Ivybridge Bookmarks Project Commemorates fallen Servicemen

Ivybridge Library, working with local schools, the Ivybridge Writing Group and the Ivybridge Branch of the Royal British Legion, have produced a suite of 44 bookmarks to commemorate the 44 fallen servicemen of Ivybridge.

Ivybridge in 1914 would have been a moderate sized, mainly rural, close community. With their 44 fallen men in World War 1, everyone would have known someone, either a family member or a neighbour affected by a loss.

Poetry can be very evocative and coming from children, it is particularly poignant, so the library asked local schools to submit work from their pupils. Members of Ivybridge Writers Group selected the 44 verses, which represent a range of stunning work from some very young children.Ivybridge bookmarks 1

This meant we were able to create one unique bookmark per fallen serviceman, comprising one of the children’s verses and the name of a serviceman. The names of the servicemen were provided by the Ivybridge Branch of the Royal British Legion.

Another young pupil from was invited to create a design for the reverse of the bookmarks. She came up with a stunning and evocative design which is very moving.

3,000 bookmarks have been produced. Some of them have been distributed to all local schoolchildren by the Royal British Legion, some are available in Ivybridge Library and others are to be handed out at future World War One events.

Ivybridge bookmarks 2The bookmarks are currently on display in Ivybridge Library, along with a visual presentation commemorating the 44 fallen servicemen, that has been compiled by the Ivybridge Branch of the Royal British Legion. This presentation gives details of each serviceman and the location of their grave.

This project was the brainchild of the Ivybridge Writers Group and was funded by a locality grant from Devon County Councillor Roger Croad.

Lynn West, Library Supervisor, Ivybridge Library

01752 893140, lynn.west@devon.gov.uk

Boiled Egg from Tavistock aids WW1 soldier’s recovery

David Gordon has kindly shared the fascinating story of how his father, Huntly Gordon, injured by shrapnel during the First World War, was helped back to recovery, and had his faith in humankind restored thanks to the kindness of a young girl from Tavistock:

David Gordon has recently published a new edition of his father’s delightful and moving WW1 memoir, ‘The Unreturning Army’.  In the course of researching his archive he came across a letter in childish copperplate writing, which initially made no sense – until he discovered the background story, as follows:

“In summer 1918 he was in hospital in Boulogne, only slowly recovering from near-fatal shrapnel injuries and septicaemia.  After one of several harrowing operations to try and find the cause of the infection in his chest cavity, he was so sickened by the chloroform anaesthetic that he couldn’t keep any food down.  Eventually (after two days) he tried a boiled egg, and his appetite began to return.  The egg had the address of a schoolgirl on it, and he wrote to thank her.  She wrote back, and he noted that this simple act of kindness had restored his faith in human nature; it seems to have been a significant moment in his recovery.

Both her letter, and a letter he wrote to his mother telling the story, are shown below.D Gordon letter

Dorothy Bailey of Tavistock cannot still be alive, (she would be 104); but we have her address from the letter, and I’d be interested to see if any of her relatives are still alive. It isn’t mentioned in the book, but if you’re looking for a really good, personal account of ‘what it was like’ to be there, I do recommend a read!

My father was a Scot, whose connection with Devon is that he spent the last five years of his life at Hawkchurch, near Axminster. In a way that is what makes the story extra poignant: the ‘kindness of strangers’ not even someone with whom he might feel some geographical tie, made Dorothy’s gesture even more powerful.

DG - letter1He came within an ace of dying in April 1918 – his mother was summoned from Edinburgh to Boulogne Hospital, and arrived just in time: “they had struggled to keep him going through the night”; and there can be no doubt that her iron will and

strong maternal presence gave him the support that he needed to battle on. Apart from two smashed ribs he was ‘structurally’ intact: but the septicaemia so nearly killed him that it was over two months before he could stand up for the first time. That egg seems to have been one of the significant turning points in his recovery.

My father’s memoir, which I spent much of last year editing, now includes a ‘Postscript’ chapter describing this recovery from his injuries – mental and physical.”

DG - Letter2‘The Unreturning Army’ by Huntly Gordon is published by Doubleday (part of Random House) and coming out in paperback in November. Reviewing it in The Times, Alan Mallinson said “one of the best… Honest, intelligent and vivid, as fresh as if written yesterday”. The book doesn’t seem to have had the same coverage as the blockbusters by other authors such as Max Hastings, Jeremy Paxman and Co. But none of them were written by someone who was actually there!

DG - Letter3


David Gordon,  d.gordon236@btinternet.com

Click here to see a related article on the BBC World War One website.

DG - unreturning army

Landkey commemorates the Centenary

A WW1 Memorabilia Exhibition was displayed on Saturday 2nd August in Landkey Village Hall.


An interesting and significant collection of WW1 artefacts, photographs and letters of a local man who was in the Devonshire Regiment and died in 1916 was available to view. The collection will be photographed and added to a digital Devon Remembers archive in due course.


The photographs show Emma Waldron, Devon Remembers Project coordinator, with the exhibits and with the Revd John Ewington, talking about his grandfather Henry Haggar, who was killed during the First World War.

On 3rd August, a service of remembrance was held at St Paul’s Church in Landkey. This date fell on the closest Sunday to the centenary of the outbreak of World War 1 which occurred on 4th August 1914. The service took the form of a vigil within the church and concluded with members of the congregation gathering in the garden below the church. There, beside a flowerbed of poppies in bloom, the names of the soldiers from Landkey who lost their lives in World War 1 were read aloud.


The poppy seeds had been planted on 21st May by children from Landkey Primary School in the hope that they would flower in time for the centenary service. Despite the solemnity of the occasion, those who attended the service were delighted by the floral display which the poppies provided! The service on Sunday followed a coffee morning held in Landkey village hall on Saturday 2nd August at which visitors could look at an exhibition of World War 1 memorabilia. Several Landkey residents whose relations saw action in World War 1 generously lent artefacts to the exhibition and those who viewed them were engaged by the stories of suffering and bravery which they conveyed. For more information see www.landkeyparishchurch.org or contact emmakwaldron@btinternet.com

Researching WW1 at the Devon Heritage Centre

The Devon History Forum, in association with the Devon Remembers Project, will be holding a Researching World War One Information Day on Monday 8th September at the Devon Heritage Centre.DCC_Heritage026

Speakers will give presentations on Military History, Community Research projects and problem solving research difficulties.


Places will be limited, toDCC_Heritage014 book your place, please contact Brian Carpenter on 01392 380573 or email brian.carpenter@devon.gov.uk by Monday 1st September.

Please also let Brian know if you have a  specific problem or enquiry which you would like to submit for the Problem Solving session.

A full programme of the day, and details of the speakers can be found here

Ermington War Memorial fully refurbished

Ermington Parish Council has recently announced the completion of restoration work to it’s War Memorial.  Work has been undertaken by  Westcountry Stonemasons to bring the Memorial back to its former glory and to provide a fitting tribute to local men who gave their lives during the First World War.

The memorial, which is located within a Remembrance Garden in the centre of Ermington village needed restoration to ensure that the commemorative focus it provides is secured for future generations.  The stonework has been thoroughly cleaned and joints repointed, and the previously worn, gold engraved lettering has been repainted and are once again clear and legible.


A rededication ceremony is planned for early August.

The project was organised by Parish Councillor Grant Elliot, and funded through the Devon Remembers War Memorials Restoration Grant, with additional funding provided by the village.

Any communities wishing to apply for a War Memorial Restoration Grant are encouraged to have a look at the information on the website of the Community Council of Devon.

The next round of applications closes on 30th September 2014.

Superact launches nationwide First World War centenary music project, The Last Post

Arts non-profit organisation Superact has now launched The Last Post project to mark the First World War Centenary across the UK.

Empowering communities in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland; the project will inspire people of all ages to come together to explore their First World War heritage, remember the impact that the First World War had on their local community and play music from the era as a mark of commemoration.

Community groups will research and share the stories of local people and places from the war and then hold a commemorative event.  At every event, the Last Post ceremonial call will be played in a variety of styles to remember someone in their community; not just on bugles but on any instrument from pianos and cellos to guitars and drums.

Designed and piloted by Superact in 2013 with support from the Department for Communities and Local Government, The Last Post project has been awarded £92,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to roll out the project in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in 2014.

Last Post events this year will take place across the UK in November 2014 as part of a ‘Last Post fortnight’.

To get involved and organise a Last Post event, community organisations and groups across the country are being urged to register their details on The Last Post website to receive an information pack and learn more about the project.

Commenting, Virginia Crompton, Superact’s Executive Producer of The Last Post project said:   “The Last Post is an innovative project that will make the First World War Centenary accessible in a creative way. We have already seen how Last Post events engage and inspire communities through the nine pilots we launched this year and we can’t wait to see the project spread across the UK.”

Explaining the importance of the HLF support, Carole Souter, Heritage Lottery Fund Chief Executive added:  “This nationwide project will reach out to new audiences for heritage and help local communities explore and understand their First World War stories in an imaginative way.”

For more information visit www.thelastpostproject.co.uk

Online Memorial honours Great War sacrifices

One hundred years after the start of the Great War the names of those who gave their lives in the service of their country can still be seen on memorials across the nation.

But now the stories behind some of those names can also be seen, thanks to the dedication of teams of local volunteers and historians and a website provided by Lord Clinton’s Charitable Trust and Clinton Devon Estates, in association with the Fairlynch Museum in Budleigh Salterton.

Together they have produced www.devonremembers.co.uk – Honouring the 1914 Generation – a memorial to the men and women from the Estate’s communities in East and North Devon who fell during World War One.

The website lists the fallen from Budleigh Salterton, Colaton Raleigh, East Budleigh, Huish, Merton, Newton Poppleford and Otterton and, thanks to volunteers from these towns and villages, it tells as much as can be discovered about their lives, their families and their contributions to the war and to their communities.

Volunteers Sheila Jelley, Margaret Brett, Jane Bennett, John Haggar and John Hedderly worked on the communities in East Devon, while Philip Collins from Merton looked into the stories of those from North Devon.

John Varley, Estates Director, said: “We all owe a debt of honour to those who fought and died for their country in the Great War, and while their names are remembered on memorials in Devon’s towns and villages, there is a danger their stories could be lost.

“When we heard that volunteers from the Fairlynch Museum and other local historians were gathering some of those stories together to mark the centenary of the start of the war, we wanted to do something to help, so decided to launch the website where they could be seen by as many people as possible, for many years to come.

“This is a fitting way for us all to pay tribute to the hundreds of people from our communities who made the ultimate sacrifice for us all.

“Many people living in the area today will have relatives who died in the war, and we hope this website will help them to learn more about their families’ history. It is also possible for people to add to the stories online, and to write their own.”

Also revealed to the public for the first time is the wartime diary of the Hon. John Trefusis, who was to become the youngest Brigadier General of his day in the British Army. Known to his troops as Jack Tre, he was a younger brother of the current Lord Clinton’s grandfather.

Tragically he was killed by a sniper on the western Front in October 1915, aged 37, but his words live on in the form of the diary he kept from September 1914, just weeks after the start of the war, until August 1915, when he was promoted to lead the Army’s 20th Brigade.

Other stories on the site tell of the struggle on the home front: of some of the women who worked at Budleigh Salterton’s Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) hospital for injured servicemen, such as Commandant Harriett Barton who gave up her home in the town’s West Hill to found the hospital.

Well-known Budleigh author and artist Joyce Dennys was also a nurse in the hospital and her work there helped inspire her to produce recruitment posters for the VAD.

Read some of the interesting stories which have been researched here.

The website can be seen at www.devonremembers.co.uk. People can add their own stories and photographs on the site, or by emailing mail@devonremembers.co.uk.

To view a video of the launch event on 29th July, click here.

It is part of the wider Devon Remembers project being co-ordinated by Devon County Council.

A Poem about War – a call for contributions to comemmorative book

Could you write a poem about war?  It can be fact, fiction, about family members or another area of war.

ww1 image

I would like to create a Booklet of War Poetry from Bampton and Outlying Districts, to help commemorate the Great War and 100 years from 1914.

Image from www.ww1photos.com

All Bamptonians know that the military have played an important part in this town; the names of local men who died in the two World Wars are emblazoned on the War Memorial.

This year help us to remember them by creating a local book of poems which I intend to get published.  If you would like to take part please send me your poem, up to 40 lines in length, by the end of August, with your name and address.  Should I receive a lot of poems these will go forward to a local judging competition – more of this later.  The chosen poems will be published before the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month.

You could be a part of this.  Use your imagination to help Bampton celebrate the lives of those who were lost to this town in 1914-18 and 1939-45.

Please send to: tempntime@btinternet.com, or to Fran Collier, Sunwyn, High Street, Bampton, EX16 9NQ.  Contact: 01398 331427.

Commemoration of Lydford’s fallen to involve Author Clive Aslet

Lydford Village War Memorial – the search is on to find descendants in time for unique commemoration on 7th September involving the community, and a lecture by renowned author Clive Aslet, in aid of ABF The Soldiers’ Charity.

The Village of Lydford, on Dartmoor, will – like so many other villages across the UK – gather round their War Memorial this year, 100 years after the start of WWI.

Author, Country Life Editor-at-Large and broadcaster Clive Aslet has written a book about those remembered on Lydford’s monument, sparking a new challenge to find descendants of the fallen. Clive will be hosting a special talk at Exeter University where he will detail the lives lost and the sacrifices made by the Lydford residents during the War.

A commemoration at the War Memorial on 7th September will see Regimental representatives – including from the Canadian Army – veterans, civic dignitaries and descendants gather for a service at 3pm. The talk at Exeter University will take place following the commemoration (at 6.30pm), raising money for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity.The Soldiers' Charity logo

Robert Jordan, from The Soldiers’ Charity, is behind the unique event. He said: This commemoration and talk is very significant coming as it does in the Centenary year. It would be made extra special with more families with links to those who made the ultimate sacrifice to help us mark the occasion.

See how to purchase tickets for the lecture on 7th September hereTickets are priced £25 and include a wine & canapé reception.

One descendant is still living in the village.  Graham Huggins (pictured below on the left with Howard Barkell, Lydford historian)  is the great nephew of Sergeant Archie Huggins, North Devon Hussars. Lydford descendant

The search for more relatives has begun with the help of Findmypast.com and local history societies and one or two leads are being investigated. Still to be traced are family members of:

  • Petty Officer Stoker George Metters RN
  • Surgeon Commander William Henry Daw RN
  • Pte Frank Wilfred Fry, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry
  • Pte Richard Henry Hobbs, Devonshire Regt
  • Pte Richard John Petherick, Dorsetshire Regt
  • Sgt Edward John Whitford, King’s Royal Rifle Corps
  • Sgt Archibald Roger Huggins, Royal North Devon Hussars
  • Pte George Henry Taylor Lake, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
  • LCpl Charles Henry Berry, Worcestershire Regiment
  • Lt Richard Radford Turner, Royal Sussex Regiment
  • LCpl James Stephens, 816th Employment Company
  • Pte Mancel Clark, Manitoba Regiment
  • Pte Samuel Voyzey, Canadian Infantry100 WW1 logo

If you are from the Lydford area and know of a family member who fought in the war, please do not hesitate to get in touch with The Soldiers’ Charity. For further information about the commemoration and event please visit:  http://www.soldierscharity.org/events/South-West

Contact for further details: Robert Jordan, Email: rjordan@soldierscharity.org, Phone: 01392 492650

Ivybridge commemorates the Centenary

In order to mark the 2014 centenary Ivybridge Town Council and the Ivybridge branch of the Royal British Legion have been working hard over the past few months to create a Garden of Remembrance  in the town to be a living memorial to the Ivybridge men who fought and died in the war. Ivybridge poppies 1

Volunteers helped to clear the ground before planting bulbs, wild flowers and poppy seeds.  A sign was commissioned and erected which features an extract from John MacRae’s poem ‘In Flanders Fields’.

The dedication service took place on Saturday 19th July.  See the website article which National Initiative ‘Cultivation Street’ has published about the Ivybridge project here.Ivybridge poppies5

Packets of poppy seeds were also distributed to school children in the area, inviting them to grow their own poppy gardens,  and remember the centenary and the significance of the poppy.

To find out more about the Royal British Legion in Ivybridge, visit www.rblivybridge.co.uk