Join The Forum in Norwich, and the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library for a day of World War One themed events this Armistice Day.
First World War Women of Norfolk: On Active Service Exhibition
The Forum, Norwich, is launching a new exhibition celebrating the remarkable effort made by women across Norfolk on active service during the First World War.
Running from Saturday 4 November to Sunday 19 November in The Forum Gallery and the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library, the free exhibition brings their stories to life. Continue reading
George Edward Brock to Charles Edward Brock
Sept 9th 1917
Just a line to let you know I am across the channel and my address is 140238 Pte G E Brock, Norfolk Regiment, I.B.D., A.P.O., France. We are having a good time and all the third line Yeomanry are out this time. So it is much better than coming out with strangers.
I have been wondering how you are getting on and how do you like your job. No doubt you have plenty of work to do and I should like to see you but of course I don’t know where you are at all. The people seem very strange about here and I can’t make them out at all. And I find you have to keep your eyes open when you are buying anything down here and this morning I bought some pears and apples and afterwards I found they were about two for sixpence.
I hope you are quite well and remember me to Milly when you write.
George Edward Brock to Charles Edward Brock
Sept 11th 1917
Just to let you know that I am in a new regiment. My new number is 33695, 8th Yorks and Lancs so don’t write till you hear from me.
I am feeling fit and well and don’t mind being on foot after cavalry although everything seems strange and new.
Hoping you are quite well.
From your brother
George Edward Brock to Kate Maud Brock
Oct 3rd 1917
Thanks very much for your letter and it is jolly good of you to write because it cheers one so to hear from home and I feel rather lonely but now I am getting used to it.
I am glad to hear you are getting on alright and what do you think this morning I received a letter from Jimmy Muirhead so it shows I am not forgotten.
We are having some fine weather at present so it is one consolation and I hope it will keep on because it makes such a difference to us.
I don’t know what to write about only I am quite well and one thing I hope and that is to be back again soon so goodbye sis. I hope you are quite well and glad to hear you are getting on alright at Dereham.
Please excuse dirty envelope.
George Edward Brock to Charles Edward Brock
Oct 4th 1917
Just to let you know I am quite well and we are just having a rest and sorry I could not answer your letter because I lost the address.
We are having some fine weather at present and glad to say we are in comfortable quarters now and of course you don’t know I am in a different regiment. Well my new address is 33695 Pte G E B, No 5 Platoon, B Company, 8 York and Lancs, B E F, France.
The boys seemed very strange at first but I soon got used them and they are all jolly good fellows and I like them very much.
I had a letter from home to day and dad has got the steam plough for the land and J H G has let two of his men help so it is a good job for him.
You would laugh if you saw me now marching about in shorts like some boy scout and my knees felt very cold for the first week or two but I have got used to them by now and they are much better for marching.
I suppose you have plenty of work to do now and I wondered if you came across Mr. Wrench since you have been out because I wish you would remember me to him.
I don’t know what else to write about so remember me to Milly and the boy and I hope you are quite well.
Gertrude Rebecca Page (née Brock) to Charles Edward Brock
Oct 21st 17
My dear Charles,
Have some sad news to tell you, poor old George was killed on the 13th Oct. It’s a terrible blow to us all and am sure you will feel it too. I felt I must write and tell you, but I hardly know what to say nor how to write it as my heart so full.
We were very glad to have such a nice letter from you and wish it would soon be over so you could come home.
Alfred has been in bed for a week, he’s been queer. I wish they would discharge him but no such luck, he’s gone down to C2.
We are having a nice spell of weather again now.
Mother and Dad are very much distressed and Dad didn’t want this just now, however we have to bear it and thousands have to do the same and will have to yet I am afraid.
Love from all at home.
Your affectionate sister Gert
A.P.O. = Army Post Office
B.E.F. = British Expeditionary Force
I.B.D. = Infantry Base Depot
Two of Henry Benjamin and Sarah Christiana Brock’s sons fought in the First World War: Charles Edward and George Edward. Charles was born on 27th April 1891 and George on 16th August 1898.
Charles served as a private in the Army Veterinary Corps in France. He was based in Subsection A, No. 12 Veterinary Hospital. Whilst in France he received a telegram on 31st May 1917 saying that his son (Geoffrey Charles) had been born and both mother and child were doing well.
George joined the 3/1 (Third Line) Norfolk Yeomanry on 2nd December 1915. In September 1917 he crossed the channel to France. Within a few days of arriving he was transferred to No. 5 Platoon, B Company, 8th Battalion of the York & Lancaster Regiment (a move from cavalry to infantry).
His regiment (along with other British, Australian and New Zealand troops) took part in the First Battle of Passchendaele (in Flanders, Belgium) on 12th October 1917. George was one of hundreds who lost their lives that day; he was listed as missing, killed in action. He was 19.
His name appears on the Memorial to the Missing at Tyne Cot Cemetery near Ieper (Ypres) in Flanders. His name also appears on war memorials at Keswick Church and Sprowston.
Both Charles and George were awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
Henry Rider Haggard and the Imperial War
This post was only possible with the energetic assistance of the Secretary of the Rider Haggard Society and the enthusiastic support of its members, and with the advice of the Curator of the Bungay Museum. Any inaccuracies in what follows are the fault of this writer, a long-time admirer of Rider Haggard’s novels, but a recent acquaintance with his life. www.riderhaggardsociety.org.uk/
Henry Rider Haggard was a Norfolk countryman by birth and inclination: born on 22 June 1856, his father was the squire of Bradenham near Swaffham and his mother a literary and romantic woman who had grown up in India. He was their eighth child, and thought rather unpromising by his father. Yet, on his departure for Africa in July 1875 at the age of twenty-one, his mother, Ella, wrote these beautiful lines to her son:
That Life is granted, not in Pleasure’s round,
Or even Love’s sweet dream, to lapse content:
Duty and Faith are words of solemn sound,
And to their echoes must thy soul be bent. …
So, go thy way, my Child! I love thee well:
How well, no heart but mother’s heat may know –
Yet One loves better, – more than words can tell, –
Then trust Him, now and evermore; – and go! H. Rider Haggard, The Days of My Life, 1912
For much of his life, after returning from Africa in 1881, he lived at Ditchingham House on the Norfolk side of the River Waveney, close to Bungay.
Ditchingham is a distinctly cosy Norfolk village, small and picturesque. Ditchingham House is a typical Norfolk home. It stands in the midst of a perfect shelter provided by the surrounding elms and beeches, for the winds which come across from the glorious valley of the Waveney, and over the Bath Hills, or the Earl’s Vineyard as it was once called – one of the prettiest hillsides in this part of Norfolk – are keen and cutting, and blow hard o’ nights. Here Mr. Rider Haggard – barrister, justice of the peace, farmer and novelist – lives. Source: Illustrated Interview, Mr H. Rider Haggard, The Strand Magazine, 1892
Norfolk Women in the First World War – a call for stories
The Forum, Norwich recently contacted us to see if we could help them with their next First World War project.
The Forum, Norwich, is appealing for people to share their stories and memories of Norfolk women in the First World War who were either on active service or remaining strong on the Norfolk home-front.
Past articles here on the blog have talked about the weather during World War One, most recently in February 2017. While these posts have been indulging in a personal interest and myth busting one of our regular readers and contributers has actually found a WW1 link to both the weather and Norfolk!
John Henry Willis
Norwich Meteorologist, Naturalist, Writer, and Inventor
We are indebted to Carey Pallister of Victoria, British Columbia, a descendant of Edgar C. Willis, the younger brother of John Henry Willis and his wife, Jenny Russell Currie. Her interest in this posting has been very supportive; she has provided much useful information including a family tree, as well as invaluable family photographs expertly scanned.