Tribute to the remarkable Tibenham bellringers cut down in the First World War

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The bellringing talents of six Tibenham farm labourers who went to fight in the First World War, with only half coming back, will be marked next week.

Clarence Gooch, Frederick Manser, George Snelling, Bertie Turner, John Snelling and Frederick Seager were all young Tibenham men who were so remarkably good at bell ringing, that they performed a feat of the art never before seen in this country.

This complex full peal - which lasts three hours - was rung in 1913. The last full peal at the church before the outbreak of war was rung by the men on May 13, 1914. That same peel will be rung on that date, Tuesday, next week, 100 years later, by a group of talented bellringers from Norfolk and beyond - to mark what the men achieved as ringers, and also the war loss of three of the six men.

Research into the group has been led by Jeremy Warren and his wife Gudrun, of Attleborough.

“To have a band within a village able to achieve their level of complexity was quite unusual,” said Mr Warren, who is tower captain at Great Ellingham church.

How did they become so good at ringing? “I have no idea,” said Mr Warren. “I have asked myself the same question. They were young, and probably were keen and had ability.”

The peal attempt at Tibenham church will start at about 2.30pm on Tuesday. If successful, it should finish about 5.30pm. A short Act of Remembrance will follow at around 6pm, at the War Memorial in Tibenham churchyard. There will be a tent put up for people who wish to hear the bells being rung.

Research from Mrs Warren has found that Clarence Gooch - a Lance-Corporal with the Norfolk Regiment - was killed in action on September 2 1918, aged 25.

George Snelling was a Private in the Queen’s (West Surrey) Regiment and died of illness on June 4, 1918, aged 37.

Bertie F. Turner was a Corporal in the 6th Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment and was killed on April 26, 1917.

Meanwhile Frederick Manser died just a year after war ended, in 1919, of a congenital illness.

Frederick Seager moved to Yorkshire in the 1920s, and continued ringing into the 1950s. He rang the tenor in a peal for the Coronation in 1953, at St Peter Mancroft, Norwich. He died in 1960.

John Snelling continued ringing after the war. On October 23, 1930, John Snelling and Frederick Seager rang 5 and tenor in the first successful peal at Tibenham since 1914.