nd Lieutenant, Norfolk Regiment, at https://wjgrummettphotosandhistoryww1.blog/

As ever if you have a family story to share please get in touch – we are very keen to make sure that these stories are not forgotten.

Cambrai 100: Remembering George Burlingham

Unlike Nicholas Robert Colman, who’s Cambrai story we published earlier today to mark the 100th anniversary of the battle, this story has a more positive ending and we thank Dave Cole for sharing his great-grandfather’s story with us. As ever if any of our readers can add more to the story then we’d love to hear about it.

George Burlingham

Dave writes:

my research began with the interest of my daughter in our family history. A part of that history was those men who served in WW1, based on a handful of photographs, and in the case of George Burlingham, a very small collection of papers relating to his Military service – most of which are pictured in the blog. The blog itself came about due to the desire to share the stories of those men with the wider family around the world, and a blog seemed the most concise way of preserving the story and memory in electronic shareable form.

Divisional Acknowledgement from Major-General Arthur B Scott

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Cambrai 100: Remembering Nicholas Robert Colman

NICHOLAS ROBERT COLMAN

Nicholas Robert Colman was born on the 30th September 1897, and baptised on the 18th January 1898 in Gunthorpe parish church, the son of Daniel and Catherine Colman.[1]

Figure 1: From the Baptisms Register, Gunthorpe, 1898

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Norfolk Regiment in Ypres – a talk from a historian

Join us at the Millennium Library on 6th November to hear about the Norfolk Regiment in the Ypres salients during World War One.

Author and battle field guide Steve Smith will be taking us through the lows, and deeper lows, experienced by the Norfolk Regiment in this area during the whole war – including the 3rd Battle of Ypres/Passchendaele.

Tickets to this talk are free and can be booked by visiting our Eventbrite page here , or by calling 01603 774703.

The Dogs of War

The Dogs of War

From the records held at the Norfolk Record Office and Norfolk Heritage Centre

Dogs have always had a role to play in wartime.  Some larger dogs were used for the transportation of ammunition and lighter stores.  Other breeds were used for pathfinding, tracking and carrying messages.  As well as carrying out specific roles for the military they have also been a source of comfort and friendship in harrowing times.

The Military Dog

Private Bob Benifer of the Norfolk Regiment kept a photograph album during the war.  It includes several photos of dogs.  (MC 2149/1 925×5)

The photo below is annotated by Benifer who wrote “Private Kirby given to me at Bangalore 30/6/17”. 

Photo 1 Pt Benifer Pt Kirby

Private Benifer and Private Kirby (NRO, MC 2149/1 925×5)

Benifer and Kirby also appear in a regimental photo along with several other dogs.  Kirby looks the same but Benifer has since acquired a moustache!

Photo 2 Benifer with regiment edited

Benifer (first row, right-hand side) and Kirby with the rest of the regiment (NRO, MC 2149/1 925×5)

At Pulham Royal Naval Air Station, Peter was the station mascot.  In September 1917 the first edition of The Pulham Patrol, the air station magazine, was published.  A whole page was dedicated to this important member of the base.

For 11 months he has been with us . . . Being a staunch patriot he absolutely refuses to accept pay . . . . he has fine musical tastes, for he thoroughly objects to all bugle calls!

 

Photo 3 Peter the Pulham mascot edited

Peter the Pulham mascot (NRO, MC 2254/183)

Dogs – our faithful friends

The Carrow Works Magazines of April 1915 and January 1917 recount two stories of the lengths to which dogs would go to be with their masters.

In April 1915 Private Brown of the 1st North Staffordshire Regiment left for the Front.  His wife and Irish terrier Prince accompanied him to the station to say goodbye.  Prince became very distressed at the parting.  Shortly afterwards Prince went missing.  Mrs Brown was reluctant to tell her husband that she had lost him and searched in vain without success.  However, after several weeks, she plucked up the courage and told him.  To her surprise her husband replied that Prince was with him.  Private Brown wrote:  “I could not believe my eyes till I got off my horse and he made a great fuss of me.  I believe he came over with some other troops.  Just fancy his coming and finding me”. 

 

Photo 4 Prince edited

Prince – not such a dumb dog  (Carrow Works magazine April 1915)

In January 1917 an article entitled “A Dog Story” told of the tale (no pun intended) of a collie dog at Cambridge railway station.  Mr George Lambton had often noticed the dog on the platform.  When he asked about the dog he was told that some eighteen months ago the dog had come to the station with its owner who left on a train for the Front.  Since then the dog returned every morning and stayed until late at night awaiting his master’s return.  The dog was very friendly and responded to those at the station who befriended him.

The other day his fervent desire was gratified.  A soldier in khaki descended from the carriage.  At first the good dog could not believe his eyes, but another look and a sniff sufficed, and with one bound he sprang up, got his paws on his master’s shoulders, and clung hard.  His eighteen long months of waiting were at last rewarded.

Edith Cavell and her dogs

Edith Cavell had two dogs, Don and Jack, both born in 1909.  Little is known of Don and he had died by 1912.  After Cavell’s death Mlle de Meyer took on the matronship of the Edith Cavell School in Brussels and she also took on Jack.  Jack did not settle and he was sent to the Duchess of Croy’s estate.  Meyer wrote “the poor animal felt lost without its owner and in new surroundings. . . . . .. .Some nurses and I took him there and he became the great comfort of the Duchess who is well known for her great love of animals”.

 

Photo 5 Jack edited

Jack (From ‘Nurse Cavell Dog Lover’ by Rowland Johns held at NRO)

 

The Duchess of Croy later wrote:

“I was first told that after her death he had been locked up in a damp stable all alone. . . . No one in Brussels dared take the dog for fear of the Germans.  I did not know of his existence, or else I would have taken him as soon as poor Nurse Cavell was put in prison, and let her know that the dog was safe.  She was very anxious about him, and begged in several letters that he might be well looked after.  Jack was brought to me in March 1916.  He was extremely naughty and bit”.  Eventually, “he became as good and gentle as any other dog. . . . Jack seemed very happy here . . . I had him for about seven and a half years, when he died of indigestion caused by old age.”

The Brave Dogs

The Carrow Works Magazine for April 1915 reported on several acts of canine bravery.  In February 1915 a dog show in London had a special section for fifteen dog heroes.  There was Lassie, the dog who lay at the side of W S Cowan rescued from the British ship Formidable.  Cowan was thought to be dead.  Lassie stayed by his side licking his face for quite some time and Cowan started to move.  Cowan’s movements and Lassie’s barks attracted attention and Cowan was saved.  Then there was Wubbles who had rescued a drowning Frenchman and Tony the Belgian sheep dog who had helped the wounded on the field by taking out refreshments in a tin bottle with a tin mug attached.

Photo 6 Old man and brave dog edited

Unknown man and his dog who rescued fifty fugitives in his fishing boat from the Scheldt (Carrow Works magazine April 1915)

They may have been our “dumb friends at the Front” but they were clearly not dumb.

Daryl Long NRO Blogger