Civic Voice, the national organisation for Civic Societies, held a training day in Ipswich recently about how to carry out a condition survey on local war memorials. One of the key requirements, having surveyed the memorial, was to add it to the National War Memorial Register. It is estimated that there are some 100,000 war memorials in this country, but only 70,000 are on the Register.
They are historic monuments, almost all 100 years old and most are unique of shape and size, each with a different set of names. After the First World War in Ipswich public subscription was used to add a wing to the then East Suffolk hospital in Anglesea Road, with sufficient left over to build the cenotaph in Christchurch Park.
Additionally there is a memorial in Bourne Park and one in St Pancras Church, Orwell Place (together with a picture commemorating Our Lady of Czestochowa, in memory of the crew of the Polish 'c' armoured train killed near Ipswich in the Second World War. The memorial to the Boer War is close to the cenotaph in Christchurch Park.
Representatives from Civic Societies and Parish Councils attended the event and set off to survey their own, local memorial.
We were informed that there are four ‘thankful villages' in Suffolk: villages where the young men were engaged in the First World War and all safely returned home (hence no local war memorial). South Elmham St Michael, just south of Bungay is doubly ‘thankful' in that the young men of the village also survived the Second World War.
St Michael South Elmham is, as you can imagine, a pretty small village with a population in the 1911 census of just under 50 people; remarkably, eleven of the men went to war and returned home safely.