Blickling artist depicts First World War at Salthouse show

Artist Jessica Perry with her work at the Not Yet Dead Nearly exhibition at Salthouse church. 
Picture: ANTONY KELLY Artist Jessica Perry with her work at the Not Yet Dead Nearly exhibition at Salthouse church. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Friday, August 8, 2014
10:36 AM

The horrors of the First World War inspired by a soldier’s diary will be represented in a village art exhibition.

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Artist Jessica Perry is showing her work at the Not Yet Dead Nearly exhibition at Salthouse church. A photograph of her grandfather Private Sydney Roy Perry.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYArtist Jessica Perry is showing her work at the Not Yet Dead Nearly exhibition at Salthouse church. A photograph of her grandfather Private Sydney Roy Perry. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Not Yet Dead Nearly at Salthouse church runs until this Sunday and features work by Jessica Perry, 51, from Blickling, and Ruth Calland and Jonathan Waller from Walthamstow.

Mrs Perry, an art educational specialist, has created plaster cast panels representing war graves and mechanical birds and a wooden structure featuring excerpts from her grandfather’s 1918 Western Front diary.

Sydney Perry, originally from Cheshire, joined the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders infantry regiment and was sent to Belgium and France.

He worked with horses and carried water to and from the trenches, sometimes travelling up to 20km a day.

Extracts from Sydney Perry’s 1918 First World War diary

Friday, March 1: We are in reserve waiting for an expected attack by Fritz. Heavy wind all night. Wind and frost all day.

Monday, March 4: Dirty weather. Battalion digging a cable trench.

Monday, April 23: Fritz opened out heavy bombardment with gas shells at 2am and one came through the dugout. Went to hospital.

Wednesday, April 25: Battalion came out, are around 200 strong, about 300 casualties.

Wednesday, June 19: Batt advanced one mile, the other side retiring. 300 prisoners taken. 70 casualties.

Sunday, June 23, to Friday, June 28: Have some good times with the Australians.

Tuesday, May 7: Left at 9am. Heavy rain, soaking to the skin. Marched to Lumbres, 20 kilometres.

Thursday, May 16: Left Aguenhiem and marched to Lumbres, 26 kilometres, very hot day. Four days course of musketry.

Friday, March 1: We are in reserve waiting for an expected attack by Fritz. Heavy wind all night. Wind and frost all day.

Sunday, September 22: Big stunt coming off very soon and all preparations are being made, bags of artillery going up every night, the roads are cluttered with guns.

Monday, September 30: Heavy rain all night, slept under a bivvy sheet on roadside. Weather cleared up at night.

Thursday, October 10: Left P camp and marched with transport to near Zonnebeke 15 kilometres arrived at 2.30am. Two German planes brought down three balloons over our heads. One plane brought down.

Sunday, November 10: Left Winkel St Eloi and marched to Harlebeke 10 kilometres. Billet in same place as before. Peace came through about 7.30pm. Singing and dancing around streets until after midnight. Band was out and half the section got drunk. Hell of a night.

He survived and worked in a flour mill after the war before moving to north Wales with his wife Bet. He died when his granddaughter was eight-years-old.

Mrs Perry said: “I was very fond of him. He was such a gentle and positive person. He had a sense of humour and I’m glad he survived mentally and physically. I have enormous respect for his strength to get through the war. The diary was a real eye-opener. It allowed us to document that part of our family history.

“War is very much on the cards at the moment. It is very pertinent to examine the legacy of the Great War.”

The exhibition is named after the acronym Not Yet Diagnosed Nervous - the official diagnosis of shell shock.

It is free to visit and is open 10am-5.30pm daily.

Are you putting on anything to mark the First World War in north Norfolk? Email sophie.wyllie@archant.co.uk

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