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Mark Crame

A letter from France, 7 Norfolks, 13th Oct 1915

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Mark Crame

To put something back as a big thank you to those who have helped with my questions today, and to bring forth the names of some of the dead, I have transcribed this letter which I have come across in my research, and added some details to the names.

Copy of letter to the Reverend Lawson from Captain JM Howlett, OC A Company, 7th Norfolks.

France,

Nov 4th 1915.

Sir, I regret to have to inform you, as you will doubtless have heard by this time from the War Office that Ptes Beevor, Flaxman and Wigg were reported missing. On October 13th the Regiment took part in an assault under very hevy fire, very few men of A Coy even reaching the German trench. I am very much afraid that I can hold out no hope of them being still alive, though as we have been continuously in the trenches since my return it has been difficult to hear of the many cases of this nature which have unfortunately occurred in my Company.

I knew all of these men very well indeed, they had been with us practically from the beginning. I can only say that they were all three admirable both as men and soldiers. None of them were ever the slightest trouible and they always were ready for any of the tasks we are called upon to perform. They died doing their duty to their country, gallantly and cheerfully. If you could have seen the way in which they charged you would have been proud of them indeed.

I regret that I have taken so long in answering your letter, but I was myself wounded in the charge and have only recently returned to the regiment.

Will you please convey to the families of these men the very deepest sympathy of their comrades and myself for them.

I am, Sir,

Your obedient servant,

JM Howlett Capt,

OC A Coy, 7th Norfolk Regt.

VictorBeevor.jpg

Victor Beevor

16606 Private Victor Beevor

A Company, 7th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment. Born in Haddiscoe, Victor enlisted in Norwich and was killed in action age 21 on 13th October 1915. Son of Victor and Martha Beevor of Haddiscoe. Remembered with honour Loos Memorial. His brother Harold was also killed during the war.

16608 Private Absalom Clayton Flaxman

A Company, 7th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment. Born in Haddiscoe, Absalom enlisted in Norwich and was killed in action on 13th October 1915. Remembered with honour Loos Memorial.

16618 Private Freeman Wigg

A Company, 7th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment. Born in Toft Monks and was killed in action on 13th October 1915. Remembered with honour Loos Memorial.

Not mentioned, but the same day, the same action and same battalion (presumably a different company) was:

16612 Private William Patrick

7th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment. William was born in Haddiscoe and enlisted at Norwich. He was killed in action on 13th October 1915 and is remembered with honour on the Loos Memorial. His brother Ernest was also killed during the war.

7th (Service) Battalion was formed at Norwich in August 1914 as part of K1, the first of Kitcheners Armies. In August 1914 it was attached to 35th Brigade, 12th (Eastern) Division. This was one of the first New Army divisions to be formed and was assembled around Colchester, the divisional artillery nearby at Shorncliffe, from late August 1914. Divisional training was completed near Aldershot from February 1915, and the Division moved to France between 29th May and 4th June 1915. Privates Beevor, Flaxman, and Wigg (the latter was from Toft Monks) were all in A Company and were all killed in the same action. A letter was sent to Reverend Lawson, then the incumbent at Haddiscoe, informing him of their deaths. Commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Caroll, 30 Officers and 954 other ranks embarked aboard the Invicta at Folkestone bound for Boulogne on 30th May 1915. The first Kitchener Battalion raised by the Norfolk Regiment, 7 Battalion was formed at Shorncliffe. Uniforms, equipment and blankets were slow in arriving and they initially wore emergency blue uniforms and carried dummy weapons. 1,114 men from the battalion were killed during the First World War. After arrival in France they took over trenches 113-120 at Ploegsteert Wood on 4th July 1915. On 12th October 1915 the Battalion moved from billets to a line in front of the St Elie Quarries, taking over from the Coldstream Guards. The attack was planned to go ahead the following day under a smoke cloud with the Norfolks closing on the German trenches from both ends of their position thus straightening their line, their own trenches being in a semi-circle. The left side of the Battalion was also tasked with bombing a German communications trench. A bright sunny day with an ideal wind for moving the smoke towards the enemy positions, the artillery bombardment began at 12:00 and was intensive by 13:45. 54 heavy and 86 field howitzers and 286 field guns fired on enemy trenches in the area of the Hohenzollern Redoubt, Fosse 8, the Quarries, Gun Trench and the positions south to Chalk Pit Wood. It failed to cause sufficient damage to the enemy positions. The smoke barrage went wrong and ceased by 13:40, twenty minutes before the attack was launched at 14:00 and was thus very thin. German machine gun fire from in front and from the direction of Slag Alley, opposite the Norfolks right flank, enfiladed their attack. Whilst they gained a foothold in the Quarries and consolidated the position they were unable to advance further. In the battalions first serious engagement they lost 5 Officers killed or died of wounds and 6 wounded, and 66 other ranks killed, 196 wounded and 160 missing.

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BottsGreys

Mark:

Very moving post. Thanks for sharing and bringing a moment of remembrance to the memories of these men.

Chris

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Jossman

My Great Uncle was also a member of 7th Norfolks and was killed in the attack that day - 13 October 1915.

Thank you Mark.

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Jossman
Mark:

Very moving post. Thanks for sharing and bringing a moment of remembrance to the memories of these men.

Chris

My Great Uncle was also a member of 7th Norfolks and was killed in the attack that day - 13 October 1915.

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lionboxer

Mark,

Very interesting all that. How did you find what company they were in? One of our men (Bergh Apton) was killed on 1st Oct but we don't know what company he was in or what the 7th Norfolks were doing.

Lionboxer

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squirrel

Mark,

thanks for posting this; anything to do with the Battle of Loos and the actions of the Hohenzolleren redoubt is of interest.

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lionboxer

Mark,

Very interesting all that. How did you find what company they were in? One of our men (Bergh Apton) was killed on 1st Oct but we don't know what company he was in or what the 7th Norfolks were doing.

Lionboxer

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Mark Crame

I didn't find out the company as such, but the writer of the letter signed it with those details - rather nicely!! The letter was got hold of by someone else in Haddiscoe a few years ago when she tried to find he surviving relatives of the men on the memorial, and one of them had the letter. many of the family members still live close by, and many of the villagers know the whereabouts of others. Pretty useful stuff which I have to try and take advantage of soon.

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lionboxer

Rather obvious really!! I noted the regimental numbers are very close to each other could this indicate that all of them were pals that joined together. We have two instances of this on our memorial, one being of two RMLI lads having consecutive numbers. They were killed within three months of each other.

Lionboxer

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Mark Crame

Yeah, I'd imagine they all went down together. Toft and Haddiscoe have always been semi-twinned. One of the Patrick boys is 16612. I can imagine them all taking the train to Norwich together to a send off from the villagers, all marching up together, standing in line to sign on...

.. and walking into the guns together.

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Louise90

This is very interesting to read, Mark. As you know (if you remember that far back!), my Gran's uncle, A Flaxman, is mentioned in the letter. It made a very fascinating and eye-opening read.

Many thanks!

Louise

:)

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Guest msannieg

Hi Mark,

a belated thanks, this is very useful background info on the 7 Norfolks, I'm trying to write a biographical note on all the men named on the war memorial at Somerleyton. Cecil William Betts no. 12295 of 7th Norfolks died 5th October 1915.

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