Costumed soldiers will re-enact the departure of troops from Dereham as they headed for the First World War

PUBLISHED: 14:28 22 August 2014 | UPDATED: 14:28 22 August 2014

Village at War event at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse

Village at War event at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse


The final parade of hundreds of soldiers in Dereham before they headed out to the grim battlefields of the First World War will be re-enacted as part of a Norfolk museum’s Village at War weekend.

Members of the Royal Norfolk Regiment Living History Group will muster on the town’s Market Place – just as the men of the 5th Battalion Norfolk Regiment did on the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.

The moving tribute will take place on Saturday at 2pm and, following an inspection from town mayor Tim Birt, the troops will march out of the town to join their battalion’s “encampment” at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse.

Hannah Jackson, from the museum, said the re-enactment would aim to capture the mood of 100 years earlier.

She said: “The group portrays the 5th Battalion Norfolk Regiment, which – on the outbreak of the First World War – was mobilised from Dereham, assembling within the Market Place.

“Many a local man would have served amongst its ranks, and Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse hope that this gathering, and the First World War battalion encampment staged as part of the Village at War event, will provide a fitting tribute to all who served.”

On Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday, visitors to Gressenhall will be able learn more about the regiment during the Village at War event, which aims to commemorate the centenary of the First World War as well as capturing the spirit of the country during the Second World War.

Visitors will be able to stroll around military and civilian vehicles and meet costumed characters from both the British and American forces, enjoy 1940s music and enjoy a marquee filled with stalls selling original 1940s memorabilia and antiques.

An exhibition about the Docking boys, who answered the call to serve the country in the First World War, will be at the event courtesy of the Docking Heritage Group, with experts from the Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum available to help people discover more about their Norfolk ancestors and experiences.

On Monday afternoon there will be a flypast, weather permitting, by a Dakota aircraft, used during the Second World War to carry troops, freight and help in casualty evacuation.

The Village at War event at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse runs from 10am to 5pm on Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday.

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