Tag Archives: Richard Stephens

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/

Devoran First World War Casualties, Q to Z

 

Devoran war memorial names M to W

Devoran war memorial names M to W

G. Rogers

On the brass plaque inside the church it looks like C.M.  Rogers. On the war memorial itself G and C are very similar in lettering.

The most likely local match is G. F. Rogers, Flight cadet 137361, RAF / 73 Company Royal Garrison Artillery who died on 30 June 1918, possibly having drowned. Rogers is buried at grave B65, Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial Cemetery (a hospital base cemetery) in Egypt.

Alexandria (Hadra) Cemetery in Egypt. (Image; www.cwgc.org website)

Alexandria (Hadra) Cemetery in Egypt. (Image; http://www.cwgc.org website)

The local connection is his listing as the son of Joseph and Gertude Rogers of Bissoe, Perranwell, and husband of Elsie M. Richards (formerly Rogers), Carnon Downs, Perranwell.

Tony Dyson’s 2007 research notes (via Bob Richards) that Elsie M. Rogers his widow remarried between July and September 1920 one Frederick J. Richards.

R. Stephens

Of the 33 R.Stephens listed on the CWGC website for the First World War, the most likely local match is Sub Lieutenant R. Stephens,  HMS Terrible, Royal Navy , who died on 7 February 1919, aged 49. He is buried in Feock Church Cemetery, amongst 2 other  local naval casualties from the 1914-1919 period.

R. Stephens image (Courtesy of Graham Crocker / Tony Dyson)

R. Stephens image (Courtesy of Graham Crocker / Tony Dyson)

His attractive nautical headstone can now be seen online as part of the International War Graves project partnered to the CWGC

Born around 1870, Stephens is listed as the son of James and Eliza Stephens, as well as husband of Ottilia ‘Tilly’ Stephens of Glenavon, Point, Devoran.

R Stephens non-military headstone, Feock Churchyard (Image Copyright: TWGPP/CWGC, The War Graves Photographic Project)

R Stephens non-military headstone, Feock Churchyard (Image Copyright: TWGPP/CWGC, The War Graves Photographic Project)

All the other First World War names are in alphabetical order. R. Stephens’ name is added on a separate panel round the back of the memorial, above the area of the maker’s name section on what must once have been a blank panel. This maybe because he had died  in 1919 after the war (and dedication of the war memorial) . It may be that the parish were expecting further deaths from the effects of war service so left this panel blank  Sadly underneath his name instead are the names of the Second World war casualties. 

Feock Churchyard (Image copyright TWGPP/CWGC, The War Graves Photographic Project)

Feock Churchyard (Image copyright TWGPP/CWGC, The War Graves Photographic Project)

Tony Dyson’s 2007 research notes (via Graham Crocker, a relative who still lives at Glenavon) that Stephens is a cousin of the two Crocker casualties from Devoran.

According to Graham Crocker and the book “Chapel by The Creek”, Stephens was a scholar of Penpoll Chapel and later became a teacher in 1887 then moved to London.

He married Ottilia Siebert (known to Graham as Aunt Tilly) from a German emigre family in 1897. By the 1901 Census, the couple had moved back to Point and the couple had a three year old daughter, Edith (born 1898).

Bob Richards suggests that this German emigre connection might account for the late addition to the war memorial.

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The new panel on the Devoran War Memorial, listing two new WW1 Devoran casualty names P.A. Sweet and W.J. Hoyle, thanks to work / research by Bob Richards and the Feock Parish Council.

Percy Sweet
Sweet’s name was added to a Devoran Parish War Memorial in November 2014 as part of the WW1 centenary – see more about Percy Sweet here.

Rifleman Percy Sweet was killed on the first day of the Battle of Arras in April, whilst serving with the London Regiment known as The London Rangers. He was buried with many of his London Rangers comrades at the London Cemetery, Neuville Vitasse, Arras, France.

Sweet_P_A

Percy Sweet’s headstone, London Cemetery (Image copyright TWGPP/CWGC, The War Graves Photographic Project)

So in Percy Sweet and Richard Stephens we have two later additions to the WW1 memorial, almost a century apart.

R. Stephens' name added round the back section of Devoran war memorial, above the WW2 names.

R. Stephens’ name added round the back section of Devoran war memorial, above the WW2 names.

F. or F.G. Webb

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.” Webb is buried in Albert Communal Cemetery Extension, grave reference I.K.38.

Sapper F. Webb  is buried in the Albert Communal Cemetery Extension., Somme, France.

Sapper F. Webb is buried in the Albert Communal Cemetery Extension., Somme, France.

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

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

Born in Truro, Webb was initially in the 3rd battalion Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry before the war ‘time expired’ and As a former soldier seems to have been part of the Special Reserve, so quickly rejoined the 1st Battalion, arriving in France on 20 January 1915. As a result he was awarded the 1914-15 Star along with the standard Victory and British Medal.

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

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

Promoted Corporal by 12 December 1914, he was demoted to Private on  April 1915 “reduced or misconduct – drunkenness” .  Webb was transferred to the 179 Tunnelling Company of the Royal Engineers, one of many infantry attached to the miners or  tunnelers  and survived long enough to see blown the huge mines under the German lines on the La Boiselle Sector on the First Day of the Somme, 1st July 1916.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/179th_Tunnelling_Company

F. Webb headstone close up, Albert Communal Cemetery Extension (Image copyright TWGPP/CWGC, The War Graves Photographic Project)

F. Webb headstone close up, Albert Communal Cemetery Extension
(Image copyright TWGPP/CWGC, The War Graves Photographic Project)

Married to (Edith) Maud or Maude Webb (nee Penhaligon, b. 1879) in Truro in 1901, he left 6 children. At the time of his death his wife was living (staying or working?)  at the Crown and Anchor pub (now a house on Quay Road) in Devoran. Before marriage in 1901, she is listed on the 1901 Census as a (Temperance) Hotel Cook in the River Street Truro. Frederick Webb was listed as a Horse Driver and Waggonner / GWR Carrier with an address at 16 Edward Street, Truro. by the time that his medals were sent through and the complexities of pensions being paid to his wife, she was residing at 7 West Street, Penryn.

The Army and Pensions authorities had difficulties arranging suitable pensions due to the habit of naming boy children after their father, requiring local Devoran Police Station PC9 Albert Killow to clarify the number and names of Webb’s children, all born in Truro:

  • Dorothy Maud, born 2 February 1902;
  • Frederick Denzil born 12 May 1904;
  • Cecil, born in Cury 9 January 1906;
  • Frederick Gordon, 19 September 1909;
  • Frederick Gordon ‘Donald’, 5 June 1912
  • Irene Sylvia, 5 August 1915.

Interestingly Sapper Davey who was wounded alongside Webb, T Davey on 18 July 1916 is assumed to be 148552 or 148532  Joseph Davey, formerly 5400 Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. Several other DCLI Cornishmen were also attached to 179 Tunneling Company, RE.

Webb's Underground war: one of the Somme deep mine craters at Lochnagar that I have visited, now preserved as a memorial to the Allied tunnelers (Image source: Wikipedia)

Webb’s Underground war: one of the Somme deep mine craters at Lochnagar that I have visited, now preserved as a memorial to the Allied tunnelers (Image source: Wikipedia)

.The underground war was powerfully portrayed in the novel and film of Sebastien Faulks’ Birdsong.  More can be found about the Tunneling Companies and their underground mine warfare  on Wikipedia and also at Simon Jones’ website.

H.C. White
Henry Cecil White was a Private 215895, 745 Area Employment Company, Labour Corps who  died 31 October 1918, aged 33. White is buried at II.C.16, St. Pol British Cemetery, St. Pol-sur-Ternoise, France. This cemetery was linked to No.12 Stationary Hospital.

St Pol cemetery looking a little like Devoran memorial recreation ground (Image: www.cwgc.org website)

St Pol cemetery looking a little like Devoran memorial recreation ground
(Image: http://www.cwgc.org website)

He is listed on the CWGC website as the son of Mr. W.H. and Mrs. E.A. White, Carnon Gate, Devoran, Cornwall.

H C White  headstone  St Pol British Cemetery  (Image copyright TWGPP/CWGC, The War Graves Photographic Project)

H C White headstone St Pol British Cemetery
(Image copyright TWGPP/CWGC, The War Graves Photographic Project)

William Henry White (born 1847, Princetown , Devon, England) married  Elizabeth A. White (born 1856, Calstock, Cornwall) in 1884 and they were listed as living at Lydford in Devon in the 1891 census. He appears to have retired to Devoran by 1901 as he was previously a prison warder at Dartmoor Prison (in the era of Sherlock Holmes and The Hound of the Baskervilles)

H..C. White is buried in St. Pol cemetery (image: www.cwgc.org website)

H..C. White is buried in St. Pol cemetery (image: http://www.cwgc.org website)

Henry Cecil White was born at Portland, Dorset in 1886. Living in Carnon Gate with his family, Henry became an apprentice at an iron foundry (fairly illegible 1901 census entry) along with his brother William C. White also born at Portland, Dorset in 1886. Brother Wiiliam became an apprentice wood pattern maker in a foundry, a job that took him to board and live like Henry did  in Redruth by the 1911 census.   Henry is listed as an Iron Moulder in the 1911 Census. Both brothers were single at the time of the 1911 census.

 St Pol British Cemetery  (Image copyright TWGPP/CWGC, The War Graves Photographic Project)

St Pol British Cemetery
(Image copyright TWGPP/CWGC, The War Graves Photographic Project)

On his CWGC headstone (pictured at the website) can be found the following short verse chosen by his family:  “Call not back/ the dear departed/ Anchored safe/ where storms are o’er”. 

Tony Dyson’s 2007 research notes that Henry Cecil White is remembered on the gravestone of his father in Devoran Churchyard, near the rear of the Parish Centre.