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

Advertisements

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.

War Diary June 1918

War Norfolk
Battle of the Piave

The Austro-Hungarians launch a renewed attack on the Italian line in the north-east along the River Piave. The attack is beaten off. Fighting continues to 24 June.

Flying Tragedy

 An inquest was opened to investigate the deaths of three RAF pilots. The Tragedy occurred after two biplanes collided during flight, one of the pilots was from the American Army and learning to fly with the RAF.

  Record Amounts of Money Raised in Holt

The King sent his praises to the people of Holt after they raised £100, 000 during War Savings Week.

War Diary May 2018

War Norfolk
Final German Air Raid on London

The largest, and final, German aeroplane raid on London takes place involving 33 aircraft. 49 people are killed and 177 wounded.

Prisoners of War Recaptured

Two German prisoners who escaped from a King’s Lynn internment camp were recaptured on Saturday 4th May.

Third Battle of the Aisne.

 Third German offensive (Operation Blucher) against the French line,  it centres on the Chemin des Dames area above the River Aisne. Fighting continues to 6 June.

Land Army Recruitment Rally

A demonstration took place in Norwich to encourage recruitment for the Women’s Land Army on Saturday 25th May. The demonstration included women carrying small livestock, rakes and hoes, a procession of milk floats and hay carts, as well as a traction engine.

War Diary April 2018

War Norfolk
Further Rationing and Conscription

 Meat rationing is introduced in the UK and conscription extended to those aged up to 51 and men living in Ireland

Fundraising Effort in Norwich

 A Tank named the “Nelson” visited Norwich raising money for the war effort. £400 000 was raised on the first day.

RAF Formed

 The army’s Royal Flying Corps is combined with the naval Royal Naval Air Service to create a separate service.

Butter Mountain

A glut of butter and margarine built up in Norfolk shops as Norfolk residents obtained their butter from farms, despite having registered with a shopkeeper.