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Dereham roll of honour on display

PUBLISHED: 18:32 02 June 2009 | UPDATED: 15:16 07 July 2010

The Roll of Honour is unveiled at Dereham Library. It features names of the men involved with the first world war. Pictured is Dawn Brightman from the Town Council who started the project of restoration.

The Roll of Honour is unveiled at Dereham Library. It features names of the men involved with the first world war. Pictured is Dawn Brightman from the Town Council who started the project of restoration.

June 19 this month will mark 90 years since the Treaty of Versailles was officially signed, marking peace in Europe and an end to the Great War.

It was a horrific and long war which saw more than 900,000 British men killed fighting for their country.

June 19 this month will mark 90 years since the Treaty of Versailles was officially signed, marking peace in Europe and an end to the Great War.

It was a horrific and long war which saw more than 900,000 British men killed fighting for their country.

Now, thanks to a surprise find in a council office cupboard, the just over 1,000 men who served in the war from one Norfolk market town are to be remembered again.

A 1919 Roll of Honour naming all of those who signed up in Dereham went on display on Thursday after being lost for years.

Janet Harvey, whose father Robert signed up to the Royal Engineers in 1915, saw her father's name on the list for the first time as the newly restored roll was unveiled.

She still has the tin hat that he said saved his life as he was fighting in the trenches on the front, his trench digging tool and a violin he brought back with him.

“He bought the violin in France on his way back from the war,” said Mrs Harvey.

“He had volunteered to go; he was one of Kitchener's men and wanted to do what he could for his country.”

Mr Larner, who died in 1951 aged 71, was one of a family of builders and had left the family business to go to war, becoming a sergeant and supervising the building of bridges, trenches and also wells.

“They had a very rough time,” said Mrs Harvey, who lives in Dereham.

“When he came back the business had fallen apart because no one could afford to buy houses.”

He became a part-time violin teacher alongside a day job at St Faiths and Aylsham Rural District Council as a building surveyor.

He had played violin before going to war and had made them with his skills as a carpenter.

The war made such an impression on him that he had named his Norwich home after a site in France, Hebuterne, near Arras, where he had seen many men go over the top, not to return, and the chaplain going around the dead.

The roll, which lists rank and well as injuries suffered by the men and where they died if they died, will be on show in the town's library, in High Street, for three weeks before finding a more permanent home in the town's Memorial Hall.

According to contemporary accounts, it was first unveiled in the parish church the day after the July 19 Peace Day Celebrations in 1919.

Tony Needham, town clerk, said: “We found it in the back of the storage cupboard. We think it was given to us a number of years ago, we don't know who by or why.

“It is something that needs preserving. The really interesting thing about it is the sheer number of people involved and that it includes everyone who fought, not just those who died.

“It must have been every male of a certain age in the town, every family would have known someone on it and many will still today.”

If you have any memorabilia or information about men mentioned on the roll of honour, please contact the town council on 01362 693821.

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