Villagers hope to learn more about Great Ryburgh’s wartime hero, Pte Ernest Thompson

Ryburgh Remembers, May 2014

Ryburgh Remembers, May 2014 - Credit: Submitted

An annual book and plant sale in Great Ryburgh will provide people with a perfect chance to learn about a fallen Great War soldier from their village.

Ryburgh Remembers - Ernest William Thompson

Ryburgh Remembers - Ernest William Thompson - Credit: Submitted

The event on Saturday coincides with the 99th anniversary of the death of Pte Ernest Thompson, of the 1st Battalion Norfolk Regiment, who was killed in action on March 24, 1915, aged 21.

Currently on display at St Andrew’s church is a profile of Pte Thompson researched by his nephew, also called Ernest, who has loaned the collection of his uncle’s memorabilia to the The Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum as part of its First World War exhibition.

The Ryburgh Remembers committee would like to hear from anyone with more information about the soldier, or anyone who can identify his best friend “Bunkey”.

In his last letter home, Pte Thompson wrote about being on guard duty on the night of January 19, 1915 ,when two German Zeppelin airships crossed the Norfolk coastline at around 8.30pm. Having crossed the coast, one turned north and the other south. His letter says 25 incendiary bombs were dropped from each airship to enable the pilots to navigate to their chosen locations – Great Yarmouth and Kings Lynn – where they each dropped their eight bombs.

On May 24 Pte Thompson was killed between Hooge and the Ypres Canal, at Hollebeke. According to a letter sent to Mrs Agnes Thompson by “Bunkey”, Ernest’s last words were reported to be: “Give mother my love”. Pte Thompson is remembered on the Parish Memorials and at Menin Gate.

Visitors to Saturday’s annual book and plant sale can also see the colourful extended war memorial on the organ gallery which commemorates the lives of eight men from eight different regiments whose names were missing from the “Think and Thank” screen in the chapel.

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A selection of First World War embroidered silk cards will also be on sale for church funds.

For more details, contact the churchwarden on 01328 829413.