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Village to remember soldier sent to battle after just 35 days of training

PUBLISHED: 17:46 13 March 2017

The Great Ryburgh village sign. Picture: ARCHANT

The Great Ryburgh village sign. Picture: ARCHANT

Archant © 2010

A Norfolk village is continuing with its centenary commemorations of The Great War by remembering the life of a serviceman from the parish who died 100 years ago.

A special three-hour peal is set to be rung at St Andrew’s Church, Great Ryburgh from 2pm on Friday in memory of Private Joseph Thomas Baker of the Royal West Surrey Regiment who was conscripted into the army on February 7, 1917 at the age of 33.

Just 35 days later he had been sent to France, where he fell ill and died on pneumonia on March 14.

This short time between his start of service and his death has left the community group, Ryburgh Remembers, questioning the training he was given before being sent to the frontlines, particuarly when compared to fellow Ryburgh casualty Stanley Curson who enlisted in 1915 and went through 164 days of training before being sent to battle.

Pte Baker was born in Oxfordshire in 1883 but moved to Norfolk when he married to Edith Nobes of Little Ryburgh in 1915.

Today he lies in France among 1,266 Portland Stone graves at Warlincourt Halte British Cemetery in Saulty, where his gravestone is simply inscribed ‘Peace Perfect Peace’.

Ryburgh Remembers researcher Peter Trent said: “One of the successes of the project has been in the sharing of information with descendants and other family members.

“Pte Baker is one of those about whom we know very little and with a special commemoration arranged for March 17, we hope that even at this late stage to make contact with descendants or someone who can join us on the day or help enhance the short biography we’ve created.”

Through their research, Ryburgh Remembers has discovered that Joseph’s widow Edith lived in Highfield Lane, Great Ryburgh and that their son James attended the village school between May, 1921 and October, 1925 before being “removed to Snoring”.

Edith later remarried a Sidney J. Peel in Dereham in 1930 and they had a son Eric born in December of that year. In 1950, James William Thomas Baker married Daphne King and they also lived in the Dereham area.

Anyone with information on the descendants of Pte Baker, or who can help Ryburgh Remembers in their efforts to commemorate the fallen, can contact Steve Bushby on 07760 451755.

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