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Freebridge support Clenchwarton war memorial


Freebridge Community Housing are once again providing a poppy wreath for one of West Norfolk’s more unusual war memorials.

Memorial Cottages, a pair of almshouses in Clenchwarton, were built in 1924 as a dedication to those who lost their lives in the First World War and are currently leased by Freebridge.

A stone on the outside of the Church Road homes, set between two of the front windows, details 23 local servicemen who lost their lives on active service during both world wars.

The memorial was created by the Clenchwarton Almshouse charity and they continue to be trustees, although the properties themselves have been managed by Freebridge since the lease started in 2012. The creation of the memorial has been detailed in an article written by Barbara Smith from the village which is now stored in the charity’s archives.

The article explains how parishioners paid for the memorial through subscriptions. The idea of the almshouses was one of three initially suggested at the first meeting on May 2 1919. It was favoured over a standard memorial or a fund allocated yearly to the ‘needy poor’ of the parish. The almshouses were originally designed for widows and older people in the parish as well as being a permanent memorial to the ‘fallen’.

The houses were opened on 26 July 1924 by Major and Mrs Bagge, who were supported by the Mayor and Mayoress of West Norfolk, having cost a total of £400 to build, including a government grant of £75 per house.

Some of the men honoured include:

  • Private Ralph Coates (77271). He was born and lived in Clenchwarton, posted to 1st battalion, London Regiment. He was killed in action on 24 August 1918 in France. He is buried in Summit Trench Cemetery, Croissilles, Pas de Calais, France.
  • Stoker Harry Cox (2420T). Son of William and Hannah Coy of Clenchwarton. He was on HMS Vanguard and was lost with his ship at Scapa Flow on 9 July 1917, aged 52.
  • Brothers Charles Albert Maycraft and George Edgar Maycraft. Charles was a Lance Corporal (9035) A company, 1st Battalion, Norfolk Regiment. He was born in Clenchwarton, the son of Charles A and Emily Maycraft. He died of wounds in France on 5 September 1916 aged 21. His brother George was a private (241081) 1st/5th Battalion Norfolk Regiment. He was killed in action in Gaza, Palestine on 19 April 1917 aged 19.
  • Sergeant (pilot) Russell Edwards Fuller (319889). He was the son of Robert and Evaline Fuller of Clenchwarton and was posted to 77 Squadron, RAF. He died in Berlin on 24 August 1943, aged 20. He is buried in the war cemetery in Berlin.
  • Gunner Ernest Frederick William Wake (980304), son of John and Lily Wake of Clenchwarton. He was with 2 Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery and was killed at El Alamein on 3 July 1942, aged 22. He is buried in El Alamein war cemetery.

      Freebridge Community Housing Chief Executive Tony Hall said: “The location of this memorial is an unusual one, so I’m pleased that over the last few years we’ve been able to support the trustees in providing a wreath for it from Freebridge in order to honour those who lost their lives in the First and Second World Wars, and we look forward to continue doing so in the future.”

      Revd Sheila James, who lives in the village and has placed the wreath on the memorial for the past ten years said: “I was born as the Blitz began in London so I’ve always felt a connection to the memorial. I knew a lot of the families whose names are on the cottages and it’s important to take just two minutes every year to remember what they did for us.”

      Pictured: The Rev. Sheila James with the poppy wreath from Freebridge at the memorial cottages in Clenchwarton.

      The Rev. Sheila James with the poppy wreath from Freebridge at the memorial cottages in Clenchwarton.