Poignant memories of the Fromelles fallen
Hayley MacePoignant photographs and details have emerged about the Norfolk and Suffolk soldiers set to be given heroes' burials more than 90 years after being interred in a mass grave.Hayley Mace
Poignant photographs and details have emerged about the Norfolk and Suffolk soldiers set to be given heroes' burials more than 90 years after being interred in a mass grave.
It has been revealed that a number of the men, some as young as 19, enlisted in the Norfolk Regiment cyclists division during the
first world war, where their responsibility was to patrol the home coastline.
But they were used to replace heavy casualties in the Gloucestershire regiment and sent to the doomed Battle of Fromelles in northern France where they lost their lives.
Two of those men, Robert Chaplin and Alan Shreeve, both from Norwich, are immortalised in Norfolk's picture library as portraits of fresh-faced young soldiers.
They were among hundreds who fell at Fromelles over 24 hours on July 19, 1916 and were hurriedly buried in a series of nearby pits.
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Sgt Chaplin and L/Sgt Shreeve, who died aged 19 and 23 respectively, along with 10 others from Norfolk, Beccles and Lowestoft, are believed to be in the grave, which is being exhumed so all the remains can be identified before being given burials with full military honours.
Another young soldier believed to be in the grave is Stanley Wood, from Oulton Broad, who, two years before he was killed at Fromelles, was
the sole survivor of a well-known boating disaster on the River Waveney. In the summer of 1914, he ventured out with a group from the 1st Carlton Sea Scouts travelling from Somerleyton, near Lowestoft, heading towards Oulton Broad.
Shortly after passing Somerleyton railway bridge, tragedy struck as
the boat capsized while they were raising their sail, trapping all but one of the crew under the boat.
The 17-year-old Lowestoft grammar school boy, who later became L/Cpl Wood, was flung clear of the boat. He swam to the shore and ran back to a nearby hotel but could not find help.
Scoutmaster Thorton Lory and instructor James Lewington drowned along with four Scouts.
The funerals were held at St Mark's Church in Carlton Colville and crowds gathered along the road to the cemetery. Three hundred local Scouts lined the route and 40 mourning coaches followed the horse-drawn hearses.
It is hoped that by the end of next year the remains of L/Cpl Wood and his soldier comrades will have been exhumed and properly laid to rest in a in a new military cemetery - the first to be created in 50 years.