DCSIMG

Cards tell story of Docking’s war

John Smith against a backdrop of comic cards, published in their thousands, which helped keep up the spirits of the British public during the darkest days of the First World War ANL-140508-171445001

John Smith against a backdrop of comic cards, published in their thousands, which helped keep up the spirits of the British public during the darkest days of the First World War ANL-140508-171445001

An exhibition has opened in Docking on the First World War featuring a rare picture of a solider who went on to become a hero in a later conflict.

At the exhibition in the Ripper Hall, there is a display of some 1,000 postcards, cigarette cards, books and other memorabilia relating to the Great War.

Pride of place goes to a picture of Simon Lovat, later the 15th Lord Lovat, aged four, sitting with an unknown friend, on Hunstanton Recreation Field in 1915.

In the Second World War, Lovat, by then a brigadier, instructed his personal piper, Bill Millin, to pipe the commandos of his Special Services Brigade ashore up Sword Beach during the D Day landings in defiance of army orders.

The incident was immortalised on film in the 1962 cinema epic, The Longest Day, in which actor, Peter Lawford played Lovat.

The 14th Lord Lovat, Simon’s father, had close relations with Hunstanton and in 1915, as head of the Lovat Scouts, he came to the town to both to help protect the coast and for training purposes.

The officers were billeted in the big houses in the town and the other ranks in the town halls at Hunstanton and Heacham and in a large marquee in Park Road.

Lovat was also responsible for the construction of a network of 100-year-old trenches, used to train his men, recently found in Dreamy Hollow, a wood close by the CITB’s site at Bircham Newton.

Although the Lovats figure prominently in the exhibition it is far more than just about one family.

The organiser, John Smith, said: “This exhibition is primarily for children doing World War One projects.”

This year he has has been to the Somme three times and Ypres twice and found the experience incredibly moving. He said: “I was so impressed by schoolchildren who left wreaths at the graves of servicemen.

“They arrived in enormous numbers.”

The exhibition itself shows only too clearly that both civilians and service personnel made fun of adversity: joking not moaning about things such as food shortages or the constant threat of lice in the trenches.

Mr Smith said this was vital. “I believe it helped 
the British survive,” he 
explained.

Mr Smith said that the 
exhibition is only part of two 
research projects he is working on.

One is to discover more about the Lovat visit to the town in 1915 and the second to learn more about the descendants of the many Belgium refugees who flooded into the area in order to avoid the German invaders of their country .

“There were 700 in King’s Lynn alone,” he said.

He would like information on these visitors and can be contacted by email at 
Jsmithhunstanton@aol.com or by telephone: 01485 532908.

The exhibition at Docking’s Ripper Hall is open from Friday to Monday each weekend in August and closes on Monday, September 1; it is open 10am-4pm.

 

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