Bircham Newton trench mystery uncovered

The shooting down of the first Zeppelin is detailed in this drawing
The shooting down of the first Zeppelin is detailed in this drawing
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The mystery surrounding First World War practice trenches in Bircham Newton has been solved by an archivist.

John Smith says the network of trenches which were found on the Dreamy Hollow campsite were in fact dug by the the British Army unit the Lovat Scouts.

Mr Smith was able to solve the mystery thanks to a series of diaries from a man involved in the unit.

Landowners Nigel Day and Jonathan Burr have been trying to learn more about the trenches for some time and hoping to prove the connection during archaeological digs, which are planned to take place next year.

Mr Smith will be looking at the time spent in the Hunstanton area by the Lovat Scouts along with other aspects of the First World War during his exhibition, Let’m All Come which starts at Ripper Hall in Docking on Saturday, August 2.

Mr Smith said: “ I am not an expert on Nigel’s trenches but I know a lot about the people who dug them. Nigel has been trying to find out who dug the trenches and the fact is we have come up with authentic evidence. It is exciting.”

“I am 100 per cent sure that they were dug by the scouts.”

The Lovat Scouts unit was formed in 1899 by Lord Lovat for service in South Africa.

The unit was made up of Scottish gillies, stalkers and shepherds for their sharpshooting and field craft skills.

During the First World War, the Scouts saw action in Macedonia but spent some time in the early part of the war training in Hunstanton.

Mr Smith has been given a series of photographs and diaries detailing the scouts time in this area.

Mr Smith said: “The Lovat Scouts were a very special regiment.

“To find any photographs from the First World War era is almost impossible so it is good to have the nice collection I have of their time in Hunstanton.

“They came in April and left around August or September 1915.”

Mr Smith will also be looking at how an listening post in Hunstanton helped Sub-Lieutenant Reginald Warneford to become the first British pilot to take down a German Zeppelin in 1915.

The masts installed at the town picked up transmissions from three Zeppelins to their base in Belgium, which helped to raise the alarm early and help the pilots.

Mr Smith said: “Hunstanton did play a role in taking down the first one.

“It also picked up German navy signals coming from the fleet in Jutland.”

Mr Smith is putting the finishing touches to the exhibition, which will include a range of First World War postcards and cigarette cards along with wartime posters and a host of photographs.

He will also be looking at Edith Cavell, Belgian refugees along with military aircraft from the period and charity flags.

The exhibition opens this Saturday at 2pm. It will then be open to the public every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday throughout August and will finish on September 1.

The exhibition will be raising money for Royal British Legion funds.