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Exhibition to tell of the time when South Creake marched to war

SOUTH CREAKE FIRST WORLD WAR 
                   
Barbara Allen (left) and Brenda Cooper examine photographs of the South Creake men who survived the first world war ANL-140320-085015001

SOUTH CREAKE FIRST WORLD WAR Barbara Allen (left) and Brenda Cooper examine photographs of the South Creake men who survived the first world war ANL-140320-085015001

The call to arms was a great leveller for the men of South Creake, who fought in the First World War.

Their ranks included the son of a rat catcher, a gypsy and members of those considered the landed gentry.

That is only one bit of the mass of information that two researchers in the village, Barbara Allen and Brenda Cooper, turned up when they began their task of putting together information on the lives of those in the village who either died or returned battle-scarred from that war.

Their results will form an exhibition which will open in St Mary’s parish church on Sunday August 3, the anniversary of the day Britain declared war on Germany.

Collating material that was nearly 100 years old was difficult enough but they came across an added challenge: they were surprised to find their efforts hampered by the Germans more than 20 years after the 11 November Armistice in 1918.

“Many service records stored in London were wholly are partially destroyed by the Germans during the Blitz,” said Mrs Allen.

“It’s made our research very challenging,” added Mrs Cooper.

They have now spent more than six years piecing together the lives of the 26 men who died and the 87 who returned in an effort to prepare the exhibition in time for the anniversary.

“There will be a special commemorative service in the church on the day the exhibition opens, followed by a walk to the war memorial where flowers will be laid before we go on to the shell of the Pavilion being built on the playing fields for an initial blessing and dedication service,” said Mrs Allen.

The pavilion, which it is hoped will be opened before Christmas, replaces the War Memorial Institute which was given to South Creake by a local businessman in 1920 to serve as a village hall.

The advent of the internet and websites such as Ancestry. co. uk have proved to be a boon.

Through such resources they have obtained copies of military records – some charred – that survived the Blitz, War Graves Commission records and the 1911 Census.

“We’ve compiled a record book of the 26 who died and have a photograph of all but one of them,” said Mrs Allen.

The thick book, comprising individual biographies and facsimiles of various records, is called: Roll of Honour – The Men of South Creake who died in the Great War 1914 -1918.

That missing image is a Solomon Frank Lewis who is known to have joined the Royal Navy before emigrating to Canada where he became a sergeant in the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force.

He died on 9 November 1917 and is buried in Belgium.

“Although a huge amount is known about his family – none now live locally and most of them also ended up in Canada – we haven’t been able to track down a photograph,” said Mrs Allen.

More than 90 years ago a framed pictorial record of the 87 who returned from the war was put together but the compiler never thought to include names on the backs of each of the small, mostly sepia-coloured photographs.

It hung in the War Memorial Institute for many years but now, slightly faded, is in the parish church.

“We know the names of all those who returned and we’ve got an enormous amount of information on them but so far we have only been able to identify 30 of the photographs and we are hoping that people who visit the church might be able to help with the identification of more of them.

“They could either contact us or leave a note in the church,” said Mrs Allen.

They have a second photograph of one mystery ‘returner’ and their hope is that it might provide them with an answer.

He is in the middle of a group of three men believed to have a connection with Sculthorpe.

“If we can discover who the other two men are that might lead to his name,” said Mrs Allen.

“With many of those who returned we are almost starting from scratch,” added Mrs Cooper.

Anyone with any information can contact Mrs Allen by telephone on 01328 823269, or by email: morleysfarm@afiweb.net.

 

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