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

4 thoughts on “Remembering the ‘Sawdust Fusiliers’ at Stover

  1. Congratulations on this wonderful carved commemoration. Is there anywhere I can look to find out:
    What wood is it made of?
    How long it took to carve
    Was it carved just by Andrew Frost or did he have help?
    Where did the wood originate from?
    How much did it cost?

    I took my elderly father there today to see it. He is a carpenter by trade so he asked if I knew the answers to the above questions. It is a shame there is not a bench there to sit and admire it… my dad is 86 and struggled with the walk, but said it was worth it. A bench at the site would have given a welcome rest before the walk back.

    • Heather,
      The horse and officer are made of Cedar and the forester sitting down is Oak. The timber was sourced by the artist in northern England. The carvings were made by Andrew Frost, based in Derbyshire, and took about 6 weeks in total, at a cost of around £7,000. Stover Country Park is looking into the possibility of installing benches in the area.

  2. We only stumbled across this when we went “off piste” from a walk around Stover Lake. Surely it should be in a more prominent/accessible spot so
    many more people learn about the Sawdust Fusiliers.

    • Thank you for your comment. Stover Country Park are in the process of arranging new finger posts/waymarkers to the sculptures from the park, so its location will be more ‘findable’! Additional information points within the park are also being planned. This is ongoing work, so please bear with them.

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