07/11/18: New book released to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice

Shipdham bookOne hundred years ago this weekend the World War I Armistice was declared, signalling the end of one of the most destructive wars in human history. World War I, or the Great War as it was known at the time, resulted in over 1 million British troops being either killed or reported missing in action. To commemorate this major period in global history the Shipdham History Group decided to carefully research local Shipdham participants in the Great War, following their lives from before, during and in some cases just after World War I. The team of three dedicated researchers painstakingly read over 780 newspapers from the period, researched baptism and marriage certificates, war records and medal cards, and delved into the lives of Shipdham residents who enlisted and fought in the war which was meant to end all wars.

"When we started to look into the lives of the local people affected by the war it was apparent quite quickly that their story needed to be recorded for all posterity for future generations" commented a spokesperson for the Shipdham History Group. "In our book we cover the lives of 33 local servicemen, all of whom had general connections with the village at some stage in their lives. Many of the people involved had experienced great hardship running up to the war, including a number living in local workhouses, however the book covers people from across the educational and class structure. For example, a local Shipdham teacher, whose work at Shipdham school had protected him from previous service call-ups, was finally conscripted in mid- 1918 as his employment had ceased to be under a protected employment position. Sadly he was killed just a few months later in August in the same year."

The book also includes the story of the only Breckland born resident, Arthur Cross, who was awarded not only the Military Medal, but the prestigious Victoria Cross in World War I. Arthur Cross was born in Shipdham in 1884 and went on to be awarded his Victoria Cross on the 25th March 1918 after advancing single handed on an enemy trench. He was later fire-watcher in the Blitz in London and lent his VC to British film star David Niven for the film 'Carrington VC'. His younger brother, Percy Cross, who was another Shipdham resident and is listed on the local war memorial, earner the prestigious Military Medal whilst in battle, which inspired Arthur to enlist.

The book, 'Shipdham In The Great War', which has had an exclusive print run, goes on public sale from 11 November, following the Remembrance Service at Shipdham All Saints Church. It will then be available from members of the Shipdham History Group, which can be contacted via Facebook. The cost of the A4, 230-page book is £20.

"All profits from the sale go towards helping create a new 2018 commemoration window in All Saints Church. We would like to thank Breckland Council and Shipdham Parish Council who helped support this project."

Cllr Lynda Turner and Cllr Paul Hewett from the Shipdham with Scarning ward said "At a time of reflection for the whole country, this is a wonderfully fitting tribute by the Shipdham History Group. It will preserve the stories of local people, who in some cases made the ultimate sacrifice during World War I, for future generations of Breckland residents. This book will ensure their sacrifice and bravery 100 years ago will never be forgotten."