Category Archives: WW2

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



Devoran WW1 100 Remembered



A Date for Your Diary Armistice Sunday 11 November 2018

Join us for the next part of Devoran 100, remembering the local men who served during World War 1  one hundred years ago, as World War 1 came to an end.

I will be updating the display from 2014 about each casualty with what we have unearthed or researched about them since then.

Every Remembrance Sunday the local casualty  names are read out at the War Memorial.

How else has Devoran marked the contribution of the area in World War 1 during the 1914-1919 Centenary? 

Devoran oppies Bob Richards

Bob Richards talks at the coffee morning about the WW1 casualties, Poppies Coffee Morning, Devoran Village Hall, 19 July 2014

In 2014 the fabulous Devoran Village Hall team organised the Poppies coffee morning to mark the outbreak of WW1 100 years on.

Shortly after this the Devoran Parish Roll of Honour left for restoration, thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund Grant.

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Rev. Margaret Saville unveiling the Handmade poppies framing the WW1 roll of Honour, Devoran Village Hall, 19 July 2014.


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. Image: Mark Norris

In 2014 two new WW1 names – P. Sweet and W.J. Hoyle –  were added to the Devoran War Memorial after research by Bob Richards.

DEvoran poppy book pages

A few of the simple biographies of each WW1 casualty from Devoran. Poppies Coffee Morning , Devoran Village Hall 19 July 2014


A few of the items on display in 2014.

At the Devoran Centenary Railway Festival in 2015, the WW1 Roll of Honour returned, looking as good as new,  with the exciting discovery of a lost early draft section hidden behind the familiar frontispiece.

On 1st July 2016  Bob Richards, Ann Cunningham and I told some of the stories behind the 1914 – 1916 casualties and the “Names on The Roll”.

In 2018, on the 100th anniversary of the Armistice,  the Devoran Village Hall is hosting a tea and coffee event with the chance to view an update of the Devoran War Memorial Project display from 2014 and 2016. 


We hope to see you there.

Bob, Ann and I hope in autumn 2019 – after five years of researching the names on the Roll and the  War Memorial – to do the final talk about Devoran men of WW1 and their families. This will update the story from   1916 to  1919, and be scheduled for  round about the time that the War Memorial recreation ground was dedicated and the War Memorial built in Devoran. Dates tbc.

Meanwhile … 

On the 100th anniversary date of each identified casualty on the WW1 Devoran War Memorial, I have posted an update on this blog of what we know about that man and his death in WW1.

We marked or will mark the 70th,  75th and 80th anniversary of the WW2 names from Devoran as well. We may do a future talk on the thankfully fewer WW2 names after 2019.

Sadly these posts do not come to an end with the Armistice Centenary but extend out into 1919/2019 as the final casulaties died of wounds many months after the Armistice.

The mental and physical scars were born by the surviving men and the families of Devoran for many years afterwards.

100 years on, Devoran remembers.

Blogposted by Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial Project, September 2018.

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 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

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


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



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.

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


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.

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.


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

hunkin 4

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.

hunkin 3

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.


hunkin 2


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

hunkin 1 .jpg 


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



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


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.


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.



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