Tag Archives: WW2

Remembering Thomas Kemp and the SS Ocean Courage lost WW2 15 January 1943

Remembering Thomas Harold Kemp and the crew of SS Ocean Courage, lost at sea 75 years ago 15 January  1943.

Born in Devoran in 1885 to a family of coal and oyster merchants, Master Thomas Harold Kemp was living in Eastbourne, Sussex when he was lost at sea aboard SS Ocean Courage aged 57 on 15 January 1943.

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Devoran’s T.H. Kemp, SS Ocean Courage recorded on the WW2 section, Tower Hill memorial.

He is remembered with crew members on Panel 75 of the Tower Hill Memorial to Merchant Navy staff.

The crew and casualties are listed here https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship2589.html

According to the EU Wrecksite website, on 15 January 1943 The Ocean Courage was sunk in the Atlantic, South of the Cape Verde Island and west of Gambia in Africa whilst sailing independently on a voyage from Pepel to the UK via Freetown and Trinidad with a cargo of 9000 tons of iron ore and mail. She was sunk by a torpedo from U-182, commanded by U-boat Captain Nicolai Clausen.

The Master Captain Thomas Harold Kemp, 41 crew, 2 gunners and 2 stowaways were lost.

Six crew and 1 gunner were rescued by British ship Silver Walnut and landed at Norfolk, Virginia.

https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/2589.html

Kemp became a Master fairly young (his Master’s Certificates are on Ancestry.co.uk).

His ship the Ocean Princess was built in the USA in 1942 and operated by locally founded St. Ives Hain Steamship Co.Ltd.

https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/devoran-second-world-war-casualties-a-to-r/

Kemp is listed on the brass plaque inside the church, not on the granite war memorial.

T.H. Kemp and F.W. Kemp are listed on the bottom right of the Devoran Roll of Honour in the Village Hall for his service in the Mercantile Marine or Merchant Navy of WW1.

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Devoran Roll of Honour 1914-18, Devoran village hall (photographed : Mark Norris, 2013)

T.H. Kemp – Remembered 75 years on, in his home village.

Blogposted by Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial Project,  15 January 2018

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Remembering Devoran’s William Head HMS Matabele sunk 17 January 1942

Remembering Chief Stoker William Alfred Head D/K52949 Royal Navy and the crew of HMS Matabele, lost on Arctic Convoy PQ-8 when HMS Matabele was sunk by U Boat U454, 17 January 1942.

Remembered 75 years on.

One of Devoran’s many naval casualties in two world wars.

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

Remembered on the Devoran Village war memorial and also the Plymouth Naval War Memorial to those lost at sea.

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Chief Stoker W.A. Head’s name on the Plymouth War Memorial. (Image: Mark Norris, 2013)

Read more about William Head, his wife WI stalwart Marion Head (later Rowe) and family at: https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/devoran-second-world-war-casualties-a-to-r/

Only 2 of 238 of HMS Matabele’s crew survived the freezing waters. Often convoy ships and their escorts were unable to return and search for the missing.

In January 1942 she formed the screen, with Somali, for the cruiser Trinidad on Convoy PQ-8 from Iceland to Murmansk. The convoy departed on 11 January, and came under torpedo attack on 16 January.

On 17 January Matabele was hit by a torpedo from the German submarine U-454 and sank almost immediately. Only two out her complement of 238 survived. Many who were able to leave the stricken ship succumbed in the ice-cold water before rescue was possible. The two survivors were picked up by the minesweeper Harrier. (Wikipedia entry HMS Matabele).

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HMS Matabele F26/G26 (Wikipedia / Royal Navy image source public domain) Some of the Carley float life rafts  that were frozen fast can be seen midships. 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Matabele_(F26)

William Head’s name features amongst the crew and casualty list for HMS Matabele on uboat.net  (based on The Times Casualty List,  9 March 1942.)

http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/person/15190.html based on his CWGC entry.

http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship1257.html

Read their names so that they are not forgotten.

Arctic Convoy PQ8 and HMS Matabele

For more about the otherwise successful Convoy PQ8 (1 merchant ship SS Harmatris damaged, 1 escort HMS Matabele lost), read Arctic Convoy PQ8: The Story of Capt Robert Brundle and the SS Harmatris by Michael Wadsworth (Pen and Sword, 2009).

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convoy_PQ_8

At 22.21 hours on 17 January 1942 HMS Matabele (G 26) (Cdr A.C. Stanford, DSC, RN), escorting convoy PQ-8, was hit by one torpedo from U-454 in the stern, which caused her magazines to blow up and the ship sank within two minutes off Kola Inlet. The survivors were unable to release the Carley floats because they were frozen in their lashings and had to jump overboard. Some of them were killed when the depth charges of the sinking destroyer detonated, but the most died of hypothermia in the icy water before they could be rescued.

Only two of the four men picked up by HMS Harrier (J 71) survived.

The U-boat had reported an earlier hit on a destroyer at 18.54 hours and a previous shot that missed. All attacks were probably against the same destroyer. (Source Uboat.net entry, HMS Matabele).

http://www.naval-history.net/xGM-Chrono-10DD-34Tribal-Matabele.htm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/88/a2737488.shtml is a personal testimonial from a crew of one of the fellow Convoy PQ8 ships.

http://www.halcyon-class.co.uk/harrier/harrier_1942.htm has accounts from sailors who picked up the two survivors Bill Burras and Ernie Higgins. One source quoted suggests that about 60 crew made it off the HMS Matabele alive, despite the explosions and ship sinking in a couple of minutes but died in the freezing sea.

Remembering the crew and families of HMS Matabele and the men of the Russian / Arctic Convoys, 75 years on from 17 January 1942.

Several more of the crew casualties were from Plymouth and Devon, Devonport being the ship’s manning port, and some from Cornwall such as Albert Victor Brown of Mullion, Edward Lyndon Curnow of Goldsithney, William Doidge of Trerulefoot, Leading Stoker Leslie Oliver of Polperro, Leading Telegraphist Douglas Roscorla of Newlyn, Delmore Truran of Porthleve and Albert Wade of Lerryn. All West Country men whom Chief Stoker William Head might have known well.

Remembering also the supportive wartime villagers  of Devoran who looked after the grieving families of Devoran’s wartime casulaties. 

Blogposted by Mark Norris on behalf of Devoran War Memorial project, 17 January 2017.

 

 

 

 

Devoran and its wartime evacuees

Western Morning News 03 January 1941 page 5

Western Morning News 03 January 1941 page 5

Devoran, World War 1: as in many Cornish communities, Belgian refugee families were  looked after in the Feock Parish area.

This creation of a temporary home and friendship began again in 1939 with a new wave of refugees and evacuees. Not only foreign servicemen were welcomed into the area, many children found a brief period of safety in Devoran  from the bombing of London, Plymouth and other cities at risk of the Blitz.

Devoran, WW2: On the Francis Frith website there are memories from George Burton, a WW2 evacuee who stayed with his sisters with various kind Devoran families – the Hoare, Cook, Toy and Eddy families.

“I was evacuated in 1939 to Devoran, and was billeted with a family by the name of Eddy, my three sisters and myself. We were only there for about two months before we were all taken down with scabies. We all went off to Perranporth isolation ward, we were all kept in hospital until we were better, and then went back to Devoran on a bus, it stopped outside the school.

We were all lined up outside the school, when a nice lady came up to me and asked if I would like to go and stay with her, she told me she had two sons and a daughter, and lived on a big farm with chickens, cows, sheep, pigs, horses, and without giving it another thought I said ‘Yes please’. They were a lovely family and looked after me like I was their own. I lived with them for four years.

[Blog Editor’s note: This farm family  appears to have been the Hoare family mentioned in the next section. Members of the Hoare family are mentioned in the Home Guard blogpost ].

When I went into the army to do my two years National Service I received four parcels a year from them. Two of my sisters went to a family named Cook, they lived down by the river, and my other sister went with a family named Toy. I have kept in touch ever since, Mr and Mrs Hoare have since passed on, as too the daughter and the eldest son, Doreen and Ken, Rex is the only one left and we still keep in touch with each other.

The picture (on the Frith archive) brings back wonderful memories of those terrible years we all had, I must say mine were made a million times better having lived for four years with such wonderful people. I could go on but I think I should leave it for another time.”

A memory shared by George Burton , on Jan 16th, 2009.  Source: Francis Frith website. I have contacted George to hear more  and permission to quote his story here but have yet to hear back from him.

On the Shire on the Web 2000 newsletter http://www.shire.org.uk/shire.php?edition=344 Bristol History website, there is a photo of evacuee pupils from Shirehampton School, evacuated from the Bristol and Avonmouth area when bombing raids started in 1940/41. The names of the known evacuees are Vic Mitchell, Angus Macleod and Tommy Beecham.

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Shirehampton pupils evacuated to Devoran 1940  from the Bristol area Photo c/o ‘Shire’, the Shire on the Web newsletter September 2000. Bottom row, left, shows Vic Mitchell, 3rd left is Angus McLeod, and far right is Tommy Beecham, who has been in touch recently with ‘SHIRE’ … Vic Mitchell, who now lives in Plymouth, sent in this photograph as he is interested in finding where these friends are now. Do you know the names of the girls and the other boy ?

On the BBC People’s War website are WW2 memories (Article ID:
A4325122) from Nicholas John (‘Jack’) Green of Carnon Downs:

“The first lot of evacuees were London Irish Catholics. We had two boys billeted with us about the same age as my brother, Jim, and I. They were called Terry & Patric O’Carrol.

Later we had Plymouth and Bristol children in the area and there were many children for the school at Devoran so we local children went to school in the mornings and the evacuees in the afternoons. This didn’t do much for our education, but we had half a day off every day.”

Newspaper archives contain photos of a Nativity play put on by Evacuee pupils at Devoran. Several London schools including a Roman Catholic School were evacuated to the Devoran area.

Sadly there is also a WW2 newspaper report of the local billeting officer having to fine and make an example of an unnamed householder in Devoran, one in St. Agnes and mention of similar billeting problems in Chacewater. This is  all presumably for not making evacuees welcome or being honest about the space they had available.

Blogposted by Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial Project, February 2016.

 

Masking Devoran – gas masks distributed 1939

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A distribution of gas masks for Devoran and Carnon Downs district was made on Thursday and Friday at Devoran Village Hall. Mr. H.C. Sweet (senior warden) superintended, assisted by members of the Red Cross Detachment  and other residents.

West Briton, Thursday 7 September 1939

Looking at the newspaper dates: Gas masks appear to have been distributed in Devoran on Thursday 31 August & Friday 1st September 1939.

War was declared by Britain on Germany on Sunday 3rd September 1939, after Germany invaded Poland on the 1st September. Evacuation of children from Britain’s cities also began on 1st September 1939.

 

Remembering A C B Sowden of Devoran 7 September 1945

Remembering Alfred (A. C.B.) Sowden of Devoran who died on active service 70 years ago in the Far East on 7 September 1945.

We wrote more about him recently on VJ day at: https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2015/08/15/remembering-vj-day-70-years-on/ 

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.

Rangoon Memorial to the Missing, Burma. Image Source: CWGC

Rangoon Memorial to the Missing, Burma. Image Source: CWGC

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. The Rangoon Memorial  bears the names of almost 27,000 men of the Commonwealth land forces who died during the campaigns in Burma (now Myanmar) and who have no known grave.

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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.

Plaque in St Eval church his birth parish mentioning A C B Sowden

Plaque in St Eval church Alfred’s birth parish, mentioning ‘A C B Sowden’ (image source: St Issey Folk genealogy website) Alfred’s uncle Samuel Sowden is also listed, a casualty of WW1. 

There is more about his family and St. Eval / St. Issey connections: http://www.st-issey-folk.co.uk/opc/getperson.php?personID=I19545&tree=St_Issey_Folk

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KIlliganoon Farm (rightmove.co.uk website 2015)

The ‘Kohima prayer’ adopted by the Burma Star association http://www.burmastar.org.uk/epitaph.htm 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”

Alfred  also appears on our WW2 section of the Devoran War Memorial life stories.

https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/devoran-second-world-war-casualties-s-to-z/ 

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

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

Alfred Sowden , Remembered with thanks 70 years after their death 7 September 1945  in their home village of Devoran,

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.

Devoran National Savings Group in wartime

National Savings Group Certificate Devoran WW2 and postwar (Photo: Mark Norris, 2013)

National Savings Group Certificate Devoran WW2 and postwar (Photo: Mark Norris, 2013)

At the back of Devoran Village Hall is a framed certificate for the National Savings Group in WW2 from 1940 until 1964. Certificate of Merit presented to Devoran Village Savings Group in recognition of notable service given to the National Savings Movement 1940  – 1964. Signed by Mackintosh of Halifax, Chairman National Savings Committee. Looking through newspaper articles we can trace a little about this patriotic village group:

National Savings – Mr J. Kerr a barrister is voluntarily undertaking a campaign with a kinema van on behalf of the National Savings effort and is now touring the towns and villages of Cornwall. On Saturday he visited St. Newlyn East, Zelah, Chacewater, Devoran and Feock … Taken from the Western Morning News 5 August 1940.

Savings Leaflets like these would have been available form Devoran Post Office in wartime. Source: Mark Norris, author's collection.

Savings Leaflets like these would have been available form Devoran Post Office in wartime.
Source: Mark Norris, author’s collection.

Devoran’s newly formed National Savings Group has 115 members including 17 from Carnon Downs who in a fortnight have brought National Savings stamps to the value of £9, 6 shillings. Taken from the Cornishman, 17 October 1940.

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doc00753620150120171041_001Devoran National Savings Group during the year have saved a total of £1659,  12 shillings and 6d (pence). Of this £603 was saved during War Weapons Week in March and £372, 18 shillings and 6d (pence) during the months of July to September, when the aim was £300, the cost of a light ambulance. Western Morning News, 7 October 1941.

National Savings Book Source: from Author's collection, Mark Norris.

National Savings Book
Source: from Author’s collection, Mark Norris.

National Savings book Source: from Author's collection, Mark Norris.

National Savings book 1944
Source: from Author’s collection, Mark Norris.

Devoran Village, Point and Penpol War Savings Group saved during Truro and District Warships Week, a total of £1493, 16 shillings. The Devoran Council School Group saved £55, 5 shillings. Miss G.A. Edwards as secretary. Western Morning News, 26 November 194

From author's collection

From author’s collection

On 6 October 1942 the Western Morning News  article gives further background: Devoran Village National Saving Group was  formed in September 1940. The membership now numbers 174 and the total savings amount to  £2970, 10 shillings and 6d (pence). During the ten weeks of the Tanks for Attack campaign, this group invested £303. Two efforts organised as a gift to the nation amounted to £47. Mr G.T. Langdon is the Group Secretary.

From author's collection , Punch WW2

From author’s collection , Punch WW2

1943: Devoran Village War Savings Group, assisted by Mrs. W. Dunn, closed the Wings for Victory Campaign Week with a concert in the Village Hall on Saturday. Proceeds realised £15. Taken from the Western Morning News, 25 March 1943.

Wikipedia source

Wikipedia source

Wikipedia source

Wikipedia source

The Devoran Savings Group continued until 1964 but no further press cuttings have so far been found.

Any further information about the Devoran National Savings Committee would be very welcome; please contact me via the comments page or devoranwarmemorialproject@gmail.com