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Suffolk in the First World War: A Takeover Day special display

For Takeover Day 2020, pupils from St Christopher’s C of E Primary School in Red Lodge are taking over this page of the Suffolk Archives website.

Takeover Day is run by Kids in Museums, and is an opportunity for children and young people to take over real jobs in heritage organisations for a day.

Since this year it was not possible for pupils to visit the archives, we sent copies of photographs of Suffolk in the First World War to the school for pupils to investigate. The pupils had the opportunity to sift through the photographs, before choosing one they wanted to share with a wider audience. Here is a selection of their work.

Walton Burrell with a small dog on his lap (K997/127/9)

The photographs displayed here were all taken by Walton Burrell (1863-1944). They are part of an album of over 2,000 photographs taken by Burrell, who lived in and around Bury St Edmunds. A large number of the photographs illustrate the effect of the First World War on the Home Front in Suffolk. The album was kindly purchased for preservation at Suffolk Archives by the Friends of Suffolk Archives.

Soldiers in Suffolk

Tayla chose this image of a group of civilians with Sergeant Heath, who is holding a baby on the barrel of a large artillery gun.

Alfie, Maxim, and one other pupil all chose this photograph of off-duty soldiers enjoying a break at their camp in Ingham.


‘It made me feel happy because soldiers had a break from the action.’

‘I learned that soldiers actually have fun not just hard work all the time from the record. It makes me feel happy because soldiers had fun during those rough times instead of just hard work 24/7.’


‘I learned that Royal Engineers crowded outside the Woolpack Inn, Fornham St Martin, in October 1914, after recently arriving in the area… It makes me feel happy that they arrived safely and are having something to eat. Also that they look happy in the picture’ – Keira

Matas chose this photograph of Private Rayner, wearing a gasmask and holding a rifle.

This pupil chose this photograph of a group of soldiers poised ready to through snowballs at the photographer:


‘This makes me feel happy because I was laughing ’cause they were about to throw snowballs at the cameraman. I learnt that they could have quite a bit of fun.’

Air raids

This pupil chose this photograph of incendiary bombs dropped at Fornham St Martin, near Bury St Edmunds, taken on 30th April 1915.

Two pupils chose this image of the Buttermarket in Bury St Edmunds showing buildings destroyed in a Zeppelin raid, taken on 30th April 1915.



Pupils found out about how tanks (then officially known as His Majesty’s Land Ships) were secretly tested on the Elvedon estate in West Suffolk, and that one was put on display in Bury St Edmunds after the war.


Pupils found out about the secret tank trials at Elvedon, where a 1.5 mile wide section of the Western Front was created.

‘Tanks were big, heavy and slow machines. They shot out missiles and they were cramped… They were so secret they shut down the A11.’

Horses in wartime

This pupil chose this image of Driver Davis of the 1/1st East Anglian (Essex) Royal Garrison Artillery, Heavy Battalion. The photographer, Walton Burrell, noted that this soldier was killed during the war.

Prisoners of war

Pupils also learned that prisoners of war lived in Suffolk, and helped with essential jobs, particularly on farms. Peyton chose this image of five German prisoners of war in a field at Euston, helping with the harvest.



The last of Walton Burrell’s First World War photographs show the dedications of several war memorials in Suffolk. Klara chose this photo of the newly installed war memorial in Newmarket in around 1920. A captured German gun can be seen just outside the enclosure around the memorial.

A big thank you to all our young historians and everyone at St Christopher’s School in Red Lodge for all their hard work for Takeover Day 2020!