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

 

 

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Following up on a recent post and call for help.

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.

A Hellesdon War Memorial Mystery

Our project to create a poppy for every name listed on the county’s war memorials has sparked a lot of interest and has also thrown up some interesting queries…

We’ve recently been talking on Twitter with Linda, a lady who has undertaken to create a poppy for all of the men listed on the Hellesdon War Memorial. More than this Linda is also researching the war history of all 15 men remembered there.

A recent image of Hellesdon War Memorial

Linda has made the fifteen poppies, and researched in to fourteen of the men but there is a real mystery surrounding the last man…

The soldier concerned is recorded on the memorial as William H Piercy but I can find no record of him in any records.

I have however found a William John Piercy who’s next of kin were living at Lower Hellesdon. 

I have been doing the research as part of the Hellesdon Community History Group and I’m stuck – could you forward this query on to anyone that can help guide me in the right direct to resolve this quandary.   

I think it is a transcription/typo error which I have had personal experience of within my own family.

We’ve done a little sleuthing by playing around with various spellings of the name and the initials on the Commonwealth War Graves website and found three possible men that could possibly be the man listed at Hellesdon.

Gunner W R Piercy #74009 whose parents are listed as living on Dereham Rd, Norwich

W J Piercy #43703 whose parents are listed as living in Eccles.

William Piercy #G/16306 but with no further details.

And this is where we call on your expertise – can anyone help Linda, as she says

His name would have been submitted to a “committee” for approval and I wonder where this would be and this record would have more information to help confirm his parents/date of birth etc. 

As ever if you can help with this query please leave a comment here / email norfolkinworldwar1@gmail.com or Tweet us @Norfolkinww1

More unexpected WW1 discoveries

After the excitement of finding the flight gallery dedicated to the First World War in Seattle I didn’t think we’d find any other WW1 connections during our trip, most of it was being spent in National Parks after all.

However the last place we stayed in – Jackson, Wyoming – had a final surprise for us.

The town itself was only incorporated in 1914 (and today has a population under 10000!) and yet in the town square there is a war memorial which includes names from World War One.

Being on holiday I didn’t investigate the names too much but since we’ve been home I’ve looked into it more and discovered that American Memorials can honour all who served not just the dead and that the team looking after Jackson’s memorial are very dedicated and still adding to the people remembered on the statue.

Being curious I’ve looked into WW1 casualties from the area more and just 129 fatalities from the entire state are recorded for Wyoming during this conflict. 11 of these men died in November 1918, and sadly two died after the Armistice was signed (Pte. George W Hughes, 1st Class and Pte. Louis Lourand) – without more research I can’t say if these are Jackson men but I can feel some more research coming on over the winter!

 

Remembering Wilfred George Lake

The team from Wood Norton have shared some more research with us about a man appearing on their war memorial but while they’ve found out lots about Wilfred George Lake if anyone help tell the stories of his siblings it would be wonderful.

WILFRED GEORGE LAKE

Wilfred George Lake was the youngest son of William and Mary Ann Lake, born in Wood Norton and baptised on the 12th April 1896 at All Saints, Wood Norton (see Figure 1).[1]

Continue reading

War Memorials in South Norfolk

Following on from our recent call for help regarding War Memorials in the county, Sally one of our county librarians has sent this piece to us.

Almost every parish in Norfolk has some form of monument as a memorial to the fallen of the parish; men who lost their lives in World War 1.  These monuments are the focus for annual commemorations on November 11th each year and are often tended by local groups. Most parish councils took responsibility for erecting a memorial to ‘The Fallen’ after the war although it may have been paid for by public subscription and erected on land donated by wealthy individual landowners. On occasion the landowner, squire or lord of the parish would pay for a memorial, such as the impressive column at Elveden near Thetford.

Elvedon Memorial (image from Wikimapia)

As the centenary of the outbreak of WW1 approached in 2014, many parishes looked again at these memorials. Some, such as at Diss, found that there were names missing from the memorials of soldiers who should have been honoured. The Diss memorial was inscribed with the missing names and re-dedicated in 2014.

Diss War Memorial (image from Diss Parish Chirch http://www.dissparishchurch.org/WarMemorial.html)

In Harleston Ruth Walton, a local historian, decided to research and publish a book about the lives of the men commemorated on the town memorial. This research uncovered sad stories behind the carved names; the Borrett family from Wortwell lost three sons within seven months in 1917; Frederick aged 29 died in Mesopotomia in April 1917, John aged 31 died in France in July and Stanley aged just 22 who was also killed in France in  October. Another son, Thomas, was serving as a stoker in the Royal Navy and had been interned in Belgium in 1914 after the fall of Antwerp. He came through the war safely and returned to Norfolk. As seems to have happened quite often these brothers are commemorated on both the Harleston and Wortwell memorial.

Ruth Walton’s book We Will Remember; the lives of the Harleston men who fought and died in two world wars is available in Norfolk libraries.

The Waveney Valley Community Archaeology group dedicated time to researching ‘hidden’ memorials in the Waveney Valley: those “more discrete and personal memorials to losses suffered by our communities.” These can take many forms from the rededication of a hall or other local amenity, to the keeping of a Roll of Honour or ‘Flanders Cross’ within the parish church. The group’s website www.waveneyarchaeology.org states that hidden memorials may ”also include street names and street signs, parks, hospitals and bowling greens as well as smaller items of ephemera. Many of these less formal memorials now lie overlooked and unrecorded, with their significance forgotten to the wider population and their loss remains a very real threat.”

If you have completed research in to any aspect of WW1 in your community please do consider sharing the information with us so we can share your research with our readers.

A tour of some of Australia’s War Memorials

We’ve just been sent this lovely piece from one of our blog readers who took a trip to Australia earlier in the year.

The tour began in Melbourne, Victoria, with a visit to the Shrine of Remembrance set among the lush and beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens. 114,000 Victorians enlisted in the First World War. Of the 89,000 of them who served abroad 19,000 were killed. They were buried in distant graves far from home at a time when most Australians did not travel abroad. The Shrine provided a place where Victorians could grieve as individuals, as families or as a community. It also served to honour the courage of the men, women and children who remained at home.

The shrine was built by public subscription at a time of considerable national hardship in Australia as in Britain. The inspiration for the external outline came from one of the seven wonders of the ancient world – the mausoleum at Halicarnassus to Mausolus, King of Caria in South West Asia Minor. It was opened by the Duke of Gloucester in November 1934 in front of a crowd of  300,000.

The Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne

The shrine is equally spectacular inside, but achieves a profound sense of calm conducive to remembrance of the ANZACs who gave their lives in two world wars and in subsequent conflicts.

The great vault of the Shrine of Remembrance open to the sky

Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) was formed in December 1914 and was heavily engaged in the disastrous British-led campaign in the Dardanelles. Otherwise known as the Gallipoli campaign, the very word has a deep resonance for Australians. In keeping with the composition of the ANZAC, the flags of Australia and New Zealand hand vertically facing each other inside the shrine.

The flags of Australia and New Zealand within the Shrine

James Lawson was born in Halifax, Yorkshire and went to Australia in 1905. On 20 August 1914, just weeks after the outbreak of war, he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and was commissioned second lieutenant in the 4th Light Horse Regiment. He served first on Gallipoli and later in Sinai and Palestine. In May 1917 he was promoted major and placed in command of A Squadron. On 31 October 1917 Lawson’s squadron, and another from the 12th Light Horse Regiment, led the charge at Beersheba. Lawson’s regiment later took part in the capture of Damascus led by General Allenby in September 1918. He returned home in January 1919 and lived out his life in Wimmera, Victoria, a modest but much admired and respected citizen.

major James Lawson, 4th Australian Light Horse Regiment
in the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, Vic.

Sergeant James Offord of Bendigo, Victoria, enlisted in the 4th Light Horse Regiment and served in the Sinai-Palestine campaign, and was awarded the Military Medal. He made a souvenir of a Turkish flag after the battle of Beersheba, 31 October 1917.

Turkish Flag from Beersheba in the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, Vic.

Also in the Shrine is one of the only two landing craft to survive from Gallipoli: the other is at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

A Gallipoli landing craft

 

Troops of the Australian 4th Battalion landing at Anzac Cove, 25 April 1915
Public Domain image : Australian War Memorial, ID Number: P00035.001

Northwards into upstate Victoria and  seemingly every city, town and village has its war memorial, always lovingly cared for and usually surrounded with trees and flowers. In Bendigo, the domed war memorial lies a few hundred metres from the cenotaph. Bendigo’s wealth came from the Victorian gold rush of the 1850’s and the town centre is a filled with elegant buildings from that time and later.

Bendigo, Victoria: The War Memorial and Cenotaph

At the end of World War One, the small rural community of Tooborac raised £600 by public subscription to remember the seventeen soldiers who did not return. The memorial consists of a granite column with a white marble figure of a soldier standing to attention.

Three views of the War Memorial at Tooborac, Victoria

On the Murray River, which forms the border between Victoria and the state of New South Wales, lies the town of Echuca. It was once a thriving trans-shipment point for the steam-driven paddle steamers bringing cargo hundreds of miles up the river from the sea near Adelaide. It is now a flourishing tourist centre and a welcoming place to visitors from England. Here, the memorials to the men who fell in the South African wars, as well as the two world wars and later conflicts, are grouped together outside the quiet  of the public library against a backdrop of the gum trees along the river. The memorial remembers all those from the Echuca District who went to fight, not only those who did not return.

The War Memorials at Echuca, Victoria

The Australian War Memorial in Canberra is the national memorial. It stands elevated on the slopes of Mount Ainslie and lies in ceremonial alignment with the old and new Commonwealth Parliament Buildings across Lake Burley Griffin.

The Australian War Memorial, Canberra, viewed looking up Anzac Parade, and the view from the Memorial to the Parliament buildings.

On a sunny Sunday morning walking up Anzac Parade the temperature is 30°C, the air is dry, clear and fragrant with the smell of eucalyptus, Holy Communion is being taken nearby in the Anglican church of St. John the Baptist, and all is peaceful and quiet. Anzac Parade is lined with memorials that capture the eye and the camera.

The Mounted Memorial shows Australian and New Zealand Army horse riders in action. The horse of the New Zealander on the right has been injured or shot, and the rider is falling to the ground; the rider on the left is supporting his mate. The original memorial stood in Port Said, Egypt, but was badly damaged in 1956 during the Suez Crisis. This is a replica unveiled in 1968.

The original memorial bore this inscription: ‘Erected by their comrades and the governments of Australia and New Zealand in memory of the members of the Australian Light Horse, the New Zealand Mounted Rifles, The Imperial Camel Corps and the Australian Flying Corps who lost their lives in Egypt, Palestine and Syria 1916 – 1919’

The Mounted Memorial on Anzac Parade, Canberra

The Australian War Memorial is a place of remembrance, a museum and an archive. It contains the Tomb of the Australian Unknown Soldier. The heart of the commemorative area is the Hall of Memory, a tall domed chapel with a small floor plan in the form of an octagon. In front of the Hall of Memory is a narrow courtyard with a memorial pool surrounding an eternal flame and flanked by sidewalks and shrubbery, including plantings of rosemary for remembrance.

The Hall of Memory, Australian War Memorial, Canberra

Above the courtyard to either side are long cloisters containing the Roll of Honour, a series of bronze plaques naming the 102,185 Australian servicemen and women killed in conflict or on peacekeeping operations. The plaques include names dating back to the British Sudanese Expedition, the Second Boer War, and the Boxer Rebellion. The entire long wall of the west gallery is covered with the names of the 66,000 who died in World War I. The east gallery is covered with the names of those who died in World War II and conflicts since.

A section of the West Gallery with the names, but not the ranks of the 66,000 Australians who were killed during World War One. Australian War Memorial, Canberra

Plans to honour an unknown Australian soldier were first put forward in the 1920s, but it was not until 1993 that one was at last brought home. To mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the First World War, the body of an unknown Australian soldier was recovered from Adelaide Cemetery near Villers-Bretonneaux in France and transported to Australia. After lying in state in King’s Hall in Old Parliament House, the Unknown Australian Soldier was interred in the Hall of Memory on 11 November 1993. He was buried in a Tasmanian blackwood coffin, on which were placed a bayonet and a sprig of wattle. Soil from the Pozières battlefield in France was scattered in his tomb.

Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier
Australian War Memorial (www.awm.gov.au/visit/hall-of-memory/tomb/)

Among the many displays in the museum are the paintings of George Lambert. Lambert served as an official war artist in Sinai-Palestine and was a member of the Australian Historical Mission that went back to Gallipoli in 1919. During this period he recorded, in hundreds of small oil and watercolour studies, the landscapes in which Australians fought and the details of their everyday lives.

A Sergeant of the Australian Light Horse by George Lambert. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

He later undertook larger commissions, one of the most famous of which is ‘The Charge of the Australian Light Horse at Beersheba’, which captures some of the drama and chaos of the 4th Light Horse Brigade’s thunderous charge on the Turkish trenches south of Beersheba on the late afternoon of 31 October 1917.

Detail from The Charge of the Australian Light Horse at Beersheba 1917 by George Lambert
Australian War Memorial, Canberra

Onward to Sydney, by train through rural Victoria and New South Wales. On an overcast and humid Australia Day (26 January – the date on which the First Fleet arrived at Sydney Cove in 1788), the ANZAC Memorial in Hyde Park did not look at its best. The reflecting pool struggled in its greyness to reflect the pink marble cladding of the Art Deco memorial.

The ANZAC Memorial, Sydney

…and with better lighting conditions and a far more competent photographer:

ANZAC Memorial, Sydney

The interior is largely faced in white marble, and features a domed ceiling adorned with 120,000 gold stars – one for each of New South Wales’ military volunteers during World War I.

However, the centrepiece of the interior is the monumental bronze sculpture of a deceased youth, representing a soldier, held aloft by a caryatid comprising three female figures, representing his mother, sister and wife. There are two allusions which strike one when first seeing the figure: the Spartan mother’s farewell injunction to her son to uphold Spartan values of bravery as he went to war, “[Return] either with it [your shield] or on it”. A hoplite could not escape the field of battle unless he tossed away the heavy and cumbersome shield. Therefore losing one’s shield implied desertion and cowardice. The youth in the ANZAC Memorial returned dead, carried on his shield, and hence, brave. His arms are extended along a sword in the manner of Christ crucified, and one is reminded of the three women who tended Christ after his decent from the Cross.

‘Sacrifice’ by George Rayner Hoff, the centrepiece of the ANZAC Memorial, Sydney
With thanks to: sydneyemeraldcity.blogspot.co.uk/ – my photograph is terrible!

‘This is the central motif of the Memorial’s design. … Thousands of women, although not directly engaged in war activities, lost all that was dear them – sons they had borne and reared, husbands, fathers of their children, friends, lovers. … There was no acknowledgement of them in casualty lists of wounded, maimed and killed. They endured all men’s sacrifice quietly. In this spirit I have shown them, carrying their load, the sacrifice of their menfolk. … Sacrifice is a shift away from the rhetoric of honour, glory and manly deeds manifested in earlier memorials – Hoff had seen too much of war to glorify it. From the AWM website.

Four white marble panels inside the memorial appear almost as regimental standards bearing Australian battle honours for the First World War, including the largely forgotten (in Britain) battle of the Cocos Islands, the Royal Australian Navy’s first victory at sea on 9 November 1914.

A visit to some of the war memorials of Australia (and New Zealand) remind us that 1914-1918 was indeed a World war.

Detail of the war memorial at Oamaru, South Island, New Zealand, visited in 2004
nzhistory.govt.nz/media/photo/oamaru-war-memorial

Unless a URL is quoted, the photographs are those of the writer and may be freely used for non-commercial purposes, with an acknowledgement to the Norfolk in World War One blog: https://norfolkinworldwar1.org/ (the images have been reduced in size/quality for publication on the Internet and higher resolution ones can be shared on request.