St Michael South Elmham church stands on the edge of a large green about one mile north of Rumburgh in Suffolk. Inside the church on a wall behind the font there is a simple plaque.
This simple plaque marks out the village as having a very rare distinction, one shared with only around 50 other villages in the UK. There is only one other example in Suffolk and none in Norfolk. A “thankful village” is one where all the men who went to war from the village during the First World War returned safely. Not only this, St Michael South Elmham is a “doubly thankful” village where all the men who served in the Second World War also returned safely. In total 11 men survived the first war and 7 the second.
It is a truly chilling fact of the enormity of loss in battle that there were only around 50 villages in the whole of the UK that did not suffer any military bereavement during World War One