To mark the centenary of the Second Battle of Gaza (19 April 1917), The Forum in Norwich is hosting an exhibition to commemorate local soldiers who served in The Norfolk Regiment. Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the exhibition opens on Tuesday 18 April and runs until Thursday 4 May 2017 in The Forum’s Gallery and inside the Norfolk & Norwich Millennium Library, 10am – 4pm daily.
Hundreds of men from the Norfolk Territorials fought and lost their lives at the Second Battle of Gaza and although many of them are buried in fields abroad, their names appear on many Norfolk town and village war memorials.
Visitors to the National Lottery funded exhibition can discover how the Territorial Force soldiers were recruited, how the campaign in the Middle East impacted on the Norfolk Regiment, commemorate the fallen and write a postcard in their memory. The exhibition includes work of students from Sheringham Woodfields, St. Michael’s C of E Academy-Kings Lynn and the Belfry CEVA Primary School in Overstrand, who researched soldiers from their school’s locality.
Sarah Power, Learning & Events Manager at The Forum said: “The more you read about The Battle of Gaza, the more fascinating this fairly unknown story of the First World War becomes. We were pleased that many relatives of 4th and 5th Battalions, The Norfolk Regiment, responded to a ‘call for stories’ and several moving accounts are told in the exhibition.
The work of three enthusiastic schools will be on display and demonstrates the learning that took place and how the students were moved by the stories of their local soldiers. Inside The Forum’s Gallery we have created an immersive experience for the public to reflect on the loss of 367 Norfolk soldiers, commemorating the sacrifices made by them 100 years ago.”
As part of the ‘Finding the Fallen: The Battle of Gaza’ project, a special evening of talks will take place on Wednesday 19 April, to mark 100 years since the battle. Historians Neil Storey and Dr Paul Knight present two talks on the Norfolk Regiment’s involvement in the Second Battle of Gaza and the wider campaigns against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War.
The event starts at 6pm at The Forum and there is an opportunity to visit the exhibition on the Battle of Gaza before the talks begin. Tickets for the evening are free, but must be booked in advance via ww1battleofgazatalk.eventbrite.co.uk.
On Saturday 29 April, a family friendly hands-on history event on The Battle of Gaza is being held at The Forum from 10am – 4pm. Visitors can meet Military Historian, Neil Storey, handle First World War objects and uniforms, and hear the stories and experiences of the Norfolk soldiers who fought in the battle. This event is free and no booking is required.
This project has been made possible thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). Last year The Forum was awarded £90,000 by HLF to explore the stories of Norfolk men and women during the First World War. Robyn Llewellyn, Head of HLF East of England, said: “We’re delighted that money raised by National Lottery players has enabled this project to share the experiences of Norfolk soldiers who fought in the Battle of Gaza and engage local people in marking this important centenary.”
Following the exhibition at The Forum, The Battle of Gaza exhibition and an accompanying film will go on tour to schools and community venues around the county. As part of the project, a comprehensive programme to support schools to teach First World War studies is being created by The Forum and will include touring exhibitions, a dedicated website, films, a learning pack and inset sessions for teachers. There will also be plenty of hands-on resources including costumes, objects and documents for schools across Norfolk to hire.