Replica First World War trench to be exhibited at The Forum in Norwich

John Walker has built a replica Western Front trench. Photo: Bill Smith

John Walker has built a replica Western Front trench. Photo: Bill Smith

A life-size replica of a First World War trench will form the centre piece of an exhibition about the experiences of more than 350 former Norwich School students.

It will go on show at The Forum in Norwich next week, following its previous display at the school last year, and includes information about the 52 old boys who gave their lives.

School archivist John Walker, who researched and created the exhibition with current pupils, said: 'Because they had an education at Norwich School, half of them were working for the War Ministry, and trying to devise weapons, and the other half were infantry officers and airmen, which is why there is such a high death rate amongst them.

'There are some quite unusual aspects I found out during the research, about one person who was the most famous society portrait painter of the First World War, and the dancer from New York.'

That dancer - Vernon Blyth - is perhaps the most famous of the Norvicensians, thanks to the Hollywood musical The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle, in which he was portrayed by Fred Astaire.

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Blyth was born in Norwich, but found fame dancing with his wife on Broadway, before returning to Norwich and joining the Royal Flying Corps. He died in February 1918 during a training flight in Texas.

Other stories include an old boy who was sent to Russia to fight for the White Russians following the Bolshevik Revolution, and died in Archangel 1919.

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The exhibition also includes original cigarette cards which were used to spread propaganda during the war, and information about the structure of the British army, and the locations across the British Empire where former students served.

The exhibition, Norwich School and the Great War, will take place in The Forum, from Monday, May 11, to Thursday, March 14, from 10am to 6pm daily.

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