Torquay Athletic RFU Juniors pay their respects

Torquay Athletic Junior Committee took the decision to cancel games on Remembrance Sunday and take the majority of the junior section to the Armistice Day event on Torquay seafront. 



The day started at 9.30 with a number of former players/veterans talking to the players about the day and what is means to them. The squad then walked down to the Cenotaph. A wreath was laid by our oldest and youngest members of the club together with a former player and serviceman.

Nearly 100 junior players  attended the event and were invited to stand close to the ceremony and join the march at its conclusion, after which they returned to the clubhouse for food and refreshments. 

The behaviour of the players was impeccable and our attendance at the ceremony was welcomed by many and aligned directly to the core values of Rugby and TARFC Junior Section.  The photos show the young people at the club before the ceremony.

Simon Niles, Vice Chair TARFC Junior Section

Remembering Exeter War Hospital no.1 at the Former Eye Infirmary

6th November 2018 marked the unveiling of a plaque to mark the use of the West of England Eye Infirmary, now Hotel du Vin, between 1914 and 1919 as one of Exeter’s Temporary War Hospitals for the treatment of sick and wounded soldiers. 

Immediately on the outbreak of war, in August 1914, the Devon Red Cross was asked to prepare two hospitals in Exeter to receive wounded patients returning from the front, and the Governors agreed to lend the Eye Infirmary agreed for that purpose. Inpatients requiring eye treatment went throughout the First World War to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital for their surgery.

During the course of the war the hospital more than doubled its numbers from the initial 100 beds, with the addition of a number of marquees on the neighbouring Bull Meadow park where patients could benefit from ‘fresh air treatment’. The hospital did not close until April 1919, remaining open to treat returning prisoners of war, and also the victims of the flu epidemic of 1918-9.

Relatives and connections of a number of the former staff and patients of the hospital – Bessie Hayman, Wendy Lutley, Mary Tiffen, and Robert Guyver and his family were present at the unveiling. Robert, the great-nephew of Cornelius Kerslake, one of the many soldiers who became a patient at No 1 Hospital, unveiled the plaque.


Exeter War Hospital No.3 – plaque unveiling

The building that once existed behind the current façade on Heavitree Road (next to Waitrose!) was constructed as the Children’s Home for Exeter Workhouse. It was opened in February 1914, a few months before the war began, and was equipped with every modern convenience such as electric light.

The Exeter Board of Guardians, predecessors of modern social services authorities, were keen to play their part in the war effort. When Miss Georgiana Buller of the Devon Red Cross wrote in August 1914 ask if they would be willing to lend the building for use as a temporary war hospital they said Yes. The Local Government Board in London opposed the idea but Exeter’s Board prevailed.

The hospital was set up speedily, initially for use for the growing number of troops billeted in Exeter. It was opened in November 1914 and by Christmas was also taking wounded soldiers from the Western Front. It did not close until March 1919.

Inside the front entrance there used to be a tablet, presented after the war, recording the ‘valuable and patriotic assistance’ given by those who served there ‘in the hour of national emergency’. Now that the building is not in public use it is right that there should instead be a plaque visible from outside. This plaque is dedicated, just as our predecessors did, ‘in deep appreciation of the whole-hearted attention which the staff of this hospital gave to the patients’ and remembering ‘the devotion and self-sacrifice’ of those who were treated there.

One of the women who served in the hospital was Red Cross nurse Mary Perkin. Mary was a farmer’s daughter from Coryton near Lew Down in West Devon. Mary responded to the appeal for more women to come forward to serve as volunteers that was made nationally in 1917. She joined the hospital staff on 22 November 1917 and served as a nurse there until the end of 1918, six weeks after Armistice Day.

Joy Frey, the great niece of Red Cross nurse Mary Perkin, unveiled the plaque on 25 October 2018, commemorating the building’s use as a temporary military hospital.

Silverton C of E Primary School Remembers

Our home learning challenge last half term was for families to find out about their family connections to WWI. Each family was encouraged to work together to produce a poppy to remember that person.

We made a display of poppies in our entrance corridor, which is something we will all remember for years to come, there are so many photos, letters and memories recording lost loved ones – it is truly moving. It has been a very important project that has connected our children to their past .

With our very best wishes.

From the Children, Families and Staff of Silverton Church Of England Primary School  

Pages of the Sea commemorations

On 11 November 2018, communities will gather on beaches across the UK to say goodbye and thank you, to the millions of men and women who left their shores during the war, many never to return.

This is a commemoration on a national scale, the idea of Danny Boyle, iconic film director who says: ‘This will be a unique moment to say goodbye and thank you, together, to the millions of men and women who left their shores during the war, many never to return’.

On selected beaches around the UK, including a number in the South West (Saunton Sands in Devon), over the course of several hours, a portrait of an individual from the First World War will emerge from the sand. And then, as the tide rises, be washed away as we take a moment to say a collective goodbye.

Poet Carol Ann Duffy has written a poem especially for Pages of the Sea, to be read by individuals, families and communities on the day. You can also get involved in creating artwork in the sand using stencils of portraits at the beaches.

The Wound in Time

It is the wound in Time. The century’s tides,
chanting their bitter psalms, cannot heal it.
Not the war to end all wars; death’s birthing place;
the earth nursing its ticking metal eggs, hatching
new carnage. But how could you know, brave
as belief as you boarded the boats, singing?
The end of God in the poisonous, shrapneled air.
Poetry gargling its own blood. We sense it was love
you gave your world for; the town squares silent,
awaiting their cenotaphs. What happened next?
War. And after that? War. And now? War. War.
History might as well be water, chastising this shore;
for we learn nothing from your endless sacrifice.
Your faces drowning in the pages of the sea.

Find out more at


Timings still to be confirmed (approx. 12pm – 3pm).  If you are interested in getting involved with events and workshops at this beach contact

There will be a drumming flash mob, pebble art workshops and a choir performance by Devon-based Wren Music of songs written for the home front.

The portrait that will be revealed on this beach is:

Ralph George Griffiths Robson,

Royal Engineers, Age: 26 Date of Death: 23/12/1914, Son of Samuel and Ellen Frances Robson, of Bradiford House, Barnstaple, Devon.

Read More


War Hospital Plaque unveiled in Exeter

Temporary War Hospital no.5 has been commemorated with a recent unveiling of a plaque at Bradninch Hall, Exeter.  Ann Luxton, the great-niece of one of the VAD nurses who served in the hospital unveiled the plaque on 11th September 2018.

The house, once known as The Vineyard, had been converted and extended by the City Council a few years before the war broke out, as a hostel for women students (mainly trainee teachers) at the Royal Albert Memorial College. It was lent by the City Council to the Red Cross when the pressure of casualties in 1915 meant that more hospital beds were urgently needed.

Work to commission this and the buildings next door, down Little Castle Street, as Hospital No 5 took place in the spring of 1915  The building was formally opened on April 30 with Mr Brennan Dyball, a surgeon from the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, as the Officer Commanding.

One of the women who came to work here in 1915 was Eva Osborn, who was a member of the housekeeping team, described as being ‘on general duties’. We were pleased to have with us on 11 September, two members from a family who were close friends with Eva, David and Ruth Vooght.

200 beds were initially opened at Hospital No 5, but with the continuing pressure of additional casualties extra beds were needed. In 1917 temporary huts were put up on what had been the hostel’s tennis court to provide extra wards. Bed numbers rose to 258, and the extra beds meant more staff were needed.

It was at this point that a farmer’s daughter from Little Torrington joined the staff as a Red Cross nurse. Her name was May Elliott and she served as a nurse in Hospital No 5 until it closed in July 1919.

You can visit the sites of the Exeter Temporary War Hospitals by using the War Hospitals Town Trail




Torquay Remembers the ANZACs

Torquay played a special part in supporting the campaigns of the ANZACs and in the return of our New Zealand allies at the end of the War.

The New Zealand contingent of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (the ANZACs) had come to Torquay in 1917. The New Zealanders had a camp in the water meadows in Lower Cockington Valley. They also recovered from their wounds in Torquay’s hospitals, such as the one at the Town Hall.

At the end of the war, between 40,000 and 50,000 men passed through the New Zealand Discharge Depot in St Marychurch, and many were directly repatriated from Torquay.

Read Kevin Dixon’s fascinating research here

British Legion leads ‘Thank You’

The Royal British Legion is calling on the nation to say ‘Thank You’ to the WW1 Generation before the Centenary of the Armistice on 11 November 2018

At the Exeter launch took place on Thursday 30 August 2018, in partnership with Wyvern Barracks and Devon Remembers.  Six ‘Tommy’ silhouettes were erected at the gates of Wyvern Barracks as part of the ‘Thank you’ campaign to remember those who served and died in the Great War.

‘Thank you’ will honour the 1.1 million British and Commonwealth Armed Forces who lost their lives in the First World War as well as those who played their part on the home front, and those who returned to build a better life for the benefit of generations to come.


For further information and to find out how you can get involved in the ‘Thank you’ movement, please visit the RBL ‘Thank you’ website

Remembering the ‘Sawdust Fusiliers’ at Stover

Saturday 1st September 1918 saw the unveiling of a unique memorial at Stover Country Park.

A life-size wooden carving, commissioned by ‘Devon Remembers’ and created by sculptor Andrew Frost, has been installed near Stover School beside the Stover Heritage Trail near Newton Abbot, depicting two members of the Canadian Forestry Corps with one of the horses they relied on to work the forest.

The Canadian Forestry Corps first arrived at Stover in 1916, following a request from the British Government for lumbermen to harvest the country’s ancient forests to supply the Western Front.  The expertise needed to fell, haul and process wood was in short supply in Britain, so a battalion of 1,600 men were recruited from Canada to undertake this vital war work.

By October 1917, when the Canadian Forestry Corps left Stover, the 250 skilled foresters and sawyers based there had felled 700 acres of the estate, producing over 650,000 cubic feet of timber for the British Army.  It was sent to the battlefields in France and Belgium to be used for constructing trenches, dug-outs and roads and to make railway sleepers, huts, planking, posts and ammunition boxes as well as for fuel.  

Local people were very curious about the Canadians and enjoyed fetes and sports days when the visitors demonstrated their skills in logging, baseball, canoeing and First Nations’ ceremonies. Several Canadian men married local women and stayed in Devon.

The Chairman of Devon County Council Cllr Caroline Chugg unveiled the sculpture joined by invited guests including HM Lieutenant General Sir Andrew Ridgway KBE CB DL; Canadian Army Adviser, Colonel Andrew Lussier; Devon County Councillor, Roger Croad; and Stover School’s Chaplain, Rev Fiona Wimsett. 

An information panel accompanies the memorial sculpture, researched and produced by the Devon Remembers Heritage Project.

Read more about the Sawdust Fusiliers and the memorial here

Holsworthy World War One 100 years – to the Memory of the Fallen and the Future of the Living

Holsworthy Town Council is commemorating the end of the First World War with its latest project  Holsworthy World War One 100 years – to the Memory of the Fallen and the Future of the Living.  

One of the aims of the project is to turn Holsworthy into the ‘Poppy Town’ of Devon ensuring that everywhere possible in the town is planted with poppies and everyone being encouraged to place a poppy in the window of their house or in their garden.

A permanent WW1 Memorial Tree Trail will be planted by the Town Council in Stanhope Park.  39 trees will be planted around the park remembering the 39 local servicemen who died during the War and a 40th mature apple tree for those that survived and those that lived through it, symbolising the future of the living.  The local ‘Men Shed’ will make bird boxes which will be installed in the mature trees and the new apple tree.

Local residents and business are being asked to sponsor a tree (at £250 each).  Please contact the Town Council on 01409 253312 or email if you are interested in becoming a tree sponsor.

Holsworthy Museum will be holding an exhibition throughout the project period on WW1 casualties and the local area before, during and after the war.  The local community is encouraged to add to the existing information by sharing stories, photographs and memories about their relatives and families during the time.

Other events planned include a picnic Celebration Party, a Remembrance Concert at the College, Holsworthy Amateur Theatre Society performances, Tidying of overgrown War graves in the churchyard and Remembrance Day events including a Parade, Service and the lighting of a Beacon at 7pm.

For more information, see the Holsworthy WW1 – Project Outline