Search

How Attleborough reacted to outbreak of the Great War a century ago

Recruits from Wymondham and Attleborough at Attleborough railway station.

Recruits from Wymondham and Attleborough at Attleborough railway station.

Archant

Monday marks the centenary of the start of the First World War. ANDREW PAPWORTH looks at how the town of Attleborough reacted to the outbreak of war 100 years ago.

Attleborough First World War soldiers.Attleborough First World War soldiers.

Attleborough residents perhaps did not realise the significance of what was happened when news the country was at war first broke.

Despite the fact Britain had just entered a global conflict which would later alter the course of history, many people living in the town travelled to Yarmouth and other coastal resorts to enjoy the hot Bank Holiday weekend.

However as people returned to work, a mood of national service soon swept the area as Attleborough became a recruiting station to get men signed up to the war effort.

George Ridgway, from Attleborough History Group - which has been researching the town during the war for a series of illustrated talks - said:

Recruits at Attleborough railway station.Recruits at Attleborough railway station.

“It was seen as being in the middle of this area of South Norfolk and to have a military presence, with Thetford and other military training areas nearby.”

It was also targeted by recruiters, he said, because it had a railway station in the middle of the town - which meant would-be soldiers could be signed up and taken straight down to the training camps.

“The mood was very much that it was about time we show German imperialism we’re going to get tough,” Mr Ridgway said.

“People thought that we haven’t been to war for many years, here’s a chance to show he Germans a thing or two and it’ll all be over by Christmas.”

Volunteers in Surrogate Street,Volunteers in Surrogate Street,

Those who were able to fight came under pressure to sign up.

“If your schoolmates were going, there was a sense of why weren’t you?” Mr Ridgway explained.

As such whole football and cricket teams signed up, with the result that 35 men had already enrolled within a few days of the declaration of war.

In total 550 people would go on to sign up out of a town with a population of 2,500 - more than one in five.

Recruits at Queen Square in Attleborough.Recruits at Queen Square in Attleborough.

When one considers that women, children and the elderly could not join, that meant an extremely high proportion of men who were eligible went off to the frontline.

“The impact was immediately felt in agriculture,” Mr Ridgway said.

“The harvest was coming up and young men were volunteering to give the Kaiser a bloody nose, instead of being out in the fields bringing in the crops.”

As a result farmers drafted women in to help on the land - a move Mr Ridgway said had been previously “unthinkable”.

The upbeat mood around the war effort in the town remained until the end of 1914, when people realised it was not going to be over by Christmas and shortages and rationing had also started to take effect. It was not long before the highly-structured society that had lasted throughout the Edwardian period would be dramatically altered by the war.

Attleborough Heritage Group is still looking for people who have stories, photographs and memorabilia of the First World War and their family’s involvement in it.

Its first presentation on Attleborough’s role in the First World War will take place on October 25.

Those who can help with contributions should call 01953 455887 or email info@attleboroughheritage.org.uk

How is your community marking the centenary of the First World War? Tell the Mercury by callling 01379 651153 or email dma.news@archant.co.uk

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Wymondham and Attleborough Mercury visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Wymondham and Attleborough Mercury staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Wymondham and Attleborough Mercury account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Other news

Yesterday, 18:24

Strong winds have blown over more than 230 trees in Norfolk this afternoon as Storm Doris sweeps across the region.

Yesterday, 22:37

About 25,000 homes across East Anglia remain without power overnight due to Storm Doris - and some may not be restored until Friday afternoon,

Yesterday, 17:00

Money, a jacket and a bottle of alcohol were stolen from a house in Wymondham during an evening break-in.

Yesterday, 13:05

Railway and air travel services are operating smoothly so far despite warnings of disruption due to stormy weather today.

Most Read

Yesterday, 18:24

Strong winds have blown over more than 230 trees in Norfolk this afternoon as Storm Doris sweeps across the region.

Read more
Norfolk County Council
Yesterday, 08:29

A former Norfolk detective who died after completing a half marathon in London has been described as a “highly respected and much loved member of the Force” by devastated colleagues.

Read more
Norfolk Police
Yesterday, 16:00

Most people may have given up on their New Year’s fitness resolutions - but one man is sticking with his as part of a challenge to run a half-marathon for every month this year.

Read more
Watton
Thursday, February 16, 2017

Three convenience stores could face closure, with up to 95 jobs at risk, after the owner placed them into administration.

Read more
United Kingdom
Tuesday, June 23, 2015

An inquest into the death of a prisoner at HMP Wayland, near Watton, has been opened.

Read more

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 7°C

min temp: 4°C

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Wymondham and Attleborough Mercury e-edition today E-edition

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter