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

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