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Call for photographs and memories of four Suffolk men killed in Battle of Arras as centenary approaches

PUBLISHED: 09:00 03 October 2016

Stoke High School and St Albans High School are joining forces with the University of Suffolk on a project to commemorate the Battle of Arras.
The team outside the University of Suffolk.
Adults left- Laura Lawrence (St Albans),Asheligh Hewitt (University of Suffolk), 
Adults right - Harvey Osborne (University of Suffolk),Ashley Watson (Stoke High School).

Stoke High School and St Albans High School are joining forces with the University of Suffolk on a project to commemorate the Battle of Arras. The team outside the University of Suffolk. Adults left- Laura Lawrence (St Albans),Asheligh Hewitt (University of Suffolk), Adults right - Harvey Osborne (University of Suffolk),Ashley Watson (Stoke High School).

Archant

The personal stories of Suffolk men who died during the Battle of Arras are to be told and celebrated thanks to a dedicated group of young researchers.

The ruins of Arras, familiar to the men of the Suffolk Regiment during the war. The people of Suffolk would help rebuild the city after the war.The ruins of Arras, familiar to the men of the Suffolk Regiment during the war. The people of Suffolk would help rebuild the city after the war.

The findings will be displayed in an exhibition in the French city in April next year to mark 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War British offensive, which claimed the lives of thousands of soldiers from the county.

The history team from the University of Suffolk has linked up with children from Ipswich’s Stoke High School – Ormiston Academy and St Alban’s Catholic High School to run the project.

Ten pupils across the two schools are working to piece together a group of servicemen’s tales – where they were born, who their families are and how they died.

Dr Harvey Osborne, head of history at the University of Suffolk, said: “We were aware that the 100th year anniversary of the Battle of Arras 1917 was coming and we have been planning this for a year or so.

“The significance of the Battle of Arras for Suffolk lies in the fact that a lot of men from the county fought in it and a lot of men from Ipswich in particular.

“At least five battalions of the Suffolk regiment were involved in the battle so a lot of men fought and died there.

“There will be very significant commemoration events in Arras in April 2017 to mark the anniversary and it’s a really important moment for the French, British and the Canadians in particular.

“These kids will develop very personal stories, they will delve down beyond the story of the battle and look to the personal experiences of a group of soldiers, ranging from officers to ordinary soldiers, and we will take these stories to Arras in 2017 as part of an exhibition.”

The team from St Alban’s found the names of their men on a First World War memorial in the churchyard at Rushmere St Andrew, and the group from Stoke High discovered their soldiers on a memorial at St Mary at Stoke church.

The youngsters - with the help of Ashley Watson, head of humanities at Stoke, and Laura Lawrence, teacher of history at St Alban’s - researched every name from the memorials online until they found men who had died during the Battle of Arras.

The project has clearly been eye-opening for all of the school children involved.

Becky Lowal, 14, a Year 10 pupil at Stoke, said: “I think it makes you realise the reality that it was real and it’s not just a story and how lucky we are.”

Her peer Saffron Green, 14, added: “We have learnt so much about Arras and also about the Army. Even when the whole thing is over we will still be curious about what else there is.”

Year 9 student Kitty Smith, 13, from St Alban’s, said: “It was quite exciting when we found a name that matched the criteria we were looking for because there were quite a lot of dead ends in our research.

“It feels personal to know their stories and how they died. It’s good to know the untold stories that no one else has heard before.”

The other students taking part in the scheme are: Scott Davidson, Emily Fillbrook, Faye Alexander and Nathan Parkinson, all from Stoke, and Joylon Wright, Felicity Ryan and Jhona Monge from St Alban’s.

The profiles of a number of soldiers killed at Arras have been developed, but researchers are looking for further information, memories and particularly surviving photographs for four specific soldiers to include within their exhibition.

These men are:

Private Alfred Newton Watson (1896-1917)

2nd Battalion, Suffolk Regiment

Born in Rushmere St Andrew and lived in Woodbridge Road and Brickyard Cottage

The fifth of nine children, his parents are Nathan George Watson and Mary Ann (nee Farrow)

Worked as a golf caddie

Killed in action on April 28, 1917

Second Lieutenant Ernest William Rush (1885/1886-1917)

7th (Service) Battalion, Suffolk Regiment

Born in Rushmere St Andrew and lived in Bixley Farm Cottages

One of five children, his parents are William Thomas Rush and Caroline (nee Skeet)

Killed in action on April 28, 1917

Private Percy William Scrutton (1893-1917)

11th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment

Born in Ipswich, lived at 2 Little Croft Street and 6 Calcutta Villas, Croft Street

Seventh of nine children, his parents are Charles Scrutton and Rose (nee Garnham)

His father was a paper-maker at the Bramford paper-making works in 1881

Killed in action on April 28, 1917

Private George Snowden Gosling (1897-1917)

7th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment

Born in Woolverstone, lived at Ipswich Road, Freston and 43 Station Street, Ipswich

One of seven children, his parents are George Gosling and Susan Jane

Died on April 28, 1917 and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial

Relatives or anyone who can help can get in contact with the team via: history@uos.ac.uk

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