Gallipoli papers go on display

Sir David Jason: featured in drama based on The Disappeared
Sir David Jason: featured in drama based on The Disappeared Photo: PA

Documents relating to a Norfolk Army officer involved in one of the most shocking episodes of British military history have gone on display.

The Norfolk Record Office has put on show letters relate to the military service of Captain Arthur Humfrey Mason.

Norfolk born and bred, he was educated at Charterhouse before joining Morgan’s Brewery, Norwich, as a director. In 1911, he applied for a commission in the 5th Norfolks.

On 12 August 1915, his regiment attacked the Turkish positions at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli.

The day is forever associated with the so-called ‘disappearance’ of the King's Sandringham Company, later made into a television drama starring David Jason.

The battalion suffered major losses in the fighting and a myth grew up later that the unit had advanced into a a gas and vanished.

Captain Humfrey, was killed in action, but the papers were brought back to Britain. They include letters to his mother and letters of condolence.

Norfolk County Archivist Dr John Alban said: “Everyone in Norfolk is aware of the dreadful military tragedy which occurred at Suvla Bay on that August day in 1915.

The letters in this collection add a very human dimension to that event. Reading them, one cannot fail to be struck by their immense emotional force.

They form an outstanding record of the saga of sacrifices made by Norfolk soldiers and their families and it is therefore very important that they should be preserved for posterity."

The letters were donated to the archive by three keen local military historians, Michael Eastaff, Graham Prior and Dick Rayner, who bought the collection at an auction in 2009.