North Devon WW1 Stories blog spot

Devon Libraries staff working in the Local Studies Centre in Barnstaple together with Devon Archives and Local Studies Service and the North Devon Athenaeum invite you to visit the North Devon WW1 Stories Blog Spot at:

northdevonww1stories BlogSpot

They will be following the progress of the First World War over the centenary years and researching the lives of the local men and women who were involved.  It is hoped that a new story will be posted each month.

Local WW1 publications requested for new collection

DR Heritage Project logo

The Devon Remembers Heritage Project is currently requesting donations of locally researched publications about the First World War to add to a new collection which will form part of the Local Studies Collection (formerly the Westcountry Studies Library).

This will be a ‘sister’ collection to the Devon Remembers archive collection and will greatly enrich the resources on offer to First World War researchers.

If you know a local author or group that has produced a book of WW1 history, please let the Project team know so that it can be included in the library.

Find out more about the Devon Remembers Heritage Project at their website

Project Manager Katherine Findlay ( and Project Assistant Dawn Roberts ( will be pleased to hear from you.  Based in the Devon Heritage Centre, at Great Moor House, Sowton Industrial Estate, they can be contacted on 01392 381975

Somme Commemoration Battlefield Tour 2016

The Devon County Royal British Legion are planning a Battlefield Tour Trip during 2016 to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

The tour will take place from 18th – 21st March 2016, and based in Arras.  Mike RBLCartwright will be the tour guide and will be organising the itinerary for the trip nearer the time.

The cost will be £239 (single supplement £118)

Please contact Carole Arnold at or telephone 07769 671590 to register your interest in taking part.

For further information, please see attached: RBL Somme trip 2016 Poster

2015 Devon Festival of Remembrance

Commemorating the end of the Second World WarRBL

For the first time in its 20 years’ history, the 2015 Devon Festival of Remembrance will be held on Thursday 5 November in Exeter Cathedral, starting at 7.30pm. Doors will open at 6.45 pm. The change of venue is a major break with tradition but in keeping with the solemnity of the occasion.

The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines of the Commando Training Centre Lympstone will provide the much-appreciated musical accompaniment whilst the Midlands-based singing Trio “The D-Day Darlings” will once again entertain the audience during the evening. This is the Trio’s second appearance at the Festival and, although giving a lighter touch to the occasion, they will also capture the ethos of the war years and most especially the end of hostilities in Europe and Japan seventy years ago.

There will be the usual parade of standards of county branches of the Royal British Legion as well as representatives of the Armed Forces, the emergency services and ex-Services’ Associations. Also taking part will be Devon’s Cadet Forces and members of the various youth organizations. The compère for the evening will be David Fitzgerald of BBC South West whilst this year’s guest speaker will be The Very Reverend Dr. J.L. Draper, Dean of Exeter Cathedral.

The Festival of Remembrance in Exeter is the annual opportunity for the people of Devon to honour those who served in the two world wars and other conflicts during the last century. Unfortunately, war would appear to be a permanent feature of humanity and in recent times the nation has suffered further losses during wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and the Balkans.

The Royal British Legion safeguards the welfare, interests and memory of those who have served in the Armed Forces. The Legion’s work continues unabated; the welfare of the nation’s soldiers, sailors and air force personnel together with their dependants is the Legion’s primary raison d’être. This Festival is a reminder to us all of the sacrifices made.

Tickets @ £15, £12.50 and £10 are on sale at the Cathedral Box Office tel: 01392 285983 or on

Further information available from Devon Royal British Legion, Tel: 01837 840757

Before Action: William Noel Hodgson and the 9th Devons

Loos - Exeter-HodgsonThe renowned war poet William Noel Hodgson volunteered for the British Army on the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 and served in the 9th Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment.  His first major offensive came on 25th September during the Battle of Loos following which he was awarded the Military Cross for holding a captured trench without reinforcements or supplies.

He was killed in action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme in Mansel Copse near Mametz and is buried there in the Devonshire Cemetary. His last poem Before Action is possibly his best known piece.

Charlotte Zeepvat  has been fascinated by the story of Hodgson, his last poem, and the 9th Devons ever since she was a child growing up in Ilfracombe.

She has spent over thirty years piecing together not only Noel Hodgson’s story but that of his Battlion too, and the other characters in the 9th Devons, and collecting unpublished material.  “From the outbreak of war until the Somme I’ve been able to set down their experiences in their own words”

A short extract from her book Before Action: William Noel Hodgson and the 9th Devons can be found belowThe extract relates to the presentation to the City of Exeter of guns captured by the 8th and 9th Devons during the Battle of Loos in 1915. Loos - Exeter-gun


With minds turning towards the Somme centenary in 2016 – and to the centenary of the Battle of Loos during 2015, where so many Devon men fought for the first time, Charlotte is keen to share her book.

The story of the 9th Devons at Mansel Copse is one of the best known stories of the first day on the Somme, and there is material about it in the book which may not have been seen before.

Take a look at the extract from Charlotte’s book below about the presentation of the Loos Guns to Exeter on 12th November 2015, a postcard of one of them is shown above, and photographs of the men mentioned in the extract include: Loos - Exeter-Upcott

John Upcott (right) who led the detachment of wounded 9th Devons at the presentation ceremony, and
Loos - Exeter-Inchbald

Second Lieutenant Jack Inchbald (left) who came from Thurlestone in Devon


After over 30 years researching the story it’s hard to stop, and even though the book is now finished, Charlotte would still be interested to hear from anyone whose relative served with the 9th Devons.  If you do have any feedback, please contact Charlotte Zeepvat at 

Please visit Charlotte’s website and enjoy the interesting material in the related book.

Loos - Before Action-extract




Grand Launch for Devon Poppy Appeal

RBLSaturday 24th October marked the County launch event for the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal in Exeter.

A parade through the city centre, led by the Plymouth and Cornwall Wing band, included serving forces personnel, cadets, veterans and poppy collectors as well as a range of historic and current military vehicles. 24.10.15 poppy drop

The parade culminated with a poppy drop from the Guildhall, a fly past and stalls, displays and music on the Cathedral Green.

For further information about the 2015 Poppy Appeal, and how to support the Royal British Legion, visit the website.

24.10.15 poppy parade1

24.10.15 poppy parade












Former Soldier to walk 500 miles to commemorate WW1 Devonshire Losses

On 1st September, Steve Keane, the chauffeur to the Lord Mayor of Exeter and a former member of the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment, will begin a 500 mile walk around the Devon County boundary. Covering approximately 20 miles a day, Steve aims to raise funds for the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal as well as public awareness of the enormous sacrifices made by Devon’s soldiers 100 years ago during the Battle of Loos.

Steve will set off at 10 am from Exeter Cathedral Green to make his way to Exmouth to arrive on the promenade at about 2pm. On this first leg of his challenge he will pass through Topsham and Lympstone via the Royal Marine Commando Training Centre.

His route on the north and south coasts will follow as much as possible the South West Coastal Path, whilst his hike inland will follow the county border via Chardstock and the Doone Valley in the east and Bridgerule and Lifton in the west.

The Lord Mayor of Exeter, Councillor Olwen Foggin, whose grandfather Sergeant Ernest Johns of the 9th Battalion the Devonshire Regiment, won the Military Medal for bravery during the Battle of the Somme in 1916, will be present at the start to wish her chauffeur Godspeed.

Steve is not only the Lord Mayor’s chauffeur but is also Mace Sergeant and is responsible for Guild Hall security. He considers this walk to be a fitting tribute to the 1000 men of the 8th and 9th Battalions of the Devonshire Regiment who lost their lives on 26 September 1915 during the Battle of Loos on the Western Front. His walk will take him past the memorial to the 8 Devonshire soldiers from Dawlish who were killed in that battle. His route will also include the memorials to Lieutenant Colonel ‘H’ Jones VC at Kingsweir and Private Theodore Veale VC in Dartmouth.

This physically demanding endeavour is also a commemoration of the ending of the 2nd World War with the Japanese surrender in August 1945.

The walk will end on Sunday 20th September when it is hoped supporters and spectators will join Steve at the Customs House, Exeter Quayside at 11 am for the last mile to Exeter Cathedral Green.

Steve and his assistant, daughter Penny driving the support vehicle, are hoping to raise £5000 in sponsorship.

Donations can be made at or by cheque, payable to the “RBL Devon Walk” sent to 207 Exwick Road, Exeter, EX4 2AU. Mobile Telephone: 07789 412 168.

Click here to see a Map of Keane’s walk

BBC World War One at Home

BBC WW1 at home logo

The BBC World One at Home website is a wealth of interesting information, stories, images and learning opportunities which is well worth a visit if you haven’t yet, or haven’t done so for a while.

There are free online courses available if you would like to learn more about specific aspects of the First World War and beyond. These are offered in conjunction with the Open University, and the Universities of Glasgow, Birmingham and Leeds.

Learn how local people and places made their contribution to the war effort, in so many different ways.  There are local stories linked to all areas of the country; just enter your postcode and prepare to be fascinated and learn about little-known local links to the First World War.

Newton Abbot Town & GWR Museum continues WW1 focus

The Newton Abbot Town and GWR Museum displays this year are continuing to focus on the First World War with an additional display on War & Peace in the GWR.

WW1 Traveling exhibition – On its travels again throughout the year, are the 5 spectacular World War 1 story panels. This year an additional story of 4 brothers from the town. Lookout on the ‘What’s on’ section of the museum website for details of where the panels will be on display. During August 2015 the stories will be on display at Hannah’s at Seale Hayne.

World War 1 Micro Histories packs –  With 20 brand new stories connecting the town to World War 1, the museum now has on sale packs 1 and 2 of the Micro Histories collection, a total of 40 stories. The histories include historical information and images of soldiers, sailors, balloonist, nurses and doctors from Newton Abbot, as well as the historical background.  At £2 a pack they are great value for money.


An example of one of the Micro-histories

The museum is always keen to hear your stories, do contact them through the ‘contact us’ facility on their website, or via the museum Facebook page.

For further information about the interesting exhibition, visit the museum website.


Devon Remembers Project Lottery Funding Success


The South West Heritage Trust has been awarded £267,400 by the Heritage Lottery SWHT logo - smallFund (HLF) for the Devon Remembers Heritage Project. The project, which will run from September this year till January 2019, commemorates the centenary of the First World War in Devon.

The project will support at least 30 community groups giving people the chance to explore local stories about the war. A wide range of talks, exhibitions, online content, publications and heritage-based creative work will enable people to explore the impact of the war on Devon and to discover the many ways in which Devon people have remembered the conflict.

The project will also have a lasting legacy in the form of an archive of images and records, oral history reminiscences, and written and artistic responses. An important aspect of the project will involve working with volunteers to support them in learning new skills through training and workshops.

Many other projects around the country have concentrated on remembering the outbreak of the war in 1914. This project will provide a Devon focus throughout the remainder of the centenary period, culminating in a final commemorative event to mark the centenary of the Armistice in November 2018.

Tom Mayberry, Chief Executive of the South West Heritage Trust, said, ‘We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has decided to support the Devon Remembers project. The award will enable us to capture Devon stories of the First World War in a lasting way and to engage with communities and individuals in remembering an event whose consequences are still with us.’

Nerys Watts, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said: “The impact of the First World War was far reaching, touching and shaping every corner of the UK and beyond. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, we have already invested more than £70million in commemorative projects, including local community projects like this one in Devon, which will enable people to explore and record their local wartime history and commemorate the thousands of people from Devon who lost their lives during the conflict.”

For further information, please contact:

Brian Carpenter, Community Learning Officer at the Devon Heritage Centre on 01392 384253 or email:

Dr Janet Tall, Head of Archives and Local Studies at the Somerset Heritage Centre on 01823 347420 or email:

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