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Video: Bell tolls at Aylsham for first of the town’s 66 First World War fallen

06:30 15 September 2014

Bell ringer Michael Brooks ringing the first 100-bell toll for Aylsham's First World War fallen. Picture; RICHARD BATSON

Bell ringer Michael Brooks ringing the first 100-bell toll for Aylsham's First World War fallen. Picture; RICHARD BATSON

Archant

The sombre chime of a single church bell rang at Aylsham yesterday to mark the start of a marathon memorial to the town’s war dead.

Harrold Brawn fact file

He was born at Aylsham on April 7 1891.

His brother John Aggutta Brawn was born on September 11 1895 - survived both world wars and went on to rise to the rank of Lt Col

Their father and grandfather were both sergeant instructors in the army.

Both brothers joyed the army - the 1st Battalion Royal Norfolks - as boy soldiers and were musicians.

He died near Missy-Sur-Aisne as his regiment retreated from Mons.

His name is on the war memorial at La Ferte-Sous-Jouarre, and Aylsham churchyard.

It chimed 100 times for 23-year-old Harrold Brawn, a sergeant with the first battalion Norfolk Regiment, who was killed in action on September 14 1914.

The man on the end of the bell pull was Michael Brooks, who at 22, is not much younger than Sgt Brawn when he gave his life for his country.

And listening to the poignant sound in the churchyard below were members of Sgt Brawn’s family who made a special trip to witness the occasion.

Great nephew brothers Tim and Michael Shreeve from Salhouse and Cambridge and their mother Janet from Thorpe End, Harrold’s niece, also brought the young soldier’s medals, old photographs, and a silver bullet in a golden tin - which was sent to the families of the Great War fallen.

Tim and Michael Shreeve and their mother Janet visiting Aylsham to hear the 100-bell toll for their relative Harrold Brawn who died in the First World War.   Picture; RICHARD BATSONTim and Michael Shreeve and their mother Janet visiting Aylsham to hear the 100-bell toll for their relative Harrold Brawn who died in the First World War. Picture; RICHARD BATSON

Tim said: “We understand Harrold retreated into a wood but never came out.”

The family said they were pleased to attend the ringing and to help keep his story alive.

The ringing session was the first of 66 which will be held at noon on the days each of the soldiers was killed, signalling the centenary of their death.

Vicar the Rev Andrew Beane said the church had marked the outbreak of the war with a flower festival and exhibition but was keen to keep anniversaries of the fallen.

Harrold Brawn (top left) and brother John with their sisters and mother.Harrold Brawn (top left) and brother John with their sisters and mother.

“We wanted a poignant, respectful commemoration of their deaths. These were people’s lives - and it is good to see this family has been touched by the occasion,” he added.

The poignant acts of remembrance will continue over the next four years.

The final bell tolling will take place on November 18 2018, a week after the centenary of The Armistice, to remember Private Frederick Tortice, who died of his wounds, aged 32.

Details of “for whom the bell tolls” will be published on the guild’s website, and in the church.

For more information visit www.aylshamtower.org.uk

OTHER RINGINGS

On August 21 next year, the bell will toll 300 times to mark the deaths of three Aylsham men on that day.

On October 21 next year, half-muffled bells will mark 100 years since the execution by a German firing squad of Norfolk heroine, nurse Edith Cavell.

And on July 1 2016 ringers will remember the first day of the horrific Battle of the Somme when 20,000 allied troops lost their lives, and 40,000 were wounded.

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