Elaine Way's Soldier Profiles R-Z

Private 9004 Maurice Denis Reardon

Born in Barnstaple in 1890 whilst his father, David, was an army servant to a Captain in the Royal North Devon Hussars. David himself was a Private in the Devonshire Regiment; perhaps the two units shared some of their resources. At the same time, his wife Minnie was at a different address in Barnstaple with their baby Maurice Denis. By 1911 the family had grown and father had retired to become an army pensioner with good conduct and long service medals. He and Minnie now lived in Exeter with five of their children. The eldest, Maurice Denis, had joined the Devons in July 1910 so was not at home with the rest of his family at this time.

With the onset of war, David re-enlisted in the Devonshire Regiment’s Special Reserve. Probably considered too old to be a front-line soldier, he could be useful at the regimental Depot in Exeter.

Maurice Denis lost his life on 30th October 1914 whilst with 1st Battalion, during the lead-up to the First Battle of Ypres. He has no known grave and is named on Le Touret Memorial to the Missing.

On 28th May 1917 David ‘Died of Sickness’ at the Depot, aged fifty. He was buried in the Commonwealth War Graves plot in the Higher Cemetery at Exeter. Both of them, father and son, are included on Exeter’s Roll of Honour for the First World War.

Serjeant 8273 John Reynolds

His CWG page says the he was a son of John and Mary Jane Reynolds of Hatherleigh, Devon and 24-years old when he lost his life on 18th December 1914;

He is one of the Missing on Le Touret Memorial.

In 1891 they were at home with four other children and fifty-year old Jane Reynolds who could also be a relation. By 1901 John junior is a ‘Cattle Boy on Farm’ - still in Hatherleigh, the small town on the edge of Dartmoor. By 1911 he was with 2nd Battalion of the Devons in Malta. His name does not appear on Hatherleigh’s war memorial but the one in Northam near Bideford has ‘Sergt. J. Reynolds - 2nd Devons’. For WW1 CWG has only one Serjeant J. Reynolds of 2/Devons. Someone from John’s family must have strayed into North Devon by 1920 when Northam’s war memorial was created. No central authority was responsible for these memorials; names were suggested only by personal recommendation.

Private 7274 William Reynolds

Husband of Florence Mabel Reynolds of Parsonage Place, St.Sidwells, Exeter. They married in Exeter on 1910; William had been born in Gibraltar and was

37 when he was killed in action whilst with 2nd Battalion on 18 December 1914.

In 1911 he worked as a Carter to a Haulier; he and Florence Mabel had a daughter of nine called Dorothy Mabel. Also living with them was Sarah Ann, his widowed mother. William is remembered on Exeter’s Roll of Honour and Le Touret Memorial to the Missing.

Company Serjeant-Major 5124 George Ridgers

Lost his life on 23rd October 1914 and is buried in Bethune Town Cemetery in France. He was with 1st Battalion whose record of 22nd October says :

“D” Coy. lost a mainstay in CSM Ridgers who had been doing splendid work, especially in helping to repulse a German attack on the previous night.”

In 1907 George married Sarah Edith Smithers and in 1911 both were at Lucknow Barracks in Tidworth, a few months prior to 1st Battalion being sent to be the garrison force in Jersey. When she was noted as being his next-of-kin, Sarah Edith was living in Seale Lane, Runfold, Farnham, Surrey. The war memorial at Seale, a village on the Hogs Back in Surrey, has 24 names of those lost in the Great War one being ‘CSM George Ridgers - Devon Regiment’. For his war-grave headstone in Bethune Sarah Edith requested a personal inscription:

“ Gone But Not Forgotten “

Private 1033 Francis Henry Ridgway

He was with 1st/7th Cyclist Battalion, a Territorial unit sent to defend the coast of England north of Scarborough where heavy industry would be vulnerable to attack. Book of the Devonshire Regiment 1914-1918 says that he ‘Died - Home 11/10/14’ - meaning in his home country rather than somewhere abroad. This was registered at Hartlepool, County Durham. Hartlepool was severely bombed in December 1914 but if Francis was a casualty of an earlier event, then his record should say ‘killed in action’ or ‘died of wounds’.

Francis Henry has a small monument in the cemetery at Exwick on the outskirts of Exeter; it could be all that is now left of a larger headstone. This three stepped white marble edifice has lettering -

“ In Loving Memory of Francis Henry Ridgway who died at Hartlepool while with 7-Cyclist Battalion Devonshire Regiment - 11 October 1914 Aged 22 years .” His name is also on a Roll of Honour board inside Emmanuel Church, Okehampton Street, Exeter where I used to go to services and to Brownies. The church closed in 2014 and has been converted into apartments. There is a lot about this online, but no mention of the memorial board; I hope it has been retained and is on view.

The Exwick monument also commemorates his brother Lionel Edward who died aged 20 on 24th January 1915. Their youngest brother Reginald Norman died in September 1915 aged 16; both had obituary notices in the Western Times newspaper. Find-a-Grave’s photo of the monument does not show Reginald’s name, but it could be on the other side, away from the photographer. There is nothing to suggest that the two younger brothers were casualties of war.

In the census of 1911 the three brothers were at home with their parents Edward and Alice, living in Exeter although they and their mother were born in Cardiff. Father came from Bristol and was a manager for a builder’s merchant. Francis, Lionel and Reginald were their only children. Francis counted as a casualty of war; his burial comes under Commonwealth War Graves but he is not named on Exwick’s war memorial; maybe his own personal monument was considered to be sufficient in itself. His brothers have ordinary death registrations which do not come under CWG. All three are buried in the cemetery at Exwick.

Private 8126 Herbert George Riggs

Born in Colaton Raleigh where his name is on the war memorial plaque inside the parish church. His older brother Harold Hugh is also named there.

In 1901 both were at home with parents John and Louisa plus six other siblings. Herbert George joined the Devons in 1906 and five years later was with 2nd Battalion in Malta.

Herbert George was 28 when he died of wounds on 27th November 1914. He was at first buried in the small Winchester Post Cemetery, alongside other comrades who had perished on the same day. After the war Aubers Ridge British Cemetery was created in northern France to take in burials from the battlefields and small isolated graveyards; that is where they have been since 1925.

Whilst his brother was with 2nd Battalion in Malta, Harold Hugh was still at home working as a farm labourer. He was with 9th Devons when killed in action on 28 August 1915 and buried at Pont-du-Hem Military Cemetery, La Gorgue, Northern France.

Private 7050 Alfred Roach

Husband of Elizabeth Roach, 19 Union Terrace, St.Sidwells, Exeter. They were married in 1906 and Elizabeth’s maiden name was Way. I have looked into the birthplaces of her parents, grandparents etc and all were born in Devon so are unlikely to be connected with my husband’s family who came from Dorset back into the mists of time. But, of course, you never know.

In the census of 1911 Alfred and Elizabeth had three children; later that year their son Sidney was born. Alfred, a married man with a family, would not have been obliged to join the army when war broke out in August 1914. There was no conscription until 1916 but maybe he belonged to the Territorial Army or was a Reservist and obliged to join up when the war kicked off. What was his wife’s opinion ? She stood to lose the breadwinner for not only herself, but her children as well. She and Alfred had another daughter, born in the September quarter of 1914 - just as all hell broke out on the Western Front. Alfred was killed on 30th October 1914 and is one of the Missing on Le Touret Memorial. He is also named in Exeter’s Roll of Honour.

Private 6209 George Roberts

He was 31-years old when he perished on 22 October 1914. He was ‘Husband of T.R.Roberts, 70 Cecil Street, Watford’. George was born in Colchester and enlisted at Brighton; at the time he was living in Watford.

This has led nowhere. Cannot find a suitable birth registration or a marriage. If he was 31 in 1914 he would have been born 1883 or thereabouts. Colchester had its own registration district but there is no suitable record. Colchester is in the county of Essex and there are several birth registrations 1880-1890, but none connect up with census entries; in fact there are too many to choose from. Some of the information could be wrong; was he really 31 or is that a misprint ? And his wife’s initials - have they been mis-quoted ? Possibly, yes they have. In the final quarter of 1913, a marriage was registered in Watford between George Roberts and Florence R. Barnett - whose initials could have been mis-transcribed on his CWG record. All a bit tenuous, but the best I can do.

George is remembered on Le Touret Memorial to the Missing.

Private 8696 Harry Roberts

He was 24-years old when he lost his life on 30th October 1914. Harry was a Regular soldier, having joined the Devons in 1908; for the Census of 1911 he was at Lucknow Barracks, Tidworth. These early months of WW1 saw the wiping out of Britain’s army of regular, professional soldiers - described by Kaiser Wilhelm as a ‘Contemptible little Army’.

Harry is buried at Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery at Souchez, Pas de Calais which was not created until 1916, so that was not his first resting-place. He had been at ‘Map Ref. 36.S.27.a.60.25’ alongside three Unknown British Soldiers - one of them belonging to Harry’s battalion - 1st Devons. Harry was the only one to be personally identified - by clothing and the army number on his boots.

Private 9332 William John Rogers

His CWG record says that he was the only son of William Ingles Rogers and Emma Jane Rogers of Finewell Street, Plymouth.

For census 1901 William John, aged 8, is in Plymouth with parents (father is a Journalist/Reporter) but ten years later he is in the Higher Barracks, Exeter which was where new recruits into the Devonshire Regiment had their initial training. His parents were still in Plymouth and they now have a daughter; father has a slightly different occupation - he has become a Printer.

William John was with 2nd Battalion and lost his life on 18th December at the Moated Grange when the battalion had three officers and 120 NCO’s and men killed or missing within one day. For ‘missing’ read ‘lost in action’ - William John and most of them are named on Le Touret Memorial.

Corporal 7437 Frederick John Routley

According to his CWG page was 30-years old and husband of Florence Mabel Routley of 30 Upton Road, Torquay. Frederick John was born in Ashburton.

In Torquay for the census of 1911 he is a visitor at the home of Mary Elizabeth Potter; with her is an unmarried daughter Florence Mabel and a grandson aged 5 named Frederick John Routley. It does not need much imagination to discover where this was going. In the following quarter, registered at Newton Abbot (the District covering Torquay at that time) was a marriage between Frederick John Routley and Florence Mabel Potter. Then three months after that, a birth was registered for Richard S. Routley - his mother’s maiden name was Potter. So Corporal Routley did not leave just his widow, but their two sons as well.

The war memorial in Ashburton has ‘Sgt. Frederick Routley - Devon Rgt.’; the one in Torquay has ‘Lance-Sgt. F.J. Routley - Devon Rgt.’ CWG has his rank as Corporal; there is a difference between a rank and an appointment; rank denotes seniority but an appointment is more of a job-description. Frederick John could have had the responsibilities that went with being a sergeant without having actually received promotion to that rank. Maybe his promotion was in the pipeline when he was killed on 24th October 1914; his name is on Le Touret Memorial to the Missing.

Private 8863 Walter Rowe

26-years old when he perished on 18th December 1914 at the Moated Grange. He and his brother John were born in Exeter and for the census of 1911 both were in Malta with 2nd Devons. Their army numbers suggest that John, older by two years, joined up in 1907 followed by Walter in 1909.

John lost his life on 1st July 1916 - the first day of the battle of the Somme which is still regarded as the worst day ever for the British Army. Pretty awful for the French as well; it is easy to overlook that they were our allies and were seeing their homeland destroyed. And what of the enemy … How many did they lose ? … Are they remembered …?

John is buried at Ovillers Military Cemetery but Walter is one of the Missing on LeTouret Memorial. Both are remembered on Exeter’s Roll of Honour, a copy of which is encased inside the war memorial in Northernhay Gardens.

Private 8682 Stanley Rowswell

Born and enlisted in Taunton; his birth was registered there in the final quarter of 1889 - ‘Stanley Henry R. Rowswell’. In census 1891 he is at home in Bishop’s Hull, Somerset, with parents Henry and Ellen and their two other children, both girls. In 1901 they are living in Bishop’s Lydeard and have another daughter. Stanley is now eleven years old.

None of them seem to be in the next census. Stanley’s army number indicates he joined the Devons in 1908. He lost his life on 18 November 1914 and does not seem to be on any war memorial other than the Menin Gate at Ypres.

Private 8292 Charles Salisbury

Husband of M.Violet L.Salisbury of Taylor’s Court, Westexe South, Tiverton, Devon. A marriage had been registered at Tiverton in June quarter 1913 between Charles Salisbury and Marion V. L. Mogford who seems to have been usually known by her second name. In June quarter of the following year, 1914, a birth was registered at Tiverton - Louisa C.P.V.M. Salisbury - the mother’s maiden name was Mogford. On 23rd October 1914 Charles Salisbury was killed in action.

When he was fifteen, Charles was in Halberton, a village between Tiverton and Cullompton and working as a carter on a farm. In 1907 he joined the army and four years later was in Lucknow Barracks at Tidworth with 1st Battalion of the Devons. So he was already a soldier when he and Violet married. His name is one of 65 on a wooden panel inside the Memorial Hall at Tiverton and on Le Touret Memorial where there are 13,480 names of those Missing in Action on the Western Front during the first year of the Great War.

Private 6903 William Henry Salter

He came from Totnes where he is remembered on the war memorial. In 1911 at Launceston, Cornwall, he married Winifred Emma Symons; she re-married in 1916. William Henry was 31-years old when he lost his life on 6th November 1914 and was at first buried alongside several others of various regiments. Each had a cross and means of identity; in 1919 they were concentrated into the Royal Irish Rifles Graveyard at Laventie, Pas de Calais.

Private 10290 Roland Salway

He and older brother William John were born in Kimberworth, a suburb of Rotherham. Their parents had left Devon to live in Yorkshire for a few years but by census 1911 all were living near Axminster which is where Roland and William volunteered for the army at the outset of war.

They joined the newly formed 8th Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment with their service-numbers being almost consecutive - William’s was 10287; they were sent for training to Rushmoor Camp at Aldershot, which became totally overwhelmed by the great number of men it was expected to feed and equip. In fact there were no proper uniforms or kit; no weapons to train with. Most had to be accommodated in tents without proper bedding or washing facilities. On 29th September 1914, at Cambridge Hospital in Aldershot, Roland died of pneumonia. He was twenty-years old and is buried in the War Plot at Aldershot Military Cemetery. Brother William perished on 1st July 1916, the disastrous first day of the Battle of the Somme. He lies in the Devonshire Cemetery at Mametz.

Both are named on the wooden memorial board inside the parish church at Membury and the village website has investigated the lives of all those who lost their lives in WW1.

Private 10526 William M Sandford

He also belonged to 8th Battalion and he also ‘Died at Aldershot Camp’ according to CWG records for his burial in the churchyard of St. Michael’s, West Hill near Ottery St. Mary. He ‘died of sickness’. William was eighteen years old and the son of William Henry and Ann Sandford of Belbury Hayes, Ottery St. Mary. He has a Commonwealth War Graves headstone with Devonshire Regiment insignia and an inscription requested by his parents :

“ He Shall His Lord With Rapture See And Be With Honour Crowned - R.I.P. ”

Private 9030 Stanley Jerome Seldon

His birth was registered in Exeter during the December quarter of 1895, making him only just nineteen when he lost his life on 18 December 1914. Or possibly eighteen if his birthday was right at the end of the month.

When the census was taken on 2nd April 1911 Stanley was in barracks at Tidworth - he was fifteen. Maybe he had not yet been assigned to a particular battalion, but eventually he was with 2nd Devons. Cannot find Stanley in the census of 1901 so there is no indication of who his parents were. He is not on Exeter’s Roll of Honour but does get a mention on the Addenda to Plymouth’s Roll of Honour, as shown by Friends of Devon Archives and their ‘Devon Honour’ list of names on war memorial throughout the county.

His entry says ‘Stanley J. Seldon - Devon Regt. 18 November 1914’ - so they give a slightly wrong date for him being killed in action; all other sources quote 18th December. Still at least they acknowledge Stanley Jerome - he is not on a roll of honour or war memorial anywhere else. The Devons book says he enlisted at Devonport, probably meaning that is from where he embarked to leave the country.

Private 8903 Henry Sercombe

In census 1911 he was with 2nd Devons in St.George’s Barracks, Malta, aged 20 with the occupation of ‘Barber’ - so he gave the hair of his comrades a regulation short-back-and-sides. Well, somebody had to do it.

When his birth was registered in 1891 at Exeter it was as ‘Harry Sercombe’ and as such he was in census 1901 living Guinea Street in the city centre with his mother, two siblings, step-father and three half-brothers. Confusing relationships similar to my own family.

Henry/Harry died of wounds on 18 December 1914 and is one of the Missing on Le Touret Memorial. He is also named on Exeter’s Roll of Honour.

Private 7449 William Thomas Shears

Born East Stonehouse, Plymouth early in 1886. Five years later, in Brownlow Street, East Stonehouse, he is with parents and a brother; father is a navy pensioner who now works as a barber. Strange that two consecutive entries should include barbers.

Ten years later (1901) they are all still at the same address and father is still cutting hair; William now 15 and his younger brother have left school and both work as clerks in a commercial office. In 1905 William married Caroline Soper, who in due course became next-of-kin for his CWG entry.

William’s army number dates to 1903, so he was possibly already a soldier when he married. In census 1911 he was at Lucknow Barracks, Tidworth, but recorded as being a single man.

Lance-Corporal 7792 John Shergold

He has proved elusive in census and birth records. He was born in Plymouth and 28-years old when killed in action on 17 December 1914. His next-of-kin was a sister - Mrs Maud Rosevear of 12 Peel Street, Stonehouse, Plymouth. In fact her marriage registration became useful in tracing Lance-Corporal Sherold. In 1911 Alfred D. Rosevear married Maud Shergo in East Stonehouse. Perhaps mis-transcription of the surname could be the problem.

Indeed Maud’s birth surname was registered as ‘Shergool’ in 1890 - this was preceded by Elizabeth in 1882, Florence in 1887 and William John in1887. So that solves it. Lance-Corporal John Shergold was registered as ‘William John Shergool’ and it seems he had three sisters. In 1891 they were all with their parents John and Hannah living in High Street, East Stonehouse, Plymouth. Did something then cause the break-up of the family? None of them seem traceable in 1901 no matter how the surname is spelt.

But two of them appear in 1911 - Maud with her marriage registration and Lance-Corporal John who is in the census that year with 2nd Battalion the Devonshire Regiment in Malta. His army number dates to 1904. His birthplace is given as Plymouth; his date of birth, 1887. His is one of the Missing on the Menin Gate at Ypres.

Private 8006 Ernest Short

No next-of-kin is given on his CWG page; the Devon's book says he was born in Ilfracombe and Devon Heritage website lists all those named on the war memorial there - not only Ernest but his brother Frederick as well.

Frederick’s CWG page has his parents' names - James and Mina Short of Lincombe Cottage, Lee, Ilfracombe. In census 1891 the family is together and there are four brothers; Ernest is the youngest and Frederick two years older. By 1901 Ernest was the eldest son at home; there are four other siblings who are too young to have been in the previous census but there is no sign of Frederick. However, five years later Frederick and Ernest are now old enough to join the Army; their numbers indicate they joined the Devons in 1906. In 1911 both of them were in St. George’s Barracks, Malta; at this stage with 2nd Battalion but their wartime service was with 1st.

Ernest lost his life within the first few weeks of the war - 24th October 1914 and has his name on Le Touret Memorial to the Missing. Frederick survived for another six months; he was killed in action on 24th April 1916 and is buried in Faubourg D’Amiens Cemetery, Arras.

Private 8190 William Thomas Sillick

He was 29-years old when he fell in action on 18 November 1914. The CWG page says ‘Foster Son of Annie Targett, 21 Dan-Y-lan, Newtown, Pontypridd, Glamorganshire.’

William Thomas was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia in 1887. It has not been possible to discover when he came to the UK but by 1901 he was living in Saltash, Cornwall, just across the river from Plymouth with parents John, an engine fitter for the Royal Navy and Elizabeth who was born in Newfoundland. Ten years previously, parents were in Plymouth but there was no sign of their son who would have been about four; was he with his foster-mother Annie Targett ? She had a son of her own - Ernest Charles who was born in Bath, Somerset in 1890. His story is connected with all of this, so it seems appropriate to merge both of them into one narrative.

When William Thomas enlisted in the Army in 1906 he was living in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire and for census 1911 his parents were in Luton. His father was now a ‘Naval Pensioner - Engine Fitter’ and his mother kept a boarding-house. At this time William Thomas was at Lucknow Barracks in Tidworth. At the outbreak of war, he wrote a ‘Soldiers Will’ and on 18th November 1914 he was killed in action. This will had to be sent to the Principal Probate Registry because he had not actually named the beneficiary - saying “I leave all my effects to my Mother.” Did he mean his real mother or his foster mother who was recorded as being his next-of-kin? The law needed to know.

It took two years for it to go through due process of law. The District Registrar at Llandaff eventually granted administration to Annie Targett - “In the Will of the deceased described as his Mother”. Was it she who got the legal process started? Why did they not contact his actual birth mother - had William’s real parents returned to Newfoundland ? It is difficult to be sure that either of them had passed away. William was in the same battalion as Annie Targett’s own son and I had to shell out for copies of their wills in order to try and sort this out :

Private 9109 - Ernest Charles Targett’s CWG page says he was ‘Son of Mrs Annie Targett, 21 Danylan Road, Newtown, Pontypridd, Glamorgan’. Army records say he was born Bath, Somerset and for census 1901 that is where Ernest was living with his mother Annie and father William who is a Coachman/cab driver. By the next census they had moved to Pontypridd and that is where Ernest enlisted. He joined the Army before WW1 began - his service number dates to 1910.

Ernest Charles wrote a ‘Soldiers Will’ on 7th August 1914, two weeks before his battalion left the Channel Islands where they had been garrisoned since 1911. When war was declared, they were mobilised and landed in France, at Le Havre, on 21st August. Ernest Charles died exactly one month later and was buried in the British Cemetery at Vailly-sur-Aisne in France. He was 24-years old and left all his property and money to Miss L. Saunders of Foresters Arms, Minden Place, St.Heliers, Jersey. Was he hoping to return to her once the war was over … ...

William Thomas Sillick perished on 18th November 1914 and has his name on the Menin Gate at Ypres. He will be forever ‘Missing’. Ernest Charles Targett has his name in the magnificent Welsh Book of Remembrance; William Thomas seems not to have qualified for being included in this. Both are named on the War Memorial at Pontypridd; online it actually says ‘Ernest Charlie Targett’ - is that an accurate representation from the memorial itself or just a typo in the transcription?

Private 8841 William Sinclair

He lost his life on 20th November 1914 and was buried on the battlefield with a cross marking his place. His CWG page gives no age or next-of-kin, but the Devonshire’s book says he was born in Ayr, Scotland.

After a lot of searching I found his parents were Daniel Sinclair, who came from Scotland and Harriet born in Plymouth. In 1881 Daniel was a Lance-Serjeant in Aldershot South Camp. His army career moved him around - in addition to William they had other children born in Scotland plus some born in London and Kent. In 1891 they were in Dover and Daniel was a ‘Driver’ - possibly with the Royal Artillery; he died in 1895. The following year Harriet re-married and in 1899 had another son.

In 1901 she and the new husband lived in Woking; he was a Private in the Royal Garrison Regiment. With them was their own son (James Peters) plus William, Jemima and Harry Sinclair who now have a step-father named George Peters. In 1908 his regiment was disbanded but that was not the only thing - in 1903 his wife had gone back to Plymouth and re-married. Did they divorce or did George die ? Difficult to be sure but Harriet was certainly a fast mover - they were together in March 1901 for the census and by the last quarter of 1903 she had gone down to Plymouth and got married again.

In 1911 her son William Sinclair was with 2nd Battalion of the Devons in Malta. He was 24-years old, having been born in 1887. At the same time Harriet and sons Henry (William’s brother Harry) and James Peters (William’s half-brother) were in Plymouth with their new step-father Henry Richard Ayres, a police-constable who seems to be a lot younger than she is. Best not to ask too many questions.

2nd Battalion’s war diary for 20th November 1914 records two men being wounded and one killed. That would be Private 8841 William Sinclair. He was buried at ‘Map Ref. 36.M35.B2.9’. Then in 1920 was transferred to The Guards Cemetery at Windy Corner, Cuinchy, Pas de Calais, where his CWG headstone must be his only remembrance; his family did not supply a personal inscription and he does not seem to be on any local war memorial. He had a large scattered family - did any of them ever remember William ?

Private 8790 John William Skinner

He was another Regular soldier of 2nd Battalion, born in the latter part of 1884 at Exmouth where the impressive war memorial had no names until 2007 when stone slabs with them engraved were put around the base.

In 1901 he was at home in Meadow Street, Withycombe Raleigh, Exmouth with parents William and Emily, plus two sisters and their maternal grandmother Maria Venus. Father is a Carpenter/Joiner and John William is a Carpenter/Apprentice. Maybe he did not relish the thought of continuing with this, so joined the Army instead. His number dates to 1908.

In 1911 John William was with 2nd Battalion in Malta. He perished on 18 December 1914 when the battalion lost a total of 121 NCO’s and men, plus three officers, on that single day. He was buried at ‘Map Ref. 36.M.29.d.45.80’ alongside comrades Holmes and Osborn who had been killed at the same time; there were also two others of the Devonshire Regiment whose identities were not known. Once the war was over, John William was identified by his number and regiment on his khaki uniform, his boots and a button-stick. All were then re-buried in Cabaret-Rouge Military Cemetery at Souchez in the Pas de Calais. John William’s parents were then able to request an inscription for his headstone :

“ Jesu Mercy ”

Private 6659 Charles Thomas Smallpiece

Son of Robert John Smallpiece of 180 Hartfield Road, Wimbledon, London. Born Norbiton, Surrey which is within the Borough of Kingston Upon Thames. This has an Association which has put online its Roll of Honour for WW1, including Charles Thomas’

details : ‘ Killed in Action France & Flanders 23/10/14 - Private 1st Btn. Devonshire Rgt. Aged 34 ’

Charles Thomas’ birth was registered at Kingston-on-Thames in mid-1882 - meaning he would not appear in the census until 1891 and indeed, there he is living in Vincent Road, Kingston with parents Robert and Louisa (plus her mother Louisa Cox aged 72 born in Lancashire) and four brothers - Robert C., Henry, Frederick and William. By 1911 the only brother still at home was Henry. Three are now in the Army: Frederick is in India with Oxon. & Bucks Light Infantry; William is a Soldier of an unnamed Regiment in Winchester Barracks; and Charles Thomas whose service number dates to 1901 will shortly be in Jersey with 1st Battalion of the Devons.

Also on Kingston’s Roll of Honour is Robert Charles Smallpiece who was 39-years old when killed on 30th July 1916 whilst with the Lancashire Fusiliers. I am sure this is Charles Thomas’ eldest brother who appeared in Census 1891 with the rest of the family, then by census 1911 was a married man with children; his CWG page shows no next-of-kin. Early in 1916 conscription came into being, taking all men under the age of 41 - just in time for the Battle of the Somme which had a disastrous beginning on 1st July 1916 and ground on until November of that year, taking with it thousands from various nationalities.

Corporal 3/6775 Gilbert Leonard Smith

Born in Calcutta, so not much hope of finding him in the census, although there is no indication of when he came to the UK. According to his CWG page was 36-years old when he lost his life on 18 November 1914 and husband of Beatrice Mary New (formerly Smith) of 2 Frederick Place, Silver Street, Bideford.

In September quarter of 1912 the marriage of Gilbert Smith and Beatrice M. Tithecott was registered at Bideford. The following year a birth Smith=Tithecott was registered there - Gilbert D.L. Smith. This must surely be Gilbert and Beatrice’s child. Then, two years later in the March quarter of 1915 a birth with the same surname combination was registered in Swansea. This may have been Gilbert’s child which could have been born in January 1915. Smith is not unusual but Tithecott certainly is. I suppose having been born in Calcutta then coming to England, going to Wales would be nothing extraordinary.

And another thing - Gilbert is not on the war memorial in Bideford … but the one in Bovey Tracey. That man certainly knew how to get around. When he enlisted in Exeter he was living on the outskirts at Wonford which in those days was almost a separate village. Beatrice re-married to Frederick A. New in mid-1916; this was registered at Bideford.

Private 7106 Lewis James Smith

Son of the late Capt.James Smith and Elizabeth Ellen Smith. Served in the South African Campaign (these days known as the Boer War). Capt. James was a Master Mariner from Mevagissy, Cornwall.

Lewis James was 34-yrs.old when he lost his life on 18 December 1914 whilst with “C” Company, 2nd Battalion at the Moated Grange. He was born in Plymouth and shows in census 1881 with parents, a sister called Eleanor, Mary Smith aged 55 - a visitor from Mevagissey - who is probably a relation and a 17-year old servant girl. Ten years later mother is a widow who runs a drapers shop. Eleanor and Lewis James are still at home and there is also their 80-year old grandmother and an aunt. The household also includes three boarders and a servant.

Lewis does not appear in the census of 1901- he would be in South Africa fighting the Boers, but by 1911 was back in Plymouth boarding with a different family. He is employed as a Draper’s Assistant but is also an Army Reservist; so after his time in South Africa he could be called upon to serve his country again, whenever needed. His name is on Le Touret Memorial to the Missing.

Private 7175 Matthias George Smith

No next-of-kin on his CWG page, just that he was with 1st Battalion and the date 30th October 1914 followed by ‘Le Touret Memorial’. He was born in Clerkenwell, Middlesex, enlisted in London and lived at Kings Cross. Looking for someone named Smith in London in any census is going to be needle-in-haystack time, but I like a challenge.

In Holborn, Middlesex, a birth was registered in September Quarter 1882 - Matthias George Smith. Well, that’s a start; hope it leads somewhere. But.. ..no, it does not. Was hoping he might show up in Malta with 2nd Battalion in 1911 because several who transferred to the 1st were there, but not Matthias George. Have tried looking for him named Matthew .. but nothing seems to fit. His army number dates to 1902 and if he was with 1st Battalion all along, by 1911 he would have been in Jersey. He was not a Jerseyman so would not appear in records there.

Private 9596 John Henry Solway

Born in Devonport (Plymouth). He belonged to 1st Battalion and his service-number dates to 1912. On 30th October 1914 he was killed in action and buried at Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez alongside Pts. Fox, Lock and Newland of 1st Battalion and an Unknown from the Devonshire Regiment. They all perished on the same day. John Henry’s CWG page does not name any next-of-kin.

Trying to discover Pte. Solway’s identity was proving inconclusive, but “Friends of Devon Archive” say that his parents were William Henry and Amelia Jane. The only census entry fitting this is a family living in Queen Street, Devonport in 1901. Father is a Royal Navy pensioner; he and Amelia have four sons, the youngest being John aged one. This does not equate with any birth registration, so something is not right. It could be a mis-transcription because in 1894 at Devonport a birth was registered for John Henry Solway who in the March quarter of 1901 when the census was taken would be seven years old. Has a 7 been mistaken for 1 ?

There is an impressive war memorial set in parkland “To The Immortal Memory Of Those Citizens of Devonport Who Fell In The Great War 1914-1918”. It has no names, but John Henry Solway is remembered on Plymouth’s Roll of Honour.

Private 7134 Joseph Somers

CWG page names his parents - James & Louisa Somers of Colyton, Devon, also wife Ada Frances Somers of Colyford, Devon.

In census 1891, Joseph is at home with parents and four brothers; their father is a carpenter/joiner. Ten years later Joseph is not there neither are two of the brothers, but the family has grown and now has more children - two boys and a girl. Perhaps their home is no longer big enough for all of them - Joseph has gone to live with his widowed aunt Mary Barrett and her 7-year old son. All are still in Colyton, their birthplace.

In 1908 Joseph married Ada Frances Jefford and by census 1911 they were living in Colyton; Joseph is a ‘Journeyman Baker’ - so he is a trained worker but rather than being self-employed, he works for someone else. In 1913 Ada and Joseph have a son, Alec.

In time Joseph and his younger brother Edgar will both be named on Colyton’s war memorial cross. Edgar was eighteen when he was killed in 1917; his name is on the Arras Memorial to those who have no known grave. Joseph was 29-years old when he died of wounds on 3rd November 1914. He was buried in Bethune Town Cemetery and Ada chose an inscription for his headstone :

“ Our Love Abideth ”

Captain Charles James Spencer

Son of Mr. A. Spencer of Leicester; husband of Katharine Margaret Spencer of Crapstone House, Yelverton. Charles James was thirty-five and with 2nd Battalion when he lost his life on 18 December 1914 - as the Devons record describes the action around the Moated Grange - “Captains Spencer, Fetherstone and Legge were all killed”.

Born in Leicester 10th January 1879 and educated at Yarlet Hall in Stafford prior to Charterhouse, the public school in Godalming, whose website has provided some details of Charles James’ life. Whilst at Charterhouse he was a keen sportsman and member of the Junior United Service Club. He joined the Cardigan Artillery Militia in 1898 and commissioned into the Devonshire Regiment the following year, serving with them throughout the Boer War. He was with 1st Battalion, taking part in the relief of Ladysmith, then in July 1908 was promoted Captain, becoming Adjutant to 7th Battalion.

On 20th October 1909 he married Katharine Margaret Bayly in Plympton. For the census of 1911 they were living at The Elms in Heavitree, Exeter, with their baby son who had been born in December 1910. On 5th November 1914 Charles James went to France with the B.E.F He is remembered on the war memorial at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Knighton, Leicester. For his headstone at Aubers Ridge British Cemetery in France, his wife chose a personal inscription which is, in fact, the Devonshire Regiment’s motto :

“ Semper Fidelis ”

Private 5502 John Spiller

Born in Axminster where the Heritage Society has put online details of those named on its War Memorial :

John was the youngest of four sons and his parents also had seven daughters. He worked as a plumber and in 1909 married Lily Boach; they had two daughters and two sons - the youngest being born after John had lost his life on 23rd October 1914 whilst with 1st Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment. His brother Thomas died whilst on active service in 1918 with the Royal Defence Corps. He was also married and lived in Feltham, Middlesex.

Johns’s name is also on Le Touret memorial to the Missing.

Private 10171 Walter John Stanlake

He belonged to 8th Battalion which was raised in August 1914 but did not go out to France until one year later. Walter John died on 12 December 1914, probably as a result of weather conditions, lack of proper food and having to live with many others in tents whilst being turned into a soldier. He obviously volunteered because conscription was not brougt in until 1916. He was a builder’s labourer and must have been used to heavy work; the arduous training would not have been a problem, but insanitary living conditions would have allowed disease to spread rapidly.

Walter John lived in the Newtown district of Exeter, where there is a war memorial outside St. Matthew’s Church which has the name ‘W.J. Stanlake; he is also remembered on Exeter’s Roll of Honour. Walter John is buried in the Higher Cemetery, Exeter and has a CWG headstone complete with insignia of the Devonshire Regiment.

Private 1668 Albert Ernest Stapleton

His CWG page does not show any next-of-kin. It shows his Battalion - 1st/6th, the date he was lost - 31st October 1914 - his age - 22-years - and place of burial - Winkleigh (All Saints) Churchyard. There is a Graves Registration Form from 1927 which notes that an inscription for his headstone was paid for by Mrs E. Squance of Lower Town, Winkleigh.

The Devon village of Winkleigh has an extensive website which, amongst other things, has investigated the lives of those named on its War Memorial and Roll of Honour :

Albert Ernest’s birth was registered in September Quarter 1892 and in census 1901 he was with parents and siblings in Winkleigh. Ten years later he was still in the same village but working as a domestic servant and living in a different household. At the outset of war, along with nineteen other lads from his village, Albert enlisted in 1st/6th a Territorial unit of the Devonshire Regiment. He also decided that now was the time to marry his cousin Elizabeth Ford; maybe they had plans for this all along but brought the date forward because of the possibility of him being sent overseas. She was living in Exeter and that is where they married in the Registry Office on 30th September 1914.

The exact circumstances of what followed are not known, but soon after his wedding, Albert contracted enteric fever (typhoid) which in those pre-antibiotic days was usually fatal. It is not infectious in the sense that it passes from person to person, but is transmitted via water and food that has been contaminated. The disease takes about three weeks to run its course. Albert died on 31st October so must have shown signs of illness within a week of his wedding, possibly whilst at training camp. He was not taken to hospital, but died at home in Winkleigh. Elizabeth, his bride of four weeks, re-married in 1918 and became Mrs Sqance. In 1927 Albert Ernest’s burial-place received a Commonwealth War Graves headstone for which she requested a personal inscription :

“ Gone But Not Forgotten ”

Private 7952 Frederick John Stentiford

His parents, George and Sarah were living in Axminster when CWG were setting up their records. There is an online transcription of names on the war memorial with descriptions of their lives :

Frederick John was born in Plymouth late in 1887; his father was a policeman who by census 1891 had become a sergeant; the family went to live in Torquay but in 1893 had moved to Axminster. By 1911 father had retired from the Police to become a County Court Bailliff; at this time Frederick John was a Corporal with 2nd Battalion of the Devons in Malta. His Army number dates to 1905 and it was usual to sign on for 12-years, serving six with the Regular army then going into the Reserve. This could account for those like Frederick who changed rank as well as battalion. When war came Reservists were called up into their Regiment but not always with their previous rank or battalion.

Frederick John was a Private with 1st Battalion when he lost his life on 30th October 1914. In addition to Axminster’s memorial, his name is on Le Touret memorial to the Missing.

Private 3/5264 Frank Stevens

Born and enlisted in Plymouth killed in action on 20th November 1914 and buried at Aubers Ridge British Cemetery at the same time as Riggs, Quick and Furneaux - comrades of 2nd Battalion.

Private 3/5264 has no next-of-kin shown on his Commonwealth War Graves page and does not appear in the 1911 census in Malta like others of his battalion. There are several with numbers prefixed by 3/ but this is not simple - even a website devoted to such matters says that they are not able to say specifically what is signified. Straightforward 4-digit numbers are relatively easy; before 1914 they belonged to Regular soldiers - but numbers with prefixes go with Territtorial or Special Reserve units (not Regulars who went into the Reserve - they kept their original army number).

There is a website ‘Devon Honour’ listing all those on the county’s Roll of Honour for the Great War and they try to give some details relating the life of each one - when and where they were born, who their parents were; were they married etc ... When it comes to Private 3/5264 they have CWG details but then make the comment “Unable to Identify this Hero”. Sadly, this is me too.

Company Serjeant-Major 5119 Albert Stone

For the census of 1911 Albert, his wife and three-year old son are in Lucknow Barracks, Tidworth. Albert had married Mary Ann Rhoda Luscombe in Exeter during the last quarter of 1906 and they both went out to India with the regiment; their son (also Albert) was born 1908 in Rangoon, Burma (now Myanmar).

In 1891 Albert had been in Exeter with parents Frederick (named simply Fred on CWG record) and Ellen. At this time, Albert was the eldest of five children but the family could have increased in size by the time he joined the Devons in 1899. He was 33-years old when he died of wounds on 24th November 1914. For Albert’s headstone at Bailleul Communal Cemetery in France, his wife (who was known by her third name - Rhoda) chose an inscription :

“ Nearer My God To Thee ”

Private 9152 George Stone

Born in Salcombe, South Devon in 1892 and for cencus 1901 that is where he is at home with parents Henry and Rebecca, five brothers and a sister. By 1911 George is in Lucknow Barracks at Tidworth; his army number dates to 1910. His CWG record says that he was 22-years old when he lost his life on 30 October 1914 and that his parents lived at Landlooe Bridge, St. Keyne, Liskaerd, Cornwall. Henry and Rebecca had obviously moved since 1901.

8-10 miles from St. Keyne is the small village of Hessenford which in 2001 had a population of 170. The church of St. Anne has a sizeable burial ground and this is where George’s CWG record says he is buried. He does not have a standard CWG headstone but something more elaborate and informative, which his father was responsible for arranging :

“ In Loving Memory Of George - The Beloved Fourth Son Of Henry & Rebecca Stone - Of The

Devon Regiment Who Died October 29th 1914 Of Wounds Received In Action At The Battle Of

The Aisne - Aged 22 Years” There then follows an separate inscription :

A Sudden Change At God’s Command He Fell

He Had No Chance To Bid His Friends Farewell

Affliction Came Without A Warning Given

And Bid Him Haste To Meet His God In Heaven

George was with 1st Battalion and one of its first casualties. He was brought back to England and taken to a hospital in Portsmouth - that is where his death was registered. His parents would know the exact date it happened - CWG gives 30th October.

Private 9755 William Samuel Stone

He was 24-years old when he lost his life on 30th October 1914. He was the son of Samuel Stone of King Street, Honiton where the war memorial has the name ‘W.S. Stone’. There was no birth registration for William Samuel Stone anywhere in Devon between 1889-1891. Something is wrong … somewhere; this is turning into a wild goose chase.

In 1911 in St. Georges Barracks, Malta with 2nd/Devons is William Stone, but he was born in Dartmouth - or so it says. In the same census living in Honiton is Samuel Stone father of Fred, Archie and Willie aged 4. The wife is called Emily. Friends of Devon Archive reckon that Pte. 9755 William Samuel Stone was born in Ottery St. Mary to parents Samuel and Emma. This is getting Nowhere. All that can be said with any certainty is that Pte. 9755 William Samuel Stone is remembered on Le Touret Memorial in the Pas de Calais.

Private 7684 Harry Tancock

He has nothing on his CWG page other than 30th October 1914 - Le Touret Memorial. No age, no next-of-kin. Book of the Devonshire Regiment says he was born and enlisted in Exeter. There is a birth registration for Harry Tancock in St. Thomas District in March Quarter 1888; local knowledge is useful - St. Thomas District is in Exeter; Until I was eleven, that is where I lived.

For the census of 1901, at Higher Roselands Terrace, Heavitree, Exeter, Harry is with his parents, three brothers and two sisters. Father is a Sawyer on the Railway; Harry, aged 14, is apprenticed to a Butcher but obviously had other ambitions for his future. In 1904 he joined the Devonshire Regiment and by 1911 was with 2nd Battalion at St. George’s Barracks, Malta.

At the same time, now living in Macduff Cottage, Whipton, Heavitree, are his parents James and Ellen; father still works on the Railway as a sawyer of wood. There are only two children left at home - Thomas aged 19 works as a House Decorator and Elizabeth aged 13.

Harry is named on two war memorials - a board in the parish church at Heavitree and a stone cross outside St. Matthew’s Church in Newtown which is only about a mile away.

Private 9109 Ernest Charles Targett

He was with 1st Battalion and lost his life on 21st September 1914. His narrative is included with that of William Thomas Sillick Pte. 8190.

Private 9580 Richard Thomas

Born in Exeter. His parents, Frederick Sayers Thomas and wife Christobel lived in 4 Coffin’s Court, Smythen Street, Exeter. I can remember that street from the 1950’s; most of it was was demolished not long afterwards to make a large car-park - within walking distance of the city centre.

Richard’s parents had sixteen children. Yes, I’ve added them up more than once ... Sixteen. By the time he was 19-years old, in census 1911, Richard had left home but still lived in Exeter in a property named ‘The Dairy’. Have no idea where that was, but he and several others were boarding there. Richard was a Farm Labourer.

He was with 1st Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment and 22-years old when killed in action on 22nd October 1914. His name is on Le Touret Memorial - ‘Thomas R.’ Commonwealtth War Graves make connection between this rendition of his name and their records to tell exactly who he was.

Lieutenant Arthur Woodland Toms

He was accidentally killed on the Western Front on 27 November 1914. Accidentally killed - not killed in action. How did that happen? Authorities at the time might never have admitted the true cause, but was he killed by what would now be termed ‘friendly fire’?

He was born 25th April 1891 in St. Helier, Jersey in the Channel Islands the middle of three sons; their father was a public analyst, a scientist ensuring food was safe for human consumption.

Arthur spent ten years at Victoria College in St.Helier, starting when he was nine years old, leaving in 1910. He joined the Devonshire Regiment in February 1912. Two years later he was promoted Lieutenant and was preparing to go to West Africa with the Colonial Office, but war interrupted those plans; in fact it destroyed them altogether.

The Commanding Officer of 3rd Devons wrote : “He was a great favourite in the Regiment and a most capable officer”. Arthur Woodland Tomas is buried in Estaires Communal Cemetery in Flanders. His father requested a personal inscription for his headstone :

“ Blessed Are The Pure In Heart For They Shall See God ”

Company Quartermaster Serjeant 4544 Samuel Tottle

Like many Regular soldiers of the early months of WW1, had already seen action in the Boer War. Samuel had been with the Devons since about 1896. During the Battle of Elandslaagte, at what is now KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa, Samuel was seriously wounded but by 1901 was in Exeter and a Corporal in “HM Infantry Regiment”; he now had a wife - Elizabeth who, in due course, will be next-of-kin on his CWG page.

For the next census they are also in Exeter, but had obviously been travelling the world. Their eldest child, aged 9 was born in Somerset, the six-year old born whilst they were in Bengal, India, a boy aged two in Rangoon, Burma (now Myanmar) and the baby arrived once they were back in Tidworth. Samuel now describes his occupation simply as “Soldier”.

He was 36-years old when he lost his life on 22nd October 1914. He had been born in the Somerset village of West Buckland and that is where he is remembered on the war memorial. Also on this is his younger brother James who lost his life on 3rd October 1918. He is buried at Cerisy-Gailly Military Cemetery on the Somme, in France. Samuel is one of the Missing on Le Touret Memorial.

Private 7624 Charley Toze

He has no next-of-kin on his CWG page. The Devons book says he was born in Bampton (Devon) so that led to some indication of his life. A birth was registered in Tiverton (which covered Bampton for registration purposes) in the June Quarter of 1887 - Charlie Toze.

He shows in census 1891 living in Wanham Barton, Bampton, with parents Tom and Eliza and three siblings. By 1901 Charley has gone to work for a local farmer - he is aged 14 and employed as a

‘Bullock Boy’ which sounds considerably more dangerous than being a Cow Boy. Three years later, he joined the Devonshire Regiment. Charley does not seem to be on any local war memorial. He lost his life on 24th October 1914 and is one of the Missing on Le Touret Memorial.

Private 11510 Thomas Robert Trenaman

He has no next of kin on his CWG page, but it says that he was buried in the churchyard of St. John the Baptists at Hatherleigh, Devon where there is an elaborate headstone :

In Loving Memory of Thomas Robert The Beloved Son Of T. and E.J. Trenaman

Who Fell Asleep September 29th 1914 - Aged 20 Years

Not Lost To Memory, Not Lost To Love, But Gone To His Father’s Home Above

Inside the church is a Roll of Service - “Pray For Those Who Have Gone From This Parish To Serve Our King and Country by Land and Sea and Air” - three have the surname Trenaman but only initials are shown - one could be Thomas and another may be his brother William. In 1901 both are at home with parents Thomas and Elizabeth Jane; father is a road contractor for the local authority. Ten years later Thomas is still living at home and working as a Grocer’s Assistant; William has gone to a farm where he is “Solely Employed in Tending Cattle”.

Thomas Robert belonged to 3rd Battalion which never went overseas. He died within two months of the war beginning but nevertheless is one of 129 names on Hatherleigh’s war memorial.

Private 7885 Charles Ernest Trout

Lived in Topsham, the small port on the Exe estuary. He had three brothers and two sisters and sometime in late 1904/early 1905 joined the Devonshire Regiment. For census 1911 he was in Malta with 2nd Battalion but for purposes of war transferred to the 1st. Charles Ernest died of wounds on 23rd October 1914 and is buried at the Gorre British & Indian Cemetery in the Pas de Calais. His father requested an inscription to be put on Charles’ headstone :

“ Also In Memory Of His Brother Sidney Killed 9.5.15 Grave Unknown ”

Sidney was nineteen-years old and is one of 11,393 names on the Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing near Ypres (Ieper) in Belgium.

Private 5036 William Joseph Tubb

Born in Colchester at the end of 1881; he was 32 when killed in action on 30th November 1914. He had been a Regular with the Devons since joining up at the end of 1898; in doing this , he was following his father who had been a Colour-Serjeant with the regiment. In 1891 William Joseph was with his parents and four sisters at Egg Buckland Fort, Compton Gifford (Plymouth) where South Devon Militia had their Depot. Not long afterwards, his mother passed away; father re-married and moved to his new wife’s home village, Abbotskerswell. “The Story of a Devon Village At War” has online stories about how it was affected by WW1 including details of William Joseph Tubb.

By 1911 he had left the Army, but remained on the Reserve. He was living with his married sister and her family, working as a labourer in a local stone-quarry. At the outbreak of war, William Joseph was recalled to the Colours with 1st Battalion the Devonshire Regiment, whose war diaries record its action on 29/30th November near Festubert church. 13 men of the battalion were killed at that time, one of them being William Joseph Tubb. Official documents record his death as being on 30th November and that he was buried on the battlefield. This burial was one of many that did not survive the war; their names are remembered on the Menin Gate at Ypres.

Abbotskerswell near Newton Abbot, has a large white marble war-memorial plaque inside the parish church with ‘William J. Tubb - Pte. 1st Devons - Oct. 28 1914 - Aged 32’. That date is not the same as the one on his CWG record; I have not discovered why that should be.

Private 7687 Frederick Tucker

Born at Wolborough which these days is a suburb of Newton Abbot in Devon. When he enlisted, he was living in Kingsteignton. Cannot find him on a war memorial in any of those places although Kingsteignton History Society has him on a list of those who had a connection with it but are not on the war memorial. All they have got for Frederick is his CWG details; they do not know anything more about him. Have looked in census records, but nothing seems to fit, so unfortunately his pre-war life is something of a mystery.

Frederick died of wounds on 11th November 1914. He is buried in Le Touquet-Paris Plage Communal Cemetery which has 142 WW1 casualties; all of them had been taken to No1 British Red Cross Society Hospital which had been set up and run by the Duchess of Westminster. She was not merely a wealthy woman playing at being a nurse purely for the effect. She funded and worked in this hospital throughout the war, but had the sense to leave nursing to the professionals.

Lance-Corporal 8172 Arthur Cecil Turner

On his page “Everyone Remembered”, the Royal British Legion’s website listing all those of UK and Commonwealth Forces lost in the Great War, someone has left a personal commemoration :

“My Great-Grandfather Arthur Cecil Turner was shot by a German sniper whilst crossing a turnip field outside Givenchy 17th October 1914”. “He left an as-yet unborn daughter - Cecily”. 1st Battn’s diary for that day describes their actions and concludes “the casualties were happily light, only 3 men being killed and 2 officers and 16 other ranks wounded”.

Arthur Cecil was born 1887 in Kentisbeare, a small village in mid-Devon and that is where his parents were living in 1901; father had been a leading stoker and was now a naval pensioner. At this time 14-year old Arthur was working nearby on a farm but later joined the army; for cencus 1911 he was with 2nd Battalion of the Devons in Malta. In summer 1914 Arthur returned home to marry Eva Annie Broom. His wartime service was with 1st Battalion which arrived on the Western Front at the end of August 1914; Arthur Cecil was killed six weeks later. The birth of his daughter Cecily was registered in the June Quarter of 1915.

His name is on Le Touret Memorial in France. St. Mary’s Church in Kentisbeare has an elaborate white marble tablet “ In Ever Grateful Memory of About 200 Men of the United Parish ..… who Served For Us in the Cause of God during the Great War MCMXIV-XIX ” Arthur Cecil Turner of the Devonshire Regiment and one other were killed in action. In the churchyard are five burials of those who died as a result of their wartime service.

Private 9589 Robert Turner

Son of Mrs E. Turner of 3 Princess Street, Barnstaple. Robert was the second youngest of seven children. Their father, also Robert had been a ‘general porter’ - so he used a barrow to collect goods and take them to wherever the customer wanted - before the days of people having their own transport. He died in 1906

By 1911 the two eldest children had left home; their mother now worked as a charwoman and the only one not in employment was Ernest, aged 13 who was still at school. Robert was working as an errand-boy. He was 19-years old when he died of wounds on 30th October 1914. His mother requested an inscription for his headstone in Bethune Town Cemetery :

“ Greater Love Hath No Man Than He Who Giveth His Life ”

“R. Turner” is one of many names on plaques at the base of Barnstaple’s granite war-memorial.

Private 7503 Frederick Tuvey

According to Devon Heritage, he was born Kentish Town, Middlesex in 1881 and brought up by William and Sarah Ellwood, his uncle and aunt. Was that in London or Devon? Cannot find them in census 1881 or 1891. Frederick is named on the war memorial at Sutcombe, a small village near Holsworthy in North Devon. I do not know if that is where he grew up as a child but he was certainly living there by 1901. He must also have retained a connection with his original home because London Online WW1 Memorial has an entry for him including a photo of his war grave headstone.

In cencus 1901 Frederick, aged 15 is working as a ‘Cattle Lad on a Farm’ in Sutcombe. Five years later he married a local girl - Dinah Horne and in 1911 they are in the same village with their three children - Frederick John aged 4, Grace aged 2 and baby Lilian Verna May less than one year old.

Frederick is still employed as a farm-worker but he is also a ‘Reservist’. Sometime between 1901 and 1911 he spent time with the Army - his service number dates to 1903.

Frederick was with 1st Battalion of the Devons when he died of wounds on 18th October 1914. He is buried at Bethune Town Cemetery in France; his wife chose an inscription for his headstone :

“ Until The Day Breaks And The Shadows Flee Away ”

Private 7533 George Henry Tyrrell

There is conflicting information about him and census has entries which may be him, or maybe not … therefore it is best to stick with his CWG entry which says he was son of George & Emma Tyrrell of Taylor Square, Tavistock and husband of Annie Julia Tyrrell of Higher Colebrook, Plympton St.Mary, Devon. He was with “C” Coy. 1st Btn. and 31-years old when killed in action on 24th December 1914.

Devon Honour, which has transcribed online all those on the county’s official Roll of Honour, says that George Henry’s birth was registered under his mother’s maiden name in 1883 and sure enough there it is in the September Quarter - George Henry Metters; his father was George William Tyrrell … just out of curiosity, when did the parents marry? At Tavistock March Quarter 1887 George William Tyrrell married Lavina Metters. Were Lavina and Emma (the CWG page) the same woman using different forenames or … ? Best not go there.

At Devonport (Plymouth) in the March quarter of 1908 George Henry Tyrrell married Annie Julia Crook, so that fits with his CWG page. George Henry’s service number suggests he joined the Army in 1903. His name is on two war memorials - at Tamerton Foliot which is a district of Plymouth and Shaugh Prior, a village on the edge of Dartmoor. I think George Henry and his wife are living in Tamerton Foliot for census 1911, but his age is given as 20 - which Cannot Be Right even though it says he was born Tavistock … maybe its a typo in the transcription.

George Henry Tyrrell is one of the thousands of names on the Menin Gate at Ypres in Belgium where the Last Post has sounded at 8 o’clock every evening since 1928, with a brief interruuption between 1939 and 1945 for the Second Worrld War.

Private 8156 William John Underhay

In Cencus of 1911 he is at St. George’s Barracks, Malta with

2nd Battalion the Devonshire Regiment. He is not married, is 24-years old with his date of birth estimated to be in 1887; his place of birth is given as Plymouth, but this turns out to be not strictly accurate. His CWG page shows no next-of-kin.

The only birth registered with those precise names 1880-1890 was at Fareham, Hampshire in the latter part of 1886. In 1891 William John is with parents Frederick and Mary, both had been born in Plymouth but are now living with their three children in Friston, Sussex. Father is a ‘Boatman - Sea RN’; by the next census he is described as ‘Coastguard - Commissioned Boatman’.

Census 1901 shows them living at Icklesham, just along the coast from Hastings in Sussex. This record shows that William John was actually born in Titchfield, Hampshire which has a small harbour so the family obviously moved around because of father’s employment. There are now three more children all born in different coastal villages. In 1906 William John joined the Devonshire Regiment and whilst he was with them in Malta, parents had gone back to Plymouth; father was now a ‘ Naval Pensioner - Chief Boatman’..

William John was killed in action on 31st October 1914. The trouble with moving home a lot is that you don’t get named on a local war memorial. His only place of remembrance is Le Touret Memorial to the Missing in France and all that says is ‘Underhay W J’

Private 1199 William Charles Vanstone

His CWG page says that he was with 6th Battalion and died on 24th October 1914. It also says that he is buried in the churchyard of All Saints, Winkleigh.

This village, situated between Dartmoor and Exmoor, has a very informative website which has provided many details of William Charles’ life, particularly relating to his army experiences :

He was born in 1879 and in Cencus 1911 is Winkleigh’s rural postman; he has a wife called Mary Jane and two children Samuel aged 2 and one-year old Wilfred. Prior to his marriage, for eight years William Charles had served in the Devon Militia which then became part of the Territorial Army. He re-enlisted into 6th Battalion of the Devons, attending their annual training camps in 1910, 1911, 1912 and 1913.

He should have been at the camp held on Woodbury Common near Exmouth in July/August 1914, but on 11th August 1914 he was discharged as medically unfit. Six weeks later, on 21st October 1914 William Charles died of leukemia for which, in those days, there was no treatment. He was buried in Winkleigh churchyard on 24th October 1914 which Commonwealth War Graves incorrectly describes as the date on which he died. He was given a proper CWG headstone.

Private 9370 John Vickery

He has no next-of-kin on CWG page; according to ‘The Devonshire Regt. 1914-18’ he was born in Cullompton, but is not named on the war memorial there. Seven births with those names we registered in that area between 1870-1898; he could be any of them. In census 1911 at Sandford (Cheriton Fitzpaine) John Vicary, born Collumpton 1894 is working as a horseman on a farm. That could be him; the difference in spelling of his surname is not really significant.

His Army number dates to 1911; did he quit being a farm-hand and join up? No John Vickery of the Devonshire Regiment who lost his life in 1914 is shown on any war memorial throughout the county and there is no reason to suppose he had connection with anywhere else. He did not leave a soldiers’s will. His name is on Le Touret Memorial to the Missing.

Private 7042 T. Wakeham

Devon’s official Roll of Honour provides information from the addenda to Plymouth’s own roll: Pte. 7042 was Thomas Henry Wakeham and there is an * by his name to signify that this was a hospital death - he was not ill, but died of wounds. His CWG page says that he was 32-years old and ‘Father of Miss K. Wakeham of 19 Granby Street, Plymouth’; he lost his life on 3rd October 1914 and is buried in the New Communal Cemetery at Neuilly-sur-Seine.

At Plymouth in September Quarter 1910 Thomas H.Wakeham married Sarah E. Dingle and the following year they are together in the census; they have a six-year old daughter named Kathleen whose birth registration has proved impossible to trace. It does not seem to have been under Wakeham or Dingle in Devon, but it could have been anywhere in the country; maybe it was under a completely different surname. Kathleen would have only been nine or ten when she lost her father; why was she named next-of-kin - had her mother passed away? Were there no adult relations of either Sarah or Thomas Henry ? He did not leave a will.

Private 8629 Charles Warr

Thanks to a somewhat misleading story someone put on his Everyone Remembered page, a lot has been discovered albeit mainly regarding his brother William Henry.

Charles was 25-years old when he lost his life on 30th October 1914 and was buried at ‘Map Ref. 36.S. 27.a.60.25’. When battlefields were being cleared after the war, out of the five others alongside him, Charles was the only one to be identified; his ID disc was with him. All were then transferred to Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery at Souchez and his mother was able to request an inscription for Charles’ headstone :

“A Day of Remembrance Sad to Recall”.

Twelve days prior to Charles losing his life, older brother William Henry had been killed whilst with the York and Lancaster Regiment. His burial was noted in 2nd Battalion’s war diary, but by the time hostilities were over the site of it had been oblitterated. William became one of the Missing, so his name was put on the Ploegsteert Memorial in Belgium. In 2009 he and fourteen comrades were discovered during excavations for a new building in a French field. The MoD commissioned DNA analysis of these remains and connected them up with present-day decendants. William was identified along with ten of the others. One hundred years after they had been lost, in 2014 they were re-buried in Y-Farm Military Cemetery at Bois-Grenier, France, during a ceremony which accorded them full military honours. The inscription on William’s headstone reads:

“To Live in the Hearts of Those We Leave Behind is Not to Die”.

The brothers had thirteen other siblings, although not all survived to become adults. Their father was a farm labourer with a wife called Angelina who came from Lyme Regis and this is where William, their first son was born early in 1887. Charles was born at the end of 1888 and in census 1891 the four of them are living in Hinton St.George, Somerset. Ten years later they are in Ottery St. Mary and the family has grown - Charley, as he is known in census 1901 now has five more siblings but William Henry is no longer with them. He had proved to be a bit of a handful so was sent to the Gordon Boys Home in Woking where he received a thorough military-style training.

William Henry went into the army at the age of fifteen, signing on with York & Lancaster Regiment for twelve years. This culminated in February 1914 and he then signed on to do the full 21-years as a soldier in the Regular Army; he had been promoted to Lance-Corporal by then. But in August that year the world erupted into the War to End Wars ….. He is remembered on a brass plaque dedicated to the memory of 150 former pupils of the Gordon Boys Home who lost their lives in WW1. Also on the town memorial in Honiton, where an aunt who he had named as next-of-kin was living.

Charley’s army number dates to 1908 and for cencus 1911 he is in Lucknow Barracks at Tidworth on Salisbury Plain. At this time, the parents were living in Nether Compton, Dorset. This village is only three miles from Broadwindsor, where he and William Henry are two of twenty-four names on the stone tablet war memorial inside the parish church.

Private 8657 William Henry Warren

According to Devon Heritage William Henry was born in the Devon village of Coldridge near Crediton in 1889. In census 1891 that is where the family is at home - John and Mary (who in due course turns out to be Mary Jane), their eldest son William Henry and Richard, a baby under 1-year old are the total extent of the family at this time.

They are not easily traced in 1901, but by 1911 William Henry is in Bulford Hut Barracks near Salisbury, Wiltshire. His army number dates to 1908. Brother Richard is also in barracks - with 2nd Devons in Malta; his number dates to 1908 as well.

Both of them died of wounds - William Henry on 26th September 1914 and Richard six months later on 12th March 1915. The village of Sandford near Crediton has a Heritage Group which has put online transcriptions of pages in the parish registers. There is a list of “202 Men from Sandford on active service in the Great War ”- presumed to have been compiled by the vicar at the time. Another is a Roll of Honour recording 38 who lost their lives in WW1. The brothers, complete with rank, battalion and regiment together with the dates they were lost are named on each one.

William Henry is one of the Missing on Ferte-Sous-Jouarre Memorial on the banks of the river Marne. Richard is buried in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery where his headstone bears a personal inscription which makes it apparent that the brothers had several more siblings :

“ Gone But Not Forgotten By His Everloving Mother, Brothers and Sister - Rest In Peace ”

Private 9440 John Westaway

He has no next-of-kin on his CWG page, so there is no way of identifying him. Records say he was born Newton Abbot and there are two that could be him in 1911 - one living in Truro and another in Paignton. Also one in St. Georges Barracks, Malta with 2nd Battalion of the Devons but this is Arthur John Westaway born Totnes 1887. There is no John Westaway on war memorials in Newton Abbot, Truro, Paignton or Totnes.

The John Westaway living in Truro for census 1911 seems the most likely except that although he was born Newton Abbot it was in 1897, making him too young to enlist in 1912 when army number 9440 dates to. But, of course, he could have fibbed about his age…

Private 8655 Charles George Westcott

He was 25-years old when killed in action on 18th December 1914. His parents John and Bessie lived in the village of Poltimore a few miles from Exeter on the road to Broadclyst. In 1901 the family is together - eight sons and two daughters. Ten years later one of the girls is still at home and so are four sons but Charles George and William John are in Malta with the Devons. Their service numbers, dating to 1908, were consecutive - William’s being 8654. In the 1911 census Charles was one of 2nd Battalion’s cooks.

William survived the war but Charles is one of the Missing on Le Touret Memorial. The memorial plaque inside the parish church at Poltimore has his name together with another of their brothers.

Frank was with a Corporal in the Coldstream Guards and lost his life on 22nd November 1916. He is buried in Mont Huon Military Cemetery at Le Treport in France and their mother chose an inscription for his headstone :

“ For Ever In Our Memory ”

Private 8049 Ernest Percival George Westcott

He was 27-years old when he lost his life on 30th October 1914. Next-of-kin was his sister Miss L.R. Westcott of The Stores, Bishop’s Tawton, Barnstaple, Devon.

For census 1891 Ernest P.G. Westcott aged 4 was living in Barbican Terrace, Barnstaple with his mother Mary J.S. Westcott and older siblings Florence M.M., Charles F.A.S. and William A. Ten years later their father, George, is at home with them and there are two more siblings - Cecil John and Lilian R. In due course Lilian will be quoted as Ernest’s next-of-kin on his CWG page.

By 1911, Ernest is with 2nd Battalion the Devonshire Regiment at St.George’s Barracks in Malta. At this time his parents are still in Barnstaple with their other three sons and Lilian now fourteen, whose occupation is ‘Housework’.

Barnstaple’s main war memorial is a cross set on a stone plinth with bronze plaques for names of the fallen - E.P.G. Westcott is one; Ernest is also remembered in Holy Trinity Church where there is a stone tablet “In Memory of Those Who Worshipped in this Church and Gave their Lives in the Great War” - one of the thirteen names being Ernest P. Westcott.

Private 9921 Francis John Westcott

Another who was born in Poltimore where his name is on the memorial plaque inside the village church. Cannot believe he was not in some way related to Charles George, Frank and William John.

Francis John seems to have been the only child of Francis, a labourer and sawyer on the Poltimore estate and his wife Mary Ann. Francis John’s birth was registered in early 1889, making him 25-years old when he lost his life on 30th October 1914. He was with 1st Battalion and is one of the Missing on Le Touret Memorial.

Private 8892 Ernest John Weston

Although his birth was registered at Axminster late in 1890, he was actually born nearby in the small town of Colyton, which was also the birthplace of his parents John and Cora. By 1901 the three of them had moved to Hazel Grove at Stockport on the outskirts of Manchester because father was working as a Railway Tunnel Miner. Ernest John now had two sisters. In 1908, when he joined the army, they were all back in Colyton.

For the census of 1911 Ernest John was with 2nd Battalion the Devonshire Regiment at St. George’s Barracks in Malta. He lost his life on 18th December 1914 and is one of the Missing on Le Touret Memorial. His name is also on the stone war memorial in the grounds of St. Andrew’s Church in Colyton.

Private 7045 Henry Wheatley

He was 29-years old on his CWG page. Next-of-kin was wife Elizabeth who he married at the end of 1906. Both of them came from Chiswick.

In 1901 Henry was aged 15 and an apprentice steam-engine fitter boarding in Castle Street, Thetford, Norfolk with George Starling, an Engineer’s Labourer, his wife and 3-year old child and another chap who was a ‘Gun Flint Packer’.

Ten years later Henry, now an Engineer’s Marine Fitter, was living with his wife in Harlow, Essex. He must have maintained a connection with Chiswick because inside the church of St. Nicholas & Mary Magdalene are three hanging lamps with a plaque with fifteen names, one being Henry Wheatley - “ “ The Sanctuary Lamps were placed in this Chancel in Memory of Members of the Chiswick Working Mens Club who Gave their Lives for their Country in the Great War 1914-1919 R.I.P. ”

Maybe Henry chose to join the Devonshire Regiment because in 1891 cencus a 5-year old named Henry Wheatley was living in Devonshire Street, Chiswick. But his parents are not named on his CWG page, so this could simply be a coincidence. He lost his life on 30th October 1914 and buried at ‘Map Ref. 36.S.27.c.55.95’ alongside Pte.Watt of the Manchester Regiment. In due course they were transferred to Arras Road Cemetery at Roclincourt in the Pas-de-Calais. Henry was not given an inscription for his headstone, which I always find particularly sad when next-of-kin is known.

Private 8770 George Wheaton

“Only Son of Archaelus John & Mary Jane Wheaton 0f 166 Sewell St., East Freemantle, Western Australia” - according to his CWG page. It also says that George was with 2nd Battalion and 22-years old when killed on 28 December 1914 - this would have been in action around the Moated Grange. He is one of the Missing on Le Touret Memorial and according to the Devons book was born in Crediton, enlisted at Exeter and lived in Broadwood Kelly, Devon.

The Australian Commemorative Roll for those lost in WW1 who had connection to Australia but did not belong to its Armed Forces has the name “George Wheaton” complete with his service number and CWG details. Devon Heritage has a Virtual Memorial for those omitted from the war memorial in Crediton - including George Wheaton. I have searched the internet to find when his parents went to Australia and in doing so have unravelled somewhat complex personal histories.

George’s birth was registered at Crediton in September Quarter 1891 as George Samuel Burridge. In census 1901 he and his mother Mary Jane are living in nearby Cheriton Fitzpaine with her farther John Burridge; also with them is 7-year old Rose Ann Burridge. In the same census and about 20-miles away at Broadwood Kelly, lives Archaelus Wheaton aged 26 who works laying water-pipes. Maybe it was that skill which took him, several years later, to Australia.

In the last quarter of 1902, at Crediton was registered the marriage of Mary Jane Burridge and Archaelus John Wheaton. This was eleven years after the birth of George, their first child. They seem to have had comitment to each other for several years before getting wed. In 1908 George joined the army and in 1911 was in Malta with 2nd Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment.

Also in 1911, parents Mary Jane and Archaelus are living with his parents in Broadwood Kelly, near Okehampton. Their daughter Rose Ann is in the same village, working as a domestic servant to a farmer and his family. She still uses the surname Burridge, maybe with the idea that a girl may marry and change her surname.

I have not found out exactly when Mary Jane, Archaelus and Rose Ann emigrated to Australia but they were certainly there by 1916 because in that year Rose Ann married John Rees in Freemantle, Western Australia. Archaelus died in Karrakatta, Western Australia in 1939 and details about him, Mary Jane and Rose Ann come from the Find A Grave website.

Captain Herbert Connell Whipple

Born in Plymouth into a family of medical men and army officers. His father had been surgeon to 5th Devon Militia and South Devon & East Cornwall Hospitals; an uncle was surgeon to the Coldstream Guards.

Herbert Connell was born 6th September and baptised on 1st October 1879 in St. Andrew’s Church, Plymouth. He was sent off to prep-school in Hartley Wintney, Hampshire where he can be found, aged 11, in census of 1891. He completed his education at Rossall School, Fleetwood, Lancashire. London Gazette of 17 October 1899 noted that “Second Lieutenant Herbert Connell Whipple of the Devonshire Regiment transferred from 3rd Battalion (Special Reserve) into a Line Battalion (ie. the the Regular Army). He was in South Africa for the Boer War then in August 1902 he returned to England. On 2nd July 1913 he married Joan Uppleby Stapleton-Smith in Essex..

There are two photographs of him to be found online - one in civilian dress wearing a stand-upcollar and bow tie under a waistcoat and dark jacket. Another in regimental dress-uniform with 3 medals up, with cropped dark hair and a neatly trimmed moustache. Imperial War Museum has one of these together with a press-cutting in their Bond of Sacrifice collection - “Captain Herbert Connell Whipple of 1st Btn. the Devonshire Regiment … was shot in the head on 19th November 1914. He never regained consciousness and died on 24th November. ” He had been a great favourite, much appreciated by his men - a very good pianist which made him much in demand by his friends.

Herbert Connell is buried in Bailleul Communal Cemetery in the Nord Department of France. His widow was not granted administration of his will until November 1925. What caused the hold-up for eleven years ? Was it lost … did another family member contest it ? In addition to his wife, CWG has his parents quoted next-of-kin. Their address was in Barnstaple and Herbert’s name is on the war memorial in the nearby village of Marwood. His mother chose an inscription for his war-grave headstone :

“ R. I. P. ”

After Herbert Connell’s death, his widow Joan became engaged to William Leefe Robinson, a pioneering airman renowned for being the first to shoot down a Zeppelin over English soil. He said of her “She is the best girl on God’s earth … ” He was taken prisoner by the Germans in 1917, but died three weeks after being repatriated - in the great Spanish ‘Flu pandemic. His own sister and Joan nursed him until the end. Joan eventually re-married in 1929.

Private 6819 George White

Born and enlisted in London. Without age or next-of-kin it is impossible to find anyone with such a relatively common name in the census. His army number dates to 1902 and as he was with 2nd Battalion, he ought to be with them in Malta for the 1911 census - but It has proved impossible to find him.

London Online WW1 memorial has his CWG details but that is all. Book of the Devonshire Regiment 1914-1918 provides one small detail - George died of wounds on 21st November 1914. He is buried at La Gorgue Communal Cemetery, where from early in the war there was a field ambulance station; doubtless that is where he was taken when wounded and that is where he died. A field ambulance was not a vehicle, but a collection of relatively temporary structures which was where casualties were first taken, before being passed on to a hospital - if they lasted that long.

Private 8545 Frederick George White

In 1911 is in St.George’s Barracks, Malta where his entry says he was 21-years old and born in Axminster. His name is on the war memorial there as well as the Memorial Board inside the church of St. Mary the Virgin. Axminster Heritage has provided narratives for those named :

“Frederick was born 21st October 1889 and baptised in Kilmington (a nearby village) on 8th December that same year. His parents were Eli White, a general labourer, and Susan Ann (née Beer) who married in 1886. Frederick was the second of their two sons (they also had two daughters.) In 1911 Frederick was with the Devonshire Regt. in Malta and Eli (by then widowed) continued to live in Kilmington.”

Frederick George lost his life on 18th December 1914 and was initially buried alongside an unknown British soldier of the Border Regiment, another unknown of the Devons and another totally unknown of name or regiment. Frederick was the only one to have his identity disc. In 1920 they were re-buried in Pont-du-Hem Military Cemetery at La Gorgue.

Private 6917 John Charles White

Son of Mrs Grace White of 19 Alexandra Road, Barnstaple and lost his life on 17th October 1914. He is one of the Missing on Le Touret Memorial.

In 1901 and 1911 he was at home in Barnstaple with father, a haulier for a timber merchants, mother Grace who came from Cornwall and two sisters. John Charles was born in Cornwall and In 1911 was working in a timber factory; he does not appear to be remembered on the war memorial in Barnstaple or anywhere else.

Serjeant 6712 George Thomas White

The first professional footballer to lose his life in the Great War. He belonged to Exeter City Football Club - aka ‘The Grecians’ which has their archive online. The club lost thirteen former players between 1914-1918 and their names are immortalised in the memorial garden at St.James’ Park, the Club’s home ground. This is, in fact, next door to one of the schools I was at; a highlight of our day would be if a stray football came over the fence and into our playground.

George Thomas White was born in Exeter in 1884, making him 30-years old when war broke out. Early in 1914 he married Ada Rose Chaplin, then stayed in England to captain his club’s reserve side whilst other players went on a tour of South America. By all accounts, they were fortunate to come back unscathed as war was declared during their return journey. George had already enlisted with 1st Devons when they got back and was in France by the end of August 1914.

Two months later George died in a field hospital where his team-mate Fred Bailey had been working. Fred had joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and was with 1st Wessex Divisional Field Ambulance and would himself be killed on 1st July 1916 - the first day of the Battle of the Somme. He is buried at Ribemont Communal Cemetery where his parents requested an inscription for his headstone :

“ Thy Will Be Done ”

George Thomas’ name is on Le Touret Memorial to the Missing.

Private 5927 William White

He had already served in the South African (Boer) War, so was an old soldier of the Regular Army. He was 37-years old when recorded as having lost his life on 30th October 1914; this is the date on his record although he was possibly killed several days previously during 1st Battalion’s activities at La Bassée and Festubert.

He was born and enlisted in London and is remembered in the London Online WW1 Memorial. His CWG record says he was ‘Son of Mr. F. White and husband of Phoebe White of 61 Treverton Street, North Kensington’ but despite this information, it has proved impossible to place any of them in the census.

Private 9870 Thomas Charles Widdecombe

He was 19-years old when he died of wounds on 14th December 1914. Born in Torquay he is remembered on the War Memorial there. In 1901 Thomas Charles was at home with his family - father, also named Thomas, a mason’s labourer married to Annie who came from Watchet in Somerset. They have two other children - Ernest and Lilian.

In census 1911 Thomas Charles is in Chelston, a suburb of Torquay, working in the Dairy of a butcher and dairyman, but his parents have proved difficult to trace. I think, by this time his father was a widower and living with his own parents and many siblings. There are messages on Thomas Charles’ page at Everyone Remembered - “We are very proud of you and wish we could have known you. We know how much you were loved by the family” to which someone else has responded with - “Thank You”.

Thomas Charles was initially buried at Winchester Post Cemetery, created by 2nd Devons in 1914 in front of a farm building known as “Winchester Post” at Laventie and used as a dressing-station - the first port of call for those injured. In 1925 these graves were brought into the Aubers Ridge British Cemetery at which time he was identified by clothing and the cross on his grave. This enabled his father to stipulate wording for a personal inscription to go on his headstone :

“ Rest In The Lord ”

Private 9502 William Widger

Born in Halwell a Devon village in the South Hams and his birth registered at Totnes in the last quarter of 1890 - William George Widger. His three medals - British War, Allied Victory and 1914 Star, together with a Princess Mary Christmas 1914 commemorative tin have been offered for sale on the website ‘Medals of England’. This also shows his photograph - a serious-looking young man with a dimpled chin, wearing a cap with regimental badge, buttoned shirt collar under a reefer-style coat, trousers bound by puttees to the knee, making them appear like an officer’s breeches of the time, and ankle boots.

This also shows his medal-card with the date he got to France - 6th November 1914. He died of wounds on 24th December - a day before the famous Christmas Truce began. It is thought that due to a momentary but fatal lapse of concentration, William was hit and terminally wounded by a German sniper.

William George Widger is a name on the elaborate marble plaque inside St.Andrew’s Church at Harberton - 4 miles from where he was born - “In Loving Memory Of Those Who Gave Their Lives for King and Empire …” He is buried at Estaires Communal Cemetery where his father requested an inscription for his headstone :

“Gone But Not Forgotten”

Private 9518 Frederick James Wilkey

Son of the late Mr. and Mrs E.Wilkey. His birth was registered at Totnes in the last quarter of 1894 and he was baptised in the village of Staverton on 16 December 1894, so he was just about 20-years old when he lost his life on 18th December 1914.

In the census of 1901 Frederick James, aged 6 was with parents and an older sister living in the village of Littlehempston in the South Hams. He had two brothers who were old enough to have left home by then and ten years later this is also what Frederick James had done. For census In 1911 he was employed as a waggoner on a farm, but still in Littlehempston. The farmer he worked for had eight young daughters - the two youngest being named Septima and Octavia. At the same time Frederick James’ parents, John and Elizabeth, were in Berry Pomeroy with Albert, their 30-year old son who had, seemingly, returned home. Or maybe he was just on a visit.

Frederick James is one of the Missing on Le Touret Memorial in France. He is also one of 23 names on the memorial board in St. Andrew’s Church at Ipplepen - four miles from where he worked in 1911 and five from Staverton, the village of his birth.

Private 7118 William Robert Wilkey

Born in Exeter in mid-1884; in 1907 he married Florence Annie Pearcey and for census 1911 they are living in Tucketts Square, Summerland Street with six month old daughter Hilda Florence and wife’s mother Frances Pearcey. William Robert works as a Cellarman for a Brewery.

He is another whose memorabilia was sold by Medals of England. They are described as a rare grouping of British War and Allied Victory Medals with a 1914 Star and Bar. Included was a copy of his medal index card, a commemorative tin as given to troops at Christmas 1914, his death plaque (as issued to next-of-kin of all those lost) and a press-cutting from the Western Times.

William Robert lost his life during the unofficial Christmas Truce of 1914 - which for collectors makes his medals an ‘Important, Rare and Emotive Group’. He had been a Reservist so would have been called up as soon as war was declared. Although his card gives 1st September as the date he arrived in France, he may have gone out with the main unit of 1st Battalion of the Devons in August.

The newspaper article describes how he would have been well-known to supporters of Exeter City Football Club. He regularly played the side-drum at St. James’ Park, being a member of the city’s band. He was killed at Wolverghem (a village in Belgian Flanders) on Christmas Eve shortly before English and German troops famously came together and played football in front of their trenches.

His name is on Exeter’s official WW1 Roll of Honour. One copy of this is kept by Devon Archives, another is in the Cathedral and the third is housed inside a space created for it inside the impressive War Memorial at Northernhay Gardens.

Lance-Corporal 9384 George Ernest Williams

His CWG page merely has ‘1st Battalion - 24 October 1914 - Le Touret.’ No next-of-kin; no age - however book of the Devonshires 1914-1918 says that he was born Kensington, enlisted Exeter and was living in Langport, Somerset at the time which made it possible to locate him in cencus records

In 1911 he is living in Long Load, Somerset. How ever unlikely the name, the village of Long Load did and still does exist 4-miles from Langport. In 2011 the population amounted to 323.

Ten years previously George Ernest was living in Kempe Road, Willesden, Middlesex. The marriage of his parents, Bessie May Scriven and Joseph John Williams was registered at Chelsea in 1893. His mother came from Long Load and by 1911 was back there, now a widow ‘Looking after the Home’ of her own mother. With them is George Ernest aged 16 and a labourer for a hay merchant, plus two cousins one of whom is a lad of 17 with the same employment and a girl of fourteen who ‘Works a Machine - Glove Making’.

The parish church at Long Load had a marble tablet in a carved stone frame ‘ In Proud and Loving Memory of the Men 0f Long Load who Laid Down Their Lives in the Great War’. George Williams was one of the names. This church recently became redundant and was offered for sale. What became of the memorial ? Imperial War Museums has it on their register of such memorials, which is something at least. Has the actual thing survived ? I certainly hope it has.

Private 7343 James Williams

His CWG page says he was ‘Son of Mary Williams of Snowdrop Cottage, West Down, Ilfracombe’. It also puts him with 1st Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment and says he was 30-years old when he lost his life on 29th October 1914. The Devons book gives his place of birth as Ilfracombe and that he lived there when he enlisted.

For the census of 1891 he was at home in West Down with father, Alexander, a farm worker, mother and two younger sisters. In 1901 James had gone sixteen miles to Stoke Rivers, where he was employed as a Horseman on a farm. Ten years later, however, James had gone further afield and was in Plymouth where he worked as a carpenter in the building trade.

His name is on the stone cross war memorial outside the church of St. Calixtus in West Down which has 22 names for the Great War. These have been transcribed onto the village’s website, but they give the wrong attribution for the name ‘James Williams’. They say it refers to (Reginald) James Williams 50161 of the Royal Rifle Corps, son of Alexander & Mary but looking on the the CWG page for this chap, it makes no reference to any next-of-kin. The transcription cannot be right.

Private 9557 Ernest Willis

He had his eighteenth birthday during the three months prior to being killed in action with 1st Battalion on 30th October 1914 …. “Out of one party of over 60 who tried a rush 40 were promptly shot down .. ” Ernest is one of the missing on Le Touret Memorial to the Missing. His CWG page shows no next-of-kin. The Devons book says he was born at Collumpton.

Thanks to the Devon Honour website, it was discovered that he had two initials - E.M - and indeed his birth was registered at Tiverton in September Quarter 1896 - Ernest Mark Willis. In 1901 he is at home in Collumpton with parents and three siblings; their father is a farm labourer. By the time he was fifteen this is what Ernest has become. He is 25-miles from home in the village of Morchard Bishop. Did going to war seem to offer the chance of a more interesting, exciting life …?

St. George’s Church in Tiverton has a large brass plaque with 52 names of those lost in the Great War …. “ Sacred to the Memory of Officers and Men who Lived in this Parish or were Worshippers

in this Church ” - one of them being ‘ Willis, E.M. - Devons.’ Beneath the names is the legend :

“ All Men Must Die. It Is Only Given To The Few To Die For Their Country ”

Private 7380 John Frank Wills

His CWG page says he was 29-years old when he was lost on 24th October 1914. He was son of Mrs R.S.Wills of 25 Old Town Street, Dawlish, Devon. In 1911 John

( known as Jack) was employed as a farm labourer and lived with his widowed mother Rebecca, brother Joseph (‘Jim’), younger brother William and sister Bessie aged 12 who was still at school. Dawlish has online an extensive WW1 Project relating to those named on local war memorials :

John Frank enlisted in Exeter at the same time as his brother, Joseph. On Friday 30 October 1914 Exeter & Plymouth Gazette reported that :

“ Private Jack Wills of the Devon Regiment has been killed in action. The sad news reached his mother, a widow, who resides at Old Town Street, in a letter from her second son, Jim, who belongs to the same regiment. He and his brother were fighting last Saturday side by side in the same trench. A shell exploded quite close to them and a second one carried away part of the bank of the trench. A third dropped just as they were congratulating each other on their escape and Jack was killed instantly. His brother was wounded in the arm and on the back. He states that he is in hospital and making good progress.”

J.F. Wills is one of the names on the war-memorial cross in Dawlish.

Private 7168 Joseph Winch

33-years old, son of Joseph Winch of 14 Mandrel Road, Brixton Hill, husband of Ethel Elizabeth Taylor (formerly Winch) of 32 Prague Street, Brixton Hill, London.

Joseph was born in Croydon and already a veteran of the South African War when he married Ethel Elizabeth Fennell in Andover towards the end of 1909. A year later, their only child was born - a daughter named Ethel. In the census of 1911 the three of them are in Wandsworth visiting Joseph’s workmate Richard Bowman - both of them are platelayer’s labourers for the tramways.

Joseph lost his life on 30th October 1914 and is named on Le Touret Memorial. Eighteen months later Ethel Elizabeth married William A.Taylor in Croydon.

Private 7043 William Henry Wood

He was with 1st Battalion and perished on 30th October 1914; born in Plymouth and remembered on its Roll of Honour. Devon Honour website, which has a note of this, says “Unable to confirm the lineage of this hero”. Four births were registered with those names in Plymouth during the timespan 1875-1900 - he could be any one of them.

In 1928 William Henry was re-buried at Arras Road Cemetery at Roclincourt in the Pas de Calais. Prior to that he had lain alongside three comrades from his battalion who lost their lives at the same time; three were recognised by clothing, boots and numerals and as well as William Henry, two of the others had identity discs - Pts. Heath and Pitts who appear earlier in this narrative. One had a gold ring but nothing to indicate his name so will forever be an Unknown Soldier of the Devonshire Regiment.

Private 9937 F. Woodin

His name is not in the Devons book; CWG has a page for him with no age or next-of-kin. He was with 3rd Battalion of the Special Reserve, died on 20th November 1914 and was buried at the Higher Cemetery in Exeter three days later. Their records have his forename - Frederick - saying that he was Catholic and 18-years old. That being so, his birth was registered at Westminster in the last quarter of 1896 - Frederick Isaac Woodin.

Notes relating to his headstone show a name and address - Mr. J Woodin, St.Vincent’s School, Mill Hill, London. This was a school and orphanage run by Catholic nuns. In census 1901 at Whitfield Street, St. Pancras, London, Frederick I.Woodin is 4-years old living with his father Frederick, a warehouseman, mother Catherine and a baby brother.

In census 1911 Catherine is a widow; her husband had died aged 33 in the last quarter of 1910. Frederick is 14 and works as an errand boy. He now has three sisters - aged 9, 8 and 3.

Catherine died in 1912. Did her children go to the orphanage, all except Frederick who went to Exeter and enlisted with the Devonshire Regiment ? His only brother - Joseph Reginald - must be the Mr. J. Woodin at St. Vincent’s School on Frederick’s headstone document. Devon Heritage has a special page for those buried in Higher Cemetery who do not appear on the war memorial listing - Frederick Woodin is one of them. It is open to speculation why he chose to go down from London to Devon. Neither of his parents came from there. Frederick has a CWG headstone complete with the Devonshire Regiment’s insignia, his name rank and number. He is not forgotten.

Serjeant 4884 William Woolacott

His parents lived in North Tawton, a small town in mid-Devon which has a war memorial with 50 names for WW1. In addition to this, the parish church has a memorial book with 52 names. Someone has gone to great lengths researching wartime service records of all of them. The Devon Heritage website has put this online, so I have combined it with William Woolacott’s CWG page to find as much as possible about his life :

William was born in North Tawton in 1880. In the census of 1891 he was the eldest child of William and Eliza and had four siblings. They were living at Sampford Courtenay near Okehampton and father was an agricultural labourer. This could entail the family moving from farm to farm, so it is impossible to track them in subsequent census. It became obvious that the family increased but when and by how many is difficult to establish. William, the future serjeant, is known to have lived in Exeter, no doubt about the time he joined the Devonshire Regiment. His service number indicates this to have been 1897/8; he was a pre-War Regular soldier. An ‘Old Contemptible’.

For cencus 1911 William was with 2nd/Devons in barracks in Malta. This record says he was ‘Married’. It could simply be an error but there are several marriage registrations for his name between 1900-1911. On 18th December 1914 William was killed during an attack on German trenches near Neuve Chappelle. His battlefield burial was next to Private Ernest Braund, also of 2nd Battalion, and in 1927 they were concentrated into Bailleul Road East Cemetery at St. Laurent- Blagny. William was identified by his clothing, boots, serjeant’s stripes and his ID disc. Nobody requested a personal inscription for his headstone, but CWG paperwork for this has a name and address - ‘Mrs E. Woolacott, 31 King’s Street, Devonport’ which I thought was his mother but further information suggests it was William’s wife. He has no named next-of-kin but his brother does :

Ernest John was born in mid-1891 so would not show with the family in the census of that year. It has not been possible to locate any of them in a subsequent census. Ernest John lost his life whilst with 8th Battalion of the Devons in April 1917 and is one of the Missing on the Arras Memorial; his parents are next-of-kin on his CWG page, with their address in North Tawton. This makes me think that William’s wife must be Mrs E. Woolacott of Devonport - a marriage was registered there in 1904 - William Woolacott wed Emily Jane Richards.

Private 10146 Alfred Richard Wooldridge

Born in Plymouth, enlisted Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire; son of John Albert & Elizabeth Ann Wooldridge of 50 Mainstone Avenue, Cattedown, Plymouth. 25-years old when he lost his life on 18 December with ‘A’ Coy. 2nd Battalion. Devonshire Regt.

In 1901 Alfred is living in Sycamore Avenue, Charles, Plymouth with his parents and five brothers. By 1911 he has gone to Llandeilo-Talybont in Glamorgan, Wales (which still exists, although the spelling can vary.) He is a Foreman Labourer in the building industry and lodging in the home of George Owen who is a Stonemason (Housebuilding). Seems as if they could be workmates.

Alfred Richard has his name on Le Touret Memorial and the addenda to Plymouth’s Roll of Honour.

Private 8788 Arthur Worth

Outside the parish church at Peter Tavy, near Tavistock is a granite cross war memorial and inside a decorated white panel with six names arranged in sequence of their loss, the first being George Arthur Worth. This is Private 8788 who was known by his second forename.

His birth was registered at Tavistock in the first quarter of 1893 which ended on 31st March. In 1911 he was with 2nd Battalion of the Devons at St. George’s Barracks, Malta and supposedly 20-years old. This census was taken on 2nd April, so George Arthur was in fact only just eighteen. His army number dates to late 1908 /early 1909 so he must have been a very young recruit.

George Arthur lost his life at the Moated Grange on 18th December 1914; his name is on Le Touret Memorial under a heading for the Devonshire Regiment - he is simply ‘Worth A’.

Private Theodore Rhymer Wrigglesworth

His name is on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing at Ypres (Ieper). Despite not having a place of burial, there is an entry for him on the Find-A-Grave website where someone has given his exact date of birth - 22nd October 1883. Must be from someone with family knowledge. There is also a photograph of him in uniform with a Devonshire Regiment cap-badge - a good-looking man with a neatly clipped moustache.

CWG page says he was son of Sarah Wrigglesworth of 10 Sticklepath Hill, Barnstaple and husband of Bessie Liggins (formerly Wriggleworth) of 626 Stoney Stanton Road, Coventry. “Devonshire Regiment 1914-1918” says he was born in Bideford which turns out to be incorrect, but thanks to all this information, it has been possible to discover a good deal about him.

For census 1891 he is in Barnstaple with mother and six siblings. The two eldest were born in England, but Theodore and the others were born in South America which accounts for me not finding a suitable birth registration.

In census 1901 he is Rymer Wrigglesworth born in Demerara, British Guiana (now Guyana) living in Lime Grove, Bideford with mother and three sisters. Mother is a Sub-Postmistress and Grocer; one daughter is helping with the grocery, one a dressmaker but the youngest has no occupation. Rymer is apprenticed to a cabinet-maker. At this time three of his brothers have gone to Clacton-on-Sea where they have a photographer’s business.

In 1907 Theodore Rhymer crossed the Bristol Channel to marry Bessie Mugford in Newport, Monmouthshire. In 1911 they are living in Bettws, Glamorgan (not Betws-y-Coed) and have a 3-year old daughter called Winnie. Theodore now works as a Brakesman on the Railway. His name is on Great Western Railway’s WW1 Roll of Honour, copies of which are still displayed at main-line stations in the 21st century - He is listed under ‘Swansea - Traffic Department - Wrigglesworth, T.’

Also in 1911 his mother, brother Arthur and sister Mona are living in Barnstaple. Arthur has given up on photography and is now a teacher of Shorthand and Typewriting. They have a 14-year old girl as a domestic servant, so it can be assumed they were not unduly poor. Mother has been a widow in all three census; maybe her husband died in South America and that is why the family came back.

Theodore Rymer lost his life on18th November 1914 whilst with 1st Battalion of the Devons and his name is on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres (Ieper) in Belgium. In the last quarter of 1923 his widow re-married to Leonard Liggins and went to live in Coventry. At Everyone Remembered on Theodore’s page a message has been left “From Friends of the Legion at the Coventry Building Society : We Will Remember Them Today, Tomorrow, Forever”.

A website has been created by the Coventry Heritage Society to remember those with a connection to the city who were lost in the Great War “The Hero In My Street”. Theodore Rhymer Wrigglesworth is there with his CWG details under ‘Stoney Stanton Road’. The only physical war memorial to have his name is GWR’s Roll of Honour displayed in railway stations.

Lance-Corporal 8710 Alfred John Wyatt

Son of John Alfred & Mary Ann Wyatt of Newton St.Cyres. For census 1901 they are at home with two other sons and a daughter, then by 1911 Alfred John is with the army at Lucknow Barracks, Tidworth just prior to going with 1st Battalion of the Devons to be the garrison in Jersey.

He died of wounds on 9th December 1914 and was buried in the churchyard at Danoutre in Belgium. Alfred John is not named on the war memorial at Newton St. Cyres but three miles away, in the village of Upton Pyne where a stone cross outside the parish church has sixteen names in black lettering on the base. His mother requested an inscription to be put on his headstone :

“ Peace, Perfect Peace ”

Private 7805 Frederick Charles Wyatt

He was also in Lucknow Barracks for census of 1911, which says he was aged 25, having been born in Bradninich 1887. His birth registration confirms this. There is a chance he was related to Lance-Corp. Alfred John but it would be very difficult to prove.

Bradninch has two war memorials, a plaque inside St. Disens Church and a stone cross in the forecourt of the Town Hall - the 52 names are identical on each. A transcription of them has been put online by the Town Council with biographical details and Frederick Charles is also on the WW1 plaque inside the papermill at nearby Hele; maybe that is where he worked before joining the Army.

Frederick Charles died of wounds on 26th October 1914 and is buried at Bethune Town Cemetery, Pas de Calais.

Private 7484 William Henry Yeoman

Husband of Elsie M.K. Yeoman of 53 High Street, Totnes - according to his CWG page. He is named on the war memorial at Totnes.

In 1891 he was at home in Harbertonford village, Totnes, with parents George and Eliza but by 1901 his mother was widowed. She and her eldest daughter worked as woollen weavers; William Henry, aged 16 was a woollen spinner but the four younger children were not employed - presumably still at school although this census does not say so.

In the latter months of 1908 William Henry married Elsie Malena K. Norman and three years later they were still living in Totnes. William Henry now worked as a Plate-layer for Great Western Railways. Some time after census 1911 was taken, they must have gone to live in Plymouth because birth of their daughter Elsie was registered there in the June quarter of 1914. Plymouth is also where William Henry was recorded on GWR’s Roll of Honour.

Six months after the birth of their daughter, on Christmas Eve 1914, William Henry was killed in action. He was 29-years old and his name on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing.


“ Semper Fidelis ”

Margaret Elaine Way

05th July 2021