Tag Archives: war memorials

Remembering VJ Day 70 years on …

Remembering VJ Day 70 years on 15 August 2015 ..

World War 2 section, Devoran War Memorial Photo: Mark Norris

World War 2 section, Devoran War Memorial
Photo: Mark Norris

Of the Devoran War memorial casualties from WW2, one of them Alfred Claude Brenton Sowden was lost on special operations with SOE Force 136  in the closing stages of the war in the Far East. Sergeant Alfred Claude Brenton Sowden, 841889, Royal Corps of Signals, awarded B.E.M. (Military), for his SOE service in France July 1944, died on 7 September 1945, aged 27. He is remembered on the Rangoon Memorial in Burma to those with no known grave. It is possible he died from wounds or tropical disease. An interesting section on a Canadian Veteran’s Affairs website (see http://www.vac-acc.gc.ca/general/sub.cfm?source=history/secondwar/courage/asia) mentions what Force 136 SOE men like Alfred  Sowden did in August 1945:

The surrender of the Japanese after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, changed the role of undercover agents in the Asian countries. Their role shifted to one of accepting the surrender of Japanese units and keeping public order until civil government could be restored. Force 136 also played a key role in assisting prisoners of war in these countries.”

Son of the farm manager at Killiganoon Farm, Alfred Sowden died on 7 September 1945, a few weeks after the war ended on VJ Day 70 years ago today. https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/devoran-second-world-war-casualties-s-to-z/ Hopefully  when the VJ Day news came through, many people in Devoran could give thanks and celebrate the end of another terrible world war. The Sowden family would receive their sad news several weeks after VJ Day. The ‘Kohima prayer’ adopted by the Burma Star association is a fitting end to this blog post:

“When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today” http://www.burmastar.org.uk/epitaph.htm

Alfred Sowden and many others, Remembered with thanks on VJ Day 70 in their home village of Devoran

Postscript

I have found few records of VE or VJ Day celebrations in Devoran 1945 or how  the national Victory Parade was celebrated in June 1946, so I would love to hear more (through the comments page or devoranwarmemorialproject@gmail.com)  of how these events were marked in Devoran.

In Ralph and Marie Bird’s Devoran and its River book there is a reproduction of Devoran County Primary School’s Victory Day card 8th June 1946.

Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial Project.

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Devoran War memorial recreation ground, 1919

Apart from the War memorial in the churchyard,  another permanent memorial exists to the men of Devoran who fought and died in the First World War in the form of the memorial recreation ground.

Dedication stone of the Devoran War memorial ground.

Dedication stone of the Devoran War memorial ground.

The slightly faded inscription on the back of this stone seat reads:

Devoran Recreation Ground 

This land was given to Feock Parish Council by Viscount Clifton as a war memorial to the men of Devoran to be used for recreation and enjoyment of the people of Devoran for all times, 12 September 1919 

The memorial stone sits at the top of this well used stone seat in Devoran Recreation Ground , 2013

The memorial stone sits at the top of this well used stone seat in Devoran Recreation Ground , 2013

A photograph exists of the dedication ceremony showing “The Official Handover of the Playing Field in 1919” in Ralph and Marie Bird’s Devoran and Its River (Truran, 2008)

and also on the Restonguet Creek Society website http://www.restronguetcreeksociety.org/images/bsd/d17.jpg

where this photo is captioned D17. ‘The Park’ (or playing field) being given to the village by Lord Clifden 1919. Probably Mr. Cock speaking and Lord and Lady Clifden (or Clifton) on the left. Photo: Jean Lapham.

Devoran Memorial Recreation Ground today , the slope and entrance where the 1919 dedication took place.

Devoran Memorial Recreation Ground today , the slope and entrance where the 1919 dedication took place.

It is still heavily in use everyday for ‘recreation and enjoyment’ by the ‘People of Devoran’ and also for special events by Devoran Preschool and Devoran Community Association  such as the Party in The Park in July 2013.

Devoran 'Party in the Park', Devoran Recreation Ground July 2013 . The memorial seat is at the top of the slope on the left.

Devoran ‘Party in the Park’, Devoran Recreation Ground July 2013 . The memorial seat is at the top of the slope on the left.

Devoran 'Party in the Park', Devoran Recreation Ground,  July 2013 . Taken form where the dedication ceremony took place in 1919

Devoran ‘Party in the Park’, Devoran Recreation Ground, July 2013 . Taken from where the dedication ceremony took place in 1919.

The Lanhydrock estate of Viscount Clifden (or Clifton as the plaque says) lost their own men in the war, including a Lanhydrock son and heir, Cornish MP Tommy Agar-Robartes. He is remembered in a stained glass window memorial ‘up country’.

Devoran First World War Casualties D to J

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

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

W.J.T. Davey

William John Trebilcock Davey, 26424 10 Battalion, DCLI died aged 21 on 28 July 1916. He is remembered on pier & face panel 6B of the Thiepval Memorial to the missing of the Somme battlefields of 1916-17 who have no known graves.

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

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

CWGC records list him as the son of Joseph Henry Webber Davey and Catherine Ada Davey of Carnon Creese, Perranwell Station, Cornwall. His father Joseph (b. 1871,Kea) was an “engraver & carver in stone” (1901 census) or “monumental mason” (1911 census). His mother Catherine was born in Feock.

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

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

William is listed as a (Domestic) Gardener in the 1911 census living with parents at Carnon Crease.

Carnon Downs Methodist Chapel has a plaque to ‘Willie’ Davey, Chorister of this church:

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

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

William was born in July 1895, one of five children, all born in Feock. His older sister Laura Gwendoline (1 April 1893 – June 1986) became a dressmaker and married in 1920 a local surviving DCLI soldier from Kew, Sherold A.E. Datson (1890 -1981). His younger sister Enid Irene was born around 1900. Younger brothers Gerald Ewart Davey (b.1902) and Joseph Henry Webber Davey (junior) born 1909.

W.J. Dunstan

William John Dunstan, 2352/ST, Engineman, Royal Naval Reserve, HM Trawler Pintail, died aged 45 on 24 December 1917. He is buried in plot 40.3.5 Brest Kerfautras Cemetery, Finisterre, France (mostly an American naval and army cemetery).

William Dunstan's grave in Brest Kerfautras Cemetery, France (Image copyright: TWGPP / CWGC, the War Graves Photographic Project)

William Dunstan’s grave in Brest Kerfautras Cemetery, France (Image copyright: TWGPP / CWGC, the War Graves Photographic Project)

Pintail was a Hull trawler H982 , built 1908 and wrecked off Ireland in 1949. In October 1914 she was requisitioned for war service as a minesweeper (armed with 1 x 12 Hotchkiss pdr, 1 x 6pdr HA ) (Ad.No382).  and moved to Penzance and Falmouth.  (Ad.No.382). By 1st October 1918 she was at Penzance (General Patrol and Escort work). By 12 March 1919, Pintail had been returned to her owner at Hull. There is more about the naval war and minesweepers off the Cornish coast in Pete London’s book Cornwall in the First World War (Truran, 2013)

Brest (Kerfautras) Cemetery Image: www.cwgc.org

Brest (Kerfautras) Cemetery Image: http://www.cwgc.org

The CWGC website lists him as husband of Juliana Dunstan of 6 Chapel Terrace, Devoran. Juliana was born in 1871 in Truro. The couple married in 1903 and had two children, both born in Devoran, Florence May Dunstan (b. 1905) and William Edwin Kean Dunstan (b. 1907).

William was born in Hayle, Phillick (Phillack?) in Cornwall in 1874. In the 1911 census he is listed as “Fireman Steamship” living at Chapel Terrace, Devoran.

Erimus census 1901

In the 1901 census he is a single 26 year old man, a fireman aboard the Steamship Erimus. This boat is frequently pictured in Ralph and Marie Bird’s book of Devoran and Its River history in photographs, photographed  alongside Devoran Quay where no such large boat could visit today as the river has silted up.

Pictures of Erimus amongst other ships can be seen in the Barry Simpson  collection amongst others on the Restronguet Creek Society website, as well as http://cornishmemory.com/item/BRA_MI_044

Several other Devoran sailors are listed aboard the Steamship Erimus on 1901 census night. Its master James Henry Rowe, aged 43, was born in Devoran c. 1858. The Engineer was Thomas Mills Williams, born Devoran c. 1848. The AB was James Hitchens, born Devoran c. 1865 and the father of another Devoran First World War casualty James Edwin Hitchens (died Arras,1917), – see below –  listed along with William Dunstan on the Devoran War Memorial.

J or J.E. Hitchens

James Edwin Hitchens, Able Seaman R/510, Hawke Battalion, Royal Naval Division RNVR, died during the  Arras offensive in 18 April 1917 aged 28. He has no known grave and is remembered on Bay 1 of the Arras Memorial.

Land bound sailor J.E.Hitchens was killed at the Battle of Arras and has no known grave, remebered on the Arras Memorial (Image: www.cwgc.org.uk website)

Land bound sailor J.E.Hitchens was killed at the Battle of Arras and has no known grave, remembered on the Arras Memorial (Image: http://www.cwgc.org.uk website)

Born at Carnon Mine 20 May 1888, James Edwin Hitchens was a ‘Mining Engine Driver‘ on the 1911 census. His brother William was a Railway Engine Stoker. His father James Hitchens was born in Feock and worked as a Mariner on a Steamship (see Erimus and W. J. Dunstan above). His father James  married Mary Hitchens   (b. Carnon Downs) in 1890 and they had 8 surviving children including James Edwin Hitchens out of nine births. The family lived at Carclew Terrace, Devoran.

James Hitchens cwgc

The Royal Naval Division which Hitchens joined was composed in 1914 largely of surplus reserves of the Royal Navy who were not required at sea and some Royal Marines who fought on land as infantry troops. They fought at Gallipolli in 1915 and throughout the Western Front from 1916 onwards

A Royal Naval Division database shows that Hitchens Joined the Army Reserve on 1st March 1916, entered the Army on 1st December 1916, was drafted for the BEF on 6th March 1917 and joined the Hawke battalion on 3rd April 1917. He is listed as an Engine Driver ; born Devoran, Cornwall 20 June 1888 ; Next-of-Kin & home address: Father, James, Carclew Terrace, Devoran, Cornwall. He was awarded the Victory and British War medals. 

The Hawke Battalion. War Diary for 18 April 1917 mentions his death:

“During the day a heavy bombardment took place on our Front & Support Lines. Guns of all calibres but mainly 5.9s. Six men killed and 12 wounded. [R/511 F. Hibberd, R/510 J.E. Hitchens, R/343 D.O. Jones, KP/541 L. Radford, Wales Z/1401 S. Rogers, & Bristol Z/1395 C. White.] A number of gas shells were sent over, catching some of our parties unawares. Lieutenant WOLFE-BARRY & Sub Lieutenant HUGHES both got badly gassed & were evacuated.”

 

J. Johnson

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. Johnson was awarded the Victory and British War Medal.

Maala Cemetery, Yemen (Image cwgc.org  website)

Maala Cemetery, Yemen where James Johnson is buried (Image cwgc.org website)

Born in Falmouth around 1879, he was listed on Soldiers Who Died in the Great War as a 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 children Charly / Charles b. 1901, Perranwell / Perranarworthal and Cathleen Johnson, b.1909, Falmouth. 2 others of their children died young.

Devoran First World War Casualties, Names A to C

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

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

J.G. Adams

Private T/243064, John Glanville Adams, 7th Battalion Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment, died 23 March 1918. He is remembered on the Pozieres Memorial on the Somme on France to the missing of the Fifth Army in 1918 France, so has no known grave.

Pozieres Memorial to the Missing (Image; www.cwgc.org)

Pozieres Memorial to the Missing (Image; http://www.cwgc.org)

John Glanville Adams is listed in Soldiers Who Died In The Great War (SDGW) as Residence – Devoran, Cornwall but was born in Swansea, Glamorganshire, Wales. He enlisted into the Army at Bodmin, Cornwall (most likely the DCLI barracks, now the Regimental Museum).

W. Apps

Apps is listed on the brass plaque in the church and the Roll of Honour in the Village Hall, but not on the granite memorial.
The most likely casualty is 14215 W.Apps, 3rd Battalion, Grenadier Guards, died on 30 September 1915. He is buried in Plot IV E57 in Bethune Town Cemetery in France, which has over 3000 casualties buried in this railway, Headquarters and Hospital (33rd CCS Casualty Clearing Station) hub.

So far the closest local link to Devoran parish is the address listed on the CWGC website for his wife Hilda Apps of 16 Bohill, Penryn, Cornwall.

Apps is buried in Bethune Town Cemetery (image: www.cwgc.org)

Apps is buried in Bethune Town Cemetery (image: http://www.cwgc.org)

R.J. Bilkey

Corporal 200901 Richard John Bilkey, 1/4 Battalion, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, died aged 26 on 31 January 1919. He is buried in Grave Reference E124, Kantara War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt.

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

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 date suggests Bilkey died of wounds or illness in hospital in Egypt. His niece Josephine Lilly of Carnon Downs (who supplied the photographs of Bilkey) believes that he died of pneumonia.

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

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

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

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

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).

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 infromation about Phil’s grandmothers brother from the late Violet Dunstan of Hugus) 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.”

A.E. Crocker

Private Albert Ernest Crocker, 17095 7th Battalion, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, died 2 April 1918 and like J.G.Adams is remembered on the Pozieres Memorial in France, having no known grave.

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

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

Albert was listed in Soldiers Died in The Great War SDGW as born at St. Feock and Residence at Penpol. Although his battalion crossed to France on 27 July 1915, he has no 1915 Star medal. His medal cards list the standard Victory and British Medal, suggesting enlistment or conscription and service from 1916 onwards. He enlisted in Perranwell.

Crocker as a local name appears frequently in Ralph and Marie Bird’s Devoran book. 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 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).

G Crocker
The name on the war memorail suggests G or C, on the brass plaque inside is listed as E. Crocker. The Roll of Honour lists a G. Crocker RIP. Several Crockers are listed on the CWGC website, whilst Bob Richards notes that George Crocker is also on the Feock Memorial, one of several duplicated names.

The most likely local match is G.F. Crocker. George Francis Crocker, a Fireman on SS Sailor Prince, Newcastle in the Merchant Navy / Mercantile Marine who died on 2 October 1915, aged 33. He “drowned as a result of an attack by enemy submarine” (CWGC). Crocker is remembered on the Tower Hill memorial in London amongst nearly 36,000 merchant seamen from both wars, 12,000 from the First World War.

Devoran's G.F.Crocker of the SS Sailor Prince,  one of the  Merchant Navy men from WW1 with no known grave lost at sea recorded on the  Tower Hill Memorial, London (Picture: Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial project )

Devoran’s G.F.Crocker of the SS Sailor Prince, one of the Merchant Navy men from WW1 with no known grave lost at sea recorded on the Tower Hill Memorial, London (Picture: Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial project )

He is listed as  the son of George Crocker, Killiganvon (Killiganoon?) St. Feock, Perranwell and the late Mary Anne Crocker.

Thousands of names of lost Merchant Navy men from WW1 . Tower Hill Memorial, London (Picture: Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial project )

G.F. Crocker is remembered amongst the thousands of names of Merchant Navy men lost at sea in WW1 on the Tower Hill Memorial London designed by Lutyens (Picture: Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial project )

Two were lost in the  sinking of the SS Sailor Prince, including Crocker. On its  wrecksite website there is a picture and  the following information:

SS Sailor Prince, built by W. Dobson & Co., Newcastle in 1901 and owned at the time of her loss by Prince Line, Ltd. (James Knott), Newcastle, was a British steamer of 3144 tons.
On October 2nd, 1915, Sailor Prince, on a voyage from Cyprus to Leith with a cargo of locust beans, was sunk by the German submarine U-39 (Walter Forstmann), 56 miles SExS of Cape Sidero, Crete. 2 persons were lost.

The other Sailor Prince casualty on 2 October 1915 listed on the CWGC website was Crocker’s shipmate Fireman Frederick William Barker, aged 28, son of the late Frederick William and Mary Beatrice Barker (nee Bartlett).

Devoran War memorial project

“If you want to paint a picture of the world” or ” for true universality, paint your own village” (attributed to Tolstoy)

As we approach the 100th anniversary of the 1914-18 war, I will be working with several others to research the First World War casualty names on my local village war memorial at Devoran in Cornwall. The Second World War panel will also be researched in time for anniversaries of the start and end of WW2.

The research is being undertaken with various people and groups in Devoran over the 5 years of 2014 to 2019 with archive research by Feock Parish Councillor Bob Richards,a contributor to several local military history books with Nick Thornicroft. It also incorporates the valuable research done by Tony Dyson in 2007 which includes photographs and local memories of the men from the Crocker and Ferris families living locally. This research file has been lodged in the Parish Church for use during Armistice / Remebmbrance events.

This quiet creek side village on the estuary was once a bustling port servicing the mines of Cornwall and boasting an early mineral railway or tramway, the Redruth and Chasewater Railway (a full history published by D.B. Barton, 1978).

By 1918, the railway would be closed, the rails taken up for wartime scrap metal. The Cornish mines would be in decline, the river and its docks silting up.

A pdf download of the background history of Devoran can be found at www.historic-cornwall.org.uk 

Notable for its connection to the Lobb brothers Thomas and William Lobb, Victorian plant hunters, Devoran churchyard also has a simple Celtic cross war memorial listing 16 names of local men who died in the ‘Great War’ and 8 names from the Second World War.

Next to the Devoran old school (now a private house, a new school being recently rebuilt on the edge of the village) is the Devoran Village war memorial recreation ground, opened in memory of its fallen sons in 1919 (see separate blog post). It is still a busy part of local life, especially for young families.

Devoran and Its River, available in all good bookshops including online.

Devoran and Its River, available in all good bookshops including online.

Pictures in the late Ralph and Marie Bird’s Devoran and its River (Truran books, 2008)  show the Headteacher Mr. Cock at the handover and dedication  of the Playing Field to the village in 1919. For him this must have been a difficult day of memories of many of the boys he had taught there from the 1890s onwards who were now listed on the war memorial.

Further Family History links can be found at GENUKI Devoran page 

The Restronguet Creek Society webpage gallery of modern photographs and Barry Simpson’s collection of Devoran shipping photos.

Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial Project, https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com