Category Archives: war memorial

Remembering the lost sailors of Devoran on Merchant Navy Day 3rd September 2018


A mass of wreaths and poppies at The Tower Hill Merchant Navy memorial, Oct 2014 (Mark Norris, Devoran War memorial Project)

Remembering all the men and women of The Merchant Navy throughout both wars and peacetime who work hard to supply and feed us

Many Devoran men served in the Merchant Navy during both wars. some of them sadly died on active service.


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

Devoran men like G.F. Crocker died with Merchant Navy in WW1.


Devoran’s G.F.Crocker of the SS Sailor Prince, one of the Merchant Navy men from WW1 with no known grave lost at sea recorded on the Tower Hill Memorial, London (Picture: Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial project )

T.H. Kemp and W.C. Nicholls were also lost at sea in WW2.


W.C. Nicholls, AthelPrincess, WW2 section , Tower Hill memorial

3rd September is of course also the anniversary of war being declared on 3rd September 1939.

Remembering the men and women of the Merchant Navy past and present  on Merchant Navy Day 3rd September. Hooray for the Red Duster!  

Blog posted by Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial Project, 3rd September 2018.



Remembering George Francis Rogers of Devoran WW1 died 30 June 1918

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Devoran war memorial names M to W

G. Rogers? C. Rogers? On the brass plaque inside the church it looks like C.M. Rogers. On the war memorial itself G and C are very similar in lettering.

The most likely local match is G. F. Rogers, Flight cadet 137361, RAF / 73 Company Royal Garrison Artillery who died on 30 June 1918, having drowned (accident).


Copyright Image source: TGWPP / Rogers family 

Rogers is buried at grave B65, Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial Cemetery (a hospital base cemetery) in Egypt.


George Rogers lies amongst the graves at Alexandria Hadra War Memorial Cemetery (CWGC source)

The local Devoran connection is his listing as the son of Joseph and Gertude Rogers of Bissoe, Perranwell, and husband of Elsie M. Richards (formerly Rogers), Carnon Downs, Perranwell.

George was born in Tregothnall (Tregothnan?), he was a Farmer on enlistment into the Royal Regiment of Artillery, farming with his father Joseph at Hillside Farm, Bissoe, Perranwell.

He served and trained at home with the Royal Field Artillery from 27 November 1915 to 21 June 1916, served in India from 22 June 1916 to 13 January 1918. He served in Egypt  from 14 January 1918 to 30 June 1918 when he drowned.

Reading through his surviving service records, a court of enquiry interviewing witnesses (fellow RAF cadets and medical staff) into his drowning during a swimming party in the sea on a hot Egyptian Sunday records this as an accidental death.

George had married Elsie May Dunstan in Truro on 6 May  1916.

Tony Dyson’s 2007 research notes (via Bob Richards) that Elsie M. Rogers his widow remarried between July and September 1920 one Frederick J. Richards.

George Francis Rogers, Farmer of Bissoe, remembered.

Blog posted by Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial Project, 30 June 2018.


Remembering Edgar Francis Medley 27 May 1918 WW1

Lance Corporal Edgar Francis Medley,
883217, 31st Battalion Canadian Infantry (Manitoba Regiment)  died aged 39 on 27 May 1918 of war wounds.


One name that crops up on a CWGC search under the name ‘Devoran’ is Edgar Francis Medley but his connection appears at the moment quite slim but interesting –  involving family connections of forgotten Canadian war graves, emigration, Red Cross Orderly Reverends and Conscientious Objection by the “conchie” brother of a British prime minister.

Born May 4th 1879 in Toxteth,  Liverpool, he is the only CWGC burial in Innisfail Bowden Chalak Farm Cemetery, Alberta, Canada. Intriguingly the CWGC website records that ‘recent research shows he is buried here.


Image source CWGC

He graduated from Oxford Wadham College and his Oxford memorial records that he died in Canada of wounds received in France and Belgium in 1917.

He married in 1905 in Banff, Canada where he seems to have spent most of his life working as a farmer in the Red Deer District, Innisfail, Alberta, Canada  having emigrated in 1903 or 1905.


He is listed as the husband of Louise Maude Medley, living in Innisfail, Alberta, who was also British born. They had two daughters Catherine (Kitty) and Eileen.

He enlisted in the 31st Battalion (Alberta) Canadian Expeditionary Force Through the course of the First World War, the 31st Battalion suffered losses of 941 dead, and an additional 2,312 non-fatal casualties.,_CEF

He was remembered at Remembrance commemorations in 2014 in Innisfail, Canada by his community and descendants.

This Newspaper article suggest that he has a refurbished or CWGC headstone, and that his once forgotten grave is now on private land.

“In 2014, a Veterans headstone marker was placed on land just east of Innisfail in memory of Lance Cpl. Edgar Medley who died in 1918 as a result from his war wounds. After nearly 100 years, a permanent memorial was dedicated to his memory. Funded by the Commonwealth War Grave Commission, this was achieved through many hours of devoted work by locals David Hoar, Don Chalack and Johnnie Bachusky.” .

Even more clues to this forgotten British born hero of Alberta is given here:

Last weekend, hours before the season’s first big snowstorm hit, I took a small road trip southeast of Innisfail to look at a once abandoned gravesite, one that had been largely forgotten for nine decades.

This tranquil spot, in a small forest overlooking a creek valley, is the final resting place of Lance-Cpl. Edgar Medley. Once a prominent citizen who was a vice-president of the Innisfail Agriculture Society, Medley joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force’s 31st Battalion in the First World War. He was a decorated soldier and badly wounded in combat while serving with the army in France. Medley came home but died from his wounds on May 27, 1918. He left behind his wife Maude and daughters Catherine and Eileen.

His gravesite, the only one at the isolated location, is commemorated with a huge ornate headstone. Maude died in 1970 and her ashes were spread at the site. The property, meanwhile, changed hands many times. It is possible some of the owners over the years never knew about the gravesite. Certainly, the Canadian government did not know, nor did the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, an organization created by Royal Charter after the First World War to ensure worthy veterans were and still are properly commemorated.

But three years ago both organizations received a tip about Lance-Cpl. Medley and his gravesite. He has since been properly commemorated as a war casualty in the Canadian Book of Remembrance and the Canadian Virtual War Museum. He is the last Alberta soldier from the First World War to receive this honour. He is certainly a true hero.”

What is Edgar Francis Medley’s Connection to Devoran?

The slim  but very interesting Devoran connection on the CWGC website appears to be his mother Mrs Gifford Johnson of Devoran.

Although he was born in Britain, her son Edgar’s name is not recorded on the Devoran memorial as he has his own burial headstone in Canada. He is also remembered on the Oxford University Roll of Honour.

Edgar’s mother was born Katherine Frances Sinclair Scott in Malta, daughter of Robert C. Scott, an RN Naval Surgeon.


The possible Devoran connection may lie here.

Edgar Francis Medley had a sister Katherine Mary Ida Medley, who later married architect and WW1 Conscientious objector  T.S. (Thomas Simons) Attlee, the brother of British Prime Minister Clement Attlee.

Tom Attlee (1880-1960) moved to the relative obscurity of Perranwell, Cornwall in 1919 on discharge from jail as a “conchie” or C.O, living at Tullimaar and Leory Croft Perranwell near Devoran. Katherine’s decision (after her husbands Gifford’s death in 1921) to move to Devoran appears to be linked to her daughter and son-in-law living there.

More about Tom and Kathleen Attlee (Edgar’s sister) and a WEA connection to Winston Graham and that most Cornish of things, Poldark here:

This site mentions the shame that Kathleen Attlee suffered with a conchie Husband and decorated military uncles like Alexander


One of Edgar and Kathleen Medley’s decorated military uncles, WW1  Brigadier General Royal Garrison  Artillery Alexander Francis Sinclair Scott.

As a widow of F.W. Medley (Edgar’s father) Mrs Gifford Johnson had remarried in 1898,  the Reverend Gifford Henry Johnson (1859-1921). They had a son around 1900, Raymond Sinclair Johnson who enlisted in the Indian /  British Army and became a Brigadier General and MBE, dying in 1988.

The Gifford Johnsons lived variously in Richmond, Worthing (1901)  and Waltham Essex  (1911 Census), still as lodgers no doubt as a Reverend of clerk in holy orders.

Edgar’s stepfather, Reverend Gifford Henry Johnson served  as a Red Cross Orderly in France 19/4/15 to 16/1/16, Salonica from 17/1/16 to 15/12/16 and France agin from 5/2/17 to 3/4/18.  He appears to have received an MBE at some point. He died in Croydon in 1921.

Edgar Frances Medley  and family – Remembered 100 years on, Canada and Devoran.

Blogposted by Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial Project, Cornwall

Remembering Albert Ernest Crocker Penpol Devoran WW1 2 April 1918

Albert and Harry Crocker WW1

Albert Crocker (right) died in WW1, his brother Harry survived. (Photo courtesy of the family collection Graham Crocker, taken from Tony Dyson’s research)

Remebering Albert Ernest Crocker of Penpol, who died serving with the 7th Battalion, Duke of Cornwall’s   Light Infantry on 2 April 1918. He has no known grave and his name is listed on the Pozieres Memorial.

Reading the 7th Battalion War Diary for March to April 1918, many men of the 7th Battalion were listed as wounded, killed in action or missing after the March 1918 German Spring Offensive.

Albert was listed in Soldiers Died in The Great War (SDGW) as born at Paul (near Penzance?)  lived St. Feock and Residence at Penpol. He enlisted in Perranwell

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Albert Ernest Crocker’s name appears on the Devoran war memorial, names A to J , First World War

His name appears on the 1914 volunteers on the first draft of the Village Hall Roll of Honour – Crocker A.E. Private 10 DCLI.  He enlisted in  Perranwell.

Albert Crocker’s name appears on the final Village Hall Roll of Honour with the letters RIP alongside his name. A January 1915 newspaper report note said him as enlisted:


Photo by Gerry Costello of the Feock War Memorial

On the Lives of The First World War website, Albert’s name is also shown on the Feock War Memorial as well, in a photograph added by Gerry Costello:

Crocker as a local name appears frequently in Ralph and Marie Bird’s Devoran book. Albert’s father Samuel was listed as a Furnaceman on The 1911 Census, possibly in the smelter or industrial works that once graced Penpol, whilst Albert was listed as a farm labourer.

His brother Harry (R.H. Crocker) also served in WW1 and survived.

Other Crockers from Point near Devoran such as 31 year old tin smelter John Henry Crocker (b. 1884) served on and survived the war (10th Service Battalion DCLI “Cornwall Pioneers” and the Hants Regiment).

Tony Dyson’s research in 2007 notes that Albert Crocker is a cousin of two other Devoran casualties, George Francis Crocker and Richard Stephens. He notes him as born around 1895 in Paul, Penzance and by 1899 is on the register of Penpol Sunday School, aged 4.

His brother Harry also served in the DCLI and survived. Tony has Albert listed as the son of Samuel and Catherine Jane Crocker (nee Williams).

This last post was written  by Bob Richards for reading out during the 1st July 2016 WW1 centenary talk at Devoran Village Hall, whilst Albert’s picture was projected on the wall:

Remembering John Glanville Adams of Devoran died WW1 23 March 1918


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Devoran war memorial, names A to J , First World War

Private T/243064, John Glanville Adams, 7th Battalion Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment, died in action  aged 30 on 23 March 1918.

He is remembered as a name on the wall panels of the Pozieres Memorial on the Somme in France to the missing thousands of the British Fifth Army in 1918, so has no known grave. Many of them were killed during the Kaiser’s Spring Offensive of March and April 1918, which saw thousands of Allied casualties and thousands taken prisoner. John Glanville Adams is likely to have been of these March 1918 casualties.

John Glanville Adams is listed in Soldiers Who Died In The Great War (SDGW) as Residence – Devoran, Cornwall but born in Swansea, Glamorganshire, Wales. He enlisted into the Army at Bodmin, Cornwall in 1916  (most likely the DCLI barracks, now the Regimental Museum). His name appears in the 1916 section of the recently uncovered first draft of the Village / Parish Roll, suggesting that aged 28 in 1916 tha he attested (volunteer enlisted) or was eventually conscripted: Adams, J.G. Private W. Surreys

The 7th Service Battalion Queens Royal West Surreys lost over 50 other men on 23rd March 1918 besides Glanville Adams at what was known as the Battle of Saint Quentin, listed on the Pozieres Memorial  as having no known grave:

Although he died serving with the Queens, SDGW also mentions that he was first enrolled in the Essex Regiment 276911, and listed as killed in action, although later in his Soldiers Effects Listing (gratuitity paid to next of kin mother Emily) his death was “assumed”. Hence his appearance on the Pozieres Memorial to the Missing, rather than having a known grave.


Remembered in his home village on the Centenary of his death.

More about John Glanville Adams and family 

Although John was born in Swansea, Glamorganshire in Wales  in 1888 he appears to have grown up in Devoran. His father George Adams seems to have died when John was very young. Brother Ernest was born in  Devoran c. 1884 before the short lived move to Swansea. Wales is not such an unusual connection – Devoran area mines, docks and railway then had strong  links to the Welsh coalfields, smelting and shipping industry.

By 1891 his mother Emily (born 1852/3, Truro?) was listed as a widower with two young sons John Glanville and Ernest George at Bennett’s Ope on or near Market Street and Greenbank Terrace. Continue reading

Remembering W C Nicholls of Devoran Merchant Navy died 23 February 1943


Remembering William Charles Nicholls of Devoran, Merchant Navy,  who died aged 32, 75 years ago on 23 February 1943.

There are two Merchant Navy or Royal  Navy casualties in WW2 listed as W.C. Nicholls and both have local connections. Only longer research will reveal who is remembered on the Devoran War Memorial but both men deserve to be remembered.


World War 2 section, Devoran War Memorial Photo: Mark Norris

Today we are remembering William Charles Nicholls, Second Engineering Officer, Merchant Navy, serving on MV Athelprincess of Liverpool, who died on 23 February 1943, aged 32.

Brief news of his death made it into The Western Morning News on December 16  1943, nine months after his death.


Western Morning News,  December 16, 1943

He is commemorated on Panel 11 of the Tower Hill Memorial, London, for thos having “no grave but the sea”


On 23 February 1943 the tanker Athelprincess was caught straggling behind its convoy UC-1 from UK Liverpool (departed 15 February 1943) to Curacao and New York.

Athelprincess was torpedoed twice and sunk by a German submarine (U-boat U522) west of Madeira.

It appears from David Syrett’s research in Northern Mariner journal  (1996 volume) on the convoy UC-1 that Athel  Princess was struggling to keep up with the convoy.


Only one person was killed out of 51 crew  – William Nicholls. The rest of the 42 crew, 7 gunners and Captain or Master E.G.B. Martin OBE survived and were thankfully picked up by HMS Weston (U72).

Transferred to another escort ship, the USS Hilary P. Jones DD247, the Athelprincess crew minus Nicholls (the only casualty) were landed safely at San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Four other ships in Convoy UC-1 were torpedoed by U-boats of the 16 strong Dolphin Patrol.

Two of these ships survived being torpedoed, a British Tanker called British Fortitude and Dutch motor tanker Murena.

Two others, the US tanker Esso Baton Rouge and British tanker Empire Norseman were sunk.

There are pictures of each ship lost on the Wrecksite website. The names of Merchant Navy men sunk on these ships are also on the Tower Hill memorial.

There were 35 ships in this UC-1 convoy, protected by 9 British and American navy ships. The survivors of the Esso Baton Rouge were picked up by convoy escort HMS Totland. HMS Totland went on to sink the offending U-boat U522 with all crew / hands lost including its Captain Schneider.


A mass of wreaths and poppies at The Tower Hill Merchant Navy memorial, Oct 2014 (Mark Norris, Devoran War memorial Project)

These Merchant Navy ships, their crews and the life of William Nicholls were all part of the high cost of keeping Britain fed and supplied with war materials during WW2.

Merchant Navy Day is celebrated on 3rd September each year


The high price of freedom – Tower Hill memorial in London to the 24,000 men and women of the Merchant Navy and fishing fleets, lost at sea with “no grave but the sea”. Many from Cornwall. Sobering.

There is more about the Athel Princess and how the  Athel  shipping line fared during the war at

W.C. Nicholls, Athel  Princess, Convoy UC-1, 23 February 1943  – Remembered in Devoran and at Tower Hill Memorial London and in his home village 75 years on.

William Charles Nicholls’ Merchant Navy Service records


21 year old William Charles Nicholls’ Merchant Navy Records in 1932; his death in 1943 is recorded in the top left hand corner.


William Charles Nicholls signed on with the Athel Line in peacetime 1932 bulk tanker MV Athelfoam so appears to have worked with this shipping company until his death in 1943.


Details of William’s next of kin and also his catastrophic head injuries in the Torpedo explosion on the MV Athelprincess. 


What are William Charles Nicholls’ family connections to the area?

Like many people in the  Devoran, Helford and Falmouth area, the Nicholls family have long established maritime connections. This is reflected on the manywar memorials and Rools of Honour in the area. Small wonder that William Charles Nicholls joined the Merchant Navy as an Engineer.

His father Edward John King Nicholls (1847-1930) was born in St John’s point Antrim Northern Ireland, the son of James Nicholls.

Edward rose from being a Trinity Pilot (1881 /1891 census) to Dockmaster in Falmouth by 1901 to 1911. In 1901 he was living at 2 Wodehouse Terrace, Falmouth with his sister Elizabeth M Nicholls as his housekeeper and his nephew Matthew S. Nicholls Mining Engineer and niece Alesa (both British subjects born in Chile).

He married (or remarried?) shortly after this,  quite late in life, aged 58 in 1905.

His wife Eliza Dunstan Datson was twenty years his junior, the Kea-born daughter of a tin dresser. The middle name is interesting; There are Dunstans as neighbours to the Datsons in Kea and possible relatives, as well as featuring on the Roll of Honour and as casualties on the Devoran War Memorial.

Eliza first shows up in Edward’s  houshold in 1901 as a General Servant (Domestic)!

Ten years later in 1911, after marriage in 1905, she has borne him three children in Falmouth including the 10 month old William Charles Nicholls.

Mining, tin,  the sea, Chile, Cornwall – this is very much a typical Cornish  extended family of the 19th Century.

William’s grandfather James Nicholls was born in Penryn in 1814. By 1861 he was a Commissioned Coast Guard, living at St Mawes and then the King Harry in Feock area, presumably near the Ferry. This maritime or coast guard career could explain why Edward was born in Ireland. Other brothers and sisters were born in Stonehouse, Plymouth, Devon and later King Harry ferry area.


1911 Census for the Nicholls Family living near his work but in some style at 8 Bar Terrace, Falmouth. William Charles Nicholls has just been born. 

William had an older sister, Elizabeth Maud Nicholls (b. 1906) and older brother James Edward Nicholls (b.1908). James is recorded as his next of kin on his Merchant Navy records.

I will add more to this fascinating local family as I uncover it.

Blogposted by Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial Project, 2018

Remembering Thomas Kemp and the SS Ocean Courage lost WW2 15 January 1943

Remembering Thomas Harold Kemp and the crew of SS Ocean Courage, lost at sea 75 years ago 15 January  1943.

Born in Devoran in 1885 to a family of coal and oyster merchants, Master Thomas Harold Kemp was living in Eastbourne, Sussex when he was lost at sea aboard SS Ocean Courage aged 57 on 15 January 1943.


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

He is remembered with crew members on Panel 75 of the Tower Hill Memorial to Merchant Navy staff.

The crew and casualties are listed here

According to the EU Wrecksite website, on 15 January 1943 The Ocean Courage was sunk in the Atlantic, South of the Cape Verde Island and west of Gambia in Africa whilst sailing independently on a voyage from Pepel to the UK via Freetown and Trinidad with a cargo of 9000 tons of iron ore and mail. She was sunk by a torpedo from U-182, commanded by U-boat Captain Nicolai Clausen.

The Master Captain Thomas Harold Kemp, 41 crew, 2 gunners and 2 stowaways were lost.

Six crew and 1 gunner were rescued by British ship Silver Walnut and landed at Norfolk, Virginia.

Kemp became a Master fairly young (his Master’s Certificates are on

His ship the Ocean Princess was built in the USA in 1942 and operated by locally founded St. Ives Hain Steamship Co.Ltd.

Kemp is listed on the brass plaque inside the church, not on the granite war memorial.

T.H. Kemp and F.W. Kemp are listed on the bottom right of the Devoran Roll of Honour in the Village Hall for his service in the Mercantile Marine or Merchant Navy of WW1.


Devoran Roll of Honour 1914-18, Devoran village hall (photographed : Mark Norris, 2013)

T.H. Kemp – Remembered 75 years on, in his home village.

Blogposted by Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial Project,  15 January 2018