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More than just names: School remembers men of the Norfolk Regiment who sacrificed their lives in First World War battle

PUBLISHED: 17:58 10 March 2017 | UPDATED: 18:08 10 March 2017

Belfry Primary School children at the Cromer War Memorial to commemorate local soldiers who fell at the Battle of Gaza. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Belfry Primary School children at the Cromer War Memorial to commemorate local soldiers who fell at the Battle of Gaza. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2017

Their sacrifice is etched on memorials the length and breadth of the country - but for the children of one school the men who gave their lives in the First World War have become much more than a set of names.

Belfry Primary School children at the Cromer War Memorial to commemorate local soldiers who fell at the Battle of Gaza. Wreath party, ten-year-olds Lydia Cass, left, and Ella Haynes. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY Belfry Primary School children at the Cromer War Memorial to commemorate local soldiers who fell at the Battle of Gaza. Wreath party, ten-year-olds Lydia Cass, left, and Ella Haynes. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Pupils from Belfry Primary in Overstrand, near Cromer, have been researching the lives of soldiers from the Norfolk Regiment who fought and died almost a century ago.

Belfry Primary School children at the Cromer War Memorial to commemorate local soldiers who fell at the Battle of Gaza. Wreath party, ten-year-olds Ella Haynes, left, and Lydia Cass, lay the wreath. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY Belfry Primary School children at the Cromer War Memorial to commemorate local soldiers who fell at the Battle of Gaza. Wreath party, ten-year-olds Ella Haynes, left, and Lydia Cass, lay the wreath. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Working with military historian Neil Storey and local author Tim Bennet, they have created a roll of honour for the 367 men from the regiment’s 4th and 5th battalion killed at the Second Battle of Gaza in April 1917.

Belfry Primary School children at the Cromer War Memorial to commemorate local soldiers who fell at the Battle of Gaza. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYBelfry Primary School children at the Cromer War Memorial to commemorate local soldiers who fell at the Battle of Gaza. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Children from the school gathered at Cromer War Memorial on Friday to lay a wreath in memory of the local soldiers who fell in the battle.

Belfry Primary School children at the Cromer War Memorial to commemorate local soldiers who fell at the Battle of Gaza. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYBelfry Primary School children at the Cromer War Memorial to commemorate local soldiers who fell at the Battle of Gaza. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The names of those who died will form a part of an exhibition marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gaza at The Forum and Millennium Library in Norwich on April 18.

The project was all the more poignant for pupils as 17 former Belfry boys lost their lives in the First War World War.

James Gower-Smith, 11, from Roughton, was amongst the group taking part in the project.

“We have found out quite a lot about local volunteers - some of them were only boys of 16 - most of them were younger than 20,” said James.

“I knew a little bit about the war before, but not as much as I know now and would like to find out more.”

Two brothers from Cromer, Bertie and Archie Hastings, were amongst those to die on the first day of the Battle of Gaza, which saw Allied troops attempt to invade Turkish held Palestine.

Mr Storey said: “The most valuable lesson the children have learned are these are not just names they are people - local people who were growing up here 100 years ago. It has been a remarkable project about a remarkable generation of men and their families.”

The school’s research forms part community project by The Forum called Norfolk in the First World War: Somme to Armistice funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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