Tag Archives: DCLI

Remembering Richard John Bilkey of Devoran died 31st January 1919

R.J. Bilkey

Corporal 200901 Richard John Bilkey, 1/4 Battalion, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, died of illness aged 26 on 31 January 1919.

The CWGC website lists him as son of Richard and Emma Bilkey of Tresithick, Carnon Downs, Perranwell Station, Cornwall.

Richard John or ‘Jack’ Bilkey  is buried in Grave Reference E124, Kantara War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt.

Bilkey_R  TWGPP

R J Bilkey’s headstone , Kantara War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt (Image copyright TWGPP?CWGC: The War Graves Photographic Project)

Kantara was important in the defence of Suez and its canal against the Turks. This cemetery east of Suez was used for burials from 1916 to 1920 from various hospitals as well as reburials from isolated cemeteries.

The post war 1919 date suggests Bilkey died of wounds or illness in hospital in Egypt. His niece Josephine Lilly of Carnon Downs (who supplied the family photographs in 2007 of R. J. Bilkey) believes that he died of pneumonia.

Bilkey 1 Kantara War Memorial Cemetery view

Kantara War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt where R J Bilkey is buried. (Image copyright TWGPP/CWGC: The War Graves Photographic Project)

RjBilkey WW1

R. J. Bilkey (pictured L in Cairo and R. Alexandria with sergeant stripes) from the family collection of Josephine Lilly, a niece of Richard Bilkey. Taken from Tony Dyson’s 2007 research

Richard John Bilkey was born c. January to March 1893, the birth registered in Truro. In the 1911 census he is listed as an 18 year old Farm Labourer, born Tresithick, Feock.
His father, also called Richard Bilkey (1854 – 1939) was a farm bailiff on the 1911 census. His mother was Emma Jane Bilkey (nee Hooper, 1865 – 1930).

Clearly John or ‘Jack’ was how he was known locally, sharing the same first name as his father, a practice adopted by many Cornish families at the time.
Bilkey at the time was a local Devoran name judging by the Edwardian / Victorian class photographs of Devoran School in Ralph and Marie Bird’s Devoran and Its River. A girl, Mowin Bilkey is shown in the c. 1900 class photograph (page 51, top).
Phil Traverton, the great nephew of J Bilkey, passed on information about Phil’s grandmother’s brother (from the late Violet Dunstan of Hugus) and gave us a little family history related to “Uncle Jack, as family legend says he was the first man to volunteer at a recruitment drive at Camborne.”

To learn more about Devoran’s WW1 casulaties, start here:


In a week or two on February 7th 1919/2019 we will be marking the centenary of the death of Richard Stephens, the last of the WW1 Devoran Casualties to die. 


Blog posted on 31st January 2019 by Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial project blog.


Remembering Albert Ernest Crocker Penpol Devoran WW1 2 April 1918

Albert and Harry Crocker WW1

Albert Crocker (right) died in WW1, his brother Harry survived. (Photo courtesy of the family collection Graham Crocker, taken from Tony Dyson’s research)

Remebering Albert Ernest Crocker of Penpol, who died serving with the 7th Battalion, Duke of Cornwall’s   Light Infantry on 2 April 1918. He has no known grave and his name is listed on the Pozieres Memorial.


Reading the 7th Battalion War Diary for March to April 1918, many men of the 7th Battalion were listed as wounded, killed in action or missing after the March 1918 German Spring Offensive.

Albert was listed in Soldiers Died in The Great War (SDGW) as born at Paul (near Penzance?)  lived St. Feock and Residence at Penpol. He enlisted in Perranwell

devoran 2013 008

Albert Ernest Crocker’s name appears on the Devoran war memorial, names A to J , First World War

His name appears on the 1914 volunteers on the first draft of the Village Hall Roll of Honour – Crocker A.E. Private 10 DCLI.  He enlisted in  Perranwell. https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2015/09/26/the-first-draft-of-devoran-parish-roll-of-honour-revealed/

Albert Crocker’s name appears on the final Village Hall Roll of Honour with the letters RIP alongside his name. A January 1915 newspaper report note said him as enlisted:



Photo by Gerry Costello of the Feock War Memorial

On the Lives of The First World War website, Albert’s name is also shown on the Feock War Memorial as well, in a photograph added by Gerry Costello:


Crocker as a local name appears frequently in Ralph and Marie Bird’s Devoran book. Albert’s father Samuel was listed as a Furnaceman on The 1911 Census, possibly in the smelter or industrial works that once graced Penpol, whilst Albert was listed as a farm labourer.

His brother Harry (R.H. Crocker) also served in WW1 and survived.

Other Crockers from Point near Devoran such as 31 year old tin smelter John Henry Crocker (b. 1884) served on and survived the war (10th Service Battalion DCLI “Cornwall Pioneers” and the Hants Regiment).

Tony Dyson’s research in 2007 notes that Albert Crocker is a cousin of two other Devoran casualties, George Francis Crocker and Richard Stephens. He notes him as born around 1895 in Paul, Penzance and by 1899 is on the register of Penpol Sunday School, aged 4.

His brother Harry also served in the DCLI and survived. Tony has Albert listed as the son of Samuel and Catherine Jane Crocker (nee Williams).

This last post was written  by Bob Richards for reading out during the 1st July 2016 WW1 centenary talk at Devoran Village Hall, whilst Albert’s picture was projected on the wall:


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.


Written by Bob Richards, Carnon Downs.

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



Blog posted by Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial Project.



Remembering Frederick Webb of Devoran died Somme 18 July 1916




F Webb Gravestone , Albert Communal Cemetery Extension (Image copyright TWGPP/CWGC, The War Graves Photographic Project)

Over the next few days 100 years ago in July 1916, news would have arrived at the Devoran Post Office in the form of a letter or telegram addressed to aMrs. Maud Webb.

Maud(e)  was working or staying with her children at the Crown and Anchor Pub (now a private rather than a public house) on Quay Road in  Devoran, down near the disused old railway sheds workshops, which are now the Village Hall.

Devoran Village  Postman William Pascoe would be familiar with such telegrams, as he had received one about his own son William Donald Pascoe who died at Cosham on army training in 1915.

Maud Webb (nee Penhaligon) would have to break the dreaded news of their father’s death to his six children, some of whom were under a year old at the time. Her oldest daughter Dorothy Maud was of school leaving age around 14, the other older children would have attended Devoran Council / Board School in its old School buildings on the Market Street crossroads.

In time Maud would have to battle to receive Frederick’s war pension for her family, requiring   local Devoran Policeman  PC9 Albert Killow to clarify the number and similar names of Webb’s six children, all born in Truro. The family later moved to Penryn in the 1920s.

Frederick (Gordon) Webb, Sapper, 155779, 179 Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers was killed on 18 July 1916, aged 41.

According to Simon Jones’ excellent website, Webb was a tunneler’s Mate and was “killed by enemy shrapnel whilst returning to billet after relief. Davey wounded.” You can read nore about Webb at:


‘F.G. Webb, Sapper RE’ appears on the first 1914 draft of the Village Roll of Honour, recently discovered behind the finished copy.


F.G. Webb’s name would in time appear on the granite Devoran War Memorial sometime around 1919/20 in the churchyard opposite the school which his children attended. His name would be on the final  Roll of Honour in the Village Hall, yards away from the Webb lived on Quay Road. The recreation ground would be dedicated in memory to the serving men of the village in 1919, behind the Devoran Council School whilst Webb’s family may have still lived there.

cwgc qmaac front

Webb is buried in Albert Communal Cemetery Extension on the Somme,  grave reference I.K.38, beautifully maintained by the stonemasons and gardeners of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). http://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/61300/ALBERT%20COMMUNAL%20CEMETERY%20EXTENSION

A few days after being part of the “Names on The Roll” WW1 talk at Devoran Village Hall and talking about Devoran’s Somme Casulaty F.G. Webb amongst others, I was a guest at a talk on 6th July 2016  at Kew Gardens given by David Richardson, the CWGC Director of Horticulture who mentioned and showed pictures of Albert Communal Cemetery. http://www.hortweek.com/interview-david-richardson-director-horticulture-commonwealth-war-graves-commission/article/1135983

Albert was one of the cemeteries where the cemetery is still planted up and screened off from the busy road by trees as suggested during a visit 100 years ago by the Director of Kew Gardens Arthur Hill, one of the Kew Gardens staff working as a Horticultural Advisor to the CWGC http://www.kew.org/discover/blogs/kew-science/plants-and-conflict-landscapes-%E2%80%93-somme-and-beyond

David and his colleagues also coincidentally showed a picture of Maala Cemetery where Devoran casualty James Johnson is buried, now in war-torn Yemen. David  reassured me with the news to pass on to the wider Devoran Village today that despite the unrest this cemetery is well maintained and that local CWGC staff would return when safe to check on the cemetery and Johnson’s graves amongst others, as they are maintained “in perpetuity”. https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2016/06/22/james-johnson-of-devoran-ww1-casualty-update/

Remembering Frederick Webb and the grieving families of Devoran, 100 years on.

Posted by Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial Project, 18/19 July 2016


James Johnson of Devoran WW1 casualty update



James Johnson, Maala Cemetery, Yemen;  Photograph courtesy of the War Graves Photographic Project.


Received today in time for our Names on The Roll talk Friday 1st July at the Devoran Village Hall are these photographs from the wonderful volunteers at The War Graves Photographic Project,  showing interesting details of James Johnson’s grave in Maala Cemetery in Aden  / Yemen.

Aden  is  where James died in April 1915 during the fight against the Ottoman Turks, hundreds of miles away from home and family in Devoran.

Not the usual white CWGC gravestone, it looks as if his original headstone “erected by his comrades as a token of esteem” has been incorporated into his grave block of “concrete and marble” so not needing the contract for the standard headstone. (The Imperial / Commonwealth War Grave Commision documents notes for Johnson that “The headstone for this grave is not included in the contract.”)

johnson cwgc

CWGC source


Next of kin is here listed as Mr. A Johnson – maybe a typing error for his wife Alice Johnson, Belmont Terrace, Devoran?

j johnson cwgc 2

CWGC source


Maala Cemetery lies in Yemen, a country that the Foreign Office currently (2016) advise caution against  visiting due to regional unrest since 2011, so it is excellent that the volunteers of the TWGPP have provided such images.

CWGC notes that “The war graves, which are scattered in the different denominational plots among those of civilians, are marked by headstones or private memorials and surrounded by kerbs filled with coral chippings. Many of the graves of the 1914-1918 War have also been kerbed in conformity with the general design of the cemetery.”

It gives further interesting information such as his Company,  A Company 1st / 4th Battalion DCLI (the ‘4th battalion’ whom he volunteered for alongside several other Devoran men and served with in India, then Aden / Yemen). Even more interesting is the inscription “Who Died of Dysentery at Aden 12th April 1916 Aged 38 years”.

So we have a cause of death from disease in active service  rather than wounds or combat. 


Jmaes Johnson’s garve, image source: The War Graves Photographic Project

Maala Cemetery,  CWGC Register showing several other deaths of highest to lowest ranks dying from dysentery and sickness. Several other Cornish names or DCLI soldiers (Sergeant J Bath and Private P. Common) are buried in this cemetery and included on this range of documents.

cwgc register


General scene shot from TWGPP website at Maala Cemetery showing the usual CWGC headstones for some graves.

Johnson 1 SCENE 1

Maala Cemetery,  The War Graves Photographic Project

Interesting information on James Johnson from previous blogposts:


devoran 2013 008

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

Posted on the date of the centenary of his death 12 April 1916 / 2016:


James Johnson mentioned as an early 1914 volunteer:



The final words we would all share for James Johnson  lying  so far from his home village of Devoran and his family, lying as he does in a far off and a war-torn region still, “Peace Perfect Peace”

James Johnson, Rememberd

Remembering James Johnson DCLI of Devoran died 12 April 1916

Private James Johnson of Devoran died in Yemen on 12 April 1916, serving with the 1/4 Battalion, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry.

Private James Johnson, 2753, 1/4 Battalion, DCLI (Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry) died on 12 April 1916. He is buried at D76, Maala Cemetery, Yemen, suggesting he died defending Aden against the Turks.

His battalion served in India 1914–1916, in Aden from 1916–1917 before serving a(fter Johnson’s death) in Egypt 1917–1918.

Maala Cemetery, Yemen

James Johnson of Devoran and Falmouth lies buried in Maala Cemetery, Yemen (Image cwgc.org website)

Johnson was posthumously awarded the standard Victory and British War Medal.

Born in Falmouth around 1879, he was listed on Soldiers Who Died in the Great War as resident in Devoran. The CWGC website lists him as the husband of Alice Johnson, Belmont Terrace, (Trevoran – CWGC spelling mistake) Devoran, Truro.

James Johnson, like others in his Falmouth extended family, was a House Painter.

In 1901 the couple were living in 55a Killigrew Street, Falmouth.

In the 1911 census, James and Alice (b. 1879, Perranwell /Perranarworthal) had been married 11 years and were living at Carnon Gate with their two children Charly / Charles Johnson b. 1901, Perranwell / Perranarworthal and Cathleen Johnson, b.1909, Falmouth. 2 others of their children died young.

The ‘hidden’ or first draft 1914-1916 panel  of the Devoran Parish Roll of Honour lists him amongst the 1914 enlistments or volunteers.

devoran 2013 008

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

https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2013/07/27/devoran-first-world-war-casualties-d-to-j/ or James Johnson on Devoran War Memorial WW1 section

James Johnson and family, remembered in his home village of Devoran.