Overstrand remembers World War One

Published on: 1 September 2018

Tim Bennet looks at how the parish in Overstrand is playing its part in remembering those from their community who lost their lives in WW1.

The church and community in Overstrand have been commemorating the men who gave their lives for King and country and who are remembered on our Memorial Cross in the churchyard and in the church itself. We have also remembered the men who served and returned home, together with the women who made such a valuable contribution as nurses and carers in the local VAD hospitals.

In the summer of 2014 there was an exhibition in the church and parish hall and a community church service at St Martin’s. Since then, the village has had different opportunities to learn about the impact of war on this small coastal parish.

I researched and wrote the book Overstrand in the Great War, in remembrance of the impact on the village of Overstrand and on the lives of the families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. It tells the stories of the men and their families and has meant that the names carved in stone have become real people. For the past three years at the community remembrance service, which is now very well attended, photos of some of the men are projected as their names are read out and this has had a poignant effect on the congregation.

This year, on 11 November, the community will be invited to the church as we reflect upon the Armistice in 1918. Candles will be lit for each of the 40 lost Overstrand men, and music and readings will reflect our continuing need for world peace. The day will end with the lighting of one of the many beacons around the coast of the UK at 5pm, organised by the Parish Council.

A Walking Trail leaflet and associated guided walks have been very popular, enabling people to understand something of the enormous effect that a war a century ago had on the villagers and those who were educated at the Belfry Church of England School, or worshipped at St Martins and the Methodist Church.

Since the publication of my book, several previously unknown relatives have contributed stories, information and photos of a family member who was killed or served between 1914 and 1918. An exhibition is planned for October and November at the belfry Centre for Music and Arts, displaying something of the events and activities that have contributed to the villages’ involvement in the Great War Commemoration.

Residents and visitors to Overstrand have become familiar with William England, as his photo has been used on all the publicity. William, a former pupil of the village school, joined the Norfolk Regiment and was killed at the age of 19.

Another Overstrand ‘boy’ of the same age died as a result of wounds received while serving in what is now Ukraine. Edward Naylor was one of three soldiers who was buried in the churchyard; all the funerals with full military honours were conducted by the Rector, Canon Lawrence Carr.

Both the church and village community, through the commemorations of the past four years, have learned something of the reality of WW1.

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