The men commemorated on Ashwellthorpe's War Memorial are remembered here
Duty called and I went to war
though I'd never fired a gun before.
I paid the price for your new day
as all my dreams were blown away
from a poem for Remembrance Day "Remember Me (The Voice of the Dead" by Harry Riley
HARRY GEORGE BATEMAN aged 23. Service No. 114539. When he died he was a Private in the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles (Saskatchewan Regiment), 8th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Canadian Division.
Harry George Bateman was born in Ashwellthorpe on 15 November 1892 and baptised at All Saints, Ashwellthorpe on 26 August 1894, the son of George and Laura Ann Bateman nee Day. He was one of several children born to George and Laura Bateman and had sisters Anna Louise (1886) and Ethel (1888), and brothers Arthur Robert (1889), George Thomas (1891), Frederick Lloyd (1894), Leonard Day (1896), Herbert David (1911) and Percy William. George Bateman senior was a shopkeeper and baker at the Baker's Arms, The Street, Ashwellthorpe and later publican at the Kings Head, The Turnpike, Ashwellthorpe. He was also a Councillor on Ashwellthorpe Parish Council between 1912 and 1921 and its Chairman between 1912 and c. 1918.
Harry George Bateman had emigrated to Canada joining his older brother Arthur Robert who emigrated there in 1909. Harry was aged 22 years and 9 months and working as a stableman when he enlisted into the 9th Canadian Mounted Rifles, for the duration of the War, at Camp Sewell, Winnipeg, on 29 July 1915. He sailed with the 9th Regiment Canadian Mounted Rifles in November 1915 from St John, Nova Scotia to Plymouth and after further training, was taken on the strength of the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles in France on 29 January 1916.
He was first reported Missing and then Wounded in the Field between 2 and 5 June 1916 and then declared Killed in Action on 5 June 1916 during the Battle of Mount Sorrel. Harry George Bateman's memorial is at the Tyne Cot Cemetery situated between Passchendaele and Zonnebeke in Belgium, 9 kms north east of the town centre of Ieper (Ypres). He was awarded the British War and Victory Medals which were posthumously sent to his parents in 1921 and 1922.as well as the 1914/1915 Star.
PERCY WILLIAM BATEMAN aged 19. Service No. R/42665. [formerly TR/10/7252, 22nd T.R. Battalion]. When he died from his wounds on 10 August 1918, he was a Rifleman posted to the 9th & 2/9th Battalion, the County of London Regiment (Queen Victoria's Rifles) affiliated to the King's Royal Rifle Corps.
Percy William Bateman was born in Ashwellthorpe on 14 December 1898, the son of George and Laura Ann Bateman nee Day. He was one of several children born to George and Laura Bateman and had sisters Anna Louise (1886) and Ethel (1888), and brothers Arthur Robert (1889), George Thomas (1891), Harry George (1892), Frederick Lloyd (1894), Leonard Day (1896) and Herbert David born in 1911. George Bateman senior was a shopkeeper and Master Baker at the Baker's Arms in The Street, Ashwellthorpe and later publican at the Kings Head on The Turnpike. He was also a Councillor on Ashwellthorpe Parish Council between 1912 and 1921 and its Chairman between 1912 and 1918 at leas
He enlisted in Attleborough on a date as yet unknown and was sent to France where, between the 8 and 11 August 1918 the 9th Battalion Queen Victoria's Rifles, forming part of the 58th Division, were engaged in the Battle of Amiens. On the morning of 10 August 1918, an attack was made through Tailes Wood to reach the old Amiens Defence Line, capturing a battery of field guns, machine guns and much artillery equipment and ammunition. But 3 Officers and about 60 men of Queen Victoria's Rifles were killed
An obituary notice appeared in the Norfolk Chronicle of Saturday 21 September 1918 "Bateman on the 10th ult. PERCY WILLIAM BATEMAN of the London Regiment, Ashwellthorpe, aged 19". He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. Percy William Bateman's memorial is at the Beacon Cemetery, Sailly-Laurette, Somme, France - a village on the north bank of the River Somme about 19kms east of Amiens and 9 kms south-west of Albert.
LEONARD MAURICE COPEMAN aged 31. Service No. B/200423. He enlisted in Norwich. He was a Rifleman in the 12th Battalion the Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort's Own) and was killed in action on 20 September 1917.
He was born in Ashwellthorpe on 12 February 1886 and baptised at Ashwellthorpe Church on 22 July 1894, the son of Sarah Ann Alice Copeman. By 1901 he was working as a gardener for Lady Berners at Ashwellthorpe Hall. At this time, Leonard lived with his mother and step-father George Royall in The Street, Ashwellthorpe along with his other Royall step-brothers and step-sisters. At the 1911 Census, taken on 2 April, Leonard still lived with his mother and step-father, probably in a house next to the School House on The Street, along with his step-siblings and he worked as a Farm Labourer.
The 12th Battalion was raised at Winchester in October 1914 as part of Kitchener's Third New Army (K3) in the 60th Brigade, 20th (Light) Division) landing at Boulogne on 22 July 1915 but it is now known when Leonard Maurice Copeman enlisted. He was killed in action on 20 September 1917 during the third battle of Ypres, now usually known as the Battle of Passchendaele.
The 12th Battalion had been at Proven, together with the 10th and 11th Battalions, for training and recreation from 19 August following an attack on Eagle Trench, but on 8 September the 12th moved to a camp at Hull's Farm, the 10th and 11th nearby. Some more training continued there but the further attack on Eagle Trench by the Second and Fifth Armies was launched at 5.40 am on 20 September 1917; the 12th Battalion in the Front line of the 60th Brigade. This attack was to last until 23 September with 35 dead, 148 wounded and 28 missing from the 12th Battalion.
Leonard Maurice Copeman's memorial is at the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing, Panel 145 to 147, which forms the north-eastern boundary of the Tyne Cot Cemetery, situated between Passchendaele and Zonnebeke in Belgium, 9 kms north east of the town centre of Ieper (Ypres). He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
WILLIAM JOHN GEORGE died aged 32. Service No. 20467, 1st Battalion Essex Regiment, when he died having enlisted in Norwich; firstly a Private No. 17313 in the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Norfolk Regiment.
William John was born in Hapton on 3 June 1883, the youngest of several children born to Edward and Elizabeth George nee Abbs who had married in that village on 20 December 1873. William John George's older brother and sisters, all born in Hapton, were Elizabeth born about 1874, Harry Edward 16 February 1875, Sophia Anna 23 February 1877 and Alice 25 August 1880. On 31 March 1901, William John then aged 17 worked as an agricultural labourer and still lived with his mother Elizabeth in Ashwellthorpe Street, along with brother Harry who was a railway permanent way labourer; his mother Elizabeth died aged 60 in 1909. In 1911 William aged 27 and unmarried worked as a Farm Labourer and was in the house headed by his older brother Harry who still worked as a railway labourer with the Great Eastern Railway. They were looked after by sister Sophia as their Housekeeper.
After the outbreak of war, William John George enlisted in Norwich as a Private in the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, The Norfolk Regiment. This Battalion, always a training unit was formed in Norwich and then moved to Felixstowe, Suffolk in August 1914 and remained there for the duration of the War, but in July 1915 the 3rd Battalion Norfolk Regiment at Harwich was asked to find volunteers to reinforce the 1st Essex in Gallipoli. This was probably the time William John George joined the Essex Regiment as he certainly entered into the Balkans Theatre of War on 17 July 1915.
The 1st Battalion Essex Regiment were in the front line against the Turkish trenches near Krithia from 5 August 1917 and by the morning of 7 August had suffered 50 men killed, 202 wounded and 180 missing.
William John George was killed on 6 August 1915 and his memorial is at Twelve Tree Copse Cemetery Helles, about 1km south west of the village of Krithia, on the south-western tip of the Gallipoli Peninsula. A special memorial, number C.236, commemorates him in this cemetery. He was awarded the British War Medal, Victory Medal and 1915 Star.
EDGAR JAMES GOOSE aged 33. Service No. 19427. He enlisted in Norwich, his Service Number suggesting that he probably enlisted in December 1915 or January 1916. He was a Private in the 2nd Battalion the Norfolk Regiment.
Edgar James Goose was born on 12 March 1883 and baptised on 29 July 1883 at Forncett St. Peter, the fifth child of nine of James & Mary Anne Goose nee Riches and he lived in Forncett St Peter, Wreningham and Ashwellthorpe during his childhood, attending both Wreningham and Ashwellthorpe schools. Edgar married Grace Emma Gibbs at Norwich Register Office on 28 January 1907 and after marriage they lived in Wacton where he was a Horse Team-man on a farm.
At the outbreak of the war, the 2nd Battalion was part of the 18th Indian Brigade, 6th (Poona) Division and sailed from Bombay on 6 November 1914 to Sanniya, Mesopotamia [the area between the Rivers Tigris and Euphrates in what is now Iraq.
Edgar James Goose was killed in action in the Persian Gulf on 22 April 1916 - his name is given in the list of those missing, killed in action etc. which appears in "The Siege of Kut-al-Amarah December 3 1915 to April 29 1916" in the Norfolk Regimental Museum. A 146 day siege on the town of Kut ended in surrender to the Turks on 29 April 1916. . He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal
Edgar Goose's memorial was at the Basra Memorial within the Basra War Cemetery in Iraq, Panel 10. (The Panel numbers relate to the panels dedicated to the Regiment served with). The Memorial consisted of a roofed colonnade of white Indian stone, 80 metres long, with an obelisk 16 metres high as the central feature. The names are engraved on slate panels fixed to the wall behind the columns. Until 1997 it was located on the main quay of the naval dockyard at Maqil on the west bank of the Shatt-al-Arab about 8 kms. north of Basra. The Basra Memorial in its entirety was moved by presidential decree in 1997 to a location 32 Kms along the road to Nasiryah, in the middle of what was a major battleground of the 1991 Gulf War. It has subsequently been subject to years of neglect.
Edgar Goose is also remembered on the Roll of Honour inside All Saints Church, Wactpn. as well as on the Wacton War Memorial.
ALBERT GEORGE GRIMMER aged 23. Service No. 504070. He enlisted in Saxlingham, when his place of residence was given as Shotesham, initially into the Norfolk Regiment, Service No. 1753.
Albert George Grimmer was born in Loddon on 23 June 1894 and baptised at the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel there on 23 September 1894, to Frederick and Sarah Ann Grimmer late Goate, nee Ling. He was one of several children born to Frederick and Sarah and had older siblings Charles William born in Alburgh in 1887, Gertrude Grace born in Bedingham in the winter of 1888, Rachel May born on 28 May 1891 also in Bedingham. He also had a younger sister Florence born in Loddon in 1896. Albert's parents moved to live in a house near Ashwellthorpe Church in 1915 but by the time Albert died in July 1917, they lived in Bridgham.
When Albert George Grimmer died on 12 July 1917, he was a Private in the 163rd Brigade, the machine Gun Corps (Infantry), which was formed on 1 May 1916 from the machine gun sections of the infantry battalions in the Brigade, i.e. the 1/4th Norfolks, the 1/5th Norfolks, the 1/5th Suffolks and the 1/8th Hampshires. After garrison duties in Egypt and the Suez Canal, they took part in the invasion of Palestine in 1917. The first battle of Gaza (Eastern Force) took place on 26 and 27 March and the second battle on 17 to 19 April 1917.
He was awarded the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the 1915 Star.
His memorial is in Egypt, at the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery, within the Old Cairo cemetery area some five kilometres s.e. of the City centre. The general cemetery area is on the south side of the road Salah Salem, which runs west/east from the River Nile towards the green park area approximately 2 kms beyond and eventually towards the Citadel. The cemetery is surrounded by a high wall and the double entrance gates are along Sharia Abu Safein.
ARTHUR JOHN HUNT aged 31. Service No. G/7197. He enlisted in Wymondham and was a Private in the 6th Battalion the Buffs (East Kent Regiment).
Arthur John Hunt was born in Ashwellthorpe on 31 January 1886, one of nine children, to farm labourer Charles Hunt of Ashwellthorpe and his wife Rachel. Charles Hunt married Rachel Land at Forncett St Peter on 29 April 1874 and they remained there until moving to Ashwellthorpe some time between 1877 and 1881. Arthur attended Ashwellthorpe School until 19 January 1898 and started work as an agricultural labourer.
He enlisted on 10 December 1915 and mobilised on 1 March 1916. His regiment was raised at Canterbury in August 1914 as part of Kitchener's Army and was part of the 37th Brigade, 12th Eastern Division which landed at Boulogne in June 1915. Arthur John Hunt embarked for France on 16 July 1916. After a period in the Somme district ending I August 1916 with a move northwards towards Arras, the Brigade returned to the Somme on 29 September 1916 and were in the front line on 6 October of what became known as the Battle of Transloy Ridges.
Arthur John Hunt was killed in action on 7 October 1916. He received the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. His memorial is at the Thiepval Memorial, Somme,
ERNEST EDWARD SQUIRES aged 36. Service No. 32922. He was a Private in the 11th Battalion the Suffolk Regiment.
He was born in Ashwellthorpe on 21 March 1881, the brother of Walter Robert Squires who was also to die during this war, to Sarah Ann Squires, and was baptised at Ashwellthorpe Church on 12 April 1885. He went to Ashwellthorpe School from 1885 until 25 March 1892 and when he left, he worked as a Haircleaner at a Brush Factory - possibly at SD Page & Sons in Lady's Lane, Wymondham. He married Amelia Cooper on 7 May 1906 at All Saints, Ashwellthorpe and lived in The Street, Ashwellthorpe before becoming a gardener to Major Frank Arthur Irby JP, of the Rifle Brigade and moving to the Gardener's House at Boyland Hall near Morningthorpe.
Ernest Squires was 34 years and 9 months old when he enlisted in Norwich on 11 December 1915 for the duration of the War, and was assigned to the Army Reserve on the 12th. He was not mobilised until 9 June 1916 and then posted to the 3rd Battalion the Suffolk Regiment the following day but remained in England until 21 March 1917, being awarded a Certificate as 1st Class Signaller on 10 February 1917. He was posted to the 15th Infantry Base Depot on 22 March and thence to the 8th Suffolks before embarking at Folkestone for Boulogne as part of the British Expeditionary Force, all on the same day. On 16 May 1917, in France, he was posted to the 11th Battalion but at Etaples on 17 May he was struck with appendicitis and he was admitted to No. 24 General Hospital, Etaples on 17 May. When his appendicitis became acute, he was posted back to England on 6 June. However, whilst in France he also contracted actinomycosis – a rare acute or chronic suppurative bacterial disease where the infection can spread through the body's tissue – and this led to his medical discharge in November 1917. He was awarded the the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
He returned to the Garden House at Boyland Hall as gardener but died from actinomycosis at the Norfolk War Hospital in Thorpe on 14 March 1918. He was buried at St Nicholas church in Fundenhall.
WALTER ROBERT SQUIRES aged 33. Service No. G/19802 and TF/315252. He lived in Chichester when he enlisted there . He was a Private in the 16th (Sussex Yeomanry) Battalion the Royal Sussex Regiment, which saw service in Egypt, Palestine and France.
He was born in Ashwellthorpe on 9 February 1885 and baptised on 12 April 1885 at All Saints, the younger brother of Ernest Edward who also died in this War, and son of Sarah Ann Squires. He went to Ashwellthorpe School from 16 September 1889 until finally leaving on 1 March 1897 when he started to work as a market gardener. He moved to Eastbourne in Sussex to work as a Coachman and married Louisa Marie Payne at St John's Church, Eastbourne, on 21 March 1911. They had a son Robert in 1912.
It is not known when Walter Robert Squires enlisted and whether he served in Egypt, but the 16th Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment sailed from Egypt on board the "Caledonia" on 1 May 1918 arriving at Marseilles on 12 May. This battalion was part of the 230th Brigade 74th (Yeomanry) Division which, from early September 1918, was at Haute Allaines on the Somme preparing for an attack on enemy positions forward of the Hindenburg Line. Walter's Battalion moved to the front line on 10 September and orders were received on 16 September for an attack to start on 18 September but for two hours on the night of the 1tth, the whole area was heavily shelled with mustard gas. Walter Squires was killed on this night.
He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. His memorial is in the Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension Ste Radego, Somme, France, Plot V.D. 4. He is commemorated on the Crowborough, Sussex War Memorial which is sited in front of All Saints Church, Chapel Green.
FREDERICK LEVI TUBBY aged 31. Service No. 18377. He enlisted in Norwich on 20 January 1915 and was a Private in the 7th Battalion the Norfolk Regiment.
Frederick Levi Tubby was born in Cawston on 5 January 1884 and baptised at St Agnes, Cawston, on 7 June 1884, one of six children of Arthur, a farm labourer, and Rhoda Tubby nee Ling. They had married at the Norwich Register Office on 8 November 1876 before returning to live in Cawston and then moving on to several villages before arriving in Ashwellthorpe from Morningthorpe in 1911.
Frederick married Harriett Elizabeth Marshall at the Register Office in Norwich on 26 November 1910 when he worked as a gardener, but by 1911 he and Harriett had moved to The Street, Ashwellthorpe where he was employed as a gardener. A son, Arthur Charles, was born to them in Ashwellthorpe on 12 June 1914 and Frederick was in Ashwellthorpe until he left for War service, and his wife Harriet and son Arthur remained until 1918.
In May1915, the 7th Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment formed part of the 35th Brigade of the 12th Division, and arrived at the Front on 4 July 1915 at Ploegsteer Wood but Frederick might not have been posted until 17 October 1915. By 3 March 1916 the 7th Battalion were at Noyelles and Vermelles. Frederick Levi Tubby was killed in action on the Somme the 3 March 1916 and his death is mentioned in "Regimental Recruiting or Militia & Volunteer Artillery District - Army Book 303 - List of Casualties" held by the Norfolk Regimental Museum - p. 80b - "18377 Pte 7th Tubby F. Killed in Action 3.3.16". He was awarded the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the 1915 Star Medal.
Frederick Levi Tubby's memorial is in the Vermelles British Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France. Vermelles is a village 10kms north-west of Lens.
ERIC FRANK BROWNE aged 23. Service No. 5778152. He was a Private in the 6th Battalion Royal Norfolk Regiment and died on 11 June 1943.
He was born on 1 April 1920 in Ashwellthorpe the son of Harold William and Olivia Constance Browne of New Road, Ashwellthorpe who had married at All Saints Church, Ashwellthorpe, on Christmas Day 1912. Eric Frank Browne went to Ashwellthorpe village school where he started on 15 September 1924 and after he left, he worked on the farm of Mr Muskett - Wood Farm, The Street, Ashwellthorpe - where he stayed until he volunteered.
It is not known when he volunteered but the 6th Battalion Royal Norfolk Regiment was mobilised at the Aylsham Road Drill Hall in Norwich at the outbreak of war and spent time on home defence duties around the coast of North Norfolk during 1940 before moving to Dumfries in January 1941 and then Knowsley Park, Liverpool in August that year undergoing training and awaiting an overseas posting. The 6th Battalion embarked on the troopship ss Duchess of Atholl on 27 October 1941 to sail firstly to USA and then via West Indies, Cape Town and Mombassa to arrive at Singapore Island on 13 January 1942. After initial battles with the Japanese troops, hostilities ceased on 15 February 1942 at 4.00 p.m. and Eric Frank Browne would have become a Prisoner of War.
Eric Frank Browne was probably in Changi on the east coast of Singapore Island from 17 February 1942 when the 6th Battalion reached the Barracks there. From June 1942, the captured men from all battalions of the Royal Norfolk Regiment became the work parties for the construction of the Rangoon to Bangkok railway. He went to mainland Malaya on 19 March 1943 as 150 men from the 6th Battalion were ordered to go to Siam to work on the railway and reached Takanum on 17 April that year – most of the work on the railway by the Royal Norfolk Regiment was completed by October 1943, but Eric Frank Browne died on 11 June that year. His memorial is at the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, Thailand, Plot 2, Row M, Grave 30. Kanchanaburi is 129 kilometres west north west of Bangkok and the Cemetery is situated in the north eastern part of the town along Saeng Chuto Road.
ERNEST THOMAS GOODRUM aged 22. Service No. 1280379. When he was killed on 21 August 1944, he was a Sergeant in the Roy attached to No. 37 Squadron Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
Ernest was born on 2 March 1922 the son of Thomas Ernest and Mildred Ruth Goodrum, the village blacksmith/carpenter up at Smithy Corner on the Turnpike. Ernest started at the Village School on 10 January 1927 attaining the top level of Standard VI in 1935, before leaving school on 8 April 1936 at the age of 14. In April 1998, Ernest's younger brother reminisced that his brother used to turn the wheel of the hand lathe in the old paint shop at the Smithy.
No. 37 Squadron made up the 231 Wing of No. 205 Group, along with No. 70 Squadron, Royal Air Force, part of the Mediterranean Allied Strategic Air Force and was based at Tortorella Airfield, one of many airfields in the Foggia Plain, Southern Italy.
At the time of his death, Ernest was the Wireless Operator on board a Wellington X Bomber with four other crew members - Flight Number LP 617"N" - which took off on the night of 20 August 1944, detailed to attack the Hermann Goering Nibelungen Werke at St Valentin, a large tank assembly plant for the Germans. Details of the sortie in the Operations Record Book reported that the aircraft got off track on return, landed at Naples, took off again immediately and crashed into a hill near Pomigliano about 10 miles north-east from Naples, en-route. All members of the crew were killed. All five crew were buried together at the Naples War Cemetery –Plot 1, Row E, Grave 15
ASHWELLTHORPE IN THE FIRST WORLD WAR - REMINISCENCE
This first appeared in the parish magazine in October 1989 when a villager reminisced about the First World War "Many people can recall 1939 and evacuees etc. How many can remember their first glimpse of a ZEP, as it indiscriminately discharged its hateful fire-bombs around here?
On a very chilly night the pheasants started their raucous calling, warning us of thunder (usually), but outside all seemed calm. The sky a deep blue, studded with millions of twinkling stars, and the Milky-Way quite clear. A throbbing hum broke the hush, and a huge torpedo shape was seen drifting slowly along the Milky-Way from the south, veering towards the east coast. Someone shouted "ZEPS! Indoors, quick" as, whoosh, several objects were floating down.
The bomb nearest Ashwellthorpe/Fundenhall was burnt out in the farmyard quite close to the house and horsepit of Gibraltar Farm. We saw the twisted metal remains, after Sunday School next morning.
Zeppelins were named after Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, the German Airship pioneer, 1838-1917."
EVACUEES On 11 September 1939 when Ashwellthorpe School re-opened after the Harvest holidays, there were nine evacuated children present, along with eighteen local children. Mr Godfrey was Master in charge of the evacuees who had come from Edmonton. Just before Christmas, Mr Godfrey went to teach in the Church Room at Tacolneston taking with him the two remaining Edmonton boys. When school re-opened in January 1940, there were fifteen local children with four government and three private evacuees joining them; two of the evacuees coming from Portsmouth – John and Brenda Crane.
In an item in The Edmonton County School Old Scholars Association Newsletter of Spring 2006, Dee Page (West) wrote
The day war broke out… I was of the generation who had just passed the scholarship exam and were looking forward to joining a new school, in my case Edmonton County. I had been at Raglan School for 4 years so when evacuation loomed my parents thought it better that I go with friends - so I ended up in Ashwellthorpe, Norfolk, and, with several friends, was billeted with a charming couple who owned a mill in nearby Wymondham. I remember going to the village church a couple of days after arriving and, in the middle of the service, the vicar announced that war had been declared - and I couldn't think why most of the adults were crying! We enjoyed village life but, after about 10 weeks at the village school, collecting eggs and milk from neighbouring farms, etc., Mr. Geary (the head of Raglan) decided that it wasn't particularly safe for 11 year-olds to cycle to Wymondham and then take a train to Diss, the nearest grammar school, so we returned home to Bush Hill Park
When school re-opened after the Harvest holidays on 11 September 1933, a further two evacuees from London were admitted.
HANDIWORK On 16 February 1940 the first parcel of comforts for the troops was despatched by the school – there were thirteen pairs of mittens and a balaclava. These comforts had been knitted chiefly by the boys in their Handiwork periods but also at home with money for the wool provided by the children.
In June that year, another parcel for the troops was despatched, this time containing eleven pairs of mittens and one pair of socks knitted by the boys and girls of the school. Also, during 1940, a patchwork quilt was sent from the School to the Billeting Officer in Wymondham for evacuees and two rugs made from knitted squares were sent to the Hospital Supply Depot in Norwich.
There was a cessation of imports of oranges and orange juice during the war so another source of Vitamin C was required, especially for children. The Ministry of Health initiated a Rosehip Collection plan in autumn 1941 for the public to collect rosehips, which are richer in Vitamin C than oranges, to send to processors to produce syrup. 200 tons of rosehips were collected in this year and rosehip syrup was on sale in chemists' shops from 1 February 1942. It was a continuing campaign as, at the beginning of October 1944, the children at Ashwellthorpe school had gathered 23 pounds of Rosehips which were taken to the Wymondham collection centre.
GAS MASKS Gas masks were issued to all children during the War as a precaution against attack by gas bombs; they came in a cardboard box with string attached to hang round the neck and were meant to be continuously carried. There were periodic gas mask inspections carried out at the school, the first two being in June and July 1942. In January 1943, a Mrs Darbyshire-Bowles from Gissing, about 11 miles from Ashwellthorpe, gave two Anti-Gas talks, firstly to the seniors and older juniors and then to the infants, and inspected the Gas Masks. Mrs Darbyshire-Bowles was the wife of the Rev. William Darbyshire-Bowles who was Rector of Gissing in 1939 until 1945; during the war she became County organiser of the Women's Voluntary Service and was part of the Women's Land Army organisers and Deputy First Aid Commandant for the Depwade area, part of the Civil Defence.
In March 1943, the Gas Van came to the school, with Mrs Darbyshire-Bowles and Mr Frost examining the children's gas masks and , all except one child, went into the van. The last gas mask inspection was carried out in February 1944, by the Air Raid Patrol Officer of the Southern Area, based in Attleborough.
What was a British Gas Van and what did it do in those days? Why did it visit schools? Someone might know, so please make contact if you can add any information.
GIFTS In the Spring Term of 1943, the School received a scrapbook from the Fairview School in Dayton, Ohio. How did this link happen? Perhaps it was through contact with the United States Air Force 389th Bomb Group Station 114 at Hethel, only about two miles away. In Spring 1993, I had a notice put in the 389th Bomb Group Newsletter asking for any information and contacted the Dayton and Montgomery County Public Library for any archive references – both to no avail.
In July that year, the Ashwellthorpe school children sent a scrapbook of the British Isles to the Dayton children, and these two gestures started a series of parcels being received by Ashwellthorpe School until well after the War had finished. Christmas gifts from Fairview were distributed in December 1943 and 1944 and nine year-old Elizabeth Bissell from Fairview sent her own parcel of gifts in 1944. During the Christmas school holidays of 1946, 1947 and 1948, parcels were received – one containing 5lbs of sweets and another with games etc. and each child received 3 gifts. 6 boxes of crayons and 4 pencils were kept for school use.
Lilian Hitchcock (Fisher) remembered her war years at the school when she came to live with her grandparents (Mr and Mrs Land) in New Road, Ashwellthorpe, to escape the doodlebugs in Croydon, Surrey. She wrote in 1994::
Lilian also mentioned that she went to a Christmas party at Hethel Aerodrome and what she remembered most particularly was telling her grandmother when she got home that she had eaten meat and jam on the same plate which, of course, "was something we had never heard of". The American airmen were very kind to the children giving plenty of sweets and chewing gum.