Remembering Richard Stephens of Devoran died WW1 on 7 February 1919

rstephens ww1

R. Stephens image (Courtesy of Graham Crocker / Tony Dyson)

Richard Stephens is the last of the WW1 casualties from the Devoran War Memorial. Read more about him at:


R Stephens non-military headstone, Feock Churchyard (Image Copyright: TWGPP/CWGC, The War Graves Photographic Project)

Sub Lieutenant R. Stephens,  HMS Terrible, Royal Navy, died in a naval hospital on Friday 7 February 1919, aged 49. He is buried in Feock Church Cemetery, amongst 2 other  local naval casualties from the 1914-1919 period, Edwin Lewarne and Thomas Williams.

Stephens 1 Feock (St Feock) Church

Feock Churchyard (Image copyright TWGPP/CWGC, The War Graves Photographic Project)

Richard Stephens, Remembered –  7 February 1919/2019

Sadly his name on the back panel of the Memorial (erected 1919?) sits above those of the 1939-1945 war whose 80th anniversary begins in September this year.

devoran 2013 004

Second World War names added round the back section of Devoran war memorial, above the WW2 names.

The War Memorial Recreation Ground was dedicated on 12 September 1919, 100 years ago in 2019, as Devoran returned to peacetime.

Richard Stephens was the last of our Devoran WW1 Casualties. Many others who returned home, recorded on the Village Hall Roll of Honour, would live with the mental physical effects of war service for the rest of their lives.

Blogposted by Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial Project, 7 February 2019.


Remembering Richard John Bilkey of Devoran died 31st January 1919

R.J. Bilkey

Corporal 200901 Richard John Bilkey, 1/4 Battalion, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, died of illness aged 26 on 31 January 1919.

The CWGC website lists him as son of Richard and Emma Bilkey of Tresithick, Carnon Downs, Perranwell Station, Cornwall.

Richard John or ‘Jack’ Bilkey  is buried in Grave Reference E124, Kantara War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt.

Bilkey_R  TWGPP

R J Bilkey’s headstone , Kantara War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt (Image copyright TWGPP?CWGC: The War Graves Photographic Project)

Kantara was important in the defence of Suez and its canal against the Turks. This cemetery east of Suez was used for burials from 1916 to 1920 from various hospitals as well as reburials from isolated cemeteries.

The post war 1919 date suggests Bilkey died of wounds or illness in hospital in Egypt. His niece Josephine Lilly of Carnon Downs (who supplied the family photographs in 2007 of R. J. Bilkey) believes that he died of pneumonia.

Bilkey 1 Kantara War Memorial Cemetery view

Kantara War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt where R J Bilkey is buried. (Image copyright TWGPP/CWGC: The War Graves Photographic Project)

RjBilkey WW1

R. J. Bilkey (pictured L in Cairo and R. Alexandria with sergeant stripes) from the family collection of Josephine Lilly, a niece of Richard Bilkey. Taken from Tony Dyson’s 2007 research

Richard John Bilkey was born c. January to March 1893, the birth registered in Truro. In the 1911 census he is listed as an 18 year old Farm Labourer, born Tresithick, Feock.
His father, also called Richard Bilkey (1854 – 1939) was a farm bailiff on the 1911 census. His mother was Emma Jane Bilkey (nee Hooper, 1865 – 1930).

Clearly John or ‘Jack’ was how he was known locally, sharing the same first name as his father, a practice adopted by many Cornish families at the time.
Bilkey at the time was a local Devoran name judging by the Edwardian / Victorian class photographs of Devoran School in Ralph and Marie Bird’s Devoran and Its River. A girl, Mowin Bilkey is shown in the c. 1900 class photograph (page 51, top).
Phil Traverton, the great nephew of J Bilkey, passed on information about Phil’s grandmother’s brother (from the late Violet Dunstan of Hugus) and gave us a little family history related to “Uncle Jack, as family legend says he was the first man to volunteer at a recruitment drive at Camborne.”

To learn more about Devoran’s WW1 casulaties, start here:

In a week or two on February 7th 1919/2019 we will be marking the centenary of the death of Richard Stephens, the last of the WW1 Devoran Casualties to die.

Blog posted on 31st January 2019 by Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial project blog.

Coming Home – Devoran 1919



Life and News in Devoran as the troops began slowly to come home after WW1, taken from the local newspapers in 1919.

Sadly one of the first mentions of Devoran in Western Morning News (18 January 1919) is of the early death of young Gladys Catherine (“Jimmy”) Edwards, daughter of local doctor Dr. Philip Hugh Edwards. This is the Edwards family after whom Edwards House on Devoran Lane and Edwards Road are named.


Western Morning News Saturday 18 January 1919

Very dearly loved – Monday 20th January 1919 must have been a sad day for many in the Village after the loss of so many young men.

Corporal R.J.  “Jack” Bilkey  died aged 26 of wounds or illness in Egypt on 31st January 1919, followed by 49 year old  2nd Lieutenant Richard Stevens  at Haslar Naval Hospital later on 7th February 1919. Richard Stevens is buried in Feock churchyard.

These two men were the last of the Devoran WW1 Casualties on the War Memorial

Gladys (or Jimmy) and the other three Edwards sisters had done much for fundraising and local public or patriotic events with their musical contributions. Her Red Cross ambulance driving  sister Gwendoline would complete writing the Devoran Roll of Honour, probably in 1919 – look for her initials GLB (for Gwendoline Layton Blunt, her married name) in the bottom right corner.

What else was happening in Devoran throughout 1919 as the men came home?

An early life in Australia was the subject of an fundraising talk or lecture in March 1919 at Devoran Council School (the old school, now a private house). Young 21 year old Lieutenant C. Michael Rogers of the Devon Yeomanry was the son of the new tenant at Tregye, where the Boscawen family had been resident before the war.


Western Morning News 18 March 1919

devoran 2013 001crop

Sculptor and builder H.J. Martin’s name plate at the base of the Devoran War Memorial.

Everyday life of chapel  continued, minus some of its younger men. One of the chapel elders mentioned is Herbert  J Martin  of Belmont Terrace, the mason or sculptor who carved the Devoran War Memorial and also a Mr Richards.


The Cornishman, 31st  December 1919

On September 12th 1919, the War Memorial Recreation Ground was given to the Village by Viscount Clifden

devoran 2013 014 crop

Dedication stone of the Devoran War memorial ground

Devoran Recreation Ground 

This land was given to Feock Parish Council by Viscount Clifton as a war memorial to the men of Devoran to be used for recreation and enjoyment of the people of Devoran for all times, 12 September 1919


Dedicating the War Memorial Recreation Ground 12 September 1919. Headmaster Mr W.R. Cock speaking, surrounded by older men of the parish. Photo from the Restronguet Creek Society website.

Devoran (Penpol and Point) Regatta and Sports took place again in May 1919, the first after the war. All part of getting back to normal or how things were before the war.


Western Morning News, 22 May 1919.  Sadly the Illustrated Western Weekly News is not available online at the moment to view Devoran Regatta 1919. Note the call for teachers – is this replacing wartime losses?


Visick’s Yard was no longer busy on war work and munitions but back on light industrial and motor engineering jobs, Western Morning News, 9 June 1919

Always interesting to read what is going on at the time around the world in 1919 from farming schemes for ex-servicemen  to proposed equal pay for equal work for women. Some women gained the vote in 1918, all by 1928.  I wonder what they would make of this equal pay still not having fully happened 100 years later?


Western Morning News May 10, 1919.

Devoran receives a mention in the article on the early Women’s Institutes in this Western Morning News May 10, 1919 –  “A powerful instrument for making the world better and happier”.


The W.I. “Centres of Education, light and life” except in Probus, Western Morning News, May 10 1919

I wonder what was going on in Probus, that the fledgling Women’s Institute failed or fell “out of line” with others “because the feudal system still existed there”!

Devoran W.I. turned 21 in 1940, according to later WI reports in WW2

With the war over, many of the Ladies and local women returned from wartime fundraising and nursing related war work to running peacetime groups such as the W.I. Scouts. Miss Tyacke who lived in Devoran (at Devoran House?) was County Staff Captain of the relatively young Scouts movement in Cornwall.

Devoran Scouts and Guides still flourish today, 100 years on and turned out in strength with their standard bearers for the Armistice 100 service.


St Agnes Scout Rally, reported  29 December  1919 Western Morning News

The tragic loss of 31 lives in the Levant Mining Disaster in West Cornwall in 20 October 1919 brought a strong charitable response through the Western Morning News including a collection by the landlord Mr Blackwell and customers at the Commercial Hotel, Devoran (now the Quay Inn?)


Devoran amongst the subscribers to the Western Morning News Levant Mine Disaster Fund

Feock parishioners also held a Village house to house collection


Help from the village of Feock, Western Morning News, 6 November 1919

Devoran Council School staff and students also made a collection of £4 and 4 shillings towards the Levant Mine Disaster Fund.


Devoran School Headmaster for many years Mr W.R. Cock, mentioned in the Western Morning News November 12, 1919

We are not yet sure when the Devoran War Memorial was erected. Possibly it was erected in time  for the first Armistice or Remebrance Sunday in November 1919?



Happier news – the gentry of the surrounding area were now mentioned in the County Society columns for births, rather than deaths in battle. Mrs Neville Hood at Coosevean gave birth to a daughter.


It’s another girl! Society pages, The Globe newspaper , Tuesday, October 7, 1919


A distinguished title for a father, mentioned in Wednesday Oct 8th 1919 The Cornishman


New baby in the house, more hired help needed at Coozevean, (small house, countryfor the Hood family. Western Morning News, November 17th, 1919


Chapel life in Devoran, The Cornishman, Wednesday December 10th 1919.  Note the mention of the Levant Mine Disaster and the RNAS Royal Naval Air Station on Tresco, Scilly.


Blog posted by Mark Norris on 16 January 2019

Devoran WW1 100 Remembered 2018


A named handmade poppy for each Devoran man lost … felt poppies made by Ann Ramsden

A few photos from a very successful Poppies coffee morning to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armistice today Sunday November 11th 2018.

After the reading of the names on the war memorial, names now very familiar through research on this blog, the two minutes silence and the sounding of the Last Post, many people headed down to the Village Hall for a centenary cup of tea.

The standards of scouts, brownies, guides and cubs were paraded back into church by the young bearers.

Poppies and wreaths were laid both quietly, privately and also publicly on the newly cleaned memorial.


Down in the Village Hall, there was a good and chatty crowd ranging from young scouts and brownies through to white-haired veterans. There was a chatty queue for tea and every chair was soon taken at the tables – except for one special silent guest already seated there as people arrived .

This silent witness could be one of any of the WW1 and WW2 casualties who never returned to his home village to share tea and talk with friends, family and neighbours.


The Man Who Wasn’t There …

A poppy was made of felt by Ann Ramsden for each casualty named on the Roll of Honour and the War Memorial.

The Centenary knitted poppies of 2018 reminded me full circle of the 2014 poppies made to garland the Roll of Honour before it went off for conservation and came back in 2015 with the discovery of the lost first draft panel (shown on the right).


Centenary poppies of the 11th November 2018

Children were shown how to make tissue paper poppies.

ANZAC biscuits were served with tea (all eaten too fast for me to photograph these!)

setting up display DVH 2018

Setting up before everyone arrives (Devoran Village Hall facebook image)

I produced eight exhibition display boards featuring information from this blog on Devoran casualties and survivors of WW1.


I created a CWGC headstone shaped A4 panel for each WW1 casualty as part of the display in the Village Hall. Two sailors survived WW1 – Charles Brabyn and Thomas Kemp – only to die at sea in WW2, so we featured them as well.


I also selected a few others named on the Roll of Honour and created an A4  panel for them, often with their Navy or Merchant Navy records and photos.


I brought along a few original WW1 items ranging from War Budget original WW1 weekly magazines and postcards to WW1 ration books.


There were also an original recipe book, Punch cartoons, cigarette cards, an armistice flyer  from the Basrah Times  and an original RFC / RAF aerial photograph glass negative storage box stamped 1918 (surplus from the Imperial War Museum archive).

Once it was all over,  I remembered to photograph the well-thumbed display before I  packed it away with family help to take home.

dvh facebook full house

Full House for Devoran !00 Remembered (Devoran Village Hall Facebook image)

Only as the tables and chairs were being put away could you once again hear the WW1 music and songs that I had put on to add some atmosphere as people arrived.

Thanks to Ann Cunningham and the Devoran Village Hall volunteers for all the organising, the setting out and tea and cakes. 

We did the occasion proud and I’m sure the WW1 villagers would have been pleased with the turn out and the renewed Remembrance by today’s village.

Reading through the WW1 casualty panels and stories of surviving  service men (and women), where they lived, their peacetime occupations and what their families did, you realise that in someways you are connecting back with  a very different village as it was then in WW1, still very focussed on the river, the sea and local farming.

Walking home afterwards we went back through the churchyard to see and read the poppy crosses in the now quiet churchyard.


A fresh crop of poppy crosses on the newly cleaned Devoran War memorial, 11 November 2018.

Devoran 100 Remembered 1918 / 2018.

Postscript / future plans 

At some point in 2019 Bob, Ann and I  hope to organise a second and final talk on Devoran and WW1 1917-1919 sometime around the time the war memorial playing field was dedicated  in September 1919/ 2019 and when the war memorial was unveiled (possibly in November 1919?) The first talk took place about Devoran 1914-16 on the 1st July 2016. This second talk will hopefully also add a little more to the Devoran Village Hall funds.

We might even stretch to a third talk sometime (in 2020?) on Devoran in WW2 and the thankfully small list of casualty names (including some WW1 veteran seamen) as the 75th D-Day and 80th Outbreak of War/ Blitz  anniversaries approach.

Watch this blog, the Village Hall Facebook page and the telegraph pole posters for further information nearer the time.

Further research and blog posts will appear over the next few months on

  • Conscientious Objectors and the Conscription Tribunals locally,
  • the Volunteer Training Corps (WW1’s Home Guard?) ,
  • the 1919 deaths / casualties
  • the survivors named on the Roll of Honour.

Blog posted by Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial project, 11/ 13 November 2018

100 Years On We Remember …


The new 2014 panel on the Devoran War Memorial, listing two new WW1 Devoran casualty names P.A. Sweet and W.J. Hoyle, thanks to work / research by Bob Richards and the Feock Parish Council.

100 years on from the Armistice  about ten minutes before 11 am on 11th November 2018, people from Devoran will gather around the Memorial to hear the names read out on the War Memorial.

Shortly afterwards as part of the Armistice Centenary year  there will be tea and coffee in the Village Hall, along with the chance to see a display of some of our research about each man named on the Devoran War Memorial and a sample of a few others on the Roll of Honour …

All are welcome


Cora Cornish Ball – The WW1 Unremembered


cora ball

Cora Cornish Ball, died WW1 22 November 1918

As part of the 14-18 centenary commemorations, I have been taking part in projects  with The Big Ideas company including the Unremembered project for remembering the women workers and multinational Labour Corps of WW1.

I was allocated a Cornish example of an ‘Unremembered’ female casualty  in the form of Cora Cornish Ball, a name I recognised from seeing her name on a war memorial whilst living near her home village of Kenwyn in Truro many years ago. She is also on the big Truro Memorial in Boscawen Street.

You can see more about Cora and the Unremembered project on my other blog post

You don’t find many women on WW1 war memorials,  so I was curious back then to find out who she was.

There is an interesting entry about her on Pete London’s 2014 book on WW1 in Cornwall.

“Sadly though, only 11 days following the Armistice she died, perhaps a victim of the terrible flu pandemic sweeping Europe at the time. Cora Ball was laid to rest in Les Baraques Military Cemetery at Sangatte, near Calais; she was just 22.”

“Born in 1896 to a large family, for a time Cora lived in Kenwyn village near the city. Her father had various jobs and the family moved around the local area. Despite that, Cora kept up her schooling until she was 14 or so, and in 1917 the slim young girl volunteered for service with the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps.”

“As Corps No.2717, Cora travelled to France where she served near Calais. Her WAAC uniform consisted of a khaki cap atop her short dark bob, with a matching khaki jacket and skirt; regulations stipulated the skirt must be no more than 12 inches above the ground. During her war service, perhaps because she’d stayed on at school Cora reached the rank of Forewoman, equivalent to an army sergeant.”

Blogposted 9 November 2018 by Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial Project.

T.H. Kemp and F.W. Kemp of Devoran, Merchant Navy brothers WW1 WW2

mercantile marine

Devoran Roll of Honour Merchant Navy section  – fuzzy blow up of another photo, probably one to retake.

The Devoran Roll of Honour lists six men of the Devoran parish or village who served in the Merchant Navy in WW1.

It lists two Kemp brothers, T.H. Kemp and F. W. Kemp.

Both these sailor brothers served in the Mercantile Marine or Merchant Navy throughout WW1. Thomas died on naval service in WW2.

Images have recently  come to light in the archives of these two Devoran men.

Thomas Harold Kemp 


Thomas Harold Kemp was born in Devoran on 13th July 1885 – possibly into a family of Coal and Oyster Merchants run by his father Thomas Henry Kemp (b. 1843).

He worked his way through his Masters and Mates Certificate through First and Second Mate to Master Mariner by 1910.


(Extra) Masters certificate for T.H.Kemp, 21 October 1910

Thomas Harold Kemp served throughout WW1 and throughout the 1920s and 1930s, finally dying at sea as Captain on the SS Ocean Courage in 1943.

brass plaque

The brass plaque inside the church

I’m not sure why he is not listed on the main granite Devoran War Memorial, only on the brass plaque. It may be that he had moved away from the area.

On the 1911 Census the Kemp family were living at Cliddia, Perranwell.

In the 1920s Thomas was living at (Electoral Registers) at Calidgey, Perranwell Station with an Ethel Mary Kemp (sister).

On his death at sea certificate in 1943  it lists his sister Caroline as next of Kin, living at the same address as him at Lapres Hall, Exeter. On probate this lists an Esatbourne address (1 St Leonards Road)  and sister ‘spinster’ Caroline Louisa Kemp,  leaving over £7577.

t h kemp card

Putting another face to a WW1 veteran and WW2 casualty name – T.H. Kemp


He is listed on the brass panel inside the church rather than the stone war memorial.

He and his crew are remembered on the Tower Hill Memorial in London for those with no known grave but the sea.


Devoran’s T.H. Kemp, SS Ocean Courage recorded on the WW2 section, Tower Hill memorial.

Francis William Kemp

His brother F.W. (Francis William) Kemp also served in the Merchant Navy throughout WW1.


Francis was born in Devoran on 18th October 1886.

1911 census f w kemp

In 1911 he was living with his retired Master Mariner father (and former Coal and Oyster Merchant) Thomas John Kemp at Cliddia in Perranwell.

fw kemp master cert

He became a Master Mariner out of St Ives in 1912 and served as a Chief Officer.

The note written across says that he died in 1929 (his death was registered in St. Austell).


Putting another face to a WW1 name – F.W. Kemp

Two more Devoran faces added to names on the Devoran Roll of Honour.

Two more of the many Devoran sailors and maritime families of Devoran 100 years ago.

Short panels about them will feature amongst the Devoran 100 Remembered display in the Devoran Village Hall on Sunday 11th November 2018 (morning)  after the reading of the names and silence at the War Memorial on Armistice Day 100.

Blog posted by Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial project, 9 November 2018