Museum offered original Great War photos

Teign Heritage archivists have been very fortunate to be offered the use of an album of large Great War photographs owned by local residents Aileen and Jonathan Webber. The album was bought in an auction in Chertsey, Surrey, in early 2000, together with other items, for the princely sum of £1.50.Teign Heritage centre

Recently Mr and Mrs Webber researched the origins of the album and the photographer. They were amazed to find that the photos had been taken by an official war photographer named Tom Aitken. He was a newspaper man from Glasgow, who was assigned in December 1917 as a war photographer.

Official war photographers were not appointed until 1916 and soldiers were not encouraged to take photos of war scenes and their experiences.  Photograph: the owners of the official war album (seated) with Heather Roche, archivist (standing)

The black and white images are very evocative of the hard times endured by the soldiers, airmen and the civilian population in Northern France and Belgium. However, some of the photographs show more light-hearted moments and the humour of the trenches. Some show the involvement of the horses in troop movements and this is particularly interesting as many horses, as well as men, were sent from Devon.

T'mth exercises

Photograph: Volunteers exercising on the Den, Teignmouth, in 1914





The Museum will be putting on a World War 1 exhibition opening Monday 4th August at 2pm where the photographs will be on display in digital format . The owners of the album have now sent it to the Imperial War Museum for archiving.

The exhibition, entitled Teignmouth and Shaldon remember 1914, will tell the stories of the 7 local men who lost their lives in 1914, 3 of them naval men who were drowned on the ship HMS Monmouth in the battle of Coronel. Also on display will be memories of Teignmouth in 1914, personal stories of the 1914 local volunteers and casualties, excerpts from war diaries and letters, and the story of the war that year, starting with the battle of Mons and ending with the first battle of Ypres.


Lin Watson, Curator, Teign Heritage Centre

The Last Post

The Last Post is a mass participation project which is taking place in cities, towns and villages across the UK in November 2014.

Hundreds of people will unite in communities around the nation to remember the impact that the First World War had on their local community and play music from the era as a mark of commemoration.

At every event, the Last Post bugle call will be played to remember someone in their community, not just on bugles but on any instrument from piano to bagpipes, guitar to steel drums. It is a powerful ceremonial call which Last Post participants can make their own as part of a shared community experience.

All community groups are welcome to be part of The Last Post project this November including schools and scout groups, history associations and hospitals, community groups and churches… families and friends

To support participants in the Last Post project, Superact is providing free resources including:

  • a song book of songs from 1914

  • resources to help you research your local history

  • tools to help you organise a free community event

  • a Last Post Plaque to display in your community to mark your involvement in the project

Visit the website to find out how your group or community can get involved in this national commemorative event.  For further information, email:

Virginia Crompton, Executive Producer, The Last Post.

Exeter War Hospitals : Project update

The Exeter War Hospitals project has been accumulating newspaper references to the work of the war hospitals, particularly from the Devon and Exeter Gazette and the Western Times but also from newspapers elsewhere that recorded information about local men being treated in Exeter.

We have started to piece together some of the ways in which the use of the hospitals changed during the war.

By 1916 there was a strong emphasis on rehabilitation through occupational therapy, with soldiers engaged in a range of craft work from basket-weaving to crochet, carving and fretwork. The Western Times reporter who went to the Red Cross exhibition in the Barnfield Hall, Exeter, on 3rd January 1916 referred with some amazement to ‘one plucky Tommy’ who ‘had made a very creditable piece of wool-work by dint of using his teeth and his one sound hand.’ We wonder if any of the articles they made survive in someone’s cupboard somewhere ?

What happened to the wonderful model of No 2 Hospital’s tented ward which was ‘absolutely complete, even to the electric light fittings’ and set out with ‘miniature patients in the red and white beds, miniature nurses, orderlies in khaki and convalescents in hospital blue’. It was made by Trooper C. Winser of Newton Abbot, so maybe someone in the Newton Abbot area knows ?Exeter War Hospital

photograph: Exeter’s War Hospital no.3, the newly build Children’s Home attached to the Workhouse on Heavitree Road.  The building still survives and is used until recently as the Occupational Health Department for the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.

Members of the project would like to thank a couple of people who got in touch after our first report appeared on the Devon Remembers website.

First of all, to Joy Wooding of Halberton Local History Society, who told us that the name of Nurse Winifred English from no 4 hospital appears on their village war memorial, and helped us piece together her story. Then, from even further afield, we were contacted by the grandson of Private Geoffrey Atkinson, an Australian soldier who was in hospital in Exeter on Armistice Day itself. We hope to find out more about his background and his hospital stay.


For more information about the project, please email Julia Neville at

Exeter Poetry Festival commemorates the First World War

On the Saturday of this year’s Exeter Poetry Festival (which runs from 26th August – 1 September 2014) we will be holding a series of events exploring the less heard voices of World War One including a presentation of work by female poets of the period, an independently produced film on Ivor Gurney, and poems by Devon school children.

We are now inviting adult residents in Devon to become part of the day and the publication we are launching by submitting their original poems.

For full terms and conditions for open submission to the WW1 pamphlet project please see the Exeter Poetry Festival website

Poems must respond to the anniversary of the outbreak of WW1, through the theme of ‘Voices and Memory’. Selected poems will appear in a pamphlet of the same title, together with writing and art created in a schools workshop held in Exeter Library.

You can enter up to 3 poems and there is no charge for entry.

Selected poems will be published as part of a limited edition pamphlet launched on the 4th October 2014 at 3pm, Exeter Central Library, as part of Exeter Poetry Festival 2014. In submitting a poem(s) you guarantee that you will be available to read on the 4th October at the library and will have previously made yourself available for an audio recording of your poem, during September 2014.

The deadline for entries is August 12th. Entries are by post only. The address for entries is:

Exeter Poetry Festival,
FAO Alasdair Paterson,
Taddyforde House North,
New North Road,
EX4 4AT.

Ride 2 Remember

Exeter University announces Ride2Remember along the Western Front Battlefields.

A team of graduates and undergraduates from Exeter and Plymouth Universities Officer Training Corps will spend 5 days riding the length of the Western Front in late August.

They will be commemorating the centenary of the start of the First World War and generate an online educational resource that will be available to schools and community groups across the region from early September.

Conducting their own research, they will collate and publish maps, extracts and video blogs during the ride, which sees them cycling a total of 1200 km to the Dolomite mountains of northern Italy before conducting a mountaineering and climbing expedition with 60 other University Officer Training Corps (UOTC) colleagues.

A website detailing the routes and experiences of the team of students during their ride will be available soon, and updated frequently once their journey begins.

Links will be provided soon.  If you have any questions, please email:

Not Forgotten – Kenton’s plans to commemorate their fallen

Kenton Past and Present Society is mounting an exhibition to coincide with the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. It commemorates the twenty soldiersJohn Henry Beer and sailors of Kenton who lost their lives as a result of the conflict. The display includes personal histories and outlines of the campaigns in which the men served, as well as photographs and related memorabilia, providing a fascinating insight into the little-known local lives sacrificed in the Allied Cause.

The exhibition forms the first output in a longer-term commemorative project, to be carried out over the next four years, which will examine the effects of WWI on the village home front and in particular on the lives of those returning from battle and their families.  photograph: John Henry Beer

Ann Bond, Chair of the Society said: “Putting on this exhibition is a real community effort, with individual researchers each investigating the life of one of the casualties and writing up their findings. The research team spans all age groups from teenagers to seventy-somethings. We would now love to share the results of our work with the rest of the community in Kenton and with members of the kenton war memorialpublic in general.”

The exhibition will be open daily in All Saints’ Parish Church, Kenton from Saturday 2 August until Tuesday 5 August from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (12 noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday 3 August). There will be a short opening ceremony in the church at 10.30 a.m. on Saturday 2 August. Themed floral displays and tributes in the church, organized by All Saints’ Church Flower Committee, can be viewed throughout the exhibition period.

photograph: unveiling of the Kenton War Memorial, on 13 March 1920

The ‘Not Forgotten’ project is part of the wider ‘Devon Remembers’ Project of Devon County Council and is part-funded through Cllr. Alan Connett’s community fund, Kenton Parish Council and individual researchers.

For further information, please contact Ann Bond on 01626 890736 or email

Photographs reproduced with kind permission of Kenton Past and Present Society

World War One at Home

The BBC has undertaken a wide range of research to find out about local connections and interesting stories relating to the First World War.  Over the past few months BBC South West has been we’ve been working with local historians and communities to tell stories of Devon’s war.

How did it affect local people and places?

Who was the local woman who lived and worked just yards from German trenches?

Which cinema opened in 1914 and offered glamour and escapism from the Great War?

Who was the local airman shot down by the Red Baron?

You can find out by clicking hereBBC World War One at Home

Combpyne Rousdon Remembers

One of Devon’s smallest parishes, Combpyne and Rousdon near Lyme Regis, is preparing to remember in a big way the sacrifices and hardships of its men, women and children during the First World War.  Thirteen men who worked on the Rousdon Estate, and lived in the village or neighbouring Axmouth, were killed in that ‘war to end all wars’; for its population more men than the national average.  Nearly every family suffered, from the humble farm labourer to the blacksmith, not forgetting Sir Wilfrid Peek’s family who owned the estate.

Men from the village served in every quarter of the globe.  Many of the ‘fallen’ were killed near Ypres and others on the Somme, but some fell in Mesopotamia (Iraq), Gallipoli and on the Bulgarian front.  Sir Wilfrid Peek’s brother Grenville was badly wounded in a cavalry charge the first day British forces saw action.  He spent most of the war as a prisoner of the Kaiser.  Nor was life easy for those that remained at home.  The pages of the parish magazine tell of hard times and difficulties: families torn apart by bereavement, and the need for blackout in the church.  The story of Combpyne and Rousdon at war is a representation of Britain at war.Combpyne Rousdon

The photograph, courtesy of Roy Jones, shows Sir Wilfrid and Lady Peek at their Rousdon mansion, surrounded by a group of men who were convalescing there. circa 1915.

These times will be remembered by the village in a special event on Monday 4th August, exactly 100 years after the start of the war.  Laurie Hitchcock, member of the organising committee, said ‘It was a bloody and awful conflict and probably should never have happened.  But it did, and we want to remember, understand and say thank you to our ancestors for their courage and fortitude’.  The commemoration will start around the small village green with a rededication service at the war memorial, unique in that it is also a milepost.  Relatives of seven of the ‘fallen’ will attend to pay their respects.  British Legion standard bearers will attend and buglers from the Army Air Corps will sound the Last Post.  The Axe Valley Community Choir, led by musical director Edward Jacobs, will lead the singing.

The service will be followed by the opening of an exhibition at Peek Hall, which will include extracts from the stories of the ‘fallen’ from local historian Roy Jones’s forthcoming book.  The exhibition will show life at home and at the front during the war.  A short talk will be given by Rousdon resident, TV historian and author, Taylor Downing.  The afternoon will end with a ‘poppy’ cream tea during which the Axe Valley Choir will lead everyone in singing songs from the trenches.  All proceeds will go to the Royal British Legion.

‘We are planning a memorable occasion’, said Laurie, ‘not in any sense of celebration but to mark what was a pivotal changing point in the history of our country.  Nothing was the same again after 1918 and we owe it to that generation to remember and learn’.

Any questions or requests for further information should be directed to Mr. Roy Jones on 01297 443737 or 0777 174 2333

Special local WW1 artefacts on display at Barnstaple Museum

Diaries, photographs and other memorabilia belonging to a local World War One hero are on display at the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon.

A Northam lady has lent the museum her grandfather Horace Percival Crocker’s personal artefacts from the Great War, which even includes his horse’s bit.HPCrocker

He served in the North Devon Hussars in Gallipoli, the Near East and France. Marilyn Crocker brought the items into the museum to form part of the ‘Not Forgotten’ exhibition. It’s hoped that some of the material can be included in a digital archive being created by ‘Devon Remembers’ – a project set up to commemorate the centenary of the war across the county.

Photo: Horace Percival Crocker of the North Devon Hussars

Museum Manager Alison Mills says: “We’re delighted to be able to share such personal items in our special exhibition. It really brings it home the sacrifice that generation made for us. I’d like to sincerely thank Marilyn for sharing these memories with us.”

Devon Remembers Project Development Officer Emma Waldron says: “The First World War is an internationally significant event and we are helping local communities to commemorate the centenary with a wide range of activities in around 50 communities over the next five years. This includes creating the digital archive and we very much hope to include some of Horace’s personal items in it.”

Photo: Horace Percival Crocker leading his horse Ginger

HPC leading the horsesExecutive Member for Culture, Councillor Derrick Spear, says: “This is a really significant exhibition, made even more touching by the loan of these personal items from a local hero. I would urge everyone to pay the museum a visit and remember the sacrifices that were made for us all during the First World War.”

The current exhibition runs until 5 July. The museum, which holds the Regimental HPC Pressed flowers from souvenir bookCollections of the Royal Devon Yeomanry, is also collecting material for a display in 2015 to mark the centenary of the Royal Devon Yeomanry’s service in Gallipoli.

For more information about the Devon Remembers project, contact

Photo: pressed flowers from a scrap book sent to Horace’s mother from Jerusalem

All photographs reproduced with kind permission of Marilyn Tolley

Budleigh Salterton’s Fairlynch Museum commemorates the Centenary

The Fairlynch Museum in Budleigh Salterton has been busy preparing its commemoration of the centenary of the First World War in many ways:

‘The Great War at Fairlynch’ blog published its first post on 24 January announcing the start of Fairlynch Museum’s exhibition about World War One on Sunday 6 April 2014. Visit to read a succession of posts about aspects of WW1 and the Lower Otter Valley.

Fairlynch Museum and Arts Centre’s 2014 exhibition ‘The Great War at Fairlynch’ opened on Sunday 6 April. The exhibition, put together by the Museum’s Local History Group, tells the stories of people associated with Budleigh Salterton and villages of the Lower Otter Valley during the 1914-18 conflict. Much research has been carried out to find details about the names on local war memorials as well as about the combatants who survived and returned.  Please contact if you think you can help.

The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded £6,300 to Fairlynch Museum and Arts Centre. Awarded through HLF’s ‘First World War: then and now programme’, the project is focusing on documenting the impact of the First World War on the lives of people living in Budleigh Salterton and the Lower Otter Valley.budleigh WW1 deckchairs1

As part of the HLF-funded project to mark the WW1 centenary, ten designer deckchairs went on show for the press at Fairlynch Museum on 23 May. Each deckchair bears WW1-related artwork produced by pupils from local schools as part of a project organised jointly between teachers and Museum volunteers.

The Britannia Inn is working with Fairlynch Museum and the Moonstone Theatre Company to organise a WW1 centenary commemorative evening on Saturday 7th June. The event is intended to raise funds for the Royal Marines Charitable Trust.

Contact: Michael Downes of Fairlynch Museum & Arts Centre for more information:

Tel: 01395 446407 Email:

Click here to visit the Fairlynch Museum Website