Tag Archives: Bob Richards

Albert Crocker and the Crocker family

The Crocker family

I am Albert Ernest Crocker. I was born down at Paul near Penzance although my family roots were around Feock parish. Father, Samuel was born in Feock parish in 1866 and mother, Catherine Jane, formerly Williams, was also born here. My younger brother, Richard Henry, known as Harry, was also born in Paul but we came back to live at Penpol before my other siblings were born. They were Samuel, Edward, Gordon, Eva and Reginald.

Father worked as a farm hand.

When the war came, Harry and me both joined up. I was in the 7th Battalion DCLI and we went to France in the middle of 1915. We saw a lot of action but somehow I managed to survive it all right up to near the end of the war.

In March 1918, the Germans began their Spring Offensive, a last ditch attempt to break through the Allied lines and advance through France. They made a lot of progress in a very short time, pushing us back across the old battlefields of the Somme. Parts of our lines were in full retreat and we thought for a while the game was up.

We were fighting just a couple of miles north of the town of Albert and on 2nd April, I was lost in action. My body was never recovered and my name is etched along with over 14,000 others who have no known grave on the Poziers Memorial to the Missing.

My younger brother, Harry was luckier than me. He survived the war and came home to Cornwall where he got married and I believe moved to Redruth and had a coal merchant business.

I had two cousins also killed in the war, George Francis Crocker and Richard Stephens.

George Francis Crocker joined the Merchant Navy. Before the war he lived down near Trelissick and worked with his father, also George as a gardener. I am not sure if they were gardeners at the big house at Trelissick, but they might have been. On 2nd October 1915, he was sailing back from Cyprus to Leith in Scotland but they were spotted by a German submarine, U-39 and sunk by shelling from the U-boat. Most of the crew survived but sadly George was one of two men aboard who were killed. Like me, he has no known grave and lies somewhere beneath the Mediterranean Sea a few miles north of the island of Crete.

The sad thing is that they weren’t involved in carrying supplies for the war as far as I know. They were carrying a cargo of Locust Beans, but I don’t suppose that made any difference to the submarine captain, he just saw them as an enemy ship.

My other cousin, Richard Stephens survived the war but died in February 1919 as a result of war related injuries.

He lived at Point with his wife, Ottilia, always known as Tilly. Richard was the son of James and Eliza who lived over at Trolver Croft for many years, he followed his father in a maritime career. He married Ottilia Siebert in 1897 and they lived at Point. She was from Stepney in London originally where her father worked as a Tailor before coming to Cornwall. Her grandfather and many more like him were German Jews who came to London in the middle of the 19th century because of religious persecution.

Richard had a long naval career and rose to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. When he died in 1919 he was serving with HMS Terrible.

His name is not with the other Great War victims on the Devoran War Memorial. It is around the back, on the panel with the World War Two casualties. Some say this is because he died after the war and after the names of the others had already been put on the memorial, but others think that he is separate because his wife’s family had German origins.

We may never know the real reason.

His widow Ottilia lived on at Glenavon, Point with her son, John and daughter in law, Margaret until she died in 1950.

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

Read more about these men at

https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/index-of-devoran-ww1-names/

Willie Davey of Devoran died Somme 1916

100 years ago the Methodist congregation at Carnon Downs in Cornwall would arrive at chapel on Sunday to hear the sad news that Willie Davey, one of their choristers, had been killed on the Somme, aged 21. His body was never found.

At the 1st July 2016 commemoration of the Battle of The Somme at Devoran Village Hall, Bob Richards read out this interesting first person tribute to Willie Davey that he had written, whilst Willie Davey’s photograph in uniform  was projected on the wall:

wjtdavey ww1

W J T Willie Davey in DCLI uniform (image from Tony Dyson’s 2007 research)

William John Trebilcock Davey

I was born towards the end of 1895, second of five children of Joseph Henry and Catherine Ada Davey. I got the name Trebilcock from my mother’s maiden name.

I had an older sister, Laura Gwendoline and younger siblings, Enid Irene, Gerald Ewart and Joseph Henry. We lived at Carnon Crease.

My father was a Monumental Mason, carving mainly headstones.

We were all strong Methodists and attended the Chapel in Carnon Downs.

When I left school I worked as a gardener but when the War came I joined up and was proud to be in the 10th Battalion, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry.

The Battalion was formed in Truro in March 1915 and we were known as the Cornwall Pioneers. There were a lot of local boys in that unit.

On 20th June 1916 we landed at Le Havre and were soon in the thick of the action when the Battle of the Somme began just a couple of weeks later on 1st July.

It was a terrible time, men and boys being killed in their thousands, many more horribly wounded.

On 16th July we were temporarily attached to the 66th Division and fought alongside them. Many of these men were from the 2nd East Lancashire Regiment and sounded strange when they talked, not like us Cornish at all.

28th July we went into action and I never came back.

Nobody knows exactly how I died and nobody ever found my body.

cwgc thiepval

W.J.T. Davey has no known grave and is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial. (Image: http://www.cwgc.org.uk website)

Later they etched my name on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing along with over 72,000 others who died in that horrible campaign and who have no known grave.

willie davey plaque ww1

Plaque in Carnon Downs Methodist Chapel to Willie W J T Davey (Image: Tony Dyson)

Back home they remembered me on the Devoran War Memorial and also on a plaque in Carnon Downs Methodist Chapel where the family still attended after I died.

Father never did have the honour of knowing how I died or carving me a headstone.

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Written by Bob Richards, Carnon Downs.

Willie Davey, remembered on the Devoran War Memorial and in his home village.

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

http://somme-roll-of-honour.com/Units/british/10th_DCLI.htm

Blog posted by Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial Project.