Share your memories of First World War life in Beccles with church project

06:30 04 April 2014

St Michael's Church, Beccles.

St Michael's Church, Beccles.

Archant © 2005

A Beccles church is to be the venue for a project to rediscover the story of the town and the Great War.

Between 1914 and 1918 1,700 young men left their homes in Beccles to fight in the First World War with some returning, others losing their lives and some becoming prisoners of war.

To mark the centenary of the beginning of the conflict St Michael’s Church is hosting a community history project that will give people living in the town a chance to recount stories of their friends, family and neighbours who experienced life back then, both in the forces abroad and at home.

The church in the town centre already possesses some information about the young men of Beccles who left to join the war including their names, addresses and service records, but organisers want to add the real stories behind these men and their families to piece together what really happened and to enrich the town’s heritage.

The project is being organised by St Michael’s rector the Rev John Beauchamp and church warden Phil Filer, who will ensure all the information is brought together on notice boards at the back of the church. Copies of all documents and photographs can be made and service medals and other objects can be photographed. Once the display has been completed it will be portrayed in an appropriate way for others to see for generations to come.

The Rev John Beauchamp said: “Between 1914 and 1918 1,700 young men left their homes in Beccles and travelled to the continent to fight in the first world war.

“Many did not return, having died in the mud filled trenches of those brutal battlefields far away from home and family. Others returned to Beccles with their memories and stories and did their best to rebuild their lives in the town. 100 years on, what is left of the story of Beccles and The Great War? What can we still tell of those young men who, often in their teens, found themselves caught up in the horror of war?.”

Mr Filer said: “The team at St Michael’s would like you to rummage in draws and at the back of cupboards and find all you can in the way of paperwork, letters, photographs, diaries, service documents and anything else that will help tell this story.

“We want to hear stories from the heart and from ordinary folk, not from people who usually run exhibitions or museums. There may be some fascinating stories out there, but there’s never been an avenue to share it.”

From the beginning of June the church will be open from 9am until 5pm and people can call in to see the display and add their own contributions. In addition, on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday mornings from 10am to 1pm, someone will be in church to make copies of documents and help you tell your family story. Alternatively you can email them to For more information call Mr Filer on 01502 714788 or email

•Have you got any memories of Beccles during the First World War? Email

1 comment

  • As the Great War ended 96 years ago- there cannot be many people still alive who will remember those times. Is the headline correct?

    Report this comment

    Toxteth O'Grady

    Friday, April 4, 2014

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