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Town’s First World War history compiled in booklet

PUBLISHED: 12:00 02 July 2018 | UPDATED: 13:07 02 July 2018

Darren Norton and his fiancée Susan Oliver wearing First World War period dress. Mr Norton's booklet can be picked up for free at the Brandon Heritage Centre. Picture: Susan Oliver

Darren Norton and his fiancée Susan Oliver wearing First World War period dress. Mr Norton's booklet can be picked up for free at the Brandon Heritage Centre. Picture: Susan Oliver

Archant

A new booklet detailing a town’s First World War history - both at home and on the Western Front- has been released.

A man painting a poppy for a Remembrance Day project. Picture: Tony ParsfieldA man painting a poppy for a Remembrance Day project. Picture: Tony Parsfield

Researched and complied by Darren Norton, Brandon’s Armistice Centenary booklet was created to inform current residents and to remember all those who were involved in the Great War.

The 16-page colour booklet, funded by a £1,000 grant from Tesco’s Bags of Help scheme, includes accounts from and information about soldiers from the town.

One, William Ashley, recalls the 1914 Christmas Truce in which the German and British soldiers came together to exchange cigarettes.

He said: “On Christmas Eve the Germans started shouting Christmas greetings, and of course we did the same. Then they started singing Christmas Carols, and of course we joined in until it became a general thing.”

A man painting a poppy for a Remembrance Day project. Picture: Tony ParsfieldA man painting a poppy for a Remembrance Day project. Picture: Tony Parsfield

Mr Norton, a keen researcher of Brandon’s history, said he wanted to created something to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the War.

He said: “The research started eight years ago and at that time there was no intention to do anything other than research. It then took me six months to write, edit and print.

“It has stories and eye witness accounts. What is exciting to me is getting these stories out.

“A man called Frank Norton was involved in the first capture of a German tank.”

The booklet also documents how the town changed through the War and the difficulties faced by those who remained at home.

Mr Norton said at first residents were proud of their loved ones heading to fight and there was a celebratory mood.

But as the war raged on, the joy turned to sadness as men returned injured or not at all. There were also food shortages and people worked extra hours to cover for the those who left to fight.

“We have all these war memorials and a Remembrance Day for those that got killed but we tend to not remember everybody else,” said Mr Norton. “Some men came back and took off their military uniform and went back to civilian life.”

The booklet is free and copies can be picked up from the Brandon Heritage Centre and local shops.

Over the weekend people were invited to the Brandon Heritage Centre to paint clay poppies.

Organised by Ali Barnes, each will have name of the 65 Brandon men killed in the War, and will be installed as a piece of art at the town’s cemetery gates in November.

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