Photo gallery: ‘First World War soldiers’ parade in Dereham one hundred years on

The final parade of WW1 soldiers in Dereham was recreated on the Market Place, as part of Gressenhall Museum's Village at War weekend. Picture: Matthew Usher The final parade of WW1 soldiers in Dereham was recreated on the Market Place, as part of Gressenhall Museum's Village at War weekend. Picture: Matthew Usher

Monday, August 25, 2014
8:45 AM

A market place was witness to a poignant scene that had not been seen for many years.

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The tramping of boots, the shouts of officers and the solemn boom of the drum calling the young men off to war.

One hundred years ago they would have jumped on a train, some never to return, but on Saturday they were headed for a swift march from Dereham to Gressenhall as part of a heritage weekend.

The Royal Norfolks Living History Group reenacted the 5th Battalion’s preparations to go to war.

Just over 100 years before hundreds of men from around the area came together as they prepared to head off to battle on the continent.

Many of the young men never returned with the regiment suffering heavy casualties in the Gallipoli campaign.

Robert Skinner, events manager of the Royal Norfolks Living History Group, said: “The headquarters were here so when the battalion was brought up to full strength there would have been 1,000 soldiers here including the famous E company, the Sandringhams.

“From there they would have marched down to the train station where they would have moved to other parts of the country to prepare to go out to Gallipoli.

“On August 12 1915 they were hit quite hard and suffered heavy losses.”

Although they were marching off to war Mr Skinner said he thought that the mood might have been quite upbeat.

He said: “At the time the Territorial Army was seen as a bit of fun.

“You would get away from the family and have a bit of a jolly with your friends.

“They didn’t see the reality of real war, it was seen as a big adventure into the unknown.”

After tracing the steps of the forebears to Dereham’s train station the men marched to Gressenhall to kick off the museum’s Village at War event.

The event aims to capture the home front spirit as well as mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

Visitors are able to stroll around military and civilian vehicles and meet costumed characters from both the British and American forces, enjoy 1940s music and live radio shows.

There will also be stalls selling original 1940s memorabilia and antiques.

The event runs from 10am until 5pm today and tomorrow.

Admission is £9.90 for adults, £8.60 for concessions and £6.50 for young people aged four to 18.

A family ticket, one adult and all children, costs £20 or two adults and all children costs £29.

The event is free for Norfolk Museums’ Pass holders.

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