Tag Archives: Devoran

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.


Devoran Suffragettes WSPU 1914




Western Morning News May 27, 1914 

Good journalists should  give consideration to both sides  of a question.

Interesting to read the opinions of Edith Williams, Devoran, WSPU (Women’s Social and Political Union)


An opposite view to Edith Williams – Firmness of Plymouth’s letter Western Morning News May 27, 1914



Edith Williams WSPU Devoran letter Western  Morning News,  Monday 1st June 1914


Further letters in the Western Morning News, Monday 1st June 1914

The WSPU and Suffragettes’ cause and campaign for the vote was  suspended during the War.

Tuesday 6 February 2018 is the centenary of women being granted the vote for the first time in Britain.

The Representation of People Act 1918 was an important law because it allowed women to vote for the very first time.

It also allowed all men over the age of 21 to vote too. Many of Devoran’s men serving in the armed forces (recorded on the Roll of Honour in the Village Hall) got to vote for the first time.

This act was the first to include practically all men in the political system and began the inclusion of women, extending the franchise by 5.6 million men and 8.4 million women

The contribution made during World War One by men and women who didn’t have the right to even vote was an important reason for the law changing.

In 1918, the Representation of the People Act was passed on 6 February 1918 and women voted in the general election for the very first time on 14th December 1918 that year.

“Women over 30 years old received the vote if they were either a member or married to a member of the Local Government Register, a property owner, or a graduate voting in a University constituency.” https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representation_of_the_People_Act_1918

How exciting for those women of Devoran parish over 30 who did qualify to vote for the first time. I wonder where the election voting was held – presumably the parish rooms or the old school on a Market Street?

In the Equal Franchise Act in 1928, suffrage was extended to all women over the age 21, meaning that women finally had the same voting rights as men.
Up until 1918, women hadn’t been allowed to be MPs in Parliament either. The Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918 gave women over 21 the right to stand for election as a Member of Parliament.

In December 1918, the first woman MP was elected to the House of Commons, Constance Markievicz  but, like other Irish Sinn Fein Republican MPs, did not take up her seat. She would shortly be followed in 1919 by Plymouth MP Nancy Astor.


How excited Edith Williams must have been if she was still in Devoran in December 1918.

Certainly a women to further research. Somewhere  ( somewhere!) I have a pamphlet on Annie Williams and Lettuce Floyd, along with local Suffragettes which may  say more about Edith Williams and the local WSPU set up.

This handy reference book sets out where Edith Williams lived in Devoran, in a house known as Glanafon, Devoran.


From The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866-1928
By Elizabeth Crawford

The same author Elizabeth Crawford mentions Edith Williams in another publication:


The Women’s Suffrage Movement in Britain and Ireland: A Regional Survey
By Elizabeth Crawford. Certainly an interesting book on Regional Suffrage to track down.  

So Glanafon, wherever it was in Devoran, hosted many WSPU speakers from 1910 to 1914.

Writing in the London Standard, December 27, 1911, Edith Williams wrote:


Letter from Edith Williams, London Standard, December 27, 1911 

Blogposted on the centenary anniversary of some women being granted the vote, 6 February 1918 / 2018.

1917 Wartime wedding Devoran

West Briton,  19th July 1917  “local news” section


A well known turn of the century photograph of Devoran Church c.1900/6, before the tree growth (postcard in the collection of Mark Norris)

 DEVORAN – Wedding (from the local press, July 1917) 

At St. John’s Church, Devoran on Monday [16th July 1917] the marriage was quietly celebrated of Gwendoline Mary, eldest daughter of Dr. & Mrs. P. M. Edwards of Devoran and Lt. Denzil Layton Blunt, ASC, only son of Mr. Layton Blunt of Brampton, Huntingdon.

The bride, who has recently returned from France where she has been driving a motor ambulance, was given away by her father.

She wore a simple frock of white gorgette, a veil of … … was held in place by a tiny … of white heather and she carried a bouquet of pink carnations.

The maid of honour was Miss Jane Edwards, the bride’s youngest sister who was charmingly attired in a frock of Indian net embroidered in silver … .

Desmond de Burgh RFC acted as best man.

The ceremony was performed by Rev. J. Stafforth, assisted by the Rev. John Jones, Vicar of the Parish. The Church was tastefully decorated by Miss Gladys Edwards and Miss Hilary Layton Blunt.

[The missing … sections are where researcher Bob Richards could not  clearly read the microfiche or scan of the West Briton].

We would love to have a photograph of Gwendoline and Denzil Layton Blunt. Unfortunately we have not found one yet and one may not have been taken in wartime. Instead we have tracked down a copy of the certificate.

A happy event in wartime after many losses to the village and the start of a fifty year marriage.

I wonder if wedding bells were allowed in the First World War? They certainly were not allowed  in WW2 as they were the signal of an invasion threat.


Amongst the witnesses are Denzil’s family, his father being already dead, Bertha L Blunt and Hilary Layton Blunt. The grandly named  J. Wessex Bennetts was another witness.

J. Ann or Jane Edwards was the Bride’s youngest sister. Miss Gladys Edwards was another of Gwendoline’s sisters (who may have died shortly afterwards in 1919, aged 21).

John Jones the Devoran vicar is named on the Devoran Parish Roll of Honour written out beautifully in calligraphy by GLB Gwendoline Leighton Blunt. reverend Jones was shortly to go off to war as an Army chaplain. Reverend James Stafforth was Assistant Curate of St. Mary Magadalene in St Pancras, London – not sure what his Devoran connection might be.

Some research by Bob Richards and Mark Norris revealed the following:

The Groom – Lieutenant Denzil Layton Blunt, Army Service Corps

Listed on the certificate as aged 26, Esquire, MA Lieutenant ASC Army Service Corps, resident of Brampton, Huntingdon.

Born 1892, son of H. Layton Blunt of Orton, Peterborough, Denzil was educated at Shrewsbury School where he won honours in shooting and with the rowing eight.

He went on to King’s College, Cambridge in October 1909. He was in Plymouth working with a  occupation of Zoologist on the 1911 census. He gained 2nd class Natural Science Tripos Pt 1 B.A.  also in 1912 and M.A. in 1916.

Co-author of the influential 1926 scientific paper The Nutritive Value of Pasture, still much quoted in scientific papers today.

Denzil served with the Indian Education Service from 1912-1914, then served in France as a Lieutenant with the Royal Army Service Corps from 1915-1919.

After the war he worked in farming and agricultural research in the UK from 1920-1926 when he moved to Africa to become Senior Agricultural Officer to the Government in Kenya. Raising a small family, he died there with Gwendoline in the mid 1960s.

The Best Man – Desmond Herlouin de Burgh, 40 Squadron Royal Flying Corps 

Desmond Herlouin de Burgh, AFC, was the Best Man at Gwendoline Edwards’ wedding. He was born in 1897, son of Colonel Ulick de Burgh, 7th Dragoon Guards, from an Irish family based at Scarva House Co. Monaghan. He went to Harrow School, then was a gentleman cadet at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.

Desmond  joined the army in 1915 at the age of 18 as a Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery. He left to join the Royal Flying Corps as a Pilot / Observer in 1916 and at the time of the wedding was a Pilot in 40 Squadron RFC,  a hazardous job with a short life expectancy! De Burgh appeared to be an accomplished but  less well-known air aces of 40 Squadron, according to a recent book by Joe Gleeson called Irish Air Aces of the RFC and RAF in the First World War.

After the war he was given a permanent commission in the RAF in 1919. He rose through the ranks in the inter-war years and saw service in Iraq and India, working in signals and becoming Director of Telecommunications for the RAF in 1941.


A cemetery picture from another / future war, the Alamein Memorial from WW2 where the Desmond de Burgh the Best Man from the 1917 Devoran wedding is remembered. Image: CWGC

As an Air Commodore, De Burgh was lost in a flying accident [in South Africa?] on 17th January 1943. He has no known grave and is remembered with many other RAF personnel who have no known grave on the El Alamein Memorial in Egypt.

Quite a character! The pop musician Chris de Burgh is a famous relation. (No wedding or music related puns about the Lady In White or Red please)


The Father of The Bride – Dr Philip Hugh Edwards, Physician 1868 – 1945

You can read more about Dr. Edwards, Gwendoline, Denzil, this marriage and Devoran in WW1 at previous blogposts:



Edwards House and Edwards Road

The bride is likely to have set off from The Driffield a few houses down from Devoran church.

On Devoran Lane, not far from St Johns Church  where this wartime wedding took place, is The Driffold, still listed as such as a Hotel on the 1986 Domesday Reloaded project.
This large house in Late Victorian times and into the Edwardian / First World War period was the large home and possible doctor’s surgery of the Edwards family. It is still known as Edwards House, opposite Edwards Road.

The Bride – Gwendoline Mary Edwards, British Red Cross Ambulance Driver 

An enquiry lodged with the BRCS archives for any further information on Gwendoline Edwards elicited that sher served with  VAD Cornwall 34 (34 might be her number or an area number). Gwendoline Edwards served as a 21 year old from 13 October 1916 as Rank G.S. (General Service?) Chauffeuse until 9 July 1917 (a week before her wedding). Particulars of duties: Motor Ambulance Driving in France.

GLB BRCS record

Gwendoline Layton Blunt (nee Edwards) British Red Cross Society record cards (Courtesy: BRCS archive )

A check of local newspapers of the time reveal that Miss Edwards and sisters (as the daughters of the local doctor) were involved in fund-raising for the war effort.


g m Edwards engaged blunt 1917

Northampton Mercury 30 March 1917


Sale of Work at Perranporth, West Briton 1915

The concerts held during the afternoon and evening were well attended, Messrs W.J.Johnson and the Vicar made the arrangements and the following artistes took part: the Parish Church Choir, Canon and the Misses Corfe, Mrs Turner, Miss Armstrong, Miss Edwards (Devoran).

The Layton Blunt family

The Layton Blunt family in Brampton, Huntingdon not only had their son Denzil away at war. The Cambridge Independent Press of 9 June 1916 notes a Conscription Appeal Tribunal: Arthur Lewin, gardener and cowman, in the employ of Mrs Layton Blunt … Exemption one Month.

The Wartime Wedding that Never Happened

Mark Norris uncovered another interesting aspect of the Gwendoline Edwards  story in 1915, two years before the wedding:

The marriage arranged between  Lewis E. Sotheron Hodge and Gwendoline Mary Edwards  will not take place.


G M Edwards non marraiage 1915

West Briton 1 July 1915


Notices placed in  both in the West Briton and the Cornishman, 1st July 1915.

Who was Gwendoline’s bridegroom that never was?

With an unusual name and many initials, it has possible to trace Lewis Edwin Sotheron Hodge after his failed engagement. Born in 1887, he spent his working life in the Far East as a partner in the Hastings and Hodge Company. He is listed as a merchant in 1910/11 in China and Hong Kong. He was initiated as a freemason in Hong Kong in 1918 and died there in Hong Kong in 1938. I am not yet aware what his 1914-18 wartime service involved.

Blogposted by Mark Norris on the Devoran War Memorial Project blog, 100 years on, 16 July 1917 / 2017

You can contact us with any further information via the comments page.





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


“The Names on the Roll” talk Devoran 1st July 2016


Ever wondered what life was like for people around Devoran, Point and Penpol a hundred years ago?

How might life in the Devoran area have changed for its men, women and children during the First World War?

Local Devoran history enthusiasts Bob Richards and Mark Norris have spent several years researching the lives of the men named on the Devoran War Memorial as part of the WW1 centenary.

With the recent discovery of a lost early draft panel during the restoration of the Roll of Honour in Devoran Village Hall, Bob and Mark have used these new clues to explore more of the military histories of the volunteers and veterans who signed up in 1914 and 1915, along with the conscripts of 1916 onwards.

Bob and Mark will be joined by Sue Corfield, the paper conservator who will talk about how she cleaned and  restored the Roll of Honour and discovered the missing panel.

devoran poppies and roll of Honour

The newly unveiled handmade poppies made by Ann, Esther and others garland the Roll of Honour, Poppies Coffee morning, Devoran Village Hall, 19 July 2014

Discover more about Devoran’s Royal Navy men, merchant sailors, early aircrew, officers and other ranks, soldiers, saddlers, tunnelers, land girls and the young lady ambulance driver who wrote these “names on the roll”.

100 years ago Devoran, Point and Penpol were very different villages from today, their serving men and women drawn from a vanished working world.

Bob and Mark will be exploring the family history, local connections and military journey of some of the many “names on the roll” of honour researched so far, some who survived and some who never returned …

Proceeds from this illustrated talk go towards the Devoran Village Hall restoration fund Phase 2.

Friday 1st July  7.30pm (doors 7.00pm) Devoran Village Hall, Quay Road, Devoran,  Cornwall, TR3 6PW
£8 including Ploughman’s Supper
(Ploughman’s Suppers must be booked in advance)
Tickets: devoranvh@live.co.uk or 0776 542 3751
In aid of Devoran Village Hall Refurbishment Fund Phase 2


Devoran War Memorial Project


Devoran men of 1914 MCMXIV – first volunteers and old sweats


The hidden or old panel of the Roll of Honour lists the names of Devoran’s serving men and early volunteers in 1914, its increasing volunteers throughout 1915 and by 1916 its conscripts under the Military Service Acts  of  January 1916 for single men (18-41) and on 16 May, married men (18-41).

The 1914 men are an interesting mix and reveal interesting sides to Devoran village and families at the time, much changed from today.

As with many coastal or creekside Cornish villages, there were many long served Devoran men in the Royal Navy.

Names are transcribed from photographs of GLB’s ornate calligraphy / handwriting script and will be amended if needed on closer study.

MCMXIV (1914 column 1)

Chellew Woolcock, W. 2 Lieutenant, 19 Cheshire Regiment

William Chellew Woolcock was born at Point in 1895 to William Woolcock and Elizabeth ‘Bessie’ Chellew Berriman.

William is one of the few officers from Devoran Parish alongside K.G. Sampson Lieutenant ASC / RAF although he enlisted as a Private in the local 9th DCLI Battalion.

He came from a well established and well connected family, his uncle being Richard Berriman Chellew, retired shipowner of Tremorvah, Truro who left £677,380 when he died in 1929 including some to his nephew William.

Educated (according to the 1911 census) as a boarder in a school in Warwick, William in 1903 aged 13 also featured in the local newspaper in an article London College of Music Pianoforte (exams?) in Penzance.

8 July 1915 West Briton – DCLI Recruiting March

Next halt at Point … “Welcomed by a lady Mrs Chellew Woolcock who said it was the greatest joy to her to see the detachment there, because the DCLIs were their very own regiment, and because her own son was a member of it and there were three lads from Point in the 9th Battalion … The detachment next marched into Devoran along railway tracks …”

1914 William joined the 9th Battalion (Duke of Cornwall’s  Light Infantry) DCLI and then was gazetted / commissioned into the 14th Cheshire Regiment, then 19th Cheshire (Labour) Battalion as a 2nd Lieutenant and was later attached to the Liverpool Regiment. He arrived in France on ########, according to his medal record cards.  He survived and his medals were sent to Point House, Devoran in the early 1920s.

It appears that he married Georgina Harris c. 1917/18 and that they had a son, also William Chellew Woolcock. William the WW1 officer appears to have died in 1935 at Point aged 40. His mother Bessie died in 1942. His wife Georgina appears to have remarried in 1947 and the family dwelling at Treloweth, Point,  Devoran was then sold.


Thornton, A.W. Sgt, RE

Tyack, T. Chief Petty Officer, RNR Discharged

Thomas Tyack was a career sailor number 141058, born in Devoran on 7 October 1864 and enlisting in the Royal Navy on 3 July 1887.

Tyack first retired or was discharged in 1909 with a record of  “Very Good Character”  throughout his long career as a Chief Petty Officer ERA (Engineering Room Artificer  / Fitter) after a navy career of over thirty years serving all over the world through colonial conflicts throughout the Victorian and Edwardian era.

He served on a wide range of ships and Royal Navy shore bases with exotic and impressive names – Indus (1887), Cambridge (1887), Orlando (1888) , Vivid I I (1891), Defiance (1891), Hibernia (1894), Sybille (1895-98), Collingwood (1898-1901), Hermione (1902-04), Vivid / Royal Navy College Devonport (1904), Argonaut (1906), Challenger (1906) and a shore period in Gibraltar (1908-9).

In 1901 he was listed on the Census as a naval boarder at the Sailors Rest “Homeward Bound” Refreshment House at 19 William Steert Devonport.

In the 1911 census, he is listed as a “Naval Pensioner” aged 46 at St. John’s Terrace. He is living with Penpol-born mother Elizabeth Ann Tyack (aged 84, private means), a widowed mother of 3 surviving children including James (b.1861), Thomas and his spinster sister Mary Tyack (1863-1940). His father Richard was a Kenwyn Truro born shoe maker born 1815.

His naval career began again on HMS Albion on  2 August 1914, volunteering or recalled to the colours on the outbreak of war. By 6 June 1915 he was back at the stone ship or shore base of Vivid II (Devonport) and invalided out with Bronchitis / Empesema on 7 July 1915.

A Freemason from 1901, Thomas was still alive as probate for his sister in 1940 at 24 St John’s Terrace, Devoran and where he  died aged 77 in December 1941, during another world war.


Sandwell, W. Sergeant RFA 54273 

William Sandwell was born around 1870 at St Helier, Jersey on the Channel Islands and worked first as a saddler or farm servant before a long army career.

After 22 years army service as a saddler and collar maker, much of it in India, he retired in 1908. He enlisted again or re-enlisted at Bulford Camp with 216 Battery RFA at the age of 44 on 16 September 1914 as a Saddlery Sergeant. He was later promoted to Saddlery Staff Sergeant in 1918, serving throughout with the Royal Field Artillery.

He embarked for Egypt with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force on the 17 June or 1st July 1915. His records show service in Salonika in October 1916-1917 and Egypt from September 1916. Sandwell embarked back to the UK on 29 July 1918 (back from the Egyptian Expeditionary Force). On his return he transferred into the reserve and was issued with a Long Service / Good Conduct Medal, the usual British War Medal and Victory Medal  and 1914 -15 Star.

Sandwell’s long service was recognised late in life in the award of a Meritorious Service Medal 30 January 1948 ‘with annuity’, after several applications or recommendations during his army career.

In the 1911 census he appears as a 41 year old army pensioner and his wife, the Falmouth born Elizabeth Ellen (or Helen) Garland were living in Plymouth at 60 North Road, Plymouth. This was possibly connected to his wife’s work as a confectioner, own account.

On his service, reenlistment and pension papers he states that in 1914 he had been resident at his father’s house in Truro for three years (1911-14). The Devoran connection appears to have been residence by his wife and /or himself in Market Street, Devoran before this address was crossed out for a final move to 39 Budock Terrace in Falmouth, his wife’s home town where she was born in 1869. Elizabeth was already a widow when the couple appear to have married in 1907 and adopted a six year old child Edward George Moses (Sandwell) around 1915

Rundle, T. Petty Officer RN

Smith, M.C. Warrant Officer RN

As you read through the list of the 1914 early volunteers, old sweats re-enlisting or already serving men, an increasing number of these names crop up on Devoran’s granite war memorial. Presumably the earlier you joined up, the longer you were exposed to hazards and the greater your chances of becoming a casualty. The stories of these men are given in the links to other parts of the blog:

Brabyn, C. Petty Officer RN

see the blogpost records for Charles Brabyn, a Devoran sailor who served in WW1 and died on active service in WW2. https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2014/09/14/charles-brabyn-of-devoran-and-the-sinking-of-hms-courageous-1939/

Bryant, T.A. corporal, 8 DCLI

Short, M. Lance Corporal, 24 R.F. Royal Fusiliers

Geach W.G., Armourer’s Mate RN

Born 2 July 1894 in Penryn, by 1901 William Geach was living in Market Street Devoran with his mother Mary J. Geach (born Devoran, 1860) and sister Gwendoline M Geach (b. 1899) and Janet Muriel Geach (b. 1900).

By 1911 the family are at Narabo Vale, Narabo Creek and William is a  Blacksmith’s Apprentice. His father was William Geach,  a Devoran born Railway Labourer.

His navy service (no. M6495) began on 1 September 1913 at Devonport, serving on ship or shore bases Vivid II, Drake and Revenge during the war and through to 1927 or beyond one Vancouver to Liverpool shipping record suggests in 1934 that he was staying at “Carclew”, Lansdowne Road, Cardiff.

He married Elizabeth Ferris in Falmouth in 1923 (his sister Janet married a Benjamin C Ferris in 1931, also a naval man).

William Geach the WW1 sailor died in South Glamorgan in Wales in June 1986.

Cook, F. (In faint pencil)   – according to the West Briton list of January 1915, this could be Fred Cooke? 

Williams , F.J. Sapper RE

Bray, E. seaman RN

W. Apps – died 1915. See blogpost https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2015/09/30/remembering-w-apps-of-devoran-died-30-september-2015/

Perkins, S. 8 DCLI

Berryson, W Private 22 Rifle Brigade

White, W. C. Sapper RE this may be H.C.White https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/devoran-first-world-war-casualties-q-to-z/

Trenoweth, C, Private 5 DCLI Discharged April 9 1917

Separate blogpost forthcoming about Claude Fitzgerald Trenoweth, who served with the 5 DCLI pioneers during the Somme battles.

Trenoweth, P.J. Private 4 DCLI – probably Claude’s brother Percy 

Crocker A.E. Private 10 DCLI  – Albert Crocker died 1918 


Johnson J. Private 4 DCLI – James Johnson died 1915 https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2013/07/27/devoran-first-world-war-casualties-d-to-j/

Lewarne J Seaman RNR     James Lewarne 

F.G. Webb, Sapper RE – Frederick Gordon Webb died Somme, 1916 https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/devoran-first-world-war-casualties-q-to-z/

Stephens, R. Seaman RNR died in Haslar naval hospital in 1919 – Richard Stephens buried Feock churchyard https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/devoran-first-world-war-casualties-q-to-z/

Bilkey, James, Private 4 DCLI discharged March 20 1916

J. H. Bilkey’s brother was R.J. ‘Jack’ Bilkey, died Egypt, 1919 – see his blogpost entry and also forthcoming blogpost about the family history and military service an discharge through pleurisy and heart problems.

Gill, A.J. Sapper Canadian RE

Hamblyn, W, Seaman RN

Hancock F.C. driver RE

Vincent A. (In faint pencil)

Pascoe, W.D. Gunner RFA died 20 April 1915 RIP https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/devoran-first-world-war-casualties-k-to-p/

Pascoe, M. Gunner RN –

This could well be Llewellyn Maxwell Pascoe, brother of Devoran Casualty W.D. Pascoe who was reported on William’s death to be serving in the Navy. Their sister Netta May Pascoe became an early form of WW1 Land Girl.

Coad, C. Private 4 DCLI – according to the West Briton list of January 1915,  probably Charles Coad 

Watch this space for 1915 and 1916 men

We will post further research  on these 1914 men, along with the men of 1915, 1916 and later over the course of the WW1 anniversary. 

We are also working on researching the names of the 1915 volunteers and then the 1916 conscripts, as we prepare  a selection of  the family and military history stories of ten Devoran survivors and early casualties connected to the Roll of Honour in our illustrated evening talk on the “Names on The Roll” at Devoran Village Hall on 1st July 2016.

Posted by Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorail Project, 21 May 2016