100 Years On

100 years ago, the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 had just convened with the first of 145 meetings between the statesmen of all sides.

The final peace treaty with Germany, The Treaty of Versailles, was signed on 28th June 1919 but negotiations between other nations continues for a further four years with the Treaty of Lausanne (peace with the former Ottoman Empire) being revised right through until the summer of 1923.

While it would be lovely to continue researching the impact that WW1 had on Norfolk sadly the time has come to stop updating this blog.

Before we go however we thought we would share some of the Norfolk in World War One highlights from the past 5 years:

  • We’ve posted 518 articles since 2013
  • Over 50 different people or organisation have written posts for us, whether this is research into a topic that interests them; family/village history research or reviews of WW1 commemoration projects.
  • 68, 419 people have visited the blog
  • These visitors have come from 153 different countries or territories
  • We launched the 2018 Poppy Plea which saw over 15,500 poppies being made for us to represent the fallen of Norfolk.

We couldn’t have done any of this without you – our readers and contributors – so many thanks for your support and interest over the centenary commemorations.

Norwich, Guildhall Hill, Return of 2nd Norfolks, April 1919. Image from Picture Norfolk, taken by George Swain

In the words of the popular WW1 Song:

Bonsoir, old thing, cheerio chin chin,
Nah-poo, toodle-oo, good-bye-ee

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Lest We Forget. Remembering the Fallen.

From records held at the Norfolk Record Office (NRO).

Four years of warfare left a legacy of enormous loss.  Local street shrines appeared during the war and after the Armistice more permanent memorials began to be planned.

Some of the key issues to address were:

  • Who will memorials commemorate?
  • Who will pay for them?
  • What type of memorial will it be?
  • Where will they be put?

It appears obvious that memorials would commemorate those who served and lost their lives in war.  But some were not included and some names were added many years later.  A Roll of Honour can also be misleading as it may record all who served including those surviving.

Photo 1 Jarrolds memorial

Throughout the war years various organisations were keeping detailed records of loss of life.  The Norfolk Regiment listed men who were missing or killed throughout the war. (DCN 25/21).  This meant that the Regiment was well-placed to plan their memorials without too much delay.

Workplaces also planned memorials of their own staff.  Jarrold’s staff memorial is dedicated to nineteen men.  (JLD 4/11/37)  Most workplace memorials were erected in work entrances or offices but the location of the Jarrold’s memorial is currently unknown.

 

 

Photo 2 cavell memorial unveiledThere were some individuals whose sacrifice was such that a memorial was erected solely in their honour.  This was certainly the case for Edith Cavell.  The unveiling of Edith Cavell’s monument in Tombland took place in October 1918.  (N/LM  2/1) On the same day they also opened the Nurse Cavell Memorial Home for District Nurses which can be seen in the background.  The opening was attended by Queen Alexandra as well as many local dignitaries.

If a memorial of any kind was to be erected on church property then a faculty paper had to be submitted to the Diocesan Court for the plan to be approved.  These faculty papers are largely dated 1919 and 1920. (DN/CON 183 and DN/CON 186).

A faculty paper was usually submitted by the Vicar and Churchwarden and set out the proposed design.  Many followed previously approved designs as is evident in the frequently occurring statement in accordance with the design produced & lodged in the Registry of the Court.

Payment for memorials was largely through public subscription unless it was a memorial to one person when it would have been paid for by the family.  At Carbrooke, where a memorial cross was planned, the Vicar chose to personally finance the cost of £100.

A catalogue of war memorials included in the faculty papers of Little Howe and Poringland suggests some memorial designs for various public buildings.  But the variety evident in the faculty papers is even more extensive.

Photo 3 Narborough plaque

Large towns clearly suffered the greatest losses and had many names to commemorate. Norwich Cathedral built a war memorial chapel and St John’s in Great Yarmouth submitted plans for a chapel within their existing church.

 

Memorial tablets or plaques within the church were popular.  At Narborough they planned to use two old plaques in beaten brass, representing the Crucifixion and The Nativity, to contain the names of the men of the parish killed in the war.

 

 

Brass plaque at Narborough

Windows were another popular choice.  Some were in memory of the men from the parish and others commemorated just one particular individual.  Brundall applied for two windows; one dedicated to Brundall men and one to an individual soldier, Leslie Dandridge.  At Lessingham and Gaywood the proposed windows were to commemorate one individual only; at Lessingham, Locke Francis William Angerstein  Kendall and at Gaywood, Captain William Mansbergh.

Photo 4 brundall window

Combining a memorial with some improvement or addition to the church was an opportunity for some parishes.  The Rev Martin-Jones of Wymondham Abbey commented in the Norwich Mercury on 4 January 1919 that it was an opportune time for completing the task (of restoration) as a thanksgiving for peace and in memory of the brave lads of the town who had given their lives in the war.  It is interesting to note that he only referred to the “lads” of the town.  His own wife, Commandant at the local Auxiliary War Hospital, had also died in the war and was given a full military funeral.  She was subsequently commemorated on the Abbey memorial tablet.

In Kirby Bedon a memorial tablet and a memorial clock was planned.  Knapton wanted a new organ while at Bodham repairs would be made to the church tower to enable a memorial tablet to be fixed to its base.

Not everyone wanted memorials on church ground.  On 4 January 1919 the Norwich Mercury reported on the debate with one Non-Conformist commenting:

I take it as a piece of gross impertinence to suggest that the only spots in which to place memorials to the gallant lads who have given their lives in defence of their country are the Anglican churches.  The lads who have died were drawn from all schools of religious thought.  A memorial to our lads should be a town affair, and free of ecclesiasticism.

Even the design could cause controversy.  The Gresham War Memorial Committee submitted an obelisk design to the Diocesan Court whereas the Vicar had wanted a cross.  The faculty paper was submitted by the Chair of the Committee, who explained the Vicar’s lack of involvement:

The rector, for a variety of moral and social reasons, is held in general contempt in the parish; there are not, I understand, any churchwardens, those appointed by the rector refusing to act; and the parishioners do not attend the Church Services. 

He is the only person in the village who has not subscribed to the Memorial Fund. . . He is personally objectionable to the whole parish, where he is known to all as a liar, slanderer, rogue and thief.  . . . To allow such a person to obstruct the unanimous wishes of the parish in the matter of this sacred memorial to the dead would be a public outrage.

Photo 5 gresham obelisk

The design for the Gresham obelisk

Today these memorials are part of our everyday landscape; barely noticed as we walk past them every day.  The generation of the fallen is often said to be the one which “didn’t like to talk about the war”.  But through their memorials they at least ensured that those who made the ultimate sacrifice would never be forgotten.  Lest we forget today.

Daryl Long NRO Blogger

 

 

A call for stories – the role of Norfolk Women in the First World War

Staff from the Forum Norwich have been in touch with more details about their current WW1 Project.

 

A call for stories – the role of Norfolk Women in the First World War

Do you have female ancestors from Norfolk who were involved in the First World War? If so, The Forum, Norwich would love to hear from you as part of their next First World War project.

 

As part of the Norfolk in the First World War: Somme to Armistice Exhibition which will run at The Forum and Norfolk and Norwich Millennium from 01-13 November 2018 there will be a display on the legacies of Norfolk women in the First World War. This will include a Roll of Honour for 25 Norfolk women in uniformed service who died during or as a result of the First World War and exhibits on the role of women in industry and social reform.

The exhibition will include stories of Norfolk postmistresses and women who worked on the land, in munitions and factories. It will also explore women’s peace activism, suffragettes, non-conformists, the role of women in fundraising, the formation of the Women’s Institute and how court records can demonstrate the impact of the war on life at home.

If you have stories, photographs, letters or objects to share please get in touch with The Forum’s Heritage Assistant, Lizzie Figura-Drane via email: heritage.assistant@theforumnorwich.co.uk or telephone: 01603 727971.

Information and stories of local women will help add to the research for The Forum’s community project ‘Norfolk in the First World War: Somme to Armistice’. The project runs until November 2018 with National Lottery funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

This Was Not To Be His Final Curtain

We’ve recently been contacted by Ray from Mattishall who has shared a fascinating story about a local man who has faded from memory since the First World War, despite is high profile at the time.

This was not to be his final curtain: Frank Henry Norman Wrighton

Frank Henry Norman Wrighton
1879 – 1917

Friday, November 2nd 1917 – My journey looking for First World War casualties had brought me to the picturesque seaside town of Torquay, Devon, many miles from the battle fields of the Western Front. A thin and wasted 38-year-old man had finally succumbed to an affliction he had acquired during his military service. Katherine Peacock, the Matron of St Barnabas Nursing Home for the Incurables, was recorded as being present. No records have been found to confirm there was any effort to return his remains to his home village of Mattishall Burgh, Norfolk although on his death certificate an address of 45 Warwick Road, Warwick Gardens, London was written, a large building where he or his wife could have been renting a room, whilst working in the capital. There was a war on and any transportation of a corpse would have involved considerable expense which from all accounts show there was little funds available. Four days later on November 6th he was taken the short trip to Torquay cemetery and after a simple service lowered into a common grave, a grave we now know he shares with four other men. His death was not the result of battle wounds but a condition brought on and worsened during his short military service. His death certificate, records him as ‘FRANK HENRY WRIGHTON’, age 38, an Actor. A simple note on his service records reads “He was well till a year ago, then had Pleurisy and Pneumonia, following wet exposure”. TB was also found in his Sputum.

I had been researching this man for a few years and on discovering this I was left quite emotional. There was no record of him on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, even though the army had been paying and caring for him since his discharge. How had this man just been forgotten? I had got to know him well, my research had found he had been such a character, or being an actor, multiple characters! He was very patriotic, had a great spirit of determination and given a lot so ending up forgotten, in a common grave did not do him justice. Continue reading

War Diary August 1918

War Norfolk
Battle of Amiens.

 British, Australian, Canadian and French forces launch a powerful strike against the German army on the Somme. General Ludendorf calls it ‘the black day of the German army’. Fighting now continues until 11 November.

Norfolk Land Army Girls efficiency tests

The Board of Agriculture, wanting to set up a standard for women farm workers, had organised efficiency tests at Gately for those working in Norfolk. “All the girls did well and showed real grasp of their duties, especially if it be considered some of the entrants had had only a short training.”

World War One Commemoration Events in Hemblington

Here at the Norfolkinworldwar1 blog we’ve been contacted by the parish team and Friends of Hemblington Church about their forthcoming events.  They also have opportunities for others to share research and stories…

The parish team and The Friends of All Saints Church will be commemorating the ending of the First World War at Hemblington church, with an exhibition over several weeks in August, September and November.

We are aware that many organisations nationally are planning to hold exhibitions and in order to make this an event to commemorate local people who fought and died in the conflict, we will be exhibiting information about the people listed on the memorial in the church, as well as a display about the Battle of The Somme, which claimed the lives of many Norfolk men.

Earlier in the summer local children will have made a collage illustrating their understanding of war – and peace – which will form a part of the exhibition. We should therefore like to invite local groups to join us on the afternoon of Saturday, 15th September, both as guests for afternoon tea and also to participate if they so wish.

If you or any people in your society:
 have memories or stories of family members involved in the war, either at the front or supporting the war effort at home
 have family heirlooms/souvenirs from the time (perhaps postcards, letters, medals)
 might be willing to read a poem or prose reading about the First World War and / or the Armistice

we should love to hear from them. Personal reminiscences are so important and throw a light on how people coped during and after the war, though we do understand that they are likely to be three or even four generations removed now.

If you or your members would like to learn more about this event, please get in touch with Catherine (01603) 270 360 or Lynda (01603) 713 597 or Sue (01603) 715 804 or email hemblington@gmail.com

 

The Hemblington team have lots of events planned and it all sounds great. If you can’t help or visit Hemblington but you have your own events you’d like to share please do just drop us a line at norfolkinworldwar1@gmail.com.

War Diary July 1918

War Norfolk
Execution of the Tsar

Former Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his family are executed. There are no survivors.

Norfolk Women War Workers  Big Parade

Representatives from all sectors of the women’s war effort were present including Land Army, Waacs, Wrens, munitions workers, RAF, railway workers, Naval and Army canteen workers and a woman’s fire brigade. The parade, its purpose to encourage recruitment, was watched by huge crowds of county and city folk.

Fourth Battle of Champagne

 The fifth major German attack since March is launched. On a smaller scale, German troops assault the French line facing the River Marne. For the first time the German attack is unsuccessful.

Vicar fined for food hoarding

A vicar, who appeared for summons under the Food Hoarding Order, claimed he had obtained the cheese for distribution amongst his friends and that the sugar had been bought before the order was made. He was told that he should have surrendered the sugar or not used his sugar ration as he had done neither.