The Forum, Norwich has announced a new exhibition commemorating Norfolk’s men and women at the centenary of the Armistice, marking 100 years since the end of First World War. The free exhibition running from Thursday 1 – Tuesday 13 November brings together five exhibitions created by the Forum as part of a £90,000 Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) project.
The first research strand of the project Finding the Fallen with historian Neil Storey and Norfolk schools resulted in three exhibitions; The Battle of the Somme, The Battle of Gaza, and the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day.
The second strand, First World War Women of Norfolk saw volunteers uncover stories and legacies of Norfolk women with the help of Norfolk libraries, Norfolk Record Office and Norfolk Heritage Centre. This created two further exhibitions First World War Women of Norfolk ‘On Active Service’ and First World War Women of Norfolk ‘Their Legacy’. Now all five will go on display in The Forum’s Atrium, Gallery and Norfolk & Norwich Millennium Library.
The exhibitions were brought to life thanks to members of the public who came forward to share their personal family accounts and mementoes of relatives. This includes the story of Win Elwes from Congham, an ambulance driver in France who won the Military Medal for her bravery, the highest award possible for a woman at that time. Win’s story, and that of her family and friends on the front, is told through 12 remarkable diaries written by her sister Honor Elwes. Also on display is the Foreign Service Uniform and equipment worn and carried by Thomas Woods Purdy of Aylsham, a Major in Palestine during 1917. Liet. Colonel Purdy served with The Norfolk Regiment in Gallipoli and Gaza, capturing images of the landscape and his comrades through a field camera.
The exhibition will also bring to life the individual stories of 25 Norfolk women in uniformed service who died during or as a result of the First World War. The women will be commemorated through a Roll of Honour, objects loaned by families and a specially commissioned memorial silhouette which will stand alongside a There but not there Tommy sculpture.
The exhibition will be accompanied by an illustrated book drawing on the new research undertaken during the project.
Sarah Power, Learning & Events Manager at The Forum said:
“This final exhibition is a tribute to those lost voices of the past and to those who wish to remember the effort and sacrifice made by Norfolk men and women. My hope is that the amazing stories and legacies and stories uncovered may encourage more people to undertake research about their family or friends who lived through such an extraordinary period of history.”
Robyn Llewellyn, Head of HLF East of England, said:
“From active service to engineering and the Home Front, this project offers a valuable insight into the role of Norfolk women during the First World War. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, and with vital help from volunteers, people across the county have been sharing their stories and this new exhibition is a fantastic opportunity to share their discoveries and learn more about Norfolk in the First World War.”
There is also an accompanying programme of talks bookable via theforumnorwich.co.uk/ww1
Following its opening at the Forum, the five exhibitions will continue to tour schools and community venues around Norfolk.