The Norwich friends killed on the same battlefield

Do you have a photograph of Norwich policeman Cornelius Skipper? You could help contribute to a book that will make sure that he will never be forgotten.

This is a story of two friends –Norwich policemen who went off to fight in the First World War and never came home. They were both killed on the same day and in the same battle.

Now an author is telling their story and is hoping Evening News readers can help him find a photograph of one of the men, Cornelius Skipper, to make sure he is never forgotten.

Sean Page is writing a book on the history of the 293 battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery and is looking for a picture and more details about Cornelius Skipper who was killed at the Battle of Passchendaele on October 12 1917.

He died along with another member of the Norwich City Police Force, Archibald Snelling. Both had been in the army for just six months.

Sean is being helped by former Norfolk CID chief turned author, Maurice Morson, who wrote the A Force Remembered, telling the story of the city police force.

He found a picture of Archie, thanks to Norfolk County Council Library and Information Service, but needs one of Cornelius and hopes that members of his family are still around.

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He was born on May 16 1889 and lived at Surlingham. The 1891 census places him with his widowed mother Harriet, elder brothers Thomas and Herbert and elder sisters Rachel and Ada.

Cornelius became a farm labourer and then joined the Norwich City Police in 1909, becoming Pc 80.

He married in 1914 and fathered twins, one of which died.

In a 1915 internal police report he refers only to his mother living with him and his last known address was in Stafford Street, Norwich.

During January 1917, while patrolling in Riverside Road, he jumped into the road to seize and bring to a halt bolting horses pulling a military wagon. He was commended and awarded one guinea.

In March he and his colleague Archibald Snelling both joined the army – they had consecutive numbers. Both were killed on October 17 on the Western Front.

Archie Snelling was born in Norwich on August 20 1888. His parents lived at 190 Waterloo Road. He worked as a clerk before joining the city police in 1911.

He had brothers and sisters and was married to Ellen (nee Wales). Her address was 72 Avenue Road, Park Lane, Norwich.

It is thought both men probably arrived together at Rugeley on March 31 1917 and were sent to the western front. They had consecutive army numbers.

Just before they were both killed they were involved in action associated with the third battle of Ypres, also known as Passchendaele, and had been moved to a precarious position near what was known as Hellfire Corner, which had been classed as the most dangerous place in the world. Also that day gunner Frank Burdett, a married man, of 41 Church Street, Northrepps, was also killed.

If you have a photograph of Cornelius Skipper please email the author at and if you do not have email then call me on Norwich (01603) 772420 and I will pass the information on.