“Each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds:” some Norfolk casualties of the First World War

In 2000-1, I was involved in a digitisation project for Norfolk libraries, which scanned, indexed and uploaded thousands of old photographs of the county. They have been available online (via the library website http://www.norfolk.gov.uk/Leisure_and_culture/Libraries/ ) for many years now – although I’m not sure that many Norfolk people are aware of them – and are now known collectively as Picture Norfolk.

One section of this collection comprises the Norfolk ‘Roll of Honour,’ photographs of every soldier and sailor (Royal and merchant navy) who was killed in the First World War. Most of the original photographs had potted biographies written on the back, some quite lengthy, and I found many of them very moving to read. I particularly remember the three brothers in south Norfolk, agricultural labourers, who were all killed. I believe there was another family where at least three brothers, sons of a clergyman, died too. The First World War did not discriminate according to social class.

The most upsetting thing, though, was when I read a desperate-sounding plea scrawled on the back of one photographs, along the lines of: “Please return this photograph. It’s all I have left of my son.”

Now that the last veterans of the First World War have died, and many of the children who remember them have also gone, we will forget them. That’s the way of things. But these are just a few of the young men of Norfolk who died in the First World War.

Please remember that the copyright on these images remains with Norfolk County Council and these images should not be reproduced without permission.

 1. First Class Steward Arthur Nunn, from Billingford


2. Private Walter J. Starling, 1st Norfolk Regiment, from Fakenham


Eldest son of Mr. & Mrs. W. Starling of Sculthorpe Lodge Cottages, Fakenham. Wounded and taken prisoner at Mons in 1914. Died in hospital in Russia (as a POW) in 1917, aged 23.

3. Private Benjamin Thorpe, 1st Norfolks, from Cromer


Born in 1896, he was killed in France in 1917 and buried in Roclincourt Military Cemetery, near Arras.

4. 1st Class Stoker Benjamin Watts, HMS Natal, from Acle


5. Private Walter Codling, Royal Army Medical Corps


Private Codling was an employee of Jarrolds. He joined a local detachment of the British Red Cross Society. He was lost on the Royal Edward, which was torpedoed in the Aegean Sea, in 1915.

6. Private Sydney Valentine Symonds, 1st Norfolks,  from Norwich


Private Symonds was born in Norwich in 1895, and went to  Thorpe Hamlet School. He enlisted in August 1912, and died from wounds at Mons in September 1914.

7. Captain Christopher Magnay, 1st Battalion, Norfolk Regiment, from Drayton


Captain Magnay was born at Drayton, in 1896. He was killed in action at Vimy Ridge, 23rd April 1917

8. Corporal Robert Fisher, Coldstream Guards & Private Charles Fisher, Norfolk Regiment

http://bit.ly/uG0W7E                 http://bit.ly/smOPeJ

Robert – born at Fundenhall in 1892, the eldest son of Mr & Mrs Horace Fisher, of Barford, near Wymondham; enlisted 6 March 1911; died in London hospital, in 1915.

Charles – second son of Horace and Ellen M. Fisher, of Barford,  born at Fundenhall, in 1894; enlisted in 1913; killed in action 14 September 1914.

9. Lance-Corporal Alphonso Allison, 7th Norfolks & Corporal Horace Allison, Royal Marine Artillery,  & Private Dan Walter Allison, Scots Guards, from Bawburgh

http://bit.ly/vqhXY9      http://bit.ly/uB1MBD           http://bit.ly/vLweHC

Alphonso – Lance-Corporal Allison was born at Bawburgh, in 1893, the son of William & Maria. He enlisted in November 1914 and died of wounds in France, in October 1916.

Horace – the record only states he was from Bawburgh. Presumably, if not a brother of Alphonso & Dan, he was a member of the same family.

Dan – Private Allison was born at Costessey, in 1887, the son of William & Maria Allison. Killed in France in 1914.

10. Mrs. C. M. Fathers, Officer of Forage Corps


Mrs C.M. Fathers (originally Miss C.M.Spencer) was an officer in the Forage Corps, Royal Army Service Corps. It is not clear whether she survived the war.

11. Rev. Charles Ivo Sinclair Hood, Church of England Chaplain to H. M. Forces, 1/3 East Anglian Field Ambulance.


Reverend Hood was born in 1886 & enlisted in October 1915. He died in April 1918.

12. Lance Corporal James Rix, Royal Engineers


Lance Corporal Rix was killed in action in April 1918.


5 thoughts on ““Each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds:” some Norfolk casualties of the First World War

  1. Great post – lovely that Norfolk have those records – newspapers in Bradford printed pictures of many of the soldiers in their own roll of honour but fire risk restrictions prevent us from accessing the card index and newspaper microfiches

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