Sunday, August 3, 2014
A close-knit community gathered to honour the 200 men that left their part of Norwich and never came back during a poignant service.
The names of all the soldiers from the St Luke’s, St Augustine’s and St Mary’s Coslany parishes of Norwich who died in the First World War were read out at the redundant St Augustine’s Church today on the eve of the centenary of the war starting.
The service in the building, looked after by the Churches Conservation Trust, was attended by more than 80 people and included hymns, bible readings, war poetry and popular songs sung by the soldiers during the Great War.
Rev Nicholas Vesey, who led the service, said they had gathered to remember the “courageous, but tragic” events of the first world war.
“The most important thing is to remember these people that went to war. We are the sons and daughter of those that survived and we need to think of those who are not here. We remember those killed in action or by disease and the families which were shattered and the wounded and maimed and those that held unspeakable memories of the war.”
“This was the war to end all wars and yet we are still in a situation where war is still going on.”
The service was followed by the launch of a new book by local historian Stuart McLaren, who spent 15 years researching the lives of 104 men from St Augustine’s who died in the Great War.
Mr McLaren, who wrote ‘They Are Not Dead’. A Norwich Parish in the First World War: Remembering a Lost Generation’ said there were only 79 names on the war memorial at the church, but he had found another 25 during his research.
He added that it was unusual that the name of a deserter, John Henry Abigail, of the 8th Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment appeared on the list of the parish’s war dead after he was shot dead by a firing squad before the Battle of Passchendaele.
He added that his book also included the biographies of four soldiers from the parish that survived the war.