Category Archives: WW1

Remembering William John Dunstan Devoran WW1 died accident at sea 24 December 1917

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William Dunstan’s grave in Brest Kerfautras Cemetery, France (Image copyright: TWGPP / CWGC, the War Graves Photographic Project)

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William John Dunstan of Devoran, serving as 2352/ST, Engineman, Royal Naval Reserve, HM Trawler Pintail, died aged 45 on 24 December 1917.

He is buried in plot 40.3.5 Brest Kerfautras Cemetery, Finisterre, France (mostly an American naval and army cemetery).

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William Dunstan’s grave lies in Brest Kerfautras Cemetery, France (Image copyright: TWGPP / CWGC, the War Graves Photographic Project)

The CWGC website lists him as husband of Juliana Dunstan of 6 Chapel Terrace, Devoran. Juliana was born in 1871 in Truro. The couple married in 1903 and had two children, both born in Devoran, Florence May Dunstan (b. 1905) and William Edwin Kean Dunstan (b. 1907).

William was born in Hayle, Phillick (Phillack?) in Cornwall in 1874. In the 1911 census he is listed as “Fireman Steamship” on board SS Erimus,  living at Chapel Terrace, Devoran.

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

His life and death tell an interesting tale of Devoran past as a port or harbour, then of the war at sea, keeping the sea clear of enemy mines.

The ship where Dunstan served and sustained his fatal accident HMS Pintail was a Hull trawler H982 , built in 1908 and wrecked off Ireland in 1949. In October 1914 she was requisitioned for war service as a minesweeper, armed with 1 x 12 Hotchkiss pdr, 1 x 6pdr HA, Ad.No382 . She was moved to Penzance and Falmouth. (Ad.No.382). By 1st October 1918 she was at Penzance (General Patrol and Escort work).

By 12 March 1919, Pintail had been returned to her owner at Hull. There is more about the naval war and minesweepers off the Cornish coast in Pete London’s short book Cornwall in the First World War (Truran, 2013)

So Pintail survived war service. William Dunstan did not – according to the Royal Navy Roll of Honour WW1, he died of illness in hospital,  as a result of his war service.

Further research in the National Archives into his Royal Naval Reserve service record suggests that he signed up on 15 November 1915. He died as a result of an accident at sea on twenty third December.

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Dunstan’s Navy Records state that he “Died Marine Hospital, Brest, France. Death due to accident. Injuries to head from from crank of engine whilst endeavouring to recover oil can from crank bilge. ”

Dunstan died of a fractured skull as a result of “head and chest injuries by crankshaft” received “whilst at sea on 23 December 1917”.

Previous to his service at sea on HM Pintail, he seems to have served from 1915 and 1916 on King Frederick (III) a Hired Trawler. “5.1915: Requisitioned for war service as a minesweeper (1-12pdr) (Ad.No.2659). Renamed KING FREDERICK.” H.M.S. Dreel Castle  appears  to be his “parent ship at Falmouth base” and “parent ship of the patrols working from Falmouth.”

http://www.fleetwood-trawlers.info/index.php/category/steam-trawlers/page/71/

Shore Establishments of the Royal Navy states that “DREEL CASTLE was a Drifter commissioned 2.2.15. Nominal depot ship Auxiliary Patrol Falmouth, Penzance, & Scillies replacing Vivid 1.10.15 – 16.9.19 [accounts to Vivid IV]. Flag of Rear Admiral Falmouth struck 15.8.19.”

Dunstan’s naval records in the National Archives are hard to read and decipher. He appears to have transferred from “King Frederick” to the Royal Naval Hospital Plymouth in November 1917 then back to sea on “Pintail” shortly before his accidental death.

His widow Juliana  chose no additional inscription on his standard headstone.

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You can read more about William Dunstan and the other men of Devoran in WW1 here:

https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2013/07/27/devoran-first-world-war-casualties-d-to-j/

William John Dunstan, Remembered a hundred years on  in his home village of Devoran and by his family on Christmas Eve 24 December 2017.

Blogposted by Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial Project

I shall add more to Dunstan’s entry should I uncover any more information.

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11th Hour 11th Day 11th Month 99 years on 2017

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

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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.

Remembering the men,  women and families of Devoran and surrounding villages affected by both world wars, recorded on the Devoran War Memorial and the Roll of Honour.

Remembered today and tomorrow during the national two minute silence at 11 am ,  during the reading of names at 10.45 a.m. Armistice Sunday 12th November 2017 and throughout the year in their home villages.

I hope to make it down to the memorial on Remembrance Sunday for a few minutes to hear the names read out before the 11am two minutes silence and Last Post.

Since  we developed the Devoran War Memorial Blog and Research project, these names  hopefully mean so much more to many people in the village today, linking past, present and future of Devoran and its surrounding villages.

Possible future plans for the Devoran War Memorial blog project and WW1/ WW2 anniversaries.

Following on from the success of The Names on The Roll talk in July 2016 about Devoran in WW1 1914 to 1916, we hope to complete the story of Devoran in WW1 from 1916  to 1919. This will probably with an another illustrated talk in the Devoran village hall sometime in 1919, potentially  around the 100th anniversary of the war memorial recreation ground in September 1919.

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Dedication stone of the Devoran War memorial ground, 12 September 1919

Bob Richards, Ann Cunningham and I might (if we have the energy!)  complete the trilogy of wartime Devoran talks, as fundraising for Devoran Village Hall,  with a third and final illustrated talk on Devoran in WW2 in 2020, the 75th anniversary of the end of WW2.

For more details, watch this blog space and Devoran village hall social media nearer the time.

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

Blogposted by Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial Project, November 2017.

We would love to hear more from you. Contact us through the blog comments section.

Was the Tank in WW1 named after a Devoran engineer Thomas Tank Burall?

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An old Devonport acquaintance? Letter by S H Tremayne, Plymouth, Western Morning News September 26th 1918.

Intriguing little snippet of news when researching Devoran War Memorial’s construction date.

November 1917 is an important date in Tank history for the mass use of tanks by British forces at  the Battle of Cambrai (20 November – 7 December 1917).

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Did Thomas Tank Burral give his name to this British (Mark V Male) Tank? (Image: Wikipedia)

Did Devoran born Thomas Tank Burrall or Burral give his name to the Tank?

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The Strand Magazine article in February 1918 can be found here:

https://archive.org/stream/TheStrandMagazineAnIllustratedMonthly/TheStrandMagazine1918aVolrsed .LvJan-jun#page/n197/mode/1up

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It features a portrait photograph of Burral, Burral or  Burrall. His surname appears in both spellings.

 

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A portrait of Tank in The Strand,  February.

The February 1918 Strand article referred to in Mr. Tremayne’ newspaper letter was written to challenge the usual story or official story given in the September 1917 issue of The Strand magazine. This was  the original,  officially endorsed article by Colonel Swinton about Tanks, their development, and naming: https://archive.org/stream/TheStrandMagazineAnIllustratedMonthly/TheStrandMagazine1917bVol.LivJul-dec#page/n285/mode/1up

The usual story of how the Tank got its  name is given here on Wikipedia, based in part on Swinton’s official article in The Strand, September 1917:

“Although landship was a natural term coming from an Admiralty committee, it was considered too descriptive and could give away British intentions. The committee therefore looked for an appropriate code term for the vehicles. Factory workers assembling the vehicles had been told they were producing “mobile water tanks” for desert warfare in Mesopotamia…

The term tank, as in water tank, was in December 1915 finally accepted as its official designation. From then on, the term “tank” was established among British and also German soldiers …
It is sometimes mistakenly stated that, after completion, the tanks were shipped to France in large wooden crates. For secrecy and in order to not arouse any curiosity, the crates and the tanks themselves were then each labelled with a destination in Russian, “With Care to Petrograd”. In fact the tanks were never shipped in crates: the inscription in Russian was applied on the hull for their transport from the factory to the first training centre at Thetford. (Wikipedia ‘Tank’ entry)

Thetford was the home of agricultural engineers Charles Burrell, another coincidence or link with Thomas Tank Burral?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Burrell_%26_Sons

Thomas Tank Burral was born in Cornwall on  April 16, 1847 and died in Thetford on November 26 1884.

Burral had died of overwork, a heart attack in the office, his death as a promising agricultural engineer was reported in Cornish newspapers.

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His Works town of Thetford paid suitable respects to Thomas Tank Burall, who was buried in Wisbech. Despite being a native of Devoran, it appears as if several members of his family worked in or were buried in Thetford by 1884. Two brothers lived nearb. His wife Ellen Burall lived there too but returned to their birthplace in Devoran. His father Thomas Burall  was buried there in Wisbech in 1883 shortly before this.

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Burall’s death, Royal Cornwall Gazette, December 12, 1884

The probate for Thomas Tank Burral  “Mechanical Engineer” suggests that Ellen Burral may well have returned home to her Burral or  Williams family in the Devoran area as a widow.

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Thomas Tank Burall’s family links to Devoran

Thomas Tank Burall and his wife Ellen Williams were both born in Devoran in 1847/8. They married in Feock Parish Church (Devoran Church was not yet built) in January 29 1870.

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Thomas’ father Thomas Burall (born Illogan, 1812) was at first a Blacksmith / Smith (1841) then a boilermaker (1851 / 1861 Census), employing ten  men by 1851 in one of the many engineering related jobs in a county full of mines and steam engines. In 1871 he was living in Laurel Cottage, Devoran (near Lower Devoran, Carnon Gate and Toll Gate House).  In 1881 he was still listed as a working Engineer

His wife Ellen’s  father Jeremiah Williams was a Grocer.

The Tank part of his name comes through his mother’s side, his mother being one Catherine Tank, born Illogan around 1813. Several of his brothers bore the  middle name of Tank, including

Joseph Tank Burral (b. 1849, Devoran / Feock) also worked as a Boilermaker and died in Pennsylvania, America in 1935)

The press articles mentioned his two brothers living nearby who were summoned and arrived rapidly on hearing of Tank’s death. These were William and Henry.

William Tank Burral (b. 1852, Devoran / Feock)  moved to Wisbech and ran a business with his brother Henry Charles Burral as a Patent Label Manufacturer. William lived with his brother Henry.

Henry Charles Burral (born 1855, Feock / Devoran) was originally a Draper, lived also in Queens Road, Wisbech in a house called Tregullow, very Cornish!

Henry had two children by his first wife, Catherine Grace Burall (b. 1891 who became a Cashier) and William H. Burall born 1893. This generation of Burall children or boys would have served in the First World War. Henry Charles was a widower by 1901 but remarried around 1902 to a woman named Maud and had a further child,  Kathleen Maud Burall in 1903.

Thomas Tank Burral had two sisters Catherine Grace Burral (b. 1847, Perranarworthal) and Elizabeth or Eliza A Burall (born 1846, Perranarworthal, later a Draper’s Assistant).

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Thomas and Ellen  1881 Census entry

In the 1881 census Thomas Tank Burral and Ellen were living in Thetford, Thomas being the Manager of an Engineering Works (which must be Burrell the Steam Tractor works). His period at HM Dockyard  Devonport as an engineer Draughtsman seems to link his mechanical engineering to marine engineering.  A marine engineer with an interest in steering, and an agaricultural mechanical engineer with an interest in getting vehicles across rough terrain came together in this clever man.

Many different forebears from caterpillar tracks, steam traction engines and artillery tractors seem to have come together in the invention of the Tank in Britain during WW1. It would be good to think Thomas Tank Burall’s character, hard work and engineering skills at Burrell’s of Thetford in the 1880s brought him the respect of his workforce and led to his name ‘Tank’ being applied to the ridged or “pattened”  wheels or ‘Tanks’ he developed and ultimately to the  cross country vehicles that may have given his name  thirty  years later to  the Tank in WW1.

 

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The tank centenary is interestingly marked by an extensive and interesting blog from Bovington Tank Museum    http://

It will be interesting to see what Bovington have to say about this strange Devoran linked story of Thomas Tank Burall.

In 1919, Thomas’ Tank, Williams and Burral relatives in the Devoran, Feock and Falmouth may well have seen a WW1 Tank in display in Falmouth http://tank100.com/homefront/tank-town-falmouth/

Blog posted by Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial Project blog, November 2017.

 

 

The Botanical Bishop plants the Lobb Garden, October 2nd 1942

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In 2017 A newer Lobb Brothers memorial garden has been planted down Market Street in Devoran opposite the offices of the Parish Council and supported by Devoran Gardening Club.

75 years ago on October 2nd 1942 an original flowerbed or shrubbery garden was dedicated by the Botanical Bishop Joseph Hunkin outside the Parish Church near the Devoran War Memorial and the headstone for local planthunter and Devoran resident Thomas Lobb. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Lobb

A curiously peaceful  activity during wartime, maybe a morale booster by the Botanical Bishop Hunkin.

Thomas Lobb (1817–1894) was a British botanist and, along with his older brother, William Lobb, collected plants for the plant nursery Veitch.

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Joseph Wellington Hunkin OBE MC (25 September 1887 – 28 October 1950) was the eighth Bishop of Truro from 1935 to 1950.

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Joseph Hunkin (or ‘Hunks’ as he was known to serving troops) was then a Military Chaplain in the British Armed Forces during World War I.

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A keen gardener, Hunkin  was commemorated by a garden in the cathedral close and a shrub was donated to every parish.

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Joseph Hunkin’s Preface to one of his final / posthumous publications in 1950

We will feature a little more in a future blog from Joseph Hunkin’ small ‘Trees and Shrubs in Cornwall’ pamphlet for the CPRE.

 

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There is more about the Botanical Bishop, who was also a WW1 Military Chaplain, holder of the MC (Military Cross)  in the Cornwall Home Guard  during WW2 (probably the Truro Battalion?) in his biography Botanical Bishop

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Hunkin_(Bishop_of_Truro)

http://www.cornwallgardenstrust.org.uk/bishop-hunkins-plants/ 

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Introduction mentioning the Lobb brothers in Hunkin’s Trees and Shrubs for Cornwall 

 

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Four Lobb introductions are mentioned and planted by Hunkin

The four Lobb trees and shrubs in Devoran Churchyard are mentioned in Hunkin’s book:

escallonia macrantha

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Bereberis darwinii – a good Lobb plant link with explorer  Charles Darwin who ended his round the world journey on HMS Beagle in Falmouth (today!) on 2nd October 1836.  This event is marked by a plaque in Falmouth erected as part of the Darwin bicentenary that I worked on in 2009.

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and a Lobb plant named after the directors of Kew Garden , William Hooker and son (Darwin’s friend) Joseph Hooker who sent many plant introductions to gardens in Cornwall.

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Posted by Mark Norris, October 2nd 2017 / 1942 75 years on

 

Tending War Graves in Foreign Fields

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Interesting print in my collection of “girl gardeners” with the Q.M.A.A.C or Queen Mary’s Auxiliary Army Corps  in an unnamed  WW1 magazine, showing temporary wooden crosses, most likely  in a war hospital  cemetery in France.

The gardening and grave tending by these smartly uniformed women was  part of the fabulous English cottage style garden tradition maintained in many cemeteries by the Imperial War Garves Commission (now the CWGC).

http://www.cwgc.org/about-us/what-we-do/horticulture.aspx

A more realistic photgraphic image of this scene and task  can be seen in the IWM collection Q 8027 taken of the QMAAC by pioneering female photographer Olive Edis in 1919. http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205194668

The Returned Project

Nick Stone and volunteers are now cataloguing  surviving WW1  wooden crosses or grave markers  (seen in the illustration) that were returned home during or after the war, when the original wooden crosses were replaced by the familiar CWGC white headstones  http://thereturned.co.uk/

Interesting BBC news story about the Returned Project and some of the known markers http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-norfolk-40446229

I remember seeing one at Castle Drogo chapel in Devon (National Trust) which has already been added to their list or map of known sites, awaiting a photograph / survey.

If you know of any of these surviving wooden grave markers in local churches, museums, great houses, private collections or community halls, plaese check the map as they are trying to log and photograph as many as possible as part of the WW1 centenary.

Further details on their website http://thereturned.co.uk/

Blogposted by Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial Project, 27 July 2017

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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

Gwendoline Edwards heads happily home from France WW1

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On Devoran Lane, not far from St Johns Church & Vicarage, pictured here c. 1905/6  is the Driffold Hotel listed on BBC Domesday reloaded

9th July 1917 – a young woman from Devoran finishes her service as an ambulance driver in France during the First World War and heads home to her village with a happy heart.

She must have seen some terrible sights during her nine months service overseas, seeing some of the human wreckage of the trenches. The Doctor’s daughter must have been relieved to see her home safely again.

On Devoran Lane, not far from St. John and St Petroc’s Church and Vicarage, is the Driffold, once a hotel, now known as Edwards Road.  The Driffold in Late Victorian times and into the Edwardian / First World War period was home to Doctor Philip Hugh Edwards family. It is still known as Edwards House, opposite the modern 1980s houses of Edwards Road.

An enquiry lodged with the BRCS archives for any further information on Gwendoline Mary Edwards elicited that 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.

VAD Cornwall 34 might be her number or an area number.

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

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

The reason for her happy return before the end of the war?

A week later 100 years ago on the 16th July 1917 Gwendoline was married and became Mrs Gwendoline Layton Blunt.

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Although we have failed to find a photo of the wedding or of Gwendoline so far, we have found  a duplicate of the certificate.

We will publish more about the wedding including press cuttings found by my fellow researcher Bob Richards.