Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence

Lest We Forget
British Legion
The Royal British Legion


World War 1 & 2 and Other - Detailed Information
Compiled and Copyright © Photographed by Margaret Dickinson
2004; researched John Ling 2005

The memorial stands in the grounds of St Peter and St Paul's Church, bergh Apton. It takes the form of a two stepped base surmounted by a pedestal with a plinth, a tapered shaft and a gabled cross; inscriptions are on the side of the plinth. Oriignally there were 20 names for World War 1 and 5 for World War 2. The memorial has been cleaned, repaired and shelter-coated, all the existing names have been re-cut and sixteen names were added (10 World War 1 and 6 World War 2) of boys who were born, baptised, educated, loved in or were married in the village. The red-dedication took place on Friday 24th May 2007.

1914-1918 AND 1939-1945

The Town & County column of the Eastern Daily Press on 6 August 1919 included a report on the celebrations in the Norfolk village of Bergh Apton for the safe return of its young men after the Great War. The report indicates something of the scale of the sacrifice too, in the following excerpt:

A Toast to those who had fallen in the service of their Country was proposed by Mr T H Denny-Cooke. He mentioned that out of a population of 400 Bergh Apton had contributed 80 men to the defence of their country of whom 20 had made the great sacrifice and in whose honour the parish are(sic) about to erect a Memorial Cross in the churchyard as a token of their gratitude and thanks.

Using even a very rough yardstick one may calculate that, if 120 villagers were women and another were children, and if 60 men too old for war service, that would leave 100 men of military service age. Eighty of them went to war, and one in every four died. That is a huge sacrifice.

This is a summary of what we know of each one of them, and of the five who were killed in the Second World War. There are few who now remember the men who died between 1939 and 1945 and no one is alive today who knew those killed between 1914 and 1918. To build a picture of each man we have started with Commonwealth War Graves Commission records and then spent long hours in other avenues of research.

We must thank some relatives for the help they were able to give us. They are Peter Annis, nephew of Arthur Annis; Ron Cain, brother of Leonard Cain; Peter Rope, nephew of Alfred and Leonard Rope; Bernie and Di Webb who were so close as to have been virtual family to the late Herbert Boggis who was the son of Alfred Boggis MM; Anna Stratton and Joy Lester, nieces of Clement Wall; and finally Annie Rainbow, a niece of Sydney Keeler. I am also indebted to researcher Dan Breen in Canada who was a vital link in the successful search for information about Walter Alexander.

Here, then, is the story of each of Bergh Apton’s men who died for his country and the future of this village. This is a summary, but more details, and illustrations, will be found in The Book of Bergh Apton by Geoffrey Kelly published by Halsgrove of Honiton in 2005 (ISBN 1 841144 185) in which John Ling has provided an appendix on the war dead of the village.

Photograph Copyright © Margaret Dickinson 2004
Photograph Copyright © John Ling 2005



Walter Earnest

Lance Corporal 1st Battalion, Royal Newfoundland Regiment.

Walter emigrated to Canada at some point before 1914 and signed on at St Johns, Newfoundland on 30 April 1915 when living in Boswarlos on the island’s West coast. He was wounded by shell shrapnel on 2 July (the second day of the First Battle of the Somme) and died of his wounds in a Casualty Clearing Station. He died on 5 July 1916, aged 24 and is buried at Beauval, near Amiens.

His parents Robert and Annie Alexander lived at Verandah Cottages on Cooke’s Road until shortly before Walter died, and ended their days at Holly Hill on Sunnyside.


Arthur William

[Recorded on the memorial as Arthur James ANNIS] Private 7th Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment.

Arthur was the son of Samuel and Rosetta Annis of The Street, Bergh Apton. He was wounded in the Fricourt/Mametz sector during the first Battle of the Somme and died aged 34 on 24 July 1916. The fact that he is buried in Rouen’s St Sever cemetery indicates that he died of his wounds in one of the base hospitals around Rouen and Etaples.

The war memorial gives his name as Arthur James but that is an error. The confusion in name may have related to the fact that he had a brother James who had been a policemen before 1914. James survived the war in which he served with the Royal Flying Corps and rejoined the Metropolitan Police before returning to Bergh Apton as a market gardener, a business carried on by his son Peter.


Robert George

Private 22nd Battalion, the Manchester Regiment.

Robert died, aged 29, on 4th October 1917 but his body was never recovered. His name is on the Tyne Cot Memorial at Zonnebeke in Belgium. He was the son of Robert and Jane Beaumont of Sunnyside, Bergh Apton and husband of Ellen who lived at 2, Kimberley St, Norwich.

Robert died on the first day of an action known as ‘The Battle of Brooseinde’. The Manchesters suffered very heavy casualties there, losing 281 men of all ranks killed, missing or wounded in the fighting.


John Alfred

Corporal 9th Battalion, the Norfolk Regiment.

Alfred died aged 37 on 8 October 1918, only a month before the end of the war. He is buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery at Gouy near Cambrai, having been moved there from Brancourt le Grand where he was originally interred.

In a letter to his widow Rosa the Chaplain of the 9th Norfolks wrote ‘I am just writing to express my deep sympathy for you in the death of your husband in action on Oct 8th. . . . . . He was thought very highly of in this Battalion and I am glad to think of him as one of my friends for a long time’.

At the age of 37 Alfred John Boggis was a mature man, and one of already-proven bravery by the award of the Military Medal. One senses from the Padre’s letter that he had attributes of steadiness and loyalty that must have been a great help to many younger soldiers in their teens and early twenties who served with him.

He was the son of Alfred and Sabina Boggis of Yelverton and was married to Rosa. He had three children, Alfred, Herbert and Ivy.


Walter Wilfred

[Listed on memorial as Charles W W BRACEY] Royal Navy Reserve

The Eastern Daily Press of 24 September 1914 carried a report on Bergh Apton’s Harvest Festival. It included the fact that that the Rector, H W G Thursby, gave the condolences of the village to Mr Bracey on the death of his son who was the first Bergh Apton man to die in the war.

He was nineteen and was serving on the trawler “Eyrie” when she sailed as part of a minesweeping flotilla to clear a German minefield laid in the Humber at the very start of the First World War. The ship sank when a mine hit it on 2 September 1914. It was less than a month after Britain entered the war on 4 August.

His name of the war memorial is given as Charles W W Bracey but that is an error. He was the son of Frederick Bracey, later of Claxton. Walter’s name is on the Royal Navy memorial at Chatham in Kent.


Victor George

Private 1st Battalion, Royal Marines Light Infantry (RMLI)

Victor died aged 20 on 17 February 1917 and is buried in Queen’s Cemetery, Bucquoy, near Arras, only a few kilometres from a sunken road between Grandcourt and Miraumont in which he died as part of an action included in a report to Parliament by General Douglas Haig in May of that year. Sixty-four Marines were killed.

On enlistment Gillingwater gave his address as Bussey Bridge, Bergh Apton. The discovery of an RMLI collar badge in the garden of a cottage at Bussey Bridge in 2003 gives us confidence that we have found his home and that of his parents George and Mary Gillingwater.

(A connection between Gillingwater and Alfred Rope, also of Bergh Apton, is included in the story of the latter)


Charles William

Private 2nd Battalion, the Norfolk Regiment.

The date of Charles Greenacre’s death is given as 22 April 1916. At that time the Norfolk’s 2nd Battalion was part of Major General Charles Townsend’s force besieged by the Turks at Kut al Amara. Charles may have died of starvation or disease during last week of the siege that ended on 29th April 1916. It was, after Gallipoli, Britain’s second greatest WW1 military disaster.

There is, however, a second possibility, involving a British force sent to relieve Kut. It included a unit nicknamed ‘The Norsets’ (comprising men of both the Norfolk and Dorset Regiments) and he may well have been a part of that unit that came up against the Turks at Sanniyat on the River Tigris. In the ensuing action, on the day he is reported to have been killed, the Norsets lost forty four men and he may well have been amongst them.

The whole attack failed, and its failure led directly to Townsend’s decision to surrender the Kut garrison to General Khalil Pasha.

He is remembered on the British War Memorial in Iraq, originally erected in Basrah, but moved to Al Nasiriyah in 1997 on the orders of the Iraqi government. It was badly damaged in the more recent conflict but has now been restored and re-dedicated.

Charles was born in Westwick in north Norfolk but his mother Hannah (née Loyd) was a Bergh Apton girl who had returned to her native village by the time of Charles’s death. She and her husband William and family lived at 4, Sunnyside.

Charles’s brother Henry (q.v. below) was also killed in this war.


Henry George Valentine

Private 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards.

Henry was killed aged 24 on 27 March 1916, only twenty-six days after his brother Charles died in Iraq. He is buried in the Menin Road South Cemetery at Ypres in Belgium.

Henry was baptised in Bergh Apton 13 March 1890, the only one of Hannah Greenacre’s six children to be born in her native village. His wife Louisa (née Keeler) was living in Brooke when he was killed but on the Electoral Roll of 1939 she is recorded as living with her parents at the Hellington Bell public house in Bergh Apton where her father was landlord. She is buried in Bergh Apton’s churchyard.


Sidney Richard

Private 6th Battalion, The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment.

Sidney was killed, aged 21, on Saturday, 8th July 1916. His body was never found and he is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.

We can at present find no village connection to explain why he is on the memorial in Bergh Apton but there is only one man of this name in the entire Commonwealth War Graves Commission record for the First World War so it is likely to be him.

A man of the right age was born in Eynsford in Kent whose father Richard Kedge was a farm labourer and his work might have brought him to Bergh Apton. We shall keep searching for the reason amongst the records.


Sydney George

Private 41st Bn, Machine Gun Corps (Infantry)

Sydney Keeler was killed on 25th July 1918 and is buried in the war cemetery at Lijssenthoek near Poperinge in Belgium, a little to the west of Ypres.

At nineteen years of age he, with Walter Bracey, was the youngest of our village men to die.

He was the son of John and Martha Keeler of Cooke’s Road on the borders of Bergh Apton and Thurton.


Ernest Albert

Private 11th Battalion, Australian Infantry.

Ernest had emigrated to Australia in 1912 and enlisted in the Australian infantry on 24 January 1916 in Bunberry. He died on 16 April 1917 but his body was never recovered. He is remembered on the impressive Australian Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux near Amiens.

We have no record of precisely how he died but many men in his battalion died that day in a fierce fight at the village of Lagnicourt in which they ran out of ammunition, and where Lieutenant Charles Pope was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.

His enlistment papers tell us that his brother farmed at Town Farm and his mother Sophia Maria Leeder farmed at the neighbouring Valley Farm on Welbeck Road. She had lost her husband Edmund only the year before she lost this son.

As well as being remembered on Bergh Apton’s own memorial Ernest’s name is included on the memorial in the park at Donnybrook in Western Australia, and on the Roll of Honour in the town’s Memorial Hall.


Sidney Richard

No further information currently


Harry Samuel

Private 7th Battalion the Norfolk Regiment.

Harry was killed 1 October 1915 but his body was never found. His name is on the Loos Memorial at Lens in the Pas de Calais (the spot known as ‘Dud Corner’). Army records have only one soldier of this name killed so we are confident that this is the man on our Memorial, but we have yet to find detail of his particular part of the widespread Mayes family that lived in the village.

By sad co-incidence, when researching his details in the Records Office, we noticed that his birth was recorded on the same page of the Registry of Births as that of Walter Wilfred Bracey (q.v.) who had been killed in 1914.


Albert William

Pioneer, 392 Road Construction Company, Royal Engineers.

Albert was killed on 9 February 1917 and is buried in St Pol Communal Cemetery Extension at St Pol sur Ternoise in the Pas de Calais.

He was the husband of Rose Parker and lived at Hellington Corner in Bergh Apton. There is an interesting footnote here in that the Unknown Warrior who is buried in Westminster Abbey to represent all the dead of the First World War was taken from this Cemetery.


Sydney Herbert

probably Sidney Herbert Marks, Private 1st Bn, The Essex Regiment

It is not yet proven, but we are confident that this is the man recorded on our Memorial. He was killed on 8 October 1917 and that date fits with an entry in Bergh Apton parish church’s Register of Services that records a memorial service held for Private S Marks on 2 December 1917. The very fact that a memorial service was held for him also suggests that he had a close connection in some way with the village.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records that his wife lived in Norwich, only six miles away, so the next step in research will begin there.

The CWGC record also says that he was ‘employed by the late Captain Lord Richard Wellesley of the Grenadier Guards’ (who had died on 29 October 1914). This intriguing note may give us something else to go on in further researches into Sidney, one of only two people who remain a complete mystery to us.


Alfred Hubert

Private Royal Marines Light Infantry (RMLI)

Alfred Rope died aged 23 on 5 May 1917. He is one of 10,769 soldiers buried in Etaples Military Cemetery close to the British Expeditionary Force’s main base that included a military hospital complex where, even ten months after the final Armistice in September 1919, three hospitals and a QMAAC convalescent depot remained to treat men seriously wounded in battle.

Alfred Rope was the one of the two sons of Aaron and Ellen Alice Rope of Holly Farm on Loddon Road, both of whom was to be killed within a little over a year.

His Birth Certificate records him as Alfred Hubert and in the 1901 Census he is listed as Herbert, but his CWGC record has him as Hubert Alfred. We can be confident that he was called Hubert in the village as it was that name entered in the church service record by the Reverend Harvey Thursby after his Memorial service on 8 June 1917.

He volunteered for the Royal Marines on exactly the same date and at the same London recruiting office as his near-neighbour Victor Gillingwater (q.v.). Even their service numbers are consecutive. Victor lived at Bussey Bridge – literally a few hundred yards from the Rope farmstead, and it seems clear that these boys were friends who went to London together to enlist for the great adventure, and died within a month of each other in 1917.


Leonard Godfrey

Private 31st Battalion, Canadian Infantry (the Alberta Regiment).

Alfred Rope’s brother Leonard was killed at St Eloi aged 27 on 7 April 1916 but his body was never found. He is remembered on the Menin Gate at Ypres in Belgium.

His parents Aaron and Ellen Alice Rope farmed at Holly Farm on Loddon Road. He enlisted as a volunteer in Calgary Alberta on 8 April 1915 - his 27th birthday but we have few details of his travels between Bergh Apton and western Canada except that he left this village in about 1912.

He joined the 31st Battalion (Alberta Regiment), part of the Canadian Army’s 5th Brigade that became known as the “Iron Fifth” for its exploits under the command of Lt Colonel (later Brigadier General) Ketchen.

His death may well have occurred in an event recorded by G E Hewitt in his book ‘History of 28th Battalion’ (Charles and Son, London) that records the war of one of the the 31st’s sister battalions:

‘April 7, 1916. An attack was made during the night of April 6 - 7 on craters 4 & 5 by bombing parties from 25th, 28th and 31st Battalions led by Lt Murphy of 25th Battalion. They reported that, despite heavy rain and shellfire, they got quite close to the craters before being repulsed. In fact, they lost their way in the dark and occupied a group of craters north of crater 4 and, though they captured several small German patrols, they had failed to even identify their objective correctly’.

Hewitt goes on to say ‘The following night, April 7 - 8, the 6th Brigade was relieved after suffering 617 casualties in the preceding four days of fighting’.

It is probable that Leonard was amongst the 617 men who died in the fighting in one of those raiding parties. It had been the eve of his twenty-eighth birthday.


Aubrey Samuel

Lance Corporal 9th Battalion, the Norfolk Regiment.

Aubrey was killed on 17 September 1916 but his body was never recovered and he is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial together with Sidney Kedge (q.v.).

Commonwealth War Graves Commission records do not include his next-of-kin but he was the son of John and Mary Stone of The Street in Bergh Apton, and he was one of eleven children. His mother’s maiden name was Bracey so he may also have been related to Walter Wilfred Bracey (q.v.). Aubrey’s nephew John Clemence still lives at Davy Place in Loddon


Clement Sidney

Private 8th Battalion the Norfolk Regiment.

Clement had three other brothers who all fought in the Great War and survived. He was killed aged 29 on 11 August 1917 and is buried in the Railway Ground at Zillebeke near Ypres.

He was the son of Leonard and Anna Maria Wall of The Street in Bergh Apton, and uncle to Joy Lester of this village, Anna Stratton of Thurton and to Olive Hudson of Harleston. His parents and his sister Lily Scarles are buried in Bergh Apton churchyard.

Clement worked for Mr Redgrave the builder of The Beeches in Threadneedle Street. His niece Anna Stratton told us that he was a runner of some repute who would often pay small children a half-penny or a penny to time him on training runs. On one occasion he ran to Denton to take part in a race, won the race, and ran home again. The round-trip distance he ran just to take part was over thirty-six miles!


Charles Daniel

Private, 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards

Charles was one of two village men to die in the service of this famous Regiment raised in the Scottish borders. He was killed on 17 October 1915 but like so many has no known grave. His name is on the same Loos Memorial as that of Harry Mayes who died only two weeks before him.

We have no details yet of his family but his birth is recorded in the Norwich register for the June Quarter of 1895. When we check that it may link him to Annie Weddup who lived in The Street in Bergh Apton at the beginning of the war.


James Robert

P/7989, Lance Corporal, Military Police Corps (The Red Caps).

James was 33 years old when he died of fever on 17 December 1918, over a month after the Armistice, aboard a hospital ship in the harbour at Alexandria.

He is buried in Cairo War Memorial Cemetery. His parents Robert and Elizabeth Wright of Sunnyside Bergh Apton are buried in our churchyard. His wife Annie Elizabeth Wright is also buried here.



Leonard Walter George

Private 7th Battalion, the Royal Norfolk Regiment.

Leonard was 24 when he was killed on 8 August 1944 as the British Army advanced through Normandy following the D-Day landings.

He died during an action that pitted the 7th Royal Norfolks against tanks of the 12th Panzer Division outside the village of Grimbosq on the River Orne some 17 kilometres south of Caen. In this action Major David Jamieson, commanding Leonard Cain’s Company, won the Victoria Cross.

Leonard was the husband of Miriam and the son of Walter and Clara Elizabeth Cain of Framingham Pigot and later of Prospect Place, Bergh Apton. He is buried in Bayeux Cemetery.


Jack Edmond

Sergeant 75th (RNZAF) Squadron, RAF Volunteer Reserve

Jack was killed aged 21 on Monday, 16 August 1943 on a raid over the Gironde Estuary (Bay of Biscay) where his aircraft was lost. His body was never found and he is remembered on the RAF Memorial at Runnymede.

He was an Air Gunner, trained in Canada and part of a Squadron of which the original nucleus was Wellington bombers contributed by the New Zealand government and flown by Kiwis. His own crew, flying in a Short Stirling bomber and engaged on a mine-laying (‘gardening’) mission, was flown and navigated by New Zealanders and had a Canadian bomb aimer. Jack was the rear gunner.

He was the son of Arthur and Ethel Lovewell who ran the village shop on Threadneedle Street and owned much of the land around the crossroads where Threadneedle Street and Mill Road meet in Bergh Apton. They are buried in our churchyard but his brother Brian, at the time of writing (August 2005) is still alive and living in Lincolnshire.


Archibald Russell

Leading Seaman, Royal Navy.

Archie died on 19 Feb 1941 while serving in HMS Warspite in the Mediterranean. We have been told by the son of a shipmate that he was the victim of an infection rather than injury. He is buried in Ramla (formerly Ralmeh) War Cemetery in Palestine, 12 kilometres south-east of Jaffa. We understand - and hope - that this is a different place from the Rameleh where so much destruction has taken place in recent fighting.

Archie was the brother of Jack Mayes (q.v.) who died later that year. His family lived at Prospect Place in Bergh Apton, on the A146 between Norwich and Lowestoft.


John Arthur (Jack)

Petty Officer (Cook), Royal Navy

Jack Mayes served in the Destroyer HMS Cossack and was killed aged 38 on the night of 23 October 1941 when the Tribal class Destroyer was torpedoed and sank in the Mediterranean with the loss of 158 lives.

His body was not recovered and he is remembered on the Royal Navy Memorial in Portsmouth. He was the brother of Archie Mayes (q.v. above).


Herbert Charles George

1474624, Gunner, 74th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Herbert was killed aged 26 on 28 June 1942 serving with the 8th Army in the Western Desert and is remembered on the Alamein Memorial in Egypt, having no known grave. His family was from Norwich but parents Herbert and Rose rented a house on Threadneedle Street in Bergh Apton during the war having been bombed out of their house in the city.

Herbert Podd’s sister Pauline came to Bergh Apton in the late 1990s looking for her friend Ena Smith who lived near her in the war, but Ena was away from home for the day and she left without leaving an address. We are very keen to make contact with Pauline or anyone in the family.

Last updated 15 September, 2007

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