Men at War - WW1
We shall remember them

17 names appear on the memorial to those who died in the Great War in Bracon Ash Church + 1 for a man killed in WW2 (above). These men are also commemorated on the War Memorial on the green, outside the Village Hall.

The memorial in Hethel Church has only 4 names of men who died in or soon after the Great War (right), but at least 2 other Hethel men are recorded elsewhere as their families moved. 

Hethel Church also houses a Roll of Honour listing the 588 personnel of the USAAF 389th Bombardment Group killed in action of missing.

We shall remember them....

Bracon Ash is fortunate to have a wonderful archive of photos of many of the men who went to war, compiled by Gladys Watling. Some did not return....

Click on the photos below to see some of the men commemorated on the war memorials, then scroll down for further information on those marked * and also on the men for whom we do not have photos. 

Many other men served their country and did come home. Scroll down to the second photo gallery to see some of them.

MEN OF BRACON ASH

Private Oscar ANDERSON
Norfolk Regiment, 7th Batn,. Labour Corps, 892nd Agricultural Coy. Service No.9472; d. 03/03/1919 in Horton War Hospital, Epsom, age 23; bur. Bracon Ash Churchyard.
Son of James & Susannah Anderson of Bracon Ash

'Now I have to admit to some slight interest here. My father, a builder, purchased a derelict property on Poorhouse Lane, Bracon Ash in about 1978 and I helped him gut it. It had been sold at auction by the Public Guardians office to pay for the long term care of the resident who was a mentally infirm young man. His elderly parents had looked after him until dying. The family name was Anderson.... In the leans to's were many pictures and papers - unfortunately too many had got mould or suffered from the damp, but I do have a couple of tattered pictures of soldiers from WW1 still. We also found the family bible, complete with family tree in the front cover... Oscar Anderson was moved from a Labour Company to an Agricultural Company, died at the age of 23 and is buried in Bracon churchyard. He isn't even commerated on the main panel for WW1 fatalities, even though there is room. Was poor Oscar the village simpleton of his generation, and what led to him being shoved round the back, out of sight...? I'd like to know....'

* AB Edward BUNN, d.09/07/1917 
Just before midnight on Monday, 9 July, 1917, the St Vincent class battleship HMS Vanguard suddenly blew up in Scapa Flow. She sank almost instantly, with only three of the crew surviving, one of whom died soon afterwards. A total of 843 men were lost.  It was a magazine explosion in one of the two magazines which served the amidships turrets 'P' and 'Q'. A definitive reason for the cause of the cordite explosion has never been found. The possiblities: (1) spontaneous detonation of cordite, which had become unstable; (2) the cordite having caught fire from heating in an adjacent compartment; (3) sabotage. Of the three, sabotage is the least likely: no agency or individual has ever claimed responsibility; there has never been any evidence turn up in support of the theory; and just as important is the fact that when she was lost, Vanguard was one of the least modern ships in the Grand Fleet. The security measures for her were no different than for the more recent arrivals in Scapa Flow. It stands to reason that any 'agent' with the ability to destroy a Royal Navy capital ship would choose one of the more powerful ones. Instead, the most likely cause was the second: a fire in an adjacent compartment (coal bunker or patent fuel space) which smouldered away undetected, long enough for some cordite near the adjoining bulkhead to overheat to dangerous levels. More information in Wikipedia.

Private Arthur CANHAM
A note on the back of this photos reads: 'Wounded May 23 1916. Bombing officer caught side of trench and bomb fell inside. Arthur tried to throw it out, but was [mortally] wounded to back and knee. Buried Grave no.6, Line3, Group 2, New Cemetery, Amiens'

Private Albert Ernest CHILESTONE
Durham Light Infantry, 13th Btn.; Service No.17268; killed in action 03/08/1916; commemorated on Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France. Born in Diss, attended Diss Secondary School, where he appears on the Roll of Honour.

Lance Corporal (John) Frederick MALLETT of East Carleton
Norfolk Regiment, 7th Battalion; Service No. 12494, d.13/10/1915; commemorated Loos Memorial. Born Bracon Ash 14 Dec 1884, baptised there 4th Feb 1885, son of James & Eleanor Mallett (nee Whitwood).
7th (Service) Battalion was formed at Norwich in August 1914 as part 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. Divisional training was completed near Aldershot from February 1915... Commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Caroll, 30 Officers and 954 other ranks embarked aboard the Invicta at Folkestone bound for Boulogne on 30th May 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... 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...  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. [They encountered] German machine gun fire from in front and from the direction of Slag Alley, opposite the Norfolks right flank. 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.
[From Great War Forum]

Private Harry NORMAN
Northumberland Fusiliers, Service No.9046; d. 15/09/1916, age 19; bur. Delville Wood Cemetery, Longueval. Son of Walter & Anna Norman of Bracon Ash.
Friday, 15th Sep 1916: The 4th Bn sent twenty-two officers and six hundred and ninety-five men into action that morning. The subsequent roll call revealed that 10 officers and 110 men had been killed, 7 officers and 229 men wounded and 143 were missing. Records show that at least 180 fusiliers from the 4th Bn were actually killed in action or died of wounds during the Battle of Flers-Courcellette. On cwgc - where 'Beacon Ash'

Private Robert Frederick PEEL 
Norfolk Regiment, 7th Btn; Service No.29735; d.30/11/1917 age 31; commemorated Cambrai Memorial, Louverval. Son of Robert & Maria Peel, The Lane, Bracon Ash; husband of Beatrice Pamela Maria Peel, The Street, Bracon Ash. [NOTE: there are 2 PEEL photos in the archive and some confusion which is Robert Frederick (details here) and which is Walter Edmund (details with picture above)] Certificate cwgc

James Albert SHAUL
Deck Hand, RN Reserve Unit, on H.M. Trawler 'Princess Beatrice'. Service No.1201DA; d. 05/10/1914; commemorated Portsmouth Naval Memorial. Son of Ernest & Mary Shaul of Gorleston; husband of Rosa Laura Edwards (formerly Shaul) of The Street, Bracon Ash, H.M.T 'Princess Beatrice' was converted from a Trawler to a Minesweeper in August 1914. She was lost when she struck a mine in October 1914.

Private E SMITH
Norfolk Regiment, 9th Btn; Service No. 290885; d.14/05/1918, age 28; bur. Etaples Military Cemetery. Husband of B M Lake (formerly Smith) of Bracon Ash. Certificate at cwgc

Rifleman Wilfred Robert STACKARD (Stackyard at cwgc website)
Kings Royal Rifle Corps, 16th Btn; Service No. A/205167; d. 03/11/1918, age 19; bur. St Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen. Son of William & Adelaide Stackard of Bracon Ash.

MEN OF HETHEL

Frederick Godfrey BIRD
Captain, RN Volunteer Reserve - Dover Patrol; d.29/12/1919 at Hethel Hall. Born in Rochester in 1868 into a family with  a long history of naval service: his father Frederic Vincent Godfrey Bird was Colonel Commander of the Chatham Division, Royal Marines Light Infantry when he died in 1899. His mother, Anne Narcissie Elsie Wood was born in Greece, daughter of a Vice-Consul. Joined Navy 15 Jan 1882 in training ship Britannia. Midshipman May 1884; Acting Sub-Lieutenant May 1888; Lieutenant May 1890; Lt. on HMS Agamemnon 1891; Lt. on HMS Diadem 1901; Commander Dec 1903. Placed on retired list June 1911 at his request. Married 29 Feb 1908 in Scole, Norfolk Elizabeth Whitlock (b. 1883 in Richmond, Virginia, USA). Served in Dover Patrol in WW1; mentioned in dispatches 1915: received Distinguished Service Medal. Also made a CMG for services (1918) and granted Legion d'Honeur (1918). Lived with family in Hethel Hall from 1912 until his death in 1919. Buried Chatham.

Private Reginald Hugh FULCHER
Coldstream Guards; service no.3527; killed in action 29/10/1914 age 37; commemorated Menin Gate. Born Scoulton 1877, son of Charles Fulcher, ag. lab. & Sarah Ann Saunders (both parents b. Wreningham). Family in Hethel by 1881. By 1901 Reginald was at Chelsea Barracks with Coldstream Guards. Probably a reservist called 'back to the colours' in 1914. Served with 1st Btn., part of 1 Corps commanded by Lt. Gen. Sir Douglas Haig. Killed in first Battle of Ypres. From official history: '...at Gheluvelt (6 miles E of Ypres) 1st Battalion suffered such casualties that it had no officers left and only 180 men. 4 days later, after reinforcements, it had once more been reduced to no officers and 120 men only'. 139 soldiers of Coldstream Guards died 29 Oct. 1914.

Private Alfred GOOCH
Norfolk Regiment, 1/5th Btn., Service No. 242312; killed in action in Palestine 19/04/1917, age 27; commemorated on Jerusalem Memorial, Jerusalem War Cemetery. Born Hethel 1889, son of Robert Gooch & Sarah Ann Porter (nee Banham) of Potash Lane, Hethel. In July 1915 the 1/5th Norfolks sailed from Liverpool to Gallipoli and were evacuated to Alexandria in Dec. 1915. Private Gooch killed fighting the Turks in 2nd Battle of Gaza: two Norfolk battalions and a Hampshire battalion fighting together. On 19th April 1917 the three battalions lost c.1500 men, including 2 commanding officers and all 12 company commanders.

Private Frederick William GOOCH - younger brother of Alfred (above)
47th Battalion (Br. Columbia) Light Infantry, CEF; Service No. 790547; killed in action 18/10/1918 age 35; bur. Chapel Corner Cemetery. Born Hethel 1883. Worked first for a butcher; went to Canada to farm in Ontario and returned home; emigrated 1913 with brother Percy from Liverpool on SS Lake Manitoba, bound for British Columbia. 1916 living in Cloverdale, Surrey, B.C. Enlisted at New Westminster 1 Feb 1916 with 104th Regiment Westminster Fusiliers of Canada which became part of 47th Battalion CEF. Fought at Somme (1916); Vimy Ridge (1917); Passhendale (1917). Private F Gooch killed 23 days before Armistice about 11am on 18th Oct 1918 'whilst his company was taking shelter behind some large haystacks on the outskirts of Fressain, during heavy shelling by the enemy. He was hit on the head and killed instantly by shrapnel when two large-calibre shells fell simultaneously about 10 feet away from one of the haystacks.' Initially buried in Crucifix Cemetery, Lecluse (W of Fressain); reburied in Chapel Corner Cemetery in front of the Cross of Remembrance. Also commemorated on the Cenotaph at Surrey, B.C. His papers can be seen online free at Library & Archives of Canada.

Lance-Corporal Sydney Ernest JOWLINGS
Norfolk Regiment, 7th Btn.; Service No. 29760; died of wounds 22/11/1917, age 23; buried Tincourt British Cemetery, France  Born at Potash Farm, Hethel 1894, son of Ernest & Marion Jowlings. By 1901 was living with his family near Hingham. In 1911 he was an apprentice butcher in Norwich. Probably wounded in the attack on the Hindenburg line on 20th Nov 1917. Commemorated on the Thuxton-with-Garveston war memorial in St Mary's churchyard, Garveston.

Lance-Corporal Robert George RAYNER
Norfolk Regiment, 9th Battalion, Infantry; Service No. 19555; killed in action 8/8/1918 in France, age 26. Buried Nine Elms British Cemetery; commemorated on Wreningham War Memorial. Born in Letheringsett in 1892, lived in Potash Lane, Hethel where he was a farm worker when he joined the Norfolks as a Private in June 1915. One of 9 children of John & Eliza Rayner, who had moved moved to Shipdham and then returned to Wreningham by 1918. He had a couple of spells in hospital in France - with 'flu in 1916 and with the effects of gas in 1918. He was promoted to Lance-Corporal in February 1918.

Private Sidney William RAYNER
Younger brother of Robert (above). 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers (Princess Victoria's Regiment); Service No. 18843; killed in action 12/10/1916 in France, age 19; commemorated Thiepval Memorial, Somme and Wreningham War Memorial. Born in Great Ryburgh in 1897, living in Hethel in 1901 and 1911, at Little Potash. During the war his parents moved to Shipdham and then to Wreningham, which is why he and his brother are commemorated there rather than Hethel.

They Also Served

[The captions are those that appear with the photos - including queries in some cases.] 

Others who served (from 1918 Absent Voters List) are:
Thomas ADDERSON of Mergate - Private, 16th Lancers (service no.6585)
Arthur William ADCOCK - Private, 1/4 Norfolks (service no.20028)
Oscar ANDERSON of The Street - Private, 692nd Agricultural Company (service no.467650)
Percy ANDERSON of The Street - Sergeant, M.G.C. (service no.50743)
Samuel Gordon CARVER, of 'Folly' (Long Lane?) - Private, 428th Agricultural Company (service no.491644)
William CORBOULD-WARREN, Bracon Lodge - 2nd-Lieutenant, 66th Punjab Indian Army
Walter Stanley Cubitt CRAWSHAY, Mergate Hall - Captain & Adjutant, 5th Royal Irish Lancers
Alfred DUFFIN of The Street - Private, 430th Agricultural Company (service no.150702)
Joseph GINN of The Street - Private, M.G.C. (service no.7049)
Harry HAZEL of Hawke's Lane - Corporal, 51st Bedfordshire Regiment (service no.TR/9/1190)
James Sidney KAY, Bracon Lodge - Captain, A.P.M. M.F.P.
William MACKREL, The Street - Driver, Horse Transport, Army Service Corps (service no. 382655)
Arthur Richard MIDDLETON, The Street - Private, 1st Norfolks (service no.29547)
Wilfred STACKARD, Hawkes Lane - Private, 16th Battery K.R.R. (service no.A/205167)
Francis David SMITH, Poor House Lane - Driver, 114th Company, Army Service Corps (service no. T/4/057947)
Frederick Henry STUBBINGS, Poor House Lane - Private, 661st Agricultural Company (no.240417)
Nathaniel WILKERSON, The Street - Acting-Lieutenant-Stoker, RN, HMS 'Queen Elizabeth' (service no.K/18267)

MEN FROM HETHEL 

James AMIS
Son of Alice Mary Amis of Hethel. Signed up in Norwich Dec 1915, age 18, a labourer. Assigned to Royal Sussex Regiment. Service No. 205689. Sent to signalling unit. Admitted to hospital in Woolwich with gas poisoning, 1917. Wounded and in hospital in Portsmouth, then Leicester Aug-Oct 1918 before being discharged from army in 1919.

George Alfred BARNARD
Served in 4th Norfolk Volunteers; then Royal Army Service Corps,  Motor Transport Unit from 1915; service no. 034091. Born in West Bradenham, Norfolk, c.1885. A coachman in Hethel in 1911; moved to Sandhurst in 1912; served as a driver. Married to Winifred Alice (born Ashwellthorpe).

William Edward DAWKINS
Gave his home address as 'Brewerton's Yard', between the church and the crossroads (1918 Absentee Voters List). He was a Private in the Essex Regiment, Service No.35006

Albert Edward ELLIS
Lived near Hethel Church (1918 Absentee Voters List). Served as a Gunner in the Royal Field Artillery, Service No.153921

Private William James GOLDSPINK
Labour Corps; Service No. 78064.  A gardener in Hethel in 1911. Married Alice Maud Cunningham in 1914 and they went on to have 9 children. Living in Bracon Ash when he enlisted in 1915. Discharged unfit in April 1918.  Returned to live in Cambridgeshire where he died in 1960.

Percy James GOOCH
1st Btn, British Columbia Regiment; Service No. 273433 Brother of Frederick William Gooch who died (see above). Born 12 Dec 1891, he had also emigrated to Canada and was a farmer in Clovedale, BC when he was drafted into the Canadian Expeditionary Force, age 27. His parents were still living in Hethel. Returned to Canada in 1919 and married Elizabeth Nuttall in 1920. Continued farming until he died in 1936.

William KETT
Lived at Brewertons. A Private (no.532555) in the 696th Agricultural Company  (1918 Absentee Voters List).

George Mutimer RACKHAM
Lived at Hill Farm. By 1918 he was a Cadet in the 1st Cavalry Cadet School, no.12016  (1918 Absentee Voters List)

If anyone has further information on any of these men, or of anyone else connected with Bracon Ash & Hethel who fought in WW1, or you can enlighten us where there are queries, then we'd be delighted if you would contact us!

[With thanks to Heather & Alf Barnes and Alison Lee for research and John Betts for photos]