Ruby, 101, tells ‘Ryburgh Remembers’ project of her uncle, who died in the First World 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.