Norwich’s restored Roll of Honour unveiled on Armistice Day
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016
Norwich's First World War dead have a fitting memorial again – as the cabinet which holds the names of 3,544 who lost their lives has been restored and unveiled in pride of place at City Hall.
Norwich's Roll of Honour had fallen into disrepair at its home in Norwich Castle keep.
But after the grand-daughter of the man who made it discovered its poor condition, local groups rallied to repair it and give it a new home.
And as the city marked Armistice Day, Dianna Benoy travelled from Surrey to see her grandfather's work revived.
'I'm really proud and honoured,' she said.
'I think it's in the right place. It's more fitting here in City Hall.'
Mrs Benoy's grandfather, Walter Burridge, lived in Onley Street with his wife, Maud, for more than 60 years. In this time the skilled carpenter created bespoke items for Norwich Castle, the city council and St Peter Mancroft Church.
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One of his creations was the cabinet which housed the roll of honour, but when Mrs Benoy came to see it she found the memorial's panels, which were hinged to allow them to be leafed through like a book, had suffered structural damage and the intricate edging had been destroyed.
Mrs Benoy was invited to put in a complaint, which she did, and she soon heard a project involving Norwich City Council, Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service and the Norwich War Memorial Trust would be launched to restore it to its former glory.
Some £50,000 later, the roll of honour was unveiled in its new home to coincide with Armistice Day service.
The Rev Robert Avery, from St Peter Mancroft Church, started the service at the War Memorial by welcoming all who attended.
'Together we remember those men and women... so we might live in peace and safety,' he said.
James O'Donnell, a pupil at Notre Dame School, gave a reading of the Sermon on the Mount, before the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, turned attention to the roll of honour.
Bishop Graham said it had been built as there had not been enough room on the War Memorial for the names of all 3,544 men from the city who lost their lives. He said: 'For a city like this to lose 3,500 of its men still seems traumatic today... the human carnage was so massive.'
He said that at the time when war broke out, most thought it would only last a few months and many men volunteered.
But as the years passed the volunteers ran out, and conscription was introduced in 1916. 'For several years people in this city feared the postman,' he added, as often letters would bring the news of the death of a family member on the battlefield.
'As you look at the list of names you will see familiar names to this city,' he added.
About the roll of honour
The Norwich Roll of Honour lists the names of 3,544 men from Norwich who died in the First World War. It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, who also designed the war memorial in St Peter's Street.
As the memorial was not large enough to contain so many names, it was decided that Lutyens should also design a Roll of Honour to be made of oak panels on which the names would be painted. The result was a unique memorial; there are no other rolls of honour anywhere in the country like it.
It was originally installed in the Norwich Castle keep on January 13, 1931 without ceremony and with some embarrassment about the time it had taken to get it ready. The War Memorial Committee had decided the first roll of honour looked unfinished and not fit for display, so alterations were made to improve the quality of the panels. As Lutyens had exceeded the agreed budget of £500, he waived his fee and paid the difference himself.
The memorial consists of an oak case with doors containing 12 double-sided hinged, and four fixed, single-sided panels painted with the names and units of the war dead.
The stories behind the names on Norwich's roll of honour
All 3,544 names on Norwich's Roll of Honour have poignant stories behind them. Here are just five examples.
• Edward Albert Rose Cadet, Royal Flying Corps, 21st Training School
Died: Monday, March 11, 1918 in Egypt, Ismailia, killed while on a solo flight when plane crashed.
Served in: France and Salonika
Buried: Ismalia War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt
Family: Parents Charles Frederick and Emma Rose, 92 City Road, Norwich
Education: Boy's Model School, Norwich
Originally enlisted as a Private in the Royal Army Medical Corps, 85th Field Ambulance.
• Henry Montgomerie Scott Pillow, 2nd Lieutenant, Middlesex Regiment, attached to the Royal Flying Corps, 7th Squadron
Born: March 31, 1895, in Norwich
Died: August 8, 1917, killed in action
Buried: Mendinghem Military Cemetery, Belgium
Family: The Grange, Thorpe Road, Norwich
Education: Norwich Grammar School, Medical student at Guy's Hospital, London.
• Alfred James Sampson Sergeant, Royal Flying Corps, service number 8303
Born: December 20, 1883, in Norwich
Enlisted: September 6, 1915
Died: December 1, 1917 in Alexandria, Israel, from wounds in an air raid
Buried: Gaza War Cemetery, Israel
Family: Parents James Monk Sampson and Alice Ann Sampson, widow Evelyn Selina Sampson, 39 College Road, Norwich
Went to Egypt in November 1915. On November 29, 1917 he was severely wounded by a bomb in an enemy air raid
• John Reginald Kempson Midshipman, Royal Navy, HMS Hawke
Place of birth: June, 1897, in Leicester
Died: October 15, 1914, killed by explosion of HMS Hawke.
Family: Parents J F Kempson and Katrine Sheringham, Crow Lees, 244 Thorpe Road, Norwich
Education: Gresham School and Dartmouth Naval College, passing out in April 1914.
Killed by: Explosion of HMS Hawke. The British cruiser was torpedoed by the German submarine U9 in the North Sea between Peterhead and the Naze. The Hawke had stopped to pick up mail from a sister ship. Over 450 of the 500 crew were lost.
• Frederick Walter Bulley Private, Norfolk Regiment, 8th Battalion, service number 13430
Born: Date unknown, in Norwich
Died: July 19, 1916 in Delville Wood, Longueval, Somme, France
Family: Alfred and Laura Maria Bush, 20 St Julian's Alley, King Street, Norwich
Crossed to France on July 25, 1915. His parents' eldest son, he was their second son to die in the war. He is commemorated at Thiepval Memorial, France.