Devoran men and Conscription tribunals

Here are a few Devoran related tribunal mentions in local newspapers of 1916 regarding conscription. Conscription came into force during 1916, first for single men, then shortly after for married men.

After all the attempts at recruiting or attesting volunteers throughout 1914 and 1915, the shortage of men in uniform forced the UK government to intervene in the working lives of many men and their families in a way not seen since the infamous pressgangs and Militia Acts  Napoloeonic Wars. 

In March 1916 the Military Service Act was passed. This imposed conscription on all single men aged between 18 and 41, but exempted the medically unfit, clergymen, teachers and certain classes of industrial worker. A second Act passed in May 1916 extended conscription to married men. Conscientious objectors – men who objected to fighting on moral grounds– were also exempted, and were in most cases given civilian jobs or non-fighting roles at the front.

Cornish Tribunals

Miners Claims at Truro.

West Briton, March 11th 1916

Is a sexton of national importance?

Truro Rural Tribunal met on Saturday, Mr T. Trudgian presiding.  (West Briton, March 11 1916)

According to the Kelly’s Directory for Cornwall 1910, George Dungey was sexton in 1910, parish clerk and sexton and part of the family firm of carriers. Who I wonder was sexton in 1916?

A builder, single, Devoran, aged 36 years, applied for exemption, and stated that worked on jobbing and contract. There was no one with him in business. He had reared the family for 16 years. His duties included those of sexton.

The Chairman: Is there anyone who could take your place?

Applicant: There is no one.

Mr. I. Roskelley (military representative): What is his objection?

It was stated that applicant set as his objection that he felt he could not take part in military service. It was never right for one man to kill another. He did not feel he could take up arms against his brother man.

Further it would entail hardship on his mother and two sisters, who were dependent on him. He considered his work as a sexton of national importance. (Laughter) He also considered his business of national importance.

The Chairman: He is a National man. (Laughter)

Exempted until April 14th 2016 and then the case will be reconsidered.

The Chairman: (to applicant) We hope by that time your conscience will be a little more straight.

Applicant: My conscience is straight enough.

The Chairman: When you come up again you will be able to tell us whether your brothers have joined up or not.

In the leader column by Argus on the same page, Argus notes of Conscientious Objectors that “a few members of tribunals have gone so far as to ridicule conscientious objectors” West Briton Monday March 13, 1916, page 2.

Who was this 36 year old Builder / Sexton? Who were his brothers, were they siblings or fellow men of conscience? Was this Sexton  a Dungey?  It appears that already by 1916 both an A.E. or E  Dungey (Private 10 DCLI) and a C. Dungey (Private, Australian Expeditionary Force) are already listed in the 1915 lists on the Roll of Honour as recruits.

The Case of Alfred Scott Mansell

Mr. A. J. Mansell, baker, applied for exemption of his son Alfred Scott Mansell, 26, of Carclew View, Devoran, who was engaged in  the bakery business. Mr. Mansell said his son was the only practical help he had and [if?] he could not retain him he should have to give up part of the work.

The Advisory Comittee recommended that the claim is not allowed and that the man join up on May 15th [1916].

Mr Roskelley: We saw a demonstration of ploughing yesterday by women and I think it would be better to place some of them in bake houses where they might do something useful.

The Mayor: if they didn’t bake bread better than some of them ploughed well.

Mr Goodfellow remarked that bread baking was a certified occupation and it was a question of whether a man could be relieved of civil employment.

Mr Mansell said a man he employed was called up at the beginning of the war, and for the past eight or ten months his wife had been in the bake house every day ; she was there when he left that evening.

Three of his five daughters were helping in the bake house. Temporary exemption until July 1st [1916] was granted, when another claim might be made.

Reported in the 10 April 1916 edition, West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser – Truro, Cornwall, England

Editor’s note: Alfred Mansell’s name does not appear on the Devoran Roll of Honour, suggesting that he was granted continued exemption or that his service is recorded elsewhere.

In a Follow up report, the mockery by Mr Roskelley about women ploughing at Chyvelah and women and men baking appears to have been challenged at the TRURO RURAL TRIBUNAL,  RECENT AGRICULTURAL DEMONSTRATION. Truro Rural Tribunal met on Saturday, Mr. Coulter Hancock presiding. There were also present: Messrs. H. H. Williams and Mr Roskelley (military representative). W. E. Graves. W. Hearle … reported on the 27 April 1916 in the West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser – Truro, Cornwall, England

The Case of Edward Pope,38

Again in June 1916 in front of the military representative (Mr. Roskelley), the agricultural representative (Mr. T. M. Michell), and the clerk (Mr. J. Bray) …

June 8 1916 – Edward Pope (38) married, traction engine driver who was appealed for by his employers messrs W.F. Simmons Hodge and Co, Devoran  was exempted for two months and then to be  reconsidered.

July 31 1916 – West Briton – Mr W.F. Simmons Hodge, Devoran appealed for Edward Pope, 38, Perran Downs, Perranwell station,  engine driver at the brickworks and handy man. Three single men had to come up for reexamination. [Exemption until ] September 30th 1916 and then to be reconsidered.

Edward Pope’s name does not appear on the Devoran Roll of Honour. He may be recorded elsewhere if he was finally conscripted.

The case of James Henry Williams, 32, Perranwell

Messrs. W. Visick and Sons, Devoran, wrote stating that they regretted the decision of the local tribunal to order James Williams, of Perranwell, to join up on August 1st [1916]. He was their painter of bombs and he cold not possibly be spared, as there was no else to put in his place. He painted sixty bombs per week. The Tribunal decided not to reconsider the case.

12 June 1916 – West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser – Truro, Cornwall, England

Mr James Henry Williams, married, 32, builder contractor and wheelwright, Perranwell Station appealed against the decision of the Truro Rural Tribunal. Appellant stated that for the past six weeks he had been engaged in munition work and working in the national interests.

He was employed two full days a week by Messrs W. Visick’s and Sons, Devoran in painting, lettering and putting distinguishing marks on bombs. He considered the ruling of the local tribunal very unfair seeing that he had given three days a week for the national interest. He had completed work on 600 bombs up to the present and had taken a contract for painting etc 60 bombs a week.

Messrs Visick’s wrote regretting the decision of the local tribunal and stating that he could not possibly spare the appellant there being no one else to take his place.

Appellant, in reply to a question said he commenced the bomb painting work at Easter and also had farmers’ building contracts in hand. The tribunal upheld the decision of the local tribunal.

J.H. Williams’ name does not appear to be on the Devoran Roll of Honour; it may be recorded elsewhere.

This bomb painting work according to photographs in Cornish archives appears later in the war to have been undertaken by women at engineering works like Visick’s.

The Case of William Retallack, 31

Mr William Retallack, 31, married, of Tolverne Farm, Carnon, Perranwell , farmer, appealed and said he farmed 16 acres and milked five or six cows. He took over the farm 15 months ago. Exemption to the middle of September 1916 and then join up.  West Briton June 29 1916.

Retallack’s name does not appear on the Devoran Roll of Honour; it may appear in the records of surrounding villages.

The Case of William John Stephens

See also West Briton for July 24th 1916   Devoran man, widower with frail child,  shop assistant William John Stephens of Point,  Devoran – applied for exemption, ordered to join up. His name is listed on the Devoran  Roll of Honour and he thankfully survived the war.

I will tell more of Stephens’ story, Truro shop assistant,  in another blogpost. His name appears on the Devoran Roll of Honour.

The Case of Norman John Dunstan

July 31 1916, West Briton – Norman John Dunstan, farmer, Carnon Downs, who was previously ordered to join up on September 29 [1916] that it was decided to recommend to the County Tribunal who referred the case back, that in view of the doctor’s certificate  regarding the father’s health, the case should be postponed for three months and reconsidered for exemption.

The name of N.J. Dunstan does appear  in late 1916 (as private in the Royal Engineers) amongst those who served on the Roll of Honour, suggesting he changed his mind and was conscripted or was no longer exempted.

We will add more information and names as we come across them in local paper reports of tribunals and exemptions.

Posted by Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial Project, November 2016.

Remembrance Sunday 2016

There was a good turn out today from villagers of all ages upwards from babes in arms and Scouts and Guides to hear the names read out of the men of the parish listed on the Parish War Memorial in Devoran churchyard.

This was  followed by  a dipping of banners carried by the Scouts and Guides throughout the Last Post and Two Minute’s Silence, a pause for reflection shared across the nation, before moving  on to a service of remembrance in the Church.

A mild Autumn day with sunshine and fallen leaves.

Poppy crosses and wreaths  left around the base of the memorial to tell passers-by that these names are not forgotten.

Hearing the names read out, after having spent much time researching them to ensure their stories and are not forgotten, is both a somber and reassuring moment that these men of the village are still part of village life as they had once been and would have been if they had lived.

Remembered today by their families and villagers.

Posted by the Devoran War Memorial Project, Remembrance Sunday, 13 March 2016.


W J T Davey killed Somme 28 July 1916

wjtdavey thiepval

This is the record for Willie Davey that now exists on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing database set up by Ken and Pam Linge.

They were delighted to receive a copy of the photograph. They have spent many years trying to put a face to each name and some background information to a database of every ‘Missing’ man listed on this memorial to those with no known grave from the Somme battlefield area.

You can find out more about Willie Davey and the men on the Devoran War Memorial at:

cwgc thiepval

W.J.T. Davey has no known grave and is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial. (Image: website)


William Donald Pascoe

William Donald Pascoe

I was born in Feock parish in October 1896, the eldest of four children born to William Williams Pascoe and Alice Mary. My three younger siblings were Netta May, born in 1899 Llewellyn Maxwell born in 1900 and Lillian Annie, born in 1901.

We lived in Lemon Street or Market Street as it is known today.

My father was village postman and he was originally from St. Agnes. Mother was originally from St. Gluvias. Her maiden name was Dingle.

When I was old enough, I got a job as a newsboy, but later got a job as an apprentice with W. Visick & Sons just along the road at Perranarworthal.

The three oldest of us children all played our part in the war.

I joined the 13th Reserve Battery of the Royal Field Artillery, Netta May became a Land Girl and Llewelyn Maxwell joined the Royal Navy.

I was taken ill while still on home service and died of Cerebro-Spinal Fever on 20th April 1915.

My younger brother Llewellyn survived the war and came back home. He carried on with a career in the navy and moved over to Perranporth for some years. He died in 1982.

Lillian married a postman, John Standford and they lived for many years in London.

The desire to come back to Devoran and the family home in Market Street was always there and the family are all remembered on the family grave in Devoran Churchyard.

There are the names of my father, William Williams Pascoe who died on 12th January 1926, aged 59, my mother, Alice Mary, who died on 24th February 1958 at the age of 84. My name is there as well and Lilian Annie, who died at the age of 89 on 12th May 1990.


The Pascoe family grave, Devoran churchyard April 2015 (Image: Mark Norris)


Written by Bob Richards for the 1st July centenary 2016 in Devoran Village Hall.

Read more about William Donald Pascoe and the other names on the Devoran War Memorial:



Thomas Tyack

Thomas Tyack

I was quite the ancient mariner by the time the war broke out in 1914.

I was born in Devoran on 7th October 1864, the third child of Richard and Elizabeth Tyack. My father was a master shoemaker, who was originally from Chacewater but he had a good business in Devoran and employed three men. We lived at 24 St. John’s Terrace.

When I left school I went to live in Fairmantle Street, Truro where I lodged with Mrs. Emma Curnow and her daughter, Mary. Emma was a widow and they took in laundry to earn a living. I got a job as an apprentice engine fitter but I soon got fed up with life ashore and took my trade into the Royal Navy, which I joined on 3rd July 1887.

I served on a lot of ships and saw service and action all over the British Empire in the late Victorian era and into the early years of the 20th century.

I rose to the rank of Chief Petty Officer, Engine Room Artificer and was discharged from the navy in 1909 with “very good character” on my discharge papers.

I came back home to the family in St. John’s Terrace after my discharge and lived with mother, who was now past 80 and my sister Mary, who was a year older than me and was at home looking after her.

Father had died back in 1906 at the age of 91 and was buried in Devoran Churchyard on 26th October of that year.

War in Europe was becoming ever closer during July 1914 and Britain declared war on Germany on 4th August 1914. I had re-joined the Royal Navy just a couple of days before that on 2nd August when there was a general call to the nation to prepare for war.

I joined HMS Albion, a 13,000 ton pre-Dreadnought type Battleship first launched in 1896. We were stationed in the English Channel for a while and then off the coast of Finisterre in case the German navy tried to break out into the Atlantic. After that we went out to the Dardanelles where we were in action against Ottoman shore bases in preparation for troops to move in. We were hit many times by gunnery from ashore, but the old ship was tough and managed to avoid serious damage until May 1915 when we had suffered so much damage that she had to make for Malta for repairs.

I came back home to HMS Vivid, a shore base at Devonport, but I was not in the best of health by then and I was invalided out of the navy in July 1915 suffering from bronchitis and emphysema.

I came back home to 24 St. John’s Terrace.

Mother died just a few months after I got back and we buried her alongside father in Devoran Churchyard on 19th November 1915. She was 89.

There were just me and Mary left now and we grew old together.

Mary followed mother and father up to the Churchyard on 30th November 1940, at the age of 77 and I followed them all up the road a year later and was buried in Devoran Churchyard just a week before Christmas 1941 also at the age of 77.


Written by Bob Richards for the 1st July centenary 2016 in Devoran Village Hall.

Read more about  names on the Devoran War Memorial and Roll of Honour:



Edwin Marshall


Edwin Marshall of Devcran (c/o Olwen Martin / Ancestry)

Edwin Marshall

My family had associations with Devoran and more particularly the Carnon Mine area going back to before 1900. We were quite a big family. There was father, William Marshall, mother, Leah, and five children, Richard, William, Jonathan, Leah and me, the baby of the family. Father was born in Perranarworthal but the rest of us were all born in Kea Parish. Father was a Coal Porter. I believe his job was taking coal from the ships that docked at Point and Devoran around the area for domestic purposes rather than taking it to the mines.

Before I got married we all lived at Bleak House between Carnon Mine and Devoran but after I got married in 1902 to Eveline Louisa Pearce, we got our own cottage just down the road at Carnon Mine.

We had five children of our own within a few years, Florrie, who was actually born before we got married, William Edwin, 1904, Elsie Louisa, 1906, Bertram John, 1908 and Leah Vera born in 1909.

When the war came, I joined up like so many others and in 1915 I was in the Army Service Corps as Private SS/14236 of the 18th Labour Corps. We were not front line troops but did a lot of work behind the lines, making roads and railways, working with supplies and ammunition and a whole lot of other work to keep the front line troops supplied and ready for action.

On the morning of 28th July 1915 we left Avonmouth on the RMS Royal Edward, with a total of 1,367 officers and men aboard, bound for the Gallipoli Campaign. Our sister ship the RMS Royal George had left Devonport the day before. Our last sight of Cornwall was when we passed The Lizard on the evening of that same day.

There were a lot of Cornishmen on board, including at least thirty from Falmouth and Penryn and we all said they could have saved a lot of time if they had called in to Falmouth to pick us up instead of taking us all the way to Avonmouth!

Written by Bob Richards for the 1st July centenary 2016 in Devoran Village Hall.

Read more about Edwin Marshall and the other names on the Devoran War Memorial:



Claud Trenoweth

Claud Fitzgerald Trenoweth

Although my surname of Trenoweth is Cornish, I was born in Aldershot. The reason for that is that my mother and father left Cornwall for a short time after they got married in 1892, but came back to live at Carnon Mine soon after I was born and before my younger siblings, Percy, Norman and Marion were born. In fact the family continued to live at Carnon Mine right up to the 1940’s. Father died there in 1942. Mother lived on until 1956, and the grand age of 86.

When I was old enough to leave school, I went to work as an engine cleaner. This was in the last days of the old Devoran railway. Soon after, the war came and me and my brother Percy both joined up.

We both joined up early in the war and both got our names beautifully inscribed by Dr. Edwards’ daughter Gwendoline on the Roll of Honour she began right at the start of the war.

I was in the 5th Battalion, DCLI, known as the Pioneers. We started off in Falmouth, moved on to training camps on Salisbury Plain and then came back to Cornwall. We were all anxious to get over to France and finally got there.

We landed in Le Havre on 22nd May 1916 and were straight into action.

The Battle of the Somme began on 1st July 1916, just a few weeks after we got to France and far from being the big adventure we had all thought it would be to fight the Hun, it was a terrible time. Thousands killed, wounded and missing, mud everywhere, rats the size of cats, not the sort of thing you want to remember or even describe.

Our first major action was at a place called Fromelles. The idea was to try and divert some of the German defences from the main Battle of the Somme a few miles further south, but it was a miserable failure. Everything was planned in a rush, men weren’t properly trained in trench warfare, most of us had only been in Flanders for a few weeks. We were outnumbered two to one, we were trying to attack uphill into German defences that had been dug in for months, in some cases a year or more.

The whole thing only lasted two days but cost the lives of over 7,000 men, over 5,000 of those were Australian troops. “The worst day in Australian history” they called it.

The following year, 1917, I was discharged from the Army. It said on my discharge papers that I was no longer physically fit for military service. They said that my military character was only “fair” on my discharge papers. If they had seen some of the sights I had seen they would know that nothing was “fair” in that terrible war.

I came home and by the end of 1917, I got married to Alice Dix. She lived down at Ponsmaine, Feock. Her mother had been a widow for a long time and they lived with her uncle, John Penna who was an Oyster Merchant.

We had two boys, George and Henry and we carried on living down at Ponsmaine for many years. Pill Creek was a lot different to the Somme.

I later got a job as an AA patrolman.

They laid me in my final resting place at Kea Church on 16th February 1954 at the age of 58.

Alice lived on until she joined me there on 17th February 1969 at the age of 73.

Written by Bob Richards for the 1st July 2016 centenary talk at Devoran Village Hall.