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Norwich Castle calling for stories of returning First World War servicemen for exhibition

PUBLISHED: 11:54 30 May 2018 | UPDATED: 12:09 30 May 2018

Staff at the Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum are looking for stories like that of Harry Hall, pictured on his farm in Martham Picture: Janice Bensley

Staff at the Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum are looking for stories like that of Harry Hall, pictured on his farm in Martham Picture: Janice Bensley

Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum

The Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum are asking for information on the lives of servicemen from the county who survived the First World War for an exibition marking the 1918 Armistice at Norwich Castle.

Janice Bensley, right, growing up with her grandfather Harry Hall Picture: Janice BensleyJanice Bensley, right, growing up with her grandfather Harry Hall Picture: Janice Bensley

Staff at the museum are looking for stories about those who served in the war to help build a section of the exhibition dedicated to returning wounded veterans.

The section will reflect the personal stories of servicemen who had to adapt to civilian life, as well as the local charities and institutions that helped disabled veterans cope on their return.

Curator of the Royal Norfolk Kate Thaxton said: “We’re really interested in hearing from anyone with any information or memories of a family member, friend, or distant relative who was affected by the war.

“We want to explore the aftermath of war so we’re really hoping members of the public will come forward to share their family histories with us.”

One of the stories already shared with the museum’s curators is that of Janice Bensley, who gave her memories of her grandfather Harry Hall for the museum’s exhibition book.

Mr Hall served with the Veterinary Corps from 1916 and was sent to Egypt to care for horses - one of which kicked him in the head during the war and left him with a lasting head injury.

Ms Bensley fondly remembers her grandfather while growing up on a farm in Martham. She recalls him being ‘a proper tease’ who would routinely cover her in milk by squeezing the teat of one of their cows into her face.

She also said from time to time her grandfather’s past would come back to haunt him, and that he would disappear for hours ranting and raving in the field as if he was shouting orders.

To her it was just a quirk of her grandfather, but her family would tell her at the time that his actions were caused by the injury.

Mr Hall was taken to St. Andrews Mental Hospital when his grandaughter was 13, and she never saw him again before he died in 1960.

The exhibition, entitled ‘Armistice: Legacy of the First World War in Norfolk’ will be on show at Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery from 19 October 2018 to 19 January 2019.

Those who would like to share any memories of a loved one in Norfolk who returned from the war should email regimental.museum@norfolk.gov.uk.


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