Index of Devoran WW2 names

Index of WW2 surnames from Devoran War Memorial and related blog posts.

A little more on Devoran in WW2

According to BBC history interview c. 2003 with Isobel Carlyon, the Home Guard apparently “would practice on the quay during the war”. Many of these men like Albert Opie would have been WW1 veterans and the Home Guard are pictured on parade with medal stripes in Ralph and Marie Bird’s Devoran history book.

Local youngsters are pictured in the photograph as many young men joined whilst waiting call up, such as Devoran casualty John Basil Tallack (killed aged 20 in 1944).

More on the area in WW1 and WW2 is featured in Elizabeth Hotten’s Cornwall At War.

The Francis Frith photographic archive has several pictures of Devoran in the 1950s, as well as a memory of a WW2 Evacuee to Devoran. Hotten’s book notes that 100 children from St Joseph’s, a Roman Catholic  School from Greater London was evacuated to Devoran in June or July 1940 (Hotten, p.113) and 80 of these children and their staff were invited to the Catechism Summer Tea treat in August 1940 along with local children.

According to the 2002 report: there are several mentions of Devoran’s  WW1 and WW2 engineering links.

1907-46  3.5.1 Economic activity
As elsewhere in Cornwall there was a late flurry of mining activity in the early 20th century that affected Devoran, but this was on too insignificant a scale to reinvigorate the port. WW1 gave some employment at Visick’s works at the old Basset foundry, and stimulated production at several local mines, but the railway finally closed in 1915 and the last schooner left Devoran in 1916, although barges, chiefly bringing limestone for lime kilns, coal and building stone, continued to use the quays.
In WW2 Visick’s again expanded, building parts for Bailey Bridges and the munitions related industry. Throughout this period, large numbers of Devoran men worked in the docks at Falmouth.>

National Savings Group Certificate Devoran WW2 and postwar (Photo: Mark Norris, 2013)

National Savings Group Certificate Devoran WW2 and postwar (Photo: Mark Norris, 2013)

Subtle traces can be found in The Village Hall, beyond the Roll of Honour where several WW1 names are of WW1 sailors who died in WW2. There is the National Savings Certificate for WW2 and also subtle clues like surviving blackout clips, pointed out by Ann Cunningham.

Devoran Village Hall WW2 blackout clips

Devoran Village Hall WW2 blackout clips

Viv Acton and Derek Carter’s WW2 local history book Operation Cornwall 1940 – 1944 (Landfall, 1994) notes on p.25 (opposite photos of the British Chancellor bombing, see below) that in the event of an air raid: “At Devoran School it was decided that when the Falmouth siren was heard, six miles or so away, the children would file out hand-in-hand, walk through the village to the Old Tram Road, then an unsurfaced track by Restronguet Creek and hide under the hedges and bushes at Narabo.” Sometimes the sirens from the Falmouth docks or Pendennis Castle can still eeriely be heard on special occasions up river at Devoran with the wind in the right direction.

There is more about the WW2 history of Falmouth Docks on a blog post on the bombing of the British Chancellor, which was painted by Charles Pears. 


2 thoughts on “Index of Devoran WW2 names

  1. Phil

    Just come across your excellent site. I’m an historian researching Cornwall in World War Two. I have been reading the Squadron War Diary for RAF 959 Squadron which operated the balloon barrage in Falmouth through the war. In 1944 there are several entries that refer to the setting up of a Hydrogen Plant at Devoran. It was commanded by a F/Lieut Cramp who arrived in Falmouth on 3rd March 1944 with one corporal and seven airmen. It seems to have been set up in Devoran on 21st March 1944 becoming operative by 29th April. Its main purpose seems to have been supplying the hydrogen for all the barrage balloons that were attached to the D Day ships and landing craft that left from the Fal and the Helford estuaries. An entry for 3 May 1944 states “A.2. silicol plant operated on test run. 4,200 cu ft of gas made and compressed from two charges.” I am wondering if you know where in Devoran this plant was situated and whether anything remains of the site today.

    1. worldwarzoogardener1939 Post author

      Dear Phil,
      Thanks for your email. I’ve had a quick scan through reference and local history books and found no reference to an RAF unit / Devoran Hydrogen plant but the area had then (and still does) light industrial sites like Visick’s Yard (the old Basset Foundry site). Talking to a couple of older villagers today the surrounding Carnon and Bissoe valley had chemical factories and industrial sites as a legacy of mining, including arsenic and other toxins with military uses running up to WW2. So chemical manufacture sites were quite possible. I will email and ask around to see if anyone has any memories of this brief WW2 venture or knows of its location.

      How big would this equipment or site have been? I found reference to silicol production elsewhere on a website connected to the R100 courtesy of a novelist Nevil Shute engineering site!

      Another 1919 book on the Chemistry and Manufacture of Hydrogen by P Litherland Teed accessible as a free pdf through the chemistry madness website:
      features whole sections on Silicol manufacture. this interesting section mentioning arsenic or arsine involvement, a by-product manufactured in the Carnon and Bissoe Valley which I will follow up:

      “With Arsenic,—Hydrogen does not directly combine with arsenic, but if an arsenic compound is in solu- tion in a liquid in which hydrogen is being generated, i.e. hydrogen in the nascent state, chemical union takes place. Thus, if arsenious oxide is dissolved in dilute hydrochloric acid and a piece of metallic zinc is added, the hydrogen produced by the action of the acid on the zinc will combine with the arsenic, in accordance with the following equation :— AS4O6 + I2Ha = 4ASH3 + 6H2O.

      The gas produced, which is called “Arsine” or ” Arsenuretted Hydrogen,” is unpleasant smelling and poisonous. It burns in air with a lilac-coloured but not very luminous flame, thus :— 4ASH3 + 6O2 – As4Ofl + 6H2O.

      If the gas is strongly heated it is decomposed and elemental arsenic deposited.
      Arsine is produced to a small extent in the Silicol process of making hydrogen, and has a deteriorating effect on fabric (see phosphine), while with many metals it is decomposed, arsenic being deposited and hydrogen liberated. It can be liquefied easily (the liquid gas boiling at – 54*8° C), and it solidifies at – H3’5° C. Arsine is soluble in water, one volume of water at o° C. dissolving 5 volumes of arsine. T h e density of arsine is 39 times that of hydrogen.”

      I hope that chemistry lesson meant more to you than me! It sounds potentially dangerous, the manufacture and chemical storage process but something in keeping with local mining industry. Pretty as it is today, looking at the late Bob Acton’s book 2 on Exploring Tramway Trails (worth buying second hand) on the mineral and mining industries locally, Bissoe and Carnon Valleys have been in the past a heavily polluted, heavy metal and toxic area in parts! Point Mills not far up the valley from Devoran had the British or Cornwall Arsenic Works, one of three arsenic works in the Bissoe Valley. wheal Busy is another arsenic linked site. Poldice mine and its waste heaps the ‘sands’ were intended to be revegetated to prevent possible arsenic dust blowing off still to protect local residents. I read that arsenic in green victorian wallpaper reacted with acid pollution to produce deadly arsene gas.
      There are still concerns over treating old mine runoff so plenty of settling pools etc remodelling the valley so some of the industrial evidence may have been cleared.

      Along the foreshore on the former Redruth and Chasewater Railway sidings there were (and still are) industrial units and boatyards which might have been another possible site.

      There was a tremendous amount of ‘secret’ naval and US army activity (large numbers of black and white GIs in army camps etc) pre D-Day around the Devoran and Fal area, so a small RAF unit might not arouse much attention. This period is covered in Viv Acton and Derek Carter’s 1990s book Operation Cornwall 1940-44 (which has a lovely Tony Warren painting on its cover of landing craft or patrol boats on the Fal with barrage balloons above them) and another larger book called Cornwall at War by Peter Hancock. The National Maritime Museum Cornwall NMMC library might have reference to this RAF unit if it was connected to shipping through barrage balloons.

      A similar site must have existed elsewhere in Cornwall at Mullion on the Lizard to create the necessary hydrogen for the WW1 airships at Mullion and elsewhere, as set out in Pete London’s books on ‘Cornwall in the First World War’ and another on ‘Uboat Hunters’; you can contact Pete London through his blog / website.

      Hopefully we might turn up some memory or reference to this unit in Devoran. Thanks for your interesting enquiry and best of luck with your research.

      Best wishes, Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial Project


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