Ruby, 101, tells ‘Ryburgh Remembers’ project of her uncle, who died in the First World War

PUBLISHED: 14:39 15 August 2014 | UPDATED: 14:39 15 August 2014

Ruby Ford sitting in front of the Think and Thank Screen in St Andrew’s church in Great Ryburgh, by the name of her uncle Stanley Curson, who was killed in the First Wolrd War.

Ruby Ford sitting in front of the Think and Thank Screen in St Andrew’s church in Great Ryburgh, by the name of her uncle Stanley Curson, who was killed in the First Wolrd War.


The 101-year-old niece of a fallen soldier from the Great War shared the memories of her family’s loss with village historians at a commemorative event.

St Andrew’s church in Great Ryburgh, near Fakenham, hosted a wartime-themed evening called Pack Up Your Troubles, including a meal of beef stew and songs from the First World War.

One of the visitors was Ruby Ford, who was born in London in April 1913. Her daughter Dawn had contacted the Ryburgh Remembers project after reading about it in the Times’ sister paper, the EDP, to ask what information was available about her great uncle, Stanley Curson, a private with the Norfolk Regiment who was killed in Palestine in 1917.

On Saturday evening, Mrs Ford told local historians Peter Trent and Steve Bushby about her life in Ryburgh and the day the family received the telegram confirming the death of her uncle, when she was four years old.

“Mum came home from school and could not find grandmother,” she said. “She went into each room calling her and then down to the outside toilet where grandmother was sitting crying, holding a telegram about Uncle Stanley’s death. She said to Mum: ‘You go inside my woman, I will be there in a minute’.”

Sadly, Pte Curson’s relations do not have a photograph of him and do not know where his medals are.

Mr Trent said “We are currently in contact with two auction houses, who have in the past sold the medals of two Ryburgh lads.

“We are hopeful that we will be able to help Ruby find a photograph of Uncle Stanley and trace the whereabouts of his medals”.

Mr Bushby, who has also been researching the community’s wartime history with the Ryburgh Village Amenity Group, said: “One of the project’s aims was to build a human picture of those that served in the First World War, so that they are more than a name on a memorial.

“In Stanley’s case, we seem to have done that and are delighted to be able to share what has been discovered with the generations that have come after those that fell.”

Saturday’s event was held during Open Churches Week, which brought almost 250 visitors through the doors of St Andrew’s.

Villagers showed people the church’s elaborate First World War memorial screen, conserved with the help of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, and some of the research that has so far been conducted into the soldiers whose names are recorded on the screen.

An extensive archive about wartime life was added to during the event, as visitors brought in family records.

Other exhibitions included a display of “WW1 stitchcraft”, with Ruth Paterson demonstrating how to embroider a card in the style of a wartime “silk” as sent home by soldiers serving in France and Belgium.

How is your community remembering the First World War? Contact

1 comment

  • Here is the available information on Stanley Curson as researched by Ryburgh Remembers - reproduced with their permission. Stanley Curson 15111897 - 1941917 Stanley Curson was the 8th of 10 surviving children born to John and Sarah Ann Curson (nee Wilkerson) both of Great Ryburgh. They were married in 1887 but not in the Parish Church of St Andrew. They lived in Mill Road according to the Census return for 1901. Stanley was born on November 15th 1897. He attended the village school from the day after his 5th birthday in 1902 where he is listed No 60 in what was then the new register (and the earliest of those to survive). He left school on 30th June 1911 when the Register says he went straight into “employment”. In his surviving fragmentary service record he is described as a labourer. His father John had been a stationary engine driver at the Farmers Foundry before going on to work first as a labourer and then again as a stationary engine driver at F & G Smith’s Maltings. According to his Attestation form Stanley, "the said Recruit has made and signed the declaration and taken the oath before me at Norwich on this 27th day of November 1915". He was appointed to the Norfolk Regiment on 25th Jan 1916 and became No 241173 Private Stanley Curson 15th. Btn. Norfolk Regt. His Home training lasted 164 days until 7th July 1916 after which he joined the M.E.F. until his death in Palestine on 19th April 1917. His military career lasted exactly 1 year and 86 days. The following is an extract from the 1st5th battalion diary - 'The 1st 5th battalion marched out of Egypt in Feb 1917. They bivouacked in the desert at night and trekked through hot and tiring days in March. On 27th March Turks were spotted on the skyline and they dug in at Mamazua, with instructions given on using gas masks. On 16th April operations began against Shaveh Abbas ridge, which was carried with only slight opposition and 1 killed. On 18th April preparations were carried out for the Battle of Gaza the following day. 19th April 1917. The Battle of Sampson’s Ridge proved to be horrendous for the two Norfolk battalions, after which the survivors joined other units. After two hours of artillery bombing, the 5th Norfolks attacked at 7.30a.m. in artillery formation with one tank behind. They advanced 2000 yards under rifle and big gun fire, the tank flattening barbed wire entanglements. There were severe casualties then and even more when a portion of the enemy’s trenches were entered and Turkish fire hit the tank’s wheels and put it out of action. The counter attack was impossible to resist, the battalion retiring and taking up a position 1500 yards from the Turks. Among the ranks 13 were killed, 174 went missing and 401 were wounded that day, and amongst those lost were Bertie and Walter Curson. By the 22nd April, 9 more Norfolks had died of their wounds. On the 9th Dec 1917 Jerusalem surrendered and this proved to be climax of the offensive against the Turks.' Name: Stanley Curson Death Date: 19 Apr 1917 Death Location: Palestine Enlistment Location: Norwich, Norfolk Rank: Private Regiment: Norfolk Regiment Battalion: 15th Battalion (T.F.) Number: 241173 Type of Casualty: Killed in action Theatre of War: Egyptian Theatre Stanley's older brother, General served with the 2nd Dragoon Guards Queen’s Bays . He was in barracks in Aldershot in 1911 and served throughout the war. His other brother Napoleon, a Bombardier in the Royal Garrison Artillery enlisted 15th May 1916. He had fought in France from 26th September 1916 until 25th October 1918 having first been hospitalised at the Casualty Clearing Station at Abbeville with broncho-pneumonia as a result of his “exposure whilst serving overseas” and then for a month until 25th Nov 1918 at the Huddersfield War Hospital. He was discharged on 23rd Jan 1919.

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