New book reveals heroic role played by fishermen during First World War
PUBLISHED: 18:54 05 June 2018 | UPDATED: 18:54 05 June 2018
It consisted of devastating conflict that claimed the lives of millions across the world and produced repercussions that are still being felt today.
But a century after the armistice was agreed and fighting came to an end, the story of some of the First World War’s unsung heroes is finally being told.
‘Lowestoft Fishermen’s War 1914-1918’ - the latest book from Poppyland Publishing - is the tale of the Lowestoft men and boys who found themselves on the frontline of the economic war with Germany.
The book is the work of Alan John Curtis, whose interest in maritime history stems from family links to the fishing industry that can be traced back to the 1850s.
Mr Curtis made it his duty to examine the unpublished testimonies made to the Board of Trade by wartime fishermen seeking compensation for their losses - also used by Naval Intelligence in their efforts to defeat the German U-boats.
Until now they laid forgotten in the National Archives, but the author has used them to provide an insight into a largely overlooked area of Lowestoft’s maritime history.
“My aim is to highlight the contribution that Lowestoft fishermen made during the First World War and to get them the recognition that they deserve,” said Mr Curtis.
“These are the people who didn’t join the Royal Naval Service, instead sacrificing themselves to maintain the supply of food. 117 were killed and more than 170 fishing boats lost.
“Over the years, the role played by these fishermen has become increasingly clear, but the only place you’ll find their names is at the Tower Hill Memorial in London. With the anniversary of the armistice coming up, I’d like to somehow honour them with a plaque in the future.”
Mr Curtis also hosted a book signing at Lowestoft Maritime Museum last weekend, where he met people to whom the unearthed stories represent personal significance.
“All of those who came along to the signing had connections with the stories in the book,” added Mr Curtis.
“Many of them had relatives who were on board vessels captured by the Germans. Speaking to people who can relate to my research makes it all worthwhile.”
• ‘Lowestoft Fishermen’s War 1914-1918’ is available in East Anglian bookshops, direct from Poppyland, and from all good bookshops.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Lowestoft Journal. Click the link in the orange box above for details.