Tag Archives: WW1

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.






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


Gwendoline Edwards drives off to war 13 October 1916

100 years ago this week on 13 October 1916, as the Somme battle raged on through its long 141 days,  Devoran doctor’s daughter Gwendoline Mary Edwards drove off to war in France with the British Red Cross. She  had been part of nursing with the VAD Voluntary Aid Detachment Cornwall district 34.

Her engagement for service overseas began on 13th October 1916 as a G.S. (General Service?) Chauffeuse, her duties being Motor Ambulance Driving in France.

GLB BRCS record

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

What terrible things and what human wreckage this spirited young lady must have seen in France.

There is more about Gwendoline at https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2014/06/28/life-in-wartime-devoran-in-world-war-1/ and elsewhere in the Blog.

She left the Red Cross to marry an army officer Denzil Layton Blunt at Devoran Church in July 1917, and is likely to be the GLB responsible for producing the Devoran Roll of Honour (recently restored) which hangs in the Village Hall. She emigrated to Africa with Denzil and her children  and died there in Kenya in the late 1960s

We look forward to tracking down more about her including maybe one day  a photograph.

Postec by Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial Project.

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