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Tragic tale among the new stories in relaunched book about First World War – When Heroes Die

07:15 18 September 2014

The front cover of When Heroes Die, written about former Gresham

The front cover of When Heroes Die, written about former Gresham's School pupils who died in the First World War.

Archant

Student George Goodall won a school prize at Holt for his drawings of butterflies and moths in 1910.

Author and former Gresham's School history teacher Sue Smart with the second edition of When Heroes Die.Author and former Gresham's School history teacher Sue Smart with the second edition of When Heroes Die.

Five years later the young talent was dead – aged just 21 – killed in the battle of Aubers Ridge on the Western Front.

The second lieutenant, who died on May 9, 1915, was among more than 100 young people from Gresham’s School whose promise was snuffed out as they served king and country in the First World War.

And his tragic tale is among the new stories in a relaunched booked about them – called When Heroes Die.

Since it was first published 13 years ago, more facts about the school’s fallen heroes have flooded in.

George Goodall, who died in May 9 1915 aged 21, in the battle of Aubers Ridge on the Western Front.George Goodall, who died in May 9 1915 aged 21, in the battle of Aubers Ridge on the Western Front.

Author Sue Smart, 62, a former history teacher and deputy head at the independent school, said: “I felt the first book seemed inadequate. Once I knew so much more about other soldiers I wanted to get the information out there.

“After my first book, people were visiting me straight away. They felt their ancestors had been left out and wanted them to be part of it. The very concept of the book was to recover lost voices.

“The families were very proud of their ancestors and were enthusiastic to share their stories.”

She said it was an emotional experience researching the soldiers who went through “atrocious conditions”.

As well as speaking to families, she used the Gresham’s archive and British Library and the second edition took nine months to write.

The revised book also features:

■Sheringham butcher Arthur Bird, who grew up on Manor Farm in West Beckham, now the Wheatsheaf pub. The father-of-one served with Army Service Corps in Baghdad and died of burns received “while saving life” on May 5, 1918, aged 30.

■Pilot Donald Cunnell, an air ace who shot down nine enemy planes, was killed in action on July 12, 1917, aged 23. He lived in Mount Pleasant, Norwich, and was a trainee architect in the city and a talented draughtsman.

■Tony Nicholson, trainee teacher and younger brother of artist Ben Nicholson, who died of wounds on October 5 1918 while serving with the Royal Field Artillery in northern France when he was in his mid 20s.

Mrs Smart added: “The boys had a rough deal fighting for King and country. It was a war that we should not forget because the scale and carnage was terrible. We should not forget we lost 20pc of a generation and this is something we should pay tribute to properly.”

The book costs £12.99 in paperback and £17.99 in hardback and is available from the Holt Bookshop in Appleyard, Holt.

Do you have a First World War story from north Norfolk? Email sophie.wyllie@archant.co.uk.

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