The WW1 Commemoration Map

This map of Bergh Apton shows you where all the commemorative figures are placed throughout the village.  In the great majority of cases the figure stands outside a house where we know a man lived during his life in the village.  Others stand  where our research gives us confidence that we know the road but not the precise house.  In only five cases are we uncertain of the right place; three are at the church gates and two are at the junction of Dodger’s Lane – that was once known as Weddup’s Lane.

The key is as follows:
1.  ALEXANDER, Walter             2.  ANNIS, Arthur
3.  BEAUMONT, Robert             4.  BLIGH, Alfred
5.  BOGGIS, Alfred                       6.  BRACEY William
7.  CARR, Leonard                        8.  CUBITT, Alfred
9.  DAVEY, Edward                     10.  ETHERIDGE, Horace
11. EVERETT, Leonard              12.  GILLINGWATER, Victor
13. GREENACRE, Henry          14.  GREENACRE, Charles
15. HARBER, Freeman             16.  HARVEY, Albert
17. HUNT, Ernest                         18.  KEDGE, Sidney
19. KEELER, Sidney                  20.  KING, Alfred
21. LEEDER, Ernest                   22.  MACE, Albert
23. MARKS, Sydney                 24.  MAYES, Harry
25. MITCHELL, Reginald       26.  PARKER, Albert
27. PRESTON, John                 28.   ROPE, Alfred
29. ROPE, Leonard                  30. STARMAN, William
31. STONE, Aubrey                  32. STONE Thomas
33. THROWER, Herbert       34. THROWER, Walter
35. WALL, Clement                36. WEDDUP, Charles
37. WRIGHT, James                38. ALL WHO DIED

We have made a start in the quite daunting task of providing you with a page of information and captioned photographs for each man.

“Daunting” because there are thirty-seven of them and our knowledge of each man is comprehensive. Thus we must take care to tell you what we know but in a form and volume that will not overwhelm!  The same is true, in the case of many of our men,  of photographs.

But the task has begun and, in due course, we will have put on record something about each one of these men whom we honour in these pages.

John Preston

7609, Sergeant
2nd Battalion, Norfolk Regt and Bombay City Police
Who died aged 29 on 9th January 1920
Buried in Sewri Cemetery in Bombay, India

Family Background
John Preston was the son of Fred & Sarah Honor Preston of The Bell at Hellington Corner on the main road from Norwich to Lowestoft.   He was baptised in Bergh Apton church on 30th March 1890.

As 1914 drew to a close John Preston (then aged 24) sent this Christmas Greetings card to his family in Bergh Apton from Belgaum, 2nd Norfolk Battalion’s base in India.

Military Service
Of all Bergh Apton’s war dead John Preston is one of the most intriguing in that he does not appear in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database of men who died.

He was a professional soldier who was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, (the highest decoration for bravery after the Victoria Cross) in 1915 for his actions at the Battle of Barjiseyah Wood to the south of Basra.

In the 1911 Census John Preston is listed as a Private soldier, a Musician, serving in the 2nd Bn the Norfolk Regiment based in Belgaum, India, 500 km south of modern Mumbai.

Army Musiscians’ duities in battle are usually as stretcher-bearers so it is reasonable to assume that his bravery award was related to that role.

Following that battle his service record shows that he was saddled with long-term illness and hospitalisation and, eventually, his discharge from the Army in 1919 after which he continued service to the Crown in the Bombay Police with the rank of Sergeant.

This Delhi studio portrait of John Preston with his wife Agatha was sent back to Bergh Apton in 1919.  The absence of Norfolk Regiment collar-badges indicates that, by the time this photograph was taekn, he had left the Army.

Though John Preston died well after the Armistice of November 1918 his name was added to our village war memorial on the grounds that his death was directly linked to his war service in Mesopotamia.

More Family Background

The Hellington Bell public house (now Bell House) on the main road from Norwich to Lowestoft, was John Preston’s boyhood home in Bergh Apton

John Preston came to our attention when we found that a memorial service had been held for him in Bergh Apton’s parish church on 12th March 1920.

Two years of searching, and a few strokes of luck, eventually tracked down his burial in Bombay’s  Sewri cemetery following his death on 9th January 1920 from pneumonia while was serving with the Bombay City Police.

Following that lead we then found that Preston had married Agatha Gabriella da Rosario, who was of Portuguese descent, in Bombay on 19th May 1919 while still serving in the 2nd Norfolks.

His widow and his son Leyton, who died a young man, were frequent visitors to John’s parents who, by that time, had moved to the old Star public house on Star Lane, off the road from Hellington to Rockland St Mary.

The  Sewri Cemetery plot where John Preston was buried is now occupied by another grave but Chris Johnson, visting Bombay in 2014, placed this poppy cross – first laid in Preston’s memory in  Bergh Apton’s  churchyard on Remembrance Day 2013 – in the approximate location of Preston’s grave.
Preston’s parents Fred and Sarah outside the old Star Inn, Rockland that was their home in retirement.  They are with Agatha and her son Leyton, with someone identified only as “Lilly”

Horace Etheridge

242455, Private
1st/5th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment
Who died aged 21 on 22nd April 1917
Buried in the Kantara War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt

Family Background
Horace Etheridge, the son of James and Martha (née Mace), was born in Thurton in early 1895.  Both his parents came from long-established Bergh Apton families and he is related to both Albert George Mace and Walter Bracey whose names are also on the Bergh Apton war memorial.

Horace Etheridge and Albert Mace were baptised together in Bergh Apton parish church on 28th July 1895.

Military Service
Horace volunteered to fight and enlisted on 2nd October 1914 in the 6th (Territorial) Battalion the Norfolk Regiment.  He then served in both the 1st and 3rd Battalions before transferring in February 1917 to the 1st/5th Norfolks with whom he was serving when he died.

The history of the Norfolk Regiment (F Lorain Petrie pub. Jarrold & Sons) records in some detail the disaster of the Second Battle of Gaza fought between 17th and 19th April 1917.  It tells us that the 1st/5th Battalion suffered 662 casualties in an attack on the Turkish defences at Gaza on the morning of 19th April.

Horace’s entry in the Norfolk Regiment’s Casualty Book (the “Wounds Book”) records that he was wounded and evacuate to 45th Stationary Hospital at El Arish, 50 miles to the south of Gaza and died there two days later.

He was first buried near Gaza in the El Arish war cemetery close by the 45th Stationary Hospital but that was closed soon after the Armistice of 1918.  The dead within it were re-interred in Al Kantara cemetery on the northern outskirts of the town now called Al Quantara on the Suez Canal.

More Family Background
At the time of the 1901 Census the family was living in the southern half of what is now Meadow View on White Heath Road (named as Thurton Road in the 1901 Census return) in Bergh Apton.

Ten years later they had moved a few hundred yards up the road to another semi-detached pair of farm cottages where Horace is listed as a 15 year-old “Cowman of farm”.

The family later moved to Caistor St Edmund and then to Rackheath where, after the was, their parents had the names of both Horace and his half-brother Albert Mace put on the war memorial in that village.

In a Bergh Apton newsletter of 1906 we found Horace listed amongst those rewarded on School Prize Day, 20th July, for perfect attendance.  Other prize-winners that day were Hubert Rope, Aubrey Stone, Albert Harvey and Charles Greenacre, all of whom died in the First World War.