Unseen images and soldiers' stories shown at Ipswich War Memorial Project exhibition

The Ipswich War Memorial Project

The Mayor of Ipswich Cllr Elizabeth Hughes and the chairman of the Ipswich branch John Downie opening the exhibition - Credit: The Ipswich War Memorial Project

A new exhibition commemorating the lives of the brave Ipswich men who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country during the First World War is now on show under the Lloyds arches on the Cornhill.

The exhibition, which features some rare unseen photos, was unveiled by the Mayor of Ipswich Cllr Elizabeth Hughes, on Saturday and was part of this year's Poppy Appeal launch.

The Poppy Appeal in Ipswich made over £110k in 2019, but last year due to the pandemic it only raised £46k.

The Ipswich War Memorial Project

The exhibition shows portraits of supporters of the Poppy Appeal over the past 6 years, this includes many veterans who have passed away during the pandemic - Credit: The Ipswich War Memorial Project

The Ipswich War Memorial Project has been running since 2014, and the Ipswich Branch of the Royal British Legion for 100 years - which received a letter from the Queen.

The exhibition tells the stories of several soldiers, including Harry Chapman, who died on January 27 1917 at the age of 29 as a stretcher bearer looking for wounded, as a successful attack had been made.

The Ipswich War Memorial Project

Harry Chapman died in 1917, shortly after finding out he was going to have a another child - Credit: The Ipswich War Memorial Project

A shell fell into the midst of the party. Harry was one of the three who were killed, his death being instantaneous.

His wife Alice continued to write regularly to her husband when he went out to France, suddenly his letters to her ceased. Nothing was heard until a notification from the War Office arrived to say that he had been killed.

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In her last letter she said: "Take good care of yourself, Harry...you see there is going to be an addition to the family,” which was, unbeknown to Alice, received by her husband, who hid the letter beneath the floorboards in the farmhouse he was staying.

Just over 13 years later in 1940, Lance Corporal F.E. Williams, was billeted in the same farmhouse in France and discovered the letter tucked away beneath the floorboards.

He sent the letter back to Ipswich, writing: “I hope my writing to you will not bring back any sad moments. I hope and trust the recipient arrived back home quite safe after his adventures, and that he will read this letter of mine, too, for it will show him some of his kinsmen are going over the same ground that he did in 1916."

Eventually the letter found Alice, who replied he thanking him for his kindness and trouble in writing and told him to keep smiling while over there.

To read more stories like this, you can visit the exhibition. 

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