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Norfolk family remembers 30-year-old First World War hero

William Thirst was just 30 when he died in the First World War. Pictures: supplied by Tim Thirst

William Thirst was just 30 when he died in the First World War. Pictures: supplied by Tim Thirst

Archant

The family of a 30-year-old north Norfolk man have commemorated the 100th anniversary of his death during the First World War.

Tim Thirst and Linda Brown at the service by the war grave at Suffield. Pictures: supplied by Tim ThirstTim Thirst and Linda Brown at the service by the war grave at Suffield. Pictures: supplied by Tim Thirst

Relatives of William Thirst, who was born in 1888 and died on October 4, 1918, gathered at Suffield church on last Thursday’s (4) anniversary.

The service was led by the Revd Keith Dally, priest-in-charge of the United Benefice of King’s Beck. Among those present were family historian, Tim Thirst, a distant cousin of William Thirst’s, and William’s niece Linda Brown, who lives in North Walsham.

Tim Thirst, 65, said: “This year is particularly poignant as it’s the 100th anniversary of the end of the war.

“We try to keep the memory of our war veterans alive. Future generations need to know what they experienced. The vicar has put together a leaflet on the veterans for visitors to the churches.”

William Thirst’'s war grave in Suffield. Pictures: supplied by Tim ThirstWilliam Thirst’'s war grave in Suffield. Pictures: supplied by Tim Thirst

William Thirst, who was born in Suffield, was posthumously awarded the Military Medal for Bravery in the Field on June 17, 1919, and the family is appealing for information as to its whereabouts.

On June 10, 1991, The Commonwealth War Graves Commission erected a war gravestone next to his burial place at Suffield.

Mr Thirst, who was a stretcher bearer, was one of three brothers and three sisters. He was renowned for his singing voice, often being asked to sing to the other soldiers.

During heavy fighting near the St Quentin Canal on September 18, 1918, he was injured bringing in the wounded, whilst under fire.

A military medal from the First World War. Pictures: supplied by Tim ThirstA military medal from the First World War. Pictures: supplied by Tim Thirst

He wrote to his parents that his “arm was injured” - in fact, he had a serious stomach wound and, as a stretcher bearer, probably knew he would never recover.

He had enlisted at Cromer on December 11, 1915, and was mobilised on March 1, 1916 to the 3rd Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment.

His brother John Thirst was killed in action, near Arras in France, aged 20, on April 4, 1917.

John and William Thirst’s names are recorded on the war memorial in the churchyard at Suffield, and all three brothers who fought are recorded on the Roll of Honour.

If anyone has information about the whereabouts of the medal, contact them at timothythirst@aol.com

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