Ordinary men with extraordinary lives

WORLD War One cost the lives of millions of young men who signed up to fight for their countries. Amongst the UK forces there were over 800,000 military deaths as young people saw their futures cut tragically short battling for the freedom of their compatriots.

WORLD War One cost the lives of millions of young men who signed up to fight for their countries. Amongst the UK forces there were over 800,000 military deaths as young people saw their futures cut tragically short battling for the freedom of their compatriots.

Much has been done to ensure that their sacrifices are never forgotten and now a keen local historian has continued this work by helping to remember 94 of the men who lost their lives from the former Lowestoft parish of St John the Evangelist.

When the war ended in 1918 it was decided that an appropriate memorial should be erected to mark the sacrifice these men made for their country. The result was the creation of a carved oak panel complete with the names of the fallen under the words 'Their name liveth for ever more'.

The memorial was unveiled during a special service at St John's Church, in London Road South, on Sunday, November 8, 1920 by Colonel Angus McNeill DSO, who commanded the Norfolk and Suffolk Infantry Brigade.


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After World War Two, the church, whose parish encompassed both sides of the inner harbour and railway station, began to deteriorate and was demolished in December 1977 after a reorganisation of local parishes.

The memorial panel was salvaged and temporarily homed in a chapel in Commodore Road, Oulton Broad, before it found its current home at the War Memorial Museum.

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The panel lists the names of the 94 men who died in three groups; 27 from the navy, 62 from the army and five from the air force.

In order to answer some of the queries frequently posted by visitors to the museum, retired academic physicist Neville Skinner, of Oulton Broad, decided to compile a booklet providing brief biographical sketches of each of the fallen men.

'Each biography includes brief service and family details, date and place of death, where buried or commemorated on a national memorial, and where possible, an outline of the circumstances in which the man died,' said Mr Skinner.

The deaths were not all due to action, but each man is remembered for their valuable contribution; whether they lost their life in the Battle of the Somme, out at sea or through accidents or illness.

'These were ordinary men who at times did extraordinary things,' said Mr Skinner. 'Several of the men were decorated for bravery including Skipper Tom Crisp, VC DSC. Three other men won military medals and another, the Distinguished Service Medal.'

The booklet also includes an historical introduction, a map showing the boundaries of the parish, thumbnail portraits of 28 of the men and other illustrations.

A display copy can be seen with the Roll of Honour board in the War Memorial Museum and copies, priced �5, are available at the museum, from Lowestoft Heritage Workshop Centre in the High Street, or from the author on 01502 573913.

The War Memorial Museum will be open from Easter on Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 11am to 4pm.

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