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1917 Wartime wedding Devoran

West Briton,  19th July 1917  “local news” section

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A well known turn of the century photograph of Devoran Church c.1900/6, before the tree growth (postcard in the collection of Mark Norris)

 DEVORAN – Wedding (from the local press, July 1917) 

At St. John’s Church, Devoran on Monday [16th July 1917] the marriage was quietly celebrated of Gwendoline Mary, eldest daughter of Dr. & Mrs. P. M. Edwards of Devoran and Lt. Denzil Layton Blunt, ASC, only son of Mr. Layton Blunt of Brampton, Huntingdon.

The bride, who has recently returned from France where she has been driving a motor ambulance, was given away by her father.

She wore a simple frock of white gorgette, a veil of … … was held in place by a tiny … of white heather and she carried a bouquet of pink carnations.

The maid of honour was Miss Jane Edwards, the bride’s youngest sister who was charmingly attired in a frock of Indian net embroidered in silver … .

Desmond de Burgh RFC acted as best man.

The ceremony was performed by Rev. J. Stafforth, assisted by the Rev. John Jones, Vicar of the Parish. The Church was tastefully decorated by Miss Gladys Edwards and Miss Hilary Layton Blunt.

[The missing … sections are where researcher Bob Richards could not  clearly read the microfiche or scan of the West Briton].

We would love to have a photograph of Gwendoline and Denzil Layton Blunt. Unfortunately we have not found one yet and one may not have been taken in wartime. Instead we have tracked down a copy of the certificate.

A happy event in wartime after many losses to the village and the start of a fifty year marriage.

I wonder if wedding bells were allowed in the First World War? They certainly were not allowed  in WW2 as they were the signal of an invasion threat.

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Amongst the witnesses are Denzil’s family, his father being already dead, Bertha L Blunt and Hilary Layton Blunt. The grandly named  J. Wessex Bennetts was another witness.

J. Ann or Jane Edwards was the Bride’s youngest sister. Miss Gladys Edwards was another of Gwendoline’s sisters (who may have died shortly afterwards in 1919, aged 21).

John Jones the Devoran vicar is named on the Devoran Parish Roll of Honour written out beautifully in calligraphy by GLB Gwendoline Leighton Blunt. reverend Jones was shortly to go off to war as an Army chaplain. Reverend James Stafforth was Assistant Curate of St. Mary Magadalene in St Pancras, London – not sure what his Devoran connection might be.

Some research by Bob Richards and Mark Norris revealed the following:

The Groom – Lieutenant Denzil Layton Blunt, Army Service Corps

Listed on the certificate as aged 26, Esquire, MA Lieutenant ASC Army Service Corps, resident of Brampton, Huntingdon.

Born 1892, son of H. Layton Blunt of Orton, Peterborough, Denzil was educated at Shrewsbury School where he won honours in shooting and with the rowing eight.

He went on to King’s College, Cambridge in October 1909. He was in Plymouth working with a  occupation of Zoologist on the 1911 census. He gained 2nd class Natural Science Tripos Pt 1 B.A.  also in 1912 and M.A. in 1916.

Co-author of the influential 1926 scientific paper The Nutritive Value of Pasture, still much quoted in scientific papers today.

Denzil served with the Indian Education Service from 1912-1914, then served in France as a Lieutenant with the Royal Army Service Corps from 1915-1919.

After the war he worked in farming and agricultural research in the UK from 1920-1926 when he moved to Africa to become Senior Agricultural Officer to the Government in Kenya. Raising a small family, he died there with Gwendoline in the mid 1960s.

The Best Man – Desmond Herlouin de Burgh, 40 Squadron Royal Flying Corps 

Desmond Herlouin de Burgh, AFC, was the Best Man at Gwendoline Edwards’ wedding. He was born in 1897, son of Colonel Ulick de Burgh, 7th Dragoon Guards, from an Irish family based at Scarva House Co. Monaghan. He went to Harrow School, then was a gentleman cadet at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.

Desmond  joined the army in 1915 at the age of 18 as a Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery. He left to join the Royal Flying Corps as a Pilot / Observer in 1916 and at the time of the wedding was a Pilot in 40 Squadron RFC,  a hazardous job with a short life expectancy! De Burgh appeared to be an accomplished but  less well-known air aces of 40 Squadron, according to a recent book by Joe Gleeson called Irish Air Aces of the RFC and RAF in the First World War.

After the war he was given a permanent commission in the RAF in 1919. He rose through the ranks in the inter-war years and saw service in Iraq and India, working in signals and becoming Director of Telecommunications for the RAF in 1941.

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A cemetery picture from another / future war, the Alamein Memorial from WW2 where the Desmond de Burgh the Best Man from the 1917 Devoran wedding is remembered. Image: CWGC

As an Air Commodore, De Burgh was lost in a flying accident [in South Africa?] on 17th January 1943. He has no known grave and is remembered with many other RAF personnel who have no known grave on the El Alamein Memorial in Egypt.

Quite a character! The pop musician Chris de Burgh is a famous relation. (No wedding or music related puns about the Lady In White or Red please)
http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1536432/DE%20BURGH,%20DESMOND%20HERLOUIN

http://www.rafweb.org/Biographies/de%20Burgh_D.htm

The Father of The Bride – Dr Philip Hugh Edwards, Physician 1868 – 1945

You can read more about Dr. Edwards, Gwendoline, Denzil, this marriage and Devoran in WW1 at previous blogposts:

https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2014/06/28/life-in-wartime-devoran-in-world-war-1/

https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/other-devoran-related-wartime-casualties-and-a-wartime-marriage/

Edwards House and Edwards Road

The bride is likely to have set off from The Driffield a few houses down from Devoran church.

On Devoran Lane, not far from St Johns Church  where this wartime wedding took place, is The Driffold, still listed as such as a Hotel on the 1986 Domesday Reloaded project.
This large house in Late Victorian times and into the Edwardian / First World War period was the large home and possible doctor’s surgery of the Edwards family. It is still known as Edwards House, opposite Edwards Road.

The Bride – Gwendoline Mary Edwards, British Red Cross Ambulance Driver 

An enquiry lodged with the BRCS archives for any further information on Gwendoline Edwards elicited that sher served with  VAD Cornwall 34 (34 might be her number or an area number). Gwendoline Edwards served as a 21 year old from 13 October 1916 as Rank G.S. (General Service?) Chauffeuse until 9 July 1917 (a week before her wedding). Particulars of duties: Motor Ambulance Driving in France.

GLB BRCS record

Gwendoline Layton Blunt (nee Edwards) British Red Cross Society record cards (Courtesy: BRCS archive )

A check of local newspapers of the time reveal that Miss Edwards and sisters (as the daughters of the local doctor) were involved in fund-raising for the war effort.

 

g m Edwards engaged blunt 1917

Northampton Mercury 30 March 1917

 

Sale of Work at Perranporth, West Briton 1915

The concerts held during the afternoon and evening were well attended, Messrs W.J.Johnson and the Vicar made the arrangements and the following artistes took part: the Parish Church Choir, Canon and the Misses Corfe, Mrs Turner, Miss Armstrong, Miss Edwards (Devoran).

The Layton Blunt family

The Layton Blunt family in Brampton, Huntingdon not only had their son Denzil away at war. The Cambridge Independent Press of 9 June 1916 notes a Conscription Appeal Tribunal: Arthur Lewin, gardener and cowman, in the employ of Mrs Layton Blunt … Exemption one Month.

The Wartime Wedding that Never Happened

Mark Norris uncovered another interesting aspect of the Gwendoline Edwards  story in 1915, two years before the wedding:

The marriage arranged between  Lewis E. Sotheron Hodge and Gwendoline Mary Edwards  will not take place.

 

G M Edwards non marraiage 1915

West Briton 1 July 1915

 

Notices placed in  both in the West Briton and the Cornishman, 1st July 1915.

Who was Gwendoline’s bridegroom that never was?

With an unusual name and many initials, it has possible to trace Lewis Edwin Sotheron Hodge after his failed engagement. Born in 1887, he spent his working life in the Far East as a partner in the Hastings and Hodge Company. He is listed as a merchant in 1910/11 in China and Hong Kong. He was initiated as a freemason in Hong Kong in 1918 and died there in Hong Kong in 1938. I am not yet aware what his 1914-18 wartime service involved.

Blogposted by Mark Norris on the Devoran War Memorial Project blog, 100 years on, 16 July 1917 / 2017

You can contact us with any further information via the comments page.

 

 

 

 

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Remembering Percy Sweet killed Battle Of Arras 9 April 1917 WW1

Rifleman Percy Archibald Sweet, Died 9 April 1917

In 2014 Rifleman Percy Sweet’s name was included on the additional panel to the Devoran Parish War Memorial, despite not appearing on the original Roll of Honour.

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The new 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.

Devoran resident Rifleman Percy Archibald Sweet 474189 of the 12th London Regiment (The Rangers) was killed aged 31 on 9 April 1917 during the battle (7-9 April) to take the French village of Neuville Vitasse by the 56th (London) Division.

He is buried at plot 1 A 35 with many other London Rangers in the London Cemetery, Neuville Vitasse.

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/285585/SWEET,%20P%20A

The Battle of Arras is being commemorated by centenary events hosted by the Commonwealth War Graves commission. http://blog.cwgc.org/arras/

One famous casualty of the Battle of Arras, fought at Easter,  was the talented Country writer and poet Edward Thomas. He was killed by shellfire at Easter during the first day of the Battle of Arras two years later.

In Memoriam (Easter, 1915)
By Edward Thomas
The flowers left thick at nightfall in the wood
This Eastertide call into mind the men,
Now far from home, who, with their sweethearts, should
Have gathered them and will do never again.

A fitting tribute to one such of the men who was a resident of Devoran and London, Percy Sweet.

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Percy Sweet’s headstone, London Cemetery (Image copyright TWGPP/CWGC, The War Graves Photographic Project)

Percy Sweet’s father Francis and Louisa Sweet lived at Fernmere on Market Street in Devoran. Percy is also listed on the CWGC website as a ‘native of Hammersmith’ London where Percy and his brothers and sisters were born.
His father (a shoemaker) and mother are still listed in the 1911 census working in London but by the time Rifleman Percy Sweet was killed in France in 1917, the family were living in Devoran.

His father Francis Sweet was born in Kenwyn, Truro and his mother Louisa (nee Pridham) from Southdown in Cornwall.
Percy Sweet was born in Hammersmith, 1887 and was listed in the 1911 census as a Cordwainer (a leather worker / shoemaker) in London. This explains why he enlisted in a London regiment.

Percy Sweet’s Service Records survive and give a few personal details of his enlistment (attestation) including being issued with spectacles whilst out in France on army service.

His family chose the suitable Easter resurrection wording for the personal inscription on his headstone “He Is Not Here, He Is Risen

https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/other-devoran-related-wartime-casualties-and-a-wartime-marriage/

 

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Rifleman’s headstones at the London Cemetery, Neuville Vitasse, Arras, France. (Image source CWGC)

The London Cemetery, Neuville Vitasse Cemetery CWGC

Neuville-Vitasse was attacked by the 56th (London) Division on 7 April 1917 and captured by the same Division on 9 April. The village was almost entirely lost at the end of March 1918 but regained at the end of the following August. It was later “adopted” by the Metropolitan Borough of Paddington.

The London Cemetery was made by the 56th London Division in April 1917 and greatly extended after the Armistice when graves were brought in from other burial grounds and from the battlefields between Arras, Vis-en-Artois and Croisilles.

Neuville-Vitasse is a village in the department of the Pas-de-Calais, 5 kilometres south-east of Arras on the D5. London Cemetery stands on the west side of the road to Arras in a shallow valley.
London Cemetery contains 747 burials and commemorations of the First World War, amongst them Rifleman Percy Sweet, one time resident of Devoran. 318 of the burials are unidentified. The cemetery was designed by famous architect Sir Edwin Lutyens.

Remembering Percy Sweet of Devoran and London, his Comrades of the London Regiment and all those of all nations who fell at the Battle of Arras 1917, remembered in Devoran, 100 years later.

Masking Devoran – gas masks distributed 1939

masking devoran

A distribution of gas masks for Devoran and Carnon Downs district was made on Thursday and Friday at Devoran Village Hall. Mr. H.C. Sweet (senior warden) superintended, assisted by members of the Red Cross Detachment  and other residents.

West Briton, Thursday 7 September 1939

Looking at the newspaper dates: Gas masks appear to have been distributed in Devoran on Thursday 31 August & Friday 1st September 1939.

War was declared by Britain on Germany on Sunday 3rd September 1939, after Germany invaded Poland on the 1st September. Evacuation of children from Britain’s cities also began on 1st September 1939.

 

Arthur Sanders and the sinking of the Royal Edward: an eyewitness account

An eye witness account of the sinking of the troopship Royal Edward sunk on route to Gallipoli, when Edwin Marshall of Devoran and many other Cornish servicemen drowned, 13 August 1915

GM 1914

Arthur Sanders' Diary

Friday August 13th 1915
About 9.30 am we passed H.M.I. “Royal Edward” and at 9.45 am we received a message by wireless to say that she had been torpedoed, so we put back to her assistance arriving on the scene about 11 am where we remained until 3 pm picking up the survivors. What a scene it was there were boats right way, wrong way up rafts, wreckage of all kinds, barrels, hatch covers, etc, some even clinging to oars, some swimming. Poor mortals they had not much chance to prepare to leave their ship as she went down well inside five minutes. In one case we got about seven or eight men off a boat which had floated keel uppermost & when we got them alongside, they said they were two men underneath, we thought their wits had left them as they seemed scared. Well we got a line…

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