Showcase film

If you weren’t able to attend our Last Poppy Showcase on 23rd March, then here’s our film, put together by Chris Church from Wire Frame Media.

We hope you enjoy it!

Feel free to share…


Essex at War: On film

We are very pleased to present to you our film summary of the Essex at War event held at Hylands House, on Sunday 14th September 2014, created for us by Chris Church from Wire Frame Media. It features footage of the ‘Now the Last Poppy has Fallen’ exhibition launch.

With thanks to the Essex Record Office for hosting the film on their YouTube account.

You can also look at the photographs from the event.

Essex at War, 1914 – 1918: In pictures

Here’s a photo gallery (courtesy of photographer Paul Starr) of our Essex at War, 1914 – 1918 event, which took place at Hylands House on Sunday 14th September 2014.

Click on each photo to see them a little larger.

100 years on…

And so the commemorations to mark the centenary of the start of the first World War has begun…

There will be many events and plenty of TV coverage to keep us all informed of what happened 100 years ago, and we will be encouraged to ‘Remember’, to look back and reflect, to weigh up what that war means for us today.

Frank Bernard Lane

Frank Bernard Lane

For me, I know that one of my great grandfathers, Frank Bernard Lane, served for his country and although I never knew him I appreciate what he sacrificed for us, although I do know that he survived the Great War, unlike many of his friends, I suspect.

I have read many stories of bravery from our wonderful project researchers and have been impressed at the willingness of men and women to step into the unknown and risk their lives for the ‘greater good’. I hope you manage to have a look back through our archived blog posts to discover some of the stories. I also hope you get a chance to see the touring exhibition, when it is ready from September 2014 onwards, at your local museum or library, where you can read more fascinating stories.

Essex Poet, Luke Wright (photo courtesy of martin Figura)

Essex Poet, Luke Wright (photo courtesy of Martin Figura)

We were pleased to present the first of five completely original poems written by local poet, Luke Wright. He has taken the research given to him by our project manager, Tony Morrison, from our volunteer researchers, and turned it into a wonderful, reflective poem about what was going on in Essex, 100 years ago. Please do read it and let us know what you think.

In addition, the Essex Record Office and our partner museums have begun to work on education sessions or resources for secondary schools. Chelmer Valley High School, in Chelmsford has already held an art competition in conjunction with both the Essex Fire Museum and the Essex Police Museum. You can see their art work on our Project Partners: Schools page.

If you get a chance, do have a look at the EROs most recent blog post: ‘And so the mad Dance of Death has begun’: a look at the Essex County Chronicle of 7 August 1914, which is an extensive look at the Essex Chronicle’s reports from 100 years ago.

Whatever you do to remember, always remember that these were ordinary human beings like you and I, sucked into a frightening and traumatic experience beyond their control. What would you do today? Would you be first in line to sign up to go to war and serve for your country? Or would you have held back, with dread? None of us can say…

Sarah Girling, Project Manager

Wickford at War

Following on from our previous blog post, we return with another guest, writing about his family from Wickford, James Nason.

My family haven’t really got very far.

I can trace them back to my 10th Great Grandfather, Richard Carter, in Wickford thanks to a document from St. Catherine’s Church that is held by The Essex Record Office.  Over 400 years later I live Pitsea, a short journey away from Wickford.

The Carter’s have been a massive influence on Wickford and still are to this day.  One of these was my Grand Aunt, Queenie Thorrington nee Carter.  She was born, in Wickford, on 8 April 1910.

Queenie spoke to author Jim Reeve, who went on to write ‘Wickford Memories’, about her memories of the First World War.  Her father, my Great Grandfather, Halbert John Carter was employed at docks as a carpenter and a joiner, converting ships to troop ships.  He wasn’t healthy enough to join the armed forces and he was kept on as a carpenter at the docks even after hostilities had ended.

Hubert, Pearl and Queenie Carter.  Taken around 1917.

Hubert, Pearl and Queenie Carter. Taken around 1917.

Her mother, Daisy Ethel Carter, nee Bewers, had two older brothers that fought during the Great War.

William John Cornelius Bewers (known as Will), born 5 May 1876, was a career sailor and had joined the Royal Navy before the turn of the 20th Century.

Henry Robert Bewers (known as Bob), born 7 May 1877, joined the army in 1916.

Ada Carter (nee Bewers), William Bewers and William John Cornelius Bewers carrying Queenie Carter, 1911.

Ada Carter (nee Bewers), William Bewers and William John Cornelius Bewers carrying Queenie Carter, 1911.

William was a Chief Stoker on HM Submarine E22.  The submarine was part of a naval experiment.  It carried two Sopwith Seaplanes on its casing that would be floated and then sent to intercept Zeppelins.  The experiment was eventually abandoned.  Whilst on surface manoeuvres, off of Great Yarmouth, on 25 April 1916 his submarine was torpedoed and sunk.  Only two men survived and uncle Will was killed.  Less than a year before this he married Eva Grange.  She wrote to the admiralty asking for information as he was originally just listed as missing.  I can’t imagine she got to spend much time with her new husband and the little news she received after he went missing must have been awful.

Aunt Queenie can remember seeing what she thought was the whole British army marching through Wickford, and up towards Runwell.  I was told a story that one of those soldiers was uncle Bob, that he waved to my aunt and was disappointed that she never recognised him.

Henry Robert Bewers, a Private in the Second Battalion, Suffolk Regiment, was killed 18 August 1916 in Cochrane Alley, Guillemont, France.  He never married.

Henry Robert Bewers

Henry Robert Bewers

Queenie remembered two events that bought the war to the town of Wickford.  Firstly she recalled the Zeppelin that came down and crashed in Burstead.  “There were flames in the sky and by the time it had gone over us, it had come down.”

Later on a German Gotha came down “between the river and London Road” whilst Queenie was at school.  After school the children went to see the wreckage.  “What I remember most” said Queenie “was the terrible smell of the bodies.”

Queenie died, January 2009, aged 98.

If you’d like to tell us about your Essex family and their experience of the First World War then get in touch. We love having guest blog writers!

So what has the BBC ever done for us?

Written by Sarah Girling

BBC trailer

I am a fan of the BBC, I don’t deny it. I enjoy Call the Midwife, Miranda, Dr Who, Sherlock… Yes, I’m a fan (and as you can tell, a woman of a certain age)…

Well, the BBC seems to have gone all out to ensure that everyone knows about the centenary of the First World War and as Tim Plyming, Executive Producer for the BBC has said in his blog:

“Central to the BBC’s ambition for the World War One season is the desire to reintroduce audiences to a war they think they know.”

So what has the BBC offered us, the viewers?

Firstly, there’s what will actually be on the telly. The trailer on YouTube is pretty good, including the song Pack up your Troubles, made popular during WWI.

Which brings me on to their second offer. BBC iWonder Guides are interactive guides designed for laptops, tablets and smartphones. One of the guides is Gareth Malone’s analysis ‘Why did Pack up your Troubles become the viral hit of WWI?’ and another looks at whether War Poetry has distorted our view of WWI.

If you came to the Researching the Great War day back in November 2013, you will have heard something about the BBC’s World War One at Home project from Stuart Woodward. I’m looking forward to hearing the 100 stories from across the UK.

There are podcasts and lots more, so I’ve signed up to their newsletter to stay informed about what’s coming up next…

There are links to other items on the website at  and you can read more about plans for TV and Radio by reading the blog of Adrian Van Kleveron, Controller of the BBC’s World War One Centenary.

Thanks for reading (and no I wasn’t paid by the BBC to promote this, I just think it’s jolly good!)

Zeppelins over Essex

I’ve just found a  BBC documentary from 1972, “Zeppelins over East Anglia” which can be seen on the East Anglian Film Archive’s website. Although much of it is focused on Norfolk, there is a wonderful description of the Zeppelin shot down over Wigborough.

Zeppelins over East Anglia, a BBC documentary from 1972

Zeppelins over East Anglia, a BBC documentary from 1972

The film tells of the crash of the airship LZ33 between Peldon and Wigborough in Essex, after attack from Fighter Pilot Brandon. The commander Captain Leutnant Bercker, brought the airship down into a field and then tried to warn the inhabitants of a nearby cottage that he was going to set fire to the ship. He received no replay, but did just that. The crew made off on foot. They encountered Special constable Edgar Nichols, who arrested them. James Rout, who lived in another cottage nearby, recalls the Zeppelin crashing. He shows a piece of the Zeppelin to the camera and recalls that a baby girl was born that night and named Zeppelina!

Watch the film from 18min 30 seconds to see the excerpt about Essex.

I hope you enjoy it.


Researching the Great War

On Wednesday 20th November 2013 we held our training and networking event, Researching the Great War, for the project volunteers, partner museums and any other interested parties, at Essex Record Office. 

Networking over lunch

Networking over lunch

The course was organised by Sarah Girling and Tony Morrison, through Share Museums East.

Share Museums East

The day included a wide variety of speakers from across Essex and some of their presentations can be seen here, including:

*NB Please do not circulate this presentation more widely than within your organisations. The longer it is since the meeting, the more the information might become out of date and we would not want inaccurate information from IWM to be made public. Many thanks. Josie Gale.

Ian Hook, curator of the Essex Regiment museum

Ian Hook, curator of the Essex Regiment museum

The lecture theatre was a great venue at the Essex Record Office.

The lecture theatre was a great venue at the Essex Record Office.