Search

Interactive Map of Key Events

The had a profound impact on every community in our region. Here we tell the stories of some of those areas. This project is ongoing. Contact us with your stories and we will add them here.

Click on the icons on the map to see the town or village's story.

The Great War came closer to East Anglia than perhaps any other part of the country. As well as suffering repeated attacks from air and sea, it was also considered the area most vulnerable to invasion – leading to the construction of coastal defences.

Meanwhile, the region's industry was given over the war effort, with factories churning out munitions, provisions and equipment for the troops, while our public buildings and grandest private homes were turned into hospitals.

Here we try to show all this frenetic activity on a map of the region.

How the region contributed

Industry

  • Norwich Howlett & White Ltd– provided 453,000 pairs of boots and shoes to the British Army, 32,000 pairs for Allied armies and 21,000 pairs of British aviation boots. Also made Cossack boots for the Russians.
  • Chamberlin's– clothing company made almost one million garments during the war, building and equipping a new factory in Norwich to meet demand. Its waterproofs were regarding as the best in the world. The War Office requisitioned its entire stock to provide oilskins for the troops.
  • P Haldinstein & Sons– took a leading role in making boots for soldiers. More than half a million pairs were produced. The workforce also raised large sums of money for entertainment for the wounded being treated in Norwich.
  • Edwards & Holmes Ltd–big shoe manufacturer, although not engaged on direct war work, made many thousands of uppers for Cossack boots in 1915.
  • S L Witton Ltd– it was Mr Witton of the highly regarded shoe company and a member of the War Volunteer Fire Brigade who thought Norwich needed a new ambulance – so he bought one and gave it to the Watch Committee on condition they provided a new motor fire engine. They did.
  • Wm Hurrell, Phoenix Works– took on government contracts to manufacture shoes for military rest camps and hospitals. The first order was for 40,000 pairs.
  • Wm George & Sons- tanners, curriers and leather merchants, in St Benedicts/Pottergate made a wide range of leather goods for the troops.
  • The House of Barnards Ltd- the Norfolk Iron Works weaved wire netting. During the first three years of the war it made and supplied 12,310,435 yards, almost 7,000 miles, to be used in the trenches as bomb shields and for transport over desert sands. Also produced hand-woven wire lattice for the Balkan theatre; large heating stoves for the American army; wire screens for high explosive factories; hundreds of tons of castings for Admiralty and other departments; cooking ranges and heating stoves for camps and training centres.
  • Jarrold & Sons Ltd– many notable books were produced including The Blinded Soldier, prepared and published in aid of St Dunstan's Home for Blinded Soldiers, Told in the Huts, Shell Shocks and numerous guides for Australian and New Zealand troops sojourning in the "old country" during the conflict.
  • Boulton and Paul - heavily involved in producing war material. Workforce included more than 1,200 women, involved in a range of tasks. In total, eight of the county's firms were put to use on the often dangerous task of producing munitions for the forces, including Laurence Scott of Norwich, Burrell's of Thetford and Norwich Components Ltd.
  • Caleys- produced "Marching Chocolate" bars for troops at the front.
  • Copeman's- Norwich grocers, ran canteens, provided rations for the War Office and supplied rations for up to 30,000 troops in Norfolk.
  • BRCS Norwich Transport Company- collected the wounded from Thorpe Station, Norwich and ran them to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital or other sites.
  • FW Harmers, clothing company, produced military uniform.
  • King's Lynn's munitions factory at Alexandra Dock. The site distilled conkers to produce acetone and then, in turn, cordite - which was used in firing mechanisms. The conkers were gathered by local women and children.
  • Dereham's Crane's manufactured 27,000 gun wheels.
  • Thetford Charles Burrell & Sons manufactured engines and carried out munitions work.

Military sites: infantry, cavalry or artillery

  • Norwich - Britannia Barracks, the depot of the Norfolk Regiment, and Nelson Barracks, a cavalry site, on Barrack Street.
  • Melton Park, near Melton Constable - used as a training area for troops.
  • Mousehold Heath- A former cavalry training area, it was converted into an aerodrome, where aircraft built in the city were passed over to the military.
  • Elveden- First tank crews are trained on 200 acres of Lord Iveagh's estate, at a specially-built mock battlefield.
  • Costessey Hall- used to station and train regiments of infantry, cavalry and artillery.
  • North Walsham- Used to station a battalion of the Norfolk regiment, a YMCA soldiers' hut and a hospital for convalescing soldiers.
  • Swaffham Assembly Rooms - used as a soldier's canteen.

Military sites: Naval

  • Lowestoft- naval base for mine sweepers and patrol vessels, and armed smacks.
  • Great Yarmouth- Aerodrome used by the Royal Naval Air Service, on South Denes, with a seaplane station on the adjacent beach. The service's regional headquarters was on Regent Street. From 1913 to 1920 and during the war it co-ordinated the actions of 36 planes and 300 airmen and crew. Naval base, used by submarines patrolling the North Sea and Heligoland Bight.
  • Hickling Broad- a "calm water satellite" at which naval seaplanes from Yarmouth could land if the sea was too rough. There were other supplementary landing sites at Burgh Castle, Bacton and Covehythe.

Military sites: Planes or airships

  • Pulham- Airship station, from which flew the "Pulham Pigs". Scene of various experimental airship flights. At the end of the war, two surrendered Zeppelins were stored there.

Airfields

  • Narborough- perhaps the most significant of many Norfolk airfields and the country's largest. Originally a Royal Naval Air Service site, the field of 998 acres - vast by the standards of the day - was taken over by the Royal Flying Corps in 1916 and was developed as a major training station, with a satellite ground at nearby Marham.
  • Bayfield - a night landing strip, for anti-Zeppelin aircraft.
  • Mattishall - a night landing strip, for anti-Zeppelin aircraft.

Hospitals

  • Norfolk and Norwich Hospital was used to receive wounded, with marquees and tents erected. By 1915, there were not enough beds to meet demand, so the lunatic asylum at Thorpe St Andrew was taken over for injured soldiers; its patients being transferred to other institutions such as Hellesdon Hospital. Third military hospital at Lakenham later created in newly-built school and then a fourth at Wayland Union Workhouse near Attleborough.
  • Lingwood and Burlingham- horse hospital established, and small holdings allocated to injured returning soldiers.

Most Read

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Latest from the EDP

Show Job Lists

Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 4°C

min temp: 4°C

Listen to the latest weather forecast