Lottery grant helps West Norfolk school children tell the stories of villages’ war dead

Back, from left, Nicky Stockman, headteacher Alison Hughes and Gordon Phillips. Front, from left, Jessica Peel, nine, and Thomas Arnold, 10
Back, from left, Nicky Stockman, headteacher Alison Hughes and Gordon Phillips. Front, from left, Jessica Peel, nine, and Thomas Arnold, 10
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Three villages which lost dozens of men between them during the First World War are to have their stories told a century on, thanks to a schools’ research project.

Pupils from the schools in Magdalen, St Germans and Wimbotsham are working with local heritage experts to examine the lives of the 67 men from the three communities who were killed during the conflict.

The project has been backed by a £10,000 Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant, and the schools hope to present their work at an exhibition in Downham in December.

A total of 67 men across the three villages were killed during the conflict and the children began their work by noting the names of the dead from their respective war memorials.

The schools are members of a partnership led by executive headteacher Alison Hughes.

And she believes the project is crucial to helping this generation to understand the history of the conflict.

She said: “The children can trace things back to their own streets and it inspires their interest and enhances their learning.”

The project is making use of a number of archive sources, including copies of the Lynn News from the period, which are now held at our offices in Purfleet Street.

The schools are planning to attend remembrance services in their respective villages on Armistice Day, November 11.

An exhibition of the project’s findings will also be held at the Downham Town Hall on Tuesday December 2 at 7pm. The evening will include the singing of songs from the period.

And Gordon Phillips, one of the experts working with the schools, said they also want to hear stories of the conflict from local residents.

Among the tales they want to know more about is of the four men named Plaice who are listed on the war memorial in Magdalen.

It is believed that three of them were brothers and Mr Phillips said: “We would be particularly interested if anyone knows any more about them and if there are any Plaices left.”

He said they would invite any relatives who came forward to their forthcoming events.

Anyone who has information about the war’s impact on the villages that they would like to share can contact Magdalen Primary on 01553 810326, St Germans Primary on 01553 617246 or the Wimbotsham and Stow Community School on 01366 382336.