Fellow local historian, Cynthia Budd, has meticulously researched the men listed on the Great War Memorials throughout the Shellrock Benefice (Great Ellingham, Little Ellingham, Rockland All Saints, Rockland St Peter and Shropham with Snetterton).
She has kindly allowed me to reproduce her tributes to the Great Ellingham men, on the Great Ellingham One-Place Study website.
Great War memorial tablet on the west wall of the Church of St James, Great Ellingham
The following is Cynthia’s piece commemorating Private 18601, Arthur Halls, 9th Battalion Norfolk Regiment:
On the 15th September, 1916, the Somme Battles had been raging for 77 days and a costly stalemate had set in. On that day an attack took place (now known as The Quadrilateral or the Battle of Flers-Courcelette), which was designed to break the stalemate.
The newly developed war machine, the Tank, was to be used for the first time and new tactics regarding troop deployment were meant to reduce casualties. Again, the day was to result in great loss of life.
Great Ellingham and Rockland All Saints each lost two of their men.
One Great Ellingham man, Private Halls and two All Saints men served with the 9th Norfolk's. The second Great Ellingham man, Private (Rivett) Wilkins, served with the 1st East Kent's. These Battalions were part of the 6th Division but were in different Brigades, so were not at the same starting points on the day (they were about 1.5 kilometres apart).
Arthur was born in Great Ellingham. His birth was registered in the fourth quarter of 1889 as Arthur Hall. He was one of eleven children of Charles and Rebecca [Hall] nèe Beales, who married in St James' Great Ellingham in October 1878.
In 1911 they recorded one of their children had died. Arthur's known siblings were (older) Charles, Ellen, Alice, George and Amelia (younger)William, Frederick and Florence.
On census day 1891, the family lived at 25 Long Street. They were still in Long Street in 1901 and 1911, number not recorded. Arthur was a farm horseman.
The Deanery Magazine of November 1914 noted that he had enlisted along with another eighteen men from the village. He served as Arthur Halls and arrived in France 4 October 1915, about five weeks after the main arrival of the Battalion.
The 9th Norfolk's War Diary for 15 September 1916 says that they were in trenches near Ginchy. The History of the Norfolk Regiment notes that at 5.50am, the Norfolk and Leicester Battalions were waiting in formation when a Tank passed forward through them. Once they had controlled their astonishment at the sight of this new weapon, which had been the subject of much conjecture during the previous weeks, they followed on behind and moved to their forward positions. However, of the three Tanks allocated to the Division, two failed to start and the machine which had initially boosted the morale of the men was eventually disabled. Thereafter followed the usual chaos of uncut wire, lack of artillery support, thick mud with shell-holes to negotiate and a strong enemy response. At midnight, the Norfolk's were withdrawn. they had suffered a total of 449 casualties: killed, wounded and missing.
Private Halls (Hall on the memorial) was aged 27 and awarded the Victory and British War Medals and the 1914-1915 Star. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
With many thanks to Cynthia Budd and Chris Clarke.
Cynthia’s sources. Please note that the sources include research carried out in relation to all the ‘fallen’ of the Great War throughout the Shellrock Benefice. Accordingly, not all the sources will be applicable to Great Ellingham :
Ancestry UK: Birth, Marriage, Death and Parish Records. Census Records and Electoral Rolls. Probate Records.Military Records; Army/Navy Service Records. UK Soldiers Died in the Great War Roll. Medal Index Cards. Medal Award Rolls. The Register of Soldiers’ Effects. War Diaries. Canadian Military Records.
Archant Archives, Norwich. Also Thetford Library; The Thetford & Watton Times.
Australian War Records Websites: https://rslvirtualwarmemorial.org.au https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
FindMyPast; Military Service Records. Electoral Rolls. British Newspaper Archive. The 1939 Register.
The General Record Office.
The History of the Norfolk Regiment 1914-1918 F Loraine Peter OBE
The London GazetteThe National Archives
The Norfolk Heritage Centre, The Forum, Norwich. Breckles and District Deanery Magazines. Norwich Mercury (Microfiche)
The Norfolk Record Office.
Norwich Cathedral Library; 1919 Diocesan Roll of Honour.
Picture Norfolk https://www.norfolk.gov.uk/libraries/picture-norfolk
The Red Cross https://grandguerre.icrc.org
Various Regimental Websites.