Poppy Trail launched at Felixstowe church to honour the fallen
PUBLISHED: 13:51 05 November 2018
As the centenary of the First World War is marked, Old Felixstowe is remembering a special 100, too – the number of men who died who have connections with the parish.
To honour the fallen and help tell their stories, St Peter and St Paul Church has a Poppy Trail around the churchyard marking the graves with 1914-18 connections.
Inside the church there is an exhibition of the research done so far into the lives of the men, bringing them alive instead of just being names on memorials.
Among the interesting stories of those of how men who were injured returned to the front line after treatment, others who suffered long term health impacts from poison gas attacks, and those who died on the battlefield with no known grave.
One woman was married, saw her new husband go off to war, discovered she was pregnant, and then heard he had been killed – before he had received her letter saying he would be a father – all in three months.
Three of the young men killed had been choristers at the church; the youngest to serve was 14 and who had lied about his age.
Many of them had family connections because Old Felixstowe was a much smaller and close-knit community in the early 20th century.
Of the 100, more than 40 are remembered on the Poppy Trail – with 14 buried in the graveyard in Church Road, 10 remembered on family headstones, and 24 recorded on the church First World War Memorial, while 60 others are relatives of a parish family member.
Gunner Eric Durrant is buried in the churchyard, is named on the war memorial and still has relatives in the parish.
The Poppy Trail project has been masterminded by parish churchwarden Jean Macpherson with Bev Boyce, from the Felixstowe Society, working on much of the research for the exhibition, plus a team of helpers from the church helping with hospitality and refreshments.
Mrs Macpherson said: “The research we have done has linked Old Felixstowe with communities right across Suffolk and to other parts of the country and Scotland. The information has all been put together into a folder which we can build on and keep for future generations.”
She said there were 350 to 400 poppies on the trail – made from the bottoms of plastic bottles and spray painted with car spray, with the centres then hand painted black and wooden stalks attached.
Bev Boyce said: “We wanted the trail and exhibition to bring these servicemen and their stories alive – so they are not just names, but real people.”
Rev Chris Hood, vicar of Old Felixstowe Parish, said: “As the end of the Great War in commemorated across the country Old Felixstowe Parish remembers also.
“The Poppy trail and exhibition allows us to discover the stories of those we remember and we are pleased to work with local schools, the British Legion, the Felixstowe Society and members of the church family to ensure we do not forget.”
The exhibition, memorial quilt and trail is being officially opened today and will run to November 17 and people are welcome to visit any time between 10am to 4pm each day. There will be guided trail tours on November 5, 6, 8, 10, 14 and 16 from the church’s lych gate at 2pm. If people in groups of eight or more would like an organised tour they should contact firstname.lastname@example.org to make arrangements
There will also be a commemorative talk in conjunction with the Felixstowe Society at 7pm at the church on Monday, November 12.