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

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



Images from the archives

1919 Great Yarmouth, children from Nelson School attending a ‘Peace Tea’

This is just one of several hundred newly digitised original photographs, posters and notices connected with the First World War in Norfolk. The material is held in the collections of the Norfolk Heritage Centre, Norfolk Record Office and Norfolk Museums Service and are posted on http://www.picture.norfolk.gov.uk/ (the online picture archive run by Norfolk County Council Library and Information Service).

Remembering Charles Dew

With many thanks to the Wood Norton Remembers project for this post, As ever if you or your local history group have any research to share please do get in touch.


Born:              5th February 1899, Framingham Pigot[1]

Enlisted:         5th February 1917 (called up), Norwich – 17th Battalion Royal Fusiliers (Private 75229) [2]


 Died:               21st December 1918 – Wood Norton[3]

Age:                19

Memorial:       Buried in Wood Norton churchyard

Medals:          British War Medal;      Victory Medal;             Silver War Badge[4]     Residence:     The Lodge, Wood Norton[5]


Charles Dew was born on the 5th February 1899, the son of Thomas George and Ann Elizabeth Dew.  He was baptised on the 14th May 1899, in Framingham Pigot parish church (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Extract from the Framingham Pigot Baptisms, 1899


Whilst the British Army WW1 Service Records 1914-1920 do not appear to have survived for Charles, his WW1 Pension Records have.[6]  These records note that he was 5’ 2” tall, his occupation was ‘motor driver’, and he lived with his family at The Lodge, Wood Norton.  This was the lodge to Wood Norton Hall, so Charles may, therefore, have been employed as a driver at the Hall before he was called up.

He served in a variety of units.  On call up (5th February 1917) he was posted to the 29th Reserve Battalion (Royal Fusiliers), then moved to the 255th Infantry Battalion, then to the 52nd Battalion (Reserves, Royal Fusiliers).  There was a spell in the Royal West Surrey Regiment (between December 1917 and February 1918), and then a move to the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) on the 18th February 1918.  On the 20th February 1918 he joined the 17th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers and was posted to France, but this overseas service was short-lived – just a couple of months from the 18th February 1918 to the 29th March 1918.[7]

Charles was wounded in action at Cambrai on the 22nd March 1918.  In his Medical Report form (dated stamped 4th October 1918), it is reported that:

States he was hit on R. Arm by shrapnel piercing the muscles in middle 1/3 of Arm.  Was sent to 2nd Canadian Hosp near Boulogne & later transferred to England 2nd Gen Western Manchester.

The 2nd Canadian Hospital was the first of a series of Canadian base hospitals along the French coast between Boulogne and Dieppe.[8]  The 2nd Western General Hospital, located in Manchester and surrounding towns became the largest military hospital in the UK.[9]


The Medical Report form concludes with the opinion of the medical board, noting that the injury was a ‘through and through’ gun-shot wound:

G.S.W. Right Upper Arm (T&T) March 1918.  Unable to fully extend or flex R. arm.  Considerable atrophy of muscles of R forearm & hand.  Loss of sensation over little finger & under side of ring finger.  Scar 2 inches long inner border of R biceps.  Oblique scar 2 inches over part of biceps.

It was further noted that the disability was likely to last for 12 months, and that this ‘temporary’ disability was assessed at 50%.  After being wounded in action Charles was transferred to the 6th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers on the 13th August 1918, a Reserve Battalion based in Carrickfergus, Ireland.  It was from this regiment that he was discharged on the 2nd October 1918 under the King’s Regulations 392 (xvi)(a) K.R. Wnds [Wounds], surplus to military requirements (having suffered impairment since entry into the service), with a 60% pension for a six month period (until the 8th April 1919).  He was awarded the Silver War Badge (number 472163) on the 28th April 1920 (see Figure 2).[10]

Figure 2 : Medal Roll index card for Charles Dew

Sadly, just over two months after being discharged from the army, Charles died at home on the 21st December 1918, aged 19.  His death certificate records the cause of death as (1) pneumonia and (2) influenza.  He was buried in Wood Norton churchyard on the 24th December 1918; his headstone bears the inscription One of the Heroes.

Whether his death was as a result of the ‘Spanish Flu’ pandemic is not known, but the outbreak of the disease in the UK reached its peak at the end of the war, brought home (it is thought) by those servicemen returning from the trenches in Northern France.  Young adults were particularly affected and the disease progressed quickly in those cases, rapidly developing into pneumonia.[11]

Further research into Charles’s family reveals that his father, Thomas George Dew, was born in 1864 in Salthouse, the son of George Valentine and Martha Ann Dew (nee Bunn).[12]  Thomas married Ann Elizabeth Platten, the daughter of George and Charlotte Platten,  on the 31st May 1886, in Kelling parish church.[13]   He died on the 15th January 1937, aged 72, and is buried in Wood Norton.[14]  Ann Elizabeth Platten was born in 1868, in County Durham.[15]  She died in 1944, aged 76, and is buried in Wood Norton.[16]

The 1911 census for Wood Norton[17] records that Thomas (aged 46, and a game keeper) and Ann had eight children, with the three youngest living at home:

Name Born Died
Martha Ann 1897, Kelling.[18]

In the 1911 census, Martha is aged 23, married, and living in Hellington (Burgh Apton).[19]  She married Arthur Brookes in 1908.[20]

1956, Hellington (Burgh Apton) with a recorded age of 67.[21]
George Thomas 16 June 1890, Spennymoor, Durham.[22]

In the 1911 census, George is aged 20 and a farmworker, living with his widowed grandmother, Martha Ann Dew, in Holt.[23]

26th December 1969, Foulsham Road, Wood Norton, aged 79.[24]
James * 23rd August 1892, Letheringsett.  Baptised 27th March 1898, Framingham Pigot.[25]

In the 1911 census, James is aged 18 and a ‘Puller”, living with his uncle, William Dew, in Annfield Plain (Durham).[26]  James served in WW1, and married Sarah Kate Preston in 1921.[27]

1967, Yelverton, aged 74.[28]
Rose Born 28 October 1894.  Baptised 9th December 1894, Kelling.[29]

In the 1911 census, Rose is aged 16, and a parlour maid for the Norris family.[30]  She married Sidney Herbert Myhill on the 29th November 1915, in Wood Norton parish church.[31]

1981, aged 87.[32]
Beatrice Jane * 8th March 1897, Framingham Pigot.  Baptised 27th March 1898, Framingham Pigot.[33]

In the 1911 census, Beatrice is aged 14 and living with family relatives (Rose Hannah McCormick, nee Platten) in South Wales.[34]  Beatrice married Joseph Shipley on the 16th September 1925, in Wood Norton parish church.[35]

1960, aged 62.[36]
Charles 5th February 1899, Framingham Pigot.

In the 1911 census, Charles is aged 12, and at school.

21st December 1918, Wood Norton.
Grace Charlotte 11th June 1901, Framingham Pigot.  Baptised 13th April 1902, Framingham Pigot.[37]

In the 1911 census, Grace is aged 9, and at school.[38]

12th May 1969, Hoe (Dereham), aged 68.[39]
Walter Norton 3rd January 1910, Wood Norton.

Baptised 15th May 1910, Wood Norton.[40]  In the 1911 census Walter is aged 1.[41]  He married Agnes Wilde in 1936.[42]

1982, aged 72.[43]


*  James and Beatrice were baptised on the same day

James Dew is also recorded on the Wood Norton war memorial, as he served in WW1 (in the Suffolk Regiment and the Tank Corps) – he survived the conflict.

[1] FreeBMD, Quarter to March 1899, Henstead, Vol.4b, p.209 (www.freebmd.org.uk); Baptisms Register, 1899, Framingham Pigot (www.familysearch.org).

[2] UK, Silver War Badge Records, 1914-1920 (www.ancestry.co.uk); British Army WW1 Pension Records 1914-1920 (www.ancestry.co.uk).

[3] Transcript and Index to Wood Norton, Norfolk, Parish Registers, compiled by Keith and Shirley Howell (February 2000), Burials, 1918 (p.131).

[4] British Army WW1 Medal Roll Index Cards, 1914-1920 (www.ancestry.co.uk); UK, Silver War Badge Records, 1914-1920 (www.ancestry.co.uk).

[5] British Army WW1 Pension Records 1914-1920 (www.ancestry.co.uk).

[6] British Army WW1 Pension Records 1914-1920 (www.ancestry.co.uk).

[7] UK, WW1 Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920 (www.ancestry.co.uk).

[8] See http://www.royalmontrealregiment.com/no-2-canadian-stationary-hospital-first-canadian-unit-landed-in-france/.

[9] See http://rusholmearchive.org/rusholme-military-hospitals-1914-1918.

[10] UK, Silver War Badge Records, 1914-1920 (www.ancestry.co.uk).

[11] For more information see: https://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofBritain/The-Spanish-Flu-pandemic-of-1918/.

[12] FreeBMD, Quarter to December 1864, Erpingham, Vol.4b, p.75 (www.freenbmd.org.uk).

[13] Marriage Register, Kelling, 1886 (www.ancestry.co.uk).

[14] England and Wales, National Probate Calendar, (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966, 1973-1995 (www.ancestry.co.uk); Transcript and Index to Wood Norton, Norfolk, Parish Registers, compiled by Keith and Shirley Howell (February 2000), Burials, 1937 (p.132).

[15] FreeBMD, Quarter to March 1868, Durham, Vol.10a, p.269 (www.freebmd.org.uk).

[16] Transcript and Index to Wood Norton, Norfolk, Parish Registers, compiled by Keith and Shirley Howell (February 2000), Burials, 1944 (p.132).

[17] 1911 census, Wood Norton, (Schedule 158) (www.ancestry.co.uk).

[18] FreeBMD, Quarter to September 1897, Erpingham, Vol.4b, p.69 (www.freebmd.org.uk); 1901 census, Framingham Pigot (p.8) (www.ancestry.co.uk).

[19] 1911 census, Hellington (Schedule 62) (www.ancestry.co.uk).

[20] Marriage Register, Thursford, 1908 (www.ancestry.co.uk).

[21] FreeBMD, Quarter to March 1956, Norwich Outer, Vol.4b, p.913 (www.freebmd.org.uk).

[22] FreeBMD, Birth, Quarter to September 1890, Durham, Vol.10a, p.371 (www.freebmd.org.uk); 1901 census, Framingham Pigot, (p.8) (www.ancestry.co.uk); FreeBMD, Death, Quarter to December 1969, Norwich, Vol.4b, p.2037 (www.freebmd.org.uk).  The death record gives his date of birth as 16 June 1890.

[23] 1911 census, Holt (Schedule 255) (www.ancestry.co.uk).

[24] FreeBMD, Quarter to December 1969, Norwich, Vol.4b, p.2037 (www.freebmd.org.uk); Find a Will (https://probatesearch.service.gov.uk/#wills).

[25] Baptisms Register, Framingham Pigot, 1898 (www.ancestry.co.uk); 1901 census, Framingham Pigot (p.8) (www.ancestry.co.uk); FreeBMD Quarter to December 1892, Erpingham, Vol.4b, p.65 (www.freebmd.org.uk).

[26] 1911 census, Kyo (Durham) (Schedule 279) (www.ancestry.co.uk). His occupation may refer to either the coal mining, stonemason or joinery trades, given the employment of his uncle and cousins.

[27] FreeBMD, Quarter to December 1921, Aylsham, Vol.4b, p.282 (www.freebmd.org.uk).

[28] FreeBMD, Quarter to March 1967, Norwich Outer, Vol.4b, p.875 (www.freebmd.org.uk); Ancestry family tree (www.ancestry.co.uk).

[29] FreeBMD, Quarter to December 1894, Erpingham, Vol.4b, p.80 (www.freebmd.org.uk); 1901 census, Framingham Pigot (p.8) (www.ancestry.co.uk); Baptisms Register, Kelling, 1894 (www.ancestry.co.uk).

[30] 1911 census, Wood Norton (Schedule 153) (www.ancestry.co.uk).

[31] Transcript and Index to Wood Norton, Norfolk, Parish Registers, compiled by Keith and Shirley Howell (February 2000), Marriages, 1915 (p.102).

[32] FreeBMD, Quarter to September 1981, East Dereham, Vol.10, p.985 (www.freebmd.org.uk). The death record gives her date of birth as 28 October 1894.

[33] Baptisms Register, Framingham Pigot, 1898 (www.ancestry.co.uk); 1901 census, Framingham Pigot (p.8) (www.ancestry.co.uk).

[34] 1911 census, Rhondda (Schedule 28) (www.ancestry.co.uk).

[35] Transcript and Index to Wood Norton, Norfolk, Parish Registers, compiled by Keith and Shirley Howell (February 2000), Marriages, 1925 (p.104).

[36] FreeBMD, Quarter to March 1960, Newcastle upon Tyne, Vol.1b, p.69 (www.freebmd.org.uk).

[37] Baptisms Register, Framingham Pigot, 1902 (www.ancestry.co.uk); 1911 census, Wood Norton (Schedule 158) (www.ancestry.co.uk).

[38] 1911 census, Wood Norton (Schedule 153) (www.ancestry.co.uk).

[39] FreeBMD, Quarter to June 1969, Norwich Outer, Vol.4b, p.1999 (www.freebmd.org.uk).

[40] Baptisms Register, Wood Norton, 1910 (www.familysearch.org); 1911 census, Wood Norton (Schedule 158) (www.ancestry.co.uk).

[41] 1911 census, Wood Norton (Schedule 153) (www.ancestry.co.uk).

[42] FreeBMD, Quarter to December 1936, Norwich Vol.4b, p.448 (www.freebmd.org.uk).

[43] FreeBMD, Quarter to September 1982, Trafford, Vol.39, p.1700 (www.freebmd.org.uk).

Sapper Herbert Potter: Research inspired by one of our posts

Back in July 1916 as we commemorated the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme we shared the story of Corporal Harry Hazel and at that time a comment was left on the blog that added to this story:

I was very interested to read your account of Harry Hazel, and how on 7 June 1915 he enlisted at Norwich as Sapper 85550 in the 208th (Norfolk) Field Company of the Royal Engineers. On 25th March 1915 my Great Grandfather Herbert Potter enlisted in the same company as Sapper 84711, just 839 men before so they maybe knew each other?

Herbert was treated for shell shock on 16 August 1916 in the Pozieres / Bazentin-le-Petit area, but he survived the war returning to his work as a boot maker in Norwich where after short retirement he died peacefully in 1958 aged 76. Herbert was born in Norwich in 1881 but spent a lot his youth in Bethnal Green.

Mr Potter has recently been back in touch with us with some photos of his Herbert Potter and wonders if anyone can help him with his questions surrounding some photos that were found in his grandmother’s belongings… Continue reading

Scars of War – the men behind the graffiti 3

As promised last month here is some more information about the graffiti that inspired the Scars of War project that took place in West Norfolk this autumn.  We are very grateful to Kevin Hitchcock for all the research he has undertaken uncovering the fascinating stories behind the names.  This post is all about one man who left his mark, literally in the tower of King’s Lynn library.

Arden Burn

During WW1, there were a number of Yeomanry regiments based in King’s Lynn. They were tasked with protecting Norfolk from invasion. These were mounted regiments, keeping their horses on the Walks and Friars Field. With their proud traditions, these light Cavalry regiments left a lasting impression on the town. Most of the men were billeted in the homes of local people, some of which had their own sons, husbands and fathers away serving. Perhaps there are families that still have memories of these young men staying with them.

It’s therefore not surprising that many local young men chose to enlist and join these regiments which included the Berkshire Yeomanry, the Royal Buckinghamshire Hussars and The Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars. One of those men was Arden Burn.

Arden Burn’s graffiti on the tower

Continue reading

Scars of War – the men behind the graffiti 2

As promised last month here is some more information about the graffiti that inspired the Scars of War project that took place in West Norfolk this autumn.  We are very grateful to Kevin Hitchcock for all the research he has undertaken uncovering the fascinating stories behind the names.  This post is all about one man who left his mark, literally in the tower of King’s Lynn library.

Alexander Edward Lovegrove.

Alex Lovegrove was born in Oxford, the only child of Edward and Matilda. Edward was a Brewer’s agent and by 1901 the family was living in Caversham on the Oxfordshire-Berkshire border. At the age of 14, Alex was already in full-time work as a clerk and photographer for the John Warwick Motor and Cycle works, known for its famous Monarch cycles.

Alex had also found fame, he was an outstanding athlete. His exploits as a member of the Reading Athletics Club were reported in papers across the country at a time when athletics was still strictly amateur and, in an age, when to be famous, you had to be good at something! Continue reading

Scars of War – the men behind the graffiti 1

As promised last month here is some more information about the graffiti that inspired the Scars of War project that took place in West Norfolk this autumn.  We are very grateful to Kevin Hitchcock for all the research he has undertaken uncovering the fascinating stories behind the names.  This post is all about one man who left his mark, literally in the tower of King’s Lynn library.

Aubrey Cato
Born 1893, died October 1916 Somme.

Aubrey Cato was born in the quiet and picturesque Cotswold region of Oxfordshire. His father was a shepherd, his mother died when he was only a year old, perhaps due to complications caused by child-birth. Before the war he was living in Bampton and working as a farm labourer. Bampton is a small town now famous for being used as a film location for Downton Abbey. They were not a wealthy family and times were difficult for farm workers, but he would’ve been comfortable working with horses, and when war came, Aubrey volunteered to join his county Yeomanry, the Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars (QOOH). He did not join alone, his best friend and near neighbour, William Hudson joined too.

Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars cap badge (image Wikimedia)

Continue reading

Scars of War – the inspiration behind the project

As promised last month here is some more information about the graffiti that inspired the Scars of War project that took place in West Norfolk this autumn.  We are very grateful to Kevin Hitchcock for all the research he has undertaken uncovering the fascinating stories behind the names.  This post will explain the general history and the following ones will be the stories of just three of the men.

Scars of War – the graffiti

King’s Lynn Library was barely ten years old when hostilities broke out in 1914. Opened by Carnegie himself, the library was a source of great civic pride, its architecture forming a much-loved landmark that still attracts tourists to this day. Few, however, realise as they pass by the Library, that it holds a sad and poignant secret story that is only now being told.

King’s Lynn, the opening of King’s Lynn Public Library by Andrew Carnegie (image from Picture Norfolk)

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Scars of War reading 8

As promised here as some of the readings/research made in West Norfolk for the Scars of War project in the autumn of 2018, while most of the research for this  was undertaken by Lindsey Bavin, manager at the True’s Yard Fisherfolk Museum this piece was researched by Dr. B. Blades and we are very grateful to him for allowing us to publish this wonderful story.

The Olympian

In early October 2018, I visited the small village of Havrincourt, in the Pas-de-Calais in Northern France. An area rarely visited – even by modern battle field tourists to the Western Front – unlike the killing fields of the Somme some 20 miles to the south west, and Ypres 50 miles to the north.

Passing through the village, down a muddy track next to Havrincourt Wood, then along a rough grass path, and then in front of me was one of the smaller Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) military cemeteries: Grand Ravine Cemetery. Remote, surrounded by trees and ploughed fields, and disturbingly tranquil, Grand Ravine is beautifully kept, as are all are all of the graveyards, maintained by an army of CWGC gardeners and stonemasons.

Grand Ravine Cemetery

I had come to pay my respects to a man whose life and career I have been researching for nearly two decades. I found the headstone within a few seconds, and stood in silence. I took the all-important image of a memorial to one of the hundreds of thousands of men and women who had been killed in the Great War of 1914-19.

CWGC register for Grand Ravine


Before leaving the cemetery, I opened the small metal box containing the Visitors Book and Cemetery Register. The Visitors Book had not been signed for some five weeks. To my amazement, the previous entry referred to the very same man I had come to find, and was signed by a man with an identical surname to his. During the recent school summer holiday, members of the Dines family had travelled from their home in Wales to visit the grave of their great (and great-great) uncle Joseph. Someone they had never known in person, but who was clearly of great importance in this particular family’s sense of who they were and had been. Continue reading