The Early Twentieth Century
and its wars
1900-1945

Pre
1900
Please click here if you want to look back to 1899 and earlier in our local history of St Edmundsbury.


South Africa War

Queen Victoria's gift

Quick links on this page
Pageant, West Suffolk ill. 1907
Two cinemas 1909
Flooding 1912
The Great War, Mons 1914
Trenches, air raid, Gallipoli 1915
Egypt, drafting, Somme 1916
Ypres, USA enters war 1917
Victory, Women get vote 1918
Flu, Flax factory 1919
Agriculture in decline 1921
Sugar Beet factory 1924
Madam Mayor 1927
Tithe Wars 1931
Culford Estate sold off 1934
Westley Airfield, ARP 1938
Sutton Hoo and War 1939
Dunkirk 1940
Holderness Road bomb 1941
Lakenheath built, Singapore 1942
Flying Forts arrive 1943
Invasion, V1's retaliate 1944
Germany in ruins, VE VJ 1945
Foot of Page

1900 The First Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment was in England when the South Africa War broke out in October 1899, and was mobilised and sent to the Cape. In the first few months the British suffered many reverses.

Patriotism ran high in these days of Empire, and Queen Victoria sent consignments of chocolate to the troops wishing them a Happy New Year for January 1st, 1900. This token of goodwill is well known from the First World War, but it was also a feature of the South African War.

The Suffolks' first battle was to assault Red Hill near Colesburg in January 1900 with heavy losses. The Boers gave the area the name of Suffolk Hill in recognition of their courage.
Back in Bury, January saw a rush to raise a Volunteer Company to go to the Cape. Thirty men from the 2nd Volunteer Battalion joined others from East Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Cambridge University to train at Bury. They left for South Africa on February 11th. At 5.30 am, in a blinding snowstorm, they were cheered off at Bury train station by hundreds of local people. On May 12th they joined the 1st Battalion The Suffolk Regiment, at the Vet River.

Meanwhile on 23rd March, the 2nd Volunteer Company left Bury for Capetown, where they arrived on April 14th. They joined the Suffolk Regiment at Middleburg.

In 1900, Suffolk was still a deeply rural county. Most people lived in the 500 villages and towns of under 5000 people. Haverhill, like Thetford, had around 4,000 people. Only 5 towns exceeded 5000. Rural life was however, in decline as foreign food imports undermined agricultural prices and thus wages.

Also in decline was the use of water for transport as well as power. By September 1900 it was clear that the Receiver who was managing the Eastern Counties Navigation and Transport Company Limited, had decided to throw in the towel. He had been unable to raise more capital, and began to sell off the assets. Water mills along the river were finding it hard to compete with newer steam driven roller mills.

Bury Market on Wednesday and Saturday were important days for country folk to come to town to sell or buy produce. The White Lion was still an important Carriers' House in 1900, despite the decline of the Wagonners and Carters over the past 50 years since railways. Its yard in Brentgovel Street still saw up to 16 wagons pull in from the villages on market day mornings. The White Lion on the corner of Short Brackland was removed to make way for the Cornhill Walk shopping development.

Not far from the White Lion stood the Griffin. This very long established inn stood on the Cornhill at the top of St Johns Street. Like the White Lion nearby it was not a coaching inn, but was a major Carrier's House because it was next to the Great Market. In 1900 some 10 carrier's wagons used it as the base to and from the villages on market days.

The Castle was an inn next to Moyse's Hall, with a sizeable yard in Brentgovel Street. Not surprisingly, it was also used by carriers coming to and from the market.


The Relief of Mafeking
blank Things had not being going well in South Africa since Mafeking had been under siege since 13th October 1899, the day after the independent Boer Republic declared war. Colonel Baden-Powell had led a masterly defence, until a relief column finally arrived on 17th May, 1900, after a 217 day siege. When news reached home the streets were full of celebrating crowds in towns and cities all over the country. In Bury St Edmunds it was decided to celebrate the occasion along with the Queen's birthday on 24th May, and the Mayor had to quickly get arrangements made for a School holiday and a half day shop and business closure.

Albany Villas
blank Bury was home to about 16,000 people, and building continued to be needed to house them. Most house building was by small local builders. A good builder might make £10 profit on a house sold for £100. A bad builder could lose £10 a house. Houses were largely built in pairs, or small terraces, like the pair of grandly named "villas" illustrated here in Hospital Road. The extra ornamental detailing probably indicated a higher priced dwelling than normal.

Sir Walter Greene
blank Bury still voted Conservative, this time electing the very well known brewer, now Sir E Walter Greene, Bt, who lived his life as a wealthy sporting country gentleman. Walter Greene, the Chairman of Greene King, was one of the country's super rich at this time. He received around £18,000 a year from dividends from the Brewery, and had just been made a baronet in 1900. At Nether Hall in Thurston he kept a grand house, stables, a pack of deer hounds, and a herd of deer. He is pictured here in 1916, but looking every inch the Edwardian sporting gentleman.

Walter Greene had been defeated when he tried to become MP for North West Suffolk in 1891, but this time he was unopposed. This was fortunate for him, as he was not to prove much of a politician. By 1905, he had decided not to stand again.


Site of electricity works
blank At Bury the locals were proud to say that the streets and public buildings would soon be lit by electricity as the works, which belonged to the corporation, were completed in 1900. Under the Electric Lighting Act of 1882, local authorities were empowered to set up electricity undertakings. The generating station, and two cottages to house its key operatives, were located on the Playfields, off Prospect Row. Two Lancashire Boilers were installed driving two 60 kilowatt dynamoes. These produced Direct Current (DC) electricity of three wire 400/200 volts, as opposed to the modern alternating current of 230 volts. By 1903 a further 10 kilowatts capacity would be added, and further extensions would be carried out in 1908 and 1910.

The site of the electricity undertaking is nowadays a car park, and Prospect Row is the road off King's Road which in the year 2002 was the major access road to the whole Cattle Market car park site. It then became a service road for the Arc shopping development.


Lancashire boilers at Power Station
Bury St Edmunds
blank The Lancashire boiler was developed in 1844 by William Fairbairn. Although he was Scottish by birth, Fairbairn moved to Manchester after serving an apprenticeship in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He became one of the leading mechanical engineers of his day. His Lancashire boiler had twin furnace tubes side-by-side, which gave it a much larger heating surface than that of the older Cornish boiler. To produce steam, coal was shovelled through the firedoors at the end to maintain a fire in each of the furnace tubes. A typical Lancashire boiler would consume around six tons of coal per day. Lancashire boilers were surrounded by brickwork flues. This meant that the hot flue gases produced by burning coal could circulate under and along the sides of the boiler before reaching the chimney. Thus, instead of escaping straight up the chimney and being wasted, the flue gases helped to heat the water in the boiler.

The Lancashire boilers at the Bury St Edmunds generating station were made by Crothers Limited of Sheffield, one of which is shown here in a photograph by G S Cousins, dated to 1910 or 1916: (the dating is unclear).

During 1900 the first street lighting by electricity was also being installed. At first, there were just eight lighting columns which would receive a ceremonial switch-on early in 1901.

The Bury St Edmunds Gas Company had been providing public street lighting by gas since 1834. These needed to be lit each evening by a team of lamp lighters, which was an expensive and sometimes ineffective method. In February 1901 the changoeover from gas to electricity for street lighting would begin. In 1900 the Gas Company tried to raise its public profile by opening a Gas Showroom on the Cornhill. It hoped to promote the use of gas cookers, which it had introduced to Bury in 1897. These premises were rented and would close in 1907, to be replaced by a showroom at the gas works in Tayfen Road.


Water raising by windpower
blank Next door to the Electricity Generating station in the Corporation Yard was the Water Bore Hole for the town. The pumping station had got the use of steam power, but this was supplemented by this wind pump, built in 1900. This was called the Simplex Pump, built by J W Titt, and had vanes of 60 feet across. It was the most modern wind engine of its day. Recently wind pumps had been added to the West Stow sewage works, and must have proved successful enough to be copied in town.

At the same time a water storage reservoir and associated water tower was being built at West Road, one of the highest points in town. By pumping water from the borehole up to the West Road tower, it would ensure that sufficient water pressure could be supplied by gravity through mains pipes to any location within the borough.

Robert Boby, ironfounders of St Andrews Works in Bury St Edmunds was completing its new Northgate Foundry by the railway line. It seems that, in order to provide a convenient location for the new foundry workers, relocated from the town centre, a row of 16 cottages were built by Boby's on the hillside overlooking the foundry. These were romantically named the "Klondyke Cottages", a reference to the gold rush in the Yukon, and a name that implied hope and prosperity, a new beginning, or a new frontier.

Gradually the area became referred to as the Klondyke, and the name was later applied to the access lane to the cottages off the Beetons footpath, now called Beetons Way.


Railway Mission Hall
blank The Railway Mission was a charity founded in 1881 to bring the Gospel to people working on the railways. The railways employed thousands of men who often had to work during normal church hours. In 1895, local railwaymen approached Mrs Arthur Ridley, about starting a railway mission in Bury St Edmunds. Mrs Ridley was a widow, and a Congregationalist from the Northgate Street Chapel, and she began by leading services at the station. Since 1895 a room in the Station Master's house by the Northgate railway station in Bury St Edmunds had been used as the mission to railwaymen who worked on the Bury line. By 1900 the pressure of numbers was such that a larger venue was required.

Soon they had raised enough money amongst themselves, and the mission hall was ordered.

So on 30th May, 1900 the Railway Mission was opened in Bury St Edmunds, at Fornham Road, just past the railway bridge. It was pre-fabricated building, of the type which became called the "tin tabernacle." There were companies all over the country who could provide similar buildings in kit form including Boulton and Paul in Norwich. The tabernacle at Bury was put up by W Hartrow, a contractor from London, and along with its furniture and fittings it cost £317 7s 7d. This was much cheaper than building a brick church. Soon there were Sunday services, a Sunday School, Mothers' Meetings, Young Persons Groups and a host of activities at the Mission Hall. In 1903 the hall had to be extended by 10 feet, and a 30 foot extension was added for the Sunday School. Mrs Ridley, whose first name was Caroline, was the first Superintendent, a post she held for 21 years, until old age led her to retire in 1916.


Early years Whitmore's Timber
blank Across the road from the new chapel was Whitmore's blacksmith shop. In 1900 Austin Whitmore, son of T.G.Whitmore, started milling home grown round logs, and from here grew the massive business which would be bought up as part of the by-pass in 1972. Part of Whitmore's Yard is covered by Tesco's Supermarket today.

Vale and Richardson's shop received the large decorative clock which still hangs over the Thurlow Champness' shop at 14 Abbeygate Street in Bury St Edmunds today.

In Haverhill, the Recreation Ground was opened, a gift from W. B. Gurteen to commemorate Queen Victoria's diamond Jubilee.

The Haverhill silk weaving firm of Kipling and Co was taken over by Walters. Their silk factory at Hamlet Green was later closed.

By the end of the nineteenth century Haverhill had almost come to resemble a red-brick midlands mill town, dominated by the Gurteen's Factory. Most of the people in Haverhill worked in some way for the Gurteen family.


Peashill Slade
blank Houses were tightly crowded together as this view from St Mary's church tower in 1900 shows. There was much company housing, several non-conformist churches, a fine Town Hall (given to the community by the Gurteen family), a local newspaper and two railway stations, Haverhill South on the Colne Valley line, and Haverhill North on the Stour Valley line. Domestic architecture included a block of twelve houses known as Weaver's Row each of which had three storeys, the middle one containing the loom.

Around the town were no fewer than three windmills, including the unique ring-shaped Ruffles Mill on Chalkstone Hill, which was pulled down during the Second World War.

The population of the town in 1901 was around 4,000, and Haverhill remained a small but active agricultural and industrial township.

Tye Green at Glemsford is said to be named because the Tythings were once held there. A very different public meeting was held there on a warm Saturday in August 1900 when a deputation from Ipswich and District Trades and Labour Council addressed the assembled factory workers. Here the gathering of Mat Weavers was told that it was surprising the low wage paid to their craftsmen, and a wonder how they existed on it. The female workers of the silk industry were urged to combine and try and improve the conditions under which they worked. It is not recorded how the Glemsford workforce responded to these union recruiters.

Some things did change, however. Hengrave Hall had passed out of the old aristocratic Gage family and into the hands of a rich ironmaster. In 1900 Sir John Wood converted the church on the estate from Catholic to Protestant worship. He also restored the greatly decayed house, and built a new annexe. Although some older features of the Tudor building were lost, without his work it may well have decayed away completely.


Manor House, Mildenhall
blank At Great Barton the estate had been owned by the Bunbury family since 1746, and the seat of the lordship of Mildenhall and Great Barton had been at Barton Hall since then. In 1900 Sir Henry Bunbury decided to leave Great Barton to live on his smaller estate at Mildenhall. He now intended to lease the Barton Estate to a suitable tenant. Nearby, at Saxham Hall, Frank Riley Smith had been living in the Hall and running the small sporting estate since 1897. Frank Riley Smith was part owner of John Smith's Brewery in Tadcaster, Yorkshire, but left the running of the business to his brother. Frank had been born Frank Riley, and this was his name until he and his elder brother inherited the John Smith Brewery from their maternal uncle William. A condition was that the two nephews should take the name Smith in addition to Riley.

Riley Smith had devoted himself to hunting, and had formed a pack of beagles at Saxham. He was so successful that Sir Walter Greene, newly elected MP, asked him to take over Greene's own pack of Staghounds, which he had kept at Thurston since 1864. When Riley Smith heard that Barton Estate was available he took the lease with effect from January 1901, and immediately spent a year on improving and modernising Barton Hall.


Volunteers ready for War
1901 During 1900 and 1901, volunteers continued to join up for the South Africa War, which dragged on into 1902. The picture shows a detachment of the Second Volunteer Battalion parading on Cornhill. Note the large open space as the Boer War Memorial does not yet exist.

Funeral of Queen Victoria
blank Queen Victoria died in January, the last monarch of the House of Hanover. The new king, Edward VII, was a Saxe-Coburg. Her funeral was on Saturday, February 2nd, 1901, and at Bury St Edmunds traders and public houses were invited to suspend business for the day.

Many agricultural fields in our area contain old pits, often said to be for the extraction of marl to spread on the land. Another use for chalk extraction was apparently to mend the roads as this report in the Bury Post for January 22nd 1901 describes:
"RISBY
Serious accident in a Chalk pit - A very serious accident occurred on Wednesday morning in the neighbourhood of Risby. Three men were employed in getting chalk to repair the roads, when the side of the chalk pit under which they were working suddenly fell in, completely burying two of the men, who would inevitably have perished, had it not been for the prompt action of their fellow workman, who, with the greatest difficulty succeeded, after half an hour’s careful digging in rescuing them."

In February the electric street lighting in Bury had its ceremonial switching on. There was at first only eight lighting columns. To assist the change from gas to electric lighting, all 323 gas powered street lamp columns and lanterns were sold to Bury St Edmunds Borough Council by the Gas Company. The Gas Company now relied solely upon supplying gas to households and businesses, and to those public buildings which needed it until they converted to electricity. Gradually people would adopt electricity for lighting, but many preferred to cook by gas right up to the present day. Gas cookers were introduced to Bury St Edmunds in 1897.


West Suffolk Hospital
blank Electricity was also supplied to the Hospital in Hospital Road. A new operating theatre was built as well. The picture here is from a contemporary postcard. It shows West Suffolk Hospital before its distinctive balconies were added in 1908.

Greene King also connected to the electricity supply at this time. Edward Lake had wanted to install their own electricity in 1890, but he had been over-ruled by the Board.

The census for 1901 tells us that Bury had a population of 16,255 at this time. Clare was 1,582, Haverhill was 4,862 and Sudbury was 7,109. Stanton was 778, Ixworth was 856, and Horringer 525. Lavenham had 2,018 and Long Melford had 3,080 people.


Thurlow Champness
blank There had been a clock and watch business at 14 Abbeygate Street since 1745, when it was started by George Lumley. In 1901 Edward Thurlow Champness, the son of the Headmaster of Northgate School, Ipswich, bought the jewellers and watch business at 14 Abbeygate Street from Mr Richardson, and the Champness family lived over the shop until 1947. The large trademark clock sign was apparently made in 1900. The business is still in that family today.

On May 3rd in the evening, the 1st Volunteer company returned home from the Boer War to a heroes welcome. Two officers and 98 men marched from the train station to Angel Hill, accompanied by large crowds, for a welcome home by the Mayor. They then returned to barracks and were demobbed the next day.

The 2nd Volunteer Company arrived back to another warm welcome in early June.


Bury Fire Brigade
blank The Fire Station in the Shambles had been opened in 1899. A number of pictures were taken of the brigade on 4th May, 1901, and this may be one of that series. Whit Monday 1901 was on May 27th and the Brigade was expected to put on a display for the crowds. The fireman on the right of the picture is thought to be Engineer Vincent Baldwin who went on to have a long career in the service. In the background may be seen the International Stores at 23 Cornhill, opened in 1896, with a banner advertising tickets on sale for the Hardwick Fete on Whit Monday.

In February 1901 the Receiver of the Eastern Counties Navigation & Transport Company Limited had been discharged, and in September of 1901, an Extraordinary General Meeting of the company was called to wind itself up. Barge traffic on the River Lark above Mildenhall was now minimal, and deeply unprofitable.

Most of the physical assets of the company had already been disposed of, but it still owned the Lark Navigation rights, and they still had a value.

After September 1901 the Lark upstream of Mildenhall was abandoned for barge traffic. The prospective purchasers of the Lark were Parker Brothers of Mildenhall, and they only wanted it to service their own mills at Barton Mills and Icklingham.

In November, the expanding firm of Parker Brothers reopened the Mildenhall Mill. They converted the mill to a roller mill, using steam power instead of water power.

In November Colonel Sam Cody demonstrated his man-lifting kites to a crowd behind the Gibraltar Barracks at Bury St Edmunds. The contraption was called the "Viva", and consisted of four large box kites which lifted the Colonel several hundred feet into the air to great applause. By 1908 the same gentleman was able to make a first powered flight in British Army Aeroplane Number 1 at Farnborough, which was a prelude to the use of aircraft during World War I.

The story of St Edmund continued to intrigue people, and some relics were taken from St Sernin in Toulouse, to Arundel, as it was said that they were the remains of St Edmund. It was intended to lay these relics in the Westminster Cathedral, which was in the final stages of construction. However, respected men such as M R James, Dr Charles Bigg and Sir Ernest Clarke, all refuted the idea that these could be the bones of St Edmund. Cardinal Vaughan at Westminster accepted these assertions and the bones were never removed from Arundel.


The Icklingham Papers
blank The Icklingham Papers were published in 1901 by Henry Prigg's daughter, Mrs Beatrice Andrews, who had accompanied him on some of his antiquarian excursions. The book was introduced by Vincent Redstone, and contained copies of manorial documents and wills from the village, together with an account of the archaeological investigations of some of the antiquities of Icklingham. Prigg showed that a Roman villa and cemetery had existed on the site and he also excavated the tumuli and found pottery kilns at nearby West Stow Heath. Prigg had worked at the National Provincial Bank in Bury, until he retired four years before his death in 1892. He lived at Babwell Friary, and having died in his early 50's he did not have time to put his work in order for publication, but his daughter decided the work needed to be properly published.

Henry Prigg's daughter, Beatrice, was married to Charles Andrews, a partner in the ironmongers Andrews in Guildhall Street, which later became Andrews and Plumptons of Bury. She was also the mother of three year old Sybil Andrews who would later become an internationally known artist. In about 1901 they moved out of the rooms above the shop into Greyfriars in Whiting Street.

Many of the antiquities unearthed by Prigg over a lifetime of excavation were exhibited at first in the Athenaeum, and then were to form the core of the Moyse's Hall Museum collection when it was set up in 1899. The fifth child of Beatrice and Charles Andrews was called Henry (1904-1961), and he would become Curator of Moyse's Hall Museum himself in 1933.


William Silas Spanton
blank W S Spanton, a local photographer at 16 Abbeygate Street, Bury St Edmunds, retired and sold the business and its negatives to Harry Isaac Jarman. William Silas Spanton, 1845-1930, was the son of the William Spanton who had started this business in 1863/4. William junior was also an accomplished artist, as this self portrait, dated to about 1890, shows. Spanton had also painted at least one Mayoral portrait, notably for Alderman George Thompson, in 1883.

Harry Jarman continued the photographic business at 16 Abbeygate Street for many years until it was taken over by his son, Oswald Jarman. Many early Spanton negatives survive in the Spanton-Jarman collection in the Suffolk Record Office, thanks to O G Jarman.


Saracens Head
blank At 63 to 65 Guildhall Street, the Saracens Head inn closed down, owing to the bankruptcy of Bishop's Brewery. The Great Head, as it was often known, dated back well into the 18th century and had included the Brewery for 'Bishop's noted Bury Ales'. When put up for sale, there was no bid for the Brewery, or the Saracens Head and its first tied house, the nearby Golden Lion. The other tied house was the Coach and Horses in Honey Hill, and this was withdrawn from sale at a bid of £1,800. Later the empty Saracen's Head became home to the British Legion Club.

When this inn and brewery shut down in 1901, other independent inns like the Coach and Horses in Honey Hill had to get their beer elsewhere. The Coach and Horses now bought beer from Hudson's Brewery in Cambridge. The Coach was ideally located to serve the courts, and both witnesses and barristers were often to be found there.

Hudson's brewery already had a presence in Bury. It owned the Red Lion in Ipswich Street, for example, first set up in the 1860's. It would let it to Clarke's Risbygate Street Brewery in 1905.


Barton Hall
blank On 2nd December 1901 Frank Riley Smith and his wife moved house from Saxham Hall to Barton Hall in Great Barton Park. Smith had taken a lease from Sir Henry Bunbury in January, and had spent a year before moving in, extending and improving the house and the stables. Electricity was installed for lighting, and a Deer Paddock was built, along with kennels to house his hounds. The Riley Smiths would occupy Great Barton until 1912, when Frank died.

The County School
1902 The Education Act of 1902 gave County Councils the status of local education authorities for the first time, greatly expanding their powers and their expenditure. The School Boards were abolished, and their schools given to the Counties. County Councils also now had to pay the salaries, and provide new equipment for, the Voluntary Schools.

In 1902, the West Suffolk County School was opened in Northgate Street in Bury. A large red brick house had been purchased for the purpose, and altered and improved. At this time it was for girls and boys, with separate playgrounds.

Under the same Act, urban areas of a certain size were empowered to become separate Elementary Education Authorities. In Suffolk, both Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft opted for this route. Thus the 12 elementary schools in Bury became governed by the Borough Education Committee, while the town's secondary education was provided by the County ratepayers.

Within a few years it was normal for half a county's budget to be devoted to education. The next major Education Act would come in 1944.


Ernie and his new cycle
blank In 1902 the Post Office introduced new regulations covering Picture Postcards. Since pictures were first allowed in 1894, one whole side of the postcard had had to be reserved for the name and address. In 1902 the modern format was introduced where one whole side could be used for the picture. Message and address now shared the other side. In addition the standard size of a card was increased to what it is today. On the face of it, this change seems to be of little consequence to us today, but in fact this change led to a vast production of picture postcards covering a wide range of views. Individuals could commission a few pictures of themselves with family, or as this illustration shows, a new object of pride to the owner. Many of these everyday scenes had little apparent merit at the time, perhaps, but are packed with information for modern eyes to consider. Many of the illustrations used in this Chronicle and other historical books come from photographs produced for postcards.

Excavating the Abbey
blank In the Autumn excavations were started on the ruins of the abbey of St Edmund. Dr M R James had discovered a 15th century register from the abbey in the public library of the French town of Douai. It listed the burial places of 18 of the abbots, and this gave rise to the dig. On New Year's Day, 1903, the five stone coffins were found, described by an excited Horace Barker as "the great discovery". The coffins were, at the time, located in the garden of a Mr Henry Donne. On 27th January, 1903, the remains were reinterred under new lids paid for by Donne. The work was carried out by Hanchets the stone masons.

Coffins of Five Abbots
blank Horace Barker, who was the curator at Moyse's Hall museum, could write to the Bury Free Press in 1912 that, "It will be within the memory of most inhabitants of Bury that in 1902-3 all that is left of the Chapter-house was exposed, and the skeletons of five Abbots, including the great Abbot Sampson (1182-1211), each in its own stone coffin, were discovered. Many pieces of carved, coloured and gilded stone with fragments of marble tiles and glass are preserved in Moyse's Hall Museum".
M R James in 1900
blank M R James was a fellow of King's College Cambridge, and had come to Great Livermere as a boy in 1865, when his father was appointed Rector of Great and Little Livermere. After a brilliant academic career, he became a world authority on religious writings, seeking out and cataloguing over 6,000 manuscripts. It was during his investigation of manuscripts in France that he came across the references to the burials of the abbots of St Edmundsbury. He had another claim to fame as a writer of ghost stories.


Mayor's Coronation Medal
blank Despite the date on the attached medal, King Edward VII was not crowned until August 1902.
The coronation was scheduled for 26th June, 1902, and all the commemorative items were given this date. At Bury St Edmunds the Mayor, Thomas Shillitoe, decided to issue all the schoolchildren with a commemorative medal, and the June date was placed on it. Unfortunately the King was taken ill in June, and was operated on for appendicitis only a few days before the ceremony was due to take place. The coronation could not take place until August 9th 1902. His wife, Alexandra of Denmark, became Queen. Despite having received the disapproval of his mother, Queen Victoria, for his past hedonistic lifestyle, he was to be a very popular king.

Pawsey's shop Coronation, 1902
blank This picture shows the shopfront of Pawsey's printers premises in Hatter Street decorated for the coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra on August 9th, 1902. Similar celebratory decorations were seen across the town, and, indeed, across the country.

A well remembered enamel sign advertising Stevens Ink, based upon a giant thermometer, can be seen to the left of the shop window. It survived in good condition until about 1979, when it was stolen.

Similar reorganised celebrations were held in many villages in the county. At Great Barton a committee had been formed, chaired by Frank Riley Smith of Barton Hall, to raise money and organise the celebrations. Some 500 people were entertained at the fete and refreshed in a marquee on the lawn of Barton Hall. Presents and mementos were given out and the evening ended with fireworks. This level of entertainment was continued by the Riley Smiths for village children at every Christmas and special occasion through until 1912.

From 1902, the Feoffment Trust had to sell off much of its property, starting with the outlying farms.

H Rider Haggard published his book "Rural England", giving an account of much local agriculture. At Culford Estates he found that about half the total area was set aside for shooting, or about 5,000 acres. Labourers were paid 12 to 14 shillings a week and cottages were let at 1s/1d a week. Southdowns and Suffolk sheep were the most profitable agriculture possible on the sandy soils. Both these and the Jersey cows were prizewinners. The estate also had a forestry enterprise.


Newmarket New Station
blank In 1902 Newmarket had its own thriving rural industry, namely horse training and racing, as it still does today. This now required a third railway station to be built to serve that town. The first station, which was a grand building in a Baroque style, was a terminus station built in 1848 at the point where the current line enters the Warren Hill tunnel at the Cambridge end. It was subsequently extended when the through line and the tunnel to Bury St Edmunds were built. In 1885 a second station was built at the northern end of the Warren Hill tunnel. By 1902 the vast amount of horse and horse-racing traffic on the railway meant that the original 1848 station was unable to cope and the Great Eastern Railway built a third grand station, as shown in this postcard. The sender's note on the front shows his admiration for it. Naturally, it was called New Station at the time. The 1848 station would be closed for goods traffic in 1967 and the one at the north end of Warren Hill also closed too. At some point in the recent past this "new" station closed to passengers too, and the current and fourth station is a small affair reached by a side alley off Green Road. The old station buildings had been converted to offices by 2008.

The West Suffolk Hospital received a new operating theatre and other improvements out of a bequest of £7,600. By now the hospital had four wards and room for 84 in-patients.

For the men of the Suffolk Regiment, the ending of the three years of the Boer war at the end of May, 1902, led to the Battle honour of "South Africa 1899 - 1902". The South African War, as it was known at the time, would be commemorated by the fine monument erected in 1904, on the Cornhill. There were to be 194 names of the fallen, representing the whole of Suffolk, east and west.

Adolphe Goldschmidt bought Cavenham Hall, newly built only four years earlier. His son Frank later became MP for Stowmarket and district in 1910. His grandson James Goldsmith founded Cavenham Foods and later the Referendum Party. The family sold Cavenham estate in 1921.

The executors of Thomas Lucia had been running the Bury Free Press since the death of Lucia, 16 years earlier. In 1902 the newspaper was sold to Richard Winfrey, a noted newspaper owner in the eastern region. He formed the Bury St Edmunds Printing and Publishing Company to hold and manage the paper as part of his publishing empire. This empire would evolve into Emap, the East Midlands Allied Publishing group.

From 1902 to 1934 there was a Methodist Congregation at the Congregational Chapel which stands on the corner of Looms Lane and Northgate Street. The main Methodist Church was well established not far away in Brentgovel Street, but the Primitive Methodists would not join the Wesleyan Methodists until 1934.

In 1902 Greene King owned and leased 70 pubs and off licenses in Bury, and 180 in the Country trade roundabouts, all supplied from Bury. The company also owned 128 houses further afield which were supplied from local depots fed by railway from Bury. They had centres at Ely, Fakenham, Colchester, Haverhill and Stowmarket. The company continued to expand by acquiring new pubs, aiming at Suffolk Essex and Cambridgeshire.

Frank Riley Smith, MFH
1903 In February the Suffolk Hunt held its Annual General Meeting in Bury, as usual. The hunting had been poor for a couple of seasons, and this was put down to the rise in the shooting fraternity, and the subsequent shooting and trapping of foxes. In 1902 the Master, Eugene Wells of Buxhall Vale, and the Secretary, Lt Col Josselyn of Fornham Priory, had even felt obliged to resign over the issue, but had been persuaded to continue by Sir Walter Greene.

In the absence of Sir Walter, Alderman Lake took the chair and invited Frank Riley Smith of Great Barton Hall to become the new Master of Foxhounds.

Today, hunting with dogs is illegal, but a century ago it was not only normal, but was a big industry, generating trade and employment on a large scale. Frank Riley Smith was typical of the industrialists who were taking over the country estates. Like Sir Walter Greene his fortune derived from brewing, not from the ownership and renting out of land, like the old aristocratic families had enjoyed. The Bunbury's had retrenched to a smaller estate at Mildenhall, leaving Smith to invest large sums in Barton Hall and estate which he leased from them.


Suffolk Foxhounds at Barton Hall
blank Riley Smith enjoyed shooting and riding to hounds. He hunted the fox with the Suffolk Hunt, the otter with the Essex Otter Hounds, often in the vicinity, and the deer with his pack of Staghounds. Although otters and foxes were killed in the hunt, the deer never were. They were kept in paddocks on some large estates, and then transported to wherever the hunt was to take place. Once cornered they were carefully trapped and returned home. Curiously these deer were given individual names and were hunted for as long as ten years, being prized for their speed and cunning.

An example of the Essex Subscription Otterhounds hunting in the area took place in 1903 when they met at Tollgate Bridge on the River Lark, just outside Bury. Mr and Mrs Riley Smith attended this hunt. The area was suitable otter habitat at the time, and the hunt began by drawing towards the town. They then turned downstream and caught a large dog otter at Lackford Bridge weighing 24 pounds.

Because of his new commitment to the Suffolk Hunt, Riley Smith's staghounds were now passed on to Eugene Wells at Buxhall Vale. The deer in paddocks at Sir Walter Greene's place at Pakenham and at Great Barton were retained, but Wells could use them as he wished.

In June, following three days of extremely heavy rain, the river at Haverhill overflowed and large parts of the town suffered serious flooding, particularly Queen Street and Withersfield Road. At the Hamlet end the water reached the entrance to Atterton's foundry.

The rain had begun on mid day Saturday June 13th, continued all through Sunday and on into Monday the 15th. By leaving off time at the factory at 6pm on Monday 15th June, workers could not get home to Withersfield Road. The waters were at their peak at 9.30 pm, and had completely receded by 2 am next morning.

In the 27th June issue of the South West Suffolk Echo there was an advert which said, "The Great Flood at Haverhill. June 15th , 1903. Such a flood may not occur again in your lifetime. You should therefore, secure for yourself and your friends a souvenir of the event by purchasing some of the pictorial postcards shewing Queen Street and the Meadows under water. Price-One Penny each."

One result of the neglect of the Lark Navigation was a return of the flooding along that river that had been alleviated by the works after 1890. The river was becoming clogged up again. On December 12th 1903 the meadows were seriously flooded in Bury St Edmunds, causing a debate at the Bury Borough Council. Alderman Hooper described the canoe journey necessary to cross these meadows near the railway bridge.


Protestant Martyrs Memorial
blank The Martyrs' Memorial was unveiled in the Churchyard at Bury, to commemorate the 17 Protestant Martyrs who died in the town under the rule of Queen Mary, 1555 to 1558. It was erected by public subscription, and was designed and executed by A H Hanchet, Monumental Mason of Cemetery Road in Bury St Edmunds.

In Churchgate Street fire destroyed Hervey's the Grocers. It was replaced by a three storey mock Tudor building, which Marlow's would occupy in 1925.

During 1903 the Library of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology was removed from the Athenaeum into Moyse's Hall Museum. It would rest there for 30 years, and then return to the Athenaeum. In 1946 it was moved into the School of Art building in the Traverse, in the next room to the Cullum Collection of Books.

Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show came to Bury.


Jarman's at 16 Abbeygate Street
blank The photographer John Palmer Clarke moved to Cambridge from Bury, and sold his collection of local negatives to Harry Jarman, who had a photography business at 16 Abbeygate Street.

Meanwhile the firm of Frederick Pawsey, at the time called Langhorne, Pawsey and Co., also began publishing postcards in 1903. Pawsey was born in Bury in 1870, and took over his printer's and stationer's business at the early age of 15 years old. He would die in 1953, but the Pawsey business lasted in Hatter Street until 1991. Pawsey would really make his mark in 1907, when he would publish a major photographic work on West Suffolk.


Montgomery Sidecar November 1903
blank In November, 1903, this advertisement appeared in the magazine, "The Motor". It demonstrates that William Montgomery, trading as Montgomery and Co, at 6 Brentgovel Street, Bury St Edmunds had effectively invented the motor cycle sidecar. At the time he called it a patent side carriage attachment.

Hitherto, Montgomery had run his business as a bicycle shop, which included the supply and maintenance of that popular form of transport, having set up shop in 1892. However by the early 1900s he concentrated more and more upon the possibilities afforded by the motor cycle. Montgomery's entry in Wikipedia begins: "Montgomery Motorcycles was a pioneering British motorcycle manufacturer. Originally based in Bury St Edmunds the founder William Montgomery was an innovator and is credited with the invention of the sidecar."

The Three Tuns stood opposite St Mary's Church in Crown Street, on the site of Lansbury House. In 1899 Greene King offered to give up the license, partly under pressure to reduce the numbers of licensed premises in the town, and partly from religious objections to its proximity to the church. However, this inn did not close until 1903. After it was demolished, the opportunity was taken to retain part of the yard as Tuns Lane, a narrow alleyway giving easy access to Church from Bridewell Lane.

Another license was given up by Greene King in the Traverse. This was the Exchange pub, known up to 1870 as the Three Bulls. This inn was mentioned in the Bury Post of 1791, and was probably old then. It had once dominated the Traverse, but competition, particularly from the Cupola House after 1850, led to a lingering death.


Melford Church today
blank Holy Trinity Church at Long Melford had suffered a lightning strike to its medieval tower around 1710, and the tower was subsequently demolished. A new tower had been rebuilt by 1725 in classical style in red brick. The red bricks had been covered in cement at some time, which in many places had broken away by the 1890s to give a scarred and ugly appearance. By the late 19th century it was considered that this tower was not appropriate for such a grand medieval wool church, and that it was sadly out of proportion to the rest of the building. In 1897, as part of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, the villagers set up a committee to raise funds and appoint an architect.

It was decided to build upon the old tower, and so it was decided to chip away the cement cladding and replace it with decorative flint work with stone stringing and detailing. Also to add corner buttresses with stone facing, and the first stone was laid in 1898. The result was a neo-gothic design which matched the old style of the main church, but further appeals for funds were needed in 1900 to raise the height of the tower. On 14th October, 1903 the "new" tower of 118 feet was dedicated by the Bishop of Ely.

The pinnacles of the old tower were removed, (and now reside at Melford Hall), while the new, grander pinnacles were named Victoria, Edward, Alexandra and Martyn, in honour of the late Queen and the new royal family.

Unveiling the Soldiers Memorial
1904 The Boer War monument was erected on the Cornhill and unveiled on November 11th by General Lord Methuen. At the time, it was referred to as the Soldier's Memorial. This was a great military occasion, and the Suffolk Regiment fired three volleys. The Volunteers, the Loyal Suffolk Hussars, and the Grammar School Cadet Corps "kept the Square" with the Suffolks, and the rest of the Cornhill was packed with local people.

Regimental Retirement Homes
blank This event followed the opening of two Regimental Memorial Homes in April opposite the barracks in Out Risbygate.

The following month King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra visited Bury. They had planned to stay at Earl Cadogan's Culford Hall for five days in December, visiting the great local families and shooting over the estates at Ickworth, Elveden and Hardwick.

They were accompanied by Arthur Balfour, the Prime Minister. During one shooting party Balfour decided to have a day's golf at Flempton. His host was Frank Riley Smith of Barton Hall, who had just been elected Club Captain for 1904. He remained Captain of Flempton Golf Club until 1911. Riley Smith also favoured the Royal Worlington Golf club, becoming Captain there in 1909.


Royal Visit
blank When the Mayor of Bury St Edmunds heard of the Royal Visit to the area, he immediately invited the King to also visit the town. So Bury was visited on their last day, Saturday 17th December, and the King and Queen received an official address from the Mayor, Alderman E W Lake, outside the Abbey Gate. They arrived with a mounted military escort in Earl Cadogan's four horse barouche, an open carriage. The Angel Hill was fitted out with grandstands for 1,000 people, soldiers from the barracks lined the route, and Harry Jarman, well known local photographer, recorded the scene. The party drove through the churchyard to St Mary's church to see the tomb of Mary Tudor. On leaving the church the royal procession drove along Crown Street, up Abbeygate Street into the Buttermarket and Cornhill, and down St Johns Street and Long Brackland to the Railway Station. From here they took a special train back to London. This was the first visit of a reigning monarch since the visit by Charles II in 1668. The Bury and Norwich Post produced a souvenir edition on 20th December.

The West Suffolk County Council purchased the Shire Hall from the Guildhall Feoffees. The Assizes were held here three time every two years. There were two courts, the Crown Court and the Nisi Prius Court. It would soon become called the Old Shirehall, as work began on a new premises in 1906.


Montgomery Silencer May 1904
blank In May of 1904, William Montgomery was advertising a new motor cycle silencer design which he had patented. Montgomery and Co had their shop and workshops at 6 Brentgovel Street, Bury St Edmunds. The advertisement in "The Motor" also featured his patented design for the motor cycle sidecar, which he had already been actively marketing. His shop had opened in 1892 to sell and service bicycles, but within a decade Montgomery had turned his attention to motor cycles.

Central Bury 1904
blank In 1904 a new 1:2500 scale base map was published for Bury. By the time of the 1904 OS map, there was an avenue shown across Shirehouse Heath labelled Northgate Avenue, and the road we now call by that name was labelled Norfolk Road. Similarly Avenue Approach was shown as extending across to the Klondyke, in front of Northgate Farm.

In 1904 and 1905 the West Stow sewage Farm underwent extensive additional improvements. This works served the town of Bury St Edmunds. Only the pump house still survives in the corner of West Stow Country Park in 2005.

At the Congregational Church in Whiting Street a memorial was unveiled to Elias Thacker and John Copping, who were hanged in 1583 for their religious beliefs, "for disseminating the principles of independency".


Suffolk Show, Bury 1904
blank In 1904 the Suffolk Show was held at Bury St Edmunds. This advertisement by Smyth's of Peasenhall, was for their world famous range of seed drills, developed early in the 19th century, and still doing well in 1904. The firm lasted until 1967.

In 1904 M R James published the "Ghost Stories of an Antiquarian". He grew up in Livermere and regarded it as his home, although he lived in as a Fellow at King's College Cambridge. Livermere Hall and its mere were the settings for some of his ghostly tales.

In October of 1904, following a fundraising year, the Great Barton Institute was opened by the Reverend Hodges, Archdeacon of Sudbury diocese. The Fundraising Committee was chaired by Frank Riley Smith of Barton Hall, with a £200 target. The site was given by Sir Henry Bunbury, and the foundation stone laid by Lady Bunbury.

As Master of Foxhounds for the Suffolk Hunt, Frank Riley Smith also had new kennels, staff housing and stables built for the Hunt at Barton Road in Bury St Edmunds. The site later became taken over by the Electricity Board.


Allan Minns Mayor of Thetford 1904-05-06
blank Until quite recently John Archer, elected Mayor of Battersea in 1913, was thought to be the first black man to hold the position of Mayor in England. However, the American Negro Year Book 1914 recorded that, ‘In 1904 Mr Allen Glaisyer Minns, a col’d man from West Indies, was elected Mayor of borough of Thetford, Norfolk’.
Norwich and Norfolk Racial Equality Council (NNREC) and Norfolk Record Office have been researching the life of Dr. Minns (1858-1930), following initial research undertaken by Sean Creighton, a historian based in South London. The following is an extract from the "Norfolk & Suffolk In East Anglia, Contemporary Biographies", W.T Pike (1911), held in the Suffolk Record Office at Bury St Edmunds:

"Minns – Allan Glaisyer Minns, Alexandra House, Thetford; youngest son of the late John Minns; born at Inagua Bahamas, October 19th 1858. Educated at Nassau Grammar School and Guy’s Hospital London. MRCS Eng; Lond. Medical Officer Thetford Workhouse & Thetford District of Thetford Union, Hon. Medical Officer Thetford Cottage Hospital. Member of the British MA & Norwich Medico-Chirurgical Society; President of Horticultural Society; Mayor of Thetford 1904-05-06."

There were many inns and beerhouses operating across the country. Under the Licensing Act of 1904 regulations had been brought in to restrict new premises, and the Compensation Act of 1904 now allowed councils to close "undesirable" premises and those sites which were required for redevelopment. The council had to compensate the owners or tenants for depriving them of a living, from a fund raised by a levy on brewers. Over the next two years the local licensing committee would hold a survey of the town's licensed premises with a view to considering some for closure.
Companies like Greene King now considered disposing of less profitable premises in order to keep the better ones. Between 1905 and 1914, Greene King gave up around 36 licenses across East Anglia.

On the other hand, Greene King had found the sales of their bottled beers, begun in 1897, to have been very successful. So in 1904 they built a new Bottling Store.


Horsetrough seen in 1916
blank In 1904 Lady Malcolm presented Haverhill with one of its features which had been thought lost for ever. This was the water trough which stood for years on the Cangle Junction, until it was removed for road junction improvements in the 1960's. In 1998 it was returned to Haverhill.

A large part of Atterton's works at Hamlet Green in Haverhill were destroyed by fire during 1904.

The bells of St Mary's church at Haverhill were recast or restored, and a new bell added to bring it up to a minor ring of six. One of the re-cast bells had pre-dated the Great Haverhill fire of 1667.

Mill at Bradfield St George 1906
1905 Like the horse, even wind power had been slowly replaced since the late 19th century. Milling on a much larger scale was made easier by the introduction of steam power, and by internal combustion engines. The Great War would finish off many of these notable landmarks, but their demise was already in sight. This view of the Mill at Bradfield St George is by H C Cobbold, and can now be seen in the Museum of East Anglian Life.

In February 1905 Frank Riley Smith of Barton Hall, and MFH of the Suffolk Hunt, hosted a function at the Athenaeum for the landowners, tenant farmers and gamekeepers of the farms over which the Hunt ran. Riley Smith aimed to enlist these people in supporting the Hunt, and to reduce persecution of the fox by the shooting interests. The Hunt even kept a Poultry Fund which was used to compensate farmers for losses of poultry caused by foxes being nurtured for hunting. His leadership and generosity kept harmony amongst these conflicting interests until his early death in 1912.

Typical of the Riley Smith generosity was the donations he made to the YMCA in Bury St Edmunds, which allowed them to acquire premises in Churchgate Street in 1905.

Women often led the way on issues in factories like Gurteens at Haverhill. A number of women workers walked out for a week at the end of February to get an extra 6d per dozen garments. This was on a government contract just won for making khaki uniforms.

An extraordinary incident happened on the Bury St Edmunds Borough Council during 1904 and 1905. Edward Lake had been elected Mayor in November 1902, and very unusually, was re-elected in 1903 and 1904. He had a long experience on the Council as well as being the Managing Director of Greene King's Brewery in the town. He had already made his mark by bringing forward many modern reforms to the council, both in works, like the Sewage Farm at West Stow, and the Electricity undertaking in Kings Road, and in financial and management procedures.

In 1904 the Council wished to appoint a full time Town Clerk in the Town Hall to manage the Council. The existing Town Clerk, Charles Salmon, worked part time from a local solicitor's office, and was also Clerk to the Urban District Council, and held other posts, as well. He refused to relinquish his office voluntarily, and announced that he would stand as a Councillor for the Abbeygate Ward. From his post he could attack any new Town Clerk's authority.

Edward Lake retaliated by resigning his post as Alderman, and his Mayoral position, and contested the Abbeygate Ward election against Salmon. Lake was returned with a large majority.

The Education Authority arranged for the Feoffment's Commercial School to be closed, and its premises were amalgamated with the adjacent Poor Boys School.

In about 1905 the Andrews family suffered a setback. Charles Andrews was a junior partner in Andrews store, later to become Andrews and Plumptons. Charles had become ill and the family had to move from Greyfriars on Whiting Street, to a smaller home at 117 Northgate Street. By now there were five children and although they still lived a comfortable middle class life with servants, it meant that Sybil Andrews, the third child, grew up to be more self reliant and independent than might otherwise have been the case.


Montgomery advertisement 1906
blank Having previously been makers of sidecars, the Montgomery company of 6 Brentgovel Street in Bury St Edmunds produced their own motorcycle and sidecar combination in 1905. It had a 5hp V-twin engine and a wicker-work sidecar body that could be detached in two minutes according to their advertising. Connection to the machine was flexible on some models, thus allowing them to bank for corners. One advertisement showed a sidecar fitted to each side of a motorcycle. The advertisement shown here was included within the Borough Guide Book for 1906.

For the next few years they concentrated on their sidecars and sold motor cycles to suit them. In these early days of the motor bike it was normal for local builders to buy in engines and other parts and perhaps build upon their own frames and forks. Machines could in this way be built to a customer's own requirements.

By 1911 Montgomery would find that he was running out of workshop space in the cramped location in Brentgovel Street, and would be forced to consider a move.


Glemsford's Water Tower
blank The village of Glemsford had been given an Urban District Council under the Act of 1894, and with a population of 2,016 in the 1901 census, was one of the smallest UDCs in the country. Nevertheless it had the power to provide water and sewerage in its area, and in 1905 it set up a waterworks and a water tower to supply water to its inhabitants. Glemsford water tower was 45 feet high and the tank added another 15 feet. This tower was a prominent local landmark until it was demolished in 1962. While the 30,000 gallon capacity tower was at Tower Meadow, on Hunt's Hill, at a high point of the village, water was pumped up from a borehole situated 130 feet below, in the valley at the foot of Skates Hill. This borehole was itself reported in the press in October, 1905, to be 520 feet deep, so a powerful pump was needed to raise the water to the tower. The pump and its engine were described as "an 11 hp oil engine and a 6" x3" three throw ram pump by Campbell Gas Engine Co of Halifax".

Although this installation was a significant feat for such a small council, it had its problems. There were 24 fire hydrants placed at various parts of the village. If the village suffered a fire the Surveyor had to be informed so that the pump could be started up to ensure an adequate supply of water for the firefighters. In addition the flavour of the water was disliked, and some people preferred to still take water from the brook. This flavour was variously attributed to the use of aluminium paint to prevent rusting of the water tank, or to the use of iron pipes. Glemsford would lose its UDC status in 1935 when it would be absorbed into Melford RDC.

Part of the decline of Glemsford began when the old established horsehair and cocoanut matting firm of H Kolle and Sons went bankrupt and the firm closed its doors during 1905. First established at Glemsford in 1844, as recently as 1885 it had been employing 700 men and women.


The Charter Celebrations
1906 In Bury, there were big celebrations from April 3rd to the 6th, to mark the 300th anniversary of the town's charter. A special medal was struck which had the town arms on one side and the relevant dates on the other. The charter of 1606 was read out on the steps of the Angel Hotel, and a large crowd gathered for the celebrations.

In the General Election of 1906, the Conservative Captain Frederick Hervey of Ickworth Lodge was returned for Bury St Edmunds as expected. He was the nephew of the 3rd Marquess of Bristol, serving for a year before becoming the 4th Marquess. However the election result was unusually close for Bury. Hervey got 1,481 votes, and his Liberal opponent, Mr B Yates, got 1,047 votes. By modern standards, this is a low number of votes, but only men could vote at this time. Nationally there was a Liberal landslide and the rural areas south of Bury elected a Liberal.


Charter celebration Medal
blank In 1906 the Labour party was formed in Britain, to represent the working man. But there was by now a movement to extend the vote to women as well.

During the laying of the concrete pavement in Fornham Road, one of the two slanting buttresses of St Saviour's Hospital was destroyed. Nearby are the Mermaid's Pits, described in 1907 as having springs of clear water.


Guide 1906
blank During 1906 Edward J Burrow of Cheltenham was producing Number 37 of his series of Borough Guides, called "A Guide to Bury St Edmunds". It contained a potted history of the borough, together with a description of its churches, public buildings and local seats of the gentry. To the local historian its major importance is the attention paid to the advertisers within it. Burrow offered them as many pages they cared to take, and if they wanted photographs included, then Burrow would have them taken if none already existed. Thus there are many shops and businesses with a photographic record which might otherwise have passed unnoticed. Boby's engineering works had eight pages devoted to it, with the title, "A Notable Bury St Edmunds Manufactory". The article included one illustration and three full page photographs especially taken by the firm of Burrow. The Angel Hotel featured in four pages, as did Thurlow Champness. In fact the most notable feature of this guide is the profusion of photographs which were included.

You can examine this guidebook by clicking here: The 1906 Borough Guide

A later edition of this guide, or a reprint, has the name of the booksellers F T Groom and Son of 17 Abbeygate Street, in Bury St Edmunds, on the front cover.

In Northgate Avenue the East Anglian School was given a completely new wing.


Old Shire Hall
blank Work began on alterations and additions to the Shirehall in Bury. The old Shire Hall had been built with a churchyard frontage in the form of a Greek Temple in 1841 and 1842. However, the site had been used for the administration of justice since 1579, when Thomas Badby donated the old monastic grammar school site to the Guildhall Feoffees for a Shire House. There had been many improvements and additions to the court premises over the years.

The Theatre in Westgate Street was re-opened following extensive renovations. It was described as handsome and luxurious and the wooden forms were replaced by crimson plush covered chairs "in line with modern requirements".

It was recorded in Burrow's Guide to Bury St Edmunds that the engineering works of Robert Boby in St Andrews Street was employing 300 men at this time.

The distinctive Virginia Creeper on the front of the Angel Hotel is said to date from a planting in 1906.

At Stanton on March 5th, the tower of All Saints Church collapsed. One church bell was kept in action by hanging it in a tree. A new belfry was built in 1956.

The Ship had been a beerhouse in Eastgate Street, Bury St Edmunds, since opening in 1855. It closed in 1906, and today it is Unwin's Wine store. According to Gerry Nixon's, "Old inns and beerhouses of BSE", in 1866 one Robert Miller was the tenant and his license was not renewed because of his intemperate habits. The owners were given 14 days to replace him. Mr Miller still has descendants living in the area today.

Stone plaques of notable persons exist on several of our town centre buildings. They were first considered in 1906, as shown by this newspaper item:
On November 20th, 1906, The Bury & Norwich Post reported as follows:

"Arthur P Wheeler Town Clerk:- At the suggestion of The London Society of East Anglians, notable people such as Thomas Clarkson, Defoe, Ouida and Crabbe Robinson should be recognised........ To enable the matter to be more fully considered and an estimate made as to the cost of fixing the necessary tablets, I shall be pleased to receive any information as to any house in the Borough which has been so occupied, together with such particulars to give in relation there to."

In December 1906 the newspapers featured a coconut mat carpet made to cover the great arena at Olympia in London, It was many thousand square feet in area and was claimed to be the largest ever made in the world. It was sent to London by rail, and it is reported that it filled 37 of Harrod's pantechnicons and the procession of vans through the London streets was more than a mile in length. It was manufactured in Glemsford in Suffolk, and the London "Express" called it a triumph of British manufacture. Because of foreign competition coconut matting production would decline in Suffolk in the 1920s.

Pageant Souvenir
1907 For two years, Archdeacon Hodges, the Vicar of St James's, had been planning a great pageant to celebrate the historical past of Bury St Edmunds. An American called Louis Napoleon Parker was hired to be the Master of the Pageant, a job he had experience of elsewhere in the country already. The aim was to explore seven historical incidents from Roman times down to the visit of Queen Elizabeth in 1578.

Thus in July 1907 the town held its Grand Pageant of St Edmund to commemorate the historical past of Bury St Edmunds. It was performed in the Abbey Gardens, and involved two thousand local people as actors, organisers, costume makers or stage hands. St Edmund was played by Dr Stork, and in a family like the Andrews of Andrews and Plumptons, the whole household were involved, including all the servants, and even 9 year old Sybil Andrews took part.

Nor were the surrounding villages and estates excluded from the undertaking. The Suffolk Hunt supplied many of the horses needed, as well as knights in armour to ride them. Frank Riley Smith of Barton Hall took the role of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and his wife was involved in designing and producing many of the costumes.

By now Rose Mead was well established as the best artist in Bury, having exhibited several times at the Royal Academy. As the whole town was involved in the Pageant it was no surprise that Rose became the Chief Costume Designer.

A set of twelve watercolours were especially painted by Rose Mead for sale as postcards and a commemorative souvenir programme was specially designed for the occasion and published by the Connoisseur Magazine. Not only did F G Pawsey and Co publish Rose Mead's twelve colour postcards, but they also printed an astonishing set of 50 postcards from photographs taken of the Pageant by George Cousins. George Sebastian Cousins was the official photographer of the Pageant, with premises at 30 Buttermarket, Bury St Edmunds. Cousins actually published some of his pictures as postcards himself, but others also tried to join in the fun. Two other publishers of postcards, Fred Watson and J. H. Gill, produced cards depicting individuals and groups posing in their costumes.


Pageant Medallion
blank A commemorative medallion was thought to be a desirable addition to the festivities for the occasion. These medallions were sold by the Bury jeweller Thurlow Champness (who, appropriately, played the Goldsmith in the pageant) and advertised in the local papers. The advertisements show that the medallions were made in two different sizes in gold, silver, silver gilt and bronze.

The central design on both sides is copied from a St Edmund memorial penny now in Moyse's Hall, which was given to the Borough of Bury St Edmunds by Mr John Hargreaves of Liverpool at the time of the pageant. The large A in the centre of the obverse probably stands for 'Anglia'. Otbert, named on the reverse, was the moneyer responsible for striking the coins. The location of the mint is not known.

The Suffolk Regiment provided the band, and a covered grandstand held 4,000 paying customers. There were six 3 hour performances covering July 8th, 9th and 10th.

A film was made of the 1907 pageant and it was first shown in the Lecture Hall at the Athenaeum. The cinema was now coming to Bury.

A more scholarly tribute to Bury's past occurred in 1907 when Lord Francis Hervey published his "Corolla Sancti Eadmundi The Garland of Saint Edmund King and Martyr." This book, which Hervey edited and introduced with a long Preface, aimed to publish all the documents concerning the life and martyrdom of St Edmund which he could locate. This was an extremely comprehensive gathering of texts, which included the following:

  • The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
  • Asser's Life of King Alfred
  • Abbo of Fleury - The Passion of St Edmund
  • Translation of Abbo into OE by Aelfric
  • Archdeacon Herman's Book of the Miracles of St Edmund
  • William of Malmesbury's Acts of Kings
  • Geoffrey of Wells
  • Roger of Wendover
  • John Lydgate
  • And many lesser known authors
He included a number of Charters relevant to the saint, church dedications, coinage details, and a glossary. This collection brought together all the relevant documents needed by the historian or churchman wanting details about the saint.

W E Guinness
blank During 1907 it became necessary to hold a by-election, when the Bury MP, Frederick W F Hervey, became the Marquis of Bristol. The new Conservative candidate was W E Guinness, of the brewing family. As the Liberal government had refused to make any concessions to the Women's Suffrage Movement, the Suffragettes retaliated by opposing all Liberal candidates en bloc. Thus did Sylvia Pankhurst come to Bury to support Guinness, although she herself professed to support the Labour Party. The Conservative majority was doubled, and Guinness got his seat.

Walter Guinness had Suffolk connections which became closer when he acquired the Manor House on Honey Hill in Bury St Edmunds, together with other local property, after his election. Walter Guinness was born in Dublin, Ireland, the third son of the 1st Earl of Iveagh. His family homes were at Farmleigh near Dublin, and at Elveden in Suffolk. He would remain Bury's MP until 1931, and earned the DSO in 1917, the time from which this portrait dates. He was created Baron Moyne of Bury St Edmunds in January 1932.


Norman Tower 1907
blank Pawsey's had been publishing postcards in Bury since 1903. In November 1907, F G Pawsey and Company, Limited, of 25 and 26 Hatter Street, Bury St Edmund's, printed and published their large book entitled "West Suffolk Illustrated". It came out as a part work, and when you had collected all the parts, you could take it back to Mr Pawsey to be bound into a large book. It consisted of a text entry for every town and village in West Suffolk, together with at least one photograph of each place. Many of these photographs were also used for postcards of the area. It was compiled by Horace Barker, the curator of Moyse's Hall Museum, and its emphasis was on the history of the place, rather than its present condition. Barker reported in this book that the Pageant proved a tremendous success, both artistically and financially. After payment of all expenses a profit of about £1,000 remained.

Commemorating Charles Blomfield
blank Another result of this local pride was a movement to have commemorative plaques put on buildings associated with famous people, formally launched by the Town Clerk in 1906. These included Daniel Defoe, said to have retired to Bury in 1704, Sir Thomas Hanmer, Sir G Pretyman Tomline, (Bishop of Winchester), Thomas Clarkson, and Charles Blomfield. Eventually there were eleven of these oval plaques installed. A twelfth plaque was rectangular, and was fixed to the ruins of St Saviours Hospital to commemorate Duke Humphrey. This particular plaque was commissioned and financed by Gery Milner - Gibson - Cullum, of Hardwick House.

You can view these plaques and their locations by clicking here:Plaques of Notable People


Municipal electricity
blank Barker also reported in this book that the streets and public buildings of Bury were now lighted by electricity from the council's own electricity works. He reported that the water was excellent, the water works having recently been much enlarged with an additional storage reservoir of 50,000 gallons built at land near the West Road. In addition there was a high level tank of 70,000 gallons capacity. A wind motor had been erected for pumping.

However, he wrote that the the depression in agriculture had impaired the town's former prosperity. But it still had considerable corn and cattle markets. There were several large maltings, including Gough's, Girardot's, and Boby's as well as Greene King's own for its brewery.

The St Andrews Ironworks turned out numbers of well-known machines, including Robert Boby's haymakers and his patent self-cleaning corn screening and dressing machines.

Another iron foundry was that of Cornish and LLoyd, located in Risbygate Street.

The Bury Free Press newspaper appeared every Friday, as it still does today. The Bury and Norwich Post was every Tuesday, but changed to Friday's later in the year.


New Shire Hall
blank In the great churchyard at the foot of Honey Hill, the New Shire Hall was completed. The Shire Hall was built in an Edwardian classical style designed by A A Hunt of Bury.

William Spanton's comment on this new building was as follows:
"The old front of the Shire Hall, where William Corder was tried for the Red Barn Murder, was a brick and stucco copy of a Greek temple, and though absurd enough, had a kind of dignity which made it impressive. The present building is a piece of commercialism entirely out of keeping with its surroundings."


County School extension
blank The County School in Northgate Street received an extension. The West Suffolk County School and Pupil Teacher's Centre, as it was called, seems to have received its fine new frontage and hall at this time. The original school buildings adjacent had been converted from a large private house. Because of the special fired bricks used, the frontage and its name are still as sharply defined in 2006 as they were when installed a century earlier. Today these buildings are used as offices.


Looms lane junction c1920
blank Sybil Andrews recalled in her later years that at this time Looms Lane was narrow, with high walls on either side. On market days it was not unusual to meet a herd of cows being driven from market along Looms Lane, leaving pedestrians little room to avoid them. She would paint Looms Lane in 1921. The photograph here shows how narrow Looms Lane was at its junction with Northgate Street. The houses visible here in Northgate Street, flanking either side of Looms lane, have since been demolished in the 1960's for road widening purposes.

Henshalls, the ironmongers, took over Jaggard's shop on the Cornhill, and were well known until closure in 1959.

People still lived in fear of the workhouse as they entered old age. In practice the Thingoe Union Workhouse in Mill Road had been accepting paupers from the Borough of Bury St Edmunds Guardians since around 1880. But not until 11th November 1907, did Bury St Edmunds formally join the Thingoe Union. The new union was itself now renamed the Bury St Edmunds Union. The Mill Road workhouse was known to the poor as "The Spike."

The Borough Licensing Committee had commissioned a survey of all licensed premises in the town in order to assess their suitability to continue. It was felt that there were too many poorly run licensed premises, and that removing the worst of them would be a good thing. Nine inns would be listed for possible closure, and this would make it very difficult for these businesses to be sold or continue in the long run. However, many others escaped being on the list, like the Three Crowns in Southgate Street. Despite being in a state of disrepair, and without accomodation for lodgers or stabling for horses, the Three Crowns would last another 25 years.

The survey had already caused the closure of the Fountain Inn in Whiting Street, which stood nearly opposite the Masons Arms at number 88 Whiting street. This inn was started in 1863 as the Heart in Hand, and got its license partly because it could stable 25 horses. In the 1890's it became the Fountain, and it was closed in 1906 on the grounds that the street was already well served for drinking.

The Golden Lion was one of the many inns which closed down in the early years of this century. It stood at 57 Guildhall Street, between today's British Legion club and Westgate Street. Like the Saracens Head it had also housed a sizeable brewery, reaching back to St Andrews Street. Some of these brewery buildings were only redeveloped into housing as late as 2004/05, but had enjoyed many other uses in between. In the late 19th century, J A Simmonds had proudly advertised his Golden Lion brewery in the 1889 Wilkin's Almanac as to the "gratifying reports from ...the public analyst at Ipswich", and that he was "Contractor to the Suffolk General Hospital."


Dr William Sturge
blank In 1907, a Dr William Allen Sturge came to live at Icklingham. In 1850, William Sturge was born of Quaker parents in Bristol, where his father, William Sturge, was a wealthy surveyor. He received his medical degree from University College, London, in 1873, but studies were interrupted by diptheria, followed by rheumatic fever. In 1876 he went to Paris to study with Jean Martin Charcot. It was in Paris that he met his wife, Emily Bovell, who was also a physician. Emily Bovell was one of the original half dozen women who gained admission to the Medical School of Edinburgh University, only to be physically ejected by the male students and faculty. Sturge was strongly liberal and was one of the keenest supporters of women’s medical education. They married in September 1877 and returned to London to set up a practice together in Wimpole Street. He was appointed physician and pathologist to the Royal Free Hospital, and a lecturer to the Women's Medical School. In 1880 his wife became ill and Sturge decided to move to Nice, where he lived for the next 27 years during the autumn, winter and spring. He gradually became very well known and socially prominent as a physician on the Riviera and looked after Queen Victoria and her family during her four visits to Cimez. Emily Bovell died in her early 40's in 1885. The following year William married Julia Sherriff, who was his nurse in Nice. Julia was the daughter of a wealthy iron master in the North of England. Because of the summer heat in Nice, the couple used to take their holidays at this time of the year. Sturge was very fond of travelling. It was during his travels that he became greatly interested in archaeology and began to collect Greek vases and Palaeolithic and Neolithic flint implements.

Icklingham Hall
blank He had rheumatic fever in 1894 which recurred in 1899 and in 1907 he decided to give up practice and return to England. During his holidays he studied early Greek art and was a collector of Etruscan vases, devoting most of his leisure time to the study of archaeology. He settled at Icklingham Hall in Suffolk, almost opposite St James' Church, at the Mildenhall end of the village. He collected many of his flint objects from the fields around Icklingham, but also collected abroad, and bought other private collections. Over the next dozen years he would establish at Icklingham one of the finest private museums of flint implements in the world, all carefully classified and catalogued.

His collection eventually grew to include more than 100,000 pieces. Sturge was one of the founders and first president of the Society of Prehistoric Archaeology of East Anglia, inaugurated in 1908, with Norfolk-born journalist and keen prehistorian W. Grahame Clarke as Secretary. This society soon attracted a national membership, but it was not until 1935 that the local name was dropped to become the Prehistoric Society which still thrives in 2011.

In the winter of 1918 Sturge would fall ill of influenza followed by nephritis and subsequently die during March 1919.

In 1907 the village of Glemsford was relieved to hear that the firm of Arnold and Gould had opened its doors in the town to prepare horse hair for further processing elsewhere. Glemsford had a large labour force skilled in working with horse hair, and hundreds had been thrown out of work in 1905 when H Kolle and Sons had gone bankrupt and closed down. However, Arnold and Gould set up employing only 100 people. One or two other short lived horse hair companies would attempt to set up at Glemsford, but all would have faded away by 1937, when only Arnold and Gould would survive. They were still operating in 1996. Their work included washing, disinfecting, heckling and drying the horsehair, processing up to 100 tons a year.


Walton and Frank Burrell on ice
1908 This picture was taken on January 13th, 1908, and shows Walton R Burrell on the left and his brother, Frank Burrell, skating on the frozen floods at Fornham St Martin. The man in the middle was the new carpenter at Hall Farm, who was in the Seaforth Highlanders, and is displaying his five medals. Hall Farm was the Burrell family farm, and although the field was frozen, it was not available for use by the villagers unless specifically invited by a member of the family.


First pension day at Wickhambrook
blank The Liberal Party had won a landslide victory in the 1906 general election, and embarked on a series of welfare reforms. In 1908 the Liberal government under Prime Minister Asquith introduced the Old Age Pension for those aged over 70. Old folk were paid 5s a week (the average wage of a labourer being around 30s. a week) to single men and women, and 7s 6d to married couples, on a sliding scale. The single persons rate applied to those over 70 earning under £21 a year; this sum could be collected at the local post office. The pensions were means-tested and delivered at a reducing rate until they were not payable at all if income exceeded £31 10 shillings. Amounts were intentionally low to encourage workers to make their own provisions for the future. The means test and a test of good character was to be administered by local committees.
Nevertheless there were many who had never claimed poor relief who were in fact eligible. Most were now willing to claim the pension which avoided the stigma of being seen as "on the parish".

Town Guide 1908
blank In 1897 the Homeland Association for the encouragement of touring in Great Britain, began a series of handbooks or guides to various towns and localities in Great Britain. Bury St Edmunds was number 56 in the series, and the first edition came out in 1907 to support the pageant. A second edition was required by 1908. It was written by a Mr Dutt of Lowestoft, but was adopted as the official guidebook by the Town Council.

The guide begins with the usual historical background to the town and its Abbey. The 1908 guide announced that the Theatre Royal is now open, having been reconstructed, reseated and redecorated by Mr Eade Montefiore, to make "the prettiest theatre in East Anglia". Montefiore also ran a Stage School on the Angel Hill, and owned a collection of 600 theatrical engravings.


Bury around 1908
blank The new town guide also contained a street map of Bury, showing the main features of the town. There have been changes of street names over the years, one being St Botolph's Lane, which is here shown as Madam White's Lane. Kings road is still called Cemetery Road at this time, and the Council Water works and Electricity Generating Station are marked on its northern side. Barn Lane, off Eastgate Street is the site of a large Tannery, and nearby is the Eastgate Railway Station. The Gas works has had to expand to include a Third Gas Holder in Tayfen Road, but across Ipswich Street from the original site. There is large maltings in Etna Road, and the Station Hill is a large coal depot, fed by branch railway lines. The northern end of Cotton Lane is called Taylor's lane. There is a swimming bath behind the Theatre royal. The Plague Stone is marked accurately at the foot of Chalk Lane as "Remains of Cross." Several farms still operate within the borough boundary and are clearly marked.

Snow on April 24th
blank There was a heavy fall of snow on Easter Monday, April 20th, and the weather remained unseasonably cold. This postcard shows the unusual feature of snow and slush on April 24th 1908. The picture was taken at Fornham St Martin, and printed as a postcard. There is no publisher's name on the postcard, and it may well have been an amateur production by Walton Burrell, who lived at Hall Farm in Fornham.

In 1908 the Territorial Force was formed under Lord Haldane's Territorial scheme. It was the forerunner of today's Territorial Army. It was set up on County lines and the 4th Battalion The Suffolk Regiment (T.F.) was established in East Suffolk at Ipswich and 5th Battalion The Suffolk Regiment (T.F.) in West Suffolk at Bury. The 5th Battalion was formed from the old 2nd Volunteer Battalion of local men. These Battalions were part of the Norfolk and Suffolk Infantry Brigade, itself part of the East Anglian Division.

The Suffolk Yeomanry, a volunteer cavalry force, was also merged into the Territorial Army.


Town Hall fire damage 1908
blank Bury's Town Hall, today called the Market Cross once again, was gutted by fire. It was soon rebuilt.

College Square
blank The Guildhall Feoffment Trust began to build College Square as Almshouses for rent to elderly people. They were opened in 1909 to replace several other old premises. These included four almshouses endowed by John Frenze in 1494 which stood in Out Risbygate and several endowed by Bartholomew Brooksby in 1564, which once stood adjacent to St Mary's church. In 1813 Brooksby's almshouses had already been demolished and replaced in Westgate Street. Eight others in Southgate Street endowed in 1624 by John Ashwell were also replaced by the College Square development.

Hospital Balconies 1908
blank Mr Charters of Horringer Manor volunteered to provide the balconies at the Hospital in Bury which gave it its distinctive look for many years. These were needed so that patients with Tuberculosis, or TB as it was called, could get constant fresh air. Before penicillin was invented, fresh air was thought to be the only available "cure" for TB. St Peter's Church can be seen in Hospital Road in the background, and is the main part of this picture which survives into 2006.

Archdeacon Hodges
blank A portrait of Archdeacon Hodges, one of the prime movers of the 1907 pageant, was commissioned from Rose Mead. By the 1960s Archdeacon Hodges was largely forgotten, and the painting was found in the roofspace of the Borough Offices, somewhat the worse for wear. Luckily the painting was recognised as Rose Mead's reputation grew, and it was rescued and restored. For some years it hung in pride of place at Angel Corner. In 2002 it was moved into the Council Chamber at the Borough Offices, but in 2009 these premises were sold, and the Archdeacon went into storage once again. These days the artist is better known than the sitter, and Rose Mead's paintings are collected irrespective of their subject matter. She painted the archdeacon life size and the frame needed was ten feet tall. It was her most ambitious picture to date.

Ouida Memorial
blank Marie Louise de la Ramée died. She was better known as Ouida, the romantic novelist, and was born in 1839 in Union Terrace, Hospital Road. Although Bury born she quickly moved away, and had little affection for the town, but was a great dog lover. After her death in 1908 readers of the Daily Mirror subscribed for a memorial drinking fountain which was installed in Out Westgate, at the foot of Vinery Road. Originally it was in the road, but has now been moved out of the traffic, under trees at the roadside. A memorial plaque was also placed on the house in Hospital Road where she was born.

The Manor House in Honey Hill was bought by Walter Guinness, later the 1st Baron Moyne. He owned the house until 1933, and was later to be murdered in Cairo in 1944, where he was a British Government representative.


Railway bus link
blank In June 1908, the Great Eastern Railway Company tried to start a motor bus service to Stanton, and to Horringer, to help people in the outer villages to use the railway station, and to visit town. The service only lasted for 9 months. This picture is from the official opening on June 30th, 1908, outside the Angel Hotel in Bury. Various pictures of these buses exist from stops along the route, as they were a novelty at the time. This bold attempt at "integrated transport", as we might call it today, failed to pay its way.

The Colne Valley locomotive repair sheds were moved from Haverhill South Station yard to Halstead, taking the jobs with them.

In Southgate Street the Southgate Brewery closed. This was, in fact, a beerhouse which prior to 1886 had called itself the Jolly Toper. As Braddock's Southgate Brewery had closed down in 1868, perhaps this brand name was seen as available. In any case the Jolly Toper had possessed its own brewery since at least 1833, and may still have been brewing in 1908. This pub is now a home, number 13 Southgate Street, and Toper Lane survived for many years as a path from the yard to Raingate Street.


Outside the Admirals Head 1903
blank During the 19th century Long Brackland usually had three or four beerhouses open at any one time. These also changed their names as new landlords arrived. The Admiral's Head was a public house that stood in Long Brackland at the corner of St Martins Street. It was closed down in 1908, and demolished in later years. This photograph comes from Mrs Turner who is the small girl on her father's cart.

Greene King now began to use motor transport to deliver their bottled beers. In November it hired two Foden steam lorries, and it became possible to make two deliveries a day around Bury. Foden continued to make steam lorries up to the Second World War. Edward Lake now dispensed with two horses and a man at Bury, and a horse at Colchester. Deliveries could now be made to places like Haverhill much easier, as there was no direct rail link there. This was the start of long slow replacement of horse drawn transport, which still remained the main delivery mechanism.

The Bury printer F G Pawsey had done so well with his book on West Suffolk, that in 1908 he published "East Suffolk Illustrated" along the same lines.

The manufacture of horsehair products had been flourishing in Lavenham and Glemsford since the 1860s. In 1908 the Sheffield firm of Oddy's Ltd built their three storey horsehair weaving factory on the Brent Eleigh Road at Lavenham. Today this factory can still be seen but has been converted into flats. Oddy's gave work to 40 women under a foreman, who would weave horsehair on looms especially made for the purpose. They were paid upon completion of a 52 yard of woven seating, and every inch required 120 hairs to be woven together.


Eastgate Station closes 1909
1909 In Bury St Edmunds, the Eastgate Street Station was closed down in 1909. It had only ever served passengers for Sudbury and Long Melford since its opening in 1865, giving Bury two railway stations and two stationmasters. Its closure was a cost saving measure. Passengers for this line would now use the Northgate Station instead.

In Spring 1909 Major St John St George Orde sold Fornham House, and left the small estate at Fornham St Martin, which had been the family home since the 18th century. Fornham St Martin Village Hall had been built in 1887 in memory of Sir Harry Orde, and in 1858 the only son of Captain Orde had been lost in the Southwold Lifeboat disaster. The family name remains on Orde Lodge at Fornham St Martin, dated 1870.

In 1906 Frank Riley Smith had stepped down as Master of the Suffolk Hunt, to be replaced by Guy Everard. After a two year break he returned as joint MFH with Wilfred Bevan of Plashwood in 1908. In 1909 at the Hunt Dinner, Riley Smith reported that the Hunt gave a great boost to local trade, having spent £4,000 in the last season, on items like hay, straw and saddlery. With the decline of the horse and carriage and the rise of the motor car, Riley Smith suggested that the Hunt would become more essential as a consumer of local hay and oats. In addition, large numbers were employed directly and indirectly in hunting. They had found 105 foxes, killed 50, and run 19 to ground. This was considered an exceptionally good number.

Local riders now decided to start a Polo Club in West suffolk. Frank Riley Smith was elected Club President, and a ground was laid out at Beyton Grange alongside the Stowmarket Road. In the first season there were 23 playing members and 40 social members.

Two picture houses opened in Bury St Edmunds to show the new silent films of the period. Charles Thurston opened Thurston's Grand Picture Palace in St Johns Street. Also in the same street, Ronald Bates opened the Electric Theatre. Both seem to have changed their names within a couple of years. The Electric Theatre became the Gem Electric Theatre, and Thurstons would become called the Rink Picture Palace.

West Stow hall had been near to collapse when its owner, Lord Cadogan of Culford Hall, commissioned William Weir to restore it. The work was complete by 1910.

Early in 1909, Edward Lake was made an Honorary Freeman of the Borough of Bury St Edmunds. This honour was not for being Managing Director of Greene King's Brewery, which he was, but for an outstanding career in local government in Bury. He had been Mayor for six years, the Council's Chairman of Finance Committee and its Education Committee. He had led the modernisation of Council procedures, council accounting, sewage disposal and electricity undertakings, and was involved with the Hospital and with local Charities.
The Bury Free Press of 15th January 1909, said of him, "Our present municipal position is largely what he has made it." Although he was respected for his drive and efficiency, he was not a well liked man.


Spittle Houses and plague stone
blank At this time the plague stone was in Risbygate Street, but was in front of a row of 4 almshouses at the foot of Chalk Road, as shown on this Pawsey's postcard of 1907. Cornish’s brass foundry had been set up on land behind these almshouses and in 1909 the company, by now called Cornish and Lloyds, bought the 4 Spital Almshouses in order to demolish them and expand their premises.

The plaque on the wall behind the plague stone reads as follows: "ENDOWED BY / THE REVD JOHN FRENZE/ MCCCCXCIV, (1494)". The date 1606 is seen to the left bottom and something over 1672 at the bottom right.

Warren’s map of 1776 Refers to this row as “John Franzes Spittle Houses”, and Chalk Road was not called Chalk Road on the 1776 map, but was labelled “Spittle House Lane”.


Plaque at College Square
blank The proceeds from the sale of the John Frenze almshouses went to the Guildhall Feoffment Trust, and the money was used to help build twenty new almshouses in College Lane, now known as College Square. Perhaps because of the diverse sources of funds for this new venture, the square was treated as three separate blocks with separate oversight. In the Council Yearbook for 1930-31, these were described as:
  • Six Almshouses College Lane, (West Block) Inspection Committee Messrs H W Lake and A R Christopherson;
  • Six Almshouses College Lane, (East Block) Inspection Committee Messrs J S Gough and F R Warren;
  • Eight Almshouses College Lane, (South Block) Inspection Committee Messrs Mr S M Oliver and Mr F H Taylor

The plaque describes the demise of some of the earlier almshouses to which College Square was the culmination.

Greene King now entered into a two year contract to hire three steam driven lorries at £40 a year for deliveries of beer and particularly the bottled beers and minerals. Three Rural District Councils would object to this extraordinary traffic, including Clare RDC in February 1910.

General Booth of the Salvation Army visited a number of towns and villages of Suffolk in the summer of 1909. The Stowmarket Weekly Post gave very full accounts of speeches he gave at Stowmarket and Bury St. Edmunds. Their issue for July 29th 1909 reported that,
"General Booth’s visit to Bury St. Edmunds in the course of his sixth motor tour was the occasion of great enthusiasm, not only amongst members of the (Salvation) Army but amongst all classes of the Community who gathered in large numbers to welcome one whose work has become world wide.

On Monday afternoon, after leaving Stowmarket, the General’s progress through the villages on the road to Bury was a triumphant one. Everyone who could possibly get out lined the route, and gave him enthusiastic cheers. In some places, the enthusiasm showed itself by showers of flower bouquets and.....an admirer at Beyton Green very nearly caused the General a serious accident ....(when).. a bouquet of flowers intended for the car struck the General on the side of the face slightly injuring his nose."

In Haverhill, Gurteens installed the patent Henderson hair looms powered by their 1880 steam engine "Caroline" via belts and shafts. Hair cloth made from horse hair was used to stiffen cloth for lapels etc and up to 1909 could only be made on hand looms.

The Gurteen family also erected a cricket pavilion for the town of Haverhill.


Proclaiming the new King, 1910
1910 Following the success of the Bury St Edmunds Pageant of 1907, the Town Improvement Committee turned to the idea of making a freely available public park amenity. While this idea was being debated, an event occurred to give it a new focus. The death of King Edward VII and the impending coronation of King George V gave the occasion which the Committee felt deserved to be marked by a new public park. The best way to do this was to acquire the rights to free access to the Abbey Gardens. They needed to raise £650 to buy out the current tenant, meet legal fees and compensate him for the loss of income from admission charges. A Public Subscription was launched, and Bury's MP, the Hon Walter Guinness, immediately stumped up £200. With this incentive, the remainder was eventually raised, although it would take a year or two to raise the money and make the necessary arrangements. This would take until 1912

George V came to the throne when Edward VII died in May. He was a Saxe-Coburg at this time, but in 1917 the family name would be changed to Windsor. At Bury there was a ceremony held on the Cornhill to proclaim George V as King on May 6th. The civic procession emerged from the Town Hall, (now the Market Cross) and proceeded to the War Memorial, where the Mayor made his, largely inaudible, announcement.

In 1902 Adolphe Goldschmidt had bought Cavenham Hall. His son Frank Goldsmith was elected as a Conservative MP for the Stowmarket Division of West Suffolk in 1910, without any qualms over his German descent. Indeed at this time it was fashionable to have German connections, and better off young men would happily take German holidays. This mood was supported by the fact that the royal family themselves were closely related to the German Kaiser and his family.


6th Suffolks Felixstowe 1911
blank At the same time it was felt that German expansion meant that we should look to our defences. The German army was six times bigger than Britain's said Mr Greene at the first meeting of the National Service League in the Institute at Great Barton in November, 1910. Volunteers were called for to join the Territorial Army, and many from Great Barton joined the 6th Battalion (Cyclists) of the Suffolk Regiment. Using bicycles for warfare seems ridiculous to us today, but with the horse still the main means of transport, the cheap and efficient cycle seemed an ideal way to move infantry quickly over reasonable distances.

Burrells Garage
blank Despite the continued prevalence of the horse, it was possible to make a living by serving the needs of the motorist. Frank Burrell, the brother of amateur photographer Walton Burrell, had this garage in Mustow Street by 1910. It was just round the corner from Angel Hill, and next to Crescent House.

The £1,000 net proceeds from the 1907 pageant was used to build a Sanitorium, established in January 1910. The West Suffolk Sanitorium was set up at where Shakers Lane joined Rougham Road, and catered for the treatment of the contagious disease of tuberculosis. It had just 12 beds for men only. In 1917 it was sold to the county council to become the West Suffolk County Council Sanitorium.


Boots under construction
blank Boot's Cash Chemists and Perfumers came to Bury with a mock Tudor building on the Cornhill of a type they built all over the country. However, Boots always tried to give each one a local flavour. Its statues included St Edmund, for obvious reasons, King Edward I, for his parliaments here, Edward VI, for his Grammar School, King Canute, for founding the abbey, and Agricola, for crushing Boudicca. Today, Boots have moved a few doors away and the premises are occupied by W H Smith's.

Roller Skating began in the Corn Exchange, a use which continued for half a century. On other days it was also used for flower shows, dinners and other large scale public gatherings.

Another two acres of land were donated to the Hospital by Oliver Johnson of Barrow. It was used to hold the Nurses Home in 1924.

The Two Brewers inn in Westgate Street closed down. It had stood on its site near today's Parkway roundabout since at least 1770. Since about 1860 it had been in decline.
The Duke of York in Whiting Street was also closed. It had been called the Ten Bells up to 1895, but re-named for the Duke who had recently become Colonel of the Regiment to the Loyal Suffolk Hussars.


Moot Hall Clacton
blank During 1910, the Moot Hall at Hawstead Place was to enjoy a trip to the seaside. The 15th century hall had been built at Hawstead Place, just outside Bury St Edmunds. Two directors of the firm of Christies, Gill and Reigat, bought it, having been in use as a granary by this time, and took it to pieces, labelling each item. All the timbers, bricks and tiles were taken to Clacton by horse drawn carts, and re-assembled on the Marine Parade in Clacton. It had no staircase, and remained in use like that until stairs were installed 24 years later.
Horringer Mill
1911 Horringer Mill was a fine postmill that stood on the Horringer Road in Bury St Edmunds, one of several that had stood within the town. It was known at the time as West Mill. Postmills are so called because they were built around a massive oak post. They were the most common type found in Suffolk, but by 1911 it was clear that more modern forms of large scale power were leading to the decline of local windmills. In 1846 a steam mill had been built adjacent to this windmill, and is just out of sight to the left of this photograph by Harry Jarman.

Horringer windmill gradually fell out of use and was demolished in 1918. During World War I, millers would be forced by government regulations to grind only animal feed thus limiting their usefulness. At the end of the war, there would be only 350 working mills left in the whole country. This picture was published by Mr O.G. Jarman, a photographer whose collection of negatives is now in the Suffolk Record Office, and is managed by the Bury St Edmunds Past and Present Society.


Whiting Street celebrations, BSE
blank George V's coronation took place on 22nd June, 1911, just over a year since his father died. There were street parties and celebrations held in every town and village. The photograph is thought to show the celebrations in Whiting Street, Bury St Edmunds.

It had been hoped that the Abbey Gardens could be made open freely to the public by this date, but, as usual, there were many issues to be resolved. A great deal of legal wrangling ensued with the London lawyers of the Marquis of Bristol. The Council team was led by Alderman Owen Clark and backed up by Alderman Thomas Nice. Clark eventually succeeded in negotiating a settlement.


Chocolate from the Mayor
blank Although the Abbey Gardens project was still in progress, there were many other ideas to mark the King's coronation. The Mayor of Bury St Edmunds commissioned small tins of Fry's chocolate to give out to schoolchildren for the occasion. John Ridley Hooper was Mayor of Bury St Edmunds from 9th November 1910 to 8th November, 1911. He would become Mayor twice more, in 1920 and 1922.

Decorated railway engine
blank Even railway engines were decorated for the coronation. This picture owned by Michael Miller depicts his great grandfather, Harry Miller, standing on the rails, with Bob Abraham in the cab. The engine was decked with flags and the royal portraits to celebrate the occasion. This engine operated from Bury St Edmunds station, and was regularly crewed by these two men.

In order to permanently mark the occasion the council decided that Cemetery Road in Bury St Edmunds would be renamed Kings Road.

The 1911 census gave the population of Bury St Edmunds as 16,785.


Elmswell Bacon Factory
blank In 1910, a group of Suffolk pig farmers set up a co-operative to process their own pigs for bacon and pork. By 1911 they had begun to build a factory at Elmswell, known as the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Bacon Factory Ltd, to handle about 230 pigs a week. The foundation stone was laid in June, 1911, and opened in March 1912 by Frank Goldschmidt, the MP for Stowmarket, elected in 1910. Today the Elmswell Bacon Factory is a large modern plant, and all the original buildings are gone.

Farringdon's Shop
blank John Farringdon was first recorded as living in Bury. From 1911 to 1914 he published a series of postcards of Suffolk recording the last of life before the Great War. Pawsey's had been publishing postcards of the local area since 1903.

By now, Bury had three small cinemas, two of which seem to have been in St Johns Street. They were the Rink Picture Palace and the Gem Electric Theatre. The Empire Picture Palace opened in 1911 in the Market Thoroughfare on St Andrews Street. Travel and news films were mixed with live variety acts, and musicians played to accompany the films. The Gem would close in 1916, and the Empire or New Empire suffered a fire and closed in 1926.


Montgomery & Co Coventry c1925
blank W Montgomery and Company had occupied premises at 6 Brentgovel Street, Bury St Edmunds, since 1892 as bicycle manufacturers. By the 1900s Montgomery was developing side carriages for the new motor cycles coming into production. Today these are called motor cycle side cars, and Montgomery is credited with their invention. His workshop expanded to sell a combination of his own sidecars together with suitable motorcycles to accompany them. He soon invented a new form of engine silencer which he produced and sold, but by 1911 he was looking for larger premises. Montgomery decided to move the whole enterprise to the Midlands, where the fledgling motor industry was establishing itself. He settled upon a location in Freeth Street in Coventry, and the company would flourish there until the Second World War. By the 1920s Montgomery and Co would be producing classic superbikes such as the Montgomery-Anzani 1000 cc V-twin, and collaborating on the development of George Brough's famous Brough Superior model.

In 1907 and 1911 two volumes of the Victoria County History of Suffolk were published. Unfortunately the Great War extinguished any hope of producing more volumes, and the project has been defunct ever since. However, some useful work was produced, with assistance by Lillian Redstone.
G T Rope contributed an article on the mammals of Suffolk. He believed that the badger was more or less extinct in Suffolk, having been exterminated as a pest of agriculture. On the other hand, otters remained plentiful as they were hunted for "sport", and were not by now considered as vermin. The fox, however, had reduced so much during the 19th century that some Masters of Foxhounds had resorted to the importation of European foxes in order to provide the hunt with sufficient quarry.

In memory of Frank Riley Smith
1912 At the early age of just 46, Frank Riley Smith of Great Barton Hall, died in March, 1912. In May of 1911, Frank's brother had died in Yorkshire, an event which required Frank to give up local resposibilities such as Master of Foxhounds, to attend to the family brewing business, John Smith's of Tadcaster. He was considering a permanent removal back to Yorkshire when he became ill later in 1911, being missed from many social occasions. He gave up his golf captaincies and gradually withdrew from view. His death caused a void in local life at all levels of society. His funeral brought Great Barton to a standstill, and crowds arrived from far and wide.

Riley Smith left £500 to the hospital at Bury St Edmunds which was used to provide a wing to house nursing staff. His widow paid for the rooms to be furnished.

Great Barton Hall
blank Riley Smith had occupied Barton Hall on a lease from the Bunbury family, who still owned it, although they now lived at Mildenhall. Later in 1912, after Mrs Riley Smith gave up the tenancy, the Great Barton estate was leased to Sir John Smiley, who made further extensions to the property and took up residence.



Fire at 9 Angel Hill
blank Number 9 Angel Hill burnt down on May 14th, and there is still a gap in the house line even today, next to Angel Corner.
Stowmarket floods
blank The year 1912 saw the wettest recorded summer ever in the United Kingdom. Spring had made a promising start to the year, but June was wet and cold. A major contributor to this weather must have been the eruption of the volcano Novarupta in Alaska on June 6th. Vast clouds of ash and droplets were blown into the upper atmosphere by one of the centuries most powerful eruptions. The ashcloud encircled the globe and reduced the penetration of sunlight for months. August 1912 became the coldest, dullest and wettest August in history.

During August there were heavy rains and widespread flooding in Suffolk. On the 24th August, about four inches of rain fell in 16 hours. A bridge at Stowlangtoft was swept away by the water. At Stowmarket the railway station became an island, and the trains could not run. The picture shows boys by the Pickerel Inn in Stowupland Street at Stowmarket.

However, Norfolk was hit worse than Suffolk. North of a line from Kings Lynn to Beccles, the rainfall was even worse. Up to 8 inches was said to have fallen on some places within 24 hours. Along the River Bure, which flows from Melton Constable through Wroxham and on to Great Yarmouth, many of the bridges were completely destroyed, as were millponds and their dams.


Temple Bridge - rebuilt 1912
blank During 1911 and into 1912, the Temple Bridge over the River Lark at Icklingham was rebuilt. This is the bridge that would have to be closed to traffic early in the 21st century, because it was cracking. There seems to have been a bridge located here since Medieval times.

In 1912 the Bury St Edmunds Borough Council took out a lease of the Abbey Gardens from the fourth Marquis of Bristol for £90 a year. At the time they were usually called the Abbey Grounds. The money to buy out the previous tenant was raised by public subscription to end the practice of charging for admission. The public now had free access to the grounds, a privilege which continues today. There was a grand opening by Lady Evelyn Guinness on December 28th. The speeches were drowned by a downpour, but a telegram was sent to the King at Sandringham, telling him that Bury's new park had been opened to commemorate his coronation. Whatever the official name, a visit by local people was usually called "going to the Park". The council would not own the freehold until 1953.

On 25th October 1912, Horace Barker, curator of Moyses's Hall Museum wrote to the local press to celebrate the Borough Council's newly acquired park as follows: " Now that the site of the famed Abbey of St Edmundsbury has been taken over by the Corporation for the purpose of providing a public park, it may be of interest to trace the descent of the property, and to note a few incidents that have occurred since the Dissolution in November, 1539". After his historical notes, he continued, "It is pitiable to compare the present state of the ruins with what is shown by 18th century prints, or even with what remained in one's own boyhood. The tale of the gradual demolition of the various buildings might form the basis for a sad but interesting record. But it is to be hoped that under the zealous care of the Corporation all that remains of the once magnificent Abbey will be carefully preserved for the admiration and instruction of generations yet to come."


Cornhill c 1912
blank This view of the Cornhill in Bury St Edmunds is thought to be about 1912. It comes from a postcard published by Valentine's, and this particular example was posted in 1917. It shows Boots chemists, the Post Office, an Ironmongers, Liptons, Stead and Simpsons, the Maypole Dairy Company, and the Home and Colonial stores.

The Duke of Edinburgh was a public house on the Buttermarket, located on the site where Macdonalds now stands. It was opened in 1880 and had been a carriers house. This meant that wagons coming to market would terminate here. Unfortunately, although ideally located next to the market, it meant that any wagons parking here would block Brentgovel Street. In the days before one way systems, pedestrianisation and road closures this caused severe congestion in the already narrow alley which was Brentgovel Street. It had been a cause of complaint for many years, and no doubt this contributed to the decision by Greene King brewers to relinquish the license in 1912.

Not far away stood the Griffin, located on Cornhill, but at the head of St Johns Street. In 1912 its yard was adapted to make a garage for the new fangled motor car.

The Golden Fleece had stood on the corner of Churchgate Street and College Street since 1737, and was probably the last public house in Bury to brew its own beer. Brewing took place on two days a week right up until 1912 or 1913, when brewing on the premises ceased. The Golden Fleece itself continued as a pub until 1933. The only other Public House possibly still brewing its own beer at this time was the St Edmunds Head, in Cannon Street.

Manoeuvres of 1912 souvenir
blank In 1912, the 1st Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment were stationed in Egypt, while the 2nd Battalion were on home service in the UK. In March, 1912, they had been sent to police the national coal strike, at Chirk, near Wrexham, but by September they were back in Bury St Edmunds.

From September 16th to the 19th, 1912, the army held its last large scale manoeuvres before the Great War broke out in 1914. The scenario, as described on Wikipedia, was that a Redland Army under Lieutenant-General Sir Douglas Haig, had invaded from a line along the North Norfolk coast, heading for London. The Blueland army, made up of Southern Command (3rd Division) and Eastern Command (4th Division and Territorials), under Lieutenant-General Sir James Grierson, were based around Cambridge, and had to stop the Redlanders from reaching London. The 2nd Battalion of the Suffolks was part of the Blueland defending army.

Red Army reached the Gog and Magog hills near cambridge on Day 1, but by using reconnaisance aircraft, Grierson later wrote that,"I "stayed in camp all day receiving reports and very soon locating all the lines of march and halting places of the Red forces". On Day 2 Blue cavalry advanced to locate the enemy and fought with the Red 2nd Division near Hundon in Suffolk. The Blue 3rd Division ended the day in position from Reid's Farm to Rivey Hill. The Blue 4th Division concealed itself from aircraft and, after dark, moved through Saffron Walden and camped to the east of it.

On Day 3 the Blue infantry advanced to the line Horseheath—Helions Bumpstead. The hitherto concealed Blue 4th Division closed up on the right of the Blue 3rd, which had been strung out to represent the main force. The Blue cavalry was ordered to co-operate on the right of the 4th Division and the Territorials to advance from Cambridge to Linton. In the ensuing 'battle', Blue forces won a clear victory, bringing the manoeuvres to a close a day early. The Blue forces bivouacked at Linton and Grierson celebrated his victory over Haig.

Airship Gamma on Manoeuvres 1912
blank Each side had been issued with two flights of aeroplanes and an airship. The airships, or balloons, were named Gamma, built in 1910 and Delta, built in 1911. Delta was rigged as a non-rigid envelope in the 1912 manoeuvres. These vehicles needed a massive shed to house them, and it has been thought that a barn at Culford held one for a while. The barn became known as Balloon Barn, and even after the barn has gone, the name Balloon Barn Farm remains today. However, Clive Paine has pointed out in "The Culford Estate", that the name Balloon Barn Cottages existed in the 19th century, predating this period by several decades.

Despite that doubt, it does seem to be well established that the site of Thetford (or Snarehill) First World War airfield was laid out in 1912 as part of army manoeuvres, but was not officially opened until 1915 as part of No. 7 Wing of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). Snarehill was located north of Euston, and just east of Thetford, and was a pig farm by 2014. It may well be that all the local Blueland flying operations of the 1912 manoeuvres took place from here. The Royal Flying Corps had been set up a few months earlier, in May, 1912, with squadrons stationed at Larkhill and Farnborough.

Welnetham Railway Station
blank A factory for making wooden rakes and wooden scythe handles was set up at Little Welnetham. In 1911 the London firm of hardware factors, John George & Sons Ltd., had decided to set up their own factory for the production of wooden hay rakes, scythe sneaths and other wooden items, in place of their previous practice of buying in such goods from a variety of local makers. One such subcontractor, A.G.Last, persuaded Stanley George to take over his business and build the new factory at Welnetham. The Welnetham works of John George & Sons Ltd. were opened in 1912 and coppice woods about a mile away in Felsham Hall Woods were leased to provide a continuous supply of timber, mostly ash, birch, alder, hazel and willow. A variety of other wooden goods such as beetles, sheep hurdles, stable forks and all manner of handles and pegs, were produced in addition to rakes and scythe sneaths.

By setting up adjacent to the Welnetham Railway station the factory could take advantage of easy transport of its finished goods to locations all over the country.

The Rake Factory used a series of mechanised devices to help with the production of the wooden tools. Rakes included wooden teeth, with models of varying width. The Suffolk Rake had twelve wooden teeth, but wider rakes with more teeth were also made. Scythe handles came in various shapes to suit the type of scythe required. These handles were made from wood coppiced in the Bradfield Woods, and then steamed at the factory to make them pliable. They were then fixed into frames to set the shape into the softened poles. Not all goods were factory made as certain simpler types of product were made in the open. The growth of the business led to the purchase of some 300 acres of coppice woods in Felsham Hall Woods in 1934. The factory lasted under various owners until the 1980s.

At Ousden, Sir Herbert Mackworth-Praed had been trying to sell the estate since 1908. In 1910 he reduced the price to £55,000. The Praed's had not lived at Ousden since buying the estate in 1863, but, nevertheless, they must have felt some obligation to the inhabitants. Because of the rather isolated location of the Parish Church, the Praed family gave the people of Ousden a more convenient Burial Ground in 1912, which may be seen almost a mile to the east of the church. The parish church of St Peter's was located within the grounds of Ousden Hall.

Greene King's new Office
1913 Even Greene King now decided to buy its own lorries rather than hiring them. Two Leyland motor lorries were purchased for £725 each. Part of the stabling behind 6 Westgate Street and Westgate House was demolished to make a yard and garaging for the new vehicles. The brewery still had 59 horses in harness.

Greene King now built itself a new Head Office at the top of the Stable Yard, on Westgate Street, which is still in use today. Over the main entrance was the legend "Established 1800".

A barley store and Topf drier was also erected for Greene King in Sparhawk Street, with the Bury firm of Boby's providing the machinery. Other improvements were probably overdue at the brewery, but the coming of the Great War would stop all further progress.

Cars at Ampton Hall
blank Better off families were not slow in adopting the use of the motor car. This photograph shows the cars and the garages at Ampton Hall in West Suffolk, taken shortly before the First World War. The chauffeurs pose in front of their vehicles. Motor cars quickly became a central part of country house life. Stables, driveways and entrances were all modified as necessary to suit the new fashionable way to travel.

The registration letters "CF" indicate that each vehicle was registered with the West Suffolk County Council, at the Shire Hall in Bury St Edmunds.


St James's Church
blank For some years there had been a demand to have a Diocese for Suffolk. East Suffolk was in the Norwich Diocese, while West Suffolk was part of the Diocese of Ely. In 1913, an Act of Parliament created the New Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich. The first Bishop, Dr H B Hodgson, was enthroned in March 1914, but lived in Ipswich. The church of St James in Bury was designated to be the cathedral church of the Diocese. This reflected the ancient division of Suffolk into east and west, but also the fact that considerable work would be needed to bring what was a parish church up to the standards needed for a Diocesan Headquarters. Firstly the church itself needed extending, and not until 1970 would any substantial new works be completed.

In the absence of the Bishop, the cathedral was run by a resident Provost, who lived in the provost's house, which was the old Clopton's Asylum in the churchyard. It had already been the St James's Vicarage since 1897.


Abbey Gate Restoration
blank In 1913, and through into 1914, the Marquess of Bristol had the Abbey Gate restored. It had stood on the Angel Hill, Bury St Edmunds, since about 1340, and was in need of repair. There had been turrets on the roof which had fallen down in the early 18th century, damaging the corners of the gateway roof. This damage seems to have remained visible until this restoration in 1913. It was the most prominent structure to survive the dissolution of the monastery in 1539, and had become used as a symbol of Bury on Guide Book covers and advertising material since at least the 18th century.

Gainsborough at Sudbury
blank Like Bury St Edmunds, Sudbury was aware of its long history, and wanted to promote one of its most celebrated sons. The national memorial to the artist Thomas Gainsborough was unveiled in the artist's hometown, on Market Hill, Sudbury on the 10th June 1913. The sculpture by Australian sculptor Bertram Mackennel, was commissioned by a special committee who raised £10,000.

G G Milner-Gibson Cullum
blank The Borough of Bury St Edmunds took the very unusual step of honouring a non-councillor by making him Mayor of the Borough. Technically he had to be honorary Mayor, and the man in question was the highly respected local antiquarian, George Gery Milner-Gibson Cullum of Hardwick Hall. He had been instrumental in the setting up of Moyse's Hall museum in the 1890s, and was also made honorary curator of Moyse's Hall in 1912, a post which he would fill for nine years, from 1912 until his death in 1921. When he died, in 1921, he left a large collection of books, pictures and other items to the Borough, collectively known as the Cullum bequest.

During 1913 the Bury St Edmunds Council had purchased the Haberden for £430.

In land behind the hospital in Hospital Road in Bury St Edmunds, there had been a long history of digging out chalk for burning in lime kilns. Chalk pits were dug in the 18th century and mines were then extended deep undergound. Chalk workings and lime kilns were still shown on the 1884 25 inch OS map, extending from St Andrews Street South, behind St Peters Church and behind the hospital. However, it is believed that the chalk diggings were abandoned in 1913. The legacy of these mines would reappear with devastating effect when subsidence occurred here following the erection of houses at Jacqueline Close in 1964.


Ousden Hall from the garden
blank Ousden Hall and its vast estate had been owned by the Mackworth-Praed family since 1863. However, none of the family ever lived at Ousden, and after 1908, Sir Herbert Mackworth-Praed endeavoured to sell the property. However, it seems that he was asking too much for the property, as it was still unsold by 1910 when he reduced the price to £55,000. In 1912 two professional valuers came up with values of £45,000 and £38,000. Sir Herbert was none too pleased with this state of affairs as his father had bought the estate for £85,000 in 1863. Since the 1870's the value of these landed estates had plummeted with the agricultural depression caused mainly by imports of cheaper foreign food. In 1913, Sir Herbert finally agreed to sell the property to his youngest half-brother, Algernon Mackworth-Praed for £41,965, which was slightly more than the average of the two earlier valuations.

Algernon Mackworth-Praed had bought Ousden Hall in order to live there, and he engaged Arthur Blomfield to make alterations and additions for his comfort. Improvements included a new water installation, a new dining room and full rewiring and redecoration, and in all he spent another £4,000. Algernon lived at the house until the start of World War II, when it would be requisitioned by the army. In 1955 Ousden Hall would be pulled down.


Film of Bury in 1913
blank Some idea of the street life of Bury St Edmunds in 1913 can be seen in this film clip from the East Anglian Film Archive. Visit this film by clicking on this link:-

EAFA Bury in 1913

The historical descriptions within the silent film clip, which is 4 minutes 48 seconds long, are far from accurate. However, people familiar with the town will know the buildings shown, and appreciate this view of them from a century ago. Included are many views of people on bicycles and in horse drawn carriages with the odd motor car.


Kings Road Mill
blank Windmills were by now seen as old technology. Steam mills had existed for decades, and in many cases were built by existing millers on sites adjacent to their wind mill. Although the windmill might continue to be useful at times, repair and maintenance was naturally minimised so that many became semi-derelict and dangerous. During the winter of 1913-1914 the windmill in Kings Road was taken down. This image appeared in the Bury Free Press of January 17, 1914, and was repeated a century later (16th April, 2016) as part of that paper's promotion of the Spanton-Jarman collection of photographs held by the Bury St Edmunds Past and Present Society .

The caption reads, "It shows the demolition of a smock windmill on the north side of King’s Road, and to the west of Chalk Road. The mill dated from c1800 and formed part of the West Mills complex, including a steam mill, occupied by the Limmer family, who gave their name to the nearby terrace. Between 1880 and 1914 ownership passed from H Barton to W Clarke, to Benjamin S Jennings and lastly to Mr King, of Burlingham and Sons, who transferred the business to Station Hill."

Great Barton Hall fire
1914 In January, 1914, came news of a great midnight blaze at Great Barton Hall, the property of Sir Henry Bunbury. The Bunbury's had not lived at Barton since 1900, when Sir Henry moved to his Mildenhall Estate, leasing the Barton estate to Frank Riley Smith. Smith had died in 1912, and the lease had been taken over by Sir John and Lady Smiley.

During a Ball at Barton Hall on January 10th, it was seen that fire had started in the upper floors. The officers of the Bury Fire Brigade were attending a Masonic Ball in the Athenaeum, and the steam fire engine was turned out. Arriving at Barton Hall the Fire Brigade found that the only water supply for their pumps was to be found in wells which were too deep for their equipment to use. People rushed to save what they could, but the house was gutted. The hall was totally destroyed, along with all but a few of its contents.

The Bunbury's owned practically all the property in and around Great Barton, it being the centre of a great estate, with rows of uniform estate cottages and houses of a better standard than in an open village off an estate. Following this blow, the Bunbury family would sell off the whole estate of 2,136 acres in 1915.


Dinner for 5th and 6th Battalions
blank On 26th January, 1914, the Mayor, George Gery Milner-Gibson Cullum, hosted a complimentary dinner to the 5th and 6th Battalions of the Suffolk Regiment at his home at Hardwick House. This picture was kindly supplied by the Reverend Peter Wolton of London, who writes,
"As well as the officers, the following attended: W.Elliott, E.Pritchett, E.S.Bence, E.Jambier Howe and the Mayor, G.M.G Cullum, who hosted it at his home and after whom I now know the road is named. I just wondered if you could tell me anything about the gentlemen who attended. I am in the process of finding out about the war records of the officers who include my grandfather. With kind regards Peter Wolton."
Reverend Wolton later reported that Lieut P C Harris, Lieutenant H O Ashton and Lieut. F W W Attree all died on the Western front, and Captain Ledward was killed in action at Gallipoli in August 1915. Lieutenant H C Wolton served with the 5th Battalion throughout the war and was awarded the MC at the 2nd Battle of Gaza in November 1917. He returned to Bury St Edmunds in 1919 and founded a firm of land and estate agents. (He was the grandfather of the Rev. Peter Wolton.)

You can view the names of those in attendance by clicking on the adjacent thumbnail.

In January 1914, the Suffolk Regiment consisted of the 1st and 2nd regular battalions, (stationed overseas), the 3rd (Special Reserve) battalion, and the 4th , 5th and 6th (cyclist) battalions of the Territorial Force.

By the end of the impending war it would have been necessary to raise sixteen more battalions and the Suffolk Yeomanry would be converted to the the 15th battalion in 1917. The Suffolk Regiment would then consist of 23 battalions at its height.

Municipal telephone companies were nationalised as part of the Post Office. Only the system at Hull was exempted from this arrangement.

By now, the Theatre Royal was called the Royal Coliseum, and had become a variety hall.


Long Row
blank In 1914 the Feoffment Trust built Long Row in Northgate Street to let to the elderly.

Little local shops had been joined by national chains in many towns by 1914. Bury had Liptons and Stead and Simpsons by 1896, to be joined by Boots, Maypole, Home and Colonial and International Stores by the outbreak of war.

The Midland Bank opened in premises at the top of Abbeygate Street in Bury.

Two suffragettes named Hilda Burkett and Florence Tunks were imprisoned at the Bury Assizes charged with burning down the Bath Hotel in Felixstowe as part of their ‘Votes for Women’ campaign. The hotel was empty at the time, but was completely gutted. Crowds gathered for their trial at Bury Assizes on May 29th to hear them sentenced. However, on 11th August, only a week after the start of war, all suffragette prisoners would be released unconditionally.


British Lion Inn at Rougham 1914
blank This postcard shows the typical state of Suffolk roads in 1914. Men who would go off to war from the countryside would be used to this sort of view of England in their daily agricultural lives. A horse and trap is visible on the road and the arisings from horse drawn traffic are visible .

By 1914 Britain had a population of 36 million and about half of the food required was imported. Grain came from North america, mutton and lamb from Australia and New Zealand in refrigerated ships, and beef from Argentina. Between 1896 and 1914 the acreage of corn grown in Britain had fallen by a quarter. About 100,000 tons of potatoes came from Germany. To us it is clear that agriculture would be vital to the coming war, but at the time the Royal Navy was thought capable of preventing any blockade on supplies. German submarines were to prove this idea incorrect.


Mowbray Block, Bury Barracks
blank August Bank Holiday Fete, 1914, at Hardwick Heath on the edge of Bury St Edmunds, was a day of merrymaking. The next day, the country was at war. Britain entered the First World War on 4th August 1914, and the regulars and territorials were mobilised. Army reservists streamed into Bury from all over Suffolk. The picture shows the Mowbray block in the Suffolk Regiment's Depot at Bury St Edmunds. It was a familiar sight to regular soldiers, and even to the Territorials who trained here annually, but it must have been a formidable sight for men from Suffolk farms and villages when they first enlisted. Click on the picture to see a bit more of the size of it.

That same day the 5th Battalion (TF) of the Suffolk Regiment left by train for Ipswich, being cheered by a large crowd as the train steamed over the Northgate Arch. Horses were immediately commandeered from all around the district.


Cavenham Hall
blank Frank Goldsmith was the MP for Stowmarket and son of Adolphe Goldschmidt the German owner of Cavenham Hall and its estate. His German relatives telegraphed to Cavenham to ask the family to fight for the Fatherland. In fact, Frank was already a Major in the Suffolk Yeomanry and would be a Squadron Leader in the Battle for Gallipoli. Nevertheless, there was an outcry about his German connections and Frank would be forced out of his seat as MP in 1918. He would abandon politics after the war and move to France. When he was elected in 1910 he was a popular local figure. His son James Goldsmith, the controversial founder of Cavenham Foods and the Referendum Party was born in Paris in 1933.

Within days of war being declared the 5th Battalion, (TF) of the Suffolk Regiment were stationed at Felixstowe at its war station, before moving to Colchester.

The 6th Battalion was also a Territorial Force, but were trained as cyclists. They were mostly recruited in East Suffolk and were assigned to coastal defence work, with HQ at Saxmundham.

The Territorial Battalions would supply drafts of men to replenish other units fighting on the Front Line throughout the war, even when their station was officially at home.

Army reservists were not the only ones in demand. Naval Reserve Volunteers were also called up. Civilians who may never have considered a military career now volunteered without hesitation. The West Suffolk County Council granted a leave of absence for any of its employees who wished to volunteer for war service.

Civilians were excited in a different way. The fear of war meant possible food shortages, and there were large purchases of food for storage. Some shops took a week's business in one day, and some had to close for short periods to cope with numbers of customers. Regular customers were given preference.

The regulars in the Suffolk's Second Battalion were in Ireland at the time, and were immediately sent to France with the British Expeditionary Force. The conveyance of the British Expeditionary Force across the Channel without loss, within 3 days of the Declaration of War, was a great technical achievement.
The 2nd battalion of the Suffolk Regiment consisted of 1000 men, including 26 officers and a medical officer. They had arrived at Le Havre on 17th August, and they were sent straight into the Battle of Mons.

As the 2nd battalion marched northwards into Belgium the BEF were greeted enthusiastically by the local population who offered them cigarettes, eggs, food, fruit and other gifts. The BEF (of which the 2nd battalion were a part) reached the Mons-Conde canal, which runs through the northern outskirts of the Belgian town of Mons, on August 22nd. On 23rd August C and D companies of the Suffolk's 2nd battalion were ordered up to the canal to reinforce the 1st East Surrey Regiment. The Germans attacked at 8.30 am and the Suffolks soon came under heavy artillery fire. Cpl. G.M. Page, Pte. W. Flack and Pte. S.G. Goddard (all of C company) were killed, the first members of the Suffolk Regiment to die in the war. The Germans were advancing rapidly and by mid afternoon the 2nd battalion, along with the rest of the BEF were forced to retreat from Mons. The casualties of the BEF numbered approximately 1,600.

Following its defeat at Mons the BEF retreated south, chased by the German army. Just after dawn on the 26th August the Germans caught up with the 2nd Corps of the British army at Le Cateau. The 2nd Corps of the British army had been on the move for 3 days, marching 40 miles in very hot weather, along roads, thick with refugees. Two Corps commander, General Horace Smith-Dorrien knew that a battle needed to be fought to hold up the German advance. The 2nd Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment, as part of the 14th Brigade, were ordered to stay and fight the German army, whilst the majority of the 2nd Army Corps continued its retreat south. They had no time to dig trenches. During the battle the Germans controlled the high ground and there was little cover for the British soldiers. General Smith-Dorrien later wrote:

"Some one, certainly not I, ordered that on no account were the Suffolks to retire. Such an order was enough for the Suffolks. For nine hours they fought with desperate losses, their C.O., Lieut-Colonel Brett, being killed comparatively early in the day; but no thought of retirement entered their heads. .....
It is becoming more and more appreciated by the world, as facts become known and history of the war is studied, that it was the blow to the Germans delivered on the field of Le Cateau which upset their advance on Paris. The Suffolks were one of the units which made that blow possible. I thank them, and the whole nation should be grateful to them........
It is not easy in a few words to express the depth of gratitude I feel to this gallant regiment for their noble self-sacrifice on that occasion."

Total British casualties during the battle are estimated at 8,000. Casualties for the 2nd battalion totalled over 700. When they arrived at Pontoise on the 28th August the battalion numbered just 229 men.

The Suffolk Regiment fought in all the major battles in France for the rest of the war, and the two battalions were soon increased to 27. At the outbreak of the war the British army was only made up of 700,000 men.


Mons Star
blank This bronze medal award was officially called the 1914 Star. It was authorized by King George V in April 1917 for those who had served in France or Belgium between 5th August 1914 to midnight on 22nd November 1914 inclusive. A narrow horizontal bronze clasp sewn onto the ribbon, bearing the dates '5th AUG. - 22nd NOV. 1914' shows that the recipient had actually served under fire of the enemy during that period. These few months included the battle of Mons, the retreat to the Seine, the battles of Le Cateau, the Marne, the Aisne and the first battle of Ypres. There were approximately 378,000 1914 Stars issued. These actions had halted the otherwise overwhelming German advance, giving the allies a chance to mobilise more men and organise some sort of a plan of action.

(A very similar bronze medal was authorized in 1918, called the 1914-15 Star. It looks like the 1914 Star but it was issued to a much wider range of recipients. Broadly speaking it was awarded to all who served in any theatre of war against Germany between 5th August 1914 and 31st December 1915, except those eligible for the 1914 Star. An estimated 2.4 million of these medals were issued, and it became part of that trio of service medals known to cynical old soldiers after 1919 as Pip, Squeak and Wilfred. Its similarity to the hard won Mons Star must have been galling the Old Contemptibles who survived Mons and Le Cateau)

Heavy casualties at the start of the war had exhausted the supply of regular troops. It was therefore clear that new recruits were needed. On August 8th Lord Kitchener asked for 100,000 more men. Units known as Service Battalions were raised to meet this demand. Conscription was not introduced until January 1916, and so these Service Battalions were all volunteers. Across Britain two million men volunteered to fight in the war.

The 7th, 8th and 9th battalion of the Suffolk Regiment were raised from some of these volunteers from all over Suffolk in August and September, 1914. The 7th was raised in Bury St Edmunds on August 20, 1914, while the 8th was raised at Shorncliffe, and trained at Colchester. The 9th was raised at Shoreham, from contingents from all over Suffolk.

There was just no more room at the Gibralter Barracks in Bury St Edmunds to house these extra battalions. After basic training in their various locations across the country, they were all in France by September, 1915.

The 11th battalion was allocated for men of Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely. It was also raised in September in Cambridge. They were sent for training in Yorkshire.

Meanwhile, the Suffolk Regiment's 1st Battalion had been stationed in North East Africa during 1914, at first at Cairo, and then in Khartoum. In late 1914 they were ordered home, arriving at Liverpool on October 23rd. For the rest of 1914 they were mobilised at Lichfield, then at Felixstowe, and finally at Winchester.


Royal Engineers at the Woolpack
blank Large temporary encampments were set up around the country to house and train the thousands of mobilised men. In October a contingent of Royal Engineers set up a tented encampment at Fornham St Martin. This occupation extended along the fields behind and around the church and the Woolpack inn. This postcard, one of many such pictures taken by Walton Burrell, shows the Royal Engineers gathering outside the Woolpack as they arrive to set up camp.

Fornham Park in better days c1907
blank Nearby, at Fornham St Genevieve, Fornham Hall and Fornham Park, had been owned by George (later Sir George) Manners since the death of Sir William Gilstrap in 1896. Manners does not seem to have lived at Fornham Hall, as he had property elsewhere, but the house was let at various times. In 1914, the estate was requisitioned by the War office for military occupation. It would seem that it was occupied for a time by the Royal Engineers, according to this later account from "WW2 People's War" by the BBC, 'Memories of a Sapper in the Royal Engineers, 248th Field Company, named Bill Astle':
"That was early 1940 ....... We were then stationed at Fornham Hall, Fornham Park, Bury St.Edmunds ........... And incidentally we moved from Bedford to Fornham Park and we were the first people that had occupied it as occupiers. A caretaker lived there. We were the first since the First World War when it was the same Unit that moved in, the 248th Field Company from the First World War was also billeted there. "

The territorials were soon asked to volunteer for overseas service, which was a grave shock as they had already left their jobs on a few minutes notice for purely defence against invasion.
About 72% of the Suffolk Territorials agreed to go overseas. One of these battalions was the 4th battalion of the Suffolk Regiment. They arrived in France in November, 1914. In December they joined the Jullundur Brigade of the Lahore Division, Indian Army Corps and took part in the defence of Givenchy.
Before the end of 1914, 23 battalions of the country's territorial infantry were in France.


Casualties at Ampton Hall
blank Somehow the country had to deal with large numbers of war casualties. The regular hospitals were quickly overwhelmed and other places had to be pressed into service. In October 1914 Ampton Hall was taken over by the Red Cross for use as a Hospital for casualties until January 1919.

Casualties with otterhounds at Hengrave Hall
blank Similarly, Hengrave Hall became a hospital for the wounded. This postcard shows recuperating wounded soldiers at Hengrave Hall near Bury St Edmunds, which was used extensively in WW1. They are in the company of some people apparently named on the rear of the card, along with the words "Otter Hunt". I think they read as Mrs Cartmell, G Mizen, Mr Paley, Mrs Price and family. The reverse is also stamped Photo : W R Burrell, Fornham St Martin, Suffolk, negative 1101.

The grounds of Hardwick House were used for training purposes, and the front lawns turned into hay meadows for forage for horses and other animals. Other parts of the estate were farmed for food. Members of the Signals Regiment seem to have been based at Hardwick, and wounded soldiers were often entertained there on days out from Hengrave Hall Hospital.


Nurses at Great Saxham Hall
blank Great Saxham Hall was taken over for nursing purposes. This postcard shows the nurses at Saxham Hall in their Dining Room. Another postcard shows them lined up for their photographs outside under the porticoe.

Ravenwood Hall at Rougham was also used as a convalescent home for wounded soldiers.

France was not the only theatre of war, however, as another body of amateur soldiers would discover. This was the 5th Battalion who became divided into the 1/5th Suffolks, who would serve overseas, and the 2/5th Suffolks who would remain on duty in the UK. This type of designation was used by all Territorial Units who were divided in this way.


Livermere Forge
blank As well as soldiers, the war effort needed horses, the motive power of the day. Motor vehicles were in use, but the bulk movement of materials still needed horsepower. Thousands of farm horses were requisitioned by the army. At Great Livermere, as at many other forges, local army encampments needed the blacksmith's services to shoe the armies of horses needed. Samuel Gathercole was the Livermere blacksmith at this time. Many of these horses, like the men they supported, were killed in the conflict. The forge at Great Livermere is one of a small handful of forges which survive today on village greens.

Civilians were no longer immune to the needs of war. Young women like Sybil Andrews might be called upon to help. She went off to London to train as a welder, and was sent to Coventry to weld aeroplane parts. Later she would be moved to Bristol to weld the very first all metal planes for the Bristol Welding Company.


Christmas greetings from the Council
blank As the first Christmas of the war arrived, people on the Home Front were keen to send messages of support to their loved ones overseas. Even the local Council felt it appropriate to express their support for the troops. This letter, dated 19th December 1914, was sent to the 1st Battalion, the Suffolk Regiment from the Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses of Bury St Edmunds sending them greetings and support. It is clear from the format of the letter that the same sentiments were dispatched to every Suffolk Battalion in the field. In fact, this letter probably only survives because the 1st Battalion were still in England at Christmas, but would be in France within a month.
1/4 Suffolks at Richebourg
1915 In January the 1st Battalion Suffolk Regiment sailed from Portsmouth to arrive at Le Havre on January 18th. By February 3rd they were under fire in the Ypres salient.

In France, conditions during the first winter of the war were awful. Both the 1st and 2nd battalions of the Suffolk Regiment spent much of their time in Flanders, defending the Ypres salient. Trenches were feet deep in water, and bombardments and attacks were frequent. Mud was everywhere, and Trench Foot become a familiar condition. The 1st battalion took 300 casualties in two weeks in February when ordered to take some forward positions. The 2nd battalion, holding their lines lost casualties to constant sniper and rifle grenade actions.

The 1/4th Suffolks were in the same conditions. In January they were at Richebourg near Neuve Chapelle. They were Territorials of the 4th Battalion, who had volunteered for overseas service, and were designated the 1/4th to distinguish them from the home based parts of the battalion. As men with positions in civilian life and hobbies like photography, this may explain why more photographs seem to remain of the lives of these units.

In March 1915 the government announced that it was compiling a register of women willing to do work in agriculture, offices and factories. Large numbers of women were ready to take up these employments, but the government machinery needed to make best use of the labour was sorely lacking at this time.


Lighting Order January, 1915
blank In 1914, Germany had only ten Zeppelin Air ships, but both the German army and its navy had recognised its military potential and begun a building programme. Zeppelins had been seen over England during 1914, but these were reconnaisance missions, and no bombs were dropped.

The possibility of airship raids was approved by the Kaiser on 19 January 1915, although, at first, he excluded London as a target and further demanded that no attacks be made on historic or government buildings or museums. Immediately, the first airship raid on England came on January 19th, 1915, when German navy Zeppelins L3 and L4 attacked Great Yarmouth and Kings Lynn. Great Yarmouth had the dubious distinction of being the first town in Great Britain to be attacked by an airship. (During 1914 there had been a few largely ineffectual bombs dropped by aeroplane on Dover, and at least one Zeppelin attack had been made on France.) The first British house to be hit was in St Peters Plain at Yarmouth and today it has been rebuilt and a plaque is attached to record this fact. This led on January 25th to the "Order as to lights in the County of Suffolk", in which public lighting was to be reduced to the minimum consistent with safety, and powerful external lights had to be kept extinguished. This order had to be re-issued for Bury St Edmunds in September, because of widespread disregard of the regulations.


Lt Ganzoni, Ipswich MP
blank Neuve Chappelle was the first major offensive of the British army during the war, from March 10th to 13th. On the first day of the battle British and Indian troops were able to capture the village of Neuve Chapelle.

This picture shows Lieutenant Francis J C Ganzoni (Jack), who was with the 1/4 Suffolks at Neuve Chapelle. He was also MP for Ipswich, having entered Parliament on 23 May 1914. He survived the war as a Captain, and remained a Conservative MP for Ipswich, with a break in 1923 and 1924, until he joined the House of Lords in 1938. He was created a Baronet in 1929, and was created Baron Belstead, of Ipswich, Suffolk on 27 January 1938.


Postcard of DCM winners
1/4 Suffolk
blank On 12th March the 1/4th Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment was at the head of an attack on Bois du Biez. They advanced through a heavy German artillery barrage. Severe fighting lasted until well into the afternoon. 217 men of the 4th Battalion were killed in the battle of Neuve Chapelle. However, it was the first time that British troops had driven the Germans from well established positions on a large scale. The following were awarded the D.C.M. for gallantry in the field at Neuve Chapelle: Sgts. W. Pettitt and A.E. Pendle; L/Sgt. W. Smith; Pte. P.E. Sones.
Private G.W. Durrell, of the 1/4th Battalion kept this postcard of the men who were awarded Distinguished Conduct Medals for gallantry in the field at Neuve Chapelle. Private Sones "carried messages for 48 consecutive hours under very heavy rifle and machine-gun fire". There is a handwritten story on the back about their comradeship and another about shrapnel bouncing off the plate (from the Boer War) in the sergeant's forehead.

In April the Germans launched their second major offensive in Flanders. At about 5 p.m. on the 22nd April the Germans attacked the north-eastern edge of the Ypres salient. For the first time in the war they used gas as a weapon against the British troops. Allied casualties numbered 65,000. German casualties are estimated at 35,000.


Northgate Avenue crater
blank With two German Navy airship raids failing due to bad weather on 14th and 15th April, it was decided to hold off further action until the more capable P-class Zeppelins were in service. The German Army received its P-class Zeppelins first and undertook the first raids. Erich Linnarz, its Captain, commanded LZ 38 on a raid over Eastern England on the night of 29th / 30th April. (The designation prefix 'LZ' denoted German army Zeppelins. The German navy Zeppelins were designated with the prefix 'L'.)

The LZ 38 was brand new and was 536 feet long, with a crew of 22. It had four engines and could carry two tons of bombs at a top speed of 60 mph. That night it had crossed the coast and bombed Great Yarmouth, moved south to Ipswich, dropping only a few incendiaries there. Two houses were burnt out at Ipswich but there were no casualties. The LZ 38 then followed the A45 towards Bury St Edmunds.

On that night of April 29th / 30th, 1915, when Linnarz's Zeppelin airship appeared over Bury, it was a bright moonlit night. The LZ 38 would now fly over the town and drop about 40 incendiary bombs and 4 high explosive bombs.

At Bury St Edmunds the full moon made good visibility and the airship first swung north of the town to attack Moreton Hall by about half past midnight. Flying over the Northgate Station, a bomb blew up a tree in Northgate Avenue near the East Anglian School. The picture here is from the Illustrated War News, of May 5th, 1915.

Whitmore's timber yard was also hit, as was Aetna Road. The Anchor public house stood opposite Looms Lane in Northgate Street and received a direct hit from an incendiary bomb, causing its end as a beerhouse.


Destruction of Day's Shop
blank In the town centre, the electric street lights were on, despite the Lighting Order, and house lights also came on as people woke up to see what all the noise was. Several incendiaries were dropped, one hitting number 8 Angel Hill. In the Buttermarket, Day's boot and shoe shop was set ablaze as were the adjacent shops, numbers 30 to 33.

George Cousins, the photographer, had premises within number 30 Cornhill. Despite the rubble around him, he managed to continue to operate from his studio there. He took many photographs in the aftermath for sale to the press and public. Johnson Brothers, Dry Cleaners and Dyers, had a shop at number 31a. Later, Johnsons would use a picture of the destruction on an advertising poster, to announce that they were "now re-built and re-occupied." In all, four premises were damaged between the Suffolk Hotel and the Half Moon public house. A gap remained in the building line until after the second world war. The picture shows Miss Clarke's tobacconist's shop on the left, and Ellen Wise's ladies outfitters on the right. On the far right is the Suffolk Hotel.


Kings Road Corner
blank The attack moved to St Andrews Street, and Kings Road was hit. An Auction Room and warehouse at the corner of Kings Road and St Andrews Street, known as St Andrews Hall, was badly damaged. Next door were stables, also set on fire. Both premises belonged to James Pettitt, a motor engineer and corn merchant. The rebuilt premises are the home of Denny Brothers today. One bomb just missed the hospital, but more damage was done in St Andrews Street as the Boby Engineering works was attacked.

Broken plank at Boby's
blank This picture shows a plank at Robert Boby's engineering works which was smashed by a bomb, which then rolled harmlessly away. It is sometimes suggested that Boby's works was the target, but only because of its proximity to the damage. In the Great War the factory turned to munitions production, possibly, at first, under contract to Vickers, Sons and Maxim, the giant conglomerate with large interests in armaments. The company was probably well aware of the need for security and maintained a better blackout than the rest of the town.

Westley village was bombed at the end of the 20 minute attack. A large crater was left in a field which would later be used as a rubbish tip, and become filled in as part of the Westley airfield development in the 1930's. There were no deaths except for a dog and some hens.
As the raider returned to Germany, the village of Woolpit was bombed, leaving a 50 foot diameter crater at the Woolpit Warren.


Pathe newsreel report
blank In 1915 the fledgling Pathe News filmed the aftermath of the bombing on the Buttermarket for showing in the new Picture Houses. The newsreel titles read: 'More Bombs In East Anglia - The Damage At Bury St Edmunds - No. 429.' This clip of 1 minute and 11 seconds can be viewed on the British Pathe website here:
British Pathe 'More bombs in East Anglia'

In addition, you can view further pictures and a map of this attack on this website, here:
Great War Picture Gallery page 4a


Lusitania sunk
blank At sea the British navy ruled the waves, and refused to allow neutral American goods to be shipped to Germany and declared all cargo in neutral waters to be contraband. Britain then began seizing U.S. goods. These tactics proved to be highly effective, and trade between the United States and Germany dropped off dramatically between 1914 and 1916. In response to Britain’s tactics, Germany established a submarine war zone around the British Isles, declaring that they would immediately sink all enemy merchant ships encountered in the area. Germany began attacking British and American vessels in the waters of the North Atlantic. In March of 1915, Germany sunk the British steamer Falaba, and two more lives were lost when Germany sunk the American tanker Gulfight. In all, during the first months of 1915, German U-boats destroyed more than 90 ships.

These tactics reached a climax on 7th May, 1915, with the sinking of the Lusitania, a British passenger liner that was sailing from New York to Liverpool. Nearly 1,200 people were killed, including 128 Americans, although the ship was also carrying a large supply of ammunition for the British war effort. The sinking of the Lusitania caused a worldwide anti-German backlash, and strengthened public calls in the USA to join the war. Public reaction to the loss of life in Britain led to anti-German riots in Liverpool, as well as disturbances elsewhere.


Attack on the Griffin
blank In West Suffolk the Bury Free Press ran a series of anti-German articles, with veiled references to a supposedly pro-German local innkeeper. The landlord of the Griffin on the corner of Cornhill and Brentgovel Street was called Theodore Jacobus. The Griffin was attacked by locally billetted Royal Engineers on 15th May, following these articles. Jacobus even put up a notice to say that he was a British citizen, but this was ignored. Bricks were thrown through all the windows and the mob only dispersed after a long struggle.

On 17th May, the West Suffolk County Council dismissed its Weights and Measures Inspector because his parents were German.

Brahams scrap merchants of Risbygate Street, Bury St Edmunds, had to take out advertisements to proclaim that they had "not the slightest taint of German blood in them".

This sort of thing was happening nationwide. All over the country inns called the King of Prussia changed their names. On the corner of Prussia Lane and Southgate Street in Bury, the local "King" was renamed the Lord Kitchener. It would close altogether in 1919.

By 1915, there was a marked shortage of shells available for use at the front. Lack of shells had been a serious problem since autumn 1914, and the British Commander-in-Chief Field Marshal Sir John French gave an interview to The Times (27 March, 1915) calling for more ammunition. This heightened public attention and the resulting political uproar was known as the "Shell Crisis". In reponse, the cabinet was reconstituted as the first coalition ministry in May 1915, and Lloyd George was made Minister of Munitions in a new department created to solve the munitions shortage. Once in post, he seized upon reforms already in progress, and galvanised the new Ministry into action. Free enterprise was to be replaced by new central control of shell production on a coordinated national basis. The country was to be divided into 42 regions, with a central control of each region's production. Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex were expected to become one of those areas.


E A Munitions Committee
blank In May, 1915, Mr S Allingham of the firm of Robert Boby Ltd, attended a meeting in London with 18 other East Anglian manufacturers. The meeting was called by Mr Sanders, of Davey, Paxman and Company, to hear from the War Office what was expected from the area in the manufacture of munitions of war. This resulted in the formation of the East Anglian Munitions Committee, who would negotiate the main contracts with the War Office, and allocate smaller lots of production to those companies willing and able to undertake the work. In this way even small manufacturers could become involved in producing shells. The first contract was agreed in June, 1915, for 200,000 18-pdr shells, at 22/- a shell for the first 20,000 and 20/- a unit thereafter, to be delivered within six months. A central depot was to be erected at Ransomes and Rapier of Ipswich, to receive products for varnishing and finishing, quality control, inspection and delivery to the government. Most of the organising of this whole operation was led by Mr F H Crittall, of the Braintree firm of the same name.

Using this approach, East Anglia was the first co-operative area to deliver 18 pounder shells to the new Ministry of Munitions. Firms totally unfamiliar with making munitions, presumably including Boby's, were provided with advice, drawings and materials. The firm of E R & F Turner of Ipswich provided the necessary machine tools to make many of these shells. They produced "single operation lathes and tools, which made it possible to to employ women and unskilled workers with marked success."


Stowmarket Cordite Factory
blank Firms involved in shell production did not load them with their deadly explosive content. The exlosive contents were manufactured at established specialist explosive manufacturers, and their products were sent to government arsenals, where, finally, shells and explosives would be combined under strict safety precautions, in locations well away from other buildings.

This postcard was posted in 1915, and shows the cordite works at Stowmarket. The factory had its own sidings and we see the Gunpowder Van clearly marked for safety, and barrels waiting to be loaded. These were sometimes combined into complete train loads and sent to the Woolwich Arsenal for use in bullets or shells, or other types of ammunition.

On 26th July 1915 the firm of Robert Boby wrote to the Secretary of The Women's Social and Political Union, asking to be provided with women suitable for working lathes and drills, to be paid at ordinary rates and accommodated and supervised by the Women's Social and Political Union. A copy of this letter is held in the Lloyd George Papers in the Parliamentary Archives, reference LG/D/11/2/11. David Lloyd George was Minister of Munitions, from 1915 to June 1916, and the prefix LG/D refers to his papers during this period. He would become Prime Minister from December 1916 until 1922.

(The Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) was the leading militant organisation campaigning for Women's suffrage in Great Britain, 1903–1917. Its membership and policies were tightly controlled by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters Christabel and Sylvia. Soon after war broke out, the WSPU abandoned its suffrage campaigns in favour of a nationalistic stance, supporting the British government in the war effort. They maintained a register of women who wanted to work, and allocated them to appropriate employers for war work.)

It seems likely, therefore, that at least some of the 18 pounder shells were made at Boby's factory in Bury St Edmunds. This was quickly followed by a contract to make 4.5 inch shells, and Robert Boby was one of the seven firms allocated a share of this contract. These seven firms together produced over a million 4.5 inch shells, but even this this number was limited at times by shortages of materials, brass in particular.


Soldiers at Boby's WWI
blank Here we see one of Boby's lorries at St Andrews Ironworks together with soldiers thought to be Army Service Corps, 259 Company. If so, this company was raised in February 1915, as part of the 15th Scottish Division. ASC 259 Company specialised in motorised transport. This rare picture is from a postcard sold on EBay for £62 in June, 2014. Once Boby's were producing shells, they needed to be transported to the Munitions Committee Central Depot at Ipswich for finishing and inspection. With the transport shortage, it may well be that the army undertook to ferry shells to the railway station for onward transmission to Ipswich, where the Committee Depot had its own sidings.

The original 18 pounder contract was followed by others and the area of Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex produced over 2.1 million of this calibre. Of the 42 Boards of Management in the country, East Anglia came 3rd in the amount of total munitions output, following London and Manchester. Many other direct contracts wer executed between local firms for the Admiralty, War Office and Ministry of Munitions outside the committee's remit. These included mines, paravanes, submarine engines, motorboats, boilers, searchlights etc, all needed for the war effort. As yet I have not been able to tie any of this production with Robert Boby's.

One other Bury firm was recorded as undertaking work for the East Anglia Committee, and that was T H Nice and Co.

In France, at Ypres, on May 6th the Germans pushed the allies off Hill 60, with a devastating gas attack. They were now ready to launch a fresh attack with the aim of capturing Ypres itself. The full force of the German attack was concentrated on the British line between Bellewaerde Ridge and Frezenberg Ridge. This is where the 1st Suffolk's were positioned. The battalion had gone into the trenches on 17th April and remained there ever since. The Second Battle of Ypres had begun on the day they were due to relieved.

The 1st Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment was virtually wiped out at The Second Battle of Ypres in 1915. The casualties on May 8th were over 400. Of the whole battalion only 30 men returned from the battle for Frezenberg Ridge.

The 11th battalion of the Suffolk regiment was mainly made up of volunteers from Cambridgeshire. On May 19th, 1915 the 11th battalion were sent to the Yorkshire moors for training.

On 9th May, a new draft of soldiers arrived at Poperinghe from Felixstowe. They were met by just 27 survivors from the trenches. On 24th May the 84th Brigade (of which the 1st Battalion was part) were ordered to recover some trenches that had been lost during a German attack. The battalion, now less than 400 strong moved towards Ypres in readiness for an attack on Ballewaarde farm. Bellewaarde Farm was to be taken at all costs. By the end of the battle of Ballewaarde the 1st battalion had been reduced to just 184 men. In six weeks the 1st Battalion had suffered over 1000 casualties.

Following basic training the volunteers of the 7th battalion left for France on May 30th, 1915.


2 Suffolk digging Oxford Street
blank After the battle of Bellewarde the 2nd Battalion of Suffolks were occupied digging trenches in the Ypres Salient, including the famous Oxford Street.

1/4 Suffolk dug-outs
blank The 1/4th Battalion took part in the battle of St. Julien, and suffered 50 casualties. These men were Territorials, who had joined the battalion for the role of home defence. Many had now agreed to serve overseas, and they were designated 1/4, or 1/5, as appropriate. Without the support of the TA in this way, the regular army would not have survived the first year of the war. The raw recruits of the new Service Battalions were only just beginning to arrive in France, following their basic training. An unidentified officer of the 4th Battalion took several exceptional photographs at the Front. This one shows officers in a dug-out in 1915.

The 12th battalion was originally formed as a bantam battalion (consisting of men between 5 foot and 5 foot 2 inches). Enlistment began on 21 June, 1915 after the war office decided to drop the minimum height of men who were allowed to join the army to 5 foot (previously it had been 5 foot, 2 inches). Recruits came from Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire. One of the main problems during training was that many of the bantams were under the regulation age and parents kept reclaiming them. 133 youths were eventually discharged from the battalion.

The 8th battalion, all of whom were volunteers, landed in at Boulogne in France on July 25th, 1915 and were moved to the Albert sector.


Suffolks in Gallipoli
blank On July 30th the 1/5th Suffolks took the Aquitania from Liverpool to Lemnos. On August 10th they were ferried to Suvla Bay in Gallipoli to join the Anzacs to help fight the Turkish Army. By August 15th they had advanced with other territorial units of the 54th Division some 1,500 yards under heavy fire. Inside 72 hours, 11 officers and 178 other ranks of the 1/5th were killed or wounded. On into September, conditions were extreme in heat and privation as well as under constant fire. In September the Suffolks were defending Hill 60, a fine observation post, which had been hard won by Australians, New Zealanders and the 5th Connaught Rangers. The allies had lost 1,000 men but the Turks had lost 5,000. Hill 60 was littered with the dead. The Turkish trenches were often only 30 yards away, and parapets were in many places made of no more than dead bodies. Although the men were frequently moved to other trenches, the stench continued for months.

Lighting reductions reminder
blank Back on the Home Front civilians were reminded of the need to look to home defence. The Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) 1914, was a wide ranging act, giving the government power over censorship, imprisonment without trial and the commandeering of economic resources. It also dealt with civilian behaviour such as the consumption of alcohol and the blackout regulations. This poster was issued by Arthur Wheeler, the Town Clerk of Bury St Edmunds, on September 14th, 1915, to emphasise the importance of reducing light output at night. Despite these precautions the Zeppelins would return to Bury in March 1916.

In September 1915, the Suffolk Yeomanry, a part time cavalry with a long local history, were sent to join the battle against the Turks. To do this they became "dismounted" and moved to the ANZAC bridgehead on Gallipoli, under the command of the 54th Division. They landed at Walker's Pier on 10 October 1915. This part of the Yeomanry was designated the 1/1st, as the 2/1st remained in the UK. One Squadron was under Major Frank Goldsmith of Cavenham Hall, and also MP for Stowmarket.
By mid November freezing conditions replaced the blazing heat, while everyday was action, taking, losing and re-taking lines on Hill 60. Finally, after four months of the worst conditions imaginable, the 1/5th battalion of Suffols Territorials were pulled out of the fighting on December 7th. They had lost 782 men and 36 officers. By December 17th they were in Egypt, at Sidi Bishr.

The Suffolk Yeomanry also moved back to Egypt in December 1915, the first party being evacuated to Mudros on 14 December and the rest following five days later.


SGT A F Saunders, VC
blank The 9th battalion of the Suffolk Regiment left England for France on August 30, 1915. On September 22 they reached Ham-en-Artois. They then moved on to Bethune. By the time they arrived, on the morning of September 25, the battalion had marched for four nights in succession, covering a distance of 70 miles. The night marches, frequently in rain, had left the men exhausted.
Despite this the battalion moved off to the front line at noon. At 8 p.m. the advance began in the Battle of Loos. The 9th Suffolk's battalion were in the front line of the attack launched by the 24th Division. During the attack the battalion suffered 135 casualties.
One of the casualties was Sergeant A.F. Saunders, the first member of the Suffolk regiment to win a Victoria Cross in the war. Despite being seriously wounded in the thigh he took charge of two machine guns and with a few other men supported four charges of another battalion. When they were forced back Sergeant Saunders stuck to one of his guns and did his best to cover their retreat. Sergeant Saunders had only recently arrived at the front. Just 25 days after arriving in France the 9th battalion had been sent into battle.

Dugout at Bellyache Wood
blank The hardships in the war in France were not confined to the front line. This picture comes from the Suffolk Regiment Collection held in the Suffolk Record Office. Originally from the records of Capt. E.F.Ledward of the 2nd Battalion, Suffolk Regiment, its description says, "Dugout at 'Bellyache Wood' so called because of the foul spring water found there. The soldiers suffered a severe water shortage and many got dysentery. Taken from a 'Souvenir' photograph album. Written on cover 'with the 2nd Battn. Suffolk Regiment in FLANDERS August and September 1915', and signed 'E.F. Ledward', who was a Captain in 2nd Suffolks."

The 7th battalion arrived at Loos on the last day of September, taking over trenches on the edge of the Chalk Pit which had been captured in the main attack. They soon came under a heavy artillery bombardment which buried many members of the battalion. Their medical officer, Captain Hackett, came over the open ground to help at the Chalk Pit and was later awarded the Military Cross.
From 25th September to 4th November, the British attack at Loos was part of a two pronged allied offensive meant to deal a big knock out blow to the German army. At 2 a.m. on October 3rd the 1st battalion took part in a night attack on the Hohenzollern Redoubt.


Charles Sorley, war poet
blank On the afternoon of the 13th October the 7th battalion attacked two trenches held by the Germans known as the Hairpin. They met heavy opposition and suffered many casualties, one of whom was the poet Charles Sorley.
Charles Hamilton Sorley (1895-1915) was born in Aberdeen on 19 May 1895. An exceptionally gifted child, his father, William Ritchie Sorley, was a professor at the University of Aberdeen. Living in Cambridge from 1900 onwards, Sorley was educated first at King's College Choir School in Cambridge. He attended Marlborough College from 1908-13, where he excelled at debating, to be followed by University College, Oxford after he won a scholarship.
Before starting his studies at Oxford however, Sorley decided to spend a year in Germany, in 1913, first in Mecklenburg and afterwards at the University of Jena. It was during this time that war was declared. Sorley was initially interned at Trier but released after one night, with instructions to leave the country.
Sorley, impatient to sign up, returned home and enlisted in the Seventh Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment in 1914 as a 2nd Lieutenant, arriving in France on 30 May 1915 as a full Lieutenant, where he served near Ploegsteert. He was promoted to captain after three months, in August 1915.
He had begun writing poems as a schoolboy and continued to do so while training with his battalion. Four and a half months after arriving in France, on 13 October 1915, during the Battle of Loos, he was shot in the head by a sniper, and died instantly. He was twenty years old. His body was lost in subsequent fighting but some 37 poems, including the sonnet 'When You See Millions of the Mouthless Dead', were found in his kitbag.
Sorley's sole work was published posthumously in January 1916, and immediately became a critical success, with six editions printed that year. Sorley is regarded by some, including John Masefield, later the Poet Laureate, as the greatest loss of all the poets killed during the war.

When you see millions of the mouthless dead
Across your dreams in pale battalions go,
Say not soft things as other men have said,
That you'll remember. For you need not so.
Give them not praise. For, deaf, how should they know
It is not curses heaped on each gashed head?
Nor tears. Their blind eyes see not your tears flow.
Nor honour. It is easy to be dead.
Say only this, "They are dead." Then add thereto,
"yet many a better one has died before."
Then, scanning all the overcrowded mass, should you
Perceive one face that you loved heretofore,
It is a spook. None wears the face you knew.
Great death has made all this for evermore.

CHARLES HAMILTON SORLEY 1915

Between the 8th and the 21st October the 2nd Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment lived in Maple copse, companies paying nightly visits to Sanctuary Wood and filling in trenches in No Man's Land.

In November another transport of the 4th Suffolk Territorials, from East Suffolk, left for France.

Ingham Camp
blank By the end of 1915 there were many army training and transit camps set up in the countryside of Britain. One such was The Camp at Ingham, set up to the southern end of the village. It housed at various times the 69th East Anglian Division of the Cyclist's Corps, the Royal Engineers and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. It was served by the railway station at Ingham, on the Bury to Thetford line, and other notable army camps such as Barnham were along this line.

A lot of photographs were taken of the camp and the soldiers billeted there by amateur photographer Walton Burrell. He was a frequent visitor to the military hospitals around Bury St Edmunds, and sometimes managed to be invited into the many camps as well. He made many friends among soldiers, in particular visiting many of the wounded. He would sell his pictures as postcards to the men he photographed, who were glad of a souvenir to send home.

Gloucester Hussars at Ixworth
blank At Ixworth the Gloucester Hussars had an encampment on a farm at the north end of the village. Mr Lonnon, a chemist and photographer in Ixworth, photographed the camp and sold the pictures as postcards, to the troops.

The Breckland was ideal for training camps as the population was sparse, and there was little arable farming, as sheep grazing was all that the land could support. Places like Cavenham Heath became home to the East Anglian (Essex) Royal Garrison Artillery from 1914 until February 1916.

At Snarehill, near Thetford, a piece of land had been laid out as an airfield during the 1912 manoeuvres, but apparently little used since then. As the Flying Corps had grown, so did the number of wings. The 3rd Wing was established on 1 March 1915 and on 15 April the 5th Wing came into existence. By August that year the 6th Wing had been created and in November 1915 a 7th Wing and 8th Wing had also been stood up. This led to a need for the new squadrons to find a home. The airfield at Thetford/Snarehill now became officially opened as part of No 7 Wing of the RFC. From 1915 to 1918 it was the home to a number of units which either formed at Thetford or trained there, before moving on to other airfields or to France. It was also home from mid 1917 to late 1918 to a repair facility.

Staff of T H Nice 1916
1916 Many peacetime businesses, both large and small, were turned over to war production during the Great War. Thomas H. Nice & Co. had premises at 21 Abbeygate Street as motor engineers and as cycle makers on the Angel Hill. The East Anglian Munitions Committee took out large contracts for shell manufacture with the government, and were then able to act as a broker, handing out smaller contracts of whatever size suited the business. In this way a small and untried firm could become involved in war production. With men away at war, the Womens Social and Political Union could supply suitable women eager to take up employment in war work.

Pictured here in 1916 are the staff of T H Nice during the First World War when the Abbeygate Street premises were used as a munitions factory. Many of the women were wearing the triangular 'On War Service' badges. Mr. Nice is centre, wearing the Panama hat.

Windmills and watermills all had a hard time during the Great War. During World War I, millers were forced by government regulations to grind only animal feed thus limiting their usefulness. The watermill at Chimney Mill on the River Lark closed down in 1916. It would be demolished in 1932.


Glemsford Flax Workers
blank Industries which had relied upon imported raw materials, often from the British Empire, were disrupted by the war. The coco fibre from India and Ceylon for the coconut matting industries of Haverhill, Lavenham, Glemsford, Long Melford, and the Stour valley in general was no longer so easy to obtain. Similarly the supply of horse hair from Siberia and South America was totally disrupted. However in some cases, industries which could use locally sourced materials could now flourish without suffering so much cheap foreign competition. Linen made from flax was one example, where this material had previously been easily obtained from Ireland and was now in demand for the newly established military hospitals in particular. This picture shows the flax workers at the factory in Glemsford, at the Croft, off Flax Lane. Several war service badges and forage caps can also be seen in this picture, indicating that these were Women's Land Army volunteers.

The staunch on the River Lark at West Row was dismantled by German Prisoners of War during 1916. Tymms 1916 Handbook of Bury St Edmunds was probably rather out of date when it claimed that the River Lark was navigable up to Icklingham.


Compulsory Military Service
blank Conscription of men to join the armed conflict was not introduced until 1916. Up this time there had been sufficient volunteers to make up the numbers required, but the Military Service Act was sent to Parliament in January coming into force on March 2nd, 1916. It meant that single men, without dependents, aged 18 to 41 were liable to be called up. There were a number of exemptions available, which led to local tribunals being set up to assess the claimants. (By May the call up would be extended to married men as well.)

Throughout 1916, the 1/5th Suffolks, who were a Territorial Force, were stationed in Egypt, defending various posts such as the Sphinx and Suez Canal from possible Turkish attack. They were joined by the 1/1st Suffolk Yeomanry in these duties.

In January, 1916 the 11th battalion Suffolk Regiment, all of them volunteers, was sent to France.

In France, in the lines at Ypres, at about 2 a.m. on the 22nd of January, 1916, the Germans exploded a mine under the trenches held by the 2nd Battalion of the Suffolks in front of the Bluff, close to the Ypres-Comines Canal. The charge in the mine is estimated to have been between six and seven tons of gunpowder, which formed a crater measuring roughly sixty by forty yards, and forty feet in depth. Nearly a hundred men were killed, buried alive or injured by the explosion.
On the 3rd February, the village of Loos and the trenches occupied by the 4th battalion, Suffolk Regiment, were subjected to an intense bombardment , shells coming over at the rate of between forty and fifty a minute for no less than seven hours. This was the worst day's shelling the Battalion ever experienced.


Essex heavy battery at Cavenham
blank This superb photograph by Walton Burrell shows members of the heavy battery of the East Anglian (Essex) Royal Garrison Artillery drinking in their canteen at camp at Cavenham. The battery had been stationed at Cavenham from 1914 until their departure in February, 1916. This view was taken in December, 1915.

Great Zeppelin attack
blank On the night of 31st March and 1st April, 1916, the Germans launched a major air attack on targets on English soil. In all, seven naval airships and three army airships raided various targets in eastern England that night. Bad weather apparently caused the army Zeppelins, LZ88, LZ90 and LZ92, to turn back. Two navy airships, the L9 and L11, turned back due to engine trouble. Nevertheless, this was a major attack by the five remaining airships, and the results of this raid were more serious than the year before. Airship L22 attacked Cleethorpes, perhaps thinking it was Grimsby docks, both being on Humberside. Unhappily this caused a major loss of life when it hit an army billet within a chapel, killing 29 soldiers and injuring another 53.

The rest of the fleet approached England over the Norfolk and Suffolk coasts, apparently heading towards London. However, at least one of them should probably have been attacking the River Humber area. The munitions factory at Stowmarket was attacked by Zeppelin L13, while Sudbury was hit by L14. Airship L14 went on to hit Braintree and Chelmsford, as well as Brentwood and Thameshaven nearer London. Airship L16 made for what it thought was Hornsea, but was, in fact, Bury St Edmunds. On this night the whole fleet would drop a total of 223 bombs, resulting in 48 fatalities and 64 injured according to H A Jones, in his 1922 history of the RAF in the Great War, 'The War in the Air', (Volume 3).


74/75 Mill Road
blank Aerial warfare returned to Bury St Edmunds when Zeppelin airship L16, commanded by Werner Peterson, appeared overhead just before midnight on Friday 31st March, 1916. At Bury St Edmunds, the street lights were quickly turned off this time, but the L16 bombing run began from the Northgate railway station towards the town. This time seven people were killed and several premises destroyed. Some deaths occurred in Raingate Street and Springfield Road, and there was a great deal of destruction, but accounts now published were deliberately vague as to locations. In Raingate Street the bombs fell within 25 yards of the public house, 'King of Prussia', killing Henry and George Adams, as well as removing the roof of the pub. St Mary's Vicarage and other property in Prussia Lane were also damaged.

Mill Road and Chalk Road houses were hit, possibly in an attempt to attack the old barracks in Kings Road, or the engineering works of Robert Boby.
On Chalk Road, one serving soldier died. Private Hubert Hardiment, who was on leave from the 4/1st Cambridgeshire Regiment, was killed at the back door of his landlady’s house in Beaconsfield Terrace, as he went to investigate the attack. He was from Upwell, near Wisbech, and he was subsequently buried in the churchyard at Upwell.

The picture shows numbers 74 and 75 Mill Road, where 4 people died. Mr Harry Frost died in one house and next door, Mrs Dureall and two of her five children died. (Gareth Jenkins records the family name as Durball, as reported in the Press at the time. The official Roll of Honour has Dureall.)

Eastgate Street railway station was also hit.


Funeral of the six dead from Bury
blank H A Jones recorded thirty-seven houses damaged, seven people killed and five injured at Bury St Edmunds. Another source states that this damage was wrought by eight high explosive bombs and a pair of incendiaries, dropped over a 15 minute timespan. A summary of Bury's six civilian fatalities, and the one serving soldier who died, is as follows:
  • Henry Adams, aged 60, and his son,
  • George Kimberley Adams, aged 15
  • Annie Evelyn Dureall, aged 29, and two of her children,
  • James Dureall aged 5
  • Catherine Dureall aged 3
  • Harry Frost aged 44
  • Private Hubert Hardiment aged 21
In addition, you can view further pictures of this attack on this website, here:
Great War Picture Gallery page 4b


34 and 35 East Street Sudbury
blank On that same night, 31st March 1916, five people died when a German Navy Zeppelin airship L14 dropped a number of bombs across Sudbury. The photograph shows 34 and 35 East Street, which were seriously damaged by a high explosive bomb. Ellen Wheeler, 64, a widow living at No 34, and Thomas and Ellen Ambrose at No 35 were killed in the blast. Silk weaver John Edward Smith aged 50, lived opposite and was caught in the blast as he crossed the road. The fifth casualty was Rifleman Robert Valentine Wilson, aged 42, who was mortally wounded by flying glass at his army billet in Constitution Hill.

An incendiary bomb was dropped in the same raid on Orford House in Melford Road, Sudbury, where more soldiers from the 2/6 City of London Rifles were billeted. Sergeant (later CSM) 'Charlie' May went into the burning building to rescue one of his men, Rifleman Bond. For this act of bravery he was awarded the Military Medal, the first to be awarded for gallantry on British soil rather than in overseas combat. (Source- http://www.sudburysuffolk.co.uk/greatwar/zeppelin.asp )

Also part of this attack was the L13, which crossed the coast at Dunwich at about 8.00 pm on 31st March, 1916. It dropped 12 bombs, aiming for the munitions factory at Stowmarket, but missed. Anti-aircraft fire punctured two of its gas cells, causing the airship to jettison the remaining bombs and head for home, leaving over Southwold at about 9.05 pm.

Zeppelins roamed freely around over East Anglia for several more nights after the 31st March, and official records say that 28 people were killed and 44 injured over this period. Zeppelin navigation was not very good and we now know from German records that it was often the case that they attacked quite different towns to where they thought they were. Airships made 20 attacks in 1915, and 23 in 1916, but only 7 in 1917 and 4 in 1918.


Naval bombardment of Lowestoft
blank According to Wikipedia, Admiral Reinhard Scheer became commander in chief of the German High Seas Fleet in February 1916. One of his new plans was to bombard towns on the east coast of England at daybreak on 25 April, which along with air raids by zeppelins the night before would prompt the British navy to intervene. Zeppelins began by bombing Norwich, Harwich, Ipswich and Lincoln. The raids were timed to coincide with the expected Easter Rebellion by Irish Nationalists, who had requested German assistance. The naval aim was to draw out the British fleet to positions where the Germans hoped to destroy them. In addition, Lowestoft was a base of operations for mine laying and sweeping, while Great Yarmouth was a base for the submarines that disrupted German shipping in the Heligoland Bight.

Four German battlecruisers opened fire upon Lowestoft at 04:10 for 10 minutes, destroying 7 buildings, while 40 received extensive damage. Another 200 houses suffered minor damage. About 60 shells were discharged. Two defensive gun batteries were hit, and casualties were 12 people injured and four reported dead. The German ships then moved off to Yarmouth, but fog meant it was difficult to see the target. Only a few shells were fired before reports arrived that a British force had engaged the remainder of the German ships, and the battlecruisers broke off to rejoin them.

This attack had little or no military impact, but inflamed British public opinion and world opinion against Germany for the deaths of innocent civilians, and destruction of civilian property. Large numbers of postcards of the destruction were quickly in circulation.

Pictures of this attack, along with air attacks on other Suffolk towns, can be seen on this website, here:
Great War Picture Gallery page 5


Early War Humour
blank In May 1916, the losses in the armed forces were so high that it was clear that reliance solely upon calling up single men was not enough. The General Compulsion Act made military service compulsory for all men, single or married, between 18 and 41 years old. The need for women to take over jobs and agriculture at home was obvious to all by this time. Nevertheless, women had to prove that they could undertake agricultural work, and this was done by a series of demonstrations or roadshows, as we would call them now. By August, some 57,000 women were registered as available for agricultural work.

It was also clear that men attacking machine guns over open ground was not a winning strategy. Colonel Ernest Swinton of the Royal Engineers, and Winston Churchill collaborated on the idea of an armoured attack vehicle. In late July 1915, a contract was placed with William Foster & Co. Ltd, of Lincoln to develop a design. The first design was called Little Willie, which evolved into Big Willie, and an order for 100 units was placed in February 1916, and later extended to 150.

In January 1916 the search for a secret test area for the new machine, known at this time as Centipede, had settled upon Hatfield Park, where initial testing began. Centipede was a Foster's trade name for all its tracked machines. The name was quickly changed to "Mother" for reasons of secrecy. At a trial held at Hatfield Park in February, Lord Kitchener had dismissed Mother as "a pretty mechanical toy." Nevertheless, Swinton was informed that the Army Council had selected him to raise and command the Tank Detachment, the new unit which was to be formed to man the Tanks. He was to be in charge of it at home, while in France it was to be under the local commanders.

By May, 1916 Colonel Swinton had set up a secret battle training area on Lord Iveagh's Elveden Estate to test out the results of the engineering prototypes. To maintain secrecy, the commissioning committee referred to these prototypes as tanks. Production models sent to Thetford were painted up with the words "Handle with Care - Petrograd", in cyrillic letters. The intent was to make any curious observer believe that they were making oil tanks to send to the Russian army. A secret extension to the railway line was built from the Bury to Thetford line somewhere between Culford Lodge and Barnham station. The new line was used to deliver the tanks from Lincoln to the testing area.

The troops involved were disguised under the name of the Heavy Branch of the Machine Gun Corps. The artist Solomon J Solomon was enlisted to design camouflage for the new weapons. He visited Elveden and also went to France to study the soil and vegetation there.

Tank training at North Stow
blank Back in Suffolk, June 1916 saw Solomon painting the first tanks in a mixture of pink, grey, green and brown blotches. Then began the first battle trials of the new secret weapon, the tank. A mock battle was staged near Elveden. A restricted zone was set up which included North Stow, and trenches and obstructions dug to simulate the trench systems in France. This photograph shows Royal Defence Soldiers at dinner in the restricted area at North Stow. The Suffolk Record Office description says "See the wall blown out by a tank".

By 21st July the work was sufficiently advanced to mount a demonstration for the High Command. Lloyd George, Secretary of State for War, Edwin Montague, Minister of Munitions, and the military contingent, led by Sir William Robertson, CIGS, came up to what was now called the Elveden Explosives Area, to watch a force of 24 Mark I rhomboid shaped tanks dealing with trenches, knocking over trees, demolishing buildings, and over-running mock enemy machine gun nests. These trials were impressive enough that 49 tanks were shipped to France for their first active service on September 15th 1916 at the Somme. These trials continued into 1917.

Troops at Icklingham
blank It is unclear exactly where these trials were carried out, but second hand eye witness accounts talk of extremely high security being installed around the tank testing perimeter. This extended from Elveden south to Icklingham, where troops were camped, and used for guard duties. At times of the highest security it is said that guards were placed as close as a few yards apart, all around the area.

More pictures of the Elveden Explosives Area, together with further information, can be seen on this website, here:
Great War Picture Gallery page 2a

At Little Heath at Barnham there are remains of World War One huts, used to house the technical personnel involved. Little Heath also shows evidence of a railway spur, which was definitely used in the Second War, and may have been the line used for bringing in the experimental tanks in 1916. (However, Roger Pugh has established that the railway siding for tank delivery was built close to Culford Lodge.) Appropriately the Little Heath site was taken over for a few short years by the East Of England Military Museum from 2002, but during the second world war it was again the site for storage of a secret weapon, but this time it was mustard gas.

Troops at Ingham Station
blank Camps for army training were located elsewhere along the Bury to Thetford railway line, and may be the origin of RAF Barnham Camp which is still in military hands today. The area was very remote and sparsely populated, and there was plenty of room for manoevres throughout the Breckland without disturbing arable farming.

On June 4th, 1916 the 12th battalion of the Suffolk Regiment left for France.

In June, 1916 the 8th battalion were once again in the Somme region of France, part of the strengthening and support necessary before a counter attack could happen.

Sappers at Fornham St Martin
blank This picture is taken from a postcard published by W R Burrell of Fornham St Martin. It shows the Woolpack inn, which still exists, and soldiers of the Royal Engineers on parade. Burrell photographed other army camps around the area, including the Ingham pictures above,and the Ampton hospital picture.

Walton Burrell (1863-1944) was deaf, but taught himself photography in 1883. As well as his photography he did volunteer work at the troop hospital in Ampton, and was a stamp collector and a lepidopterist.
Walton Robert Burrell was the eldest of fourteen children born to Mr Walton Burrell and his wife Ellen. Frank Burrell kept a garage on Angel Hill in Bury. The family resided in Suffolk at Hall Farm in Fornham St Martin until 1919 when they moved to 43 Risbygate Street, Bury St Edmunds. The 1881/1891 census notes that Walton, and his siblings, Beatrice, Clare and Duncan were all deaf from birth. Mr Walton Burrell was a long serving parish official in Fornham St Martin and also served as a director of Kempton Park racecourse. The family photo album is held at West Suffolk Record Office. The final photographs in the album show the family grave in Fornham St Martin where Burrell's parents Ellen and Walton were buried in 1923 and 1925 after over sixty years of marriage. Walton Robert Burrell died in 1944 aged eighty one and his funeral was attended by many former patients at the Ampton hospital where he had helped.

Not until July 1916 was the British Army in France thought strong enough, with a fully equipped and trained force, to press home the war. But on 1st July they went into the Battle of the Somme, which would last until November. At 7.30, am on a hot, sunny morning 60,000 British troops, laden down with 66 pounds of equipment, left their trenches and advanced in a straight line towards the German trenches. Despite a week long barrage, the German defences were still intact. British troops were cut down in their thousands by German machine gunners. As the day went on another 40,000 soldiers were sent into the battle. By the end of the first day the British army had suffered 60,000 casualties (a third of whom had been killed). This was the worst day of casualties suffered by any army during the war and the bloodiest day in the history of the British army.

On July 1st the 11th battalion of the Suffolk Regiment took part in the first day of the Battle of the Somme. They were all volunteers from Cambridgeshire. The 11th Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment belonged to the 34th Division, whose position in the front of the attack on July 1st was opposite the village of La Boiselle. The 11th Battalion's casualties (691) were the largest of any single battalion in the division.

The attack on La Boiselle was part of the battle of Albert. During this battle the 11th battalion was virtually wiped out. One of the casualties was Oliver Hopkin, whose letters home contain vivid descriptions of the first day of the battle. On the 11th July what was left of the 11th battalion took part in the battle of Pozieres, losing 100 men in a single night's fighting.

On July 3rd the 7th battalion took part in the frontal attack on Ovillers. At the third line of resistance, after very severe fighting, the attack was brought to a standstill, the battalion losing heavily. All the company commanders were killed. The casualties amounted to 470 of all ranks.

On July 15th the 4th battalion were sent to support the Middlesex regiment in an attack on Switch trench. They suffered over 200 casualties. On the 20th they supported the 19th Brigade in an attack on High Wood, once again they met heavy opposition and casualties were high. On August 16th the 4th battalion were once again involved in an attack in the High Wood area when they advanced on Wood Lane Trench. In this attack their casualties were 196.

At midnight on July 18th - 19th the 53rd Brigade was unexpectedly launched, at very short notice and without reconnaissance, in counter-attack designed with the object of clearing the village of Longueval and Delville Wood. The Brigade included the 8th Suffolk volunteer battalion. Although this counter-attack was unsuccessful, the line in the village was advanced about three hundred yards. The casualties in the battalion were considerable, amounting to 8 officers and 230 other ranks.

Back home in England, there was another large airship raid of eight Zeppelins on the night of 31st July / 1st August, 1916. Bad fog caused the attack to be a failure, but one airship, the L22, overflew Haverhill. Luckily it failed to attack the town.

Another large attack on the 2nd / 3rd of September which was intended to attack London got lost due to bad weather and failed navigation. The German navy had sent 11 Zeppelin airships and the army sent 3 more. They also sent two other airships of a different design, built of wood instead of aluminium, the Schutte-Lanz's SL8 of the navy, and the army's SL11. This was the largest airship attack of the war. In the general confusion of this raid airship L30 bombed Bungay. One of the army Zeppelins, the LZ90, crossed the coastline at Frinton and bombed Haverhill after accidentally losing her sub-cloud car over Manningtree.

On 23rd/24th September another 12 Zeppelins set out for England. Most headed for London, but the L21 bombed Stowmarket. By now there was a good air defence against airships being mounted by gunners and by aircraft flying from coastal airfields. The Germans now began to turn towards fixed wing aircraft for their attacks. In the autumn of 1916 the Germans began to equip with the Gotha twin-engine bomber. They would be ready to carry out their first bombing raid towards the end of May 1917.

In France the second battalion of the Suffolk Regiment moved up into the line south-west of Trones Wood. On August 16th orders were received to carry out an attack in cooperation with the French. After 3 days, the battalion reassembled at Talus Bois and marched back to Happy Valley having sustained 281 casualties.

The 9th battalion moved to the south-eastern edge of Ginchy on September 11th. On September 13th the battalion took part in an attack by the 6th Division on the Quadrilateral. Captain Ensor with his orderly went out twice and tried to bring in a wounded Liutenant Macdonald, but after carrying him for about two hundred yards the orderly was shot dead. Captain Ensor, however, had succeeded in getting Lieut. Macdonald within the zone of his own stretcher-bearers, who brought him in. Lieut MacDonald eventually recovered, though in hospital for five and a half years.

On September 15th the offensive was resumed. The 9th battalion of the Suffolks suffered over 200 casualties. Among the wounded was Captain Ensor. Captain Ensor's wounds proving severe, this heroic officer was eventually invalided out of the army. In the spring of 1917 he was awarded the M.C.

Mark 1 tank Sept 1916
blank The 15th September, 1916 also saw the first use of tanks on the battlefield when 49 British Mk.I tanks attacked on the Somme. They met with mixed, but still impressive results as many broke down but nearly a third succeeded in breaking through. Of the forty-nine tanks shipped to the Somme, only thirty-two were able to begin the first attack in which they were used, and nine made it across "no man's land" to the German lines. At one part of the line where four tanks reached their lines, the Germans were so overwhelmed that they ran away. The tanks had to deal with appalling ground conditions which they had never encountered at the relatively dry sandy soil of the testing ground back at Elveden. However, they had proved their potential value.

The 8th battalion of volunteers took over - on September 24th - a portion of the line just south of Thiepval. This attack, now fixed for September 26th, had been very carefully rehearsed by the whole battalion over specially prepared trenches. The 8th Battalion were therefore in the forefront of the battle. As soon as the barrage started the whole battalion moved forward. Within six minutes Joseph trench, together with a large number of prisoners, had been captured, and after another similar period the first objective had been carried. Well within an hour the leading companies, following the barrage closely, had captured the second objective, where they were halted until the assault of the final objective began. It was not until half-past two that all the objectives had been gained. In these operations they captured some trench mortars, machine-guns, and automatic rifles; their casualties amounted to over two hundred.

On October 11th the 7th battalion, received orders to take part in an attack on Bayonet trench and Luisenhof farm, which had been fixed for the 12th. The battalion sustained over five hundred casualties. Of the fourteen officers who went over the top on that occasion all became casualties.

on the 12th November, the 2nd Battalion was in the trenches at Serre sector for an attack. The whole trench area was waterlogged and in such a deplorable state that the battalion, abandoning the communication trenches entirely, moved into its assembly positions across the open.
At 5 a.m. on November 13th the first wave floundered forward into No Man's Land - in reality, a sea of mud in which movement was barely possible. In spite of the atrocious weather conditions prevailing, portions of the leading Suffolk companies actually reached the German second line. But all was in vain, and the battalion remained there for the rest of the day. Their casualties numbered 272.
The battle of Serre, as it was called in the battalion, or that of the Ancre, to give it its official title, was the last of the Somme battles of 1916.

The Battle of the Somme had lasted for six months. During this time British casualties reached over 400,000. The maximum advance of the British army was 6 ½ miles. The Somme was the first major battle fought by Kitchener's army of volunteers.

Christmas 1916 was the coldest in living memory on the western front. The French wanted a one-million man attack and Lloyd George agreed to place British forces under French control.

David Lloyd George replaced H H Asquith as Prime minister in December 1916. Following this change the new British government finally established a Ministry of Food in December 1916. However, it would be another year before food rationing was introduced.

During 1916 the Government had declared that the road from Bury St Edmunds to Haverhill was "of military importance". However, it needed extensive repairs, and with most men being in the armed forces, there was a shortage of labour. The Road Board decided that about 150 conscientious objectors should be put on to the project, and needed somewhere to billet them. They asked the Risbridge Board of Guardians if they could be housed in the Kedington Workhouse. This workhouse had often been half empty, and had survived by taking in paupers from other Board areas, as far afield as Birmingham, Lambeth and Mile End.
The Guardians and the local people had no time for conscientious objectors, and did nothing to help them. They locked the place up at 9pm, and insisted on enforcing the Workhouse rule on them. This led to trouble in October, and 11 men deliberately stayed out all night. Leaflets and slogans were distributed in support of socialism and the Independent Labour Party.
By January of 1917, the repairs were finished and the men left, leaving the Road Board to pay £13 in damages to the Guardians for deliberate breakages left behind.

In Yarmouth the corporation refused to employ conscientious objectors on the construction of sea defences.


Paravanes made at St Andrews Works
1917 The date of this photograph is unknown, but it is believed by the owner, Phyllis Chapman, to be during the First World War. Third from the right in the back row is her grandfather, Mr Burroughs. Although these fabrications look like torpedoes, they are, in fact, paravanes or waterkites.

Minesweeping had been known about for some years, and the existing method involved a 500 yard cable towed between two ships, held down by a water kite. On the outbreak of World War I, Charles Dennistoun Burney was given command of the destroyer HMS Velox, but shortly afterwards joined the research establishment at HMS Vernon. Here he developed a much improved kite or paravane, an anti-mine device, for which he took out a number of patents in 1916.

Paravanes were vital to wartime shipping as they were used for minesweeping. The paravane is a form of towed underwater "glider", developed to destroy naval mines. The paravane would be strung out and streamed alongside the towing ship, normally from the bow. The wings of the paravane would tend to force the body away from the towing ship, placing a lateral tension on the towing wire. If the tow cable snagged the cable anchoring a mine then the anchoring cable would be cut by jaws of serrated steel, allowing the mine to float to the surface where it could be destroyed by gunfire. If the anchor cable would not part, the mine and the paravane would be brought together and the mine would explode harmlessly against the paravane. The cable could then be retrieved and a replacement paravane fitted.

Since 1914 Lowestoft had been the principal minesweeping base on the east coast.

Captured 1/3/1917
blank In January 1917 for the first time ever, agricultural workers were guaranteed a new minimum wage of 25s a week. This was meant to apply to women as well as men.

At some point during the First World War a prisoner of war camp was set up at Chevington Grove in that village. Prisoners were marched along lanes to work on the farms, played football on Saturday afternoons and had their choirs and services on Sundays.

Since the Battle of Jutland in May, 1916, the Royal Navy had bottled up the German surface fleet, and the naval blockade of Germany was unchallenged. Without imports into Germany, the civilian population was suffering malnutrition and even starvation as home agricultural production was still being left to the marketplace. Grain was fed to cattle instead of being used for bread, and the high price of meat led to slaughtering of stock rather than breeding from them. Military rations were also being reduced and the German army could only defend its existing positions, with no hope of an offensive. Luckily for Germany, the Russian Revolution began in February, 1917, and removed the threat of an attack from that direction. However, the German High Command was desperate to find a new initiative.

Since October, 1916, Germany had resumed submarine attacks on shipping to Britain, but had operated on a system known as the "Cruiser Rules". Merchant ships of neutral nations on the High Seas were stopped and seached for any materials that might aid the Allied war effort. If found, the crews were told to take to the lifeboats and the offending ship was sunk.

In January, at a conference chaired by the Kaiser, it was decided that unrestricted U-Boat warfare was almost a 'last card' in the German war effort. Some 100 new U-Boats had been built during 1916, and these would be unleashed without warning on all shipping, neutral or allied, including ships from America, which was still neutral at this time.

Thus, 1st February 1917, the Germans announced that unrestricted submarine warfare on merchant shipping would begin immediately. The USA broke off diplomatic relations with Germany on February 3rd, but President Wilson would take no further action for the moment.

The German U-Boat offensive soon began to affect the already shaky food situation at home. Potato flour became used for bread instead of wheat. Soon there would be a bread shortage of any variety. However, despite this situation the government would not act to begin rationing until November.

In Haverhill the gas works failed during February, and the town was in darkness for several days.

The 1/5 Suffolks (TF) continued training in Egypt. On 3rd March, they saw tanks for the first time. There had been rumours for weeks of this new machine, but some had now arrived in Alexandria. The 54th Division, of which the 1/5 Suffolks were part were moved to take the ridge called Sheik Abbas to support an attack on Turkish held Palestine, at Gaza. They came under fire on March 26th, but after two days they were pulled back.

In March the government completed its take over of the coal mines. The taking over of badly cultivated farms was reported to the West Suffolk War Agricultural Committee. The committee also launched a crusade against rabbits, sparrows and rats etc..

According to the website, "www.ww1BrandonatWar.co.uk", on Thursday, 29th March, 1917, Messrs Norbury-Smith and Co., of London, offered for sale the Brandon Hall estate, which comprised about 2,356 acres, in 41 lots. The lots included several farms, homesteads, and small holdings. In addition to the Hall, a Tudor residence, and 30 cottages also came under the hammer. The Hall Farm and residences, comprising about 83 acres, was purchased by Mr E Mail, Downham Market, at £1,000. The rabbit warren of about 376 acres was bought at £1,375 by Mr C Nichol Murphy, of Streatham. The Poultry and game farm of about 75 acres was bought by Mr H.E. Bennett, of Tonbridge, for £515. The remaining lots went for lesser amounts, and many did not reach their reserve.

During March the German U-Boats had sunk nearly 600,000 tons of shipping, and this increased to 881,000 tons in April, 1917. Having swallowed the loss of the Lusitania in 1915, President Wilson suffered another nine sinkings before Congress agreed to declare war on Germany on April 6th 1917. Even then, it had taken the evidence of the so-called Zimmerman telegram to be the final straw. This was a coded message sent in January, 1917, to the President of Mexico via the German Ambassador in Mexico City, by the German Foreign Minister, Arthur Zimmerman. It proposed that if Mexico declared war on the USA, then Germany would allow it to reclaim its lost American lands from the 19th century, and a large part of Texas. Admiralty code breakers had intercepted and decoded the message, and eventually found a way to leak its contents to the American Embassy in London.

In France the Battles of Arras took place during early April, followed by late April and early May, 1917. On Easter Sunday 1917, the Chaplain of the 2nd Battalion Suffolks celebrated Communion in the Chalk Caves at Arras. The next day the battalion was involved in a successful attack on a German stronghold called the Harp.
On April 9th the 11th battalion played a leading role in the first battle of the Scarpe. At 5.30 a.m. the battalion (now 600 strong) advanced to attack the German system of trenches.They managed to achieve their objectives but a cost of 150 casualties.
On the 10th April the 7th battalion took part in a successful attack during the first battle of the Scarpe. On 28th April the battalion took part in the battle of Arleux (an attack delivered on an eight mile front by British and Canadian troops). All the officers, except the Colonel, were killed or wounded. What was left of the 7th battalion was organised into two weak companies and went into reserve until mid-May.
On April 11th, at very short notice and without preparation, the 2nd battalion was ordered to take part in an attack on the village of Guemappe. Casualties amounted to 124. Thus the battalion's undisputed success in the opening phase of the first battle on April 9th was followed two days later by a complete failure.
Zero hour on April 23rd was fixed for 4.45 a.m., the British troops attacking on a front of about nine miles. The 4th Battalion Suffolks with two companies in the front line and two in support, was to attack southwards down its trenches as far as the edge of the Sensee valley. Ground was won, but by 3pm the enemy were back at the barricades of the morning. Their casualties in the struggle for Guemappe on April 23rd amounted to 315.
On April 28th the 11th battalion took part in the 101st Brigade's attack on the chemical works north of Roeux, which formed part of the battle of Arleux. During this battle the 11th battalion suffered 300 casualties.

On June 12th the 2nd battalion took over trenches near Monchy-le-Preux, moving the following night into their assembly positions for an attack on Infantry Hill. On June 14th the attack was launched. Within ten minutes Hook trench had been captured, and an hour later the remainder of the trench system on the hill fell into British hands. The casualties in the battalion between June 13th and 18th amounted to 250.

In April the United States declaration of war on Germany boosted the morale of both civilians and troops. In Bury war shrines were dedicated in the cathedral. On Good Friday there was a gas explosion in a house at Broad Street in Haverhill.

The British and the Canadians attacked Vimy Ridge in April and the Canadians took the ridge. The French were less fortunate and lost 90,000 men in one day at the Chemin des Dames. Their morale devastated, many French soldiers preferred mutiny to continuing with further attacks.

In Egypt, a second attack on Sheik Abbas was launched on April 16th, including the 1/5th Suffolks, the 1/5th Norfolks and the 1/4th Norfolks. The ridge was taken after two days, and they remained here until June.

Petain now took over the French army to rebuild confidence on 28th April. At Ypres General Haig was looking for a further attack on Messines and Passchendael Ridges where the Germans were overlooking and shelling them. They dug long tunnels up to 9 km under the German lines at Messines, with silent digging techniques. These tunnels had been dug since 1915. On 7th June 1917 massive mines were exploded and resulting deep lakes still exist today at Messines. Some 25,000 Germans died and the attack succeeded.

Back in Bury in May, the Mayor read out a royal proclamation that everybody should save stocks of food by eating a quarter less bread every week. There were regular cases of farmers or shopkeepers fined for selling produce at above the nationally set prices.

In June a war shrine was set up near the gates of the Bury Cemetery.

At the end of June, the 1/5th Suffolks moved to Samson's Ridge overlooking Gaza, and General Allenby took over command of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force.

Between July 31st and November 10th the British launched a series of attacks known as the Third Battle of Ypres, or more simply Passchendaele.
Passchendael Ridge was not attacked until July and on 31st the infantry attacked. Late in the day a torrential storm turned the battlefield into a sea of mud. It rained for four days and nights and heavy shelling produced a wasteland.

During these dark days in France, many people began to believe that Germany would win the war. There was an upsurge of anti-German feeling at home. People with foreign sounding names were victimised, and businesses attacked. In this climate of hate, the name of the royal house was changed from Saxe-Coburg to Windsor by royal proclamation on 17th July.


Felixstowe bombed 22nd July 1917
blank By 1917 the enemy had developed twin engined fixed wing bombers capable of reaching England and returning safely. These were faster and less vulnerable than airships, which were largely abandoned for such missions. On 22nd July, 1917, Felixstowe and Harwich were attacked by German bombers. Twenty one Gotha bombers approached Hollesley Bay at 8am that morning in a 'V' formation. Home Defence launched 122 attack planes to meet them, and coastal defence batteries fired 273 rounds in 12 minutes. Fifty five bombs were dropped, but Harwich had no casualties. Felixstowe, however, suffered many casualties and extensive damage. The RNAS station was a target, suffering one fatality, but things were much worse at the Suffolk Regiment Barracks, where eleven men died. At the Ordnance Hotel the barman was killed.

In August the first American soldiers led by General Pershing marched through London en route to the Front.


Corporal Sidney Day, VC
blank In August the 11th (Service) Battalion of the Suffolks had taken part in a successful attack on Malakhoff farm and the trench system in front of Hargicourt. It was in this action that Cpl. Day won the Victoria Cross. Corporal Sidney Day was in charge of a bombing section who successfully cleared enemy trenches, killing two and taking four prisoners. Corporal Day then went out alone to contact flanking troops. When he came back, a stick grenade landed in a trench with five wounded men. He picked it up and threw it away, where it exploded harmlessly. He completed the task of clearing the trenches, and remained in an advanced position for 64 hours under constant fire. His conduct was regarded as an inspiration to all.

On 20th September a further allied attack took place along the Ypres - Menin Road.

On September 23rd the 4th battalion moved up to Bellegoed farm, in readiness for the battle of Polygon Wood. On the 26th the 4th battalion were involved in a British counter-attack which aimed to recapture the trench system lost on the 25th. They advanced at 5.25 a.m., eventually managing to re-capture the lost trenches but at a cost of 265 casualties.

In Bury in September, a fete was held in the Abbey Gardens to raise money for the Suffolk Prisoners of War Fund, and £640 was raised.


RFC at Elmswell 1917
blank According to the website www.elmswell-history. org, of the Elmswell History Group, "The Royal Flying Corps 75 (Home Defence) Squadron was formed in October 1916 in response to the German air raids on England. The squadron moved to Elmswell on 9th September 1917 where it stayed until 22nd May 1919, and the unit also had 'Flight Stations' at Harling Road (Norfolk) and Hadleigh (Suffolk). The young pilots were required to fly at night, an extremely hazardous activity in primitive BE2c and BE12 aircraft, with few rudimentary instruments and no heating or oxygen to sustain them at heights of 10,000 feet or more. Many pilots were injured in crashes, and some were sadly killed. Although 75 (HD) Squadron never successfully engaged the enemy, it did perform a vital role in the development of the World's first integrated National Air Defence system - something from which the country was to benefit 22 years later". Elmswell Aerodrome was greatly developed during WWII and became known as Great Ashfield, home of the 385th Bomb Group of the USAAF.

The silting up of the River Lark was having consequences for land drainage along the Lark valley. Meadows above Icklingham were now prone to flooding. On 22nd September the West Suffolk War Agricultural Committee met to discuss the problems.

Witnesses stated that there were 7 mills along the river between Bury and Mildenhall, with their associated millstreams. Millers were being accused of holding back the water which caused flooding upstream. Although the Tollgate Lock was derelict, its existence was still felt to be beneficial for regulating the water level in that area. A witness pleaded for it not to be removed.

In October, two German Prisoners of War, who had escaped from Kedington Camp, were recaptured in Norfolk.

An Order was issued allowing one pound of potatoes to be added to every seven pounds of flour to allow more bread to be produced.

By the Autumn of 1917 there was a Womens Branch of the government Food Production Department. The Women's Institute worked with the Womens Branch to set up what was intended to be a mobile army of farm labour, to be called The Women's Land Army. The poor harvest of 1917 demonstrated that things needed to be greatly improved in time for the 1918 harvest to succeed at all. Targets set for 1918 meant that two million new acres of land would need to be brought into cultivation. The Land Army would be divided into three areas of Agriculture, Forestry Services, and the Forage Section. The Forage section were responsible for the growing of food for the horses which still powered the transport and agriculture of the country, and the army. They also would take over actually working the animals. The Land Army was an attempt not just to get more labour into the countryside, but to organise, and provide proper training to, the workers who were already in place.

By October the battle still continued at Ypres and 200,000 casualties resulted. Haig believed in a long war of attrition and insisted on continued deadly attacks.

After being sent to Flanders in early October, the 11th battalion of the Suffolk Regiment was transferred the 5th Army and were based around Proven.

At midnight on October 11th - 12th the 8th Suffolk battalion began moving up towards Rose trench, situated near Poelcappelle on the Langemarck side. This was in preparation for the first battle of Passchendaele. The valleys of the streams were altogether impassable and further operations were abandoned. The battalion sustained 232 casualties. Sargeant Berry of the Rifle Brigade reported the following;
" We heard screaming coming from another crater a bit away. I went over to investigate with a couple of the lads. It was a big hole and there was a fellow of the 8th Suffolk's in it up to his shoulders. So I said 'Get your rifles, one man in the middle to stretch them out, make a chain and let him get hold of it.' But it was no use. It was too far to stretch, we couldn't get any force on it, and more we pulled and the far more he struggled the further he seemed to go down. He went down gradually. He kept begging us to shoot him. But we couldn't shoot him. Who could shoot him? We stayed with him, watching him go down in the mud. And he died. He wasn't the only one. There must have been thousands up there who died in the mud."

The Canadians finally took Passchendael after 99 days and with the gain of only 5 miles progress over 250,000 lives were lost on all sides. On 17th October it was announced that Corporal S J Day, of the Suffolk Regiment, was awarded a Victoria Cross for valour.

On 25th October the 2nd battalion went into the line and started to prepare for the battle of Polygon Wood. During the battle for Zonnebeke the 2nd battalion suffered 258 casualties.

On 20th November British forces launched a surprise attack on German positions around Cambrai, using almost 400 tanks. This was the first mass use of tanks in history. Hitherto only small numbers had been deployed in any one battle. By the time the battle ended the British army had suffered 40,000 casualties.
By nine o'clock in the morning of November 20th the 9th Battalion of the Suffolks had seized its objective, capturing the village of Marcoing, 150 prisoners and 3 machine guns. During the advance the battalion suffered 70 casualties.
On November 19th the 7th battalion arrived at Peiziere and moved into their assembly positions for the Cambrai offensive next day. The 7th battalion suffered 232 casualties. However, 28 of the men from the battalion who had been captured during the German attack managed to escape and rejoined the battalion on December 3rd. A roll call on the same day showed the strength of the battalion to be just 250.
The Suffolk Regiment's 7th Battalion was almost completely wiped out at Cambrai.

On 17th November the 4th battalion moved to Abraham heights, near Passchendaele. The following day they went into Passchendaele itself sustaining a number of casualties. The battalion remained in the Passchendaele area until December.
By the time that the British finally seized control of Passchendaele ridge in November their casualties had risen to over 300,000 and there was no chance of a major breakthrough.


Capture of El Arish
blank In Egypt, or more accurately, Palestine, the 1/5th Suffolks joined the attack on El Arish Redoubt on November 2nd. After a few days the Redoubt was taken and the third battle of Gaza was fought and won by the 11th November. The 54th Territorial Brigade now pressed on north, towards Jaffa. There were several encounters with the retreating Turkish army. Jerusalem fell on December 9th. By Christmas Day the rain had produced so much mud, that conditions were miserable.

The November 8th, 1917, edition of Flight Magazine contained the following announcement:-

"Information has been received that Lieutenant DUNCAN MACRAE, Seaforth Highlanders, attached R.F.C. (Lord of the Manors of Fornham St. Genevieve and Fornham St. Martin, Suffolk, under the will of the late Sir William Gilstrap, Bart.), only son of Colonel and Mrs. MacRae-Gilstrap, of Eilean Donan, Ross-shire, and Ballimore, Argyll, who has been missing for some time, is a prisoner with his observer, Lieutenant Blake, R.F.C., who are both reported by the Turks to be unwounded."

The Corn Production Act was passed in 1917 to guarantee minimum prices and wages to encourage more home grown food during the war. The government had finally accepted that the German submarine fleet was drastically reducing the country's ability to import food by sea. Indeed it was said that the country was only three weeks away from starvation before food rationing was finally introduced. A new Rationing Scheme was introduced in England on 12th November "to encourage the utmost economy in using food by all classes and all persons".

The first application of the rationing scheme came into force on 31st December, 1917, when sugar went on ration. Sugar would continue on ration until 1920. Other commodities would become officially rationed in 1918.

During August 1917 the Guildhall Feoffment Trust had to sell the Angel Hotel in Bury to raise money. It made £3,100, not a great sum for the property involved. The property had been given to the Feoffees by William Tassell in 1557, to support their charitable and corporate duties.

During April 1917 the brewery of the Clarke Brothers of Risbygate Street in Bury was taken over by Greene King's Brewery. Clarke's Risbygate Brewery had been set up in the 1840's, and by 1917 it was Greene King's only serious competitor in Bury. The old guard of the Greene King brewery Board were by now either dead or in poor health. Likely relatives had joined the army, and around 90 of the workforce had also signed up by now. Edward Lake was left to run the firm without much serious assistance. He wanted to bring in Harry Clarke to run the maltings and barley side of the business. Against some opposition from the family, he persuaded Raymond Greene, MP, to go along with him. Clarkes' were paid £29,615 in shares and stock, and Clarkes Brewery was quickly closed down.
The arrangement included Clarke's 28 public houses like the Kings Arms in Brentgovel Street, but the best inn was the Cupola House, along with its wines and spirits business, owned by Clarke's since 1901.

During the last century the Kings Arms had been another of the important carriers house, and its yard is still visible. This public house, like the Cupola, still survives in 2005.
The Plough inn in Southgate Street had been a drovers inn in the 18th century, but this was less practical during the 19th century as the street became more built up. Greene King had the Sword in Hand on the opposite side of the road and relinquished the license of the Plough.

Edward Lake continued to think about amalgamation as helping with some of the problems of war time production. By December he was engaged in talks with the last two sizeable breweries left in West Suffolk. These were Christmas's of Haverhill and Olivers of Sudbury.
Fairly soon in 1918, Christmas's Brewery plus 49 public houses was bought for £55,000 in cash and War bonds from the trustees of the late F C Christmas.

Olivers Brewery at Sudbury was run by two brothers, but only one was offered a Directorship with Greene King. This made negotiations more difficult. They were paid £69,000 in shares and cash, and the deal included another 51 public houses for the Greene King empire.

Both Christmas and Olivers Breweries were kept open, boosting Greene King's output by 37%.

POW magazine July 1918
1918 Prisoners of War were taken on both sides during the Great War. This picture comes from the records of 2nd Lieutenant H.J. Baylis of the 2nd Battalion. It shows a very well produced magazine written and published 'for and by the Officers temporarily domiciled in the Citadel, Mainz, Germany', in other words, Prisoners Of War. It contains stories, cartoons, adverts for the camp dramatic society and lists of inmates or 'queuists' with rank, regiment and home town. This issue was dated July, but the magazine was produced from May to November of 1918.

Women got some rewards for their war work, when, on January 11th, women over 30 were given the vote. The vote was also given to men over 21, who had lived at the same address for six months. In the 1918 elections, W E Guinness was unopposed as MP for Bury, so there was no chance to see any local impact of these changes.

Suffolk as a whole was reduced from 7 to 6 MP's, by a reorganisation of constituencies. Since 1885 the western half of Suffolk had three constituencies. These were Bury St Edmunds, the North Western division, and the South. The town of Bury now lost its own MP, and became part of a much bigger area, but still called the Bury St Edmunds constituency. In effect West Suffolk became the two constituencies of Bury in the north, and Sudbury in the south.

The 8th battalion of the Suffolk Regiment in France learnt that it was to be disbanded on January 28th. On February 7th three drafts of over 600 men left to join the 2nd, 4th and 7th battalions.

The 9th battalion was also disbanded at the end of January. On February 5th drafts of men from the battalion were transferred to the 11th and 12th battalions.

Meanwhile, unbeknown to anybody at the time, a bigger killer even than the Great War was hatching. In February 1918, American recruits from Haskell County, Kansas, reported for duty to Fort Riley, 300 miles away. They were already sick with influenza. Today it is thought that this disease was derived from a bird or pig illness, which mutated so that it jumped into the human population, and changed again so that it could spread from person to person. Army camps were its ideal breeding ground. Several days after they arrived, flu broke out at the camp. From there it would spread through the Army to Europe and the rest of the world.

In the new year the 1/5th Suffolks were in Wilhelmina, a German religious colony in Palestine. The wet weather at least gave them some time to rest. This area was now the front line in Palestine and skirmishes continued over it. In April the Battalion was taken under the command of Major Campbell. During the retreat from Mons with the Suffolk Regiment, he had been captured at Le Cateau, been a prisoner in Germany for 3 years, and then escaped to return to the war.

In the spring of 1918 the Germans launched an offensive that they hoped would win the war. One million German soldiers attacked along a 50 mile front. By the end of the offensive the Germans had penetrated 40 miles into allied lines but they had been fought to a standstill. In trying to repel the German offensive the British suffered over 200,000 casualties.


Action on Wancourt-Tilloy Road
blank A notable action came in France on 28th March 1918 at Wancourt (1st Battle of Arras 1918) during the great March offensive by the Germans. The German offensive began on March 21st and the 2nd battalion suffered from heavy bombardment. On the 23rd they were ordered to withdraw to the front line of the reserve system, to the north-west of Wancourt village. On March 27th the 2nd battalion moved into front line trenches overlooking Wancourt. These trenches were no more than three feet deep. At 4 a.m. on March 28th the German bombardment opened on these trenches. By eleven o'clock a German breakthrough on the right had been halted within a hundred yards of the battalion H.Q. The two front companies of the 2nd battalion of the Suffolk Regiment were outflanked and fighting desperately, under Captain W Simpson of Bury and Captain L Baker from Lavenham. They fought on without the covering fire that would have been provided by the machine guns at battalion H.Q, as these guns had been wiped out. The Times newspaper reported:

"There is a story, such as painters ought to make immortal and historians to celebrate, of how certain Suffolks, cut off and surrounded, fought back to back on the Wancourt-Tilloy road."

Eventually they were forced to surrender. In a single days fighting the battalion's casualties totalled over 400.

The 11th battalion were part of the 34th division and were positioned in the Sensee valley. On March 21st at 5 a.m. they came under heavy German bombardment and the battalion was badly gassed. By the end of the battles of the Lys the 11th battalion had sustained almost 500 casualties.

The 12th battalion were part of the 121st Brigade and were positioned between St Leger and the Mory-Ecoust road. By the end of the battle of Baupaume the battalion had suffered 367 casualties. Every officer, with the exception of Major Lloyd and the doctor had been killed, wounded or was missing.

The 7th battalion sustained 256 casualties from 26th to 28th March. The battalion had consisted largely of drafts recently arrived, most of the officers being themselves new arrivals who had had no opportunity of getting to know their men.

The 15th battalion had been fighting on the eastern front. On April 3rd the 15th battalion learnt that it was to leave Palestine for France. On May 7th they arrived at Marseilles. They were then sent to Noyelles for training. The battalion eventually went into the line in front of St. Venant, near the river Lys.

On April 9th and 10th the 12th battalion were involved in the defence of Fleurbaix. In under a week they had sustained 423 casualties. At the start of May the 12th battalion was reduced to a training cadre and in June they left for England

At the beginning of May, whilst at Acheux, the 7th battalion received orders to amalgamate with the 1st Cambridgeshire regiment. Between May 11th and May 17th the battalion did its last tour of duty in the trenches.

The 12th battalion had landed in England on June 17th. On the 19th 700 new drafts arrived. By July 5th the battalion was back in France and joining the 43rd brigade (14th Division).

After the German spring offensive ground to a halt the allies launched a major counter-offensive on 18th July, 1918, that would eventually force the Germans back to their own border with France and end the war.


Barwell's ration card wallet
blank On the home front, civilians were still feeling the effects of the German submarine blockade. Sugar rationing had been introduced at the very start of the year. Meat, bacon and ham went on ration on 7th April, 1918 and everyone had to register with a butcher. Bacon and ham came off ration on 28th July, 1918, but raw meat continued to be rationed until 15th December, 1919.

Butter and margerine were rationed on 14th July, 1918, along with lard. Lard came off ration in December, 1918. Margerine would still be rationed up to 16th February, 1919, and butter until 30th May, 1920.

To make matters worse, the 1918 harvest was made extremely difficult by bad weather and a lack of resources. It rained incessantly through August and September. However, agriculture managed to keep the nation fed, helped by the rationing system, and farmers were able to make a living partly because of the price controls imposed by government. This was also achieved because of a massive input of female labour organised by the Womens Land Army, set up less than a year earlier. The 1918 harvest was the peak of wartime food production. In 1916 the grain harvest was 4.3 million tons. In 1918 it was 6 million tons, despite the weather. In 1918 there were 3 million tons more potatoes raised than in 1913.

As part of the move to reduce the flooding along the river valleys in Suffolk and the Fens, the Great Ouse Drainage Board was set up in 1918.

On August 23 the 2nd battalion were invoved in an attack on Gomiecourt. German trenches were captured, along with 500 prisoners. The 2nd battalion sustained 188 casualties.
The battalion moved on the night of the 29th - 30th into assembly positions for the attack. At dawn on August 30 the 2nd battalion attacked the villages of Ecoust St. Mein and Noreuil. The village of Ecoust was taken easily, but the battalion, unable to maintain itself in its advanced position, was compelled at the end of about six hours to fall back on the line of the Ecoust trench. The casualties, amounted to over 200. In this action C.S.M. J H Jones, M.M., and Pte. H. H. Roberts held on to their ground for five hours after the battalion had withdrawn.

During August the 11th battalion advanced as part of the 183rd brigade (61st division). They had to move forward cautiously as the Germans had laid mines and traps everywhere. The battalion were also caught in heavy barrages of gas shells and machine gun fire. By the end of August the battalion had sustained 334 casualties.


At the end of August the 15th battalion, who had come to France in May from Palestine, were moved to Maricourt, in the Somme region of France. From September 5th to the 7th the battalion took part in an attack on the Templeux-la-Fosse and Gurlu wood system of trenches, sustaining around 100 casualties.
Early in September the 12th battalion set off for the Ypres salient.

On September 2nd at 10 a.m., one company of the 2nd battalion, under Captain W.J. Nagle, M.C were ordered to advance and 'clear up' Vraucourt switch and Macaulay avenue. They sustained 9 casualties but captured over a mile of trench, 400 prisoners and many machine guns.

On September 27th the 2nd battalion attacked the village of Flesquieres. They quickly seized the village, capturing a large number of prisoners and machine guns but sustained 150 casualties. On the morning of the 30th the battalion were involved in an attack on Rumilly. It was not until the evening that the village was captured, by this time the battalion had suffered 180 casualties. A further 135 casualties were sustained early in October, during an attack on Seranvillers.

On the 28th September,British troops attacked, without a preliminary bombardment, on a front of 5 miles south of the Ypres-Zonnebeke road. The 12th battalion attacked with two companies in front and two companies in support. A company attacked from the front, with B company wheeling round and circling it from the left. The Bluff was defended by many machine guns and trench mortars and the battalion suffered 122 casualties. However, the battalion was able to capture the Bluff, along with 200 German prisoners, one 77mm. gun, two 6-inch trench mortars and 13 machine guns.

In Palestine, September 19th saw a general attack on Turkish lines. The objective for the Suffolks was Observation Hill, which they took "like hares", so great was the speed and dash of their attack. In the next month 75,000 prisoners were taken. The 1/5th Suffolks were in Haifa by 27th September, and en route for Beirut the news came of the Armistice with Turkey on October 30th. On November 28th the Battalion sailed for Cairo.

By September the influenza epidemic was increasing in virulence. It may have originated in soldiers in Kansas, but now it seemed to be popping up everywhere. It returned to the U.S. in a more lethal form in September 1918, making its first appearance at the Army's Camp Devens, near Boston. By now it was being called the Spanish Flu, or La Grippe.

Early in October the Suffolk Regiment's 4th battalion were moved to Cite St.Pierre.
Early in October the 15th battalion took over a sector of the front line around Neuve Chapelle. On October 16th they moved up to the Lille canal where they met heavy opposition and the battalion was forced to withdraw. British troops eventually captured Lille on October 18. On November 9 the battalion entered Tournai, it was here on the 11th that they heard news of the armistice.

In October the 11th Battalion were involved in the battle of the Selle, sustaining 274 casualties. On October 27th the 11th Battalion were ordered to advance and ascertain the enemy's strength on the river Rhonelle, and if possible to force a passage and form a bridge-head. In this operation Cpl. S F Staden, M.M., in the face of close-range fire, led his platoon to the river - which he himself crossed carrying a Lewis gun - in a vain but heroic attempt to rush an emplacement. When the enemy had been driven back, the grave of this corporal was discovered marked with a cross (with his identity disc fastened thereto) on which was inscribed in German the epitaph, "To a very brave Englishman".

At 5.20 a.m. on October 23rd the 2nd battalion reached the outskirts of Romeries and managed to capture a German battery. Their casualties were 114. On November 10th the battalion marched to La Longueville, a town they had last seen in August, 1914. The next day they heard news of the armistice.

After over 4 years of terrible bloodshed, fighting finally ended on the Western front at 11.a.m. on the November 11th. In total, 23 new Battalions of the Suffolk Regiment were raised during the Great War and two VC's were awarded. Sergeant Saunders of the 9th Battalion received his VC for action at Loos in September 1915 and Corporal Day of the 11th near Peronne in 1917.

By November the influenza epidemic had become a grave problem in Bury St Edmunds. Three wards of the hospital were completely filled by patients with the illness. Eighteen of the first 74 patients admitted died, including one of the hospital nurses.

In 1918 the Guildhall Feoffment Trust sold most of its remaining properties in Bury. No Mans Meadow failed to meet its reserve price and is still owned by the Trust in 2000.


Lloyds Bank Sign
blank The old Bury St Edmunds banking firm of Oakes, Bevan and Co had been taken over by the London based Capital and Counties bank in 1899. In 1918, the Capital and Counties Bank in Bury became a branch of Lloyd's Bank, and remains so today. The building still stands on the Butter Market, where it was built in 1795 to 1797 as Spink and Carss Bank. From 1829 to 1899 it had been Oakes and Bevan's Bank, before becoming Capital and Counties in 1899.

This local Lloyds bank sign has always provoked interest because it does not feature the Black Horse, which Lloyd's had been using around this time. However, the old Birmingham roots of Lloyds Bank, originally dating to 1765, and styled Lloyd and Taylor, had employed the beehive as its symbol. Both the black horse and beehive were used together by Lloyds Bank until the 1920s. The black horse originated from John Bland Goldsmiths, (1728) which itself became Barnetts Hoares and Co, bankers, and was taken over by Lloyds in 1884. The sign we see in the Buttermarket today has retained Oakes's Oak tree. Margaret Statham has stated that the beehive was also a symbol once used by the Bevan family. The beehive was in general use as a symbol of industry and thrift. The two pineapples remain unexplained at present, although they are generally used as a symbol of welcome, hospitality and friendliness.


Horringer Road Mill
blank West Mill at the top of Horringer Road was the last surviving working windmill within Bury St Edmunds itself. The original mill was built in 1719, but it burnt down in 1801. By 1802 it was rebuilt. In 1841 William Cockerell the miller employed seventeen men and eight boys, which made it a very large business. In 1846 Cockerell built a steam driven mill adjacent to the windmill to ensure that milling could continue when the wind failed. After 1881 the Catchpoles held the mills for the next 50 years. The windmill itself was demolished in 1918, although an Ernest Catchpole lived here until 1935 in the miller’s house, known as West Hill Mill.

In 1891 a Tithe Act transferred liability to pay tithes from the occupiers of land, including farm tenants, to the landowner. By 1918 tenant farmers had largely forgotten about tithes. When, in 1918 a new Tithe Act fixed the tithes on agricultural land at £109.3s.11d on every £100 of value for the next 7 years, few people not affected took much notice.

In an attempt to assist with the aftermath of war, Parliament passed the Small Holding Colonies Amendment Act of 1918, which allocated 45,000 acres in England and 20,000 acres in Wales, to set up smallholdings which ex-servicemen could buy with their gratuities. Many who took this up had no knowledge of farming, and would struggle to get by. But worse would follow. This apparently well meaning Act would lead many into financial disaster when government aid to agriculture ended in 1921.


Sybil Andrews in 1918
blank At the end of the war, Sybil Andrews returned to Bury, having been away on vital war work for the duration. She had been a welder working on aeroplane parts; firstly in Coventry and then in Bristol, where this photograph was taken. In her few spare hours she had started "John Hassall's Correspondence Course" in basic art studies. By late 1918 she was still taking the correspondence course in art, and was determined to pursue this at nights, after teaching during the day. She came to live in Bury with her mother at 117 Northgate Street, and taught at Portland House School to pay her way. Her father, meanwhile had gone to Canada, where he would die in 1922. Here in Bury Sybil Andrews would eventually meet Cyril Power, but apparently not until 1921.

Cyril Power by Sybil Andrews c1932
blank Cyril Power was born in Chelsea in 1872. His father was an architect who encouraged him to draw, and to study architecture. In 1904 Cyril Power had married local girl Dorothy Mary Nunn on 27th August at Bury St Edmunds. They set up home in Kenilworth Court, Putney, London. Power had qualified as an architect and having had a successful career in London, had been a lecturer at University College London, and had published three volumes entitled "History of English Medieval Architecture". In 1916 he had joined the Royal Flying Corps. In 1918, after demobilisation, the Power family moved to 4 Crown Street, Chequer Square in Bury St Edmunds where Cyril Power recommenced an architectural practice, aged about 46.

At Chevington the clothing factory which had been there for sixty years would shut down. Since the executors of William H Smith sold it in 1898, there had been several owners, the last being J Harvey and Co of St John's Street in Bury. The local carrier was still delivering finished clothing to Saxham station at this time. The buildings survived until 1981 when they burned down.

During 1918 the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries bought Almoners Barn Farm in Southgate Street from the Bury St Edmunds Borough Council. Their aim was to extend the production of flax in Britain to ensure that adequate supplies of the linen fabric were available for the manufacture of aircraft wings and bodies. At this time the coverings of aircraft wings were made of this linen fabric. The Board had a Director of Flax Production and he received objections to the scheme to set up a Factory on the farm from local objectors led by Edward Lake of Westgate House. Production of Flax fibre began here in 1919, and finished by 1926.


Ampton Hall today
1919 In January the Red Cross hospital at Ampton Hall closed down. It was reckoned to have treated 6,568 sick or wounded soldiers since opening in October, 1914.

Letter to W R Burrell
blank With the closure of local emergency wartime hospitals it was time to take stock. Walton Burrell had been a frequent visitor to comfort injured soldiers throughout the war. Born profoundly deaf, he was unfit for military service, but combined his hobby, photography, with his voluntary hospital visiting. Burrell produced many photographs for soldiers to send home to their loved ones, as part of his help and assistance. This letter of appreciation, dated 18th February, 1919, was sent from Edwin J Graves, Superintendent Registrar, Bury St Edmunds Union. It expresses thanks from the board for Burrell's visits and acts of service to the wounded soldiers at the infirmaries. Particular mention is made of his visits to Australian soldiers.

Walton Burrell had lived at Hall Farm, Fornham St Martin with his parents, Walton senior and Ellen, (nee Cowen) since he was born in 1863. In 1919 his father gave up the tenancy of the farm, and Walton junior moved to 43 Risbygate Street, Bury St Edmunds.

You can view further pictures of the aftermath of war on this website, here:
Great War Picture Gallery page 10

Alternatively, you can review the complete pictorial gallery of Bury St Edmunds and District through the Great War here:
Great War Picture Gallery Homepage


Banquet for POWs
blank In January and February some of the 1/5th Suffolks returned home from Egypt, but rioting in Cairo slowed up the demobilisation. Not until May did they all get away.

In January the Suffolk Regiment returned Prisoners of War were given a banquet by the grateful Mayor and Corporation of Bury St Edmunds. The feast took place in the Corn Exchange, and the room was decorated with flags and flowers. Crowds of people turned out to welcome the POWs to the event.

By now about 4 million war weary, and often disillusioned troops had come home. The expanded wartime food acreage was still needed until things settled down, so the Womens Land Army would not be demobbed until November, 1919. Farm prices rose 25% above the 1918 level, and agriculture enjoyed a short prosperity.

The years 1918 and 1919 now saw a worldwide flu epidemic. The influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 killed more people than the Great War, estimated at somewhere between 20 and 40 million people. It has been cited as the most devastating epidemic in recorded world history. More people died of influenza in a single year than in four-years of the Black Death Bubonic Plague from 1347 to 1351. Known as "Spanish Flu" or "La Grippe" the influenza of 1918-1919 was a global disaster. In the two years of the epidemic, a fifth of the world's population was infected. The flu was most deadly for people ages 20 to 40. Of the U.S. soldiers who died in Europe, half of them fell to the influenza virus and not to the enemy . An estimated 43,000 American servicemen mobilized for WWI died of influenza.


Icklingham flints collected by Sturge
blank In March, 1919, Icklingham resident, Dr William Sturge died of complications aring from influenza. Sturge had retired from medical practice in Nice, and had lived in Icklingham since 1907, devoting most of his leisure time to the study of archaeology. At Icklingham he established one of the finest private museums of flint implements in the world, all carefully classified and catalogued. He collected many of his flint objects from the fields around Icklingham, but also collected abroad, and bought other private collections.

Sturge was one of the founders of the Society of Prehistoric Archaeology of East Anglia, inaugurated in 1908, together with Norfolk-born journalist and keen prehistorian W. Grahame Clarke. This society soon attracted a national membership, far outgrowing its local origins.

In the winter of 1918 Sturge fell ill of influenza followed by nephritis and upon his death in March 1919, he bequeathed his entire collection of more than 100,000 flint objects to the British Museum. The British Museum would publish "The Sturge Collection of Flints", in 1931.


Spoils of War
blank On July 19th 1919 Bury held its celebrations of the peace, and next day the great Peace Procession was held in central London. Bury was presented with a captured German Kiffir Tank, to reward the town's contribution to the war effort. It stood by the Abbey Ruins until 1939, when it was scrapped for the new war effort. Some of its iron plates went to the local engineering firm of Avis and Company in College Lane. They were used as workbenches. Today you can still see the spot where this tank was located on display, as the concrete pad on which it stood is still there.

The cadre and colours of the 1/5th Battalion did not return to Bury until November, to be welcomed by the Mayor on the Cornhill.


St Edmunds Place local war memorial
blank While the town held public meetings and debates about the form and costs of a war memorial, the people of the 24 homes at St Edmunds Place erected this local memorial in 1918 or 1919. The original St Edmunds Place had been two rows of cottages, 24 in all, which surrounded a cul-de-sac extending from Church Row almost to St Johns Street. These would be swept away as part of the 1970s slum clearance programme in the area. At the far end of the cul-de-sac, facing back down the street was a wall upon which had been fixed a war memorial dating to 1918 or 1919 commemorating the men of the Place who had died during the Great War. This wall and its memorial was preserved and is the last remnant of the original St Edmunds Place.

This replacement memorial dates to 2008. Today it is accessible from St Martins Street, as is the front door of the modern St Edmunds Place sheltered accommodation.

Not until 30th November of 1919 was the Women's Land Army disbanded, the last people to be released from war service. In return about half a million of them and other women war workers, became unemployed. Some would take advantage of the ex-service personnel free passage to the Dominions.

The Local Government Board was dissolved because of poor administration and its functions transferred to the new Ministry of Health. However, the Housing Act of 1919 made provision for councils to provide homes for rent. This act attempted to provide "homes fit for heroes to live in". Local authorities were required to provide schemes on how they would achieve this in working class areas. Central government gave financial help for this from 1919 to 1923.

In Bury St Edmunds, the availability of grant aid led to plans for their first Council House building programme. Fifty new houses were started at Grove Road in Bury St Edmunds. These would be completed in 1920, but this small estate was gradually extended to 186 houses.


Rose Mead self portrait 1910
blank Rose Mead's mother died at the age of 92. Rose Mead had started an international art career until being called home to Bury to nurse her mother in 1897. By now herself 52, Rose Mead had lost her ambition for national exhibitions, and would remain a well known and respected local figure, but little known on the wider scene. However, many local artists were grateful to her for help and encouragement in their early years, including Sybil Andrews. She remained a prolific painter of portraits, as well as a wide range of other subjects, right up to her death in 1946. She was producing excellent work in her Crown Street studio throughout the 1920's and 30's.

The Forestry Commission was set up. The purpose was to produce timber for a nation hitherto almost entirely dependent on imports.

In June 1919, Edward Lake resigned as Managing Director of Greene King's Brewery, in order to retire. His last report stated that the company owned 460 public houses compared to only half a dozen when he started in 1873. There were three breweries in the company, one in Bury, the old Christmas Brewery in Haverhill, and the ex-Olivers at Sudbury. It was now the largest Brewery in East Anglia.
It was only a minor matter for Greene King to give up the license of the Lord Kitchener pub at the top of Southgate Street. This inn had been called the King of Prussia from at least 1775, and was renamed during the Great War. It would be demolished and only Prussia Lane survives to mark its presence.

Following Edward Lake standing down as Managing Director of Greene King, he was succeeded by his eldest of six sons, Edward Lancelot Dewe Lake, usually referred to as E L D Lake, or as "the Major".
Edward Lake would return briefly as Chairman of Greene King from 1920 to 1922, when he would die.


The shortlived Flax Factory
blank In 1919 the production of woven flax fabric for aircraft wings began in Bury St Edmunds in a new factory built at Almoners Barn Farm. Flax was grown on the farm, then harvested and laid out to dry. The dry flax was treated in large vats to soften it so that the fibres could be extracted. Drying flax together with some of the vats or tanks can be seen in the attached photograph. The site today is at the end of Laundry Lane. Production lasted until around 1926, a very short life for this ambitious project.
Before it was set up, the project attracted some local opposition. Notable amongst the objectors were the inhabitants of Westgate Street, led by Edward Lake.

Lingwood's Rabbit Fur Factory at Brandon
blank In Brandon the rabbit fur industry was an important source of employment, both in trapping and in preparation of the skins. One major factory for preparing rabbit skins and making fur products, particularly hats, would now become S and P Lingwood's works on the London Road. This large three storey factory had been built in 1909, and was bought by S & P Lingwood Ltd, Hatters, Furriers and Skin Merchants, in 1919. The business survived until 1973.

Rushbrook House contents sold
blank The estate of Rushbrook was put up for sale by its owner, Captain Robert Basil Wyndham Rushbrook. The family name of Rushbrook had been associated with the estate of the same name since 1808. The agricultural depression had weakened family resources in the last century, and the house was probably in need of expensive repairs and renovation. The house and 195 acres was obtained privately before auction by Captain Philip Ashworth, of Chichester. The remaining 358 acres were sold off in lots in October, 1919. In December the contents of the house were sold off, including many pictures, portraits and tapestries. Despite a sale of furniture in 1806, the house still contained much 17th century furniture, and this was also sold. Some of the family portraits were bought by the Marchioness of Bristol for display at Ickworth House.

Livermere Hall sold
blank Also in October 1919 Livermere Hall and its estate of 2,738 acres was put up for sale by auction. The de Samaurez family had owned the estate since the mid 19th century, but the Hall had been let to tenants for the last 80 years. This picture shows the house as seen from the garden in about 1900. The auction produced a bid of £40,000 and the lot was withdrawn unsold. The owner of the adjacent Ampton Hall and its estate, one Pierce Lacy, had already offered £43,300 privately, and thus he obtained the property. Lacy was a Birmingham businessman who would be made a baronet in 1921. By 1923 Sir Pierce would have Livermere hall demolished, as he did not wish to maintain two mansions a short walk apart.

Suffolk Regimental Cenotaph
1920 In February the 1/5th Battalion of Territorials held a Reunion Dinner in the Corn Exchange in Bury, with 800 all ranks from across Suffolk in attendance.

On March 15th, the Suffolk Regimental Cenotaph was dedicated inside St Mary's Church in Bury. It was erected by subscriptions from all units of the Regiment. It was made of white alabaster and sculpted by A Whiffin to a design by W A Pite. Above it hang the flags of various battalions of the Regiment, laid up after the Great War. The picture from 2005 also includes memorials and flags from a later era.


Medals Pip, Squeak, Wilfred
blank By 1920 many of the medals earned during the Great War were still being distributed. These medals were issued in unprecedented numbers. Virtually all service personnel, and those civilians who served in an officially recognised organisation qualified for one of more of these medals. In 1919 a new cartoon was launched in the Daily Mirror called Pip, Squeak and Wilfred, and somehow these names became attached informally to the trio of war service medals which were issued in such great numbers.

"Pip" was a bronze star, properly called the 1914-15 Star, and was awarded to those who saw service in any theatre of war against the central powers between 5 August 1914 and 31 December 1915 except those eligible for the 1914 Star. Some 2,078,183 1914-15 Stars were issued according to the Imperial War museum. It is shown on the left of this cluster of medals.

"Squeak" was a silver medal, officially called the British War Medal 1914 - 1920. This medal takes the form of a solid silver medal with an image of a mounted figure of St George trampling the shield of the central powers with the dates 1914 and 1918 thereon. The reverse has the coinage head of George V. The British War Medal 1914-20 was issued to commemorate the successful conclusion of the war and awarded to those who had served in a theatre of war up to and including the official end of the war in 1920.
The qualification for the award was service within the three armed services or within any Commonwealth or Imperial unit or within certain recognised voluntary organisations. It included certain categories of service within England. The award is usually found with the Victory medal but was awarded singly. Some 6 million were issued in silver with 110, 000 issued in bronze to natives of various labour corps. The medals were also issued for service in Russia and for minesweeping operations.

"Wilfred" was a bronze medal and was called officially the Victory Medal 1914 - 1918. It was decided amongst the Allies that a common theme would be adopted and that each country would produce a medal to commemorate the Victory. This medal took various forms according to the country but a common item was the rainbow coloured ribbon. The British medal shows the winged victory on the front holding a palm branch with the words "The Great War for Civilisation" on the reverse. The British medal was produced in bronze and was awarded to those who had received the 1914 or 1914-15 Star and to most of those who received the War Medal and could not be awarded alone. The main qualification was those having any service in a war theatre but various civilians in recognised voluntary organisations received the award. Those mentioned in dispatches also wore a bronze oak leaf upon the ribbon. Those eligible were service personnel including Commonwealth and Imperial forces but included various civilians working in recognised voluntary organisations. Some 5,725,000 were issued.


Ticket to ride, June 1920
blank By 1920 the idea of air travel was still new and exciting. It was also easy for the aircraft of the day to take off and land using any flat grass field. Crowds could always be relied upon to turn up to any flying event of the time. On June 26th, 1920, this ticket to enjoy an aeroplane ride for one guinea was issued to Walton Burrell by the Central Aircraft Company. By the 1930s these trips and landing strips had to be properly authorised. Not until 1934 was the landing strip at Westley first identified as available for landings, although in 1933 an aerial event would be held near Eldo Farm.

In July, 1920, Greene King opened the Victory Sports Ground in Nowton Road, Bury St Edmunds. This had been the brainchild of Edward Lake, when he was Managing Director of that company. He had six sons, who had all served in the Great War, and who had all come home safely. Indeed his eldest son, the Major, had just taken his place as Managing Director of the company. He had persuaded the Board of the company to purchase 26 acres of land to commemorate the safe return of most of the Brewery's workforce, and those 21 who were killed. Sir Walter Greene, also grateful that his two sons had come home, agreed with the idea.
The Victory Ground went on to become the best sports ground in East Anglia. It was sold to St Edmundsbury Council in 1975, but survives as a sports ground today.

Major Lake, who now ran the Greene King Brewery, bought the Theatre in Westgate Street, in an attemp to revive its fortunes. Within 5 years the rival attractions of the Central Cinema in Hatter Street and the Playhouse in Buttermarket had sealed its fate as a theatre. It would become a barrel store for the brewery until the 1960's.

Sir Walter Greene of Nether Hall at Thurston died in 1920. He had been Chairman of Greene King since 1891, and to replace him, Edward Lake, (the Major's father), had to come out of his short retirement as MD, and become Chairman.
Nether Hall passed to Sir Walter's son, Sir W Raymond Greene, MP for Hackney North, who lived in London and Leicestershire. Sir Raymond did not like Nether Hall or the society which it attracted, and immediately sold the whole estate, including Thurston Grange, and returned to London.


Haverhill's war memorial
blank On 21st November, 1920, the war memorial at Haverhill was dedicated and unveiled. It was unveiled in front of a very large crowd by Lt General Sir Charles Briggs. The memorial was in the form of a cross in stone, placed upon a substantial pedestal, around which were engraved 144 names of Haverhill's war dead. (A few of these names were added at a later date.) The memorial was located within Haverhill's cemetery, which itself was opened in 1867.

In 1920 the Agriculture Act again guaranteed high prices for wheat and oats, but the Corn Production Act of 1917 did not allow rents to be raised. Landowners with tenant farmers were better off to sell their land to owner occupiers under these rules. So in the short two years from 1918 to 1920 about 10% of agricultural land changed hands and was bought by tenants and would be farmer occupiers. Many of these purchasers took on a liability for tithe payments of which they had little, if any, knowledge. Large scale estates and ownerships were broken up into smaller less economic units. Mortgages were taken out on the basis of the good farm prices which had prevailed in the war and which had got even better since then. Financial Disaster was just around the corner.

The first ever Labour Councillor was elected at Bury in November 1920, when Councillor Tom Porter was elected. He was a railway worker and became an Alderman in 1936. In all he would serve 30 years on the council.


The Bend of the River
A R Blundell
blank Alfred Blundell, the artist whose etchings of Suffolk landscapes are well known in this area, moved into the Mill at Tuddenham. Alfred Blundell was born at Bury St Edmunds on December 24, 1883. He started to show his talent for art at the age of 6. From 1898 to 1900 he worked as an auctioneer’s clerk, after which he became a railway clerk, initially at Bury St Edmunds station, later at Woodbridge. In 1912, Blundell resigned to become a full time artist.
He set up a studio in Bury and subsequently went to London where he sold enough work to be able to study at the Slade School. From 1913, Blundell studied at the Slade. His first acceptance by the RA in 1915 was for a drypoint etching of St Paul’s, London.
Blundell moved to Old Hall, Hawstead, Suffolk in 1915. In 1920, he purchased Cavenham Mill, which had a first floor studio with huge windows. In 1933 he took an East Anglian school appointment and taught at three Bury St Edmunds Schools, including Culford. He continued to live at Cavenham Mill until his death in 1968.
Blundell’s work consisted mainly of oil paintings, predominantly landscape, but with a number of flower studies, and over one hundred etchings and drypoints. He also executed watercolours, drawings, woodcuts and did glass engraving. His atmospheric drypoint etchings of the Breckland trees and streams are amongst his best work.

Another artist in Bury St Edmunds at this time was called Cyril Power, who was an architect by profession. In 1918, following his demobilisation, the family had come to 4 Crown Street, near Chequer Square in Bury St Edmunds, where Power set up an architectural practice. In 1920 he was designing alterations and additions to Chadacre Hall as an Agricultural College for Lord Iveagh. After the war Lord Iveagh felt such a facility was needed in this area. It continued as a college until 1988. During this period Cyril Power was also producing watercolour landscapes and townscapes as well as the first of some 40 drypoints.


Hatter Street
Sybil Andrews c1920/21
blank Cyril Power first met Sybil Andrews when she was struggling over a drawing of a house in Bury town centre. As he was well versed in the art of architectural drawing, he offered to give her some tuition. This meeting seems to have inspired them both to a period of artistic creativity. This hitherto unrecorded picture of Hatter Street has the monogram SA and is undoubtedly by Sybil Andrews. It was sold on E-Bay by northnorfolk artcentre in June 2010, with the note: "Provenance: All items I sell have been amassed by an art specialist over a period of forty years". It shows the style in which Andrews was working in these beginning years in Bury St Edmunds, and may have been originally acquired from the exhibition which Power and Andrews would stage in 1921.

Crescent House
blank In late 1920, or early 1921, Sybil Andrews set up her first studio in a second storey room in Crescent House, number 28, Angel Hill. She would have been about 23 years old. Cyril Power also took a studio in the same building, but at the rear, overlooking the Abbey Gardens. Power had a long background in art, and was to encourage and guide Sybil in her drawing of street scenes of the town. As Sybil was only just striking out at this time, she had a lot to learn from Power. Cyril Power and Sybil Andrews would have an artistic and personal relationship from 1920 until 1938.

After the War there were many redundant army huts around the country. One such was purchased at Felixstowe for £95 raised by subscriptions from Chevington villagers in September, 1920. The Hut was opened in January 1921 and became a centre for village life. Later such places became known as Village Halls.

The Great War had also hindered the modernisation of most industries. The Bury St Edmunds Gas Company now enlarged its operations by installing a fertiliser plant, producing Sulphate of Ammonia from its waste products. It also installed a tar making plant at about the same time.

The Bury St Edmund's Corporation electricity undertaking was also under strain, as its last capacity improvement dated back to 1910. By 1920 the existing power station was at full load. The two original 60 kilowatt dynamoes were replaced by one 300 KW unit. In 1924 an additional 300 KW would be added to capacity, and by 1928 another 1,000 KW would be installed.


Looms Lane 1921
Sybil Andrews
1921 Agricultural policy now lurched away from wartime conditions. The Corn Production (Repeal) Act was passed in 1921 and corn prices plummeted under market conditions as the price control mechanism was removed. The crop yields were also damaged by the almost unparalleled drought of 1921. The government encouraged the import of cheap grain, pork and ham from America. By 1921 about 20% of farms were owned by their occupiers, but most of them found that their income had fallen drastically while the mortgage payments still had to be met. With land producing a much lower income its capital value also fell. From 1921 to 1939 there would be a continual agricultural depression, with low farm incomes, low farm wages, and falling land values. In this scenario the Tithe System was to become a battleground, as the new owners now found that they had to pay the tithe rentcharge to support the Church which many of them had been completely unaware of, and most could see no justification for. Suffolk would become one of the main areas in the fight against Queen Ann's Bounty and the Tithe System.

The 1921 census gave the population of Bury St Edmunds as 15,937, a reduction on the 1911 total of 16,785.


River Lark dry at Eastgate Bridge
blank Droughts were not confined to the days of global warming at the end of the 20th century. The summer of 1921 was so dry that the River Lark dried up. This view shows the dry river bed seen from Eastgate Bridge looking north. It is notable how much silt had accumulated in the river bed at this date. Crop yields were drastically damaged by the drought, and although this should have led to a rise in farm prices, the government encouraged cheap imports of foreign food to compensate for the lack of supplies.

River Lark dry in the park
blank For years Bury residents have referred to the Abbey Gardens as "the Park". The description of this photograph, from the Suffolk Record Office, illustrates that this designation has a long history. The description states, "The river quite empty in the park by the Abbots bridge at Bury during the very long dry weather". In the Abbey Gardens, people could walk along the dry river bed.

Unveiling soldiers memorial
blank In October 1921 the War Memorial was erected on the Angel Hill in Bury. It was in the form of a Celtic Cross and was unveiled by General Lord Horn, and dedicated by the Bishop in October in a ceremony attended by several thousand people.

Also in November, 1921 the Earl of Iveagh dedicated the Elveden Estate war memorial which stands unforgettably next to the A11 road. It stands where Elveden, Eriswell and Icklingham meet and records the 48 men who died from those parishes. At 113 feet high it is the tallest such memorial in Suffolk.

In November 1921 Bury's first woman councillor was elected to office. She was listed as Eva Paulina Greene, and was the wife of John Wollaston Greene, a Bury solicitor, and great grandson of Benjamin Greene the Brewer.


Hardwick House
blank Hardwick Hall and estate had been in the Cullum family since 1656. The Reverend Sir Thomas Gery Cullum, the 8th and last baronet, died in 1855, and the family wills subsequently required the Hall to pass to male relatives only. The last baronet had a daughter whose youngest son was called George who would be the final holder of the estate. George was unmarried and had no close male relatives. Thus, when as the last squire of Hardwick, Mr George Gery Milner-Gibson Cullum, died in 1921, he had no heir who could inherit the estate under the terms of the family trust.

Some of the family collection of books and art-objects and paintings was bequeathed to the town of Bury. It was to become housed at the School of Art in the Traverse, in two years time, following probate. Many of these objects can be seen in Moyse's Hall Museum, the paintings were displayed in the Manor House Museum until it closed, and the books are in the West Suffolk Record Office in Raingate Street, Bury St Edmunds. George also bequeathed a part of the Hardwick Heath to the people of Bury St Edmunds.

The residuary legatee was Mrs Reginald Gurney, who ordered the contents of the house to be sold at auction in June 1924.

The Hardwick estate itself became the property of the Crown, and was put up for sale. In the depression of the time, no buyer could be found for the vast house and grounds still remaining. The estate would therefore be broken up and sold off piecemeal over the next few years. By the end of 1926 it would still prove impossible to sell the great house, which would then be demolished.

Bury's Open Air Swimming Pool was built off Prospect Row, and behind Kings Road. It would continue in use until 1975, and included slipper baths, so that members of the public could also get a hot bath and the use of soap and towel for a small fee. The pool closed in Winter, but hot baths were still available on Saturdays and Sundays.

The grants available to councils for the provision of council housing under the 1919 Housing Act was having the desired effect. In Bury St Edmunds the Grove Road estate was well under way, with a first contract for 50 houses near completion. At Norton the Thedwastre District Council completed 30 new homes on Ixworth Road.

Haverhill's first ten council houses were built in Wratting Road by the Haverhill Urban District Council.

In December 1921, the 5th Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment Territorials was disembodied. War trophies were handed to the 4th Battalion, and the colours were laid up in St Mary's Church in Bury. After 62 years of service the new scheme for Territorial Forces had disbanded them. The colours joined those of the 7th, 8th, 9th, 12th, and 1st Garrison Battalions.


Southgate Street 1921
Sybil Andrews
blank Also in December 1921, Cyril Power and Sybil Andrews held their first joint public exhibition of 95 watercolours and 50 pastels. It was held in their studios in Crescent House on the Angel Hill, in Bury St Edmunds. The year 1921 seems to have revitalised Power's interest in art, inspired, perhaps, by the enthusiasm to learn from him expressed by Sybil Andrews. Their work was reviewed in the Bury Post as of the "modern school of painting", and "revolutionary and difficult for the lay mind to appreciate." Nevertheless, the critic went on to praise their approach, but it shows that Sybil Andrews was thought radically different at the time from an established traditional stylist like Rose Mead.

Swimming Baths
1922 In 1922 Bury opened its brand new open air swimming bath at Kings Road. The water never got much above 60 degrees fahrenheit, but it was a great amenity for the time. It was opened by the Mayor at the time, Cllr J Parkington.
Next door were hot baths which could be used by anybody for a small fee. These baths were heated by the electric power station which was still operating close by. Most houses at this time had no bathrooms, and filling a tin bath in front of the fire was the normal inconvenient way of taking a hot bath. The swimming pool and slipper baths were finally completed in 1923.

Mangolds by Sybil Andrews
blank In 1922, Sybil Andrews moved to Woolpit, and there experienced the lives of agricultural workers which would be remembered in her later work, long after leaving Suffolk. Her lino print entitled "Mangolds" doubtless has its origins in Woolpit, but was produced after 1933. Later in 1922 she enrolled in Heatherley's School of Fine Art in London, and soon moved to near Russell Square. Either at the same time, or shortly afterwards, Cyril Power would also enroll at Heatherly's School. They continued to work together. In 1923 Cyril Powers' family moved from Bury St Edmunds to St Albans. The lino cut "Mangolds" illustrates how far Sybil's work was to progress over the next decade.

Woolpit Brick Sheds
Cyril Power
blank This monotype of the Brick Sheds at Woolpit emphasises the connection between Andrews and Power. She also produced a monotype of the same subject, and in the same style. Once again the subject is from their experiences in 1922, but the picture may be from some years later, perhaps after 1933. This a second impression from the print, which accounts for the weaker colouring. Usually only one impression is kept from a monotype.

Woolpit Brick Sheds
Sybil Andrews
blank In 1925 Cyril Power would help Iain MacNab and Claude Flight set up the Grosvenor School of Modern Art at 33 Warwick Square, London. Sybil Andrews would become the School Secretary. They would learn to make linocuts under the influence of Claude Flight who was teaching the medium at the school. In London she also learnt about woodblock printing, and her aim became to eliminate all unnecessary detail from her work, but to imbue it with energy. She would live and work in London until the war, occasionally returning to Bury to visit relatives. Power apparently had little or nothing more to do with Bury after 1923.

Bicycling was now a widespread and popular means of transport. With little motorised traffic, but some road improvements, cycle outings became very popular. On a Sunday in July there was a grand meeting of all the cycle clubs in East Anglia held in Bury. This was the first of several such annual cycle meetings here.

The Grammar School at Bury became a Direct Grant School.

In Bridewell Lane the Finsbury Arms public house closed its doors for the last time. The nearby Blackbirds pub remained in operation until the late 1970's. The Finsbury Arms was next to a group of houses called Finsbury Square. Only the name remains today, as any "square" there ever was has disappeared.

Because land values in the Breckland had sunk very low since the repeal of the Corn Production Act in 1921, following the end of the First World War, the forestry commission was able to buy up large estates very cheaply.
The planting of the Thetford Forest was begun, and would be largely complete by 1939. Four large labour camps would be set up in the Breckland through the Depression to take unemployed men largely from North East England. In the process one of the most distinctive landscapes in England was destroyed, bought up for a few shillings an acre.

Edward Lake died in 1922. Edward Lake had been a partner and manager at Greene's brewery from 1875, and was then Managing Director of Greene King's brewery from 1887 to 1919, and Chairman from 1920. He had been Mayor of Bury for six terms of office, and had been a strong modernising force at the Council.
Sir Raymond Greene now became Chairman of Greene King. Unlike his father, Sir E Walter Greene, he refused to live in Suffolk, preferring London and Leicestershire, and his political circle as MP for Hackney North.

In 1922 there were fears that Rushbrook House would be demolished, but it was soon bought by the Lord Islington, Sir John Dickson-Poynder. He owned it until his death in 1936.

The Eastern Counties Roadcar Company, which provided the Ipswich buses, set up a depot in Bury St Edmunds from 1906 to 1922. In the same decade a number of small companies set up in rural areas, taking over the role of the old village carrier by running trips to town on market day as the mainstay of their business. These included Beestons and Mulleys, companies which are still in business in the 21st century.


Golf Course land 1922
blank Mr Henry Bankes Ashton, a Bury solicitor, had been trying for years to raise the money to start a golf club in Bury St Edmunds. The existing local golf course at Flempton, set up in 1895, was inconveniently 5 miles out of town, and had the benefit of only nine holes. In 1922 a large piece of land, part of the Sexton's Hall estate, came on to the market for £1,700. The local MP, who was the Rt Hon Walter Edward Guinness, DSO, (the Member of Parliament for Bury St Edmunds from 1907 to 1931,) wanted to give a gift to the town. Colonel Guinness had bought, and occupied, the Manor House on Honey Hill, Bury St Edmunds, in 1908. Colonel Guinness wrote to the Mayor of Bury, Councillor J P Parkington, offering to buy this land, and present it to the town for the purpose of a recreation ground. He was happy for it to become a municipal golf course, but only if it could be financed without any call upon the ratepayers of the town.

The Borough Council immediately set up a Committee to consider the offer and it first met on 4th August, 1922. By September the committee had decided that a municipal course was likely to run at a loss, but if a private company could be set up, with an issued share capital of at least £5,000, then a viable club could be formed. The Council agreed to this proposal on 30th September, and on October 7th a letter appeared in the Bury Free Press asking for subscribers to an issue of £5 shares in the hope of raising capital of between six and eight thousand pounds.

Mr J S Austen of Plumpton Hall, Whepstead, now came forward with the offer of £1,000 to build the clubhouse, so that by 18th November the committee announced that it had raised sufficient money to begin construction work. The golf course's original design was by the first British Ryder Cup team captain Ted Ray, winner of an Open and a US Open. It measured 6,087 yards, which was regarded as long for a non-links course. The newly made golf course would be finished by 1924.

The Great Eastern Railway Company became part of the London and North Eastern Railway, the LNER.

At Lavenham there were still three horsehair businesses in production. However, the Great War had disrupted the import of raw materials and both coconut fibre and horsehair factories had faltered. Cheaper foreign goods were now flooding the European markets. Not only that, but linoleum had become increasingly popular, and was felt to be more hygienic and easier to keep clean than other floor mats. The writing was on the wall for these Stour valley producers of mats and matting.


Petrol electric bus
1923 There is nothing new in hybrid fuelled vehicles. This picture shows the Eastern County Road Car Company's Tilling Stevens petrol-electric bus in Brentgovel Street, Bury St Edmunds. The conductor who can be seen inside the bus is Arthur Finch, taken in about 1923.


Red Cross hospital closed
blank On January 2nd, 1923, the Red Cross Hospital in Northgate Street was closed down. This picture shows the hospital with its flag pole flying the Union Jack and Red Cross emblem.

The Guildhall Feoffment Trust sold off Perry's Barn Farm. Farm income and rents was by now a very poor investment, and charity trustees could find a better return with safer prospects elsewhere.

Farm workers wages were forced down to 25 shillings per week as farm profits shrunk to almost nothing. There were knock on effects in the rest of the rural economy.

In May, the Council, which was eager to assist the development of the new golf course, announced that it was willing to extend the town's water main down Newmarket Road to serve the needs of the golf course and clubhouse which were in the course of design or construction. At this time the new clubhouse would be the last building going out of town, located where the Nilfisk factory would be built in the 1960s. Eight other residents along Newmarket Road had agreed to be connected, and the annual cost to the golf club would be £13. By the end of June tenders for the clubhouse had resulted in the contract being awarded to Mason and Son of Haverhill, after a negotiated reduction to a price of £1557.10.0.

Brewing ceased in Haverhill late in 1923 when Greene King shut down their Haverhill operations. The firm had bought Christmas's Brewery there in 1918, and kept it running. The sharp recession had led to a fall in sales of beer and the needs of Haverhill could be met by lorry from Bury. Some of the workforce moved to the Westgate Street premises of Greene King in Bury St Edmunds, travelling up to 40 miles a day.
Olivers Brewery at Sudbury was next on the list for closure by Greene King, but the 1923 budget reduced the duty on beer by 20 shillings a barrel, so there was a stay of execution.


Extension to boys school
blank At the Methodist Boys' School in Northgate Avenue, Bury St Edmunds, a new wing was added to provide extra accomodation. This plaque is affixed to the private home, now called Newman House. The architects were Johns and Slater of Ipswich, and the builder was S E Modoc of Sicklesmere.

The first petrol pumps came to Bury when they were installed on the pavement at Burrell's garage in Mustow Street. The larger local inns had already got their own garage facilities for the vehicles of guests.

George Gery Milner Cullum of Hardwick House, had died in 1921 and left many of his collections to the town of Bury. His books and some of his paintings were now housed in the old School of Art building. It was called the Cullum Reference Library, and would serve as a town library until Local Government reorganisation in 1974. Control then passed to Suffolk County Council, who moved it out in 1983. These books can now be consulted in the West Suffolk Records Office in Raingate Street.


Livermere Hall
blank In 1923 Livermere Hall was demolished by its then owner, Sir Pierce Lacey. He had bought the whole estate in 1919 to join it up with his existing estate of Ampton. Ampton already had a large mansion, and Livermere Hall had not been modernised for decades. It had been let to tenants for at least the last 80 years. Lacey did not need Livermere Hall for his own purposes, and now preferred to have it demolished. There has been some doubt as to whether it met its demise in 1921 or 1923, and even some stories that it had burned down. However, W M Roberts in "Lost Country Houses of Suffolk", accepted the demolition in 1923 as the most likely true story. Livermere Hall dated from the time of Charles II, with later additions and improvements. The house had featured in some of M R James's ghost stories, particularly the "Ash Tree", and the park and its mere provided many ghostly backgrounds to his tales. This picture shows the rear of the house looking up from the mere.

The Fox inn in Eastgate Street was renovated. Two lathe and plaster ceilings were removed to expose ancient wooden beams, and the wall panelling was liberated from coats of paint and wallpaper. These remain features at the Fox today.


Carriers yard at the Star Inn
blank Nearby to the Fox was the Star Inn, which, while only a small distance from the Fox, was within Mustow Street. Mustow Street turns into Eastgate Street when the road reaches the Broadway at the bend in the road. The Star had been here for at least 200 years, and was an old timber framed building. It had been a Carriers Inn, but the obvious narrowness of the road at this point was its undoing. It was scheduled for demolition, along with a row of houses, to widen Mustow Street to allow two way traffic, and to allow a pavement to be built alongside the Abbey wall. The Star was closed in 1923 and demolished soon afterwards. This picture shows "the large yard of the Star Inn at Bury where the carriers foregathered," according to the notation on the rear of the photograph sold on E-Bay in 2013. It also shows the extensive stables, and one hand cart with the legend "Stetchworth Dairies". The date of this picture is not known, but Stetchworth Dairies were located at 15/16 The Traverse and Mr Henry Adams was the manager. At the Star Mrs Eleanor Nightingale was the Landlady here in 1908.

During 1923 the Bury St Edmunds gas works was reorganised and enlarged. The original site dated back to 1834, and still contained the manufacturing plant, offices and workshops. It stood on Tayfen Road, hemmed in by Peckham Street, Ipswich Street and St Andrews Street. Also on Tayfen Road, but on the opposite side of Ipswich Street, was the second site, with the control room and the number two gas holder. Opposite to the first site stood the third site, which contained a tar refining plant, and extra storage for coal and coke. The works totalled 3.28 acres over these three sites. The main roads also cut off the plant from the rail sidings, so coal was driven the hundred yards to the works by motor lorries. The last horse was replaced by a lorry in 1920.


Beet factory in 1930
1924 The Sugar Beet factory at Bury St Edmunds was built by a Hungarian company with Government subsidy and the support of local farmers. The Mermaid Pits would be taken over by the factory and converted into settling ponds for the washings from the beet. Run off from the factory and its settling ponds was soon said to be polluting the River Lark, reducing fish stocks around Bury.

Sugar beet was first identified as a source of sugar in 1747. With the availability of the cane sugar plantations in the West Indies it stayed as no more than a curiosity until the Napoleonic wars at the start of the 19th century when Britain blockaded sugar imports to continental Europe. Europe turned to the sugar beet while Britain continued to enjoy cane sugar from its colonies.

Alexander Deutsch de Hatvan was born in Hungary in 1852. He was educated in Budapest and Berlin. As the head of the firm of Ignatz Deutsch & Sons, he greatly increased the sugar industry in Hungary, establishing beet-sugar factories at Nagy Surany, Hatvan, and Garamvölgye. In recognition of his services his family was raised to the nobility in 1879. In 1920 Hungary was dismembered by the Treaty of Trianon, and the Slovakian part was confirmed to become part of Czechoslovakia.

By 1880 sugar beet had replaced sugar cane as the main source of sugar on continental Europe, but was ignored in Britain until the Great War caused supplies to be cut off. Thus the continent had all the knowledge and experience of sugar beet production, particularly in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Sugar was a vital preservative, and it was now thought strategically important to provide home grown supplies.

Deutsch and Sons' Surany factory was probably the largest in Europe at the time, and would provide managers who came to Bury in the next two years to establish our local sugar beet industry.

Since 1921 corn prices had fallen so the new cash crop of sugar beet was a welcome relief to hard pressed farmers. Sugar beet remains a major part of Suffolk farm incomes in 2004.

Another piece of agricultural diversification took place on the edge of the Fens. What is believed to be the first factory in Britain for the production of dried chicory root was built by Messrs. Chivers on their estate at Sedge Fen, Lakenheath in the 1920's. Chicory was planted on nearby farms, and the root dried and shredded at the factory. Chicory essence was used in the manufacture of a coffee drink, sold in bottles as "Camp Coffee." It was the first instant coffee, and was a concentrated liquid to be mixed with hot water and milk.


Golf Clubhouse 1924
blank The Bury St Edmunds golf course was developed between 1922 and 1924 on part of the Sexton Hall estate, just north of the Newmarket road. It was 6,611 yards long, with Bogey of 74. The course architect was the respected Ted Ray, a former winner of the Open and US Open Championships at the end of the Great War. The new Bury St Edmunds golf course was the only 18 hole course in West Suffolk, and opened for play on 23rd October 1924. The clubhouse was situated on the Newmarket Road in Bury, and was ready for the opening ceremony to be performed from its verandah. The golf course was officially opened by Lady Evelyn Guinness, and the clubhouse was opened by Mrs Austen.

The clubhouse on Newmarket Road was cut off from the bulk of the golf course by the railway line, and so, after teeing off from the first green, players had to cross the railway by way of a level crossing. Because the development costs had exceeded estimates, the club began with a debt of £1,601 against the costs to date of £10,174. However the club's financial position would gradually improve into the 1930s.

As Bury developed after the 1960's the course would be moved further westwards on to new farmland, and the clubhouse relocated to Tut Hill. The clubhouse of 1924 would be demolished and its site used for the Nilfisk factory as part of the Western Way trading estate.

In St Andrews Street, Bury, the family house called St Andrews Castle, was turned into a Convent School by the Sisters of St Louis.

Not far away the Blyde Nurses Home was built next to the General Hospital.

The Central Cinema
blank In Hatter Street, Bury, the new Central Cinema was opened on November 3, 1924. It was a fine new theatre with 650 seats and luxurious fittings. After a bad fire in 1930 it was rebuilt and modernised. This cinema would become the the Abbeygate in 1959, the Studios One and Two in 1971, the Cannon, and then the Odeon and still survives in 2005.

George Gery Milner-Gibson-Cullum was the last member of his family to live at Hardwick House. He had died in 1921, and the family trusts and wills had taken some time to sort out. The residuary legatee was Mrs Reginald Gurney, who could inherit the contents of the house, but, because of limitations in the wills, could not inherit the house or estates. Mrs Gurney decided to hold a sale by auction of the contents of Hardwick House in June, 1924. The sale took four days and comprised 1,750 lots of furniture, china, statuary, the painted panelling originally from Hawstead, oil paintings, over 2,000 books, objets d'art and furnishings.

The estates of Hardwick and Hawstead reverted to the executors of George's step-grandmother, Lady Ann Cullum. She had died 45 years earlier, and the failure of the various limitations in her will meant that the property became subject to the Intestate Estates Act of 1884. This resulted in the appointment of trustees to sell the property on behalf of the Crown. In December 1924 the whole estates of Hardwick and Hawstead were put up for sale by the Crown Trustees. Before the auction took place, however, the 1,400 acre combined manors were sold to a Mr Towler.

Mr Towler lost no time in realising his new assets. He immediately offered the sitting tenants their holdings. Hawstead Place farm was bought by William Orbell under this arrangement. A large parcel of the remaining property was put together comprising the Hardwick House, grounds and park, Home farm, Stonebridge Farm, and Horsecroft farm, totalling 726 acres, together with the manor of Grange, and the manor of Hawstead. This auction, held late in December, 1924, attracted a top bid of only £19,000, and the lot was withdrawn. It was then sold privately to John W Greene, the Bury solicitor, probably acting for a client.

Also sold at this time were the separate lots of Hawstead Lodge, the Priory at Babwell at the foot of Tollgate Lane, the maltings on the Mildenhall Road in Fornham all Saints, several cottages and other land. However, large plots of land continued to change hands over the next two years.

Haverhill South railway station in Colne Valley Road was closed to passengers following the LNER take over. However, the goods service remained until 1961.

Times were certainly on the move. Greene King by now had only 10 horses left, down from around 60 in 1907. The 50 horses had been replaced over this period by a fleet of 18 lorries and vans, starting with two hired steam lorries in 1908.
The horses were only used for coal deliveries, and for beer within the town boundary. Both of these functions could have been undertaken by motor vehicle.


Prince Frederick
blank In 1924 the Ancient House in Thetford was opened to the public as a museum.
This had only been possible because of the generosity of Prince Frederick Duleep Singh, of Blo' Norton Hall. Prince Frederick was the son of the dispossessed Maharajah Duleep Singh, who had made a big impact on Victorian Society after he bought the Elveden Estate in 1863. The Prince was brought up in the opulent surroundings provided by his father at Elveden, where he mixed with the aristocracy and royalty. However, he preferred to live the life of a country gentleman, and loved the town of Thetford and its surrounds.

He had lived at Breckles Hall and Old Buckenham Hall, but in 1906 he had the chance to buy Blo' Norton Hall, where he lived for the rest of his life.

He bought the Ancient House in Thetford in 1921, and gave it to the Borough of Thetford to turn into a Museum. He also contributed his energy, and gave many exhibits to the Museum. Prince Frederick died at Blo' Norton in 1926.


Abbeygate Street 1920s
1925 By the 1920s motor traffic was becoming a problem. Despite the fact they were far fewer vehicles than there are today, the old roads and streets were ill equipped to take machines capable of much faster speeds than man or the horse and cart. Abbeygate Street is shown here with two way traffic.

In the countryside the roads were unsurfaced, and made of flints and other ballast, very unsuited to the motor vehicle. Farms still relied upon teams of horses for ploughing and for cartage. Over the next seven or eight years many of the main roads would gradually become surfaced with tarmac. Those roads left unsurfaced would become more and more unsuited to heavy traffic.


Playhouse Cinema
blank The site to the south of the Half Moon pub in the Butter Market at Bury had been a bombsite since 1915. In 1925, the Half Moon itself, together with adjacent sites, was used to provide the Playhouse Cinema and Theatre. It opened in 1925 with seats for 700 people. The old Half Moon Taproom behind the frontage seems to have been incorporated into the development to become the Playhouse Bar. The Playhouse would close in 1959, but the Playhouse Bar would still remain open.

With three cinemas now attracting all the audiences, the Theatre Royal in Bury finally closed its doors. It had been ailing for years. Greene King Brewery bought it in 1920, and paid off its losses. Edward Lake tried to keep live theatre going as long as he could, but the times were against him. It would now become used as storage for barrels by the nearby brewery. In the 1930s it would narrowly avoid demolition to provide a proper wine and spirit store, but in 1961 the Brewery board would hand it to the Theatre Royal Trust.


The Unicorn 2006
blank Another closure around this time was the Unicorn inn in Eastgate Street. This inn had been quite large. During the Great War it had provided billets for 19 soldiers and stabling for 21 army horses. Only the name Unicorn Close, and Unicorn House survive in its memory today.

In 1924 Bailey and Tebbutt's Panton Brewery in Cambridge came up for sale. Despite closing their Haverhill operation in 1923, this was an opportunity for Greene King to get a foothold in Cambridge. Sales had picked up since 1923, and in February 1925, Greene King, bought this brewery with 48 public houses, for £152,000. This added a third to Greene King's capacity and turnover, most of it in the city, which avoided the worst of the agricultural depression plaguing the countryside economy.

Marlow's Timber Merchants took over large three storey mock Tudor premises in Churchgate Street where they traded until 1975.

The Suffolk Aero-Club was formed.

The Tithe Act of 1925 increased the cost of the tithe rent charges on farm land to £109.10s a year for the next 85 years. Of this sum, £4.10s a year represented a capital sum to redeem the ecclesiastical tithe and thus extinguish them by 2009. This represented a collection of about £2.165 million each year to be paid out to about 6,000 beneficed clergy.
Tithes to the one third of tithe owners who were lay owners were set at £105 a year without the redemption charge.
Tithe Rent charges were now due half yearly on April 1st and October 1st, and responsibility for its collection, both lay and clerical, was passed entirely to the Commissioners of Queen Ann's Bounty. The local vicar no longer had to collect his own tithe from his parish. Once arrears exceeded 3 months, proceedings could take place in the County Court. In practice this could mean that the capital value of the tithe payment could easily be worth three times the market value of the land. Smallholders could not afford to redeem the tithe or sell their land as it now had an effective negative value.

In May, 1925, a Mr w Mitcham of Littleport put up for sale the property of the Hardwick Estate which his solicitor, John Greene, had apparently bought on his behalf the previous year. Lots included Hardwick House and grounds of 140 acres, Home farm, Stonebridge farm and Horsecroft Farm. Hardwick House was bought by Alderman George Gooday of Sudbury, a retired builder, but by 1926 it would be sold again.

The Beet Sugar Subsidy Act of 1925 did a lot to stimulate the growing of sugar beet in Suffolk, but only the lighter soils were really suitable for such a root crop. Bury had a new Sugar Beet factory and by 1925 some 5,000 acres were cropped in the area, for processing at Bury.
Managers for the factory were recruited from the largest Sugar factory in Europe, at Surany, once part of Hungary, but now in the state of Slovakia. At Surany the Director's son was the Head Engineer. He was Dr Robert Jorisch, who was appointed Director of the Bury factory. Another manager at Surany was Martin Neumann, an agricultural adviser, and he was also given a job at Bury. Both men moved to Bury St Edmunds with their families in 1926 and 1927.
Dr Jorisch would come to marry Norah Lofts the historical novelist, and they would live in Northgate House in Northgate Street, Bury. The Neumanns lived first on Southgate Green, then Northgate Street and Hollow Road. One of Martin Neumann's grandsons became well known as Stephen Fry, the actor.

By now the telephone system was reaching some rural areas. Chevington got a Telephone Exchange at the Post Office for the seven homes connected to the phone.

In 1925 Lord Francis Hervey published at his own expense a complete text of the Pinchbeck Register. In 1932 Professor D C Douglas commented upon it that it was "not always accurate; it lacks any explanatory matter and even an index". However, as this was one of the most important registers of the monastic abbey of Bury St Edmunds, it is a valuable source.


Ritual Roman 'crowns'
blank The Antiquaries Journal for 1925 contained an article by Miss Nina Layard concerning Cavenham. She reported the discovery of what is now called "The Cavenham Crowns" on Cavenham Heath. These had been thought to have been worn by priests officiating in some sort of temple. Their location is not specific, described as being "on a slight elevation overlooking the marshes on the right bank of the river Lark. It lies midway between the Icknield Way, and the so-called Black Ditches. Opposite and across the valley, at the village of Icklingham, considerable Roman remains have come to light." It was later thought that they were found by J Harding of Lackford either on the site of the Lackford Anglo-Saxon Cremation cemetery, or close by it on Mill Heath in the parish of Lackford. Two small damaged Romano-British burial vaults were later found here by T C Lethbridge in his 1947 excavations.

A Wintle Barrel Piano
1926 By 1926 farmland under cultivation had fallen from the 12 million acres of 1918 to some 9 million acres. Farms were impoverished, equipment rusted, buildings, hedges and ditches dilapidated. This had all happened since the corn price guarantees were ended in 1921.

At Lawshall, Canon Wintle, the Rector, decided to put his hobby into service to provide some work for unemployed men. He set up the Lawshall Piano Organ works to refurbish old barrel organs and barrel pianos. Not only were men employed in the rebuilding and painting of these street pianos, Canon Wintle also sent them out to tour the towns and villages. They would collect funds for the work, attracting their crowds by playing the barrel pianos. Canon A O Wintle died in 1959.

The UK experienced a General Strike from May 3rd in support of a miners strike against cuts in their pay. In Bury the Post Office cut down to one delivery a day. The railway stopped running. The Organisation for the Maintenance of Supplies met in the Guildhall. A large orderly meeting was organised by striking railwaymen on 11th May on the Cornhill. However, on May 12th the General Strike was called off, leaving the miners to fight on alone.

Nobody employed at Greene King joined the strike. It was the employer of choice for most of Bury's working class. Fathers on the firm vied to get their sons a position, and it was a family firm of workers as well as of managers. Since the days of Greene's Brewery, the company had tried to provide good housing for its staff. From 1918 to 1920 Greene King bought up 30 cottages for the workforce. During the 1920's the firm built another two dozen houses for their workers to rent.


Hardwick House
blank The 725 acre estate of Hardwick had been put up for sale in 1921 by the crown. The last surviving male heir of the Cullums had died in 1921, and there was no male able to inherit the estate under old family wills. It failed to find a buyer in its entirety, and had been sold off piecemeal over the years since 1921. The last owner of the house, Alderman Gooday of Sudbury, now tried to capitalise on Hardwick House, which he had owned for just a few months. In November, 1926, he held a three day sale of the fixtures and fittings still in the house. There were 750 lots including 11,000 square feet of oak and pine boarding, an oak staircase, 49 carved mantlepieces of marble and wood, 67 stone vases and figures, six wrought iron gates, 11 greenhouses, and a turret clock by W Nelson last, a Bury clockmaker.

After the sale of fixtures, the fabric of Hardwick House was sold for demolition. All it was thought fit for was to salvage its building materials, such was the depressed state of the economy. The site was to be cleared by August 1927.


Hercules in 1926
blank One of the objects remaining in Hardwick Park was this statue of Hercules. It had originally been made for the visit of Queen Elizabeth I to Hawstead Hall in 1578. Presumably much restored, it stood at the end of an avenue of lime trees at Hardwick until 1926. It had moved to Hardwick from Hawstead along with the Cullums. Today it stands at Hawstead Place Farm.

A Mr A W Hewitt had acquired part of the garden, and now acquired some of the demolition material to build a new Elizabethan styled house called Hardwick Manor House. Seventeen plots of individual building land along Hardwick Lane were also sold at this time. Today, part of the old grounds support the West Suffolk Hospital, and part is public open space, and is known as Hardwick Heath. Home Farm house and Dairy Cottage still stand in Home Farm lane, and the main lodge can still be seen at the entrance to Hardwick Heath car park.


The shortlived Flax Factory
blank Even the very new Flax factory at Almoners Barn Farm, built in 1919, was closed down by this time. The farm had grown the flax and the factory had processed it into fabric, originally intended to cover the wings of aircraft. Some of the abandoned processing tanks became used as swimming pools by local children.

There was a new OS map produced for the town on the very detailed 1:2500 scale. By this time the roads called Norfolk Road, Northgate Avenue, and Avenue Approach were completely aligned with today's layout, having passed through a long phase of uncertain developments. Northgate Avenue had previously been called Norfolk Road for at least the final quarter of the 19th century.

In St Johns Street in Bury, the Marquis of Cornwallis pub was closed down. It later became Rogers Toy Shop at number 77, but is now two separate commercial units. This inn had been a carriers' house, with a yard and stables in the last century. Remnants of the yard had survived as a shortcut through to Short Brackland, but would become built over later.


Mustow Street and the Star Inn
blank In Bury, Mustow Street was widened and a row of old houses was demolished in the process. Another casualty was the Star Inn, some 200 years old. It had been closed in 1923, and its extensive stabling, built to cope as a carrier's house, as well as the timber framed inn, were demolished soon after. This gave room for two way traffic, as well as a pavement along the Abbey wall. There was a campaign to save these old properties, but the road needed to be widened if modern traffic could continue to enter the town freely from this direction.

The Empire Cinema on Market Thoroughfare and St Andrews Street burnt down, but by now the Playhouse Cinema had opened in the Buttermarket, and the Central had opened in Hatter Street in 1924.


1 Suffolks at Stowmarket
1927 The First Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment had returned to England in 1926. The following year it marched throughout Suffolk on a recruiting campaign. They marched from Colchester barracks to Ipswich. Parades were held in Ipswich, Stowmarket, Bury and Sudbury, over the period of 16th to 23rd August. Here the Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk is shown presenting a set of flutes and two colour belts to the battalion at the parade in Stowmarket. The battalion had returned from overseas in 1926, the first time for 19 years that the it had set foot in England. They returned to barracks at Colchester following the parade at Sudbury.

Mayor Eva Greene
blank Councillor Mrs Eva Paulina Greene was elected to be the first woman Mayor of the Borough of Bury St Edmunds. At this time the office of Mayor ran for one year beginning on 9th or 10th November. This had been the practice since 1836, under the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835. She had been an elected Councillor since 1921. Born Eva Boughey, she had married John Wollaston Greene in 1912, and they lived at 10 Northgate Street, now the frontage of the Farmers Club. Eva was an active councillor who served on many committees, becoming Mayor after only six years as a councillor. Her portrait shown here was painted by Rose Mead. Eva Greene would be elected Mayor once again in 1931, and would live to the ripe age of 95, being buried at Thurston in 1973.

Council housing was not a very large enterprise before this date. The Haverhill UDC owned just 10 properties, built in Wratting Road, but new housing was now planned.
Bury had built some at Grove Park, but in 1927, started work on the Perry Barn Estate. The Priors Inn was built in 1933, and the area became called the Priors Estate.


Machine shop at Boby's 1927
blank This picture of Boby's Machine Shop in 1927 was published in the Leader free newspaper on 11th August, 1987. It was supplied by Mr F Addison, a former employee at Boby's. The picture includes the following men: George Parker, Freddie Taylor, Jimmy Cornell, Tommy Reach and Jack Wilkin.

A note in the Record Office states that Robert Boby Limited became "associated" with Vickers in 1918, although the meaning of this term is unclear. Finally in 1927 the old engineering firm of Robert Boby, established in the St Andrews Street works in 1856, was taken over by Vickers Limited. Boby's was a major employer in Bury St Edmunds, but was a tiny player as part of the Vickers Group, which employed tens of thousands of people compared to just a few hundred at Boby's.

By 1927 about 36% of farms were owned by the people who lived and worked on them. These owner occupiers had been encouraged by government pronouncements to buy up these small farms, but most were severely in debt, with no prospect of getting prices at which they could make a living.


Barton Mills Crossroads 1927
blank This postcard was posted in 1927 and shows the crossroads at Barton Mills known as Fiveways. Today this junction is a large roundabout on the A11, with a motor garage and a hotel and restaurant situated upon it. In 1927 it was more likely to see a cyclist than a motor vehicle.

A and E Hunter were wine and spirit merchants in Bury. In 1927 the firm was bought by Greene King, along with the Ixworth Cider Factory, for £5,000. The Cider Factory was not very successful, except during the Second World War, but survived until 1956.

In December 1927 Greene King became a public company. It was already incorporated, but it was privately owned. Following the deaths of the founders, when its shares had been divided over sons and daughters, and some takeovers, where shares were allocated to new owners, the number of shareholders was now almost 50. Under the Companies Act of 1908, any company with 50 or more shareholders had to become Public.
Edward Greene had argued for some time that it would be a cheaper way of financing expansion if a public offering of shares were made instead of borrowing the money. Some 53,250 extra shares were offered to the general public, of nominally £1 each, but they raised about £1.90 each. Many small Suffolk investors bought parcels of between 50 and 500 shares. The money raised was used to pay off bank loans.


Commemorating the Yeomanry
1928 In June the Duke of Gloucester, Prince Henry, visited St Mary's Church in Bury to unveil the memorial to the men of the Suffolk Hussars and the Suffolk Yeomanry who lost their lives in the First World War. After the ceremony the first rally of the Suffolk British Legion was held on the Angel Hill, and over a thousand ex-servicemen were on parade.

At last women over 21 were given the same voting rights as men. Since 1918 only women over 30 could vote.

Cycling was a popular hobby as well as a means of transportation. Motor Cycles were more expensive, but gave a racier experience to younger men. In 1928 the Motorcycle shop of C J Bowers opened in Risbygate Street in Bury. The family continues to run the business in 2005, but moved across Risbygate Street to bigger premises in 1998. It is one of the largest motorcycle businesses in East Anglia.

The Lark navigation had by now become completely disused above Mildenhall. The river was now navigable only up to West Row, according to Bradshaw's Guide to Waterways of 1928. The fishing was also drastically reduced by low water levels and silting up.


Burrell's Last Day
blank The internal combustion engine had now beaten steam traction on our roads. On 4th June, 1928, the well known traction engine maker, Charles Burrell of Thetford, shut down its St Nicholas Works for the last time. It had been a long decline, as the government tried to reduce the wear and tear on the road system caused by the heavy steam engines. Burrell's had joined Agricultural and General Engineers Combine in an attempt to rationalise production, but when this company failed, its members went with it. The rights to produce Burrell designs was now sold to Garretts. Some senior staff now transferred to Garretts of Leiston, but massive tax increases following the Salter Report of 1932 would soon cause the end of Traction Engine building across the country. Other firms, like Fodens of Sandbach and Fowlers of Leeds, switched over to building diesel engines, but Thetford did not have the necessary supporting industries around it to allow this.

The closure of Burrell's works caused unemployment for a quarter of the male population of Thetford.


St Johns Street August 1928
blank This view of St Johns Street, Bury St Edmunds, was one of a number of views commissioned by postcard makers Millar and Lang's, of Glasgow, from local photographers for turning into postcards. They would buy all the rights to the picture, including the negative. Millar and Lang's survived until the 1970s. Note the large newsagents and stationers shop of F and K Cornish at the top of the street. On the opposite side of the street is the side wall of the Kings Head public house, and a narrow pavement, now replaced by Mothercare. The Kings Head yard was used for many years by market traders to store their stalls between market days. Note also the evidence of horse drawn traffic as well as motor traffic.

For some reason the resulting postcards never contained the publisher's name, but only a number, 2802, contained within the box reserved for the postage stamp. It is only since the sale of Millar and Lang's photographic collection that they have been shown to have published the series of eleven unattributed cards that are known to collectors. All the sold photographs are dated with a rubber stamp and the inscription, "This view is 523 copyright. Rights for - full and negative. Date August 1928."


Published 1963 by J & E Brooke
blank On 11th October, (Michaelmas Day) 1928 Justin Brooke and his wife Edith bought Clopton Hall and its 150 acre farm in the parish of Wickhambrook. The land cost £5 per acre, and the farm was largely uncultivated because the agricultural slump had broken the farmer. They bought another farm of 172 acres adjacent to the first for a similar cost per acre. In 1963 the couple published a book, called "Suffolk Prospect", which vividly described the rural conditions of pre-war agricultural Suffolk. (Unfortunately Justin Brooke died on the eve of publication.) Their plan was to abandon the mixed farming typical of this boulder clay area, and to concentrate upon growing fruit.

Extracts from the book speak for themselves:
"When we came here and saw the cruel poverty of the district, we thought it our duty......to create as quickly as possible as much employment as we could."
Farm wages "were 30 shillings a week, which covered rent of 3 shillings a week and food and clothing. But there was much unemployment, and no unemployment pay. Many wore clothes that were little better than rags. We had never seen English country folk in such dire distress.....no fewer than 20 unemployed men came to ask for a job."

"Arable farming was bankrupt and the countryside had a bankrupt and ragged appearance. The fields were small and surrounded by tall overgrown hedges. Little could be seen of the landscape from the road."


Village carrier at the Wickhambrook Greyhound
blank "The only means of communication with the outside world was the carrier's cart, an open waggonette, drawn by an aged horse. This went to Bury on Wednesdays and Saturdays, taking anything up to three hours to perform the 10 mile journey, because parcels had to be picked up and delivered on the way."

Old customs survived. Female cottage tenants would curtsy when the Brookes passed by. "Every farm worker touched his cap as we passed in our car." Bustler Cook routinely touched his cap to any passing car, and when Brooke enquired who the people were, Cook replied, "I don't know. I always make my obeisances."
"It had been the custom to to touch one's cap to all private carriages and this custom was carried on with motor cars."

"There were many more men than women; this was due to the fact that a number of the girls were away in domestic service."

"Several of the older inhabitants were illiterate......More serious from a cultural point of view was this fact: those who could read found difficulty in doing so; they read almost nothing but the local weekly newspaper. (ie The Bury Free press). There were practically no books available apart from volumes of tedious sermons, found in most cottages as an item of furnishing and never read."

"Many of the inhabitants had never travelled by train; quite a number had never seen a train. An enterprising publican used to take parties, in his old Ford, to go to Newmarket to see the trains."

"Because of the extreme poverty of the district, only the cheapest goods were sold in the local shop." Brooke tells of one of his younger managers who wanted a pair of riding breeches, for which he expected to pay 5 guineas. He was offered ready made for 9/6 and made to measure for 11/6. "All one could truthfully say was that they covered the lower limbs adequately." A harvest shirt cost 1/3, and it was the custom to wear it night and day through the harvest period, and then to burn it. A mackintosh made in Japan cost 1/6.
"It was these low prices which enabled the farm-worker to carry on at 30 shillings a week if he was in work."

"Such then was Wickhambrook in 1928 - a closed community."


High Lodge Training Camp
blank Since 1922 the Forestry Commission had been buying up estates in the Breckland area to convert the land to forestry production. In the Breckland of the 1920s the Commission had few problems recruiting staff. Unemployment rates were high and so men were keen to take up forestry work, especially as the job included a tied cottage, sometimes with an attached small holding. The Forestry Commission also wanted to help the unemployed from outside the area. By the late 1920s, unemployed people, mainly miners, from the depressed areas of the North of England were housed in the forest holdings. As the depression deepened training camps were established. Wikipedia reports that "from 1928 up to 1938, 21 camps and a further 10 only used in the summer months housing a total of 6000 men were scattered throughout the infant Thetford forest." One such camp was at High Lodge, and is shown in this postcard from the period. (The unemployment schemes and mass unemployment lasted until the onset of World War II, and these sites were then used by the military, and later often to hold POWs and as post war resettlement camps.)

In Bury St Edmunds the construction of council houses on the Priors Estate had just begun. Between 1928 and 1935 this estate would grow to 281 homes, and the Priors Inn would be built to serve it in 1933. Priors Footpath and Priors Lane were old lanes just west of West Road from which the estate was named. However, it was also to be referred to as "Hill 60" during the chaotic building phase.

In September 1928, Alexander Fleming first discovered the anti-biotic effect of a certain type of penicillium mould. In Barton Mills, if you follow the road round to the left along The Street, passing the church of St Mary, the Bell public house and village post office, you will come to a plaque on the left side of the road at the entrance to 'The Dhoon' inscribed 'This house was the country home of Sir Alexander Fleming FRS the discoverer of penicillin from 1921 to 1955'. This has led to a story that Fleming discovered penicillin in his garden shed at Barton Mills. However the link between the drug and Barton Mills is rather more tenuous than that.

On a September morning in 1928, Alexander Fleming sat at his work bench at St. Mary's Hospital in London, after having just returned from a holiday at The Dhoon with his family. Before he had left on leave, Fleming had piled a number of his Petri dishes to the side of the bench so that an assistant could use his work bench while he was away. While he had been away, a mould had grown on the dishes. On one dish a particular mould seemed to have killed the Staphylococcus that had been growing in the dish. Fleming realized that this mould had potential, and went on to research and publicise it. However, it would be over ten years before other researchers could turn it into a usable drug.


Sleigh Bros new Sentinel DG6
1929 Sleigh Brothers were a haulage firm specialising in delivering goods from Suffolk into London, and bringing loads back again. This Sentinel DG6 waggon dates from between 1927 and 1934, but little else is known about Sleigh Brothers of Bury St Edmunds. Sentinel had designed a vertical coal burning boiler of compact design, which could operate up hills, but which still required to carry coal for fuel, as well as feedwater and the payload.

The Sentinel Waggon Works Ltd was formed when steam wagon production was switched from Glasgow to a new factory which opened at Shrewsbury in 1915. Sentinel, along with Foden, dominated the steam market, until the 1930s saw the demise of both companies' ranges as new legislation forced the development of lighter lorries, Sentinel surviving the longest. However, in 1927 the company still saw a future for steam driven road waggons, and Sentinel introduced its six wheeled DG6 model, followed by an eight wheeler DG8 in 1929. The DG6 was produced until 1935 when the legislation outlawed such heavy vehicles. Sentinel then had success with its smaller S class steam waggons and over 3,750 Sentinel Standards would be produced, many for export. However, the writing was on the wall for steam driven road transport, and lorries powered by diesel engines would come to dominate in the 1940s.


Brooke's Trojan milkfloats
blank One of Justin Brooke's early agricultural ventures at Clopton Hall in Wickhambrook was to set up a dairy and milk distribution service as farmers in the area had no local outlet for their milk. To help with deliveries he bought a fleet of Trojan vans. This allowed his men to deliver to customers as far away as Cambridge. Trojan specialised in making small delivery vans that could be configured to suit the particular trade. Their 5 cwt van was cheap and economical to run, could do 40 mpg and had been tested over rough roads and tracks. (They also later produced electrically driven vans which were suitable for early morning deliveries, being silent in operation and able to cope with a stop-start existence.)

The milk delivery service generated large amounts of cash, and the only banking facility in the area was a local agency in a private house which opened for two hours every Friday morning. When Brooke began bringing in his milk money the agent at the Bank House quickly came to rely upon this deposit as his only source of cash, which was then used to pay out the wage bills of all the other local businesses. Brooke recorded that this system worked well provided he paid in at ten o'clock sharp when the 'bank' opened, and before the other farmers arrived to collect their wages money!

The General Election of 1929 was the first election in which all men and all women over the age of 21 could vote on an equal footing. Since 1918 women had been required to be over 30 in order to vote. At Bury St Edmunds the electorate increased by 6,500 new women who could now vote.

In Bury for the first time a Labour candidate was fielded, but W E Guinness retained his seat for the Conservative Party. The Liberal came second and the Labour candidate got only 8% of the votes cast. As the Labour candidate was a printer from Essex, while the Liberal was a Suffolk farmer who had played cricket for Somerset, and Guinness had a home in the town, there may have been personal factors at work rather than political. Nationally, however, the Labour Party defeated the Conservative Party in the General Election, and Winston Churchill lost his job as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The Local Government Act of 1929 finally abolished the poor law unions. The workhouses and poor relief duties were handed to the County Councils. The Thingoe Union Workhouse in Hospital Road became called the Public Assistance Institution. The previously elected Guardians of the Poor were abolished and their duties handed to a Public Assistance Committee of the County Council. Members of this committee were sometimes still referred to as Guardians. Means tested relief was given to the elderly, the sick, disabled and children, but not to able-bodied unemployed. However, the amount of relief to be granted varied widely from area to area, as this was at the discretion of the committee.

County Councils were also made responsible for all roads in rural areas. County Councils expanded in response to these extra responsibilities and their budgets grew in proportion.

Some urban districts had a population of just a few hundred and did not now have the resources to deliver modern local government services. Similarly, there were a number of rural districts created in 1894 that had small and irregular areas. So District Council boundaries were also to be reviewed under the 1929 Act. Section 46 of the Act provided for this review to form more effective areas for administrative purposes. The process involved the putting forward of a scheme by the county council to which objections or representations could be made before an order was made by the Minister of Health. All county councils were required to finalise schemes by 1 April 1932. In West Suffolk this process would result in the abolition of Glemsford UDC and Brandon RDC by 1935.

A momentous change came to Bury cinema when The Playhouse converted to talking pictures. Because the old silent movies were still popular, with their musical accompaniments, the Central carried on as it was for another year. Then, it too converted to sound.

By 1929 Woolworths had opened their bazaar on the Cornhill. They replaced the shop of Charles Best, the drapers.


Angel Hill fire
blank On 5th September, 1929, one of the worst fires in Bury's modern history occurred on the Angel Hill, on the site later to be used for the Borough Offices. Flames engulfed a large private house in Queen Anne style and an electrical shop and showroom, possibly started by a malfunction in the charging up of car batteries, also used to power household radio receivers. The Pearl Assurance Office and some lock up garages were destroyed, along with an old wall containing abbey stone. Luckily the fire did not spread to the Queen Ann house adjacent, now known as Angel Corner. Ironically a previous fire, in 1912, had occurred just the other side of Angel Corner, and the gap in building line was still there. The brewery fire brigade attended to help quell the blaze, but nevertheless, a young child could not be saved, and died in the blaze.

The Lark navigation had by now become disused.

It was one of the few good years for corn farmers as wheat was making 46s a quarter on the Corn Exchanges, which was a profitable level for farmers to sell at.

The Suffolk Naturalists Society was founded by Claude Morley in 1929. Apart from Babbington's 'Birds of Suffolk' in volume V of its Proceedings, the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and Natural History had published very little on natural history. The new society allowed its members the chance to focus upon this topic. However, it was not until April 1954 that the Archaeologists dropped "and Natural History" from their name.


Lord F Hervey on St Eadmund
blank Lord Francis Hervey continued to publish his books on the early history of Bury St Edmunds. In 1902 he had published Robert Reyce's Breviary of Suffolk of 1618. In 1907 he had edited the "Corolla Sancti Eadmundi, The Garland of Saint Edmund King and Martyr". In 1929 he published, "The History of King Eadmund the Martyr", based around a manuscript known as MS 197 of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He liked to publish his books with a distinctive clover pattern binding round the spine.

MS. 197 contains the Rule of St. Benedict, in Latin and Old English, from the later 10th century, with additions relating to Bury St. Edmunds. These jottings are added to the end of the Rule on the last few pages. Folio 105 contains entries relating to the years 1020 and 1032 (MXX and MXXXII), and are written in latin. Folio 106v and 107 describe the food rents payable to the abbey by various manors, written in Old English. There is also an inventory of books, vestments and church plate which Abbot Leofstan was to take over. presumably from Abbot Uvius in 1044. In addition are listed some further foodrents and payments due from various manors, possibly relating to dates after 1020, for it then goes on, in folio 108 to list grants made by the Abbot Baldwin to the brethren in the abbey. These last matters are in Old English, but a latin translation is also appended. These notes are transcribed by Hervey in the first ten pages of his book. The remaining 50 pages contain Hervey's own history of St Edmund's life and death, followed by a history of the abbey of St Edmund up to 1097.

Lord Francis Hervey was the fourth and youngest son of Frederick Hervey, 2nd Marquess of Bristol and his wife Lady Katherine Isabella Manners. He was educated at Eton College and Balliol College, Oxford, where he graduated in 1869. Hervey was called to the bar by Lincoln's Inn in 1872 and was nominated an Honorary Fellow of Hertford College, Oxford in 1874. At the 1874 general election Hervey was elected Member of Parliament for Bury St Edmunds with Edward Greene and held the seat until 1880. He was elected for the constituency again in 1885 and sat as its sole MP until 1892. He died on 10 January 1931 at age 84.

In St Johns Street the Hunted Stag was shut up for good. This beerhouse stood opposite St Johns Church, and some of its ornamented walls and wooden carving can still be seen on number 33. In 2005 it was completely refurbished as a private home after long years of decay. The Stag had once traded as the Lamb and Flag up to 1875, but recently it was known by locals as Denny's.


Greene King lorries 1929
blank A promotional film, made in 1929 for Suffolk brewer, Greene King, offered a ‘behind-the-scenes’ tour of the firm’s brewery in Bury St. Edmunds. Various aspects of production were caught on camera, including the filling and storing of barrels and the workings of the automated bottling plant. Bottles were packed into crates by hand and loaded onto Greene King lorries.

Greene King had been proud of looking after their workforce. In the 1920's, they provided a company swimming pool as well as hosting staff cricket matches in the local ‘Victory’ Memorial Sports Ground. At the time that this film was made, the company employed women to work in their soft drinks production plant. A Greene King pension scheme was established for employees early on in the business’s history. All these aspects of the firm were contained in the film of 4 minutes 32 seconds, available to view here:

East Anglian Film Archive Catalogue 719


Whitmore's supply 41ft oak beam to Windsor
blank By 1929 Whitmore's Timber business at Bury St Edmunds had a national reputation. This was further enhanced by being commissioned to supply wood for Windsor Castle. This picture shows a 41ft Oak beam supplied for St. George's Chapel, Windsor. Note the traction engines in steam in the background.
William Mallinson & Son acquired all the shares of Whitmores Timber Ltd. in the same year, but the yard continued at the same site in Bury St Edmunds, at Out Northgate, alongside the railway line.

This was the year of the Wall Street Crash, which took place on October 24th 1929. This event followed several years of what is called a "Bull Market", when share prices seem to rise constantly and inevitably. At the end of 1927 Wall Street stocks stood at an index level of 200 points on the Dow Jones index. It reached 300 points at the end of 1928. That is to say that share prices increased by 50% in a year. Greed had bid up prices but then fear of a fall took over, and on Black Thursday, October 24th 1929, prices fell. Only days later on Black Tuesday, the 29th October, the Dow Jones Industrial Index fell another 13% in one day. Stock markets would continue to fall until 1932.
What started in the USA soon spread to the rest of the world because of the great impact of the American economy on world trade. The saying "when America sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold", arose as American economic power increased to a global scale.


Town Guide c1930
1930 This town guide with its plain cover appears to date from about 1930. It contained 76 pages and was published by Commercial Publications Ltd of 32 Furnival Street, London, EC4 on behalf of the Town Council and the Chamber of Commerce.

All the photographs in this publication were credited to "Cousins", who was G S Cousins, a photographer with his shop in Hatter Street, Bury St Edmunds. One notable photograh included is of the now lost cork model of the Abbey Precincts in their heyday, made by John H Stebbing. This model included the Abbey Gateways and walls, with both parish churches and included the ditch along the front, complete with two bridges over it.

The population figure for the town from the last census was quoted as 15,941, and probably refers to the 1921 census. An advertisement for the brewer Greene King refers to the Champion Cup and many medals won for their beer at the 1929 Brewer's Exhibition.


Garrett's Steam Lorry
blank With the failure of Burrell's and other traction engine makers, Garrett's of Leiston in East Suffolk developed their Suffolk Punch steam lorry. It was their second design to use this name, the first being a light manouverable tractor in 1919, which failed to catch on even though it was a fine design. The lorry was deliberately designed to look like a petrol driven machine, but had four wheel drive.

Burrell's Simplicity
blank Garrett's also built the last showman's engine ever to carry the Burrell's name, supervised by the managers who had transferred to Leiston from Thetford. This was called "Simplicity", and was the height of Burrell's achievements in this field.

Other industries in deep trouble were the old Stour valley matting manufacturers. Roper's famous horsehair mats and their coconut matting factories at Lavenham and Melford had supported the South Suffolk economy throughout the last quarter of the 19th century and up to the Great War. By 1930 Ropers had failed and shut down all production. Similarly the factories of Oddy's and Laycock's horsehair products had closed. Massive unemployment hit Lavenham and by 1931 its population would be recorded as down to 1,400 souls. Lavenham had lived by weaving for 600 years, firstly using wool, then silk, then horsehair and coconut fibre, but all weaving had now ceased at Lavenham.

Farming was already in a depressed state. A wheat price of around 46 shillings a quarter was barely profitable. Things turned really bad for farmers as wheat prices fell by half from their 1929 levels, from 46 shillings a quarter to only 22 shillings a quarter. Justin Brooke wrote that, "It is a fair deduction that from Queen Elizabeth I's reign to the reign of King George V, Suffolk farming had never had it so bad as in 1930-32." For a time the price of the best wheat at Bury St Edmunds cornmarket fell to only 18 shillings a quarter in this dire period.

Ipswich Airfield opened for flying, and at Mildenhall, the preliminary work began on a new RAF bomber station in October. RAF Mildenhall would open for flying in 1934.

On 1st April the Guildhall Feoffment Schools were finally taken over by the local education authority.

Bury Borough Council opened a public library for the town, apparently using books hired from the County library. It was located in the Old School of Art building in the Traverse. It joined the Cullum Bequest of books which had been there since 1921.


Suffolk and Norfolk
blank M R James published the book "Suffolk and Norfolk". Although born in 1862 in Kent, he had moved to Livermere with his parents in 1865, and regarded the area as his home. He had a brilliant academic career at Kings College Cambridge, becoming a Fellow, Lecturer in Divinity even Provost. In later life he became Provost of Eton College, and this guide book was written there. In the Preface he wrote that it arose from his notes over 50 years, and that "I have many early associations which endear these two great counties to me." This book was reprinted in 1933, 1939, 1950 and 1987.

He was known to a wider public for his ghost stories, and these were re-published as "The Collected Ghost Stories of M R James" in 1931. Monty James, as he was fondly known, would die in 1936.


Modern Suffolk 1930
blank In the same year came a slim volume entitled "Suffolk", by Lilian Redstone. This was one of a series of books to be called the Borzoi County Histories. Unlike M R James' book, this one suffered scant recognition. Although it was an historical sketch, as described in the introduction, it contained many illustrations which were not widely known. This map of "modern Suffolk", comes from this book, and shows the extensive railway network, which was the usual form of travel at the time. Miss Redstone, of Woodbridge, would become the first archivist of the muniments at Bury St Edmunds after 1937.

History of Clare
Gladys Thornton
blank The year 1930 was a prolific one for the production of books on local history. Gladys Thornton had obtained her PH.D. with a study of the History of Clare, in Suffolk, and in 1930 it was published, with some modifications, by W Heffer and Sons of Cambridge. There had not been a full history of Clare available before this book was published. Her study of Clare was divided into three sections. First was the development of Clare as a medieval borough arising out of its seigneurial status as headquarters of the Honour of Clare. Secondly came the development of Clare as a wool manufacturing town, part of the great Suffolk cloth producing area. Finally she examined the role of the New Draperies, which in Clare replaced the old woollen cloths.

Spanton's "Bury St Edmund's"
blank William Silas Spanton was, at the time of his father's death in 1870, training as an artist in London. He returned to Bury to run the 'Repository of Arts and West Suffolk Photographic Establishment' at 16 Abbeygate Street, which he did successfully for some 30 years until his retirement in 1901. His interest in painting continued, and he had some reputation locally as a copier of paintings, and portraitist of local worthies. He widened the scope of the business, and also built up a considerable trade as an optician.

After retirement he wrote an autobiographical account of his youth, "An Art Student and his Teachers in the Sixties, with other Rigmaroles". He also wrote a book entitled " Old Masters and how to copy them."

W.S. Spanton was at the centre of many local controversies. He took a leading part in the opposition to the Corporation's proposal in the 1890s to convert Moyses Hall into a fire station, and was Honorary Secretary of the Committee formed to repair the Hall for its opening as a museum. His interest in local history led him to produce the 88 page book illustrated here, entitled "Bury St Edmund's Its History and Antiquities". Born in 1845, Spanton spiced up his local history with his own memories of the second half of the 19th century, and included his own views and comments on the buildings he described.

His local history was published around the time of his death in 1930, when he was about 85 years old.

Despite the depression, Greene King purchased Ogden's March Brewery with its 28 freehold and 6 leasehold pubs. The Brewery was shut down, allowing Greene King to take over supplies to the licensed premises around March.

Until 1930 unattended women were not allowed into pubs or restaurants at night. In 1930 the Licensing Laws were changed to put this right.


Bury Guide Book c.1931
1931 This guide book to Bury St Edmunds was published by the Town Council and the Chamber of Commerce, and printed by Commercial Publications of Theobald Road in London WC1. It is unclear exactly which year this guide was issued, but it must have been around 1930 or 1931.

It contained the usual type of historical introduction, with a gazeteer of interesting buildings, and included facts and figures about the town at the time.

The corporation had The Mayor, six aldermen and 18 councillors.

It boasted of the only 18 hole golf course in West Suffolk, 6000 yards long and Bogey was 74. Flempton and Worlington both had 9 hole courses at the time.

The corporation swimming bath was on the Playfield.

The Suffolk Hunt rode out on Tuesdays and Saturdays and alternate Thursdays after Christmas. The kennels were in the town.

Moyse's Hall museum had free entry on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. A small fee was payable on other days.

The Cullum reference library was in the School of Art, and was free as a reference library.

Electricity was supplied by the corporation at "moderate rates". The water supply was also a municipal undertaking: coming from wells sunk in the chalk. Gas was also available from a private undertaking.


Shoe fitting by X-Rays c.1931
blank Advertisements within the guide book included this one from Quants, the shoe shop located at 49 Abbeygate Street, Bury St Edmunds. It shows the use of an X-Ray machine to observe people's feet and how well their feet fitted into the new shoes they were considering buying in the shop. In the picture the machine has the words "THE PED-O-SCOPE" inscribed on its base. A child customer is shown in the middle of the machine, with a shop assistant and the boy's mother all able to peer into the machine to see an image of the boy's feet inside the new shoes. The shoe box is also visible. This machine or a similar replacement, was still in use in the shop during the 1950s and 1960s.

In May, the Borough of Bury St Edmunds opened its Free Library in the Athenaeum.

In June 1931 the Council of Bury St Edmunds received loan sanction to borrow £4,000 to build a refuse destructor near its electricity generating station on the Playfields, behind Kings Road. Town refuse would be burned and the heat used to make steam to drive the electricity dynamos, presumably hoping to replace some of the need for the old coal fired boilers.


Pettit's shop c.1930
blank Since 1879 there had been a prolonged agricultural depression with only a few good years from 1914 to 1921, caused by the demands of war and recovery. Not only that, but the Wall Street Crash had brought a world wide recession in its wake. Germany was particularly badly hit, with dramatic rates of inflation and unemployment. Adolf Hitler's National Socialist German Workers' Party gained support as society crumbled.

In Suffolk the price of wheat was at least half the cost of production. The result was described by Justin Brooke:- "Before 1932 thousands of acres of good farm land were left uncultivated. One could motor for miles and see field after field in an abandoned state with thorn bushes springing up where corn once grew; barns were falling down; farmhouses and cottages in a sad state."

Everybody found it hard to make a living at this time. Small shops serving one or two streets were normal, as shown by this shop at 2, Southgate Street in Bury. Alfred C Pettit had to run a sweetshop and tobacconists on the right of his front door, while in the evenings he sold fried fish and chips on the left hand side. In the mornings he took a horse and cart with provisions to sell in the villages around, while his wife minded the shop. Even so, the street had a rival fish and chip shop (Ted Manning's, often called Smokey Joe's because of its coal fired range), and money was always tight. Opposite was Scouldings' newsagents shop, and the Post Office was at the foot of the hill. In the garden behind the shop he kept hens.

Most rural parishes lost 30% to 40% of their inhabitants over this period in Suffolk.

Against this background the opposition amongst farmers to the ecclesiastical tithe rent charge became more and more vocal. The hop-growers of Kent had started to organise in 1930, and in February 1931 the Suffolk Tithe Payers Association was formed at a meeting in the Crown and Anchor Hotel in Ipswich. The meeting was crowded out by farmers. They elected A G Mobbs the Chairman. He farmed with a prize winning herd of Friesian cattle near Beccles.

This example was quickly followed by Norfolk and Essex. During the year 50 such associations were set up throughout the country.

The popular press used the term "tithe wars" to describe the refusal to pay tithe which was inevitably followed by the court bailiff's raid to seize farm goods for auction to pay the tithe and all the costs of the bailiff action. These wars peaked from 1931 to 1933.

The first action of the Suffolk TPA was to support a farmer from Stoke by Clare called James Melbourne Jones. In 1929 he had bought 750 acres on the Stoke College Estate which he called "Australia Farms." He had to pay tithes to a Mrs Sullivan of Bournemouth who was not a vicar but one of the many Lay Impropriators who owned tithe income.
In 1929 when he bought the farms, wheat was fetching 46s a quarter, and he could afford to pay the tithe rentcharge of 6s per acre. In 1930, wheat prices fell to 22s a quarter, and farmland values plummetted in tandem. James Jones could not now pay the tithe charge, and by early 1931 he was waiting for the bailiffs to seize farm stock and sell it to pay the tithe. His farm was now worth much less than he had paid for it, and the Suffolk TPA agreed to support him.
At first Jones offered Mrs Sullivan land to the value of the debt, but she refused to accept this. So, in June 1931 the auctioneers arrived at the farm for the forced sale, and about 500 people assembled there. A G Mobbs the STPA chairman was the only bidder and the sale raised only £1.16s for two lorries, two horses and various machinery. The debt claimed was £105. The sale was a failure because of farmer solidarity and Mobbs stated that he would "loan" all the goods he had bought back to Farmer Jones so he could continue to work his land.

This type of action happened all over the country over the next few years.
Mrs Sullivan continued to obtain court distraint against Farmer Jones every half year through into 1933 and beyond, even seizing 600 acres of land at one point.

Even the clergy who received the tithes were suffering hardship. Queen Ann's Bounty paid their money out to them quarterly in advance, but collected it from tithepayers half yearly in arrears. Whenever there was a shortfall of tithe payment the Bounty tried to reclaim money from the clergy. The value of tithes was a burden on tithepayers but it rarely provided a living wage to the clergy meant to receive it. Thus any refunds due were a double blow to them. Often the vicars and parsons were in as much distress from the system of tithes as the farmers.

In 1931, at the Diocesan Conference in Bury St Edmunds, the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich attempted to defend the ancient system. The Bishop knew that the Church would be called on to make up the shortfall as these payments fell away. Suffolk and Essex Tithepayers Associations attacked him in the press and at public meetings.


Bacon Factory newsletter
blank Britain had gone back on to the Gold Standard in 1925, but on 21st September, 1931, the government had to abandon it, and the value of the pound fell to about 16/-, a drop of 20% against currencies still on the gold standard. It was thought that this would make imported food more expensive, allowing British farmers to compete, and increase output.

In November the St Edmundsbury Co-operative Bacon factory at Elmswell found it necessary to issue a newsletter to explain why this had not happened in the case of Danish bacon, which remained cheaper than before the Great War. As a result local pig farmers got very low prices, and the Elmswell factory had to appeal for pigs in order to maintain production. Pig prices were now lower than at any time since the Elmswell factory opened in 1911.

In October, a Conservative dominated national government was elected, led by Ramsay MacDonald.

Land values and land rents continued to fall under the impact of cheaper foreign food imports. Only new ideas like growing sugar beet, or fruit and roses at Wickhambrook, or Lucerne at Elveden, or poultry and egg production, stopped the farming industry from a total collapse.


Central Heating boiler c.1931
blank This advertisement for Andrews and Plumptons appeared in the new town Guide Book around 1931. Some better off classes could still afford to improve their homes, and these Ideal central heating boilers ran on coal or coke. The well known firm of Andrews and Plumptons had showrooms at the top of Guildhall Street, facing directly down Abbeygate Street. The daughter of one of the proprietors of this shop was Sybil Andrews, who was at this time living and working in London as an artist.

Suffolk's total population rose by 8 1/2 % to 402,000 from 1900 to 1939 but this masked the rural decline, and the increase in the towns. The resort and port of Felixstowe grew from 2,700 to 12,000 from 1901 to 1931. Lowestoft grew 40% to 42,000 and Ipswich grew 30% to 87,500.

The 1931 census gave the population of Bury St Edmunds as 16,922, or about a thousand more than the 1921 total of 15,937.

Infant mortality was still a problem in this country at this time. An outbreak of Measles led to 230 cases being recorded in Bury St Edmunds, with 4 deaths resulting. Of those who recovered, some would suffer permanent vision impairment or hearing loss.

West Suffolk County Council now requested the Great Ouse Drainage Board to make an order under its new powers from the 1930 Drainage Act to revive the River Lark Navigation. Everybody supported this idea, but economically it was a non starter. One or two locks would be repaired after this date, only for further work to be halted by the War.

Rayments Brewery in Furneaux Pelham had been owned since 1889 by Edward Lake and J M KIng, but all small brewers were finding life very difficult. The brewery was taken over by Greene King in 1931 solely because of the family connections.
However, throughout this time the sales of Greene King's bottled beers continued to increase.


The Sturge Flint Collection
blank Dr William Allen Sturge had retired from medical practice in Nice, and had lived in Icklingham from 1907 until his death in 1919. He had devoted most of his leisure time to the study of archaeology. At Icklingham he had established one of the finest private museums of flint implements in the world, all carefully classified and catalogued. He had collected many of his flint objects from the fields around Icklingham, but also collected abroad, and bought other private collections. In the winter of 1918 Sturge fell ill with influenza followed by nephritis and upon his death in March 1919, he bequeathed his entire collection of more than 100,000 flint objects to the British Museum. In 1931 the British Museum published "The Sturge Collection of Flints", written by Reginald A Smith, its Keeper of British and Medieval Antiquities. This described all the British locations of his flint collection, and illustrated many of the objects. A large part of the book covered flints discovered around Icklingham or in other parts of Suffolk.

Sturge was one of the founders of the Society of Prehistoric Archaeology of East Anglia, inaugurated in 1908, together with Norfolk-born journalist and keen prehistorian W. Grahame Clarke. This society had soon attracted a national membership, far outgrowing its local origins, and was flourishing in the 1930s.


A Goodwin, "The Abbey"
blank This 80 page essay by A Goodwin won the Gladstone Memorial Essay Prize in 1926, and was published by Basil Blackwell of Oxford in 1931. Goodwin's essay traced the abbey from 870 until its demise in 1539, but he concentrated upon his idea that the moral state of the monks, and the financial health of the institution, were due almost entirely to the character of the ruling abbot at any one time.

He devoted a short appendix to the date of the grant of the eight and a half hundreds to the abbey. He delighted in pointing to "a rather childish anachronism" in the account of the Reverend Richard Yates in 1805. Yates referred to Edward the Confessor making the grant in the first year of his reign, (say 1042-43) after talking to Abbot Baldwin, who, of course, was not appointed abbot until 1065.

He concluded his 80 page essay with the words that,
"the dissolution was neither a grave social nor a serious economic calamity. It was both just and necessary."


Ticehurst's Birds of Suffolk
1932 During 1932 Claud Ticehurst published the History of the Birds of Suffolk. From 1910 to 1927 Claud Ticehurst lived in Lowestoft and devoted his spare time to the observation and recording of Suffolk's birdlife. By the time his book was nearly ready for publication he had moved to Kent, but he was determined to finish it. It went to the publishers in December 1930, but the economic crisis intervened, and he found it impossible to publish it unless it was considerably shortened. Even so, it came out with 502 pages, and was the first description of all the birds of Suffolk since Dr Churchill Babington's short Catalogue of the Birds of Suffolk in 1884.

By 1932 the buzzard was absent from Suffolk and amazingly to us, the carrion crow and the magpie were almost non-existent, following intensive game-keepering. Cormorants were almost never seen inland, although today they are common enough at our flooded gravel pits. In general, however, the commoner species which Ticehurst saw in Suffolk would have occurred in greater numbers than we enjoy today. Claude Ticehurst's work on birds was not replaced until 1962 when Bill Payn published his own book entitled the Birds of Suffolk.

Claud Ticehurst also managed to publish a 20 page catalogue of the mammals of Suffolk in 1932 in Volume 2 of the Transactions of the Suffolk Naturalists' Society. This catalogue would not be completely replaced until 2009, when Simone Bullion would publish her major book on Suffolk Mammals.

The Bury and Norwich Post newspaper ceased to exist when it was amalgamated with the Bury Free Press in January 1932. The Bury and Norwich Post was founded in 1782 by Peter Gedge, but its circulation was only 3,500 in 1931, compared to the Bury Free Press at well over 9,000 since 1918. It was agreed during 1931 that the BFP would buy out the Post.

The watermill at Chimney Mill at West Stow, standing on the River Lark, had been closed down in 1916. By 1932 there were no water mills working on the Lark. At Chimney Mill the 75 foot smokestack survived, but the watermill itself was demolished on 12th March, 1932.

The newspaper report on this event also lamented the state of the river for both fishing and navigation. "Pools once favoured by anglers are now deserted."

In August, the Boy's Guildhall Feoffment School re-opened following alterations by the local council under its new arrangements.

The Telephone Exchange was built in Bury, in Whiting Street, and opened in September.

Marks and Spencers arrived when they opened their first bazaar on the Buttermarket in Bury. Later the building would be enlarged sideways and upwards several times.

From 1929 to 1932 the Wall Street Stock Market lost 89% of its value, and the whole world was now in depression. The low point was July 8th, when the Dow Jones Index stood at only 41 points. At its peak in 1929 it had been over 300 points. It would not regain this level until 1954.

In 1932 about 25% of Americans were out of work, and half its banks had gone out of business, often leaving their customers penniless.

Agriculture in England continued to suffer from both the general slump and the attentions of tithe-owners sueing for payment. In Suffolk Mrs Waspe, a 70 year old widow at Ringshall lost her farm implements in lieu of tithes to Kings College, Cambridge. In May 1932, the Elmsett farmer Mr Westren had goods including 8 barley stacks seized. An angry crowd of farmers stopped the haulier from removing most of the barley after a four hour standoff. About £1200 of goods were seized to pay a debt of £385. After 1934 Westren decided to emigrate to New Zealand. A public protest meeting against the tithe system was held in Bury St Edmunds after this event.

One government measure did make a substantial improvement to the future of British agriculture. The Wheat Quota Act of 1932 effectively secured a wheat price for the farmer of 40 shillings a quarter. Although this only gave a small profit to the most efficient growers, the fact that it was an assured price resulted in land being properly cultivated once again. Out of work farm labourers were re-hired and the countryside began to improve in appearance. The farm buildings, however, remained in a poor state for some further years. Without this Act the farming industry would have collapsed further and been totally unable to feed the country when war came.


Feudal Documents book
blank In 1932 Professor D C Douglas published his "Feudal Documents of the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds", covering the period from 1066 to 1182. Professor Douglas used these documents to trace the introduction of feudalism proper into England by the Normans. Because Douglas was concerned with the feudal dues which were due to the abbey, there were also older hundredal dues which did not fall within his purview.

The first half of Douglas's 400 odd page book was his Introduction to the Documents, the Norman Settlement, and the Liberty of St Edmund in the 12th century. The second half contained the documents themselves:- The Feudal Book of Abbot Baldwin, the Royal Charters, Charters of the Abbots, and Miscellaneous Documents from the period covered. The original documents were transcribed in their original language, usually Latin, but sometimes Old English.

In September 1931 the Chancellor had added a penny a pint to beer by an emergency increase in duty. Beer sales fell alarmingly through 1932 because of this increase. By June, 1932, Greene King's output had been cut by 20 percent, and tough measures had to be taken to survive.
Greene King was still running a brewery at Sudbury. This was Olivers Brewery which they had bought in 1919. It was decided that it was uneconomic to continue with production at Sudbury, and the old Oliver's Brewery was shut down.
To avoid redundancies Greene King also reduced all wages and salaries by 5 percent. At last the run of expansion enjoyed by the firm had been checked.
The license of the Three Kings in Southgate Street was given up by Greene King in December, 1932. It is now number 7 Southgate Street, a private house.

During 1932 it was decided that the town's Direct Current (DC) electricity generating station was nearing the end of its useful life. The Electricity Supply Act of 1926 had created the Central Electricity Board and the National Grid operating at 132 kV (50 Hz) alternating current (AC). Electricity undertakers were now encouraged to take bulk supplies of power from the new National Grid, rather than to build their own capacity locally. Bulk supply now commenced in Bury St Edmunds, and a programme of converting users from DC to AC current was begun. The imported bulk supply was brought by 33,000 volt overhead power lines from Stowmarket into Raingate Street, where a main Transformer Station was built. From here the voltage would be reduced to 11,000 volts, and distributed to various sub-stations around the Borough. The generating station in Prospect Row would continue to supply DC power until all the users were converted.


Adolf Hitler
1933 In January, Adolf Hitler became Chancellor in Germany. In October Germany withdrew from the League of Nations, and demanded equality with those nations not subject to the Treaty of Versailles. Germany stepped up its re-armament programme to the acclaim of its citizens and the disquiet of those foreigners who were in the know.

In April the budget reformed the duty payable on beer. Instead of a flat rate, the duty increased with the strength of the alcoholic content. Beer prices were cut by a penny a pint, and by June, Greene King had restored the wage cuts imposed in 1932. Production had recovered by the end of the year.

In 1933 William Parker sold the rights to the Lark Navigation, insofar as it was within Suffolk, to the Great Ouse Catchment Board. The Board was set up by legislation in 1931 along with many other Catchment Boards. The new Board had plans to revive the river.

In June 1933 Arthur Boreham was working in Bury St Edmunds for Fenner's Building firm after ten years as a regular soldier in the Suffolk Regiment, seven of which had been spent overseas. He took a cycle ride out to Great Barton, to see some of the old faces. In his book, "Saga of a Suffolk Soldier", he wrote:

"The biggest change I noticed on returning to England after seven years was the country flint roads were now mostly tarmac. On the farms instead of the teams of horses doing the ploughing, and so on, it was being done by tractor."

Arthur also discovered that there was a long queue at the Labour Exchange, and that regular work was hard to find. His first job, on a building site in Castle Road, lasted only a week until the house in question was finished. Until this house could be sold the builder had no money to start another one. Luckily he was recruited by Mr Fenner, but again, the work would last only nine months. By 1934 Arthur would feel compelled to re-enlist as a soldier to avoid permanent unemployment.

In July, 1933, the British Hospitals Air Pageant was held in a large meadow at Eldo House Farm, which is today part of the Moreton Hall Estate. It was aimed to raise funds for local hospitals before the days of the NHS, and also to raise awareness of aviation and its possibilities. The Bury Free Press said that it was one of the biggest ever held in this country. Dazzling displays and free flights were on offer to a lucky few.


No 8508 at Bury in 1933
blank Politicians of various persuasions sometimes got involved with the tithe issue in the countryside. RAB Butler, the Conservative MP for Saffron Walden, took up the cause over several years from 1932. More controversially the British Union of Fascists, led by Sir Oswald Moseley, espoused direct action to thwart tithe distraint sales. In August 1933, bailiffs impounded 11 acres of wheat and seven acres of barley on the farm of old Mrs Waspe at Ringshall in Suffolk on behalf of Kings College Cambridge. A party of fascists camped adjacent to the bailiffs and threatened violence if they cut the corn. Eventually wheat from the Waspe farm was taken to Bury St Edmunds railway station to be shipped off to one of Kings College's farms in Lincolnshire.

The reality behind this was the fall in agricultural prices, and thus the value of farmland, while the burden of tithe rentcharges on farmers remained the same. Good agricultural land such as that at New Bells Farm at Haughley, near Stowmarket in Suffolk, was valued at £20 to £25 an acre in 1919, falling to only £10 an acre by 1933. Lady Eve Balfour, the owner of New Bells Farm was an active anti-tithe campaigner, and her own farm's prize diary herd was distrained upon in 1933. By 1928 the profits of the farm were insufficient to pay the tithe, so it was paid out of capital, and by 1933, she had to borrow to meet these demands. Lady Eve Balfour was the niece of the Conservative Prime Minister, Arthur Balfour, and held a Diploma in Agriculture from Reading University. In 1938 she would found the Soil Association at Haughley.

In Churchgate Street the landlord of the Golden Fleece retired, and the pub was closed down. The magistrates had tried to reduce the nubers of licensed premises in Bury throughout the century. The Queens Head remained open in that street.

Greene King also decided to give up the license of the Horse and Groom in St Andrews Street South. This was very handy for the Boby Engineering Works, as it was close to the Kings Road junction, but as it was only a one room beerhouse, it could not make much profit for the company. It had lasted since 1857.


Greene King's Priors Inn
blank In return for giving up two licenses, Greene King had no trouble obtaining one in return. In November, 1933, Greene King opened the Priors Inn on the Perry Barn Estate in Bury, as it was called then, to serve the expanding housing in this area. The use of the name Priors derived from Priors Lane which had since monastic times linked the town to the Prior's Farm at roughly this spot. The Priors Estate was built between 1928 and 1935, with a total of 281 family homes.

Perry's Barn was located just south of a track which would later become Abbot Road, an extension of Hospital Road. This name would be more appropriately applied to the private housing when it was built along this new road.

By 1933 the Bury St Edmunds Borough Council had also completed the Grove Road Estate and smaller developments such as ten in Mustow Street, 16 in the Vinefields, and some one bed flats in Blomfield Street and Westgate Street.

The Priors Inn was one of a half dozen new, architect designed, public houses being built by Greene King across its market area of East Anglia. These were not cheap buildings. They cost an average of £5,000, plus fitting out costs. The architect of the Priors Inn was W H Mitchell, of Bury St Edmunds. Up to 1930, Mitchell had been in a partnership called Naish and Mitchell, but following the death of Sidney Naish in 1925, this partnership, which included two surviving members of the Naish family, was dissolved in 1930. William Mitchell took on all the debts and liabilities of the old partnership and continued in business on his own, but retained the name Naish and Mitchell for some years.

Another of the architects commissioned to design modern public houses was the nationally known Basil Oliver, who was also the brother of Colonel B E Oliver, Greene King's Head Brewer since about 1926. Oliver did not apparently design any of Greene King's Suffolk pubs, but his work included the Rose and Crown in Cambridge, the George and Star in March, the King's Head Halstead (Essex), and the Red Lion at Grantchester.

Basil Oliver would even write a book in 1947 about new public house designs of which he approved, called "The Renaissance of the English Public House". This included sections on art in public houses including pub sign designs and the importance of the pub as a social institution.


Greene King plaque
blank Along with these new public houses Greene King was improving and refurbishing its existing houses. Each improvement was accompanied by the new glazed stoneware company plaque designed by George Edward Kruger Gray. Kruger Gray was an English artist, best remembered for his designs of coinage and stained glass windows. He had designed the English sixpence and the Crown, and would go on to design coinage across the Empire.

This polychrome stoneware plaque was produced by Doultons of Lambeth and after the closure of the Lambeth works in 1956 by Poole Pottery/Carters Tile Works. There were slight variations to suit the circumstances. The differences are in the scroll at the feet of the figure. This can read “Fine Suffolk Ales”, “Fine Cambridge Ales”, “Ales” or “Fine Ales”.

“Fine Cambridge Ales” refers to the Panton Brewery of Bailey & Tebbutt taken over by Greene King in 1925. When Wells & Winch were taken over in the early 1960s their pubs got “Ales” plaques, and it may be that “Fine Ales” are more modern examples.

Major Lake and Basil Oliver also improved the design and execution of pub signs and were part of a general movement in the industry to improve its image and appearance. This all shows the importance being placed by Greene King at this time to appear modern and to appeal to a new generation of clientele.


Burton's Tailors
blank On the Cornhill, Hunter and Olivers owned the Three Kings pub. They now rented the frontage on Cornhill to Montague Burton's the well known men's tailors. Burton's rebuilt the shopfront in the modern Art Nouveau style, which still survives today. The foundation stones laid by Raymond Montague Burton and Stanley Howard Burton in 1933 can also still be seen.
The Three Kings remained open behind the shop, and was reached by a newly opened narrow passage. Upstairs a seven table Billiards and Snooker Hall was opened. The Three Kings finally closed in the 1960's.

Athenaeum Kitchen by Rose Mead
blank At the Athenaeum the old subscription lending library was sold off. The building and its facilities were ageing and income from users was falling. Rose Mead painted this picture of the caretaker's kitchen in 1933. The building had a live-in caretaker with a flat on the ground floor.

In 1933 and 1934 there was an excavation in the Abbey Gardens at Bury St Edmunds of the Prior’s House and corner of the Infirmary carried out by the Borough Council. This was quoted in A B Whittingham, ‘Bury St Edmunds Abbey’, 1951. Whittingham also mentioned card index notes on the excavations and a plan of the excavations up to 1934 by Frederick Johnson at Moyse’s Hall Museum. The card index notes have gone, but the plan was still on display when Whittingham wrote his report on the Abbey ruins.


Market Day by Sybil Andrews
blank In 1933 Henry Andrews was appointed curator of Moyse's Hall Museum, a post he would hold until 1939. Henry was the youngest brother of Sybil Andrews, by now an artist specialising in lino cut and block printing in London. Sybil would visit him in Bury, and occasionally sketch in and around the museum. She retained a deep interest in the history and life of Bury, having started work on her great Banner of St Edmund in 1930. It would become a masterpiece of embroidery, but was not completed until 1975.

Many of her local sketches were used years later to recapture her home town. This work entitled Market Day typifies the views she had in Bury at this time. She herself wrote, "Market Day 1936 typifies the whole life of an agricultural town like Bury St Edmunds. Without it there would be no reason for its existence."


Windmill by Sybil Andrews
blank In January of 1933, Sybil Andrews enjoyed a joint exhibition with Cyril Power of linocuts and monotypes, at the The Redfern Gallery, in London. Her work was also included in the exhibition "Colour Prints," at The Redfern Gallery in June of that year. She was attracting a lot of attention in the art world.

Another of her lino cuts from this period was this picture of Elmer's windmill at Woolpit. Although produced in 1933, it was probably produced from sketches and memories made when she lived briefly at Woolpit during 1922.

Mrs Eva Wollaston Greene had been the first woman to serve as a councillor on the borough and in 1927 was its first woman mayor, although her name is recorded as Eva Paulina Greene in official style. She was mayor again in 1931. Her husband John Greene had been a founder member of the Greene and Greene firm of solicitors in the town, and had been a keen collector of prints of the borough. He had died in 1925. In 1933 Mrs Greene presented the Greene collection of mainly 18th century prints to the Borough Council. A special room was prepared to display them in the School of Art, and was opened in 1934.

Gerald Oakley, the sixth Earl of Cadogan, died in October and was buried in the family vault on the Culford Estate. The estate was worth £2 million, but its future was now in doubt.

The agricultural depression had its effect upon many such large estates. The estates of the Bunbury family at Mildenhall and Great Barton were broken up at this time. The Manor House at Mildenhall would be demolished in 1934.


New gasholder
blank Also in October, the Bury St Edmunds Gas Company finished building its new Number 3 gas holder on Tayfen Road. It stood next to the Number 2 holder, and neither of these remain today. The original Bury Gas Works was squeezed into the site at the foot of St Andrews Street North, facing Tayfen Road, whereas these two gas holders were on the second site across the other side of Ipswich Street. Gas was delivered to number 2 and 3 gas holders by a pipeline under Ipswich Street. The number 1 gas holder stood within the walls of the original site and was de-commissioned when number 3 was completed. It was due to be dismantled at an early date. A third site stood opposite the original site, and contained the tar refining plant and coal and coke stores. This third site remains associated, at least in part, with the gas industry in 2008.
In addition, the Gas Company had just bought a site in the Traverse for the erection of "up-to-date showrooms."

During 1933 England gave up the Grand Jury system, which today survives solely in the United States of America. A Grand Jury was a legal procedure which decided whether an accused had a criminal case to answer. It was made up of a greater number of jurors than the twelve of a criminal trial jury, and from this it became known as the Grand Jury. The old Norman French term was mirrored by the name for a trial jury being a Petit or Petty Jury. On Warren's map of Bury St Edmunds of 1776 the old Shire Hall building was called the Grand Jury House. The new Shire Hall still retains a Grand Jury Room in 2012, despite the fact that no Grand Jury has sat in Bury St Edmunds since 1933. The Grand Jury was replaced by a Committal Procedure which involved the local magistrates sitting, without a jury, to decide whether the case needed to be sent on to the Crown Court.


Blackshirts at Wortham
1934 In Suffolk the British Union of Fascists continued to attend Tithe sales and threaten violent action to prevent distraint. They hoped to convert Conservative farmers to the Fascist party. The biggest of these events took place in January and February 1934 at Wortham Manor in Suffolk, when a virtual state of siege lasted 18 days at the farm of Mr and Mrs Rowland Rash. Some 30 or 40 Blackshirts, as members of the British Union called themselves, had dug a trench around the farmyard to prevent the removal of livestock. They felled trees and put up barbed wire barriers. They were ready for violent action. This event was recorded in a book called "The Tithe War" by Doreen Wallace, the pen name of Mrs Rash. Large crowds turned out to watch, with 5,000 people said to be in the village one Sunday. Up to 100 police officers were involved, and 19 Blackshirts were arrested. The Daily Mail had a headline of "Hurrah for the Blackshirts," and the publicity was massive. But all the government did was to set up a Royal Commission to enquire into Tithe Rentcharges.

During a House of Lords debate later that year the Archbishop of Canterbury claimed that "four fifths of the country tithe is collected without any difficulty whatsoever. The difficult counties are mainly in the east. Suffolk is the worst and after it comes Essex, Norfolk, Berks and East Kent." In fact there were less publicised demonstrations throughout the country and the courts were clogged with tithe disputes.

In February, the YWCA set up its Bury Headquarters in the Abbey Ruins West Front. The local branch had just been inaugurated the previous November.


AA map Westley Airfield 1934
blank In March, the Bury Borough Council considered a report suggesting that it established an airport at Bury St Edmunds. Lord Sempill, an approved Air Ministry consultant advised that of three possible sites, it was Sextons Hall Estate off Newmarket Road which was the most suitable. The Council spent £5,000 to purchase 93 acres plus a further 13 acres to help with the development and a plot of land to give access to Westley Road as well. It was intended to make this available to Flying Clubs to develop in the future, and it was felt that every town would soon need such airport facilities.

Garage serving Westley Airfield
blank T H Nice had just built a garage on the corner of Westley Road and Risbygate Street, and they became the stockists for aviation fuel needed at the Airfield. It was a short drive for the fuel to be delivered to the aircraft.
On July 31st Lord Sempill demonstrated the first official landing of an aircraft at Westley Airfield, as it became known. He landed in a De Havilland Leopard Moth to be greeted by a Civic Reception. In September the Council deferred a decision on an application to start up a Flying Club at Westley. The only other flying that year seems to have been the occasional lost pilot dropping in to land, such as on 26th October when a flying journalist mistook Bury for Norwich, his intended destination. However, there was an intentional publicity boost at the end of November, when Santa Claus landed in a De Havilland Puss Moth to be driven off to Lindseys Bazaar in the Buttermarket.

In June, the news from Germany had been of the Night of the Long Knives, when Hitler's rivals and opponents were eliminated. In August he was declared Der Fuhrer, and took powers as a virtual Dictator.


Traction engine at Whitmore's Timber Yard
blank Despite the fact that the petrol engine had been around for at least 30 years, and that aircraft were landing in Bury St Edmunds, on the land the horse was still the major provider of motive power. Steam lorries were still favoured for road transport, and steam traction engines were still in use for some applications. This photograph from August, 1934 shows a traction engine in use at Whitmore's Timber Company on Fornham Road, Bury St Edmunds. The background to this picture is the railway embankment which in 2012 flanks the Tesco carpark.
This picture was sold on E-Bay in 2012, and the seller's description states, "As part of a deceased estate I have the entire Somerfield postcard and photographic archive to dispose of - some 3,700 items in total. This is a very good modern postcard (it was arbitrary for Jack to use plain or postcard stock for printing) showing Whitmore Timber Bury St Edmunds, Marshall number 72472, registration HK 9997 in 1934. Like all photographs in this immense archive, this print was made by the archivist (Jack Somerfield) from the original negative and, as far as can be determined, this is the only copy of this print in the archive."
Marshall's Britannia Ironworks was located at Gainsborough, in Lincolnshire, and had built road engines since 1848. There are two other apparently out of use traction engines pictured at Whitmore's in the Somerfield collection. One was Burrell traction engine 1628 Reg CF 3634, and the other was Foster 3205, registration FE 247. Burrell's had been built at Thetford, but the company had collapsed a few years earlier, while Fosters were built in Lincoln, the firm having been established there since 1865.

There were at least two other timber yards in Bury at the time, but Whitmore's specialised in hardwoods as well as softwoods, while the others concentrated upon softwoods more or less exclusively. Marlows had a timber yard behind their premises in Churchgate Street, while Watson's had a timber yard in Southgate Street, just by the River Linnet, which is now a housing estate. Watson's yard was previously located in Bridewell lane.

Life was getting impossible for the traction engine as a road engine. In 1933 an axle weight tax was introduced for road vehicles. This was more of a burden to steam lorries as they weighed more than petrol driven vehicles. Traction engines weighed even more than steam lorries, so suffered higher taxes. A final blow came in 1934, when, according to Wikipedia, "Initially, imported oil was taxed much more than British-produced coal, but in 1934 Oliver Stanley, the Minister for Transport, reduced taxes on fuel oils while raising the Road Fund charge on road locomotives to £100 per year, provoking protests by engine manufacturers, hauliers, showmen and the coal industry. This was at a time of high unemployment in the mining industry, when the steam haulage business represented a market of 950,000 tons of coal annually. The tax was devastating to the businesses of heavy hauliers and showmen and precipitated the scrapping of many traction engines." Not surprisingly the production of new traction engines for road use was stopped dead by this legislation.


Gershom Parkington
blank During 1934, W D and H O Wills issued their series of 50 Cigarette Cards called "Wills Radio Celebrities." One card was included inside every packet of Wills cigarettes, and the collecting of such cards had been a popular pastime for many years. Number 15 of this first series of 50 celebrity cards featured Gershom Parkington, whose family were the well established tailoring firm of Parkingtons in Bury St Edmunds.
At this time the Gershom Parkington Quintette were a household name, playing light music on the wireless in the years after 1925. Frederic Gershom Parkington was born in 1886 in Bury. He was a gifted cellist, and he trained at the Royal Academy of Music. Thus he avoided joining the family business to become a professional musician. He conducted the local orchestra at Bridlington Spa for a time and broadcast for the BBC for almost thirty years. Professionally, he always used the name Gershom Parkington.

During September 1934 the huge Culford Estate of the Cadogan family was broken up and sold off, over a five day period. Culford Hall and its park would go, along with 12 farms, and the entire villages of Culford, Culford Heath, Ingham, West Stow, and Wordwell. Along with West Stow Hall and stud the whole lot covered 10,739 acres. By the end of 1934, about 56% of the estate had passed into the hands of the Forestry Commission. Not all of the estate was sold at the various auctions during 1934, but already a host of new owners had brought great changes to the local people. Many families had to move away to seek other work, or because of the general uncertainty.

A further 2,312 acres of Breckland came up for sale when the Lackford Manor Estate was sold off in August, 1934.


Suffolk local government 1935-74
blank The West Suffolk Review Order of 1934 moved part of Fornham All Saints and Westley into Bury St Edmunds effective from 1935. This review was carried out by the county council under the provisions of the Local Government Act of 1929 which required a review of the boundaries of all the County Districts in England and Wales. The Mildenhall Road Estate, Howard Estate and Westley Estates, as well as the Western Way industrial estate, were eventually to be built in this additional area, but at the time it only added about 200 people to Bury.

Under the review Thingoe RDC was enlarged to take in those twelve parishes of the Brandon Rural District Council which were in West Suffolk. Thingoe RDC now had 58 parishes, and covered 167 square miles. Similarly, Glemsford UDC was abolished and its area was now to be included within Melford RDC effective from 1935.

Moulton RDC was abolished altogether. Lidgate and Ousden were moved into the area of Clare RDC, while Moulton's remaining parishes were added to Mildenhall RDC. Clare RDC also benefitted from the transfer of Cavendish from Melford RDC and Hawkedon from Thingoe RDC.

Within the Clare RDC, the parishes of Barnadiston and Monks Risbridge were combined. Monks Risbridge covered 114 acres but included no houses or inhabitants.

This arrangement of Suffolk local government would last until from 1935 until 1974.

In Castle Road, Bury St Edmunds, a new estate of 26 houses was completed in June.

The Hardwick Estate had been owned by the state since 1926, and various attempts had been made to sell it off. On February 5th 1934, some 35 acres of Hardwick Park was now acquired by Bury St Edmunds Borough Council for the sum of £650.


Gas Works in 1934
blank In 1934 the Bury St Edmunds Gas Company celebrated its centenary by publishing a 20 page review entitled "A Century of Progress, 1834-1934". They supplied tar for roads and paths, sulphate of ammonia and coke, as well as gas from the works at Tayfen Road. The document boasted a modernised works, albeit spread over three sites along the Tayfen Road, 22 miles of town gas mains, and 3,600 consumers. Gas users in Bury had 2,660 gas cookers, 1,500 gas fires and heaters, and 780 water heating appliances. The panorama attached here can be clicked for a better view. It shows gas holders numbers 2 and 3 on the left. The characteristic crescent shape of the Ipswich Arms public house can be seen in front of holder number 3. Holder number 1 was now waiting to be demolished, and is visible within the walls of the original works site of 1834. None of the works visible here remains today.
You can view the whole of this centenary document by clicking here: 'A Century of Progress, BSE Gas Company 1834-1934'

In October, the Bury Corporation opened its Electricity Showrooms on the Cornhill. The council had generated all the electricity in the town since 1900, at its Prospect Row Works. It seems that the Gas Company was also just about to open a gas showroom in the Traverse in early 1935.

The Primitive Methodists had their final service in their Northgate Street / Looms Lane Church in August. The congregation now amalgamated with the Wesleyan Methodists and moved to the well established Methodist Church in Brentgovel Street, only a short stroll away.


Moyse's Hall by Rose Mead
blank In the School of Art at Bury, the Print Room was opened to display the Greene collection of 18th century prints donated to the Borough in 1933.
Rose Mead, the prominent local artist, also donated one of her best pieces to the Borough council in January 1934. It is today on display as part of the Rose Mead collection in the Manor House Museum. It was called Moyse's Hall and the Buttermarket, and was painted in 1927. Rose Mead always encouraged local artists, especially young women who she encouraged also to take up independent careers.

The Three Horseshoes
blank The Three Horseshoes inn in Northgate Street closed down during 1934. It was an old inn, and had probably been the first inn encountered by travellers from Thetford or Mildenhall inside the North Gate before that gate was pulled down in 1764. After 1934 the inn was converted into a shop which was removed around 1973 to make way for a link road up to the A14 from the newly built Northgate Roundabout. The Horseshoes was located just south of Booty's shop, which alone still survives on Aetna Road as business premises.

Green King purchased the wine and spirits business of Thomas Peatling, a business centred on Wisbech and Kings Lynn. This strengthened their existing wines and spirits business at Cupola House.

In 1934 Greene King bought up and closed the tiny Stowmarket brewery of Prenctice's. It cost only £1,250, and employed only four men.


RAF Mildenhall September, 1934
blank It was 1934 in which a major expansion of the role and size of the Royal Air Force was begun. In that year the whole of East Anglia had only four active military airfields, but Mildenhall was the first of the new building programme.
Preliminary construction work had begun in October, 1930, and in 1931 concrete roads were laid down, and a three year building contract was begun. Beck Row's football ground was taken over by the Officers' Mess. Three grass runways were laid out, the biggest being 1300 yards from NE-SW. On 16th April, Lord Iveagh of Elveden used the strip to fly in a shooting party in a 14 seater tri-motor, monoplane. On 15th August the advance party of the RAF arrived, and the station was officially opened on 16th October, 1934.

RAF Mildenhall, or Beck Row airfield, as it was first known, was immediately to become famous, when it was selected as the start point for the England to Australia Air Race. This was called the Macrobertson Air Races and had 64 entries, to compete in a speed race and a handicap race. The idea was to promote the city of Melbourne by making it the final point of the race. Facilities at Mildenhall were to prove inadequate, but the other three aerodromes considered also had difficulties, so Mildenhall was reluctantly selected as the starting point.


Amy Johnson at Mildenhall
blank The race was sponsored by Sir Macpherson Robinson, a Melbourne millionaire sweet manufacturer, and was due to start on Saturday 20th October. Entrants arrived over the week beginning 14th October to great public interest. One famous entrant in the race was Amy Johnson, the famous woman aviator 'Queen of the Air'. She was well known for her daring spirit and record breaking solo long-distance flights. She is pictured here by Bury photographer Gerald Lambert, with her husband James A. Mollison and others. Of the 64 original entries, only 20 would actually start the race. The British entry was made possible by the de Havilland Aircraft Company building a brand new type of racing plane called the de Havilland Comet, designated type DH 88. This machine would eventually evolve into the famous fighter/bomber plane, the de Havilland Mosquito.

de Havilland Comet 'Grosvenor House'
blank As the RAF had barely taken possession of the airstrip, many essential items of equipment were lacking. Even the windsock had to improvised, until a better one could be borrowed. The area was remote, and there were practically no local hotel facilities for the crews. The King and Queen called in for lunch on Friday, 19th October, but that evening another 60,000 people tried to attend the event. Every road for miles around was choked with traffic. People slept overnight in the surrounding fields. Take off was scheduled for 6.30 am, and many people had to walk across country as the roads were blocked. Others were stuck in traffic jams and never arrived at all.

First to take off at 6.30 a.m. on October 20th were Jim and Amy (Johnson) Mollison in their own G-ACSP Black Magic. All competitors had to check in at Baghdad as the first control point, some 2,530 miles away. The Mollisons made a faultless journey to Baghdad, and reached Karachi at around 10 a.m. on the second race day, setting a new England-India record. However, various technical problems stopped any further progress. They were now overtaken by the British Comet which was to maintain its lead to the end.

By 6.45 am on October 20th, all the entrants had lifted off from Mildenhall, and it was all over for the crowds on the ground. The full route to Melbourne was estimated at 11,300 miles. The de Havilland Comet called "Grosvenor House", entry number 34, was the first to reach Melbourne in the incredible time of 72 hours. It had averaged 176.8 mph, easily smashing the previous record of 8 days and 21 hours set in 1932. That record had been set by C W A Scott, who now shared the new record with his co-pilot T Campbell Black in "Grosvenor House." The last straggler in the race reached Melbourne 116 days after the start.


No 99 Squadron's Heyford Bombers
blank On 15th November, the first RAF squadron arrived at Mildenhall. This was No 99 Squadron with eleven Handley-Page Heyford bombers. These heavy biplane bombers were the pride of the RAF, but could only manage 142 mph at 12,000 feet. Construction work on the aerodrome buildings would continue into 1936.

The Welnetham Rake Factory of John George & Sons Ltd. had been opened in 1912 and coppice woods about a mile away in Felsham Hall Woods were leased to provide a continuous supply of timber, mostly ash, birch, alder, hazel and willow. A variety of other wooden goods such as beetles, sheep hurdles, stable forks and all manner of handles and pegs, were produced in addition to rakes and scythe sneaths. Not all goods were factory made as certain simpler types of product were made in the open. The growth of the business led to the purchase of some 300 acres of coppice woods in Felsham Hall Woods in 1934. It was this woodland which would eventually be purchased in 1970 by the Society for the Preservation of Nature Reserves and became Bradfield Hall Nature Reserve. Nowadays it is known as Bradfield Woods and is owned and managed by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust.


Wortham Tithe Monument
1935 In February 1935 an event took place at Wortham which symbolised the fight of farmers against the tithe rentcharge. A monument was erected at Wortham with the inscription "The Tithe War 134 pigs and 15 cattle seized for tithe Feb 22 1934". Such monuments were also set up on other farms such as at Elmsett in Suffolk, where the Westren family set one up opposite the parish church entrance.

In March 1935, the Bury St Edmunds corporation purchased the site on Angel Hill where, in 1929, a fire had destroyed a property owned by R G Todd. The sum of £1,503.13.0 was paid to Todd, and in May a further £400 was paid to J P Parkington for additional land. Their intention was to build a new suite of offices to house the growing needs of administration.

The Athenaeum and its subscribers were falling deeper into debt, and could not continue any longer. Thus in January, the Bury Athenaeum Club was dissolved. It was decided that the council had to step in. The Bury St Edmunds Corporation acquired the Athenaeum for £2,000. At some point the Athenaeum club was revived and the Reading Room and Billiard Room was leased back to the old Literary Institute, founded originally in 1853, which now called itself the Athenaeum Club.

In 1935 the Victory Sports Ground at Bury St Edmunds began its reputation as a good class cricket ground, when Suffolk played the Surrey Second XI in the ground's first Minor Counties Championship match. From 1935 to 2013, it would host 50 Minor Counties matches. Established by local brewers Greene King in 1920 after the Great War as a local facility, it was now gaining a wider sporting reputation. The first List-A match played on the ground would come in the 1981 NatWest Trophy between Suffolk and Derbyshire.


Jubilee Air Review at Mildenhall
blank In 1935, a new cinema was opened in Mildenhall. It was called the Comet, in honour of the de Havilland Comet which won the Mildenhall to Melbourne air race in 1934. However, more air related excitement would grip the small town of Mildenhall in that year.

Today the Mildenhall Air Show is internationally known, but what is less well known is that important airshows have been staged at Mildenhall since before the Second World War. In 1935 it was the Silver Jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary. As part of the commemorations, the Silver Jubilee Air Review was held at Mildenhall in July 1935 in the presence of King George V, with over 350 aircraft on show. It was a spectacular event for its day.

On 1st July, the RAF squadrons from other bases began to arrive at Mildenhall. A tented camp was set up around the airfield perimeter to hold the 400 officers and 4,000 airmen involved. Two dress rehearsals of the fly-past to Duxford and back, were carried out before the big day.


King George V at Mildenhall
blank On Saturday, 6th July, 1935, King George V, Chief of the Royal Air Force, arrived by car for this first ever Review of the RAF since its creation as a separate entity in 1918. Thirty eight squadrons attended with 356 aircraft. The roads around the town were packed, with 26,000 visitors arriving at the base. This photograph by Mr Gerald Lambert, a professional photographer based in Bury St Edmunds, shows King George, and his sons, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York, inspecting the Guard of Honour. After the royal inspection, the party drove to RAF Duxford for lunch, while at Mildenhall frantic preparations were made to mount the planned 182 aircraft fly past over the Duxford airfield. No 99 Squadron's Heyford bombers led the fly past, which flew the 25 miles south west to Duxford and back without incident.

Mildenhall would continue to host such events, with Empire Day Air Shows each May until the final show in 1939. Battle of Britain open days were begun after the war.

Preliminary work began on another new airfield to be built at Hundon, Suffolk, in August 1935. In fact, the area involved also included land in the parishes of Stradishall, Cowlinge and Monks Risbridge. Because the name Hundon was capable of confusion with existing military facilities at Hendon, it was decided that the new station would be called RAF Stradishall. The area covered was about one square mile of fairly flat land, and which, for Suffolk, was relatively elevated, at 380 feet above sea level. Unfortunately, it was also very heavy clay land, the very opposite of conditions at RAF Mildenhall, and this factor would prove to hinder its development and its eventual operating capabilities. Such had been the difficulties of farming this land in medieval times, that it had been kept as three deer parks, with natural tree and grassland cover. These parks were called Broxstead Park, Great Park, and Eastry Park, each with its own central lodge. By 1935 this area was largely arable farmland, and 400 acres of the 600 acre total had belonged to the farm of Frank Clarke. Broxstead Lodge Farm buildings were completely demolished to make way for the runways.

Bury St Edmunds corporation was well aware of the significance of air travel, and its growing importance and potential dangers. In 1935 they set up their own Air Raid Precautions Committee to consider the issues and launch training plans. This was before the Air Raid Precautions Act became law.


Norah Lofts
blank In 1935 Norah Lofts published her first book, entitled "I met a Gipsy". Lofts won an American Booksellers Association award for this book. Norah Robinson was born in Norfolk, but had lived in Bury since she was a girl. She had grown up with her sister Ida, and both had become teachers at the Guildhall Feoffment School, not in Bridewell Lane, but in Well Street. Well Street was the smaller school and was used as a girls-only school. Norah stopped teaching when she married a local builder, Mr Lofts. Lofts Yard was located where the Cathedral shop and precincts now stand. The couple lived at number 8, Southgate Street.
Norah Lofts would now become a prolific author who wrote not only historical romances for over 50 years, but also non-fiction and biographies. She would be best known for her historical novels, many of which were set in the nineteenth century or had English history as backgrounds.

Culford School advertisement 1936
blank Culford Hall and park was still up for sale and in April 1935 they were bought by the Trustees of the East Anglian Methodist Boys School of Bury St Edmunds. By September the Hall was adapted into the needs of a school, with classrooms and offices, and accomodation provided for for 200 boarders and 150 day boys. The Methodist School now left Northgate Avenue in Bury St Edmunds and moved to Culford Hall, and the new school became known as Culford School. The grounds covered 400 acres, and could accomodate 300 boys, 200 of whom were boarders. The advertisement shown here appeared in the new Bury Town Guide Book for 1936.

East Anglian Girls School
blank The vacant premises left in Northgate Avenue gave the Methodist School Board the opportunity to found a new school for girls. This became known as the East Anglian School for Girls, founded here in September, 1935. It included a mixed kindergarten for 5 to 8 year olds. Another advertisement for this new school also featured in the new Guide Book. The new Headmistress was Miss K Baron Hay, BA, and the new school had excellent facilities for tennis, hockey and Physical Training. The grounds covered 15 acres in all, and boarders were accomodated in three houses close to the main school.

The village of Culford was no longer run by a family who owned the village and estate. The old community only continued because there was a switch to forestry at West Stow and Wordwell which provided employment for local people. Planting of massed conifirs now began on the King's Forest but to alleviate the effect on the landscape, the Icknield Way was to be lined with beeches.

In 1935 excavations began on a Roman Villa situated at Stanton Chare or Stanton Chair, as it is spelled today. The work was undertaken by the Ipswich Museum, led by Guy Maynard, its curator since 1920. He was a very experienced excavator, born in 1877, who had also been Curator of Saffron Walden Museum from 1904 to 1920. In 1935, Guy Maynard, together with J Reid Moir, saw their Prehistoric Society of East Anglia become the nationwide Prehistoric Society. Founded in Ipswich in 1908, these two men had built up the regional society into this important national body over the years since about 1921. Ironically, following this major change, control of the Society was gradually taken over by men like Charles Phillips and Stuart Piggott, of Cambridge University.


Basil Brown and new bike c1920s
blank In about 1935 Maynard was also responsible for taking on the man who was to become the finder of the Sutton Hoo ship burial. This was Basil Brown, who was the Ipswich Museum's first officially retained archaelogical excavator. Basil Brown was born near Ipswich in 1888, but had set up a smallholding at Rickinghall, where he lived with his wife May in the sort of tough rural living conditions that were normal all over Suffolk at this time. Basil was Suffolk through and through, but like many small farmers at the time, the enterprise failed to prosper. Brown, however, was a curious and resourceful man. He had an interest in astronomy, even publishing a book on that subject, and like many others, investigated spiritualism. In the 1930's he began his lifetime passion for archaeology. Maynard employed him for his skill and perseverance, and supported and encouraged him as much as he could.

The dig at Stanton would go on across the period from 1935 to 1939, but other digs were run at the same time. Basil Brown excavated several pottery kilns after 1935, notably that at Wattisfield. He travelled to investigate new sites using his bicycle, and many of his investigations arose because local people who found odd objects began to bring them to him for investigation. This local source of information was simply not available to the men in suits.


Pillar of Salt
blank During 1935, this well known road sign was installed on Angel Hill, at the foot of Abbeygate Street. The growth of traffic made a sign essential, but the site was of prime importance in the town. The design is credited to Basil Oliver, and it is considered to be the first internally illuminated traffic sign in the country. The Ministry of Transport required the letters to be 5 inches high and the sign had to be granted special approval as it did not conform to regulations.

As with any new feature introduced into Bury St Edmunds, most people took an instant dislike to it, and it became known as "The pillar of salt". In Bury's Guide Book for 1964, Norman Scarfe called it "the fell monstrosity." It would take several decades before it was accepted into the hearts of local people.

Basil Oliver was a nationally renowned architect, whose brother was Head Brewer at Greene King's brewery. Basil was born in Sudbury in 1882, next to Olivers' Cornard Road Brewery part owned by his father. He attended the King Edward VI Grammar School in Bury St Edmunds, and won several prizes for art. In 1902 he went to the University College at Liverpool, where he qualified as an architect. In 1919 Oliver's Brewery at Sudbury was taken over by Bury St Edmunds brewers, Greene King, bringing the Oliver family into close association with Bury. By 1919 he was a Fellow of the RIBA.

These days the sign points up Abbeygate Street with the command "No Entry", but in 1935 this was the main A45 route through the town centre. In 1998 this sign would become a grade II listed sign, described as "individual and probably unique." Today it can even be found in Wikipedia under the heading of the Pillar of Salt, and according to local historian Robert Halliday he has found no other structure, place or building in the world given this name.


New Locomotive - Suffolk Regiment
blank On 22 June 1935 a new locomotive was commissioned and named in honour of the Suffolk Regiment. This picture comes from the Suffolk Record Office collection of photographs taken by Mr Gerald Lambert, a professional photographer based in Bury St Edmunds, mainly taken in the 1930s and 1950s. The 'Sandringham' class locomotive was named by Major-General Sir Ponsonby in honour of the Regiment's 250th anniversary at the Hadleigh Road 'Show Ground station', Ipswich. After the unveiling the engine was used to haul a special train to Bury St Edmunds, home of the Suffolk Regiment. At Bury Sir John Ponsonby placed plaques, bearing the regiment badge, on the locomotive.

Suffolk Regiment Museum
blank Also to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Suffolk Regiment, the North Chapel of St Mary's church in Bury was to be converted into the Suffolk Chapel. Sir Ninian Comper completed his refurbishment of the Suffolk Regimental Chapel by the end of the year.
The regiment also opened its own museum at the Keep in the Regimental Depot in Out Risbygate Street, Bury. The nucleus of material had been collected by Colonel Montague and Major Doughty and had been presented to the Officers' Mess.

The Minister of Transport appointed the Mcgowan Committee to report on recommendations to improve the state of electricity supply in the UK. It was believed that the multitude of small local suppliers, of which the Bury Corporation Undertaking was a prime example, should be amalgamated into area groupings to maximise efficiency, and improve the uniformity and consistency of supply. Many small suppliers resisted this idea, but at Bury, the idea was taken seriously, and would lead to a sell off in 1938.

In Bury, the Borough Treasurer had been Mr J H Wakefield, since December 1889, a remarkable 46 year tenure. He was succeeded in May 1935 by Mr R J Pitcher who in 1935/36 converted the Borough's accounts from Receipts and Payments to Income and Expenditure in line with best practice, as laid down by the The Institute of Municipal Treasurers and Accountants. Central Government did not adopt this practice until the year 2001.

Mary Lobel: Bury St Edmund's
blank In 1933, Mary D Lobel was a research student at Girton College, Cambridge. Using documents from Bury Borough, Cambridge University and national sources, her thesis was on the government and development of Bury as a monastic town in medieval times. This was published by Oxford University Press as the book called "The Borough of Bury St Edmund's", by M D Lobel, in 1935. Unlike Yates in 1804, she wanted to discuss the development of the town's government, rather than the abbey's own story.
Using an apostrophe in the word Edmund's was a spelling used at this time in most quarters.

In November, the General Election resulted in a National Government led by Stanley Baldwin.

Pines at Icklingham
A R Blundell
blank This drypoint picture of Pines at Icklingham was made by local artist Alfred Blundell. A drypoint is begun like an etching on a steel plate, but there is no acid etching process used. The resulting plate may be printed several times to make an edition of perhaps 50 prints. On the back of this un-numbered example is inscribed, "To Jack from Alfred Dec 25th 1935", probably a present from Blundell to his friend Jack Copeland.

This picture was recently sold on E-Bay and an email from the seller included this note: "We were given to understand from the people we purchased the two pictures from that the artist (Jack Copeland) is the ‘Jack’ referred to on the back of the Blundell lithograph (it is inscribed “To Jack, from Alfred, December 1935) and that Jack Copeland, who was a relative of theirs was a friend, possibly a student, of Blundell."

Alfred Blundell lived at Cavenham Mill, and in 1933 he joined the teaching staff at the East Anglian School in Northgate Avenue, Bury St Edmunds. The school had just moved to Culford Hall in September, and Blundell's job was now located at the newly named Culford School.

German Military rally
1936 In March, Germany sent troops into the Rhineland, a demilitarised zone, which had been a long standing area of dispute between France and Germany. Under Adolph Hitler, Germany continued to re-arm and to ignore the protests from overseas. Britain and France did not have the will or the resources to enable them to physically resist German expansion at this time.

The British government quickly decided to devise a scheme to improve its own defences, including the expansion of the Royal Air Force. Part of this was the building of RAF Feltwell on the edge of the fens, in open farmland. It would become operational in 1937.


Bawdsey Manor today
blank Other defensive measures were also being considered. During 1935 Robert Watson-Watt had written a memorandum for Sir Henry Tizard's Committee on defences against the bomber. He discounted the development of a Death Ray but recommended the development of a system of Radio Detection (or Radar), the installation of radio-telephone links from fighters to ground control to send instructions, and the use of a coded message that could be sent from friendly planes to identify friend from foe. Acting on this advice, in 1936 a team of researchers under Watson-Watt was installed at Bawdsey Manor on the Suffolk coast, to develop these ideas. This work was top secret at the time, and the systems developed were to become crucial during the Battle of Britain. By the time the Battle of Britain began in July 1940 a chain of radar stations would have been built and made ready along the east coast.
The former Feoffment Girls School
blank The Borough Education Committee had spent some years planning the reorganisation of elementary schooling in Bury. The old Risbygate Schools, (St James's), were to be replaced by new schools in Grove Road. These were the St Edmundsbury School for younger children and The Silver Jubilee Schools for Boys and Girls who did not go to the Grammar School.
In March, the Silver Jubilee School was opened in Grove Road, Bury, by the Minister of Education.
The Feoffment Poor Girls School was moved to Bridewell Lane in Bury to join the Poor Boys School. The Parish School of St Mary's, which stood behind the Westgate Brewery, was also replaced by the St Edmundsbury School.

The St James National Schools were closed in 1937, and demolished, having stood since 1846. The site was used to provide School Lane, the access into the Cattle Market, and the Risbygate Street Carpark, the first purpose built parking place for motor vehicles in the town.

St Mary's School site became part of the Greene King Brewery. The Well Street School was sold off for business uses, while the St Johns School next to St Johns Church was not affected by these changes

M R James plaque
blank M R James was born in 1862 in Kent, but he had moved to the Rectory at Great Livermere with his parents in 1865, and regarded this area as his home. He had a brilliant academic career at Kings College Cambridge, becoming a Fellow, Lecturer in Divinity, and eventually, its Provost. In later life he became Provost of Eton College. He was responsible for a book on the Abbey at Bury St Edmunds, and his research had identified the location of the graves of several of its abbots. He was known to a wider public for his ghost stories, and these were re-published as "The Collected Ghost Stories of M R James" in 1931. Monty James, as he was fondly known, died, aged 73, on 12th June, 1936, and this commemorative plaque was erected in St Peter's Church in Great Livermere.

In July, work was finished to the Parish Church of St James to help its conversion into the Cathedral Church of the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich. The Bishop still lived in Ipswich, but his cathedral was in Bury. The Diocese had been set up on this basis in 1914.

July also saw the outbreak of Civil War in Spain.


Guide Book 1936
blank Bury's new guide book with information up to late 1935 was published jointly with the Chamber of Commerce, and supported by advertising. It was probably not available for sale until 1936. Unlike the guide book issued a few years earlier, it was produced by the Bury St Edmund's Printing and Publishing Co., Ltd., of King's Road in Bury. However, most of its contents were identical to the earlier publication, including the photographs. It contained the same historical introduction, with the same gazeteer of interesting buildings, and included facts and figures about the town at the time.

There were only a few minor updatings of information. For example, Moyse's Hall museum now had free entry except on Wednesdays, when it cost 3d admission. The Cullum reference library was still in the School of Art, but now, above it, was the the Print Room with the John Greene Collection of prints of old Bury. The water supply was also a municipal undertaking: coming from wells sunk in the chalk, but now is described as "of a high degree of purity." Gas was also available from the Bury St Edmund's Gas Company, a private undertaking. They supplied tar for roads and paths, sulphate of ammonia and coke, as well as gas from the works at Tayfen Road. The guide book also now boasted of an Aerodrome. "A site, approved by the Air Ministry, comprising 96 acres, and adjoining Newmarket Road, has recently been purchased for the purpose of a Municipal Aerodrome, and facilities for landing are already available." Thursday at 1pm was early closing day. Population at July 1934 was estimated at 16,810, but 200 were added by the boundary changes which took effect in 1935. Total Rateable Value as at 1st April, 1935 was £96,608. The railway had three routes to London, via Sudbury or Cambridge or Haughley, at 33/- first class to 19/10 third class. These prices remained the same as in 1931.

In May the Straight Corporation, headed by the American, Whitney Straight, put forward its proposal to take on the development and management of Westley Airport. Mr Straight already managed several other airports in the UK, including Ipswich. The council would erect the necessary buildings and operating profits would then be shared. A bid from Marshalls to run a Flying School was rejected in favour of Straight's business plan. Work began slowly, hampered by teething problems like the need for a footpath diversion, and Air Ministry regulations. By 1938 this agreement would collapse.

New ideas were incorporated into the Abbey Gardens in preparation for the Coronation. The central area of the gardens was redesigned and Hodson’s concentric circles were replaced by sixty-four island beds which have remained there ever since. The abbey ruins themselves had become very overgrown and the choir altar site was usually known as the wilderness.

Edward VIII was crowned King in January, but abdicated in December in order to marry Mrs Simpson. One of his official duties in his short reign was to visit RAF Mildenhall with the Duke of York, on 8th July, where he inspected 99 and 38 Squadrons, and also No 40 Squadron which flew in from Abingdon for the event. Edward was succeeded by his brother Albert, Duke of York, who took the throne as King George VI.

The Public Health Act of 1936 gave every district council a duty to provide free, weekly household refuse collections in their areas. It also required them to provide mortuary and post-mortem facilities.

The council's own improvements continued. During 1936 the electricity mains was extended down Newmarket Road to address the new developments there. One beneficiary was the Bury St Edmunds Golf Course and clubhouse, which hitherto had been lit by oil lamps. The golf clubhouse would get its electric lighting installed by Avis and Co of Guildhall Street, Bury St Edmunds, in March 1937.


Stanton Chair Dig
blank At Stanton Chare Farm Basil Brown had completed the first major stage of excavations of a Roman Villa for the Ipswich Museum. This sort of work would lead him to be selected to excavate at Sutton Hoo in 1939. This picture is from one of a set of two postcards produced by the Ipswich Museum and sold at the site. The text on the postcard may be viewed by clicking on the picture for a larger view.

The Tithe Act of 1936 effectively abolished tithes on farm land but left tithe redemption payments to be made to the government over the next 60 years, ending in 1996. Payments were to be at £91.11s.2d for every £100 of tithe value. However, the Act also made the tithe into a personal debt, making any non-payers liable to bankruptcy and imprisonment. The church got £70 million of 3% Government Stock, but had to give up its tithe income. The church maintained that this undervalued the capital value of tithe income given up by about £11 million.
In June 1936 about 5000 farmers marched through London to Hyde Park, to protest against the new Tithe Act. Such a march of rural protest had never been seen in the capital before. Lady Eve Balfour, A G Mobbs and Doreen Wallace, all from Suffolk, were prominent speakers.
However, the tithe distraint sales continued. At Hall Farm in Wortham there was such a sale followed by a a parade of effigies of Queen Ann and Sir George Middleton. The parade was half a mile long and proceeded to the Wortham Tithe Monument where a huge bonfire was lit, and the effigies burned.


Chicory Factory by the 1960s
blank What is believed to be the first factory in Britain for the production of dried chicory root was built by Messrs. Chivers on their estate at Sedge Fen, Lakenheath in about 1920. In 1935/6 it was replaced by a new factory, between Lakenheath Railway Station and Wilton Bridge, which was built by a Mr De-Cock, a Belgian who managed the enterprise himself. The site for the factory was close to road, rail and water from the river. Mr De-Cock brought over some families from Belgium to operate the plant initially and train local employees. At first they lived in converted railway coaches at the factory site. With the advent of World War II in 1939 they were unable to return to Belgium and even after the war several remained.

By 1936 Greene King had decided to improve the plant at the brewery. They needed a modern brewery to replace the the old Westgate Brewery, and the St Edmunds Brewery which was still being operated seperately in St Mary's Square. Both were old and had many maintenance problems. There were also five maltings on different sites.
It was decided to start on a new brewhouse, which would be built in Westgate Street between the two existing brewing sites. The new site was on the Coopers Yard, and would cover the sites of the St Mary's Infant School, and the old almshouses. A tunnel was dug under Crown Street to link the new brewhouse with the old Westgate Brewery. Building work was begun in earnest in December, at an estimated cost of £80,000.

Major Lake and Basil Oliver were Vice Chairmen of the committee set up to organise an exhibition of pub signs in London. The aim was to promote pubs and give them a modern appearance and some design flair. Some 250 signs were exhibited, 15 from Greene King's houses.

East Bury 1935
1937 In February the council received court approval to divert the footpath currently crossing the proposed site of Westley Airport. Physical works could now begin to partly level the site, and build the new footpath from St Mary's church in Westley and along the perimeter of the airstrip to Newmarket Road. This area had been bombed by Zeppelin LZ38 in 1915, at the end of its raid on Bury, and one large bomb crater was on part of the airfield site. It had been used as a corporation tip, and now needed to be filled in and levelled. In the meantime the rest of the site was let to a circus, used for sports and army manoeuvres, and a couple of air displays.

Bury Town football club won the Suffolk Senior Cup in 1937. The club trainer was Dick Minns.

Such was the fame of the Suffolk protestors against the Tithe charges, that in March 1937 A G Mobbs was invited to become President of the National Tithe Payers Association. Suffolk farmers were still resisting the tithe even after 1936, and a tithe sale took place at Mr Newstead's Manor Farm at Yaxley. The tithe was payable in the four parishes of Yaxley, Mellis, Thornham Parva and Thrandeston. The depression was easing but farms still made only marginal profits at this time. The government was becoming committed to increasing spending on the armed forces and civil defence measures, but still ignored the importance of a home grown food production.

The Odeon, c1960
blank During the thirties the businessman Oscar Deutsch established his well known chain of cinemas across the country. In July, 1937 the enormous Bury St Edmunds Odeon Cinema was opened in Brentgovel Street in Bury with seats for 1289 people. It was designed by architect George Coles, and built by Suffolk builder Stanley Leighton. It was built in a very modern style, with all the latest technology at the time. Following a change of name to the Focus, it lasted until 1982, when it closed down, and was finally demolished in 1983.

E L D Lake, or Major Lake, as he was known in West Suffolk, was made a Freeman of the Borough of Bury St Edmunds. Not only did he manage the local brewery of Greene King, but he was so involved in the town council and local charities and institutions that Bury was sometimes called The Lake District in fun.

At the Brewery, work was going ahead on the new Brewhouse, but ran into trouble in the summer. The building needed extra piling because of soil conditions, but there was also a shortage of building materials as the Government had begun a programme of re-armament. RAF stations being built or improved, like Duxford and Feltwell, and other military works were taking priority in supplies.

Borough Offices July 2006
blank The new Borough Offices were completed on Angel Hill, designed by the local firm of architects of Mitchell and Oliver, and opened on April 9th. Italian craftsmen were imported to lay the marble staircase, and were boarded with local families. The arms of the Borough of Bury St Edmunds were displayed on the building's portico, and were designed by Sybil Andrews.

The council offices in the Town Hall on the Buttermarket were moved here, leaving the Adam building now to be called the Old Town Hall. By the 1990's it was generally called the Market Cross building. The new Borough Offices had a fine Committee Room, but meetings of the full Council continued to be held at the Guildhall.


Lilian Redstone
blank The Borough Offices had its own purpose built Muniments Room. Work now began on fitting it out on the advice of Miss Lilian Redstone, of Woodbridge. She was an eminent local historian, and had published a county history of Suffolk in 1930.

The St James National Schools for boys and girls in Risbygate Street, were closed in 1937, and demolished, having stood since 1846. The pupils were removed to the brand new St Edmundsbury School in Grove Road, as were the pupils from St Mary's infants School off Crown Street.
The site in Risbygate Street, together with the adjacent site of the Hare and Hounds public house, would be used in 1938 to provide School Lane, the access into the Cattle Market, and the Risbygate Street Carpark, the first purpose built parking place for motor vehicles in the town.

The Borough Lending Library was established in the same building as the Cullum Reference Library, in the old School of Art, and would remain a public library until 1983.

Borough Electricity on the Playfields
blank Following the publication of a Government White Paper on the electricity industry, it became clear that the government was determined that smaller electricity suppliers should be joined with bigger, and therefore of assumed higher efficiency, suppliers.
Bury Corporation had by now decided to sell its electricity undertaking off Prospect Row to the East Anglian Electric Supply Company. The electricity generating station is shown here, together with a refuse destructor which burned rubbish to part fuel the generators. Also there were two houses called 1 and 2 Electric Cottages to house the works supervisors. The corporation water works was adjacent, although its wind pump had gone by 1937. The whole site was referred to as the Playfields because it had been acquired at first for a cricket and sports area. The swimming baths were on the same site.
The electricity showroom on the Cornhill was retained in ownership, but rented to the Supply Company. The transfer took place on 31st December 1937, (but dated 1st January, 1938), at a price of £100,000. Most of this money went to repay the loan debt on the elecricity undertaking, but, even so, the Council got better terms than other councils like Ipswich were to receive upon nationalisation in 1948.

During 1937 the council had spent £146.7.3 on the cost of generating electricity at Kings Road, but by now was buying in a bulk supply of power from the Central Electricity Board at a cost of £7,746.3.4. Town generated electricity was therefore only a minor part of local usage by this time.

With the disposal of its electricity works, the Borough Council of Bury voluntarily gave up one of its wide ranging powers, the extent of which seem inconceivable to us in the year 2001, as we are used to a Borough Council with a much more limited set of responsibilities.

In 1937, the Borough council served a population of about 17,000 people, and as well as the services which we would expect today, they also provided the following:

  • Sewers and Sewage Disposal,
  • Refuse Disposal,
  • Infectious Diseases Hospital,
  • a Small Pox Hospital,
  • Maternity and Child Welfare,
  • a Medical Officer of Health,
  • Slipper Baths,
  • Cow Shed Inspections,
  • Pauper Lunacy,
  • Animal Diseases,
  • Roads and Highways,
  • Traffic Control,
  • A Fire Brigade,
  • Police Services,
  • Quarter Sessions,
  • Petty Sessions
  • a Coroner's Court,
  • Regulated Explosives,
  • a Civil Airport,
  • From 1937 - Air Raid Precautions
  • provision of the water supply for the town, from its borehole in Kings Road,
  • Local Education Authority for the town.

One interesting element in the council's accounts for 1937/1938 was that whereas it owned a motor lorry, a steam roller and a petrol roller, it still spent most of its haulage budget on horses. Horse power cost £1230 in the year, while the motorised transport cost £31.

During financial year 1937/1938 Bury Council began to incur costs on Air Raid Precautions. It spent £42.14.8 in the year, which was reimbursed by West Suffolk County Council.

All the salaries and allowances paid to the Mayor and all the council officials were published in the accounts.

In June, the Cloister Gardens were opened in the Park now known as the Abbey Gardens in Bury.

Culford Training Centre
blank During 1937 the Ministry of Labour set up a Training Centre, or Instructional Centre, as it was known, along the Culford to Brandon Road. It was built like an army camp, with rows of wooden huts, and was served by an access road and gatehouse to the east of the road. It was called Culford Training Centre, although it was actually located in Wordwell parish. Wordwell consisted of a church, Wordwell Hall, a farm and a handful of cottages, so calling it Culford TC gave it a greater identity.
Its location was thus fairly isolated, and it took men from the depressed industrial areas to teach them new skills in handicrafts, metalwork and woodwork. By September it held 200 men, and a recreation hut was being built by the trainees. Men also worked on local projects, including repairs to locks on the River Lark.
During the war this camp would become the first national training centre for the Women's Timber Corps. On this site today, only the post box remains, marking the entrance to the camp.

The only pre-war fighter station built in the RAF's expansion period after 1934 was Debden in 1937. Along with Duxford, which dated from post World War I, these shorter grass fields could take Spitfires and Hurricanes.

In April 1937 RAF Feltwell also became operational with two squadrons of Handley Page Harrow light bombers. Building had started in 1936.
At Mildenhall, No 149 Squadron was formed from part of 99 Squadron, and equipped with Heyford Bombers.

Luftwaffe visit to RAF Mildenhall
blank RAF Honington was opened as a bomber station. RAF Honington had been started in 1935 and opened in 1937 in 3 Group with 77 Squadron's Audaxes and Wellesleys and 102 Squadron's Heyfords.
In October 1937 a Luftwaffe delegation visited Britain and toured several RAF bases. It was headed by Erhard Milch, who was Hitler's Secretary of State for War. He had been Chief Executive of Lufthansa by 1929 and a secret Nazi, being instrumental in using his position to train pilots and develop German aviation technology. Also in attendance was Ernst Udet the Head of the Luftwaffe Technical Department since 1935. This picture shows them at RAF Mildenhall, on 19th October. Milch is extreme right in the picture and Udet is the figure to the extreme left.

Shortly after this visit, the two squadrons at RAF Mildenhall began to convert from their bi-plane Heyford Bombers to the revolutionary Vickers Wellington bombers. The Wellington was a twin-engine, long range medium bomber, with a body frame constructed on geodesic principles. Unlike the Heyford, it was a mono-plane, and could attain 235 mph, and operate at up to 18,000 feet. The Wellington bomber would be produced throughout the war years.

At Woodbridge, Mrs Pretty, the owner of an estate overlooking the River Deben, had finally decided to get something done about investigating a series of mounds or tumuli a short distance from her home. She had been married to Colonel Frank Pretty of the Suffolk Regiment, but he had died in 1934. Colonel Pretty was connected to the Ipswich drapery firm of Footman and Prettys. At the Woodbridge Flower Show, she asked Vincent Redstone, another Woodbridge inhabitant, for advice on how to proceed. Redstone was himself a widely known historian, and he wrote to Guy Maynard of the Ipswich Museum, asking him to come to view the mounds. It was agreed that the Museum would run the excavation, and that it would take place when Mrs Pretty could release two of her estate workers to help with the heavy digging. This would be early in 1938.

The Spanish Civil War was joined by German volunteers who supported General Franco's fascist forces. Hitler ran massive and dramatic rallies in Germany. At the coronation of King George VI the British Empire showed that it could produce parades of glory and power that could still match the displays in Germany. Neville Chamberlain became Prime Minister in May, following the resignation of Stanley Baldwin.

West Bury 1935
1938 In the Bury Borough Council's fine new Offices on Angel Hill, a strongroom was finished to become the Borough's Muniments Room. Some records were transferred here from the Guildhall, where they had been kept in the room above the Porch, called the Evidence Room. This was done under the supervision of Miss L J Redstone, of Woodbridge. Gradually records for all of West Suffolk would accumulate here, and this would become the foundation of the Archive Service in Suffolk. Miss Redstone published several papers using these records, and in 1940 she would be appointed honorary part time archivist to the Borough of Bury St Edmunds.

By 1934 most of the buildings and equipment of the brewers Greene King were up to 100 years old. The brewhouse in Westgate Street was in a dangerous state and the site was congested. St Edmunds Brewery in St Marys Square was no better. It might have been the time to consolidate and move to new premises, but in the end only the Brewhouse was attended to. So Greene King pressed on with its new brewhouse in Westgate Street, which it started in December 1936. It began production in the first days of 1939.

C17th ridgetile from Hare and Hounds
blank In 1938, the Hare and Hounds pub in Risbygate Street was demolished. It had become rather decrepit. Standing nearly opposite to the Rising Sun, the Hare and Hounds can be traced back to at least 1783. A ridgetile from the old public house was presented to the Moyses Hall Museum in 1937, and after a brief time on display at West Stow Museum, it has returned to Moyse's Hall. It is labelled as 17th century. The St James's schools on the adjacent site also closed and this became the first site in Bury to be specifically levelled and allocated as a car park, and it remains a carpark in 2002. Places like the Angel Hill and Buttermarket were, of course, already designated as parking places, but these were just convenient uses of existing spaces. The construction of the Risbygate Street Car-park was a specific response to the rise of the motor car, and the need for somewhere to park it. Meanwhile, pub stabling was rapidly falling out of use.

At Ixworth, Jack Mulley started Mulley's Coaches, a business which became well known in West Suffolk as it expanded. It still operates motor coaches today.

In July 1938, the Westley Airfield, which by now was almost ready, was used by the Suffolk Agricultural Association to stage the annual Suffolk County Show. By this time the Straight Corporation, who were the council's lessees of the Airport, had incurred large expenses and delays with no business return. In addition, war was now a distinct possibility, and the company withdrew from their management agreement over the airport.

The council finally received an Air Ministry Licence to operate Westley as a public use Aerodrome in November, 1938.

A new entrepreneur now approached the council about running the Westley Airport. Courtney Prentice was a founder of the Suffolk Aero Club, and Director of Prentice Aircraft and Car Services Ltd.. Under the arrangement the West Suffolk Aero Club Ltd was established, and in December 1938 the Airfield was leased to the Club, which in effect was another business of Mr Prentice at this time. Prentice Aircraft Services would take on the running of the Airport for an initial three year period.

Although the airport was only in a rudimentary state, a Hawker Hurricane from 87 Squadron, based at RAF Debden, made a forced landing at Westley AirField on 17th November. While attempting to take off the next day, the plane crashed into the hedge near Sextons Hall. The plane never flew again, although the pilot served with distinction in the Battle of Britain and survived the war.

The council now completed building the Clubhouse and let the contract to build the hangar, workshop and office. The hangar was finished in December of 1938. Prentice Aircraft Services could now move into Westley Airfield with its American designed Taylorcraft light aircraft. These were thought to be the most cost effective and easiest to fly of all planes then available. The first plane was a model A, followed by a model B, and then 3 more Model C's were purchased, built under license in the UK to the latest requirements of the Air Registration Board.

These were all monoplanes, and the newer models were also suitable for use by the Civil Air Guard, who were formed in October 1938. This arrangement would offer subsidised flying lessons to anyone willing to join the CAG via an affiliated club. West Suffolk Aero Club joined this arrangement, as did most other aero clubs.

RAF Stradishall was opened in February 1938 as part of 3 Group. It was located off the road between Haverhill and Bury St Edmunds, some way south of the village of Stradishall, mostly within the parish of Hundon. It would be an active station for over 30 years.

RAF Stradishall was first occupied by No 9 Squadron with Handley-Page Heyfords and No 148 Squadron with Vickers Wellesleys. Both squadrons were drafted in from RAF Scampton. The Heyford was a twin engined bi-plane, classed as a long range bomber, but at the end of its service life. It had a range of 900 miles, a top altitude of 21,000 feet, and a speed of 150 mph. The Vickers Wellesley was a monoplane which featured a modern geodesic airframe, and had a three man crew, but was only powered by a single engine. Bombing exercises were soon carried out at Berners Heath. As predicted by many local people, the heavy Heyford bombers were often bogged down in the heavy clay soils of the grass runways.

In May the RAF celebrated Empire Air Day, and Stradishall was opened to the local public. About 6,700 people were counted as being in attendance. Off duty the base soon formed links with Haverhill by helping set up the Haverhill and Kedington Air Scouts.

Crash at Conyers Green
blank At this time Britain was rapidly building up its defence forces in the face what appeared to be inevitable war with Germany. British forces regularly undertook training manoeuvres and in early August 1938, some 900 aircraft and 15,000 pilots and airmen, together with 17,000 Territorial Army troops, began the largest Home Defence war exercise held in this country to date.

On 6th August 1938, fog and low cloud with heavy rain proved an impediment to the aircraft participating in the big exercise. On the night of Friday 6th August a Harrow bomber from RAF Feltwell was engaged in night exercises. It crashed "on high ground" at Vicarage Farm, near Conyers Green in Great Barton just after midnight on Saturday, 7th August. It had been on night exercises over Mildenhall, and was returning home. The five crew members were all killed, and subsequently buried at Feltwell.

Details taken from www.rcawsey.co.uk/Acc1939.htm, are as follows:
Harrow I K6961, 37 Sqn, Feltwell
Crashed, Great Barton, near Bury St. Edmunds
Caualties:-

  • Fg Off John Adam (23) killed
  • Plt Off Albert George Gillespie (26) killed (born in Australia)
  • Plt Off Edward Rayment White (23) killed
  • AC Patrick Joseph McGovern (23) killed
  • AC Charles Carter Noxon Suthers (23) killed
On 29th September, one of RAF Stradishall's Wellesley bombers crashed into a hillside on the southern edge of Kedington, and the three crew all died.

Details taken from www.rcawsey.co.uk/Acc1939.htm, are as follows:
Wellesley K7732, 148 Sqn, Stradishall
Lost wing diving out of cloud, Kedington, near Stradishall
Casualties:-

  • Sgt Ronald Ashley Cowan (26) killed
  • Sgt Harry Newby (23) killed
  • AC2 Peter Asquith Corp (19) killed
On 18th October, two of Stradishall's Wellesleys collided over Dunmow, and all six crewmen died.

Details taken from www.rcawsey.co.uk/Acc1939.htm, are as follows:
Wellesley K7714 & K7716, 148 Sqn, Stradishall
Collision, Dunmow Park, Essex
Casualties:-

  • Plt Off Eric Chamberlain Wheelwright (25) killed
  • Sgt Reginald Prosser (24) killed
  • Sgt Wilfred Courtney Cunnington (29) killed
  • Act Sgt James Crane Irwin (31) killed
  • Sgt Eric Mark Walker (23) killed
  • AC2 Thomas Moore Boyd (23) killed
At the beginning of November, No 148 Squadron at RAF Stradishall gave up its Wellesley medium bomber, and took over the heavy Heyford bombers of 99 Squadron. Stradishall was now a heavy bomber airfield, but its Heyfords were more or less obsolete. No 99 squadron had been the first unit to be issued with the brand new Wellington bomber, and the Stradishall crews could not wait to convert as well.

On 14th November another flying tragedy occurred when a Heyford bomber crashed upon landing at Stradishall, and burst into flames.

Details taken from www.rcawsey.co.uk/Acc1939.htm, are as follows:
Heyford III K5194, 9 Sqn, Scampton
undershot runway and burst into flames, Stradishall
Casualties:-

  • Wg Cdr Harry Augustus Smith MC (44) killed
  • Plt Off Aubrey Ward Jackson (20) killed
Air Raid Precautions 1938
blank The threat of war seemed to move even closer after Germany, now called the Third Reich, annexed Austria in March in what was termed the Anschluss.

In the same month, the Home Office issued a booklet called "The Protection of Your Home against Air Raids", issued at first only to officials who may need to take emergency action, such as Police, Local Government Officers and Special Constables.

However in July, the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain made a speech in which he said, "the idea that we can be starved out in a war is fallacious. We can depend upon the Royal Navy and the Mercantile Marine to keep open our trading routes and to enable us to import our food and raw materials indefinitely." Therefore nothing needed to be done about home food production or any help for the agricultural industry. Since 1936 alone, over 200,000 acres of land had fallen out of cultivation, and 13,600 agricultural workers had left the land.

Although the technology was available, farm mechanisation was beyond the means of most small farmers. Tractors had begun to appear after 1918, and later came the combined harvester, but in 1938 there were only 12 "combines" in the whole of Suffolk. Suffolk farms still had 26,300 horses for motive power.

Air Raid Precautions Card Album
blank A programme of publicising the need to learn about Air Raid Precautions included asking the Imperial Tobacco Company to issue a series of cigarette cards on the subject. Three companies, including WD and HO Wills launched a series of 50 cards in September 1938. Topics covered included selecting and protecting a Refuge Room in the house, garden shelters, dealing with incendiary bombs, types and uses of respirators for gas attacks, and anti aircraft measures. They were described as "a series of Cigarette Cards of National Importance."

In September 1938 the Munich crisis resulted on RAF Stradishall being placed on full alert and its tentative target, in case of war, was Berlin.
However, the government's policy was to appease Germany by allowing it to violate some of the Versailles Treaty. In September, Britain and Germany signed the Munich Agreement promising that the two countries would never fight each other again. Hitler was allowed to occupy the Sudetanland region of Czechoslovakia. Neville Chamberlain returned home in October, to announce, "I believe it is peace in our time."

However, the public were still encouraged to prepare for war. Bury St Edmunds Golf Club received a letter from the Air Ministry in October, asking them to lop all trees on the course to a height no greater than 20 feet. This was to avoid problems with any military aircraft which might have to operate from Bury's new airport, which was just being finished on the opposite side of Newmarket Road from the course. The Borough Council paid for these works and the club received £12.10.0 in compensation.

ARP Cards 1 to 3
blank The accounts of the Bury Borough Council for 1938/39 show that £518 was spent in that year on "Air Raid Precautions", over a period from 6 to 18 months before war was declared. This money was reimbursed by West Suffolk County Council, who were responsible for such preparations. The largest sum went on recruitment and training of personnel, but there was also the distribution of respirators, Black out testing, decontamination services, Air raid wardens and casualty services, as well as leaflets, information, instruction and advice to the public. Another £42 was spent on "Evacuation Expenses", met from a Ministry of Health direct grant.

At Haverhill, air raid precautions volunteers met in the Council School (at Cangle Junction), and their training was stepped up after the September Munich crisis. Shelter trenches were dug in the Recreation Ground.

Most people had a wireless by this time so the news of approaching war was avidly followed, even in the most remote village. Supplying and recharging the batteries for these wirelesses was a new trade, often carried on at garages or at the new wireless and radiogram shops in town.

The Great Ouse Catchment Board made a start on a restoration project of the River Lark locks. However, they had devised their "Upper Reaches Schemes" for such rivers. This meant that repairs on such rivers were carried out, but not with a view to commercial navigation. One or two locks were rebuilt, before the Second World War delayed the work. The first lock to be repaired was at Barton Mills, where it cost £482. The second of the Board's newly rebuilt locks was at what is now Marston's Mill at Icklingham. As well as new brickwork, new gates were installed in 1939.

Unfortunately, in January 1939, the Chimney Mills lock would collapse under the weight of flood waters. Repairs to this lock had to wait until 1947, by which time the Board had decided to abandon replacing lock gates.

Basil Brown
blank At Sutton Hoo, across the river from Woodbridge, Mrs Pretty decided that the mounds on her property should now be excavated, and asked Guy Maynard at Ipswich Museum to make arrangements. Maynard decided to supervise the work himself, and to transfer Basil Brown from the Roman Villa at Stanton Chair to Sutton Hoo. Mrs Pretty would supply labourers, and would herself employ Basil Brown at his usual rate at the time of £1 12s 6d a week. So, Basil Brown was employed for the dig and arrived on June 20th at Sutton Hoo.

Basil suggested to Mrs Pretty that it would be better to start with a smaller mound in order to get experience of the conditions, and the best way to proceed. In August, work had to cease as Mrs Pretty was going away. In 1938, three mounds were excavated, enough to prove that this was a high status burial ground of the 7th century. He found evidence of a boat burial, but the graves had been ransacked in the long distant past. Further work was planned for the following year, and Basil returned to the Stanton Chair Roman Villa on August 10th.

Francis Simpson
blank During 1938, another Suffolk individualist, Francis Simpson, discovered that a small meadow in east Suffolk, famous for its snakeshead fritillaries, was being drained and ploughed. An appeal raised £75, enough to purchase the field for the Society for the Promotion of Nature Reserves. Today, Mickfield Meadow, one of the oldest nature reserves in the country, remains an oasis of meadow flowers in the midst of an arable desert. Francis Simpson was, like Basil Brown, employed by the Ipswich Museum, but Simpson was in charge of the Natural History and herbarium section of the museum. Simpson lived in Ipswich and was Keeper of Natural History for the museum from 1930 until he would retire in 1977. Like others of his age, (he was born in 1912), he would be called up to serve in the army throughout the war years.

The last owner of Rushbrook House had been Lord Islington, who had died in 1936. In 1938 Rushbrook Hall and estate were sold to Lord Rothschild. At last Rushbrook was in the hands of someone with the money to rescue it from its gradual decline. Rushbrook had never suffered any of the 19th century modernisations, and was still a Tudor mansion in style. Rothschild made extensive changes to the east wing, adding a whole new corridor to convert the bedrooms from their old fashioned inter-connecting manner into rooms off a corridor. Mains water and electricity were added, as was a central heating system and extensive fire precautions. Many new service buildings were added for servants and to support the gardens. The work would be finished in 1939.

Greene King's 1939 Brewhouse
1939 In January 1939, Greene King's brand new Brewhouse was completed in Westgate Street on the corner of Crown Street, and brought into production. It very quickly proved itself a great success for the brewery. It had masses of spare capacity, and worked extremely well, and was airy and efficient to run. It is seen here in 2006, to the right of the 1881 building now used as a museum by the Brewery.
Inspired by this success, it was intended to move on to improve the bottling plant which was at full stretch, as well as the loading facilities which were dangerous in some cases. The Maltings also needed replacing. But it was now too late to act on any of these ideas. Decisions were put off and preparations for war stopped any chance of letting contracts.

By 1939 there were 520 council houses built in Bury St Edmunds providing homes for some 2,200 people. Plans were in place to build another 75 homes over the next five years, but these were never implemented as the crisis with Germany deepened.

Also curtailed was a major extension to the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. Work had begun in 1937, but was now suspended, although the Bristol Annexe had fortunately been completed in 1938. The Ministry of Health, expecting major casualties in time of war, now offered a grant to enlarge the hospital by 300 beds, but this had to be achieved using "temporary" huts.

The scale of this change can be judged against the fact that the hospital had only 112 beds at this time. These were paid for by a contribution from each patient of £1 a week for an adult and half that for a child. Otherwise free treatment, but no food, could be obtained by paying a penny a week per person into the hospital "club". Better off people subscribed 6 guineas a year to get free in patient care for 6 weeks. This system would last until the NHS would be set up in 1948.

At RAF Stradishall the first Wellington bomber arrived on 31st January to start the conversion of No 9 Squadron from Heyfords to Wellingtons. The change would take until March, while their sister Squadron, No 148 still flew the obsolete bi-plane Heyford bomber. No 148 Squadron began its own conversion in March.

The Wellington bomber was heavier than the Heyfords, and so had the same problems with the mud at Stradishall. In March some temporary wooden hardstandings were installed to alleviate the problem.

One small storm trooper
blank In January 1939, Major Geoffrey Anstee of the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment was in Berlin on official business. He collected several postcards illustrating German life at the time. This one shows Adolf Hitler in his "friendly uncle" persona, but the dress of the small boy in a Storm Trooper uniform, and the uniformed party onlookers shows the military outlook being fostered here. In his postcard home, Major Anstee comments on the weather and his hotel, and "everyone is very nice and helpful". In retrospect his final sentence has a chilling overtone: "Being shown a Labour Camp tomorrow!"

Within three months Germany would annex Czechoslovakia and within seven months Poland would be invaded, and Britain would declare war.

Anti-Tithe March
blank On February 1st about a thousand farmers and farm workers, many with their wives, arrived in London from East Anglia and took part in a march through the city to Central Hall Westminster. A special train ran from Ipswich to Liverpool Street station. The slogan was "Justice for the Land", and "Save Agriculture - Save Britain", to highlight millions of idle acres, depopulation of the countryside, bankruptcies of farmers, low agricultural wages, and the massive reliance upon food imports. Sir Oswald Mosley supported the march emphasising the idea that the British should use British goods and eat British food, but there was only a small Blackshirt presence on the fringe.

In February, there was widespread floods in Bury. The markets were also reorganised in the same month within the town.


Lord Bristol's Gift
blank A large and attractive drinking fountain set outside the Nutshell in the Traverse was judged to impede the traffic and so was removed. It had been a gift to the town from Lord Bristol, unveiled in 1871. It now stands in the Abbey Gardens, used as a planter next to the Bowling Green. Ironically, following pedestrianisation of the Traverse late in this century, it would have made a fine feature left where it was. Today a tree stands more or less in its place

The Plymouth Brethren moved out of town to a new chapel in West Road, Bury.

In March, Germany ignored the terms of the Munich Agreement and occupied the whole of Czechoslovakia.

The site that we now know as Blenheim Camp was built early in 1939 in Out Risbygate, Bury St Edmunds, and was originally known as West Lines. It was built for training the Militia who were called up for a six month spell, but war broke out before the six months were up. West Lines was expanded to give basic training to new recruits throughout the war.

There were two infantry units of the Territorial Army in the Bury area at this time. With the increase in international tension, men like Reginald Gray of Pakenham, an office boy working in Bury St Edmunds, decided to join the TA. These units were the 4th and 5th Battalions of the Suffolk Regiment. He joined up, along with many of his friends, in April, 1939. Their barracks was an old flour mill on Southgate Street. Reg would later write of his experiences in "A Suffolk Lad goes to War", to be sold in aid of Help the Aged.

Early flying was a hazardous affair. On 11th March, 1939, the West Suffolk Aero Club at the Westley Airfield lost its Model A Taylorcraft, when Henry Jewers of Elmswell began his first solo flight. Soon after take off the plane crashed into the rooftops of two houses in Westley Road, Bury, ending up in the garden of a third. The pilot recovered although he had fractured his spine, but the plane was a write off.

On May 20th Empire Day celebrations continued as normal. An air display took place at RAF Mildenhall, and the West Suffolk Aero Club showed off their aeroplanes to promote the Civil Air Guard.

On 19th June, 1939 Blenheim I L1253, from Martlesham Heath, was flying over West Suffolk. Presumably after engine trouble the crew baled out, over Icklingham, Suffolk; the aircraft was subsequently landed by the pilot at Mildenhall. Casualties are listed at www.rcawsey.co.uk/Acc1939 as follows:

  • AC1 Jack Maurice Forsdyke (22) killed
  • AC Christopher Stoddart injured
  • Sqn Ldr Ian Grant Mackay unhurt (pilot)

Guildhall Control Centre.
blank On 24th June, 1939, number 14 Group of the Observer Corps was inaugurated at Bury St Edmunds as part of the expansion of the existing OC 16 group which had hitherto covered Norfolk and Suffolk since 1933. The new group covered the area from Newmarket to the coast at Lowestoft, and south to Orfordness. Training began in the Guildhall at Bury. The local OC groups now were:
  • 14 Group Bury St Edmunds;
  • 15 Group Cambridge;
  • 16 Group Norwich;
  • 18 Group Colchester, covering Essex and south Suffolk.
Suffolk was therefore covered by 14 Group, out of Bury St Edmunds, and 18 Group out of Colchester. The following Observation Posts fed information into these two control centres, as appropriate:

No 14 Group:

  • C2, Bungay;
  • D2 Lowestoft;
  • D3 Wrentham;
  • D4 Pakefield;
  • E1 Halesworth;
  • E2 Southwold;
  • E3 Westleton;
  • F1 Badingham;
  • F2 Saxmundham;
  • F3 Wickham Market;
  • G2 Stradbroke;
  • G3 Debenham;
  • H1 Bacton;
  • H2 Crowfield;
  • H3 Combs;
  • J1 Stanton;
  • J2 Beyton;
  • J3 Bury St Edmunds;
  • K1 Hartest;
  • K2 Lavenham;
  • K3 Clare;
  • L1 Wickhambrook;
  • L3 Haverhill;
  • M2 Culford;
  • M3 Kenford.
No 18 Group:
  • F3 Sudbury;
  • H1 Aldeburgh;
  • H2 Orford;
  • H3 Shottisham;
  • J1 Claydon;
  • L1 Grundisburgh;
  • L2 Wolverstone;
  • L3 Felixstowe
The Observer Corps was a Civil Defence organisation set up in October, 1925. They were civilian part-time volunteers, and gradually the groups were set up, starting on the south coast. By 1936 Observation Posts were nominally in place in England as far north as Yorkshire. In September 1938, the Munich Crisis had led to a one week mobilisation of the Observer Corps, which showed up all its strengths and weaknesses. Opening a base at Bury St Edmunds was one of the results of this exercise. Further exercises throughout 1939 helped to get the personnel and procedures in place, together with the necessary communications infrastructure to make the chain of command as swift and accurate as possible. Observers in Suffolk would phone in their news to Bury's Guildhall command centre, where the progress of any aircraft could be plotted on a large tabletop map. The Guildhall room had a direct phone link to Duxford, where the fighter squadrons could be scrambled to meet any attack.The Observer Corps would become the Royal Observer Corps in April 1941, having proved their worth in the Battle of Britain and the Blitz.

By June 1939, the West Suffolk Aero Club was ready to take on more members. The inaugural public meeting was held in Everards Hotel on June 27th, and the Club advertised for members in the July issue of Flying Magazine. They advertised for private members as well as additional Civil Air Guard members. Within two weeks many new volunteers joined the West Suffolk Club at Westley as Civil Air Guard Volunteers, taking club membership from a handful to over 100.

The airfield was too small to be taken over by the RAF Volunteer Reserve, so private flying was allowed until 31st August, 1939, just before the war began, when all civil aeroplanes were grounded. During the war, it would be used on and off by the military until 1944.

On 1st June, 1939, Lady Denman set up the new Womens Land Army to operate from her home at Balcombe Place in Sussex. She knew from her WLA experience in World War I that women would be needed from Day one to keep agriculture going. The government was not yet so far thinking.

At Greene King's Brewery Major Lake had encouraged the workforce to join the Territorial Army, particularly in the late 1930's. With the growing crisis, he found by the summer of 1939 that so many men were away at a fortnight's camp, that women were now introduced into the office for the first time.

Bankruptcy at Wortham
blank The 1936 Tithe Act gave the courts the power to make bankrupt any farmer in default of tithe redemption payments. On 20th July 1939, a big demonstration took place at Wortham, where a Tithe Bankruptcy sale was held of the furniture and effects of Doreen Wallace, the novellist wife of Mr R H Rash. Over 1000 farmers attended to support her, and there was national coverage. The Manor House was stripped bare by the sale. This was to be the last time that Tithepayer protests would hit the headlines.
Excavating Sutton Hoo
blank At Sutton Hoo, overlooking the River Deben and the town of Woodbridge, Mrs Pretty owned an estate with a collection of interesting mounds or tumuli. She had asked the Ipswich Museum to oversee their excavation. Basil Brown had been assigned to the task, and would now follow up his work from the previous year.

Basil Brown returned to Sutton Hoo on the 8th of May 1939, and Mrs Pretty asked him to now dig the largest mound, despite obvious signs of past disturbance. By June he had uncovered a ship burial of over 50 feet long, and Guy Maynard of the Ipswich Museum decided that he should seek help and guidance from the British Museum. It was now agreed that the find was of national importance. By 25th June the government Office of Works had assigned Charles Phillips of Cambridge University to supervise the further excavation. Phillips could not become available until July, and Mrs Pretty was reluctant to wait, and instructed Basil Brown to continue digging. By June 28th he had found the other end of a ship some 83 feet long and 16 feet at its widest.

On 10th July the work was taken over by the Office of Works, under Charles Phillips, with support from the British Museum. Basil Brown was now reporting to Phillips, as well as Mrs Pretty, who was in effect his employer on this job. Guy Maynard and the Ipswich Museum would from now on feel increasingly excluded from what they regarded as a Suffolk enterprise. Phillips also brought in Stuart and Peggy Piggott as excavators on 19th July. By the 21st, the first gold objects were found by Peggy Piggott. The gold buckle, the purse and the 37 gold coins, were found on the 22nd July. Secrecy was now essential to avoid treasure hunters, and the objects were whisked off to the British Museum. It was now known that the site was Anglo-Saxon, and not Viking, as some had supposed. The great silver dish from the Byzantine Empire was located on 26th July. On 28th July, the full story was broken by the Daily Herald, so the East Anglian Daily Times had to follow suit the next day, having been holding back at the request of Ipswich Museum. Press now besieged anyone connected to the site. It had become a national sensation. By 31st July, the last of the treasure had been removed and shipped to the British Museum.

On 14th August, a Treasure Trove Inquest was held in Sutton Village Hall, with a jury of 14 local men. The jury found that the owner was Mrs Pretty, and the objects were not Treasure Trove, as they had not been buried for concealment, with the object of later recovery. By the end of the month, Mrs Pretty had donated the entire treasure collection to the British Museum, and with war imminent the whole lot was stored in a disused tunnel of the underground, safe from enemy bombs. By the time war was declared a fabulous hoarde of golden treasure and other royal grave goods had been found, and hidden again. These discoveries would transform the modern view of the Anglo Saxons, their sophistication and international connections.

After Austria and Czechoslovakia had been annexed by Germany, the new Reich was feeling strong and confident. The 1918 Treaty of Versailles was effectively abolished. In Germany the Jews had been viciously suppressed. In Russia Stalinist purges had killed 700,000 people. Despite their opposite political systems, in August 1939 the Germans agreed a non-aggression pact with Russia.

Secretly Germany and Russia agreed to divide up Eastern Europe and the pact gave Hitler the confidence to invade Poland. Britain had warned Hitler that it could not accept this and after its ultimatum was ignored the British Empire declared war on Germany on September 3rd 1939.

The Emergency Powers Defence Act was passed to give the government extensive powers to make orders and regulations without the normal parliamentary procedures. Under the Air Navigation Restriction Order all civil aircraft were grounded after August 31st, and in effect this was the end of the West Suffolk Aero Club at Westley. Winston Churchill was made First Lord of the Admiralty.

As war was declared Basil Brown filled in the excavation at Sutton Hoo, covering it in bracken and hessian. By mid September he was sent back to the dig at Stanton Chair. He would continue to make valuable contributions to Suffolk Archaeology, and died in 1977, aged 89, at Rickinghall.

On 1st September Defence of the Realm Regulations gave the Minister of Agriculture the power to set up County War Agricultural Executive Committees, soon known as War-Ags. Some 60% of British food consumption came from imports by 1939, and the Dig for Victory Campaign was launched. Suddenly British farm production become a top domestic priority. But the tithe payments were never stopped and tithe collections continued throughout the war.

Arthur Boreham described how, on 1st September, 1939, seven sergeants and a Warrant Officer from the Gibralter Barracks in Bury St Edmunds, were sent to Weeting Hall, near Brandon, to set up an Aliens Camp to hold German civilians living in this country. At the site were three locked up huts which had previously constituted a labour camp for unemployed men. Next day they were joined by a motorised cavalry unit to help erect a barbed wire compound around the huts. By Sunday, September 3rd, they had finished the work, and they clustered around one of the cars which contained a radio. They heard the Prime Minister announce that, "We are now at war with Germany."

The depot of the Suffolk Regiment at Gibralter Barracks in Out Risbygate, Bury St Edmunds, had always provided the training output for the battalions of the regiment. On the outbreak of war the Depot was re-designated as the Suffolk Regiment Infantry Training Centre, and its command extended to take over the West Lines hutted camp from the Militia, situated a half mile further out of town along the Newmarket Road. Lt Colonel H Gadd of the 2nd Cambridgeshire Regiment was given command on 5th September. Major F Pereira, who had run the Depot since 1936 was made Administrative Officer of the new ITC. Their task was to build two and a half new battalions, and to train its newly enlisted soldiers.

The Infantry Training Centre lost no time in making arrangements to have "voluntary" access to the woods and bunkers of the adjacent Bury Golf Course. They set up assault courses and a rifle range around the 7th and 8th fairways. The Golf Club responded by inviting officers at West Lines to join the club as playing or non-playing members, and by offering reduced green fees to serving members of the armed forces. Golf at Bury would continue throughout the war despite the presence of armed recruits, and the army never needed to officially requisition the course. One consequence of these arrangements was that the golf course was never required to be ploughed up as part of the drive for increased food production.

Within a week of the declaration of war, a British Expeditionary Force were crossing the Channel. Troops landed at Cherbourg, to be as far from the enemy's expected air attacks as possible. They then had to move to the Belgian frontier, 250 miles away. Once at their agreed positions, they dug in. Or rather, they built concrete pill boxes, dug anti-tank trenches, and laid wire.

The First Battalion of the Suffolks was sent to France with the 3rd Infantry Division of the British Expeditionary Force and would fight in France and Belgium in 1940 and be evacuated from Dunkirk.
By the end of the year 1939, a deep defence line was established in France by the allies.

Hamilton Pickett Fort
blank At home the airfields were being given new defences. One such was the Hamilton Pickett Fort, and three were installed at RAF Honington. The idea behind the Pickett-Hamilton fort was that of surprise. Designed to be manned by two gunners, the whole affair was lowered into the ground and accessed by the drain-like hatch in the roof. It would be raised in the event of an attack. It took four men to raise the fort, and the idea was that it could be lowered when friendly aircraft needed to use the runway, but raised to open fire on enemy raiders.

Records show 335 Picket-Hamilton installations were completed at aerodromes all over the UK, by which time they had been proved useless by Bomber Command. Further problems included the possibility of having to ferry ammunition into the fort across a potential battleground, and their waterlogging in wet conditions. Continuous pumping was needed at many installations.
Each PH fort cost approximately £240 to build. Although maintained ready for use in March 1942 their personnel and armaments were officially re-allocated to other means of aerodrome defence. At least one fort survives at RAF Honington and was refurbished in 1987.

When the Second World War started on 3rd September 1939, there were only 15 active military airfields (and five satellites) in East Anglia. Wellington bombers even took over the Rowley Mile end of Newmarket Heath. By May 1945 there were to be 107 airfields in operation in the area.

Wellington bomber
blank By August of 1939, delivery of Wellington bombers had been completed to 99 Squadron at RAF Mildenhall. Because of the imminent threat of war, and in an attempt to minimise exposure to attack, 99 Squadron was dispersed to a new satellite station at Newmarket Heath. It would operate under the control of RAF MIldenhall for the next 18 months.

No.149 Squadron remained at Mildenhall and the Wellington bombers were dispersed around the perimeter.

In yet another air accident just before war began, www.rcawsey.co.uk/Acc1939 records the following:-
29th.August 1939 Wellington Ic L4214, 149 Sqn, Mildenhall
Crash landed after engine fire, near Brandon, Suffolk
Casualties were as follows:-

  • Act Sgt Anthony Frederick Adrian Freeman (18) killed
  • Plt Off Thomas Watson injured
  • Fg Off Francis William Scott Turner unhurt (pilot)
  • Sgt Horace James Weller unhurt
  • AC2 John Gerard Hoey unhurt
  • AC2 Cecil George Barker unhurt
Number 75 Squadron came to RAF Honington in 1938 with Harrows and converted to Wellingtons but moved to Stradishall in July 1939. It was replaced by Number 9 Squadron who stayed at Honington until September 1942 flying Wellingtons.

At 11 am on 3rd September, war was officially declared and the German fleet was reported to be leaving Wilhelmshaven. By 6.30 pm, three aircraft of 149 squadron out of RAF Mildenhall were sent to intercept. Bad weather caused them to turn back.

On 4th September, the day after war was declared, six Wellingtons of No 9 Squadron from RAF Honington, and eight Wellingtons from 149 squadron at Mildenhall, set off on one of the first actions of the war. Their target was the German Fleet at Brunsbuttel on the Kiel Canal, where they met nine ME 109's. This action resulted in two planes lost from 9 Squadron, because the original Wellingtons had only fixed gun turrets. These were the first RAF casualties of the War. No. 9 Squadron was grounded until 9th November when they received Mark 1A Wellingtons. They then resumed anti shipping sweeps over the North Sea.

Westley Airfield was taken out of civilian control by the Air Ministry, and rendered unusable for the time being by a variety of obstacles. It would be a year before any use was made of it.

Identity Cards introduced
blank On September 29th, 1939, a massive administrative exercise took place to make a register of everybody resident in the country. It was called National Registration Day. Identity Cards would be issued based upon details in the Register, and the details taken were:
  • Residence,
  • Name
  • Sex
  • Date of birth
  • Marital status
  • Occupation
  • If member of armed forces or reserves
Identity cards were issued by one of 65,000 enumerators who visited each home on the following Sunday and Monday. Some 41 million names were recorded, and there would be no Census undertaken in 1941. It was expected that food rationing would become necessary and the issue of ration books also depended upon knowing who was eligible. Rationing in fact started in January 1940. At first the card had to be produced on demand to the police within two days, but by May 1940 the ID card had to be carried at all times.
Evacuees at Bury Station
blank At home the first few months were called the phoney war and the expected blitzkrieg did not arrive. However, petrol rationing was immediately brought in during September. Hundreds of thousands of children were evacuated to the country although many returned to the cities when little seemed to happen. In Bury during September, 1939, some 942 evacuees arrived from London. By 13th October it was reported that only 526 remained, the rest going back to London. In the later years of the war other evacuees would return to Bury.

Each boy or girl had been sent from London with a label giving their name and address. They were met by Red Cross and other volunteers and shepherded out of the railway station to be sorted into groups. On the station forecourt there was transport to deliver them to the various destinations chosen to have them billeted out. Some had families to go to, most went to stay with strangers. Some had to wait for a home.

The East Anglian School for Girls in Northgate Avenue, Bury St Edmunds was requisitioned as emergency accommodation for the evacuees. Several of the school's properties in the Avenue, hitherto used for boarding girls, were also taken over. The school was within easy distance of the railway station, where the evacuees arrived by train. The "East Anglian" girls were sent to the Culford School for boarding and education, but were still taught separately from the boys. They would not return to Northgate Avenue until 1945.

Like Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill was considered a "safe" area for evacuees and 180 children were soon to arrive from Page Green School in Tottenham.

The civilian population also mobilised for war. Factories converted to war work, and women joined the workforce to replace the men, as many had done in the First World War. Sybil Andrews, the Bury artist, went to work at the British Power Boat Company, echoing her war work as a welder in 1914-18. She would meet and marry Walter Morgan in 1943.


Boby's ARP team 1939-40
blank From 1939 to 1945 the firm of Roberty Boby Ltd worked day and night shifts on war work, employing up to 400 people, roughly twice their normal numbers. Like all larger organisations they organised themselves against air raids. This is the Air Raid Precautions, (ARP) Team from 1939 or 1940. The Red Cross instructor is in uniform in the centre. The Bury St. Edmund’s Services Council was set up, with the Mayor, Mr. H.I. Jarman as Chairman and Mr. L. Hobson as Hon. Secretary. Their aim was to provide what help they could to support war service personnel billeted in the area. It was felt that a social club was a necessity.

On October 19th the Athenaeum Services Club was opened in Bury to support the war effort. It would be an immediate success. It had been just the day before that a meeting called at short notice by Major E.L.D.Lake and attended by about 20 people, was held in the Lounge at the Athenaeum. Major Lake then reported that a meeting of the Town Council had been held the previous day when various matters affecting the comfort and entertainment of the troops quartered in the town and its immediate vicinity were discussed. Major Lake had agreed to make such arrangements as were possible to organise a Services Club for this purpose in The Athenaeum which had been provided free of charge by the Council. He also reported that the Athenaeum Club had placed the Lounge at his disposal.

Major Lake, Greene King's Managing Director, volunteered Westgate Brewery to provide all necessary chairs and tables, and set up a bar for the Canteen, where food and drink was to be made available. Illustrated papers were found for the tables, and books were found for the Library. Upstairs, the Lounge was used a a quiet room for reading and writing letters. Paper and envelopes were provided free for troops to write home. Over 200 women volunteered to provide the catering, a mending service, and arranged weekly concerts and plays, together with a kiosk selling stamps, tobacco and sweets at trade prices. The Ladies Committee was chaired by Miss Muriel Lake, twin sister of the Major.

In November the annual mayor-making ceremony of the Borough Council installed Major Edward Lancelot Dewe Lake, as the new Mayor of the borough. Major Lake would continue as Mayor right through the war until November 1945. His sister, Miss Lake, would accompany him throughout his term, as his Mayoress.

Less happily in November, bacon and butter went on ration.

No 149 squadron from RAF Mildenhall had been chosen to appear in a propaganda film called "The Lion has Wings". A preview of this film was shown at Mildenhall's Comet cinema during November, and the whole squadron was marched into town to watch it.

By December the blackout was causing severe problems for road users. In that month alone about 1,100 people died in road accidents nationwide.

On 3rd December, bombing operations were stepped up. On 3rd December the German fleet were attacked off Heligoland. Squadrons involved were Nos. 149 from RAF Mildenhall, 38 and 115. They suffered air attacks, but sunk only one minesweeper.

In 1939 the Rowley Mile Racecourse at Newmarket Heath had been taken over by Wellingtons of 99 Squadron from Mildenhall and the Grandstand was used for their accommodation. Twelve of these planes attacked the Germany fleet off Heligoland on 14th December 1939 and six were destroyed by enemy fighter action.

December 18th 1939 saw the biggest air battle since the Great War. Nine Wellingtons from 149 squadron, with another 9 from No 9 squadron of Honington, and 6 from No. 37 Squadron, made a 24 bomber attack on the German fleet, now off Wilhelmshaven. German fighters shot down 10 Wellingtons, 2 ditched on the way home, and 3 were badly damaged. Four of the new Mark 1A Wellingtons of Honington's No 9 Squadron were lost in this attack on the German fleet of 18th December. No. 149 squadron lost two Wellingtons.

These disastrous actions helped Bomber Command to decide against daylight attacks, and all daylight actions were suspended forthwith. Future work was to be done at night.

The old Ruffles windmill in Wratting Road, just outside Haverhill, was partly demolished because its distinctive circular sail was deemed to be an excellent landmark for enemy aircraft.

Other consequences of war were that civilians were often relieved of their property for war work. For example, at Clare Priory, now a private home, Lady May, a descendant of the Barnadiston line, had to leave home. The Priory was commandeered by the army for a Brigade Headquarters for the duration of the war. At Ousden Hall Algernon Mackworth-Praed had to give up his home where he had lived since 1914. It was requisitioned and used by the army and after the tide of war turned in the allies favour, the estate grounds were used to hold first Italian, and then German, Prisoners of War. Fornham Park was similarly requisitioned.

The Guildhall Feoffment Trust built the Jankyn's Place Almshouses in Chalk Road, Bury St Edmunds.

During 1939 Lady Eve Balfour of New Bells Farm in Haughley, near Stowmarket, and her neighbour Miss Alice Debenham, decided to establish a scientific experiment to prove that a healthy soil was needed to produce food which was beneficial to human health. Miss Debenham founded the Haughley Research Trust, and Walnut Tree Manor and farm were given to the Trust. The experiment began in 1940, although Miss Debenham died in that year. By 1943 Lady Eve had run the experiment for 3 years and published the results in her book called "The Living Soil". In 1946 the Soil Association was formed as a national body and the by now bankrupt Haughley Research Association and farm was purchased by the Soil Association. Lady Eve's New Bells Farm was given to the Association and its headquarters was moved from London to Haughley. The Soil Association moved to new premises at Bristol in 1985, and to Ryton, near Coventry in later years, but Lady Eve received an OBE in 1990, the year of her death. By 2004, organic produce had become commonplace in Supermarket food displays, but chemical fertilisers were the latest thing in 1939.

1 Suffolks on the Maginot Line 1940
1940 By the end of January 1940, the war was only 4 months old, but there were 222,200 British troops massed along the Belgian border. The old Maginot line was earmarked as a Defensive Line, but fast moving German armour would simply outflank it in the next few months.

The winter of 1939/40 was severe, and in Suffolk resulted in the demise of the population of Dartford Warblers. They would not return until milder winters at the extreme end of the century.

In January, as a special war time measure, the opening of cinemas on a Sunday was sanctioned in Bury for the first time. Rationing was introduced, along with regulations about the black out, and a range of other restrictions.

In the same month sugar, ham, cheese and meat were added to the list of rationed foods.

The Local Defence Volunteers were set up, only to be re-named the Home Guard within months.

Fornham St Genevieve Hall
blank The needs of the military were paramount. Fornham St Genevieve Hall and Park had been requisitioned. The following account of Fornham Hall is from "WW2 People's War" by the BBC, Memories of a Sapper in the Royal Engineers, 248th Field Company, named Bill Astle:

"That was early 1940 I should think, about 1940 time, early 1940. We were then stationed at Fornham Hall, Fornham Park, Bury St.Edmunds and that was later demolished. It looked like a sort of, oh, like Woburn Abbey I suppose, and it was later demolished because of it being a landmark. (The empty House was in fact not demolished until 1951.)
And incidentally we moved from Bedford to Fornham Park and we were the first people that had occupied it as occupiers. A caretaker lived there. We were the first since the First World War when it was the same Unit that moved in, the 248th Field Company from the First World War was also billeted there.
And it was a weird place. If you can imagine something like Miss Haversham’s place in Great Expectations - that was the same. Four poster beds, sheets etc. still on the beds and when you tried to pick them up they fell to pieces in your hands. Also, it had a library in there, a very big library and when the door closed in the library you got lost because you couldn’t see the way out, it was part of the book display, it disappeared.
It was on telly a little while ago, a family called Gillstrap used to live there but the Queen stayed there as well. (Sir William Gilstrap had bought Fornham St Genevieve Hall and Park in 1868.)
It still had the furniture in and I felt a pang of regret when they removed all the furniture that was in there and put it in the cellars down below.
But there is another humorous bit to that - in the cellars down below there were a lot of bottles in racks and they still had the stuff in them going back to, probably the 1890s or something like that and they made us smash all the bottles. Because we all had a drink, the snow was on the ground and some of us went to sleep underneath the trucks in the snow, they made us smash all the bottles."

The Suffolk's 7th Battalion was converted to armour to fight in the Churchill tanks of 142 Regiment Royal Armoured Corps. They would later fight in the Battle for Tunis and the clearance of Tunisia, and the break through the Adolf Hitler line at Cassino in Italy. Here they fought alongside Canadian troops and wore the Canadian Maple Leaf badge.

In March 1940, a Wellington bomber from No 99 Squadron from Newmarket Heath crashed at Chalk Hill, Barton Mills, killing all its crew. It was engaged in dropping "nickel", otherwise called propaganda leaflets, over Germany.

Also in March, No 3 Bomber Group moved its HQ from Mildenhall to Harraton House in Exning, where it stayed for the remainder of the war.

On April 9th, Germany invaded Denmark and Norway. Suddenly the phony war was over. Neville Chamberlain resigned as Prime Minister, after failing to thwart the invasion of Norway.

In April, the RAF Mildenhall squadrons now had to attack the newly taken German bases of Stavanger in Norway, Aalborg in Denmark and in May, Waalhaven in the Netherlands.

BEF surrounded 23rd May 1940
blank On 10th May the Germans invaded the Netherlands. By the 11th May they were in France. Winston Churchill became the Prime Minister as the Battle of Flanders now began. Although 400 concrete pill boxes had been built by the BEF, they were still short of ammunition, and did not have the equipment for sustained operations. Nevertheless, the BEF advanced into Belgium to a position on the Dutch border.

The Dutch had to surrender on 15th May. The Germans were encircling the French Army and the BEF from the south east. Allied forces mounted some counter attacks, and fought many delaying actions. By 21st May Boulogne came under attack, and had to be evacuated on May 25th. Calais was lost on 27th May, but by now a perimeter had been established around Dunkirk. The same day, the Belgians ceased hostilities.

The BEF had been on half rations since May 23rd, and ammunition was short. The Dunkirk perimeter was pulled back again, and by 30th May the whole of the remaining BEF had fought themselves back to within it. The famous evacuation of Dunkirk took place between 31st May and 3rd June. The RAF, including the Mildenhall squadrons, attacked roads and railways to hinder the enemy advance, and finally to hold back German troops from the beaches.

The docks at Dunkirk were destroyed, and so rescue could only come on the beaches. Organised by Dover Command, an armada of small ships and civilian boats was pressed into service, manned by their civilian volunteer owners. Some 330,000 men were saved by the navy and 700 little ships. Over 200 boats were lost. About 112,000 of the troops evacuated were French.

During May, there were plans to open a new flax factory at Long Melford. However, there was some opposition to the plans. Melford Rural District Council decided to protest against the proposal to build this flax factory at Guild Hall Farm, near Rodbridge corner, and the location was changed. That same month it was decided to build the flax factory at Glemsford, which became the English Flax Company, and was still in production through the 1950s. Glemsford had previously had a flax factory through the Great War, but the new one was built on a different site at Lower Road.

Surviving anti-tank barrier
blank With the invasion of France on 11th May, a sense approaching panic gripped Britain, and the government and the military command were galvanised into action. The Home Defence Executive was immediately set up to prepare for a possible imminent German invasion. Within two weeks the heavy naval guns were stripped out of obsolete World War I ships, and some 50 defensive batteries were set up along the coast. Among the locations chosen as being vulnerable to landings were Southwold, Dunwich and Sizewell.

Lt Colonel Gadd, the Officer Commanding the Suffolk Regiment Infantry Training Centre at Bury St Edmunds, was now also given responsibility for the defence of West Suffolk. He had to make plans to defend the camp, the wartime airfields, all service installations, and to address defences against glider landings and airborne attacks against undefended open areas, such as the many Breckland heaths, and the open Downlands around Newmarket.

By June a series of defence lines had been mapped out for fortification. The main "stop-line" was the General Headquarters Line, which ran in the East from the Thames estuary via Cambridge and York to Edinburgh. The Eastern Command Line (E) was set up from Thetford down the Blackbourne to Ixworth, Stowmarket, Needham market to Ipswich. Another Defence First Line called Eastern Command Line (W), ran along the River Stour from Colchester to Sudbury, Lavenham to Bury St Edmunds and along the River Lark valley to Mildenhall and Littleport, where it joined the GHQ Line. This line explains the string of pill-boxes, dragon's teeth, anti-tank barriers and Spigot Mortar mountings which run through our area. These were all built by local building contractors through the second half of 1940.

Other anti-invasion steps were also being taken at this time of alarm. Arthur Boreham has described how he and another NCO had to search the whole of the town of Bury St Edmunds to plot on maps every industrial and private petrol tank. They had to register the capacity and contents of each tank and note whether it was above or below ground. The idea was that in the case of invasion all petrol that could not be salvaged would be rendered useless by adding linseed oil to it.

Debden, in Essex, had been an RAF station since 1935 and flew Hurricanes and Blenheims in the 1940 Battle of Britain, when it was also bombed by the Luftwaffe. Castle Camps was opened as a satellite fighter station in June/July 1940. The first major new wartime RAF station was Coltishall which also opened in June 1940.

On June 10th Norway had to capitulate to the German forces, while Italy now declared war on Britain and France. Britain's immediate response included sending Nos 99 and 149 Squadrons of Wellington bombers from RAF Mildenhall, to operate from Salon, near Marseilles, against Italy. On June 14th the Nazis took Paris, and on June 22nd France capitulated. Understandably, Britain had to recall the squadrons operating from France on 17th June. Along with No 99 and 149 Squadrons came No 218 to be held at Mildenhall until moving to RAF Oakington in July.

On June 18th 1940, Winston Churchill made one of his now famous speeches. "The Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin.....Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties,and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say 'This was their finest hour'."

Invasion was seen as a real possibility. The government feared that if this came, then the civilian population might flee, as had happened in Europe. So they developed a "Stand Fast" policy, and a leaflet was issued to the population with advice on this.
The first 'Stand Fast' leaflet was issued in June 1940 and assured civilians that German troops would not stop and attack individual houses. It advised householders to dig slit trenches for protection. It also stated in capital letters:

"DO NOT GIVE THE GERMAN ANYTHING. DO NOT TELL HIM ANYTHYING. HIDE YOUR FOOD AND YOUR BICYCLES, HIDE YOUR MAPS, SEE THAT THE ENEMY GETS NO PETROL. IF YOU HAVE A CAR OR MOTOR BICYCLE, PUT IT OUT OF ACTION WHEN NOT IN USE. IT IS NOT ENOUGH TO REMOVE THE IGNITION KEY; YOU MOST MAKE IT USELESS TO ANYONE EXCEPT YOURSELF."

On the night of 18th June, Bury St Edmunds was bombed, but nobody was hurt.

On 29th or (less likely) on 30th July a Junkers bomber crashed near Bury St Edmunds, having caught fire in mid-air. This has been recorded on some websites as, "aircraft 5J+ER of 7/KG.4 crashed in flames on 30 July 1940 at Great Barton, killing all the crew."

The RAF diary of the Battle of Britain has a record of the following incident on 29th July, 1940, which seems to be referring to the same incident:
"At 0010 hours, one Ju88 crashed just north of Bury St Edmunds. This aircraft was plotted in over Bristol as an unidentified raid but later it was stated to be friendly and Bedford ceased plotting. 16 bombs are reported dropped near Norwich........
Casualties:
Enemy: Fighters - 7 confirmed, 2 unconfirmed; Bombers - 15 confirmed, 8 unconfirmed.
Own: 2 Spitfires (Nos. 41 and 64 Squadrons; 1 pilot), 2 Hurricanes (Nos. 56 and 151 Squadrons).
AA at Dover claims 2 confirmed bombers in above totals. Also includes the Ju88 crash near Bury St Edmunds. "

Increasing attacks came through July as spasmodic bomber raids occurred against towns all over Britain, although these were hampered by broken, stormy weather.

The Number 3 Bomber Group of the RAF were now directing attacks to the heart of Germany itself, including the Ruhr, Hamburg and Bremen. This included the squadrons at Mildenhall and Honington. Mildenhall was now sending a dozen bombers on a schedule of twelve to fourteen raids a month. Not surprisingly, the Luftwaffe tried to retaliate directly at these bases.

During 1940 to 1941 there were 16 recorded attacks on RAF Honington, and three enemy planes were shot down by the ground defences. The first attack was on 10th July 1940, and two 14 foot holes were blown in a nearby cornfield by 250 lb bombs. Two surprise attacks on 19th August caused more damage. Eight airmen died and sixteen more seriously wounded when they were caught in the open on the old parade ground. That evening the second attack hit a barrack block causing more loss of life.

The first attack on Berlin was in August 1940, and included No 99 Squadron out of Newmarket Heath and 149 from Mildenhall.

West Suffolk Defence lines
blank By August, 1940, a vast defensive network of concrete installations and barbed wire was being established throughout East Anglia. It was now realised that these lines could be easily bypassed by paratroopers, and once breached, they were completely vulnerable to attack from the rear. On 5th August, 1940, General Majendie, in command of 55 Division, wrote as follows:

"I am very much concerned that we are going pill-box mad, and losing all sense of proportion in the matter of siting defences. The lure of concrete is leading us away from first principles. The countryside is covered with pillboxes, many of which will never be occupied, many could never serve any useful purpose, and many face the wrong way. Much labour, money and material have been wasted. I realise that this is largely due to haste and the desire to get something done quickly … I wish to emphasise that a concrete pill-box with the weapons at our disposal cannot be regarded as forming an adequate defensive post. It should form part of a small defensive locality."

By December 1940, the principle of defence lines would be replaced by the principle of "defended localities," with all round defences.

Crashed Dornier at Whepstead
blank On 26th August a Dornier bomber was shot down at Whepstead. It dropped a bomb before making a crash landing. Two men got out with injuries, one was unhurt, and the pilot was too badly hurt to leave the cockpit. However, all the crew survived and were captured by the farmer, Mr Mingay and a member of the home guard, Mr Boreham, and taken to hospital for treatment.
The picture shows the plane in a field of mustard with the editor of the Bury Free press at the time, Mr Thomas Linford

In the archaeology digging season in Summer, 1940, Basil Brown, the excavator of the royal ship at Sutton Hoo, excavated two Roman pottery kilns at West Stow. He would return in 1947 and continue working there with Stanley West.

The Blitz on London began on 7th September, and from September 1940 to May 1941 over two million homes were destroyed. The Luftwaffe had shifted strategy away from attacking fighter bases to the attack on London and other cities. Southampton, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Devenport, Bristol, Coventry, Birmingham, Manchester and Merseyside all suffered heavy casualties. September was the peak month for civilian deaths, but October was nearly as bad. Casualties reduced in November and December. During this period the aerial Battle of Britain was effectively won, not by destroying the enemy, but by showing continued strong resistance which made the cost to the Luftwaffe too great to continue. The invasion of England was called off. We now know from Wood & Dempster's "The Narrow Margin" ,(1961 p360), that in Germany on September 19th, 1940, Hitler formally ordered the assembly of the invasion fleet to be stopped, and the shipping in the Channel ports to be dispersed ' so that the loss of shipping space caused by enemy air attacks may be reduced to a minimum'.

Crashed Junkers 88 in Culford park
blank This photograph of a Junkers JU 88 was sold on EBay in August, 2011. The original was printed at 5 inches by 3 inches, and was described as taken by a local photographer. It records the German fast medium range bomber as shot down in Culford Park on 19th September, 1940. The RAF's Battle of Britain Campaign Diary makes no mention of this crash. However, the Battle of Britain Historical Society has the following record for September 19th, 1940:
"0950hrs: Ironically, it was not on the south coast that the first attacks of the day occurred. A small formation made a surprise attack on Liverpool. No serious damage was done as most of the enemy aircraft were flying in singly or in pairs. Later in the morning, a number of Ju88s were detected heading towards London. These were met by 249 Squadron North Weald (Hurricanes) and 302 Squadron Duxford (Hurricanes) over north Kent. The Ju88s were scattered and were turned back with one of the bombers being shot down by F/O J.Kowalski of 302 Squadron at 1130hrs and it crashed near Bury St Edmunds. Another was to sustain engine damage and crash landed near Cambridge."

Rougham Hall, seen derelict in 1944
blank The first home to be bombed in Bury was on September 22nd, 1940. The raider also strafed the area around the railway station, and the Spread Eagle.

Rougham Hall, home of the Agnew family since 1904, was hit by a large bomb, and although many of the outside walls still stood, the whole structure had been made unsafe. Apparently the bomb went through the house and exploded in the cellar, destroying the foundations and underpinnings of the house. Agnew family tradition is that the Germans announced next day that they had bombed the richest Jews in East Anglia. This was taken to mean the Rothschild family at nearby Rushbrooke Manor, and that they had bombed the wrong place. The clock in the clock tower at the back, shows the time when it stopped as five past one o'clock. Again, this is thought to refer to the early hours of the morning. The picture shows the hall in August 1944, looking untouched from a distance, but, in reality, just a shell. The remains of the hall still stand derelict and covered in ivy in 2012.

Hawstead bomb damage
blank This press photograph by Gerald F Lambert, of Well Street Corner, Bury St Edmunds, was submitted to the Bury Free Press and Post for a deadline of Thursday October 17th, 1940. It was passed for publication on 11th October by the Press and Censorship Bureau, with what appears to be a proposed caption by the Censor of, "A homestead damaged in a recent raid". The photograph was sold on E-Bay in July 2013. The one word "Hawstead" is written in ink on the reverse, along with the censor's stamp, Lambert's business stamp, and a pencil note on publication. The absence of detail in the published results of enemy action during this war makes for difficulties for the modern historian which contrast with the more freely available material from the First World War.

Miraculously, nobody was killed in these local incidents, and bombing was to be an infrequent occurrence for the town and its surroundings.

On 29th July the first Czech Bomber Unit was formed at RAF Honington, and named 311 (Czech) Squadron. The Czech aircrew had served in France before escaping to England. They were the first bomber unit formed here of non-British Empire allies to have their own aircraft. In August they trained on Ansons and Wellingtons, and then moved to Honington's satellite station at East Wretham. Their first raid was on 10th September 1940 when B Flight attacked the Antwerp/Deume Airfield. They later flew missions into the heart of Germany, usually taking only one to three aircraft, and often flew from Honington.

In Summer 1940 the Wellingtons of RAF Number 9 Squadron, based at Honington attacked German industrial targets by night.
By September it was decided that the Wellington Bombers of IX Squadron at RAF Honington should concentrate on the destruction of German industry. They needed to damage the enemy's capacity to produce aircraft that were now attacking Britain with such devastating effect. On 23rd September the squadron made its first massed attack on Berlin, together with 311 Czech Squadron from Honington's satellite station at East Wretham. They joined other squadrons to make a 129 bomber raid, losing only three aircraft of the entire armada.

Westley Airfield was built in 1938 and became home for the West Suffolk Aero Club with its Taylorcraft Plus C monoplanes. It had been too small to be taken over by RAF Volunteer Reserve so private flying was allowed until August 31st 1939, when it closed. The army then put obstructions over it.
On 30th September 1940 the first operational squadron arrived in Bury at the Westley Airfield. It was the Army Cooperation Command's 268 Squadron with its Westland Lysanders intended to patrol the East coast to watch for signs of the expected German Invasion. The Lysander was a two seater that had been in service with the RAF since June 1938. It was designed for use as an Army Cooperation aircraft, able to land within the length of a football pitch. It had two machine guns and could carry bombs, but was hopelessly outclassed by the Luftwaffe, and was soon assigned to duties where combat was less likely. The Lysander became used by the SOE for clandestine sorties into France, but, despite local stories to the contrary, these operations never took place from Westley. Because of a lack of facilities at the airfield the army personnel had to be billeted at Blenheim Camp, while RAF personnel were billeted in local houses. The Officers Mess and Flight Briefing Room was set up in the requisitioned Westley Hall, which still exists. Not until October could the main A and B Flights move into Westley from Cambridge.
Tragedy struck the Squadron based at Westley on 2nd November when two members of B Flight crashed their Miles Magister, newly arrived from Gloucestershire, into the ground near Eldo House Farm, outside Bury near Rougham. Both men died.
Later in November one of the Lysanders was written off in a crash landing at Westley, the pilot surviving the accident.
Six glider pilots arrived at Westley in November to practice traing runs over Berners Heath. In December another Lysander was lost when it crashed in thick fog at Dullingham. Both pilots died.
268 Squadron would stay at Westley until April 1941.

In October 1940, Bury's first Observer Post, reference number 14/J3 was established between Westley Road and Cadogan Road. This spot is now part of the Gainsborough Recreation ground, and is surrounded by houses, but at the time gave a good view of the area, and was near to Westley Airfield. At first it was a sandbagged enclosure covered by canvas, but later acquired a brick wall protection. The post was manned night and day, linked by telephone to Sector Operations Room to log and report all aircraft movements. About 30 full time personnel manned the HQ at the Guildhall, while Observation Posts were staffed by Volunteers.

During 1940 the Bristol Annexe was opened at the General Hospital in Bury. It housed the Maternity Unit, and a private Ward. The Bristol Annexe is the only part which still remains, renamed Cornwallis Court. It is a Masonic Retirement Home.

During the Battle of Britain the East Anglian fighter involvement was mainly the assembly of 12 Group's Big Wing assembling every day at Duxford.

During all this death the summer was glorious, the culmination of a period of warmer summers which had begun in the 1890's. Winters now began to be colder than before, and by 1950, summers would become cooler as well.

On 27th October there was an attack on RAF Honington when 36 bombs were dropped. Three airmen died, E Hangar was damaged, one Wellington destroyed and two more damaged.
Honington suffered another attack on November 8th when a Junkers 88 was successfully shot down by Private Tommy Sudbury of the Middlesex Regiment. It crashed near D Hangar, and Tommy was awarded the Military Medal after he was reportedly reprimanded for opening fire without orders.

The first recorded attack on RAF Mildenhall came on 27th November 1940, when 33 bombs were dropped on the base and two men died. Newmarket Heath was attacked on the same day.

On December 4th, the first attempt was made to attack Italy directly from England, when No 3 Group, including the Mildenhall Squadrons, attacked Turin, a flight of 1,700 miles. Later in December 1940 IX Squadron flew their Wellington Bombers from Honington to attack Venice, their first Italian target.

Sudbury's British Restaurant
1941 In January 1941 the fear of further bombing reached the countryside, including Bury. Blackout precautions were tightened, and a public meeting was held in Bury St Edmunds to organise fire watching parties. Some 500 people volunteered to help. Attacks would soon be coming.

At Sudbury, one of the first British Restaurants in Suffolk was set up during January, 1941, situated in the Technical Institute on North Street. This was already the home of the Town Library as well as the Womens Voluntary Service in Sudbury, and the WVS were instrumental in organising the Restaurant. At first it was intended to feed evacuees, but within a few months it was widened to include anyone who needed a meal. This included lorry drivers, who often took the wrapped meal away with them on their journies. It could serve up to 140 meals a day and the usual charge was 9d. It would be another 15 months before Bury St Edmunds set up a similar facility.

Walters silk mill
blank Also in Sudbury the future of the silk mills was called into question as the war drastically reduced the availability of luxury silk products. What kept the mill of Stephen Walters going were contracts to weave silk for parachutes, surgical dressings (silk has antiseptic properties) and electrical insulation (plastic had not been invented). It was very tricky to get the porosity of the fabric just right for parachutes. The Walters silk mill was at Cornard Road, Sudbury.

In late 1940 or early on in 1941, the RAF Camouflage and Decoy Unit set up a dummy airfield at Cavenham Heath. These units were intended to fool enemy raiders into attacking harmless dummy installations rather than real targets. It was intended to protect the nearby Newmarket Heath and Mildenhall RAF airfields. Fake aircraft and trucks were fashioned out of wood and canvas, and false flare paths laid to deceive airborne observers. Its value would soon be proved within a few weeks.

Also recorded at www.pastscape.org.uk is that Snarehill Airfield, just east of Thetford, was converted into a bombing decoy to deflect enemy bombing from Royal Air Force Honington airfield. The site operated as both a 'Q-type' and 'K-type' decoy. As a 'Q-type' night decoy it displayed a series of lights simulating an active airfield, which were powered by underground cables. As a 'K-type' day decoy it positioned dummy Wellington aircraft around the former aerodrome buildings to replicate a working airfield. The site also featured a bomb dump, which made the site look inhabited and more realistic from the air. The bombing decoy site is believed to have been in use between 1940 to 1941. An uncovered control building remains on the site in good condition, complete with unblocked entrances fronted by blast walls. A further bombing decoy site for Royal Air Force Honington was located at Ixworth.

An exceptionally low level attack on RAF Mildenhall occurred when a Dornier Do 215 caused considerable damage to buildings and aircraft on 30th January. Such intruder attacks returned over RAF Mildenhall on 1st February and 2nd February. Civilian targets also suffered, possibly at this time by accident.

Destruction of Stowmarket Congregational Church
blank On 31st January, 1941, a lone German bomber flew over Stowmarket. It was a day of low cloud and poor visibility, and the plane came in from the direction of Needham Market, flew over the town and then returned along Bury Street and Ipswich Street. A stick of bombs was dropped over Ipswich Street at approximately 12.05, midday, five of which hit the Stowmarket Congregational Church. Another bomb wrecked two houses in Kensington Road, killing Mrs Rhoda L Farrow, a widow aged 59.

Stowmarket Congregational Church had been built in 1861, and during wartime it was used as a refuge during air raid alerts. In the evenings a room was being used by the Berkshire Regiment as a Canteen and Rest Room. Luckily the church was empty when it was bombed. It was totally destroyed, and would not be replaced until 1955.

The Charley Chaplin film, "The Great Dictator" was showing at the Odeon, in Bury St Edmunds, during January 1941. A mock coffin was displayed outside and to put another nail in Hitler's Coffin, you made a donation to the Spitfire Fund.

On 3rd February the Newmarket Heath satellite of RAF Mildenhall also suffered a Dornier Do 17 attack. Ten bombs fell and two aircraft were damaged, along with some buildings. Further attacks on Mildenhall and Newmarket Heath occurred on 18th, 24th and 27th February.

On 6th February a Miles Magister of 268 Squadron from RAF Westley, forced landed at Moon Farm in Haverhill. The pilot was unharmed and the plane had an armed guard until it was recovered.

On 10th February after 7 in the evening, an enemy bomber flew in low over Westley Airfield and dropped 300 incendiaries and two large oil bombs. Local houses and gardens suffered minor damage but one of the squadron's Lysanders was destroyed. Enemy planes were active for about 5 hours after this.

On 18th February, 1941, the town of Newmarket suffered an air raid. Five people died in Eaton House, High Street when a bomb made a direct hit. The White Hart Hotel at Newmarket and much other Newmarket High Street property was destroyed by bombing from a Dornier.

In February, 1941, houses in Holderness Road, nearby to Bury's Sugar Beet factory, were bombed. This time, three people died and there were also other serious injuries. These were the first deaths in Bury itself arising from the aerial attacks. Exact dates and details of these raids are hard to come by as the newspapers were heavily censored and items suppressed to avoid public panic. Exact locations were never mentioned.

By now there was a "K" site set up at Cavenham to deceive any enemy planes searching for RAF Mildenhall. These were decoy sites, even lit with flares, and laid out at first with old wrecked planes to deliberately attract enemy action. Cavenham was duly attacked on 27th February. Another "K" site was set up north of Euston, known as Snarehill or Thetford, and Wellington "U" Uncle of No 149 squadron once landed there by mistake on returning from a raid. Later in the year Shepperton Film Studios provided realistic dummy aircraft for the "K" sites, but by 1942, these sites were no longer needed as the attacks fell away.

One of the hangers at RAF Stradishall suffered enemy bomb damage in early 1941. Number 138 Squadron flew many sorties from Stradishall from November 1941 to March 1942 with Whitley bombers.

On 1st February the Air Training Corps (ATC) was set up to encourage boys of 16 to 18 years old to consider joining the RAF in due course. Within a few months a hundred local boys joined the 301 (Bury St Edmunds) Squadron. At first they met at the Victory Ground, then on the Cornhill, and soon settled at the Silver Jubilee Boys School, meeting three time a week. By 1943 they would be training in gliders at Westley.

In North Africa British forces were having success against the Italian army. In September 1940 Italian forces had invaded Egypt, but in December the British offensive began and the Italians retreated. By February 1941 further British advances captured 130,000 Italian prisoners in a two month period. These prisoners were soon to be shipped to various parts of the British Empire to be held in Prisoner of War camps. One such local POW Camp for Italian prisoners was at Upper Somerton, near Hesset in Suffolk. It is also said that Italian POWs were housed in temporary huts on what later became the Hardwick Industrial Estate, Bury St Edmunds, although in the first decade of the 21st century, the whole area would be turned over to housing.

Erwin Rommel landed in Africa later in February to bring his Afrika Corps to strengthen the Italian forces. By March he had besieged Tobruk.

On March 18th aircraft were returning to RAF Mildenhall from an attack on Bremen. An enemy plane flew in and shot down one of the Wellingtons over Beck Row. The plane crashed on the bungalow of Mr and Mrs Titmarsh of Beck Row, but the occupants had avoided death by hiding under the bed.

On 18th March 1941 the control of Newmarket Heath was transferred from RAF Mildenhall to RAF Stradishall. Number 99 Squadron was moved to Waterbeach to join 5 Group. RAF Mildenhall was now home to just 149 Squadron. Eight aircraft from 149 Squadron attacked the battle cruisers "Scharnhorst" and "Gneisenau" on 30th March, bringing their score up to 1,000 tons of bombs dropped during hostilities. Attacks on these ships, together with German ports and Ruhr towns continued into April.

On 31st March 149 Squadron tested the capabilities of their two new Mark II Wellington bombers. These could carry the new 4,000lb cookie bombs, and they now attempted an attack on Emden. One of the new aircraft failed to get airborne and came to rest in Mr Norman's barley field at West Row. The other new plane succeeded in its mission with the new bombs, together with two other Mark I Wellingtons which carried conventional bombs.

The Women's Land Army, re-formed in 1939, was organised along County lines. Rallies were held to generate support and raise WLA morale. One such was held in Cambridge in April, when about 70 WLA "Landgirls" marched behind the Home Guard Band from Parkers Piece to the Guildhall, to be met by the Mayor, and their founder, Lady Denman.

During 1941 the Women's Land Army went on to clear out the River Lark from the Tollgate Lock back to Bury in order to reduce the risk of flooding to the allotments along Cotton Lane. This was thought vital to protect food supplies to civilians in the town.

On 10th April another flying accident occurred when a Wellington failed its air test at RAF Mildenhall, by crashing onto a cottage at Holmsey Green. The crew all lost their lives, as did the occupant of the cottage, Mrs Martha Brightwell.

In April, 1941 the Observer Corps were re-designated The Royal Observer Corps by King George VI. At this time women were recruited to the ROC and were to become the mainstay of many observation posts.
By June 1941 a nationwide Observers Club was set up to help with the training of prospective volunteer observers, and Bury St Edmunds set up a branch on June 29th. Eventually the ROC became a uniformed service with a badge and the motto, "Forewarned is Forearmed."

During March Pilot Officer Ken Wallis joined 268 Squadron based at Westley. Later he moved on to Bomber Command but would find fame in the 1960's as the creator of autogyro "Little Nellie" seen in the James Bond film, "You only live Twice."
Westley Airfield had been home to the Lysanders of 268 Squadron who flew coastal watch missions here from September 1940 until April 1st 1941, when they moved to RAF Snailwell. By 1941 the Army Cooperation Command felt that Lysanders were too slow and vulnerable for reconnaisance work, and acquired American Curtiss Tomahawks. Unfortunately, the runway at Westley was not long enough for these so as squadrons converted to the Tomahawk, they could no longer use Westley. RAF Snailwell was a satellite of RAF Duxford.
On 11th April the first 9 Lysanders of 241 Squadron flew into Westley from Inverness, their previous posting, followed a week later by the rest of the squadron. 241 squadron was an Army Cooperation unit. Westley was too small and had few facilities but because of the Gibraltar Barracks and Blenheim Camp in Bury, it had attractions for combined operations. 241 Squadron flew mainly Lysanders out of Westley Airfield from April to 1st July 1941, to help the army and watch the east coast for any invaders. Not until this period did Westley officially become designated as RAF Westley, with the call letters UL. But now it was the turn of 241 Squadron to convert to the Curtiss Tomahawk, so they had to find a longer airstrip. Ironically when 241 Squadron left Bury for RAF Bottisham on 1st July 1941, the newly designated RAF Westley again stood idle for the next 13 months until 11th August 1942.

Damaged Wellington at Honington
blank In December 1940 No. 9 Squadron had attacked Venice out of RAF Honington, and in January 1941 they returned to Italy to attack Turin. In March 1941 they received two Wellington II's, able to carry 4,000 lb bombs.
The picture shows a damaged Wellington that had returned safely. The geodetic construction of the fuselage meant that this aeroplane could sustain heavy damage and still hold together. This made it very popular with aircrew.

Wellingtons of Number 3 Group Flight arrived at Newmarket Heath RAF Station in May 1941, with Wellingtons of 75 Squadron later. In these early days the 3,000 yard grass runway was the longest in the country.
Whitleys and Lysanders flew clandestine operations from here as well, but a tank carrying glider was also tested at Newmarket Heath because of its long runways.

On 17th August 1941 the Germans reported that a raid on RAF Mildenhall had resulted in six aircraft destroyed on the ground and most of the station demolished. In fact, this was pure propaganda, as this attack never took place.

In the Spring Hitler planned Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of Russia with its plan for genocide in the east. Even his own soldiers wondered why they had begun to move against their Soviet allies in June. Over 3,000 tanks attacked along a 1,000 mile front, covering up to 40 miles a day. Over three million Russian soldiers were captured and within six months 600,000 of them were dead. By September they were approaching Moscow but such was the defence, the attack never breached the city.

On 1st September a Wellington of 99 Squadron was shot down while attempting a landing at RAF Mildenhall. They had just returned from an attack on Cologne, and all the crew were lost except the rear gunner, when they crashed into a West Row field.

9th Battalion Home Guard magazine
blank In September many houses were damaged in Fornham Road in an air raid, but there were no casualties.

By now the Home Guard had become better organised, as illustrated by the issue of their own magazines and instruction manuals. This illustration shows "The 9th Post - Journal of the 9th Suffolk Home Guard", dated September 1941. It was a printed booklet, Volume 1, No. 1. Produced by the Home Guard soldiers themselves, this journal contained articles of interest to the Home Guard whether military, personal or social with a look at both light hearted and serious matters. It had items on field craft, short stories, letters, competitions and so on.

Civilian life in general continued to be difficult. Brewers were regarded as supporting morale in the Second World War, but they had a shortage of materials and labour to work with. Greene King estimated that 62 percent of its workforce were joined up. Of the office staff the proportion was 75 percent. Most of these 140 had joined local Territorial Units, either the 58th Medium Battery Royal Artillery, or the Suffolk Yeomanry.
These experienced workers were replaced by boys and women. The bottling plant had a completely female workforce. The brewery now made only one beer, in a light or darker version, to simplify production.

From late 1940 to 1942 No 149 Squadron continued to be part of the night bomber offensive, flying out of RAF Mildenhall. As part of No 3 Group, attacks included Dusseldorf on 22nd January, Hanover on 10th February and Bremen on 17th March. In 1941 the film "Target for Tonight" was made here, and shown as a propaganda film to raise civilian morale. The film featured Wellington F for Freddie, a plane which in fact had never flown against the enemy.

Stirling bombers were introduced to 149 Squadron at the end of 1941. These new aircraft had four engines compared to the Wellington's two, and could not operate from Mildenhall's grass runway. RAF Lakenheath was a newly built satellite for Mildenhall, and had been built with concrete runways from the start. It was built a mile to the north of a now abandoned "K" site, or dummy aerodrome, on Eriswell Low Warren, originally laid out to protect RAF Feltwell. The new Stirlings of 149 Squadron would become operational in early 1942.

In 1941 157 Mosquito Squadron was formed at Debden, Essex, just south of Haverhill, and equipped at Castle Camps.

18th Division 'windmill' badge
blank The 4th and 5th Battalions of the Suffolks had been raised as a prelude to this war and in October 1941 were assigned to the 18th (East Anglian) Division and sent to guard Singapore. These were Territorial Units, and men like Reg Gray had joined up in April 1939, right after the Munich Crisis. On 29th October they sailed from Liverpool for Halifax in Nova Scotia. Although the USA was still neutral, they provided three troopships to take the 18th Division to Singapore, via Trinidad, Capetown and Bombay, sailing out of Halifax on 10th November, 1941.

The USS Wakefield took the 4th and 5th Suffolks and the 4th Norfolks, including Reg Gray, author of "A Suffolk Lad goes to War". The USS West Point carried 1/5 Sherwood Forsters, 1st Cambridgeshires and 5th Beds and Herts Regiments, including John Cosford of the 1st Cambridgeshires, the author of "Line of Lost Lives". The USS Mount Vernon carried 2nd Cambridgeshires and 5th and 6th Royal Norfolks.

On December 7th 1941, "a date which will live in infamy," the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour and Honolulu in Hawaii. Next day, the Americans declared war on Japan and her allies and the war was now truly global, a "world war."

The 4th and 5th Suffolks had just reached Capetown, on route for Singapore, when they heard that Japan was now at war with America and the British Empire.

Lord Rothschild had acquired Rushbrook Hall and its estate in 1938, and had immediately spent a large sum on modernising the whole hall, estate and gardens. The war effort required large buildings for the army, and for the treatment of the wounded. In 1941 Rushbrook House became a convalescent home for servicemen, run by the Red Cross. The Rothschilds never returned to live in Rushbrook House, and it would be demolished in 1961, although the family still retain the estate and a smaller house there in 2009.

Stirling of 149 Squadron
1942 Lakenheath airfield was built during 1941 and in January 1942 RAF Lakenheath opened as a satellite of RAF Mildenhall flying Stirlings of 149 Squadron. The code letters of 149 Squadron at this time were OJ, as can be seen on the aircraft shown in this picture.

The Stirlings of 149 Squadron first attempted an attack on the battleship "Tirpitz" to be hampered by bad weather. On 3rd March 1942 ten of the new Stirlings of 149 Squadron devastated the Renault factory in Paris. Later on in March they destroyed a warehouse in Lubeck, depriving the Russian front of a huge amount of stores. By April they were laying mines around the Friesian Islands.

By now, No 149 Squadron had transferred all its Stirlings to Lakenheath, to be replaced at Mildenhall by the Wellingtons of No 419 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force. No 419 began operations as early as 11th January, against Brest.

By late 1942 the airfield building programme got into full swing, especially once the Americans began to arrive in July. In those days there was no mains water or electricity in much of the countryside of Suffolk and the roads were not suitable for heavy traffic, so the impact of these works and the service men and women who subsequently used them was tremendous.

The 4th and 5th Battalions of the Suffolk Regiment arrived in Singapore on 29th January, 1942. They reckoned that they had travelled 20,000 miles to reach it, having sailed via the USA, where they took American ships for their destination in Singapore.
The press liked to call it Fortress Singapore, but when the Suffolks arrived they found that it had virtually no landward defence at all. It had massive guns to defend a sea-borne attack, but not even any attempt to face a land attack.
On 11th February, the Japanese attacked Singapore through the jungle approaches. British forces could only hold out for four days.

Changi
blank When Singapore was lost on 15th February 1942, the men of the 4th and 5th Battalions of the Suffolk Regiment, along with thousands of others were to become Prisoners of War. In all about 130,000 men of the 18th Division fell into enemy hands. The Suffolks were marched to Roberts Barracks at Changi, a camp on the east coast of Singapore Island. The Japanese set them to clearing up the bodies and the debris left by the Japaneses attack, but provided them with no food at all. This they had to forage for themselves.

Memories of Changi Camp and the building of the Burma/Thailand Railway from October, 1942, under intolerable conditions remain a powerful part of local history. Many men did not survive this period of slave labour. Of the 4th Battalion, 286 men would die and from the 5th 271 would die in captivity.

During 1942, some of the Italian prisoners from the North Africa campaign began to be accomodated within the UK. Camp number 56 was located at Botesdale, and there is some evidence that it housed Italian POWs during 1942. Camp number 85 was known as Victoria Camp, and was located on the Brandon Road at Mildenhall. It is unclear when it was established, but it certainly held POWs by October, 1944. Camp number 260 was in Bury St Edmunds, located at Hardwick Heath. It may be from a later date than these other two camps, as its number designation was so high.

During 1942 an Invasion Committee met in the Borough Offices on Angel Hill, at Bury. The Brewery roof had a lookout post, and an anti-tank ditch was dug around the town.

In March 1942 heavy attacks were made on Essen, Lubeck and Rostock by the RAF, but even larger forces would soon be gathered. 14 planes from RAF Honington joined the first 1,000 bomber raid on Cologne, on 31st May, together with 17 Stirlings from No 149 Squadron, now at Lakenheath, and 18 Wellingtons from the Canadian No 419 Squadron from RAF Mildenhall.

The second 1,000 bomber raid soon followed on 25th June against Bremen, and another against Essen.

The secret new aeroplane, the Mosquito, was completing its tests at Castle Camps by 157 Squadron, and in May one crashed at Helions Bumpstead.

1942 became Spitfire year at Debden when the Debden Wing was formed. When 65 Squadron was replaced by 71 Eagle Squadron in April 1942 the transition to a USAAF fighter base had begun.

Debden was then home to the top-scoring "Eagles" of the American 4th Fighter Group from September 1942 to July 1945.
Debden became known as The Eagles Nest because the base was home to the 4th FG, formed from the RAF's three Eagle squadrons (Number 71, 121 and 133) which were manned by American volunteer pilots before the USA officially entered the War. The 4th Fighter Group was part of the 65th Fighter Wing, and its USAAF Squadron designations became 334, 335 and 336.This made it the oldest fighter group in the Eighth Airforce. The 4th Fighter Group claimed 583 air and 469 ground enemy aircraft destroyed, the highest total of the USAAF. 241 of its own fighters were lost.
The Eagles flew 36 Spitfires until April 1943, when they converted to Thunderbolts.

Also in May, the First Battalion, the Suffolk Regiment was sent to Scotland for training in combined operations.

In the week of 9th May, 1942, the Bury St Edmunds British Restaurant was opened in the old St Mary's Infant School in Crown Street. (This site is now occupied by the Brewery Yard.) British Restaurants had begun in early 1941 in order to provide affordable hot meals for people who found it difficult to cook at home. Many women now had to work to supplement their incomes, or were on various forms of war service. Often run by the WRVS, they were cafeteria style, non profit making places which had to supplement, but not replace, commercial establishments. In Bury it opened from 12.30 to 2pm and could serve up to 80 people at a time with a hot 3 course meal for 11d. By this time there were already 40 British Restaurants in Suffolk, with Newmarket serving 350 meals a day, Sudbury serving 160, Haverhill serving 110 and Lavenham serving 80 meals a day. They would all charge a shilling or less. The Bury Restaurant soon became noted for its meagre helpings.

By June the rationing was extended to even more items, and blankets and sheets were only available to newly-weds.

Also in June 1942, the inhabitants of six Breckland villages north of Brandon and Thetford in Norfolk were given a month's notice to quit by the War Department. Lord Walsingham had to leave his estate along with his tenants and by the end of July about 600 to 800 people had lost their homes. The six villages of Stanford, Tottington, West Tofts, Buckenham Tofts, Langford and Sturston were deserted along with the small farmsteads and cottages around. Since 1940 the army had used the area for manoeuvres, but now needed a live firing area for troops and air support to train. It became called the Stanford Battle Area. Lord Walsingham negotiated with the army and got the promise that everybody could return after the war. This never happened, and as recently as 1990 the area was enlarged to 27,000 acres. It is still used for army and airforce training, now known as STANTA to the military, or Stanford Training Area.

The official opening of the Y.W.C.A.'s hostel for Women's Land Army girls at Lakenheath was held on 13th June. In fact it had been in operation for some time and was fully occupied by this time. The hostel, for 116 girls, was opened by Mrs G Walmsley, wife of the chairman of the West Suffolk War Agricultural Executive Committee. Mrs Carnegie, National chairman of the Young Women's Christian Association presided over the proceedings and Lady Briscoe, West Suffolk Women's Land Army chairman was among other 'V.I.P.'s present. The Lakenheath hostel was the largest in the country with three dormitories, two sleeping 40 girls and one 36. The hostel was situated on either side of the High Street at Lakenheath.
This large hostel was sited at Lakenheath because a considerable number of workers were required to assist in the reclamation of Lakenheath Fen, which had become largely derelict and subject to flooding during the pre-war 'depression' era, and bring it into arable crop cultivation to help the war effort. Some 2,100 acres of the Fen had been taken over by the West Suffolk W.A.E.C. under the Defence Regulations.
Training of a more technical or managerial nature would be undertaken at Chadacre Farm Institute. The women would also be sent to work on the private farms of Chivers, Sizers and Kidners, as well as others, and occasionally went as far as Ickworth Estates or Gazely. Conditions at the Hostel were rough and ready, but frequently were preferable to the living conditions a WLA woman might find on small outlying farmsteads.
Also after April 1942 the Women's Timber Corps was formed by splitting off from the WLA. Timber was vital for pit props to support increased production in the coal mines. New trees needed to be raised and planted out, but this was the first job to suffer when manpower was called up for military service. Women would take on this job as well as timber felling and milling. There was also a need to establish the timber resource available, and a survey or census of forests and woods was set up.
There was a need for a specialist unit to work on the production of timber for uses such as pit props, construction and telegraph poles. The first national training centre for the Lumber-Jills, as they became known, was set up at Wordwell. This camp had been established in 1937 to provide work and training for unemployed men during the Depression. Many of them had been from the North-East, but with the advent of war, the men were sent to join up. Although the camp was in the parish of Wordwell, it was usually called Culford Camp, and continued to operate throughout the war. Women from here worked in woods as far away as Martlesham and Methwold.

In July 1942 the Suffolk Regiment Infantry Training Centre at Gibralter Barracks and West Lines in Bury St Edmunds was merged with the Beds and Herts Regiment ITC, and re-designated as Number 3 ITC, to become the Third Infantry Division's Training Centre. Lt Colonel Gadd remained in command. The Beds and Herts Regiment carried the battle honour of Blenheim, and West Lines would eventually be re-named Blenheim Camp in recognition of this link. Some 80,000 men would undergo training at this facility during the Second World War.

B-17 Flying Fortress "Rumdum"
blank The first US plane landed in Britain on 1st July 1942 - a B-17 Flying Fortress. The first official wartime attack by US air personnel was carried out on 4th July using British planes. The first attack with their own planes was the 97th Bomb Group's raid on Rouen railyards on 17th August 1942.

Honington had been built as a permanent RAF station and housed transport and bomber squadrons for its first five years. In August 1942 Number 9 Squadron and its Wellingtons moved to RAF Waddington and in September 1942 the USAAF took over RAF Honington and made plans to enlarge and improve its facilities by concrete runways and roads. Originally the USAAF had been allocated the station in June 1942 for development to a Class A standard bomber base. In September, VIII Air Service Command arrived to establish an air depot which eventually became the 1st Strategic Air Depot providing major servicing, repair and modification for B-17 Fortresses of the 3rd Bomb Division.

Until well into 1943 the American 8th Air Force was still too weak to make any significant impact but it continued to build up its resources through 1942.

Rougham airfield was built by Costain's and opened in August 1942. For six weeks in August and September 1942 the American 47th Bomb Group flew 8 A20 Bostons from Rougham. The base was empty until December 1942 when the ground crew for the 322nd Bomb Group arrived, but the planes would not arrive until March 1943.

In August the Canadian No 419 Squadron was removed from Mildenhall to RAF Leeming. They were replaced by the Wellingtons of No 115(B) Squadron from Marham, and No 75(B)NZ Squadron from RAF Feltwell. This latter squadron had New Zealand aircrew but British support staff.

On 11th August 1942 the small airfield at Westley was again taken back from the army by the RAF. The RAF's 652 AOP Squadron arrived with its 14 Tiger Moths. The Tiger Moth was a biplane dating from 1932, but it was the standard training plane for RAF and Army pilots. AOP stood for Air Observation Post, and the Squadron had 18 Royal Artillery Officers attached to it. Their main purpose was to provide a platform to direct artillery fire on to enemy positions which could be easily spotted from the air. The Squadron also took on a few Taylorcraft Model C2's and found these to be much superior for AOP duties than the Tiger Moth. The British Taylorcraft factory developed the design and produced the extremely versatile Auster, soon to become standard issue for Air Observation.
In September the Bury Borough Council agreed terms with the MD of Prentice Air Services, now Squadron Leader Prentice, for the formal surrender of the lease of Westley Airfield. In practice, of course, it had been closed in 1939, but this would be an acceptance that this was the end of the West Suffolk Aero Club.
In October 652 Squadron received the first of the Austers, and four more Taylorcraft, although one of these was destroyed while landing at Westley. By the end of October, all of the squadron's Tiger Moths were replaced. 652 Squadron left Westley bound for Dumfries at the end of December, 1942, to be replaced by 656 Squadron.

Short's Stirling bomber number BF322 was delivered to No.218 Squadron on 4th September, 1942. This plane was airborne at 19.26 hours on 5th October 1942 from Downham Market and it crashed at 19.45 on Icklingham Marshes near Barton Mills in Suffolk. The 7 man crew were all posted as Killed in Action. Severe local thunderstorms were a probable cause of this crash. The area was so marshy that the plane sank from view, and did not reappear until 1962.

The Burma Railway
blank On Singapore Island, captured by the Japanese in February, the prisoners of the 4th and 5th Battalions of the Suffolk Regiment were taken by train to Thailand on October 28th, to work on the construction of the Bangcock to Rangoon railway link. Reg Gray recorded that even before leaving Singapore, there had been some deaths from malnutrition amongst the prisoners.
They found that the existing Singapore to Bangkok line through Thailand had to be joined to the existing Rangoon to Ye line in Burma. This meant building a line north through deep jungle along the steep valley sides of the River Kwai Noy. The first big obstacle was to cross the River Kwai Yai upstream of where the two rivers joined together.
When they arrived in early November, the now infamous Bridge on the River Kwai had already been built, so they worked at Chungkai, about 10 miles upstream. They worked on this railway for about a year. This information is taken from Reg Gray's diary, published by Roger Mangnall as "A Suffolk Lad goes to War". Gray was Orderly Sergeant of the 5th Suffolk Battalion. John Cosford's account in "Line of Lost Lives", is much more detailed, and covers some different camps than does Gray's account, as he was with the 1st Cambridgeshires.

RAF Chedburgh airfield opened as a satellite of Stradishall in September, 1942. No 214 Squadron arrived in October with their Short Stirling bombers until late 1943. Chevington and Chedburgh were small remote villages, now overwhelmed by traffic and noise. Between the two villages accomodation was built for about 1,000 RAF personnel.

In October 1942 the RAF resumed attacks on northern Italy. On 28th November, Pilot Officer Rawdon Middleton of the Royal Australian Air Force, was flying a Stirling bomber of No 149 Squadron. This squadron was under the control of RAF Mildenhall, but flying out of the concrete runways of RAF Lakenheath. PO Middleton was badly wounded over Turin, including the loss of one eye, but nursed the plane back to England, where loss of fuel caused him to order the crew to bale out. With two other crew members who failed to escape, Middleton died in the crash into the Channel. He never heard about his promotion to Sergeant, and he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. His body was eventually recovered from the sea and buried at St Johns Church in Beck Row on 5th February, 1943.


Winifred Challis Diary 1942-43
blank In November, 1942, Winifred Challis, by then a clerk to the Public Assistance Committee (PAC) at Bury St Edmunds, began a diary for the research organisation known as Mass Observation. She had moved to Bury St Edmunds in 1940 from Newmarket, her home town, to take up a post with the Wool Control Office of the Ministry of Supply, at 6, Hatter Street. She rented a ramshackle flat at 62 Guildhall Street, owned by Alderman Olle, a councillor and an Ice Cream manufacturer. Her flat was not self contained, and so the Electricity Company would not let her have her own meter. Her water came from a tap downstairs, and the lavatory was also shared with the downstairs flat. There was no gas supply so all her cooking, lighting and heating was by paraffin lamps and stoves. In one cupboard the laths in the wall had lost their plaster and the wind could blow in. She also complained of mice, poor lighting and dirty wallpaper. Many other properties in the old town centre were in a similar state at this time, and some would still be in a state of disrepair into the 1960s.

Winifred had found the Wool Control Office boring and, after 18 months, moved to the Public Assistance Committee at the West Suffolk County Council where she had "40 times the work I did in the Wool Control." All wool produced in wartime in the Eastern area had to be submitted to a central warehouse where it was appraised and sent out to appropriate factories for use. As there were very few wool growers in the area, the work was not onerous. Other raw materials were treated in a similar controlled fashion.

Mass Observation, or MO as it was known, was set up in 1937 to understand the ideas and culture of ordinary citizens. At first these were irregular reports gleaned from volunteers, but in August 1939, it was thought that a regular diary would be the most useful tool of recording the thoughts and small details of daily life at a time of acute crisis. By 1945 there were 480 people corresponding with MO. The diary of Miss Challis for 1942 and 1943 would be published by the Suffolk Records Society in 2012.

Her first diary entries concerned the inequalities of relief paid by different Assistance Committees within Suffolk, and also the inequalities of wages, which depended upon supply and demand, tempered by the desire to hire staff as cheaply as possible. She noted that an office boy at one place received 10s a week, and the same at another place might get 30s a week. Also a soldier's pay was usually lower than their old civilian wages. If he were a civil servant then his pay was made up to the old level, but in other posts the pay was not made up. This left many wives short of money while their husband was in the forces, as well as being left alone to bring up the children. She also complained that emoluments, such as free housing, were not taxed, and also how billeted nurses were better off than salaried staff like herself. The state paid 21s for them to be billeted but a secretary had to pay 30s from wages for the same facilities. This also left the billeted householder out of pocket.

Winifred had been a nurse for a short time, from 1930 to 1933, and was scathing about the working conditions of nurses, despite their relatively good pay. Nursing made her feel as if she had dropped "back into the Middle Ages." On another topic she wrote, "Funny that in years gone by I thought I was free, and now we must not criticise, or talk (or above all, write) or even throw a piece of paper down in the street, for fear of imprisonment. A queer life, plus black-out and possible bombs, and despite it life goes on much the same, fortunately."

"A few parsons at the British Restaurant today. The Bury St Edmunds British Restaurant seems to attract that class rather than the poor. The helpings are all too dainty for my complete satisfaction.....I still have to cook additional vegetables to be adequately nourished." She compared the meal at Bury unfavourably with a meal at Sudbury's British Restaurant. Sudbury lacked soup, but there were more cabbages available, and everyone got the same amount, unlike Bury where she thought that she was given a small portion because of her age (46), and sex. She thought this was because Sudbury catered more for the poor than did Bury.

She also noted on 7th November, "Amusing! The Archbishops have after all these centuries decreed that women need not wear hats in church."

During November 16th church bells were rung for the first time since 13th June 1940 to celebrate the British victory in the desert, at El Alamein, over the Afrika Corps led by Rommel.

RAF Ridgewell Airfield was built near Haverhill as a satellite for Stradishall and on December 30th 1942 the newly formed 90 Squadron (RAF) flew in Stirling bombers from Bottesford. The RAF used the Stirlings for minelaying and bombing of targets such as Hamburg, Essen and Duisburg until May 1943, when 90 Squadron moved to West Wickham.

Another new airfield was completed at Rattlesden. From December 1942 to April 1943 the American 322nd Bomb Group (M) flew the medium bomber B-26 Marauder from Rattlesden, until all the Marauder groups were moved to Essex to improve their range over the continent.

There were continued restrictions of services at home and constant news of relatives killed or Missing in Action. Haverhill's Prisoners of War Week was held in December.

As well as building these new airfields, improvements were being made to existing stations. At the end of 1942 RAF Mildenhall closed temporarily for flying until April 1943, while its runways were concreted by McAlpines. Such contracts resulted in all 60-odd Norfolk and Suffolk airfields being converted to concrete runways by the end of the war.

On the domestic front, during 1942 a water gas plant was built on the north side of Tayfen Road by the Gas Company. Water gas was made by blowing steam over red hot coke, although the resulting gas was of a lower calorific value than gas obtained by heating coal. The water gas and coal gas could be mixed to produce a usable product. The system had the advantage of requiring no new source of coal, as coke from the coal gas plant could be utilised. This location north of Tayfen Road would become the main focus for future gas improvements. (The gas holder which still stands on this site in 2009 would not be built until 1952.)


Second Battalion Suffolk Homeguard
1943 During January the only squadron to have actually been formed at Westley was getting established. 656 Squadron officially moved in on 31st December 1942. They were to be an Air observation Post unit and had Royal Artillery personnel attached. At first the only plane they had was a Tiger Moth left by 652 Squadron. By February the Austers began to arrive, and training was begun to get the squadron operational from scratch. In mid March 656 Squadron departed for RAF Stapleford. Westley was quiet for another 6 weeks.

In February, the American Red Cross Service Club was established in Bury. It was in Westgate Street, facing up Guildhall Street.

The American Eagle Squadrons at Debden flew 36 Spitfires until April 1943, when they converted to P47 Thunderbolts.

Suffolk Air Bases
By April 1944
blank In November 1942 work had begun to upgrade the airfield at RAF Mildenhall from grass surface to concrete, and operational flying had been suspended to allow the work to take place. In addition to the new runways there was a new control tower built, and new Drom approach lighting fitted. During this period the three squadrons controlled by Mildenhall had flown from other stations. No 149's Stirlings continued to use RAF Lakenheath and No 75 Squadron, by now converted to Stirlings, used RAF Newmarket Heath. No 115 Squadron had been dispersed to East Wretham, and while there had been converted from Wellingtons to the latest Lancasters in March. All three squadrons joined the the attack on Krupps armament factory at Essen on 12th March. This was the beginning of the Bomber Command Battle of the Ruhr. By the end of March 1943 RAF Mildenhall was ready to resume operational flying, and the command structure was reorganised.

At the end of March, RAF Mildenhall lost control of all its satellite stations, together with formal transfer of its three squadrons to their new commands. RAF Lakenheath now operated in its own right, with No 149 Squadron, who developed a specialist mine laying role.

RAF Mildenhall now received No 15(B) Squadron from Bourn, with its Stirling bombers on 15th April. They were immediately sent into action, flying 18 Stirlings against Essen on 16th April. On 10th August they were reinforced by the formation of a new Squadron, designated No 622. This was formed from the Stirlings of 'C' Flight of No 15 Squadron. On that same day, the newly designated 622 Squadron sent five Stirlings against Nuremburg. The Stirling bomber was by now the least effective of the RAF's four engined bombers, and these two squadrons spent most of the rest of the year in minelaying. They did not get the opportunity to convert to Lancasters until December, 1943.

On May 1st 657 Squadron Air Observation Post moved into RAF Westley, and got up to strength with a new delivery of Auster Mk III aircraft. They had a run of bad luck when an Auster crashed in a field at Leiston; another was damaged on landing at Westley, and on 7th June an Auster was caught in the wash of a Stirling bomber from RAF Stradishall, and crashed in a field shortly after take off. After only 8 weeks 657 squadron was moved to RAF Clifton on 26th June. Westley was to remain vacant for 8 months.

The RAF had used the Stirlings based at Ridgewell for minelaying and bombing of targets such as Hamburg, Essen and Duisburg but in May 1943, the RAF 90 Squadron moved to RAF West Wickham, which was just opened.
In June their targets were Krefeld, Mulheim and Wuppertal, with raids on Hamburg in July and 15 planes went on the Peenemunde raid. In August they attacked Turin twice but the station's name had caused some confusion so it was renamed RAF Wratting Common on 21st August 1943.
The opening of West Wickham freed up Ridgewell, and allowed the American 381st Bomb Group to arrive at Ridgewell in June 1943 in its B17 Flying Fortresses.

A Junkers JU 88 fighter bomber had crashed at Great Barton in July, 1940. Strangely enough, a second JU 88 also crashed in Great Barton in 1943. This was reportedly aircraft 3E+LH of 1/KG.6, which belly-landed with the crew being taken Prisoners of War on 14th May 1943.


General Percy Hobart
blank Meanwhile there had been extensive trials undertaken to discover ways to land troops on to invasion beaches with the minimum of losses. It was believed that men needed to be in armoured vehicles, and a variety of weird inventions were trialled to assist amphibious landings. In April 1943 all this work was brought together under Major-General Sir Percy Hobart, and one unit called the 79th Armoured Division. Hobart's job was to produce from all this development work fully trained and equipped units that would help the Allied forces break through the Atlantic Wall. He had just over a year to do it. The 79th Armoured had a unique role, and the vehicles that equipped it were so strange that they became known as ‘Hobart’s Funnies’, according to the BBC WW2 Peoples War website, in a section entitled "Suffolk and the D-Day Funnies", written by one paul_i_w.

Units working on the development of variants of the Churchill Tank were widely spread around the countryside. In West Suffolk, for example, one regiment was based at Livermere, with its HQ at Ampton Hall which was already working as a Red Cross hospital. Individual tanks were also housed more widely, making use of the army maintenance facilities already established in Fornham Park and the Labour Camp at Wordwell.


79th Armoured Division badge
blank Extracts written by paul-i-w for the BBC website are as follows:

"In April 1943 Hobart moved his headquarters to Hurts Hall, Saxmundham. His Division was organised into a number of Brigades, each Brigade looking after a particular type of ‘Funny’. In particular, Suffolk was to be the proving and training ground for one of these Brigades, the 1st Assault Brigade, Royal Engineers. It had been decided that to protect the engineers from the expected hurricane of fire on the beaches, and to enable them to carry out their various tasks successfully, they needed to be put into tanks. The tank that was chosen was the Churchill tank. This tank was well armoured and large enough to carry a lot of the equipment the engineers needed, both inside and out."

"Headquarters of the 1st Assault Brigade was established at Brandeston Hall, near Framlingham. Two thirds of the Brigade (two Regiments) came from former Chemical Warfare units, who had been stationed in Northern Ireland. 5 Regiment arrived in Leiston in May 1943, before moving to Thorpeness later in the year. 6 Regiment started off at Butley before moving to Livermere camp, near Bury St Edmunds, in September, and was headquartered at Ampton Hall. The final piece of the jigsaw was formed by 42 Regiment joining in September, based at Gorse Hill, Aldeburgh."


Tank using a fascine
blank "The crews of the tank squadrons generally lived near the training areas. In the west of the county was Livermere camp. This was located in two wooded areas north of Bury St Edmunds (the woods are still there). The men lived in Nissan huts, which were built among a plantation of pine trees. The tanks were parked under other trees in a nearby small wood, and there were hard standings for the tanks laid out in a ‘herring-bone’ shape. Bob Seth remembers: “We mostly drove the tanks on the main roads. We once drove through the main streets of Thetford, and when turning had difficulty in avoiding the shop windows. We drove to Thetford forest for machine gun practice. From the hard standings we travelled about half a mile to the training grounds, which were just fields. The fields were on the edge of a forest plantation and they had massive depressions in them, which we used to drive the tanks up and down and lay the fascines in. There were sufficient depressions in the ground to enable us to lower the bridge. We also had a concrete structure to simulate the German Atlantic wall defences, which we used for laying the bridge against, and also to fix the General Wade charges”. Martin Reagan also remembers Livermere, as the place where the Squadron took delivery of their first batch of Churchills. 'We must have had a model of every Churchill ever made. We made trips to the Orford Battle Area from there with the tanks on transporters. We would go to Orford for a few days via Ipswich then return.'"

In March 1943 the Marauder bombers of the American 322nd Bomb Group had arrived at Rougham Airfield, but they moved on to Andrews Field on 13th June 1943.

On that same day, 13th June 1943, the 94th Bomb Group's B17 Flying Fortresses arrived at Rougham, returning from a raid on Kiel flown out of Earls Colne. The station was by now officially called Bury St Edmunds, but local people always called it Rougham Airfield. With the arrival of the 94th the field was extended to 50 hardstandings and dispersal areas, 3 of which were diamond shaped to give capacity for 50 aircraft. The main runway was east to west and was 2,000 yards long and 50 yards wide. A second runway was 1,400 yards from north to south, and the third was also 1,400 yards north to south east.


Advice to US armed forces
blank With this build up of American servicemen in the area, this leaflet was produced to give them information on local services, and the town and area in which they found themselves. It lists cafes and restaurants, canteens set up for troops and hostels, as well as other useful addresses. Banks, post offices and telephone kiosks are described, as are cinemas, sports venues and notes on railways, taxis and buses. Troops are warned that most foods and candies cannot be bought without coupons. This was a local production based on British Council advice, and was one of a series of Advice Notes prepared nationally for overseas troops. Others dealt with local customs, how to behave in pubs, differences in language usage to beware of, and so on.
The full text of the twelve page leaflet can be seen here: Advice to US Armed Forces

News was also arriving of the fate of many local men captured at the fall of Singapore back in February, 1942.

By Summer 1943 the North African campaign was over and the American build-up in Britain was renewed. Targets were switched to the aircraft, ball bearing and oil production centres.
The 388th Bomb Group of the American 8th Airforce flew B17 Flying Fortresses out of Knettishall Heath Airfield for 2 years as part of the 3rd Air Division from 23rd June 1943 to 5th August 1945.

Great Ashfield Air Field had opened in March 1943 and became the base for the American 385th Bomb Group in June 1943.

In June the first Americans were now based at Ridgewell airfield near Haverhill, and visits were also arranged for Bob Hope, Edward G Robinson and Glen Miller. Fruit like bananas, lemons and grapefruit were so rare, that if any did appear they could be auctioned for charity or put on display.

During June 1943, the command of the 1st Battalion of Suffolks was taken over by Lt Colonel Dick Goodwin. They were being trained for the assault on France.

Far East prisoner of war
blank In the Far East the men of the 4th and 5th Suffolks, along with the 130,000 other prisoners, were still suffering grave privations on the Burma Railway. Reg Gray recorded that in June 1943 the Suffolks were moved to Kanu River Camp, where he noted "Cholera and many living skeletons." Conditions there must have been particularly bad for him to have recorded this in his secret notebook diary. Nearby was Kanu Quarry Camp, where the Australians were held captive.

Also in June 1943 the Gunnery Training Flight arrived at Newmarket, and later became 1688 Bomber Defence Training Flight.

In July 1943, a fete was held in the Abbey Gardens at Bury in aid of Prisoners of War. Over 20,000 people attended and £2,500 was raised. Events were frequently arranged to encourage the purchase of War Bonds, or to make donations to a Spitfire Fund, or a Motor Torpedo Boat, or to provide comforts for troops on active duty.

During War Savings Week, the local brewery of Greene King donated £20,000, "to give the town a lead". This was supposed to be enough to buy a Mosquito fighter bomber. A Spitfire was said to cost £5,000, but this figure was really just to give local communities a convenient target for fund raising.

With the costs of war escalating, and the tide turning in their favour, the government looked to cost cutting. In July the Women's Timber Corps were instructed to cease recruitment, and in August the Women's Land Army received the same instruction. The WLA had 72,000 volunteers at this time, and 80,000 by the year end. Recruitment to the WLA was started again in 1944 as some personnel had moved into other service jobs. By this time there were about 40,000 Italian Prisoners of War in Britain, many working on the land, and it was felt that this would be sufficient. In addition, soldiers at home and even civilians, took up the idea of helping out at Harvest Time. All this part time labour was cheaper to employ than a full time Land Girl.

Honington Air Depot
blank During 1943 Honington was improved by concrete runways and perimeter roads by the American Army Airforce. In July the resident air maintenance unit was moved to the newly built adjacent site on the west side of the airfield which became known as Troston for want of a more adjacent village name. The unit was redesignated the 1st Strategic Air Depot (Troston) on 6th September, 1943. Honington became a depot for major aircraft overhauls, later specialising in the B17 Flying Fortresses. Some badly damaged B17's would be re-routed straight to Honington on return from action, instead of landing at their home bases. Some 400 aircraft would crash land here up to 29th June 1944, and many were returned to action that might not have survived if they had landed elsewhere and been dismantled and transported back.
The 1st Strategic Air Depot would also modify the B17 armaments, which were proving inadequate without fighter cover, and support other damaged aircraft types.

In July 1943 Castle Camps became a satellite of North Weald and the Mosquito began to be used for intruder operations, and then they developed it for bomber support operations. Mosquitos left Castle Camps in October 1943. 527 Radar Calibration Squadron replaced them until February 1944.

On August 17th 1943, one year after that first raid on Rouen a massive American two-pronged attack was mounted against Schweinfurt, where half of Germany's ball bearings were produced, and the Regensburg Messerschmitt factory.

Bury Power Station
blank During August 1943 a mysterious explosion occurred at the electricity generating station in Prospect Row, Bury St Edmunds. It is not known how much of the town was still being supplied with electricity at this time, as the newer AC current from the National Grid had been replacing the local DC supplies in the years before the war. The explosion has been attributed to spies or double agents acting on official orders, but the full story finally emerged after many years.

In the East Anglian Daily Times for 7th December, 1985 it was described how the Manager of the Electricity Station at the time was Reg Stebbings of Westley Road. He reported that the bomb which exploded had been placed on a condensor, which had been out of use for some time. Ex Chief-Superintendent Clement Fuller of Newmarket had been a Detective Sergeant in 1943. He attended the scene and reported that two Scotland Yard Officers had appeared, but seemed to make no further enquiries.

In the Guardian of 28th November, 2002, a story appeared which claimed to explain this incident. Two Norwegians had been sent to Britain by the Germans to effect sabotage, but, in fact, they were both loyal to Norway.

"The deception began in 1941 when Helge Moe (Mutt) and Tor Glad (Jeff) landed by rubber dinghy with sabotage equipment on a Scottish beach and at once gave themselves up as enemy agents. They were nicknamed after two US newspaper cartoon characters. To give their radio transmissions credibility in Germany, MI5 organised bogus sabotage. .......
The outright triumph in 1943 was Operation Bunbury, named after a phrase in Oscar Wilde's play The Importance of Being Earnest about mischief in the countryside. Bunbury was in response to a German order to blow up an electricity generating station. MI5 chose one at Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

It detonated a small explosive device among unimportant equipment and left a large unexploded bomb on the generator. But the big bomb was so well concealed that locals investigating the explosion, with no knowledge of the stunt, failed to find it.

They had to be led to the bomb by a constable who was in on the plan. Newspapers were so unimpressed by the tiny explosion of the first bomb that they were reluctant to report it. But later a Nazi radio broadcast boasted of "the big East Anglian" sabotage. "

By 2013 it emerged from the release of hitherto secret government papers that MI5 claimed that all the German agents working in Britain during WW2 had either been 'turned', or deceived, in such a way that they were, in fact, acting upon orders from MI5 when they thought the orders came from Germany. MI5 gave them trivial tasks of sabotage to carry out, in order to establish credibility in Germany. Then they were fed items of dis-information to assist the allied efforts. The greatest deception would be to persuade the German High Command that the invasion of Europe would occur at the Pas de Calais, instead of in Normandy.


Elveden Hall
blank In September of 1943 Elveden Hall became the Headquarters of the American Third Bombardment Division. Following a reorganisation of the USAAF it would become the home of the Third Air Division in January 1945.
To the American Military, Elveden became Station 116, or Camp Blainey, Elveden, Suffolk.

In September 1943 the Italian government capitulated as an enemy power. This meant that Italian Prisoners of War had to be given a new status. Technically no longer prisoners, but unable to be taken home, they could receive pay for the work they did, and conditions improved for them. Following the Italian surrender, 100,000 Italian former POWs volunteered to work as 'co-operators'. They were given considerable freedom and mixed with local people. In Suffolk, the Italians at Upper Somerton were mainly employed on the land. Italians at Bury St Edmunds were said to have helped to build the new concrete roads on what would become the Mildenhall Road Council Housing Estate.


FW190 relics from Hawstead, Sept 1943
blank This picture shows some aircraft pieces sold on E-Bay in late December, 2014. The provenance quoted was as follows:
"Relics recovered from the crash site of Focke Wulf FW190A-5 WNr 840006 of 3/SKG10.
This aircraft was shot down near Hawstead, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk by a Mosquito Mk.XII from 85 Sq on the 6th September 1943.
Hptm.Kurt Geisler, MIA.
Geisler had previously been awarded the Ritterkreuz as a transport pilot.
Relics comprise of a section of skinning with remains of original pale blue paint, a small piece of alloy and an Argus connection."

The "Hawstead Journal" for November 2012 included the following story reported by Mr R Blackwell:-
"A 29 year old German Luftwaffe pilot called Kurt Geisler flew from his airbase in Northern France on the evening of 23rd September 1943 in a Focke-Wulf 190, which was a top-of-the-range aircraft of the very latest design. The small plane carried one bomb and it is likely that Geisler was coming to drop the bomb on the main runway of an R.A.F. airfield to prevent our own planes from taking off that night. This had been done several times that year.

When flying near Newmarket Geisler's plane was spotted by a British plane, a Mosquito aircraft from Manston airfield in Kent. This plane was fitted with radar and could locate the enemy plane in the dark moonlight. The R.A.F. plane started firing at Geisler's plane and eventually both planes were flying over Hawstead. Until recently we had villagers who still remembered the German plane circling over Hawstead as it tried to hide in the clouds.

At last either because of gunfire or technical malfunction the enemy plane dived into the ground near Bell's Lane. Geisler had been unable to release the bomb and it exploded when the plane hit the ground, Geisler was killed instantly. The site has been examined many times by historical societies and nothing now remains."


2 Suffolk in Burma
blank In October, Lord Louis Mountbatten was put in command of land, sea and air forces in South East Asia. Also in the far East, 2 Suffolk were shipped from India to Burma in October 1943. Here they had a month of intensive jungle training, after which they were put on operations. Lord Mountbatten visited the battalion.
The second Suffolks were attached to 123 Brigade of 5 India Division. Their mission was to prevent the Japanese army from advancing overland to attack India, the eastern jewel of the British Empire. Crucial to this defence were the garrisons at Imphal and Kohima along the main highway. The Suffolks were sent to Imphal. There was fierce fighting, but the enemy advance was first halted, then turned into retreat and disaster for the Japanese.
Burning the dead
on the Burma Railway
blank The men of 4th and 5th Suffolks had been working as forced labour on the Burma railway for the past year. Thousands of men of the 18th East Anglian Division had died from a combination of malnutrition, casual beatings, jungle ulcers, rat plague, malaria and dysentery. Cholera was the most feared disease of all, as it could kill within 24 hours. Medical supplies were only rudimentary, and bandages were absent altogether. Food included snakes, dogs, cats, jungle plants, and anything that could be caught or bartered to add to their ration of bad rice.
By October 1943 the railway line was completed. The Suffolk prisoners were now moved to Nong Pladuk, a complex of camps near where the Burma railway joined the Bangkok to Singapore line. These camps were very close to the lines and the men knew that they were being used as human shields against Allied bombing. Here they joined many Dutch prisoners until May 1944.

Schweinfurt was attacked again in October. Despite the success of these attacks, the losses were double the 10% thought to be acceptable. Despite fomations of 300 or more planes, the first raid on Schweinfurt cost 59 planes and the second cost 60 planes. Honington was repairing aeroplanes with great efficiency, but bomber squadron morale was falling. It was decided that long range fighter cover was essential to protect the formations.

Honington was selected to spearhead this new policy, and a massive building programme was undertaken. A 6000 ft steel mat runway, extensive taxiways, 75 hardstandings and nine blister hangers were rapidly installed. Together with many temporary buildings the base was tripled in size in under a year. This took up the rest of 1943, and the 364th Fighter Group would arrive in February 1944.

It is possible to see from today's perspective that the Luftwaffe was now declining in numbers and quality whilst the vast fully mobilised and attack-free American economy was still turning out B-17s and B-24s in growing numbers.

In December 1942 RAF Newmarket Heath had became part of 31 Base. In great secrecy a jet powered Gloster F9/40 was assembled here for flight trials, and in September 1943 more secret trials of radio and radar bombing aids were begun by the Bombing Development Unit until 1945.

RAF Tuddenham opened in October 1943 as part of 3 Group RAF and Number 90 Squadron started flying Stirlings in that month laying mines and special operations air drops. Ironically, RAF Tuddenham was set up only a few hundred yards away from the "K" site, or dummy airfield, at Canvenham, which had been prepared to decoy enemy attacks in 1941. Cavenham "K" site was abandoned in 1942, as reduced German intrusions meant that it was no longer needed, but the area was now ideal for a new airfield as part of the allied offensive.

In October, the local Air Training Corps set up 103 Elementary Gliding School at the Airfield at Westley. The townspeople of Bury donated two Slingsby Cadet gliders. This was the first ATC gliding school in the eastern region. Gliders were launched by hand using a rubber bungee and cadet power, until they got a lorry with a winch. The ATC continued gliding here until 1946.

In November 1943 the 447th Heavy Bomb Group flew its B17's from the USA to Rougham, and on to Rattlesden next day.

Also in November 1943 the RAF's 1653 Conversion Unit formed to become a Stirling training unit at Chedburgh. The 1653 Conversion Unit stayed at Chedburgh until December 1944 when they left for North Luffenham.

On 3rd November 1943 the American 8th Air Force flew its first 500 bomber raid from our eastern counties and devastated the port of Wilhelmshaven. By 13th December the American build up was such that they could send 649 bombers to Bremen, Hamburg and Kiel, and 763 to Frankfurt in January 1944.


Avro Lancaster
blank At RAF Mildenhall the Stirlings of Nos 15 Squadron and 622 Squadron were converted to Lancasters in December 1943. No 622 Squadron flew its final Stirling minelaying operation in the Friesian Islands on 20th December. No 15 Squadron flew their last Stirling operation on 22nd December. No 15 Squadron had now flown the Stirling operationally for longer than any other squadron. One of its Stirlings, LS-H "Harry", had flown 67 missions, believed to be a record for this type of aircraft.

The Avro Lancaster was to prove an exceptional bomber. It could carry just short of its own weight in payload, and would be a decisive weapon in the destruction of enemy installations.


USAAF photo of Klondyke area 1943
blank There are very few pictures of the Northgate Foundry to be found. This rather fuzzy 1943 USAAF aerial reconnaissance photo shows the Robert Boby foundry works, apparently in the middle of nowhere. From Gerald Brown's collection, it shows Klondyke cottages are at the top, then the now County Upper School playing field, then the works, then the allotments. Then comes the railway line where they appear to be installing a connection between an existing siding North of the engine shed and the main line near Beetons crossing to form the goods loop line to allow freight trains to take water without obstructing other traffic and / or allow passenger trains to overtake.

No 8, Angel Hill
blank In Bury the house we now call Angel Corner was presented to the National Trust by Mrs Freeman, the owner. Its postal address was number 8, Angel Hill, and this was how it was known at the time. It was used for war work, notably by the Ministry of Food for the local control of the rationing system. It was used after the war also as the base for emergency planning.

During 1943, Bury Borough Council made plans to build a new housing estate on the north side of town. Land was available within the borough boundary since the boundary had been extended from Tollgate Lane northwards by the Boundary Review in 1934.

Stephen Dykes Bower was appointed as Cathedral Architect, and designs were begun for a new tower, north transept and cloisters. This was the start of a project which would not be completed until 2005.

Thurston Mill 1943
blank As in the First World War, the infrastructure of the country gradually decayed during the Second World War. Skilled manpower was in very short supply, despite the efforts of the Womens Land Army, and specialised buildings like historic windmills were very low priority in the allocation of scarce resources. Shortages would continue after the war, and buildings like Thurston post mill, shown here, were candidates for demolition. A few years after this picture was taken, Thurston Mill was demolished as it had become unsafe to approach it.

P38 Lightning from Honington
1944 On 16th January, 1944, the Conservative MP for Bury, Colonel Heilgers, was killed in a train crash at Ilford. The by-election was held in the following month on 29th February, and the Conservative Major Edgar Keating of Westley Hall, was elected. The official parties had agreed not to field candidates during the war. However, Mrs Margery Ashby stood as an Independent Liberal, and reduced the Conservative majority to 2,500.

By the end of January 1944 the base at Honington was ready for the arrival of the American 364th Fighter Group with three squadrons of P38J Lightnings. These were the 383rd, the 384th and 385th Squadrons who arrived from California in February 1944, and were operational inside three weeks on 3rd March. Their role was to provide fighter escort to the American daylight bomber raids on enemy targets. The landing field was shared with the existing 1st Strategic Air Depot who maintained the B 17 Flying Fortresses over a wide area.

Meanwhile, RAF Mildenhall launched its first mission using its new Lancaster bombers. Nos 15 and 622 Squadrons both attacked Brunswick on 14th January, 1944. They later sent 26 aircraft to join the 800 bomber attack on Berlin on 24th March. During March these two squadrons would fly 198 operational sorties.

On 4th February RAF Westley was reactivated when 662 Air Observation Post Squadron arrived from Old Sarum. Equipped with Austers and one Tiger Moth, the squadron stayed for just four and a half months. In March they practised night flying exercises.

It was clear to everybody that there was a massive build up of activity across the eastern counties. Everyone expected invasion of the continent at any time now.

One example of this was early in 1944, when the British Army arrived at Hawstead Hall and took possession of some fields and the whole of a wood known as ‘The Cranks’. They also demanded use of three back rooms of the house; the kitchen, scullery and utility room. Army cooks took over the kitchen and provided the then incumbent with all their meals.

The commandeered part of the property was surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by armed sentries. By day everything was quiet but at night there was much rumbling of vehicles.

In late May of 1944 the Army officer in charge announced that they were leaving, he thanked the tenant farmer and gave him a claim form to record any damage by the Army. A few hours later there was a great revving of engines and a column of tanks and Bren gun carriers came lumbering out of the woods, past the house and went down the road to Sicklesmere. They headed on to Ipswich destined for the D Day landing beaches of Normandy.


Monty visits Bury
blank In mid February General Bernard Montgomery, (Monty), visited Bury St Edmunds to a raptourous welcome. A military parade was held on the Angel Hill and it was front page news for the Bury Free Press.

Welcome Clubs were set up around the country, including Haverhill to look after visiting soldiers. In May came "Salute the Soldier" week. ARP exercises continued with many locals playing the part of injured civilians. RAF Castle Camps was attacked by an enemy bomber, and three bombs narrowly missed Helions Bumpstead. The plane was shot down near Ipswich. American fighters were often overhead at Haverhill from RAF Debden. One crashed at Little Smith Green, one pilot parachuted out and landed in the Police Station yard along the Pightle. In February 1944 the Americans at Debden converted to P51 Mustangs.


P51 Mustang
blank The American 8th Airforce was now commanded by General Jimmy Doolittle and by the Spring he had decided to replace all his P38 Lightnings and the P47 Thunderbolts by the latest P51D Mustang. The P38 had several drawbacks as a fighter aircraft, but so did the original P51 Mustang. The P51 had originally been fitted with an Alison engine which was not powerful enough for the "Cadillac of the Skies" to reach its full potential. The British Rolls Royce Merlin was tried out, and the resulting D version Mustang was receiving rave reviews from pilots.

Pakenham's Whistler Window
blank Reginald John "Rex" Whistler (24 June 1905 – 18 July 1944) was a British artist, designer and illustrator. When war broke out, although he was 35, Whistler was eager to join the army. He was commissioned into the Welsh Guards as a Lieutenant. His artistic talent, far from being a stumbling block to his military career, was greatly appreciated and he was able to find time to continue some of his work. He trained as a tank commander on Salisbury Plain, 1941-4, and at some later date he was training at the Stanford battle Area near Thetford. At weekends he would visit Pakenham vicarage to see the vicar, the Reverend Mellis Stuart Douglas. One window of the vicarage, (now called Mulberry House), was, in fact, a blank wall painted to look like a window. Whistler decided to improve this view and within an hour and a half he painted the so-called "Whistler Window", to show an 18th century clergyman working at his books. This is believed to be one of Whistler's last works, as he was killed by a morter bomb with his tank squadron in France in July 1944. He was with the Guards Armoured Division in Normandy as the invasion force was attempting to break out of the salient east of Caen.

By February it was decided that the training camps of the Women's Timber Corps could be shut down. There was now a good supply of trained women, and the end of the war was in sight. Recruitment for the WTC had already been ended in July of 1943. The camp at Culford, set up in 1937 to train unemployed men, but passed to the Women's Timber Corps in 1942, therefore closed down. The WTC itself continued to operate in the country's woods and forests until it was disbanded in 1946.

In 1944 the bombing effort was switched to the enemy airforce itself. The American 15th Air Force was set up in Italy to attack Germany from the south, and the United States Strategic Air Forces in Europe (USSTAF) was set up based on the 8th AF and encompassing the 15th AF in February 1944. USSTAF's aim was to destroy the Luftwaffe and prevent it from hindering Operation Overlord, the invasion of Europe. This reorganisation allowed co-ordination of American airpower over the whole European theatre of war. This was in marked contrast to the Luftwaffe whose command was divided between France and Germany.

USSTAF's opening move was the "Big Week" of 19th to 25th February 1944 when the 8th AF and 15th AF combined in heavy attacks on German aircraft factories. The long range fighter escorts no longer stayed with the bombers but strafed airfields and sought out the enemy. The Luftwaffe suffered terrible losses. A total of 2,000 Luftwaffe pilots were lost over these months from February to May.

In February to May 1944 the USSTAF also suffered heavy losses of 1,992 bombers and 1,798 fighters but these were more than replaced by new production. April was a hive of aerial activity. The RAF completed its attacks on Berlin in March and now joined the Americans in attacking German communications and defences in advance of an invasion. The skies were full of Lancasters, Stirlings, Flying Fortresses, Liberators, Lightnings, Marauders, Mitchells and Thunderbolts.

The British Government was also looking to the future. In March 1944, Rab Butler, the Tory Cabinet Minister, saw his Education Act pass into law. The Education Act of 1944 introduced full time education for all children between five and fifteen years old. There would be an examination at age 11, called the Eleven Plus, to determine which children could go to the Grammar Schools, and who should go to the newly introduced Secondary Modern Schools. In practice a lot of Secondary Moderns were to be built, but no more Grammar Schools.

Under the 1944 Education Act, the town of Bury St Edmunds which, since the 1902 Act, had been providing the Elementary Education within the town, now would cease to be an Education Authority. Education was now a three tier process, namely the primary schools, the secondary schools, and the Further Education sector, all provided by West Suffolk County Council. However, this Act did not come into force in Suffolk until 1946.

In the spring of 1944 the Luftwaffe launched another mini-blitz, which was code named “Steinbock”. This offensive produced large numbers of bombers over the British Isles, many more than had been seen for several months. On the night of 21/22 of March, around 95 aircraft sent out to attack London, and four were shot down over land. Junkers JU88 4D+AT was shot down by a Mosquito of 488 Squadron flying out of Bradwell Bay. It exploded on impact in a field at Blacklands Hall, just to the north of Cavendish at 00:45. The R.A.F. intelligence report on the crash stated that the Ju88A-4 Werke No 301522 had impacted at a very steep angle, the fuel tanks exploding and the engine and fuselage being buried in a crater 14ft deep.

On the 31st of March 1944, a Short Stirling, No. 104 from the heavy conversion unit at R.A.F. Stradishall, took off for a night training flight with a crew of seven men. The weather was cold and snowy and very soon the old aircraft suffered heavy icing and had one engine failing. The pilot, F/Sgt Charles “Chuck” Washer ordered his crew to bail out. The men landed safely, but the plane hit the ground north of Cavendish in Suffolk, and broke into several pieces at about 9.30 pm.

During April 1944 Operation Jackpot was mounted by the Fighter Groups. This involved large scale attacks on enemy airfields to ensure their own air supremacy. The first of these was an attack by 616 planes, including the Lightnings of 364 Fighter Group from Honington. Some 87 enemy aircraft were destroyed or damaged, but there were 32 American losses, of which 7 were from Honington.

But more planes were pouring in from the USA. For example Sudbury airfield was opened in 1944 and for 12 months was an active American wartime base, although local boys called it Acton Aerodrome.
The 486th Bomb Group arrived at Sudbury from the USA in April 1944 flying B-24 Liberators, and 46 missions were flown in the B24. In July 1944 the Group converted to the B-17G Flying Fortresses and flew another 142 missions. Although the Sudbury Group suffered thirty three B24's and B17's lost in action, as did many others, by June the Americans had 1,200 more bombers and 1,000 more fighters in this country than in January. The way was clear for Operation Overlord, the invasion of France.

Lavenham Airfield was developed around Lodge Farm in 1943. The 487th aircrew arrived in April 1944 flying B24 Liberator bombers. Its first Commanding Officer was Colonel Beirne Lay who had been a Hollywood script-writer. Although he was shot down in May 1944 one of his scripts was to become the film "Twelve O'Clock High". The 487th flew 46 missions in Liberators until July 1944 when the group converted to the B17 Flying Fortresses.

Shepherds' Grove airfield at Stanton was, in fact, built for the USAAF in 1943, but in April 1944 it was assigned to the RAF's 3 Group as a base for Stirling bombers and a satellite of Stradishall . At the end of 1944 Shepherds Grove was transferred to the RAF's 38 Group.
The Canadian 410 Squadron again flew Mosquitos from Castle Camps until April 1944. In July to October 1944 68 Squadron's Mosquitos also arrived, also 151 and 25 Squadron.

In May 1944 199 Squadron moved its bombers from RAF Lakenheath to North Creake and 149 Squadron moved to Methwold. Lakenheath was inactive until July 1948.

In May 1944 the Stirlings at RAF Tuddenham were replaced by Lancasters and they flew a large number of important day and night operations until the end of the war.

On May 18th the personnel at the tiny airstrip at RAF Westley were astounded to see a Douglas Dakota land which had got lost and made a forced landing. Hitherto only light planes like Austers had used it. It was a demonstration of the Dakota's capabilities when it safely took off later in the day, although it must have been by the skin of its teeth.

There were worse mishaps with all this activity, however. Only a week later, an American B-17 Flying Fortress crashed at Hengrave, and RAF Westley sent its fire tender and ambulance to assist. The 500 lb bomb on board exploded and fire personnel were injured. Four of the aircrew died.

On the 20th of May 1944, thirty six aircraft from the 487th Bomb Group's Liberators, took off from the Lavenham airfield to bomb Liege. One B24 Liberator suffered engine failure, hit some trees and burst into flames before crashing in woodland near Kentwell Hall, on the outskirts of Long Melford. The bomb load began to explode while police and bystanders attempted to rescue the crew. Four men were saved but six of the crew perished. A local farmer and Special Constable received commendations from King George VI, while police Sergeant Saunders received the British Empire Medal.

By May, contingents from 662 squadron at Westley had been deployed to the south coast in readiness for the invasion while HQ stayed behind.

In late May the fighters had begun Operation "Chattanooga Choo-Choo", an operation to destroy rolling stock in France, Belgium, Germany and as far east as Poland. This was all as a prelude to invasion, to cut enemy supply lines and finally, a week before D-Day, every Seine crossing from Paris to the sea was destroyed. The USSTAF Bombers, RAF Bomber Command and light bombers also attacked every airfield within 350 miles of the invasion zone, rendering them nearly unusable in the last weeks before D-Day.

Meanwhile in the Far East, the men of the 4th and 5th Suffolks in Japanese hands, along with others of the 18th Division, were moved from the Burma Railway camps to Singapore at the end of May 1944, and on to ships for transport to Japan and further imprisonment. By the end of June they would be in Japan.

In summer 1944 back home, there was a massive movement of bombs and supplies by rail to airbases at Birdbrook, Halstead, White Colne and Earls Colne. Special trains rumbled through Haverhill night after night.

By 1944 there was a massive build up of armaments in the Breckland along the Bury to Thetford Railway line. Several sites were involved and it is not wholly clear at this time what was involved in terms of location or personnel. The main sites seem to have been
(a) at Little Heath,
(b) at what is now RAF Barnham Camp and
(c) Warren Wood, Barnham.


Sheds for loading gas weapons
blank Little Heath had been under development since 1941 as one of five facilities to load Mustard Gas into sprayers and bombs to produce weapons. It was known as Forward Filling Depot 1,(FFD1) and was located on a spur off the Bury to Thetford railway line, probably on the site used in 1916 for delivering and trialling the first battle tanks. Mustard Gas was presumably delivered by rail in large tanks, then stored in three 500 ton underground storeage tanks or pots. Weapons were then filled on site. There is a suggestion that these charged weapons were stored at a nearby location, possibly near where the Gorse Industrial site is now located. The other four Mustard Gas FFD's were in other counties.
Little Heath was controlled by 94 Maintenance Unit of the RAF, but the American Army Airforce also had Little Heath designated as AAF Base 117, home to the 754 Chemical Depot Company (Aviation) and the 765 CDC (A). Little Heath was cleared of any remaining gas by 1954 and then fully decontaminated. However it remained so secret that no Ordnance Survey map showed the existence of the site until after 1968.

RAF Barnham was also the location of a massive high explosive arms dump, controlled by the RAF's 94 Maintenance Unit. All these weapons needed constant repair and care to keep them not only in full working order, but to keep them as safely as possible. This site is also located on the railway line from Bury to Thetford and some 720,000 tons of explosives are said to have travelled up and down this line. Barnham Dump was probably operating right from 1939 to 1945, with special buildings to house high explosives, incorporating blast doors and protective structures.

Not much is known about Warren Wood, Barnham, but the American Army Airforce had it designated as AAF Base 587, the home of 1924 Ordnance Ammunition Company, the 2106 Ordnance Battalion, and 8th Airforce Service Command.

When D-Day was announced on June 6th, it became clear what all the local activity among the troops had been about.

D Day Attack Plan
blank On June 6th 1944 D-Day began with 3 air-borne divisions of 24,000 men dropped around beachheads. Bombers dropped 10,000 tons of bombs on coastal defences just before landing craft hit the beaches and the fighters attacked artillery and troop positions. The American 8th AF and 9th AF had 3,000 planes in the air, and only two enemy planes got through to the beachheads.

RAF Mildenhall sent 35 Lancaster bombers to bomb gun emplacements on the French coast near Caen at 0500 hours.

The aerial bombardment prevented any significant German counter attack and even Rommel was shot up by a British fighter.

No 662 Squadron from RAF Westley was to be one of the two Air Observation Post squadrons to establish an Advanced Landing Ground in France close to the Normandy beaches. They landed on D Day near Le Hamel at H plus 1 hour and soon set up a base in a farmers field. Their role was to direct the naval guns firing inland, to range the army artillery barrages and to help direct the land forces.

Sword Beach 0840, D-Day
blank The First Battalion of the Suffolks returned to France at about 0830 on 6th June 1944 at Queen Beach, Normandy. Queen was the third of four sectors which made up Sword Beach. Sword Beach was the most easterly of the landing areas, the Americans landing on the western beaches.
For the men of 1st Battalion, the Suffolks, this was the culmination of months of arduous training. They were to be part of 8th Infantry Brigade, the assault Brigade of the 3rd British Division. Their role was as reserve battalion with the job of taking a dominating feature some 3000 yards inland, to be known as Hillman, but called Point 61 by the Germans. They would reach it via an assault on strongpoint Morris and the village of Colleville sur Orne.

At 0711 Strongpoint Morris was to be bombed by thirteen B17 Flying Fortresses from the 447th Bomb Group out of Rattlesden. Due to operational difficulties with high level bombing over friendly troops, only 6 planes dropped bombs. Hillman was to have been attacked by six B17's of the 94th Bomb Group out of Rougham. No bombs fell on Hillman, which remained totally operational.

By 10 am C Company had taken Colleville and met Monsieur le Mayor. B Company moved on Morris, where they found the enemy so shattered by bombing and naval artillery that they soon surrendered. Hillman would be a different matter.

Bunker at Hillman
blank A Company now came under shellfire as they moved on to Hillman. The attack began at about 1310, but it was to become clear that not only had Hillman not suffered any preliminary softening up, but it was clearly much more heavily fortified than the intelligence reports had revealed. When 1 Norfolk tried to bypass Hillman they found out how strong it was, and what a commanding position it had. They suffered 40 casualties. It took until 2000 on D Day to clear position Hillman.

On 8th June, the remaining A Flight of 662 AOP squadron at RAF Westley was sent to France to reinforce the parts of the squadron already there. The remaining ground crew had all left by 17th June. Now the small RAF occupied airfield at Westley was closed down, as it was no longer needed. Air action had moved to France. By December it remained designated as a satellite of RAF Snailwell, and its function would be listed as a satellite of the Belgian Flying School. There seems to be no record of it actually being used for this purpose. The local ATC continued gliding practice at weekends here until 1946.

V-1 or doodlebug
blank Very soon, on June 13th, the first V-1 Flying Bomb, or Doodle-bug, landed in Kent and 8,000 more were sent in the next six weeks. A few were seen over Haverhill, and one landed near Castle Lane. Most came from from northern France and both US and RAF bomber commands devoted considerable efforts to destroy their bases. For example, on 23rd June the flying bomb sites were attacked by 14 aircraft from each of the two squadrons at RAF Mildenhall.

The V-1 flying bomb was not a particularly accurate weapon, but it had great destructive force, and caused widespread panic and disruption. From June 1944 until March 1945 it is estimated that 9,521 were fired. Of these, 4,621 were shot down or otherwise destroyed . Around 6,184 people were killed and 17,981 seriously wounded. Property damage and destruction was widespread within London. Only stray bombs landed elsewhere, such as one near Bury in October 1944.

Chateau de la Londe
blank On 28th June 1944 the men of the Suffolk Regiment captured the Chateau de la Londe, near Caen, with 161 casualties, a most bitter and costly engagement for 1 Battalion. The South Lancashires had already been repulsed and 1 Suffolk and 2 East Yorkshires were then sent in. The chateau was heavily defended by 30 to 40 Panzer Tanks and infantry. The Sunday Pictorial of 2nd July called it the "Grimmest mile in France". 2 East Yorks suffered 99 casualties. For eleven days the chateau was held under constant German shellfire from Caen. Montgomery ordered the bombing of Caen on 7th July, and 464 bombers of the RAF wrought massive destruction on that town.

All through June the P38 Lightnings of the 364th Fighter Group at Honington patrolled the Channel, and strafed enemy land positions and transport links and railway locomotives.

On 16th July, the 1 Suffolk Battalion was trucked to join Operation Goodwood, their task being to capture Sannerville and Banneville. This they did easily as it appears a hole had appeared in German lines, but this was quickly filled and the advance held up.

On 1st August the battalion managed to celebrate Minden Day in some style, and next day were moved 20 miles south west of Caen to La Beny Bocage.

On the 13th July, 1944, a B 24 Liberator crashed on a field at Cuckoo Tye Farm, Acton, near Sudbury, belonging to William Miller. This was B 24 Serial No. 42-94788 of the 844th Squadron, part of the 489th Bomb Group stationed at Halesworth. The crew bailed out following engine failure on the way back from Saarbruken. The crash site is today about 50 yards from the new Long Melford bypass (A134) opposite a lane leading to Cuckoo Tye Farm.

B24 crash at Cavendish
blank On Thursday July 20th 1944, a terrible collision occurred over south Suffolk. A B-24 Liberator Bomber of the 836th bomb squadron from the 487th bombardment group based at Lavenham airfield had taken off at the start of a practice flight to check its bomb sight. They were probably aiming for the practice bombing range on Ducks Hall nearby, which consisted of about ½ an acre of concrete material. Not long into the flight it collided with another aircraft, a B-17G Flying Fortress also based at Lavenham. The B-24 crashed at Cavendish and the B-17 not far from its base home base at Lavenham airfield. It is believed that two men baled out, but the rest of the men of both crews were killed.

Suffolks Freedom of the Borough
blank Back in Bury, the Suffolk Regiment was granted the Honorary Freedom of the Borough of Bury St Edmunds on August 5th. Up to this time this honour had only been bestowed upon notable individuals. Please click on the attached thumbnail to view the whole citation.

In Normandy, On the 10th August, Operation Grouse began, to move down the road from Vire to Tinchebray. The crossroads at Coquard were captured, but B Company only cleared German parachute troops from the nearby wood by suffering almost total casualties in the night of 13th/14th August. Since leaving Vire there had been constant action with 168 casualties. By 16th August Tinchebray was achieved. Captain Mayhew and 1 Suffolk's carriers entered Flers before the 11th Armoured Division arrived. On the 20th the rest of the battalion arrived and settled in for training and reinforcement.

1 Suffolk liberate Weert
blank On 3rd September they moved 150 miles to Les Andelys across the Seine, close to Richard the Lionheart's Chateau Gaillard, now a ruin. Pressing ahead, the Dutch town of Weert was liberated by 1 Suffolk on 22nd September, 1944. Such liberations were greeted with joy by the local people, and the first units to arrive were always the cause for a local festival of cheering crowds. The Battalion fought its way to Brinkum, near Bremen via Overloon and Venraij in the Netherlands in the following months.

The Second Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment had been on the North West Frontier in 1939 but moved to the Arakon and Imphal Campaigns in Burma where the clearance of Japanese Bunkers 'Bamboo' and 'Isaac' were notable actions. The bitter fighting against the Japanese, and the terrible conditions in the tropical jungles, seemed to receive scant recognition back home, where the war in Europe, and D-Day, seemed more immediate. This led the Far East campaigns to be called the Forgotten War by the men involved.

Similar feelings were held by the men who had been fighting their way inch by inch through Italy, having already spent long hard years in North Africa. This led to the ironic refrain, "We are the D-Day Dodgers, in Sunny Italy," sung to the tune of Lili Marlene.

Mustangs at Honington
blank Since February 1944 the 364th Fighter Group based at Honington flew the P38 Lightning, and on 29th July 1944 they were converted to the P51D Mustangs. The Mustangs shown here are part of 383rd Squadron, designated by the letters "N2" and circles on their tail fin. The 384th carried "5Y" and a tailfin square, while the 385th were "5E" with a triangle on the tailfin. These three squadrons made up the 364th Fighter Group.
The First Scouting Force was also based here from September 1944 to lead the missions of the First Air Division flying P51 Mustangs.

Back in civvy street, August saw "Holiday at Home Week", and the street lighting was allowed to run at 2% capacity, better than complete blackout. However, on the 2nd and 3rd August, London suffered the peak of the V1 offensive, with 104 V1's landing on the capital.

The first V2 Rocket exploded in London on September 8th, 1944, but none were seen near Haverhill or Bury. Around 500 of the V2 rockets were launched until March 1945. The V1 flying bomb contiued to be sent over in larger numbers.

By mid September, the ground attack had reached the Rhine and some bombers were switched back to strategic bombing of Germany. In fact 70% of the bomb tonnage dropped in Europe and the Mediterranean was delivered after D-Day.

German Prisoners were taken in large numbers and reception centres were set up, from where they were dispersed to camps all over the country. One such camp, to be known as Camp 260, had been set up at Hardwick Heath. It was built of Nissen Huts, with four blocks of 16 huts in each block. Originally it had held Italian prisoners, but when Italy capitulated, these men could be replaced by Germans.

Pursuing its plans for post war housing, the Bury St Edmunds Borough Council purchased land sufficient for 700 houses on farmland which would become the Mildenhall Road Estate.

In October a V1 Flying Bomb, or Doodlebug in popular parlance, was seen over the northern edge of Bury. It passed very low over Northgate Avenue before the rocket fell to earth in Hyde Wood at Westley. The explosion was so great that it damaged Hyde Wood Cottage, some 100 metres away. This level of damage was typical of the V1 flying bomb, which was a very destructive weapon. Thousands had been launched against London since June 13th 1944.

In October 1944 616 Squadron arrived at Debden with its new Meteor jet fighters to develop tactics.

Number 195 Squadron arrived at RAF Wratting Common in October 1944 for concentrated attacks on oil targets in Lancasters.

Strategic bombing of Germany was now resumed by the RAF. In October, some Lancasters of No 15 Squadron were fitted with G-H, a blind bombing system based on radar. They were used as pathfinders on subsequent attacks. On 28th November, 31 aircraft from Mildenhall took part in the raid on Neuss, a supply centre. Modified Lancaster bombers were now capable of dropping a new 12,000 bomb, called "Tallboy", three times heavier than the "Cookie" bomb introduced in March 1941. With the Luftwaffe much reduced, many of these were now daylight attacks.

In December, the Home Guard were stood down, but news was still arriving of local men lost in action, and news also of conditions in Japanese POW camps. The Haverhill Homecoming Fund was set up in anticipation of welcoming returning soldiers, sailors and airmen.

The RAF 1653 Conversion Unit stayed at Chedburgh until December 1944 when they left for North Luffenham. It was replaced by 218 Squadron in that month flying Lancasters as part of 3 Group's bomber offensive.


Drums recovered at Roubaix
blank The men of the 1st Suffolk Battalion arrived at Roubaix in Belgium in December 1944, a town that they had evacuated in the face of the German advance back in 1940. During this retreat the drums of the battalion had been hidden in Roubaix, but in December 1944 they were recovered.

On 24th December a 2,000 bomber raid on German airfields led to the death of the American 4th Bomb Wing Commander, General Castle. Although the 4th Combat Bomb Wing had its HQ at Rougham, its commander, Colonel, then Brigadier-General Frederick W Castle, lost his life flying out of Lavenham with the 487th. On December 24th 1944 he commanded the 487th and led the air task force in the biggest 8th Air Force action of the war involving over 2,000 heavy bombers.
Following engine trouble, his lagging B17 was shot down by enemy fighters. He was well known in Bury to the local population. His portrait hangs in the Swan Hotel at Lavenham, and another in the Mayors' Parlour of St Edmundsbury Borough Council in Angel Corner, Bury St Edmunds.

With the constant bombing activities going on, and the weather being so poor, mishaps and accidents were frequent. On December 30th, Cliff Hall recalls that 39 Flying Fortresses were assembling at the western end of Rougham Airfield for a raid on Mannheim. During take-off, Fortress McHenry, aircraft 210583, from 332nd squadron, developed engine trouble, and after becoming airborne, the engine burst into flames. After clearing Bury, the pilot released his payload of 20 High Explosive bombs. They should have been safe as the arming pins had not been removed, but three exploded in an open field to the west of Hospital Road. The plane returned to Rougham on three engines, and survived the rest of the war, having done 102 missions.

1945 Although the end of the war was in sight, all the old restrictions were still in force. The winter was particularly cold, and frost and ice caused many accidents.

With the massive build up of the American Air Force, it was felt necessary to reorganise. The Third Bombardment Group Headquarters staff at Elveden were expanded to become the HQ of the Third Air Division, a command which covered both bombers and their essential fighter escorts. By August their job would be over.

On January 5th, the 490th Bomb Group were on a training mission out of their airfield at Eye. They were approaching the north of Bury when tragedy struck at 2.30 pm, wrote Cliff Hall in a letter to the Bury Free Press on March 29th 2002. Two of the B-17 Flying Fortresses collided and crashed to earth. Wreckage fell into Eastgate Street, an engine landed on the railway tracks and the main part of one aircraft fell into a settling lagoon at the Sugarbeet Factory at Mermaid Pits in Hollow Road. The second aircraft fell on Mr Long's property at Hall Farm, Fornham St Martin.

A third aircraft, a P-51 Mustang flying at a lower level, was hit by the falling wreckage and crashed south of Bury, near the rugby club at the Haberden. The pilot fell into the grounds of the King Edward VI Grammar School. An ambulance stationed with the 94th Bomb Group at Rougham, driven by Corporal George Winer, helped to recover the body.

It was a sad day for the 8th Airforce and the town of Bury St Edmunds, for 16 crew members of the Flying Fortresses lost their lives, as did the pilot of the Mustang. Only three survived from the B-17's. But more was in store.

The next day, at 8 am on January 6th, the 94th Bomb Group was forming up at the west end of the main runway at Rougham Airfield, with 42 aircraft getting ready for a mission to Kaiserslauten. There was thick ice covering everything, and one aircraft was taking off every 60 seconds. At 8.15, Lt Jack Collins, of 410th Squadron, released the brakes on Mission Mistress, aircraft 297082. Two-thirds of the way down the runway, after the point of no return, he lost number four engine. The aeroplane was carrying a full load of six 1,000 lb bombs and 2,000 gallons of gasolene.

The pilot managed to get the aircraft airborne. Lt Collins jettisoned one of the bombs but could not maintain altitude and crashed into Home Covert, on Mr Lawson's Mount Farm, near Moreton Hall. Mission Mistress caught fire on impact and five minutes later four of the 1,000lb bombs exploded, rocking the countryside and damaging Mr Lawson's farm buildings. The main blast went eastwards, blowing doors and windows open in living quarters more than 2.5 miles away. Debris also reached that far. Sgt Jens Draggaset had left the 332nd Squadron engineering hut and was about to mount his bicycle to see if he could help, when half the case from a 1,000 lb bomb landed at his feet. Six months later, a 50 calibre machine gun from this plane was found in a haystack at Rougham, where it had fallen from the blast. Five of the crew of nine died, and four survived.

On 28th January, another Flying Fortress crashed at East Barton, and local boys swarmed over the wreckage, looking for souvenirs. About 20 of them landed up in the Thingoe Juvenile Court, and were bound over.

The Homecoming Fund had a good start in Haverhill but lost momentum as so many Haverhill men were still in Japanese hands.

In January 1945 Numbers 196 and 299 Stirling transport squadrons moved in to Shepherd's Grove airfield, as at the end of 1944 Shepherds Grove had been transferred to 38 Group. These squadrons were involved in supply drops for Special Operations and towed gliders from Shepherds' Grove as part of the Rhine crossing. Stirlings from Shepherd's Grove continued to deliver mail and stores overseas until March 1946.


Remains of Lancaster HK 610.
blank The RAF was also suffering accidental losses from collisions and mishaps over home ground. On 2nd February, 1945 a Lancaster bomber of RAF Tuddenham's 90 Squadron, piloted by Squadron CO, Wing Commander William Bannister, crashed to earth near Hengrave following a collision with Lancaster PD 336 of the same Squadron. Bannister and his whole crew were killed, while the other aircraft survived the collision. The stricken aircraft was Lancaster MK.I HK 610 coded WP-Z for an operation to Wiesbaden on the night of February 2nd 1945. The aircraft departed from Tuddenham at 2052hrs but collided in mid air with Lancaster PD 336, 33 minutes later. Lancaster HK-610 went out of control, crashing and exploding at Hengrave, a few miles north of Bury St. Edmunds.

Only 17 days later, on 19th February, Lancaster PD 336, having survived that incident, was piloted by Wing Commander Peter Dunham DFC out of RAF Tuddenham, when it exploded over Wesel in the Rhineland in Germany. All seven crew died, and 90 Squadron was again without a Commanding Officer, as Dunham had just replaced Bannister in that post. This was the only bomber lost by 3 Group out of the 169 aircraft sent over the Rhineland on that day's attack.

By February 1945 Allied air power was so overwhelming that thousands of tons of bombs were dropped on Berlin and on 13th, 14th and 15th the fearful firestorm of Dresden resulted in over 35,000 deaths. In that month alone, No 15 Squadron flew 222 sorties and No 622 made 229, both in Lancasters out of RAF Mildenhall.

March was even busier for the RAF. Attacks were now needed in support of the allied crossing of the River Rhine. An example of this type of bombing came on March 23rd, when 16 aircraft from Mildenhall attacked Wesel. The bombs had to fall only 1500 yards in front of the allied troops.


Red Frederickson first left on back row.
blank In March, Bury was to receive the last of its aerial attacks by the Luftwaffe. This was a machine gun attack, which followed a bombing raid on the American airbase at Rougham. After this occasion the town was troubled no more. The bombing raid was recorded by a USAF airman stationed at Rougham Airfield, as follows:

"March 2nd 1945:- Enemy aircraft bombed the nearby fields and strafed our field coming right in over my barracks. There was the sound of a peculiar and unfamiliar aircraft. In a few seconds, the night was broken by the loud rattle of machine guns and the area shook with exploding bombs. We shot down six of them, but the remainder escaped back to their bases in Holland. After that, everyone was very restless and I returned to my bed of which half was strung ruthlessly across the floor to the door some 15 ft. away. I had no more than got in bed than the C. Q. woke the others up, I was already awake, Heap had just came in from town, he was accompanied by Johnny Swift our copilot..........
Went thru the usual procedure, we had breakfast at 2:00 o'clock & briefing at 2:30, after eating we checked our guns and picked up our flight gear and left for the ship."

The 94th Bomb Group then joined the attack on Englostadt. This extract comes from 'Crosses of Fire' which was a journal kept by Staff Sergeant Richard ("Red") Fredericksen during his 33 raid Tour of Duty as top turret gunner aboard a B-17 Bomber, number 5820, attached to the 331 st Bombardment Squadron at Rougham between September 25th, 1944 and March 8th, 1945. The journal can be found at www.wartimememories.co.uk. The crew shown in this photograph are:

  • Top row L to R:
  • Top Turret Gunner Flt Engineer Richard A Frederickson "Red"
  • Radio Operator Waist Gunner Harbon B Heap "Herder"
  • Tail Gunner Arthur R Heino "Kid"
  • Ball Turret Gunner James E Holmes "Pappy"
  • Waist Gunner Richard M Newman "Tex"
  • Waist Gunner Melvin C Mealer (dropped from crew after training)
  • Front Row L to R:
  • Airplane Commander 1st Pilot (left hand seat) Richard A Brown "Brownie"
  • 2nd pilot (right hand seat) John Q Swift "Swiftie"
  • Bombardier Sidney A Mandel "Sid"
  • Navigator Richard A Adamson "Borg"
Part of 90 Squadron at Tuddenham had formed the nucleus of 186 Squadron in October 1944 and moved to Stradishall in December of that year. This left room for a replacement. In March 1945 138 Squadron moved to Tuddenham from Tempsford, and converted to Lancasters.

Number 195 Squadron at Wratting Common attacked Dresden, and finally Bad Oldesloe in April 1945.

RAF Mildenhall's final bombing mission was on 22nd April, when 14 aircraft from each squadron took part in a raid on Bremen. Despite the nearness to victory, one Lancaster was lost from 622 Squadron.

On 29th April, Mildenhall's focus switched to Operation Manna, a series of flights to drop food to starving civilians in the Netherlands.

On 3rd May it was felt essential to drop mines in the Kattegut to halt a convoy seen leaving Kiel. Mildenhall sent two aircraft in its final offensive mission. RAF Mildenhall had lost 200 aircraft and 1,900 personnel during the war. Two Lancasters had exceeded 100 missions, and one had reached 134 missions.


VE Day in Long Brackland
blank On 7th May 1945 the Germans surrendered in Reims. On May 8th, VE Day was declared, but local people already knew the European War was over. Celebrations were overshadowed by the continued Japanese imprisonment of most local men, but Fire Guard Orders were cancelled and equipment auctioned off. Public Shelters were locked up, and weather forecasts were resumed by the BBC.

AT RAF Mildenhall, both squadrons were still flying constant missions to deliver air drops of food to the Netherlands.

The Bury Royal Observer Corps stood down on May 12th with a celebration dinner at Palmer's Restaurant. The Bury group reckoned to have helped to see safely home over 4,000 lost or damaged allied planes during the war. At the end of June they joined the mass march past of over 2,000 ROC members at RAF North Weald. But by 1953, they were needed again.

The local 301 squadron Air Training Corps continued their gliding school at Westley, and got a formal lease of part of the site from Bury Town Council. They would move to RAF Tuddenham in 1946.

After VE Day all the air power gathered in the UK by America was available to move to the Pacific.

On 10th May the Mildenhall squadrons joined Operation Exodus, which involved the repatriation of POWs from camps in Germany, and later Operation Dodge, from the Mediterranean area. Other missions would continue throughout 1945.

The 447th Bomb Group based at Rattlesden, for example, had flown 257 missions and lost 153 aircraft in action, before flying back to the USA in June 1945.
297 missions were flown out of the American base at Ridgewell up to 25th April 1945 and 131 B17's were lost in action. The 381st Bomb Group returned to the USA in June 1945, leaving Ridgewell to RAF Maintenance Command. Number 94 MU was here from September 1946 to March 1957, and now the area is largely farmland.

After the war in July 1945 the station at Debden also reverted to the RAF, and the American 4th Fighter Group had to move to Steeple Morden, to return to the USA in November 1945.

Winston Churchill had headed the war time government, and was a Conservative as well, but at the General Election on 25th July 1945 there was a Labour landslide, gaining 200 seats. Even Sudbury South went Labour to Colonel Hamilton OBE MP. At Bury, the Conservative B Clifton Brown had a majority of nearly 6,000 over the Labour candidate, Miss C McCall, Britain's first woman qualified as a psychiatric social worker.

In August the full street lighting was turned back on in Bury.

On 14th August the Japanese surrendered following atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

On August 15th, VJ Day was celebrated all over Suffolk. No 622 Squadron at Mildenhall was disbanded, and replaced by No 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron soon afterwards. In Haverhill there was by a great bonfire on the Recreation Ground, Church bells were rung and flags were hung out. The Co-op Silver Band played on the Market Hill. The celebrations were greater than for VE Day as so many of the Suffolk Regiment's 4th and 5th Battalions could now be released from Japanese Camps. Dinners and street parties were held all over Haverhill.

The Americans continued to leave. In August the Third Air Division of the USAAF closed their headquarters at Elveden Hall and made ready to return to the USA, to be followed by their remaining squadrons.

Great Ashfield had been home for the 385th Bomb Group since June 1943. But in August 1945 they flew home. When the American 486th Bomb Group left Sudbury, also in August 1945, they presented a bronze tablet to the citizens of the town for their fellowship, understanding and hospitality which can still be seen on the Town Hall.

By 1945 there were a range of facilities for servicemen open in Bury St Edmunds. There were various cafés and teashops as well as the official or voluntary providers.
In March 1945, Technical Sargeant John T Appleby of the USAAF, had been sent to the UK and posted to Cockfield. He returned to the USA in November, and was to publish a well-known book about these experiences in 1948.
In his book "Suffolk Summer" John Appleby described the following places.

The Forces Study Centre was in Chequer Square, diagonally across from the Norman Tower, "in a pleasant house of rambling passages and old oak beams." It was operated by the British Army Educational Corps with at least one good concert a week, classes in French and German, carpentry, woodwork and toymaking, a play reading group and discussion groups. At weekends excursions were arranged and troops and townspeople alike used these facilities.

The Salvation Army had a canteen in Abbeygate Street open all hours for tea and sandwiches. The YMCA hostel also served tea in the garden.

The people of Bury ran their own Sunday afternoon Canteen in the Athenaeum on Angel Hill for the troops. Committees of volunteers provided teas, sandwiches and cakes, and a lending library and mending service occupied a corner each of the ballroom. According to Appleby the fare was the best in Bury and you could eat your fill for under a shilling. In today's money this is 5 pence, but must be related to wages of the day, when a workman might get £5 a week. The Athenaeum Canteen closed in September 1945, but it is interesting to note that then, just as today, visitors wrestled with its pronunciation and "Athenium" was mainly used by the troops.

American service pay was well over three times the English, and their rations were far more generous and diverse. Chocolate bars, sweets and chewing gum were liberally distributed to any civilians the Americans encountered. Stricter parents forbade their offspring to ask for sweets and often frowned on any contact at all.

Appleby recorded that these places welcomed troops of all nationalities, whereas the US Red Cross Clubs barred British servicemen unless guests of Americans. The American Red Cross Officer's Club in Bury was in Westgate Street, facing up Guildhall Street.

British soldiers might use the Church Army Canteen in St Botolphs Lane, which is now a Suffolk Housing Association housing scheme, or the British Restaurant in Crown Street where there is now a yard for the Brewery.

The Royal Corps of Signals had a signal office in a house on Southgate Green, now demolished by the roadworks in that areas. Dispatch riders went from there all over East Anglia emphasising the fact that local telephone communications were rudimentary as well as insecure. The men were billeted in homes in Southgate Street and around.

On the agricultural front some Land Army women were billeted in a house on Southgate Green. Prisoners of War were housed on Hardwick Heath in a makeshift camp, and after the war were put to work on local farms. Italians built the concrete roads for the newly planned Mildenhall Road Estate.

The elegant Queen Ann house now known as Angel Corner housed the Ministry of Food during the war, although it was responsible for rationing it out, rather than producing it. In 1946 it became the local Civil Defence HQ for Area 14 (most of West Suffolk) and in the 1960's its cellars were used as the Emergency Planning Centre.

More POW's were returning home from German hands, but none yet from the Far East. People had high hopes for the future but these were dampened by the news that new Ration Books would be issued for the next period of two years. Celebrations, fetes, fun fairs and circuses were held throughout the summer.

Advice to freed POW's
blank Men still in Japanese hands had a further uncomfortable period after August 14th, when the war ended, but there were no allied troops to take over the camps. The Japanese were still armed, despite the fact that they were now the defeated, and there were rumours that they intended to 'destroy the evidence'. However, these fears did not materialise.
Not until the first week of September of 1945 would men of the 4th and 5th Suffolks, now held in Japan with many others of the 18th East Anglian Division, start to be embarked for the long voyage home. Many had the choice to return via Australia, or via America. They were all in various stages of malnutrition, and suffering from a wide variety of tropical diseases and parasites. By late October they were arriving at Southampton.
Men of the 1st Cambridgeshires, another part of the 18th Division, had been kept in Thailand until the war was over. They also began the voyage home in early September, and docked at Liverpool in late October 1945.

In the aftermath of war many of our buildings looked different as railing had been removed to be melted down "for the war effort". Even pots and pans were collected for their aluminium to use for aeroplanes. Sadly, most of these efforts were wasted as the materials were not of good enough quality.

The RAF left Newmarket Heath in Summer 1945 but after 1946 light aircraft continued to deliver people to the races at this airstrip.

Number 195 Squadron from Wratting Common then did eight supply drops to the Dutch and POW repatriation missions before disbanding on 14th August 1945.
The Lancasters of 218 Squadron flying out of Chedburgh had dropped food in the relief of Holland but disbanded in August 1945. However, Chedburgh itself remained open. In September 1945 Polish Squadrons 301 and 304 arrived with Warwicks and some Wellingtons flying transports, mainly to the Middle East.

To show that peace had really arrived, on 15th September RAF Mildenhall was opened to the public, for the first of its Battle of Britain Memorial Open Days.

The East Anglian Girls School in Northgate Avenue re-opened for the new term in September, with the girls all returning from Culford, where they had been placed since 1939. The old school and its houses had been requisitioned for the use of evacuees at first, but had later been used to house American airmen and anyone else who had needed emergency accomodation throughout the war years. It could now return to its use as a school.

On September 30th 1945, the Athenaeum Services Club closed down. It had been open since October 19th, 1939. It was estimated that no less than 1,248,144 visits had been made to the Club by members of the Services during that period. A dedicated army of local women volunteers had made it a home from home for service personnel of all ranks and nations.

Douglas and Russell Denny set up Denny Bros Ltd in a garden shed in late 1945, originally as a commercial print company. The company prospered, but after 1977 Denny Brothers would become renowned for their innovative multi-page labels: the award-winning Fix-a-Form. Still the market leader in 2012, Fix-a-Form would be produced under licence in over 20 countries worldwide, but all that was well in the future.

The 487th Bomb Group left Lavenham in October 1945, to return to the USA after a total of 185 missions and 48 planes lost.

At Honington the 364th Fighter Group flew their last combat mission on 25th April, but they stayed on at Honington until November. They had flown 342 missions and lost 134 aircraft, but had destroyed 449 of the enemy. Although the American 364th Fighter Group left in November 1945, Honington remained as HQ for the VIII AF Fighter Command until February 1946.

No new munitions were filled at the Little Heath mustard gas facility at Barnham after the war ended, but the site was maintained for storage. Old weapons were unloaded of gas, and then were usually destroyed by incineration.

After the war ended the 94th Bomb Group stayed on at Rougham Airfield to carry out leaflet and food distributions to displaced persons throughout Europe, and finally departed Rougham in December 1945.

BSE Capital Programme December 1945
blank Meanwhile the Bury St Edmunds Borough Council was pressing ahead with its plans to build new council housing along the Mildenhall Road. This was on land which had been in Fornham All Saints prior to 1934, but in the Boundary Review Order of that year a large tract of land on the town's northern boundary was transferred into the area of the Borough Council.

Now that part of Fornham All Saints was within the borough boundary, the Bury Borough Council could take steps to acquire some of the land for council housing, on a scale never seen before. The 80 acre site selected was currently tenanted and farmed, but owned by the Fornham Park Estate of Captain Duncan Macrae, who was willing to sell. The new development would be known as the Mildenhall Road Estate.

The attached diagram is the Capital Programme for the Borough as recommended by Norman Goldsmith, Borough Engineer and Surveyor. It is dated December 1945, and can be seen more easily by clicking on the thumbnail to see an enlarged view.

Plans were also made to establish an industrial area off Newmarket Road, which today we know as the Western Way Trading Estate. The sewage works and the waterworks both required extensive renewal works, which were also included in the Capital Programme. Refuse disposal and new roadworks were also in planning, but all work had to be put into priority order to take account of finance availability and staffing capacity. In 1946 Mr Goldsmith would propose a new staffing structure for his department in order to carry out the ambitious capital programme now proposed.

At the end of the war the Women's Land Army and the Womens Timber Corps received no commemorative medals or recognition from the Government in comparison with all other services. Their only souvenir was the cloth armband that they wore. They had no clothing issued at the end of their service, received no clothing coupons and no gratuity.
To help with the resettlement of WLA volunteers, a charity called the WLA benevolent Fund, set up in 1942 to support the cause, had to be called on. Between 1942 and 1980 the Fund would issue over 32,000 small grants to ex - Land Girls. The fund established Cromwell's Cottage at Whepstead in Suffolk to provide training for a new life as family women.
However, the WLA would continue its work on the land until its disbandment in 1952.

Quick links on this page
Top of Page 1900
Pageant, West Suffolk ill. 1907
Two cinemas 1909
Flooding 1912
The Great War, Mons 1914
Trenches, air raid, Gallipoli 1915
Egypt, drafting, Somme 1916
Ypres, USA enters war 1917
Victory, Women get vote 1918
Flu, Flax factory 1919
Agriculture in decline 1921
Sugar Beet factory 1924
Madam Mayor 1927
Tithe Wars 1931
Culford Estate sold off 1934
Westley Airfield, ARP 1938
Sutton Hoo and War 1939
Dunkirk 1940
Holderness Road bomb 1941
Lakenheath built, Singapore 1942
Flying Forts arrive 1943
Invasion, V1's retaliate 1944
Germany in ruins, VE VJ 1945
The late 20th Century

Please click here to follow the story of the late 20th century in our local area

Prepared for the St Edmundsbury Local history project
by David Addy December 1998 to 2007

Mapping by Chris Williams

Photography of Museum exhibits and pictures by Graham Portlock

Books consulted
"Suffolk County Handbook 1918" East Anglian Daily Times
"A Short Record of the East Anglian Munitions Committee in the Great War, 1914-1918", by Sir Wilfrid Stokes, Circa 1919/1920
"Bury St Edmund's Its History and Antiquities", by William S Spanton, c1930.
"The Sturge Collection of Flints" by R A Smith for the British Museum Trustees, 1931
"A Short History of Glemsford" by Rev Kenneth W. Glass 1962 available at Foxearth and District Local History Society
"The Book of Bury St Edmunds" by Margaret Statham, 1988, revised 1996.
"Yesterdays Town" by Margaret Statham, 1992
"The Sacred and Profane History of Bury St Edmunds" by Peter Bishop
" A History of Suffolk" by David Dymond and Peter Northeast
"The Culford Estate 1780-1935" by The Ingham Local History Group
"Bury St Edmunds - a photographic history" by Clive Paine
"1 Suffolk and D-Day" by Eric Lummis
"1 Suffolk in Normandy" by Eric Lummis
"History of the 1/5th Battalion The Suffolk Regiment" by A Fair and E Wolton
"Victorian and Edwardian Suffolk" by Colin Harrison, 1973
"The Identity of Suffolk" by Celia Jennings, 1980, for the Suffolk Preservation Society
"A Suffolk Lad goes to War", by Reg Gray with Roger Mangnall, sold in aid of Age Concern
"The River Lark Navigation", unpublished manuscript by D E Weston in West Suffolk Record Office c1980
"The Lark Navigation" by D E Weston, 1980
"A History of RAF Mildenhall" by Colin Dring, published by Mildenhall Museum, 1980
"Lord Bristol's Amazing Steam Venture" by D E Weston, 1981
"Chevington" by Frank Cooper 1984
"Greene King, a Business and Family History", by Richard G Wilson, 1983
"Zeppelins over Bury" by Gareth Jenkins, 1985
"The Book of Bury St Edmunds" by Margaret Statham, 1988, revised 1996.
"Yesterdays Town" by Margaret Statham, 1992
"Bury St Edmunds Past and Present" by Robert Halliday.
"Sutton Hoo through the rear view Mirror" by Robert Markham. Sutton Hoo Society, 2002
"Women on the Land" by Carol Twinch, 1990
"Around BSE in Camera" by Margaret Statham, 1990
"Saga of a Suffolk Soldier", by Arthur C Boreham, 1990
"Something to Splash About - Sybil Andrews in Suffolk" by Chris Reeve, 1991
"Battle of Britain" by Len Deighton
"Suffolk at Work", by Robert Malster 1995
"RAF Stradishall, 1938-1970" by S Adams and J Whitehouse, 1996
"A Life of Riley, Frank Riley Smith at Great Barton, 1901-1912" by Frank Holmes, 1997
"The Story of Bury St Edmunds Golf Club" by Michael Sibley and Roy Christie, 1999
"Old Inns and Beerhouses of Bury St Edmunds" by Gerry Nixon 1996 and 2002
"Tithe War 1918 - 1939 the countryside in revolt" by Carol Twinch, 2001
"The Old Dozen - a century of photographs" Trustees of the Suffolk Regiment Museum, 2002.
"Wings over Westley" by Frank Whitnall, 2004
"Around Bury St Edmunds" by Robert Halliday 2004
"The Battle of Britain 1917" by J Sutherland and D Canwell, 2006
"The Mammals of Suffolk" by Simone Bullion, for the Suffolk Wildlife Trust and Suffolk Naturalist's Society, 2009
"Lost Country Houses of Suffolk", by W M Roberts, 2010
"Wartime in West Suffolk - the diary of Winifred Challis 1942-43", edited by R Malcomson and P Searby for the SRS, Volume 55, 2012
AND THESE WEBSITES;
"A Short History of Glemsford" by Rev Kenneth W. Glass 1962 available at Foxearth and District Local History Society
"Suffolk newspaper reports, 1901-1914" from Pip Wright's website
Subterranean Sites in Suffolk, see Barnham
'Crosses of Fire' at WWW.wartimememories.co.uk Journal kept by Staff Sergeant Richard ("Red") Fredericksen during his 33 raid Tour of Duty at Rougham, September 25th, 1944 to March 8th, 1945.
Norfolk Black History website
bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar - this is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC.
'WW2 People's War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar' Suffolk and the D_Day funnies is Contributed by paul_i_w
The Railway Mission by Gloria J Abbot
The Battle of Britain Historical Society website
The RAF Battle of Britain Campaign Diary website
Foxearth Local History Website
Observer Corps in Suffolk
WWW.derelictplaces.co.uk
www.sudburysuffolk,co.uk
A list of fatal air accidents in Britain and Ireland 1938 - 2 Sep 1939


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