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First World War exhibition marks the centenary of war battle

PUBLISHED: 12:03 24 October 2016 | UPDATED: 12:03 24 October 2016

John Needham with some of his collection including Norfolk Yeomanry and Norfolk Regiment unifroms, at a First World War exhibition to mark the Battle of the Somme's centenary, at North Walsham. Picture: Denise Bradley

John Needham with some of his collection including Norfolk Yeomanry and Norfolk Regiment unifroms, at a First World War exhibition to mark the Battle of the Somme's centenary, at North Walsham. Picture: Denise Bradley

Archant

A century on the Battle of the Somme was the focus of a special First World War exhibition in North Walsham.

It was fought over five brutal months with more than a million dead and wounded on all sides.

A century on the Battle of the Somme was the focus of a special First World War exhibition in North Walsham.

Young and old participated in the event which featured poetry readings by North Walsham High School pupils, an exhibition of artefacts and displays by local organisations.

Fought between July 1 and November 18, 1916, the Somme saw Allied forces fighting the German army in a brutal battle of attrition across a 15-mile front.

The first day was the bloodiest in the history of the British army with 19,240 soldiers losing their lives.

Among the poignant mementoes at the exhibition was a collection of First World War medals belonging to the Gotts family from Bacton. Marshall Fred Gotts was just 19 when he was killed on the Western Front in September 1916.

The exhibition at the Atrium was organised by the Royal British Legion (RBL) and Arts North Norfolk, supported by North Walsham Town Council.

It was the third of five annual commemorations in the town marking the centenary of the 1914-1918 conflict.

North Walsham & District RBL branch chairman Margaret Baynton said: “So many people are interested in the First World War, but don’t always learn about the details of the individual battles. There were 60,000 casualties and more than 19,000 British troops killed on the first day of the Somme. Next year will focus on Passchendaele and the final event on the centenary of the RAF and the Armistice.”

Edmund Boarder, from Kessingland, was among the visitors with his 14-year-old niece Victoria Miller.

He said: “I have always been interested in the First World War; my niece goes to school here and told me about the exhibition.

“You cannot help but be moved by the number of men who died at the battle however many times you read about it.”

North Walsham High pupil Victoria has written a story inspired by the war after studying the subject at school.

A display of First World War militaria owned by former Royal Military Police officer John Needham included uniforms worn by the Norfolk Yeomanry and Norfolk Regiment up to 1914.

Derrick Eagle, from Norwich, was displaying some of his vast collection of 1,200 toy military musicians.

Amassed over more than 60 years, it was inspired after Mr Eagle, 74, saw the Household Cavalry Musical Ride perform at the Royal Norfolk Show.

Are you putting on an exhibition to commemorate an event? Email miles.jermy@archant.co.uk

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