For the past four and a bit years I’ve been immersed in the commemoration of WW1 as part of the team running this site, as a volunteer at the Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum and due to my own interest in this period of history.
Back in September 2014 I made a visit to France which included visiting the Etaples Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery but since then I haven’t had the chance to go back to the Western Front., however as entered the last month of the centenary commemorations I had the luck to visit Ypres for along weekend.
Well aware how easy it is to become overwhelmed by trying to see too much in a short period of time we decided to visit fewer places for longer periods of time and coupled with the glorious weather encouraging us to enjoy the European cafe culture we had a wonderful, if moving weekend.
Our first stop was at the tucked away Underhill Military Cemetery where there are graves of two Norfolk Regiment men who died 100 years to the day before our visit.
Private George and Private Moran, died 12th October 1918
Following on from our recent post asking for help identifying a ‘mystery man’ on the Hellesdon War Memorial we’ve had lots of people share information with us and we are now pretty certain that we have identified the Piercy mentioned on the memorial.
All respondents are certain that the name has been miss-copied or miss transcribed at some point and that it should read William J(ohn) Piercy and not William H Piercy.
More detailed research shared with us by historian and author Steve Smith shows that he was born in Hackford in Norfolk and that he enlisted in Norwich on 9th May 1915 initially with the 1/6th Norfolk Cyclist Battalion, he was 19 ½ at the time of enlisting.
He was sent overseas on the 27th July 1916 (missing the start of the Battle of the Somme) and joined the 8th Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment on the 10th August 1916. We are lucky that his full service records survived the air raids of the 2nd World War and we can trace his progress through the war as he moved to the 9th Battalion and then the 1st Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment.
His record card states that he was wounded in October 1916 and on looking through the Norfolk Regiment Casualty Book, held at the Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum, this can be deciphered so we know that in October 1916 he was suffered gunshot wounds to his lower extremities and was evacuated back to the Military Hospital in Devonport. He stayed in the UK until August 1917 when he once more returned to service overseas, and was back at the Front by 10th September 1917.
He is listed as being Killed in Action on 29th May 1918 and is commemorated on Panel 3 of the Ploegsteert Memorial in Belgium.
To tell the story of his final day Steve has also found the Battalion War Diary for 29th May 1918 so that we can see what he faced.The internet became a truly magical place at this point when we were contacted by a family member of the Piercy’s former neighbours and so we can share that here too as it gives a flavour to the lives of people living in Norfolk at the time.
Once more a huge thanks to all our readers who have added so much more to this man’s story.
Here at the Norfolkinworldwar1 team we’ve been contacted by Mr Kelly with another World War One query, and once more we are hoping that our readers can help – although this time we have lots of information and are looking for descendants of a WW1 soldier.
Mr Kelly writes:
A relative in Canada has come across a WW1 Medal for the above named. My local History Research Group have identified the following from his War number in the Norfolk Regiment where he was Private 24249 which is on the Medal.
Further research has shown that soldier #24249 is in fact:
Cyril Henry Payne
Birth Date: 21 Mar 1891
Baptism Date: 14 Jun 1891
Baptism Place: Aylmerton, Norfolk, England
Father: William Payne
Mother: Eliza Jane Payne
Mr Kelly continues that his Canadian family are travelling to the UK in the autumn and would like to return the medal to the family if they can be found – so if anyone reading this can help locate Cecil Payne’s family please do email Sarah at email@example.com so we can try to reunite the medal.
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?
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…
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.
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.
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
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.
Figure 1: From the Baptisms Register, Gunthorpe, 1898