The First World War – everyone played their part

Brentor Football Team before the War. Some of these men never returned. From top left: Major LeWaine, John Cowling, William Woolacott, Francis Howill, Samuel Lashbrook, Macintosh, Tom Metters, Sam Rice, Bert Walters, Charlie Launder, George Cowling, Bill Stacey, Harold Medland, Frank Doidge, Frank Cowling, Sidney Brooks, Buller Hodge, Hedley Walters, Street, Squires, W Hodge, George Lashbrook, Davey, A Doidge, Frank Lashbrook, Tom Lashbrook

The War Memorial in the middle of Brentor is a focal point for remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice in World War One.  But they were just the few.  Many others fought and survived, some were not well enough to serve, others were needed to carry out essential jobs.  All played their part in the war with many carrying physical or emotional scars throughout their lives.

Sidney Cole ALFORD, their great nephew, was employed by the Rice brothers in Burn Lane in 1917. He was 22 years old, born in Tavistock, the son of John and Ann Alford. In 1911 he had been apprenticed to his brother in law William James Burridge Stawt at Horsebridge.  A six month exemption from service, April 1917 – Sept 1917, was granted, as his employers R&S Rice had been unable to find a replacement smith and they had a lot of work on order. On 1 Oct 1917 he joined the RAF, giving his father John as his next of kin. In 1926 he married (Martha) Lavinia Penney in Launceston. After his death in June 1939, she married William H Gill in 1946.  She herself died in 1953.

On 23 September 1914 Sidney’s brother, Stanley Parken ALFORD, a Methodist blacksmith born on 11 Dec 1890, 5’9″ tall with brown hair, blue eyes, fresh complexion, with varicose veins in his right leg and scars on his left knee, signed up in the Divisional Cavalry in the Canadian Army. In 1911 he had been working with Roger and Samuel Rice in Burn Lane: he was the grandson of their sister, Ann. Though giving information that he had lived in Canada since 1912, he had actually sailed from Liverpool on the ARABIC, arriving in Portland Maine on 13th April 1913, with the intention of going on to Alberta. He married Flora Elizabeth Mary Jervis in Eltham Kent towards the end of 1918 and having reached the rank of Corporal, he returned to Canada on the OLYMPIC on 18th July 1919 on his dispersal draft.

Flora sailed to join her husband on 24th October 1919. On 18 December 1924, they traveled with their two sons Edward Jarvis 4 and Robert Stanley 18 months on the MINNEDOSA to Southampton. He went to Calstock to see his family and she went to Worthing with the children, presumably to see hers.  Stanley returned to Canada on 3rd March 1925 on the MARBURN, with his wife and children travelling in May 1925. The family, which included Edward J 16, Robert S 13 and Audrey 8, left Quebec on board the EMPRESS OF BRITAIN bound for Southampton on 6 August 1936.  They intended staying at 1 Millbrook Villas, Parkwood Rd in Tavistock.  Stanley died in Gibbons, Edmonton, Alberta on 15 April 1971 aged 81.

In 1911 Bertie Stone ANSTEY was a 30 year old chauffeur, living in Langstone Cottages with his wife Clara and daughter Elsie May aged 3.  His son Frederic Sidney was born on 6 February 1912. Bert served as a private in the Army Service Corps. M2/167535 and was entitled to the Victory and British War Medals.  He went on to become a butler, and died in Exeter in 1963.

In 1911 William Henry BALSOM was a 30 year old farm labourer living in a cottage in Brentor village.  He had married Florence Louise Newcombe in 1906 and they had two small children William George Newcombe born 2nd February 1908 and Martha Jane born 3rd February 1911.  Their third child Walter John was born on 5th August 1915.  William was granted a conditional exemption from war service from April 1916, following an application by Mrs Willcock of Wastor Farm as he had sole charge of the cattle and the discharge of other duties on the farm.  He was a Baliff in Dartmouth in 1939 and died in 1958.

Albert BATTEN, born 2nd February 1895, was the son of James Batten and his second wife Eliza Jane Warne, and the brother of James Moor Batten (1889-1918) below.  In 1911, Bert was lodging in Burn Lane with the Rice brothers, where he was an apprentice Smith. Albert enlisted and served as a farrier in Mesopotamia.  He survived an attack on his ship in transit.  Unfortunately, his war record is not available. In 1939 Bert was living with his younger sister, Edie, both single, in West Blackdown.  He was a postman and smallholder. He is remembered as the Brentor village walking postman in the 1950s.

Private James Moor BATTEN (51327) of the 9th Battalion (Service), Devonshire Regiment, born on 1 March 1889, died of his wounds in France on 13 October 1918, aged 29 and was buried in Mont Huon Cemetery, Le Treport.  Further details are available in the War Memorial tribute pages – click here to find out more

John Henry BATTEN, born in Brentor on 13 February 1871, was the son of John and Ann Bonato Batten. In 1911 he was a farm labourer living at Cross Trees in South Brentor. with his wife, Elizabeth and four of their five children.  He was posted for service on 29 January 1916 and allocated to the Royal Veterinary Service, where he served as a groom in England for the remainder of the war.  He was admitted to hospital in Lancashire on 28 October 1918, suffering from influenza and ottoroea (a discharge from his [right] ear) and was discharged from hospital on 17 January 1919, declaring that he had never been ill previously, but ‘now feeling very well and no trouble from ear’.  In 1939, John was a widowed farm labourer living with his eldest daughter, Annie, and her husband William Bray at Wood Park, Coryton. John died in 1943 aged 72.

Acting Corporal John Henry Batten

Acting Corporal (5002) John Henry BATTEN 1897-1916 of the 1st/4th Battalion (Territorials), Devonshire Regiment had enlisted in Tavistock and died of pneumonia on 17 September 1916 in Mesopotamia (Iraq) aged 20. He was buried in Amara Cemetery. Further details are available in the War Memorial tribute pages  – click here to find out more

Acting Cpl John Henry Batten’s sister, Elizabeth Alice Batten 1887-1977 married John Jasper EGGINS 1892-1967 late in 1918.  Earlier that same year, on 27th March, he had been awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in Hamel, France.  As a 2nd Lieutenant in the Machine Gun Corps he had shown coolness and skill in a difficult situation: “When the officer in charge of two forward machine guns was severely wounded during an enemy attack he at once went forward with the two remaining guns, brought them in to action, and drove the enemy back. He then assisted in reorganising the defence both of the infantry and machine guns, and it was owing to his coolness and skill that a difficult situation was restored“.

In 1911 William Charles BATTEN was an 18 year old farmer was living with his family at Brinsabatch Soon after his younger brother John Henry died aged 20 in September 1916, William was granted a 3 month exemption from active war service from October 1916 – December 1916, with a conditional exemption granted in February 1917, as he was a single man farming 100 acres.  He married Annie Louisa Watkins in 1919, they had three sons between 1920 and 1929: William, John Henry and David

Private Albert BICKLE (M/274278) of 1015th Motor Transport Company of the Army Service Corps was killed in action in Mesopotamia (Iran) on 20 July 1918 aged 31.  A warehouseman, living in Penge, South East London in 1911, he had enlisted in Harrow, North London.  Further details are available in the War Memorial tribute pages – click here to find out more

Albert’s brother, Thomas BICKLE was a Private in the 9th Battalion of the Devonshires.  He died on 26 October 1917 in Belgium and is buried in Lijssenthoek Cemetery.  He is commemorated in Marystow. The son of James Bickle 1856-1940 and his wife Ann Maria, who had died in 1904, Thomas had married Mary Jane Hitt in 1904 and they had 6 children, including George Henry born after his father’s death.  Sadly George Henry was killed in France on 6 June 1944.

In 1911, with most of his family living at Rose Cottage, William Henry BLACKMORE born on 27th July 1892 was living at the Bakery in Brentor where he was described as being a Baker’s Helper.  Private William Blackmore 218028 was 5’5″ tall and 133lbs when he was called up on 20 October 1916 in Plymouth, initially to the Devonshire Regiment.  In 1916, when he named his father as his next of kin, the family was living at Clapton Gate, though he was still living at the Bakery.  William was transferred to the Bakery division of the Army Service Corps, until certain medical conditions meant that he was no longer fit for bakehouse duties.  He was transferred to Woolwich Dock as a porter and loader.  He lost a day’s pay when he was admonished for being absent from a parade thereby causing another soldier to perform his duty.  On 17 April 1917 he was married to Bessie Medland Batten (daughter of John and Elizabeth Batten) by Vicar Apps in Brentor.  Their address subsequently was Bowden, Glenville Rd, Tavistock. In 1939 he was working as a gardener and living in Sutton Bingham in Yeovil with his wife Bessie and daughter Phyllis, (later Ostler) born in 1921, and other children.

Charles Frederick BLACKMORE born 1894 was a Railway Porter living at 3 Railway Cottage in Falmouth when he joined the Royal Garrison Artillery (53431) on 17 Nov 1914, also giving his father, William of Clapton Gate, West Crewkerne Somerset as next of kin.  Charlie was 21 years and 180 days, 5’9″ tall and had a tattoo RFA EFB with a heart.  On 17 Sept 1916 he married Phoebe White in Falmouth.  Unfortunately damage to records means that details of his postings were lost.  He was living at 8 Churchill Way Peverell Plymouth on 25 Jan 1931, leaving £198 to his widow Phoebe.

Harry Sidney BLACKMORE born 28 Feb 1895 was a member of the Royal Field Artillery Territorials, before signing up as a driver in the Royal Artillery (865583). Again, detailed records of his service are no longer available. In 1930 he married Alice Tett in Chard in Somerset. In 1939 they were settled at Horse Shoe Cottage, Drimpton, Beaminster Dorset where he was a Master Blacksmith. They were still in Drimpton, but at Forge Cottage, Chard Road when he died on 14 November 1976, leaving an estate of £11,684.

Private Wilfred Stanley John BONEY 273702 received his discharge from the Army Service Corps on 31 Aug 1917 at Woolwich Dockyard, as he was no longer physically fit for War Service.  He was 26 years 7 months, 5 feet tall, had a fair complexion, blue eyes and dark hair. He was attested 31 Aug 1916, called to the Reserve Sept 1916 and mobilised 6 Dec 1916 but a medical condition from childhood led to his discharge. This had not been considered sufficient previously to grant him an exemption, when he had described himself as a motor engineer and repairer of agricultural instruments in Brentor.  Campaigns, Medals and Decorations: Home from 4 Dec 1916-31 Aug 1917 as part of his 1 year and 1 day service. In 1911 the Boney family had been living at Blacknor Park, where Wilfred’s father Frank Harry and his brother Leonard were farmers.  Wilfred married Dorothy M Rollin in Plympton in 1923.  In 1939 he was recorded as living at Wortha Engineering Works, which was next door to Blacknor Park, where his mother Harriet, brother Leonard and his wife Alice, were living. Wilfrid was described as an Engineer (Agricultural).  Also living at the Works was his Assistant, Olive Northcott. Wife Dorothy was living in Laurels, Crownhill in Plymouth with others in the house next door to her parents and siblings.  Wilfred was living at Fortywinks, Wortha, when he died on 28 June 1965, leaving £850.

Alfred John BRIMACOMBE was the son of John and Mary Ann Brimacombe.  By 1911 John had retired and Alfred John was a partner in the bakery. He was granted a conditional exemption for active war service from July 1916.  His application stated that he had two children and was a partner in a bakery business, which had two motor vans and kept a boy.  He had advertised for a man for six weeks and had received no applications.  A 6 month exemption was granted to baker William Charles BRIMACOMBE, probably his son, from October 1917-April 1918.

In 1939 Alfred John who had been born on 13 October 1878 and was described as a baker and grocer, was living in Station Road with his wife Blanche and Tom Brimacombe aged 24, who was probably his son.  His son William Charles Brimacombe born 1 Sept 1899 was a Baker and Special Constable, living at Nutshell with his wife Ida and children.  Alfred was living at The Laurels in Brentor when he died on 6 July 1958 at Gwyntor in Tavistock, leaving effects of £5377.  His wife Blanche survived him.

Harold Edwin Orlando Holwill Britton, born on 16 November 1902, was the son of Ellen Charlotte Britton.  She married O.E.O.E. Holwill (Orlando Edgar Otto Edwin) known as O-E,O-E on 12 December 1905.  It is likely that O.E.O.E. was the father of Harold, though records do not acknowledge this relationship.  Harold was recorded on the 1911 census as the nephew of Emily (Britton) and Albert Uren in South Brentor, living next door to his grandmother and uncle.  Emily and Albert had married in 1895 in Tavistock and had one child Phoebe Edith in 1896.  Her birth and death were recorded in the AMJ quarter of 1896.  Harold did not go to live with his parents in Bannawell St Tavistock after their marriage. Perhaps he had been adopted by his childless aunt and uncle.

The Holwill family were living at 4 Trelawney Road when Orlando HOLWILL 306732 began his service in May 1916, having spent 8 years in the Devon Volunteers. His exemption certificate expired on 31 December 1916. It was stipulated that the certificate should not be renewable, or open to variation. However, his employer applied for a further application but this was refused, although it was stipulated that he should not be called up before the end of February. He was employed by Chas M Boo(th?) of 7 Duke St, Tavistock, who listed a number of the jobs on the books and stated “It is already impossible to keep up with urgent demands of the above kind with such a depleted staff and this man “Holwill” is doing the work of two men by motoring the others to and from distant places in this scattered neighbourhood and working all day at his trade.” Many titled clients were included to add weight! His personal details included two children: Florence Lillian born 22 July 1907 and Leslie Edward born 7 July 1910. (Younger children Doris May and Cyril were born in 1917 and 1920.) Orlando was classed as a sapper, rather than private, when his capability was registered as Plumber Proficient in June 1917. He was transferred to the Tank Corps at Wareham on 18 Jan 1918 and appears to have still been there, as he had upper dentures fitted in Wareham on 6 June 1918. He embarked at Southampton for Havre on 2 Oct 1918. ‘Dispersal’ was in February 1919.

Orlando, a plumber, Ellen and younger daughter, Doris May were recorded at 4 Trelawney Road in 1939. Ellen Charlotte Holwill continued to live there until her death on 6 April 1957. Administration of her estate of £439 was granted to (her daughters) Doris May Treloar (wife of Donald Hugh Treloar) and Florence Lillian Davey (wife of William George Davey). Her husband O-E, O-E had died on 23 September 1951. Probate for his estate of £2347 was granted to his widow Ellen and (son) Cyril Holwill, master plumber.

Private Stanley BROOK (203488) born in 1898, joined D Company of the 1st Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment . He died on 27 October 1918 aged 20. By this time his father had died and his mother was living in Southgate, Lydford. His grave is in the south part of Brentor United Methodist Chapel, which is now Brentor cemetery. Further details are available in the War Memorial tribute pages – click here to find out more.

In 1911 Carl Bussell, aged 17, who had been born in Broad Clyst was working at Broad Park farm. On 4 August 1915 when he would have been 21, Gunner Carl BUSSELL 37755 began service in the Egyptian Theatre of War, with the Royal Garrison Artillery. He was awarded the Victory, British and 15 Star medals. His older brother Reginald John BUSSELL 37626 was also serving as a gunner in the Royal Garrison Artillery, but died in Aden on 5 July 1915. His name is recorded on the roll of Honour in Broad Clyst. In 1921 Carl travelled from Bombay to Plymouth on the MALWA, which had originally left Melbourne on 19 November, giving as his occupation Arab and Kurdist Wares. He must have found it difficult to settle after his experience living abroad, as on 27 April 1922 he left on the BELTANA for Australia, giving labourer as his occupation. On both occasions he gave his parents’ (Tom and Ann) home: Forces Cottage, Broad Clyst, Devon as his address. He died in Victoria, Australia in 1945, aged 51.

Born on 2nd June 1886, Hartley CLEGG was the son of John, a cotton spinner or minder and Sarah Ann. He was baptised on 4th July 1886 and grew up in Oldham with his younger sister, Hannah. In early 1913 he married Violet M Tout and on 30th July 1913, their son Eric (Hartley) Clegg was born in Newton Abbot: Eric went on to become a Petty Officer in the Royal Navy. When Hartley Clegg signed up in February 1915 in Grove Park London, he gave his address as 7 Tidwell Terr, Longbrook St, Exeter, the same road in which he was living when he died in 1953. He gave his occupation as Motor Driver and with the rank of private (M2/047568) he joined the 15 MAC Unit of the Royal Army Service Corps MT as a driver. He was on home service from 1 Feb 1915 until 25 July 1915 when he embarked for France on the “Duchess of Argyle” as part of the Expeditionary Force. He was demobbed from the Fovant Dispersal Unit on 14 May 1919, with only one blemish on his record. He had forfeited 3 days pay when absent from his car on convoy duty from 12 noon -12.15pm. In 1939 son Eric was home on leave with his parents at 11 Park Road Longbrook. Exeter. Hartley gave his occupation as Motor Driver Mechanic; Public Service Vehicle

John and Mellony Cowling’s son, Harry or Bombardier John Henry COWLING (75452) of the 177th Siege Battery, 3rd Siege Battalion, Royal Garrison Artillery gave his occupation on enlistment was stonemason.  He was sent to France in April 1916, suffered during a gas attack in April 1918 and died of wounds on 5 October 1918 aged 21.  He was buried in the Templeux-Le-Geurard British Cemetery (Somme).  Further details are available in the War Memorial tribute pages – click here to find out more.

William Francis Cowling (middle), about 1918
William Francis Cowling’s demob paper

Harry’s younger brother, Frank or William Francis COWLING, of Woodford House, was born on 17 Sept 1899. He was an apprentice engineer when he enlisted in the Royal Naval Air Service (as Francis William), subsequently moving to the Royal Air Force, on 16 March 1918, as an engine fitter. He was described as 5’4.5″ tall with light brown hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion. He was allocated to President ll, which was the accounting base for RNAS and covered ships and boats too small to have their own paymaster. In A1 condition, Frank 252810, with the rank of AM3, served with Unit 209TDS. After 11 months and 12 day service as a fitter or engineer. He was demobbed on 28 January 1919 at Fovant, with £13 7s due to him. Frank was shown in the 1920 and 1923 football team photos. In summer 1939, he married Harriet Gloyn, eleven years his junior. The 1939 records show them living at 16 Dolvin Road, Tavistock, with Frank as an agricultural engineer. Their daughter Christine was born in 1941. Frank died in 1978.

Montacue DAVEY was a rabbit trapper aged 39 when he was granted 6 months exemption June 1916 – Dec 1916 and a conditional exemption – June 1917. He claimed he trapped 10 – 12,000 rabbits a year. Only trapper in the district. Work was of National Interest. Between March and June 1917 he caught 2,500 rabbits on one farm. In the Summer he helped farmers with the harvest. In 1911 he was living in New Road Okehampton and by 1939, he was farming and living in Sprytown Lifton near Arthur Wilton.

In 1911 Gertrude Daw was 27 and had been married for 2 years. She and her son Spenwyn Henry Nuttalll born 14 July 1909, were living with her husband’s sister, Ethel Daisy Daw who, having been born in 1878 was slightly older than the 28 she admitted to, at Higher Watervale. Daisy was the daughter of John Jarrett Daw, a draper, and his wife, Selina Lark. The 1881 census shows the family, with five of their six children, living at the drapery warehouse in Barley Market Street, Tavistock, where 5 men, 5 boys and 9 female assistants were employed. John Jarrett, on his death in 1897, left an estate initially of £5526, resworn as £6908. By 1911, only Daisy and her brother, the husband of Gertrude and father of Spenwyn survived. In 1911 William Henry DAW was a Staff Surgeon on HMS Iris in Torbay. Clive Aslett’s book War Memorial gives an account of his career and inclusion on the Lydford War Memorial, though he died on 14 November 1926

Gertrude Chancey Nuttall, had been born on 25 May 1884 in Canada. She traveled to England sometime before 1908 when she married William in Tavistock. William Henry and Gertrude went on to have four more children: Patrick Kelvin 1912-67, Almeric Ian 1917-1944 (awarded the MC) and twins Elga Betty D 1920-75 and Elmina Margaret 1920-80, known as Darky and Fairy. When William died in 1926, he left £1850, and Daisy, £1080 in 1954.

Frank Doidge (standing), about 1919

Frank DOIDGE was the son of Richard Woodman Doidge and his first wife Louisa Brook (Veal) who did in childbirth. Through their fathers, he was a first cousin of John Thomas and George Doidge (below). Frank was born on 22 Mar 1896. We have photos attesting to Frank’s War Service in World War One including a posting to France, but unfortunately his war records are no longer available. He may have served as a Private in the 6th Devons and later the 1st Devons (30656) or in the Machine Gun Corps (29272). Frank is shown in both the 1920 and 1923 football team photos. He married Mellany Olive Cowling in 1925 and they had three children: Mellany L b 1925, Johanna b 1927 and John Cowling b 1934. In 1939 Frank, Mellany and their three children were living at Wortha House, with Frank giving his occupation as Jobbing Mason.

Frank Doidge with a group of comrades in France

His brother John Harry Doidge may have served in the war, but it has not been possible to pinpoint him.

Private John Thomas DOIDGE (10134) of the 8th (Service) Battalion, Devonshire Regiment was sent to France on 25 July 1915, and died on 10 May 1916, aged 24. He was buried in the Citadel New Military Cemetery, Fricourt, France. Further details are available in the War Memorial tribute pages – click here to find out more.

John’s brother Stoker First Class George DOIDGE (K/12459) served on HMS Recruit, an R class destroyer. He was born on 8 January 1894 and died on 9 August 1917, aged 23, when his ship was torpedoed and sunk in the North Sea by U-boat UB-16. Further details are available in the War Memorial tribute pages – click here to find out more.

John Henry Eastcott

John Henry EASTCOTT, born on 28 December 1884, was the son of William Eastcott of Woodmanswell and his first wife, Elizabeth Ann Martin 1855-93. He was a single man, aged 30, when he enlisted in the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force at Medicine Head, Alberta, on 6 February 1915. He served in France as a signalman 434913 in the 50th battalion, with the rank of Lance Corporal. He had arrived in Canada in 1906 and had moved out west to Alberta, where he worked as a telephone linesman. After his service in the war he moved to the Langley area near Vancouver, British Columbia, where he died on 26 September 1961, aged 79, and was buried in the Old Murrayville war veterans cemetery.

His family had lost touch with him and it was a great sadness to his half brother Richard, son of William and his second wife Elizabeth Friend, when he could not find him when he went to Canada. Richard had travelled 3rd class on the CORINTHIAN as a 16 year old farmer headed for Quebec. Giving his birth as 14 November 1897, though records seem to indicate 1896, Richard EASTCOTT was described as being 21 years and 6 months, 5’10”, with ruddy complexion, blue eyes and light brown hair when he was drafted on 7 May 1918 at Dauphin, Manitoba. After a short time training, he was deemed to have flat feet, which meant that he would be physically unable to endure long marches, so he was discharged.

Richard’s sister Beatrice Ann Eastcott, was a Nurse Domestic looking after the Warde children in Newton Abbot in 1911; in the summer of 1917, when she was 22, she married 28 year old Londoner Private Walter Charles SNOOK of the Ist Somerset Light Infantry.  Less than a year later, on 21 March 1918 he was presumed dead, killed in action.  His widow received his outstanding pay of £28 6s 4d the following year.  In 1920 she sailed to Montreal in search of better prospects: She had £20, had bought her own ticket and was heading to Montreal where she had employment. She stayed in Canada and America for the rest of her life living in various places including Florida and Vancouver.

Norman Henry GERRY, was the only child of Richard and Fanny Gerry of Rowden Farm. In 1911 he was an 18 year old clerk living at home with his parents. On his application for exemption from active war service, it was explained that Norman Henry worked for his father Mr R Gerry, on 130 acres, with 10 milking cows and 15 acres of corn. He was granted 6 month exemptions from June – December 1916, January – April 1917 and April – October 1917. He was granted a conditional exemption in October 1917. They were in possession of an agriculture voucher in October 1917.

Norman Henry Gerry (back row left) with his wife Florice to his right

In 1918 Norman Henry married Florice Annie Symons who had been born at Liddaton Farm on 25 July 1892. They had two daughters Edith Mary, born 1920 and Frances Ruth born 1924. In 1939 Norman was the farmer at Rowden Farm, living with him was his wife, their two children and his parents, now retired. Richard died on 10 August 1940, leaving his estate of £1044 to be administered by his widow, Fanny, and son Norman Henry. Fanny Gerry of Rowden Farm, died on 6 August 1950, aged 80, leaving £265 to be administered by her son, Norman Henry, a farmer. Norman Henry died at Crelake House Tavistock aged 90 on 8 Mar 1984, leaving an estate of £155,809: his wife Florice Annie also died in the Crelake Residential Home died on 22 April 1988, aged 95, leaving £175,896.

Lewis GILBERT was a Farmer and Licensed victualler aged 26 when he was granted 6 month exemptions from Oct 1916 – April 1917, April 1917 – Oct 1917 and Oct 1917 – April 1918 as he ran the Herrings Arms. He claimed great financial difficulty if he had to leave the business. He also ran a Dairy. He may have been living in Sticklepath with his parents in 1911. In 1939 he was living at Tor View, with his wife and daughter, both called Winifred and he was working as a Dairy Farmer.

In 1911, Mary Goad was living at Lydford S Cottages. She was 50 and had been married to Henry for 20 years, until his death in 1902. Their seven surviving children born between 1883 and 1903 were: Richard Henry, William James, Alfred John, Ernest Percy, Florence May, Lillian Emily and Lena Kate. . Richard Henry GOAD 1883-1959 married Ethel Linda Hawke in 1913. It is possible that he was an Acting Corporal in the Royal Engineers Railway Unit for which he received the British War Medal and the Victory medal. Richard and Ethelinda were living at 3 Saltram Villas in Plympton in 1939 when Richard was a Railway Permanent Ganger Maintenance Repair Staff.

William James GOAD 1884-1974, who was a station porter in Horrabridge in 1911 and went on to become a travelling porter based at Plymouth in 1912, married Elsie Agnes Palmer in 1914, and may have served in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry (3354 and 240924). Their son Reginald who had been born in 1916 was living with them in 1939 at 11 Winston Ave in Plymouth. He was an Articled Clerk to an Incorporated Accountant, whilst his father, William James was a Railway Goods Checker.

In the 1911 census (Ernest) Percy GOAD 1891-1918 was a bookstall assistant living at 32 Exeter Street in Tavistock with the Willcocks family. Initially, he joined the 1st (Garrison) Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment as a private (241113) and subsequently transferred to the Labour Corps in the 801st Area Employment Company (358014). He died on active service, aged 27, on 15 November 1918 and is buried in the Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial Cemetery in Egypt. Further details are available in the War Memorial tribute pages – click here to find out more.

Percy’s effects were distributed among his siblings in three payments.  On 23 Sept 1919, William, Alfred. Florence and Lillian received £1 0s 8d each and Lena (a minor?) 11s 3d. On 15 Jan 1920 each of these received a further £2 6s 8d.  Richard received no payment until 26 April 1924 when he received a total of £3 7s 5d.

Matthew Greening and Beatrice Ellen Prouse, who lived in Brentor village, had only been married a year in 1911.  They went on to have at least three children, Harry 1912, Gladys 1914 and Beatrice 1916. Matthew’s older brother Private Charlie GREENING, a bricklayer, after passing his trade test, was considered to be skilled and allotted to the 13th Works Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment (Private M2/174751) before transferring to the Army Service Corps.  After seeing service in France from 10 November 1916, he received his demob papers at Fovant on 15 Feb 1919.  On enlistment he was 34 years and 3 months, 5’9.5″ tall and weighed 154lbs.

George Henry GREENING was the son of Edward and Phillippa Greening of Liddaton.  Edward was a Licensed Hawker. George moved to Canada in 1908 and on 5 Nov 1910, when 35, he made a Homestead application for a piece of landing Legal, Alberta, that had the potential for 100 acres to be farmed.  There was 40 acres of swamp, 20 acres of small trees and shrub and 2 acres of hay land, but it is uncertain whether this is in addition.  On the land was an old house, which had been stripped, hen coop and garden fence. In further information submitted, he stated that he had lived there from Feb until Dec 1911, Mar 1912 – 25th May, and then had continuous occupation.  He had broken 5 acres in 1911 and cropped 4 of them.  In 1912 he had made arrangements to have it done. He was requesting that his entry be protected: because of his brother in law’s sickness, he was having to go out to work to support the family.  As an unmarried labourer aged 41, he joined the Canadian army 100762 in Edmonton in July 1915.  He was 5’3″ tall with a clear complexion, brown eyes, dark brown hair and scars on his back and shoulders.  In 1921 he was living in Vancouver South and working as a labourer.

George Henry’s sister Philippa, a dressmaker, married Henry DOIDGE in 1902. In April 1911 they were living in Launceston with their four children: Edward, Margaret Emma, Philippa Mary and Henry James but on 17 May they left Bristol on their way to Canada where they were recorded in the 1916 census as living in Edmonton, probably near her brother George. It is likely that Henry was the sick brother in law that George was helping. By 1921 they had six children, with the addition of Henry and William. Henry Doidge left Bristol as a plasterer, arrived in Canada as an Engine driver and farmer: 1916 saw him as a soldier and 1921, a labourer.

In 1911 Ernest GRIGG was boarding with William and Mary Kimber in South Brentor at the time of the Census. He was the son of William Henry, a butcher and his wife Jane, of Advent Parish, Camelford.  In the years after the census he went to Nevada, California, where as an unemployed miner he received his Civilian Draft Registration on 3 October 1917.  He was described as being tall with brown hair and eyes.  He died in Arizona on 22 December 1934 aged 42.

Theophilus Hammett, a man described as having a Father Christmas beard, was a Signalman with the GWR, living in the Lydford S Cottages.  After the death of her mother, Jane, his daughter Mary HAMMETT took over the housekeeping role until she volunteered as a nurse in London to help the war effort.  On 8 July 1916 she married Charlie BERRY of Kent, who had been a private in the army for 11 years, having served in India and Gallipoli.  Twelve days after the wedding he returned to France, where he died in the Hindenburg Trench at Thiepval on 24 August 1916 aged 30 years.  He is commemorated on the Lydford War Memorial. Mary died in 1961.  Never having remarried, she is described on her gravestone as, the widow of Charles.

Mary’s brother, Harry Crossman HAMMETT 1879-1962 had become a chauffeur, probably for Alderman Nicholls, before he joined up in the ASC (MT) on 21 August 1916, first as a Private, 203656 and later as an acting Corporal.  He was 5’6″ with Category A vision.  He served in Italy and France and was demobilised on 13 April 1919 from the No 1 Mobile Repair Unit of the RASC (MT) as a Ford Driver.  The two injuries sustained during the war were both sprained wrists, which he explained, occurred when the engine of his Ford backfired when he was turning the starting handle.  He had married Florence May Goad on 18 September 1913.  They had two children: William Henry Edwin born 6 January 1914 and Frederick J C born 1921. In 1929 he was still working as a chauffeur for Alderman Nicholls, as he is recorded as driving the Daimler that took the Alderman to the opening of the Nicholls Hall in Lydford.

Their younger brother, Stanley HAMMETT was in Canada, living at 330 Main St Toronto, working as a railroad conductor when he signed up for the Canadian Mounted Rifles on 27 September 1916.  He was described as single, 5’4″, with a mole by the right corner of his mouth and a scar on the back of his head.  On 25 July 1918 he was recorded as being in transit through Buffalo New York from Toronto to Allentown, Lehigh, Pennsylvania.  His wife Edith was in Folkestone England. His United States Draft card recorded him on 12 September 1918 as an Oiler at the Beth Steel Company, with wife Edith Clara living in Sussex, England.  By 1920 she was living with him in Allentown Lehigh Pensylvania, where he was working as a machinist.

Acting Corporal Samuel HIGGINS, (20914) of the 1st Battalion, Devonshire Regiment, enlisted in Tavistock and was killed in action in France on 23 April 1917 aged 22.  He is buried in La Chaudiere Military Cemetery, Vimy France. Further details are available in the War Memorial tribute pages – click here to find out more.

In 1911 Samuel had been 17 and working away from home as a waggoner on the Lewdown farm belonging to Solomon Bickle. His younger brother, Henry J HIGGINS, an 18 year old farm worker employed by Mr T Westlake on a farm of 117 acres at Liddaton was granted a 6 month exemption March 1917-Sept 1917. A conditional exemption was granted in Oct 1917 to John H HIGGINS, an 18 year old employed in agricultural work. They might have been the same person. If this is John Henry, Thomas Westlake was his uncle and this was the year Samuel died. John Henry Higgins, born 9 Dec 1898, died in 1978.

In 1911, the Hodge family was living in West Blackdown.  Corporal William Charles HODGE was born in his mother’s home town of Lezant, Cornwall, on 6 Sept 1886 and was baptised there on 29th Sept.  He was staying with his uncle William at the time of the 1911 census.  He had been employed on the railways from 1902-9. His timekeeping was poor and he was discharged when he came to work UI. He married Lillian Dawson in 1912.  They had two children: Phyllis Lillian Blanche born on 27 Sept 1913 and Trevor Charles John on 16 Dec 1925.  They were living at Bryn Tavy Cottage in Mary Tavy when he enlisted on 2 June 1916. Giving his occupation as Engine Driver, he signed up for the duration of the war in the Royal Engineers, Railway Operating Division.  He was 29 years 9 months, weighed 143lb and was 5’8.5″ tall.  His military career was chequered with pay grade and rank fluctuating over time.  Some time after his promotion to Corporal he was reprimanded for being absent from duty from 19.00-22.00.  After serving in France, he left the army on 5th July 1919 aged 33. In 1939 Charles and Lillian were living in Teign Terrace, St Thomas, Exeter.  He was working as a Fitter at Mines, above and below ground. Charles died in Southampton on 13 Sept 1967.

Sapper Wilfred John HODGE married Ida Frances Evelyn Dawe on 5 July 1912.  He was a packer in the engineering department or Platelayer on the Great Western Railway, when he was authorised to enlist under Lord Derby’s scheme in December 1915. At the time, he was 25 years 6 months and 5’3″ tall, living at The Court in Brentor, he and Ida had no children.  He was attested on 12 December 1915, mobilised on 2 February 1916 and posted to France 2 months later as a Sapper 150348/254262 in the 7th Railway Troops.  In June 1916 he was transferred to the 112th Railway Company.  He received an injury at the end of December 1918, which kept him in hospital until 20 February 1919 and was then transferred to 113th before being demobilised on 30 August 1919.  He and Ida then had two children: Eileen Florence Z and Wilfred Fernley. Ida died in 1927 and Wilfred may have then married Doris L Tancock in 1935.  He died on 11 October 1951, while living at 13 Parkwood Cottages, Tavistock, and left an estate of £451 to be administered by his son, Wilfred Fernley Hodge.

Stoker First Class Clarence Henry HODGE was born on 28 Nov 1893 and was a porter on the GWR when he enlisted on 7 Feb 1916.  He had dark hair, grey eyes, a fair complexion and was 5’6.5″ tall.  At various times he served at HMS Vivid ll, the Stokers and Engine Room Artificers School at the Naval Barracks Devonport, rising from Stoker Second Class to Stoker First Class over time. He served on the Ariadne from 24 May -31 July 1917.  The Ariadne had been converted to a stokers’ training ship in 1913, and in 1917 converted to a minelayer in the Nore Command.  On 26 July 1917 she was torpedoed by the German submarine UC65 and sank off Beachy Head.  He served on his second ship from 17 Nov 1917- 21 Feb 1919.  The Erin was a Dreadnought battleship, ordered by the Ottoman government.  Nearly completed by the outbreak of war, it was seized by Winston Churchill.  It mostly did routine patrols and training in the North Sea.  He married Ethel Mary Laskey in Totnes in 1919 after his discharge from the navy. Their sons were William and Hubert.  In 1939 Clarence was a Railway Parcel Porter, living with his wife Ethel and two children at 1 Laburnum Cottages, Parkwood Road Tavistock.  Clarence died on 29 March 1978, leaving an estate of £11183

CSM Walter Holwill

Company Sergeant Major Walter HOLWILL (10261) of the 8th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment was born at St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall in 1873. He had moved to Brentor after the 1911 Census.  He was 43 when he died in Gravesend, England on 22 July 1916 of wounds received at Mametz on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.  He was one of 1195 men to die that day.

Four days after he was wounded, when he was being evacuated to England, 159 men of the 8thand 9th Devonshires were buried in a trench near Mametz. When the grave had been filled, a big wooden cross was erected, bearing the words THE DEVONSHIRES HELD THIS TRENCH, THE DEVONSHIRES HOLD IT STILL. Later it became a Commonweath War Cemetery, known as the Devonshire Cemetery.

CSM Holwill’s medals

Five days after he died it was announced in the London Gazette that CSM Holwill had been awarded the Military Cross: For conspicuous gallantry during an attack.  When all the officers of his company had become casualties, he took command and ably led the company under heavy fire (London Gazette 27 July 1916).  He was the only CSM in the Devonshire Regiment to be awarded the MC in World War 1.  CSM Holwill’s medals were offered at auction on 27 June 2007 with an estimated price of £800-£1000.  They sold for £1600 and were sold again in July 2018 for an undisclosed sum.  Further details are available in the War Memorial tribute pages – click here to find out more.

Thomas HONEY had lived with his grandparents and his aunt and, latterly, his uncle since childhood at Stag’s Head.  The 1901 census describes Frank as farmer and the 1902 White’s Directory for Brentor as the Parish Clerk and Sexton.  By 1911 the family were living at Cloberry. Thomas Honey was granted a conditional exemption from active war service in April 1917 as he was farming his own land, mostly arable.  The family continued to live at Cloberry House when Frank died on 1 June 1928, leaving an estate of £2650 to be administered by nephew Thomas.  It has not been possible to identify his parents. Late in 1928, about the time Norah died, Thomas, aged 45, married Winifred Vera Pinhay aged 29 (see below).  The 1939 record shows Thomas, a mixed farmer, living at Cloberry, with his wife Winifred, a child, probably their son, Frank, born in 1931 and Jessy Pinhey aged 80.  They were still living at Cloberry House when Thomas died on 19 March 1949, leaving an estate of £4860 to be administered by his widow, Winifred.

The Lake family was living in Wastor Cottage in 1911.  Frederick was a carpenter but he had been a policeman when living in Bideford where daughter Flossie Mary Jane was born on 29 June 1899 and christened on 3 September 1899. In 1920 she married Edwin Theodore PROWSE who had enlisted in the Royal Navy on 2 September 1912.  He was 5’8.5″ tall with brown hair, blue eyes, a fair complexion and scars on his left knee and by his right eye. As a Stoker Second Class, he spent time training at Vivid ll reaching the rank of Stoker Petty Officer over his career, which finished on 14 Feb 1928.  He served on Devonshire, Caesar, Orion, Duke, Tula (Rowena) and Dauntless, with very good character throughout. He re-entered the service on 4th October 1935 as a Chief Stoker.  They had three children Theodore Sylvanus Douglas and Joy. Theodore was named for his father and grandfather.  Sylvanus Prouse rose to the rank of Chief Petty Officer in his career and signed up to serve in World War 1 when he was twice awarded the RN Good Conduct medal in 1915 and 1916 and the Distinguished Service Medal in 1918.  Edwin was living at 35 Church Way Weston Hill Plymouth when he died on 26 November 1986. Flossie died in 1983 in Swansea.

Flossie’s brother George Henry Taylor LAKE served as a private, initially, with the Devonshire Regt 66819 before transferring to 2nd Battalion, Royal Warwicks.  He served in France and Italy, and it was there that he died of wounds on 14th (sometimes given as 4th) November 1918, three days after the armistice, aged 21 years.  He is commemorated on the Lydford War Memorial and a Memorial Service was held in the church for him on Sunday 15 December 1918.  See LYDFORD. Coryton Memorial says “35 men served and two made the ultimate sacrifice.” Young George was one of these.

Samuel Henry LASHBROOK 1 May 1879-1959, married Jane Cruze on 25 March 1906 in Brentor.  He was a Mason’s labourer, living at 53 Stenlake Terrace in Plymouth in 1911.  When he enlisted on 20 Nov 1915, he joined the Royal Garrison Artillery 136068. He stated he was Wesleyan, an agricultural labourer, aged 37 years 6 months and was 5’6.  He began his service on 22 Jan 1917. His children were Reginald Henry Edwin John b1908, Gladys Hilda 1910 and Winifred Mary 1913.  Their 4th child, Wilfred Albert, was born on 13 April 1917.  Sam was in France in June 1918 when he was hospitalised for 4 months as a result of gassing, and was invalided back to England and transferred to Class Z Army Reserve on his demob on 11 April 1919.  Sam was in the 1923 football team photo. In 1939 he was living at 3 Poole Court with wife Mary and youngest son, Wilfred, a lorry driver.  He died in 1959.

Soon after the death of her father early in 1911, 16 year old Florence Mable Manning of Lamerton was staying with her cousins, the Balsom family in Brentor.  Florence married James RP Blond in 1916.  They do not appear to have had any children.  It may be that he was the James R BLOND who served as a private in the Worcestershire Regiment 10517, he enlisted on 25 April 1915 and served in the Balkans.  In 1939, James was a motor driver, living with Florence at 22 Fitzford Cottages, Tavistock. James Robert died in 1954, Florence in 1957.

Ernest Henry Fuge MARTIN 6 June 1877-1943, was the brother of William Fuge Martin, a carpenter. Ernest was a mason in 1901, a carpenter lodging with the Adams family at 10 Bannawell St in 1911 and was listed as a farmer and mason in 1916.  He had a conditional exemption certificate from June 1916, as he was single with 25 acres, 10 bullocks and 62 sheep.  The military applied for the certificate to be withdrawn in August 1917 but this was refused. Living at East Cottage in Brentor, with his wife, Lydia, and child, probably William John born in 1921, he was described as a General Farmer.  He continued to live there until his death at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Plymouth on 24 November 1943, aged 65.  His estate of £1243 was left with his widow Lydia Jane (Warren) whom he had married in 1920.

Rees MARTIN was the son of John and Mary Jane (Branch) Martin, a farm labourer living in West Blackdown.  He married Edith Giles in 1912. He served with the 9th Service Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment (Private 20839) and was killed in action in France on 6 September 1916.  He is commemorated on the Tavistock War Memorial (although local research has linked his army service and life to someone of the same name born in Tavistock.  I think that there is some confusion, as war records indicate the casualty was born in Broadwoodwidger.)

In 1916 Samuel JEFFERY a haulier of timber, was working for Mr Maunder. Previously Samuel Jeffery had been working for Mr Cole in Coryton.  The notes record that as Mr Maunder’s son (probably William Thomas MAUNDER) was badged, he was doing the work instead.  Samuel’s exemption was revoked from 1 January 1917. (A WW1 poster urges badged men to attest but explains that from 1 Mar 1916 the badge certificate will be a Certificate of Exemption under the Act, as long it continues to be rightfully held and explains what they should do if they are called up).

Joseph Edwin MEDLAND, christened at Week St Mary on 22 March 1898, was the son of Joseph and Elizabeth Medland of West Blackdown.  He was working as a butcher’s apprentice for Rice & Sons when he was called up in 1916.  Mr Rice stated that that two of his employees had joined up already.  This was not sufficient reason for the board and Edwin’s application was refused, though he was not to be called up until 1 February 1917.  He may have served in the Royal Field Artillery as Driver 212305.  He married Gladys Jane Jefferies 1905-1981 in Plymouth in 1925.  In 1939 he was a butcher shop manager living at 57 Glendower Road, Plymouth with Gladys.  He was living at 33 Furneaux Rd Milehouse Plymouth when he died on 23 September 1964, leaving £1226 to his widow.

William John MEDLAND was the only child of James and Ellen Medland.  He served as a butcher in the Great War. He enlisted in Plymouth on 21 October 1916, as a private 218069 in the ASC and was transferred to the 67th Field Butchery.  He suffered from an inguinal (groin) hernia (controllable) for which he was supplied with a truss on 23 November 1916, and slight tachycardia (raised heartbeat) which was not sufficient for rejection.  He was 5’4″ tall and gave his religion as U Methodist.  His only misdemeanour which earned him 7 days confined to camp in April 1918, was having a naked light in his hut contrary to set orders.  He served most of his time at Aldershot, embarking for Boulogne on the Golden Eagle on 23 September 1919.  He was demobilised from Fovant in January 1920 with the rank of Acting Corporal. William John, born on 13 March 1894, married Dorothy Clara Penhye, who had been born on 9 September 1896 (see Penhye below) in 1920 in Tavistock.  Their only child was Dorothy E Medland born in 1921. She married Alfred Littlehales (or Tanner) in the Autumn of 1938.  The 1939 record appears to indicate a 25 year gap in their ages.  Their son Roy was born on 21 Dec 1938.  They were living with her parents, William John and Dorothy at 152 Forest Road, Torquay in 1939, where William was employed as a butcher and Alfred as an omnibus driver.  After Alfred’s death in Bristol in 1961, Dorothy married John T Smith in Newton Abbot.  William died in 1970 and Dorothy in 1991 in Newton Abbot aged 94.

In 1939 James and Ellen were living at Hall Farm in Lydford where he was a dairy farmer.  Both James and Ellen had died in Newton Abbot: James in 1947 and Ellen in 1951.

Heber Medland

James Medland’s younger brother was staying with their uncle George and his wife Emmeline, at Rowden Farm Mount Tavy after the death of his parents, William and Penelope in 1906 It was from here that Heber MEDLAND signed up to join the army on 23 January 1917.  He was 39 years and 9 months and unmarried when he was accepted for the Army Veterinary Corps.  His service overlapped with that of his nephew, Fred, (see below) 13 years his junior, for only a matter of months.

Bessie Medland (nee Bellamy)

In the Spring of 1917 he married Bessie Bellamy, born 1873: she was originally from Peter Tavy.  After her death in 1936, he married Mary Eliza Rice in 1938.  She had been living at the Peter Tavy Inn with her husband and two children in 1911.  In 1939, she and Heber had been living at Laurel Cottage in Peter Tavy where he was working as a Gardener/Handyman.  He was 62, ten years older than her.  He may have died later that same year.

Fred Medland’s parents, William and Mary, in the garden at Briar Cottage

Fred MEDLAND was the son of James and Heber’s brother, William.  He joined the 4th Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment as a Private (30335) on 26 January 1917, later transferring to the Labour Corps in the 444th Agricultural Company (245574).  He died of his wounds on 20 October 1919 when he was living in Pools Court Brentor and was buried in what was the south part of the Brentor United Methodist Cemetery.  Further details are available in the War Memorial tribute pages – click here to find out more.

Frederick MOUNCE was a waggoner on a farm in Liddaton in 1911, while his older sister Rhoda was a servant at Rossmoyne House. An unmarried timber logger, 5’5′ tall, he was called up to the Devonshire Regiment in May 1915. 37 days later he was discharged as being “Not likely to become an efficient soldier under para 392 iii c of the King’s regulations”. This stated that within 3 months of enlistment a soldier could be discharged if he was considered unfit for medical, mental or educational reasons. This could have included flat feet or various childhood ailments. Frederick married Louisa Milford in 1915 and they had two daughters, Louisa and Ethel. They were living at Broadtown, Chillaton, when Louisa died in 1960. Frederick died in 1967.

Their cousin, Reginald Raymond MOUNCE 1899-1975, the son of their uncle, William Mounce 1854-1934 and his wife Susanna Gloyne 1864-1938, was a horseman employed by Mr WG Dodd in 1917.  His application declared that he was the only help on a 100 acre farm.  He was granted a 6 month exemption from September 1917-March 1918.  He married Annie Draper in Leicester in 1925 and died in Launceston in 1975.

John and Christopher Postlethwaite are the second set of brothers commemorated on the Brentor War memorial.

Trooper John Postlethwaite before he left for Australia
John Postlethwaite in Australia

Trooper John POSTLETHWAITE 336 joined up at Winton on 26 January 1915 and was attached to B Squadron of the 11th Australian Light Horse regiment, 4th Light Horse Brigade on 24 March 1915.  Jack was killed in action there on 2 November 1915, aged 22, and was buried in the Shell Green Cemetery, Anzac, Gallipoli on the same day.  He had emigrated when he was 18, leaving from Plymouth on MILTIADES and arriving in Sydney Australia on 27 April 1911. Further details are available in the War Memorial tribute pages – click here to find out more.

 

Christopher Postlethwaite and his fiance Doris Medland in 1917 – probably the last photograph taken of him.

 

Lieutenant Christopher Joyce POSTLETHWAITE of the 12th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment died of his wounds on 9 January 1918 aged 23.  Further details are available in the War Memorial tribute pages – click here to find out more.

In 1911, Albert Michael PROUSE, born 13 Nov 1894, lived at West Blackdown with his parents, William, a farmer and Mabel.  He was employed by his father in 1917, farming 90 acres with grazing rights over West Blackdown.  Michael was granted a conditional exemption from active war service in June 1917.  In 1919 he married Margaret Williams.  Albert and Margaret had four children between 1922 and 1929: William Henry, Elsie, Mary Joyce and Albert.  All of whom were living with their parents and widowed grandmother, Eliza Ann, at North Russell Farm Sourton, where William was farming, helped by son William Henry in 1939.  Albert Michael of Blythes Farm North Hill Launceston, died at Freedom Fields Hospital Plymouth on 9 Mar 1960, leaving £6973 in the care of his widow, Margaret.

One of the Mr Rices, of the Carpenter and Smithing Works in Burn Lane, applied for an exemption for their nephew Samuel J WRIGHT, aged 33 and married, described as wheelwright and carpenter, foreman and general manager, who was very important to him.   A conditional exemption was granted in April 1916.

They applied later for an exemption for Sidney Cole ALFORD (details above), aged 22, who was working for them, stating that they had not been able to get a smith and they had a lot of work on order.  Sidney was granted a 6 month exemption from April 1917-September 1917.

George REED was a Hunt Servant aged 24 when he was exempted from April 1916 – July 1916.  He was married and lived at Stowford Hill Cottage.  The Joint Hunt Master of Lamerton Hunt applied on his behalf. George Reed was one of six employed, five of whom were at the front and two were wounded.  If he was called up the Hunt would have to stop

Pit-prop cutting in 1915. Henry Rundle is third from the left.
Henry Rundell at Liddaton

Henry Bernard RUNDLE was a Wall Mason living with his parents, George and Mary Rundle, in Liddaton in 1911.  George was also a Wall Mason.  Henry served in the 4th Reserves of the Devon Regiment, Private 4268/202132.  He was attested 30.11.15, Army Reserve 1.12.15, mobilised 21.2.16 and posted 22.2.16.  He was discharged under para 392 (xvi) of the King’s Regulations, that is, he was deemed to be no longer physically fit for war service.  His medical record states: He had always been delicate.  He was proposed for discharge in Boscombe on first joining, but it was decided to see the result of military training and graduated exercises.  He got on fairly well until Jan 1917, when he had an attack of pleurisy for which he was sent hospital in Bournemouth.  He had rheumatism there as well and stayed there over 3 months. ‘He does not feel the same man now. Is doing light work with Pioneers’.  He was described as being of poor physique, though 5′ 10″ tall his chest was 32″ with barely 2″expansion. He stated that his father and one sister had died of consumption (though George didn’t die until 19 June 1931).  He married Florence Maunder in 1919 and they had one son Kenneth Rupert born 1920.  Henry and Florence were living at 3 Higher Springs, Brentor Road, Mary Tavy in 1939, with Henry working as a builder. Florence of Higher Springs, Mary Tavy died on 1 September 1966 at Tavistock Hospital.  Probate for her £4505 estate was granted to her son Kenneth Rupert Rundle, an agricultural representative.  Henry Bernard may have died in Cheltenham in 1967, possibly when living with his son.

On 18 February 1902, aged 18 years and 6 months, Leonard SARGENT of Holmleigh Cottage enlisted in the army, 22055, as a driver in the Royal Field Artillery for 7 years, with 5 years in the reserve.  He was described as 5’4″ tall, fresh complexion, grey eyes, brown hair and with a small scar on his forehead.  His service was unremarkable, though he was granted his first Good Conduct badge on 1.4.04 and forfeited on 3.8.04, it was a year before it was restored.  He married Harriet Hutchings in 1904, the witnesses being George and Kate Hutchings, probably her father, a butcher, and sister.  She had been living with Kate in 1901, when Kate was a paper bag maker and Harriet was a shirt ironer, having been a bookbinder’s apprentice previously.  Their mother was Mary Anne Channon 1841-1893, their father George 1843-1912. It is thought that Harriet died in Exeter in 1930 aged 54 and Leonard in Launceston in 1933, aged 49.

Clara Short was living in Brentor with her daughter Ella May aged 11 in 1911.  At that time she had been married 27 years and 2 of her 3 other children were still alive.  Private William SHORT of the Durham Light Infantry was born on 31 March 1890 in Gunnislake and killed in action in France on 15 April 1917.  Although he enlisted in Durham, he was the son of William Thomas Short and Clara Down of Calstock. Further details are available in the War Memorial  tribute pages – click here to find out more

Robert Arthur French SMITH was the son of the Vicar of Brentor, Robert Joseph French Smith and his wife Emma (Marriott).  Known as Arthur Smith, Gunner Robert Arthur French Smith (85429) of the 3rd Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery was born 5th June 1884 and died in France on 8th June 1917 and was buried at La Targette British Cemetery, Neuville-St Vaast but is commemorated on the family grave in Christ Church graveyard.  Further details are available in the War Memorial tribute pages – click here to find out more.

James STEPHENS was living next to his brother, William, and his family in Higher Watervale in 1911.  They were the sons of James Stephens, 1838-1906, a cattleman, and his wife, Mary Ann Worden, 1848-1911+, who had married in 1867 and had ten children.  According to Clive Aslet’s book War Memorial, James Stephens had enlisted in the Royal Devon Hussars on 14 December 1914, and spent 1915 on territorial duties in Essex.  When the North Devon was broken up for re-inforcements, Jim joined the Welch regiment, before joining the Labour Corps, which represented 10% of the army by the end of the war.  This is probably as a result of him having been wounded. Working with horses, he served in Salonika, where he was promoted to Lance Corporal 388432.  He and some friends managed to survive when separated from their company.  Unfortunately Jim is thought to have contracted a dreadful disease from having eaten the diseased liver of a camel.  He was discharged from the army on 3 June 1919 as sick.  His condition continued to deteriorate and he died on 11 May 1925.  His suffering and sacrifice is commemorated on the Lydford War Memorial.

In 1911 Louisa Warne Stevens was living next door to her half sister Eliza Jane Batten.  Louisa was one of the daughters of her father Absalom’s second marriage to Louisa Thomas.  Louisa married William Henry STEVENS in Tavistock in the summer of 1900. In 1901 she was living with her mother, sister and niece but without her husband.  It may be that her husband was William Henry Stevens born in Plymouth in 1871, who was a Petty Officer Second Class on board the LION in Devonport Harbour.  It is likely that William and Louisa had another daughter, Mary, born soon after the census in 1911.  Sadly, she may have died soon after birth and Edna V died in 1918, aged 13.  It has not been possible to find William Henry in the records but Louisa was a widow living at 26 College Avenue in Tavistock in 1939 and died in the Tavistock area in 1965.

In 1911 the Symons family, comprising grandparents John and Caroline, their only son Philip William and his wife Sarah Ann (Westlake) and both their surviving children, Frederick Thomas born 10 July 1895 and Kate Mary were living at Whitson, where they were all involved in farming.  By 1917 Frederick T SYMONS was living in Lewdown and employed by Mr EB Yelland in Brentor doing farm work, when he applied for an exemption from active war service.  He was granted a 6 month exemption from April 1917-September 1917.  By 1939 Frederick was a mason labourer living at Redfern with his wife Elsie Kate (Medland) married in 1935, their son Desmond J born Feb 27 1936. Frederick died in 1970 in Plymouth

Hedley Symons in 1918

John Symons’ younger brother, William was married to Mary Ann Westlake, the sister of his nephew Philip, (John’s son)’s wife Sarah Ann and lived in Liddaton, having taken over as Head of the Household on the death of his mother Patience in 1904.  Only 9 of their 11 children were declared to be still alive in 1911.  Sixth child Edley John SYMONS, latterly spelt Hedley, born 12 August 1893, went to Canada on the Andania, arriving on 18 July 1914.  He was a baker when he signed up in the Canadian Army on 28 April 1915.  He was described as being 5’8” with a 40” chest, fair complexion, blue eyes and light brown hair.  He was a private, 446272, in the 27th Battalion. He died on 28 March 1932 of Chronic Nepharitis – liver failure, which the army accepted as being ‘Death Due to Service’. This condition was sometimes attributed to the cold, damp conditions in the trenches.  His wife Maggie, lived in Calgary with their daughter Irene Mary 1925-36, probably named for her aunt Olive Irene, who died the same year.

Hedley Simonds with Margaret and their daughter Irene, about 1926
Thomas Westlake Symons, (second from right) and John Bickle Symons (far right), at Liddaton, probably in the 1920s
Thomas and William Symons in Canada, about 1935

The next brother, Thomas Westlake SYMONS 1894-1970 also served in the Canadian Army: a policeman, born on 23 July 1894, he signed up on 29 March 1915.  He was 5’10” tall, with a 42” chest: he had a fair complexion, blue eyes and fair hair and no distinguishing marks.  He joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on 1 May 1932 and retired as a sergeant on 31 January 1939.  He was married to Agnes Service.  They had one daughter who went to live in the United States.

John Bickle Symons (front left) at Liddaton with his family, probably early 1910s

Youngest son John Bickle (Jack) SYMONS 20 Sept 1897-15 Mar 1963 was recorded as John Bickle Simmons on his exemption application, when his father Mr W Simmons stated that two of his sons had already joined up at the commencement of the War.  Jack was described as hardworking and was granted a 6 month exemption from January 1917-July 1917.  He married Miriam Ivy Gerry in 1938.  In 1939 he was living in Liddaton with his wife Miriam and his parents Mary Ann and William, now retired.  Jack died on 15 March 1965.

John Walter 1844-1919 and Mary Hannah Evans 1857-1927 were married in 1885.  In 1911 John was a GWR pensioner and they were living in West Blackdown with two or their six surviving children.  Three of their sons are known to have served their country.

Richard WALTER was born on 8 Sep 1885.  In 1901 he had been a Stone Mason’s labourer before becoming a Stone Mason as Builder in 1911. Later that year he married Emma Paddon.  They had one child, Phyllis born in 1913.  On 8 Dec 1916 he joined the navy, beginning his training as a Stoker Second Class at Vivid 11, before serving on his final ship LION as Stoker First Class until demob on 27 May 1919.  On enlistment he was described as being5′ 9.75″ tall, with brown hair, grey eyes and a fresh complexion.  His conduct was considered to be very good throughout.  In 1939 he was living with his wife Emma at Gill Cottage and was registered blind. He may have died in Kingsbridge in 1963.

Bertie WALTER who was born on 29 June 1895, was working on a market garden in Whitchurch, Tavistock in 1911.  He enlisted on 5 June 1916, being described as 5′ 8.5′ tall with brown hair, grey eyes and a fresh complexion.  This was 6 months before his brother Richard but like him, began his service at Vivid 11 as a Stoker Second Class before transferring to the DEVONSHIRE, as a Stoker First Class, until he was demobbed on 30 June 1919.  Like his brother Richard, his conduct throughout was judged to be very good. In 1924 he married Beatrice Maud Colston.  They had two children William F b1925 and Stanley J b 19 Oct 192.  In 1939 they were living at 1 West Blackdown, not far from his brother, Hedley, who was living at 4 West Blackdown.  Bertie was a Range Warden at Willsworth.  Still residing at West Blackdown, Bertie died on 12 October 1946 at Prince of Wales Hospital Plymouth.  He is listed as Walter otherwise Walters and administration for his estate of £729 was granted to his widow Beatrice Maud (Colston) Walter.

Hedley WALTER was born on 18 May 1899 and in 1923 he married Dora Whitty 1898-1973.  They had two sons, Edward J b1926 and George R b 1928.  In 1939 when Hedley was working as a Lengthman on the Railway/ Trolley Driver, they were living at 4 West Blackdown.  An interesting account of Hedley’s war service when he was 19 or 20, was recorded some years ago.  Unfortunately his service records have not survived, though a Medal Rolls Index Card lists a Hedley Walter serving in the Hampshire Regiment 45887 and the Princess Charlotte of Wales’s (Royal Berkshire) Regiment 44340. Hedley died on 19 July 1985.

The lady holding a child in this picture of Brentor village is Ellen Walters, and the child is Frederick Walters

Frederick George WALTERS, born on 26 Aug 1889, was the first cousin, through their fathers, of Richard, Bertie and Hedley, though each family spelt their name differently.  He was the son of George Walters, a farm labourer and his wife Ellen, and was an unmarried porter with the GW Railway when he signed up on 8th December 1915 in Plymouth.  He had been living at 2 Stanley Terrace, Albert Road but had moved to 31 Hamilton Gardens, Plymouth.  He was 5′ 10.5″ and 139lbs and judged to be A1 fit.  On 8 June 1917 he was appointed to the RGA where he was a gunner, only a week after his marriage to Bessie Elizabeth Pitts on 31st May 1917 in Bridgetown Totnes.  She became his next of kin, rather than his mother, with an address at 6 Western Road Bridgetown Totnes.  He served initially at the RGA3 Depot Citadel Plymouth before being posted to France in November 1917.  On 21 February 1919, after dispersal from Fovant, he was transferred to the Army Reserve.  By 1921 Gunner 163247 Walters was living in Lipson, Plymouth where his war medals were sent.  Their daughter Barbara J was born in 1923. BY 1939, they were living at 12 Tyding Walk, Plymouth, where he was a Railway Guard and 16 year old Barbara was an apprentice. Frederick died in 1973 in Plymouth.

Elizabeth Mary Rowe had married Walter Willcock 1847-1910 in 1873.  Throughout their married life, Walter and Elizabeth lived at Wastor, farming 120 acres and raising their three children.  In 1916 Mrs Willcock was employing William BALSOM (see above) on the farm.  In the application for exemption from active service, she stated that he had sole charge of the cattle and the discharge of other duties on the farm, for which he received a conditional discharge.

Arthur Victor WILTON born 2 Dec 1888, was the son of John Brimacombe’s daughter Laura, who had married Albert Victor Wilton in 1886. In October 1912, when he was 24, Arthur sailed on the Carmania from Liverpool to New York: giving his grandfather, John, as his next of kin.  He returned on the same ship in March 1913. Working as a partner in the family baking firm with his uncle, Alfred Brimacombe, the essential nature of his work was recognised in a 6 month exemption being granted to him from June-Dec 1916, then he was exempted until 1 February 1917.  Hundreds of people were supplied with bread, making it impossible for Alfred to carry on the business alone.  It was noted that if it were not for the business he would have joined up long before.  He had had to get up at 2am to bake the bread before attending the Tribunal.   In early 1917, he married Hilda Vera Brimacombe, his mother’s 18 year old first cousin from Lifton.  In 1939 Arthur and Vera were grocers, living in Lifton with his uncle Alfred Brimacombe and aunt Elizabeth Ann Cole.  He died in Launceston in 1962 aged 71. Vera survived him.

William Frazier WOOLLACOTT 43216, born on 16 July 1889, was a postman of 27, living at Ivy Cottage when he enlisted in the 3rd Devons in Exeter in 1916.  As a Private he served: Home 28 July 1916-17 Jan 1917.  France 18 Jan 1917-16 Feb 1917 Home 17 Feb 1917-25 Apr 1917, when he was discharged as being no longer physically fit for war service as he was suffering from (Albinism) Nystaguius, which affected his vision. He was entitled to the Silver War Badge 185181.  In 1935 Bill married Margaret Olivia French Smith daughter of Rev French Smith and sister of war casualty Robert Arthur French Smith.  William was living at St Michael’s in 1939, when he was listed as a teacher of music and Margaret was a retired nurse.  His mother Frances, who was incapacitated, lived with them. He still lived at St Michael’s when he died in 1940.  Margaret Olivia was in Blackdown Nursing Home when she died in 1962.  Frances died in mid 1940 aged 82 just before her son.

Robert Alexander WRAIGHT, the son of Robert Jackson Wraight and his wife Frances.  He was born on 25 Nov 1856 and baptised on 24 May 1857 in London.  He had served as a boy soldier in the 2nd Battalion of the Scots Fusilier Guards, before becoming a Colour Sergeant in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.  In 1901 his wife, Elizabeth, (married in Plymouth in 1882) was living at Poplar Cottage near the Herrings Arms and Stag Head with her mother Elizabeth Kingsland (the widow of John, a Publican – Living on own means), in Brentor with their two sons, Richard Stanley b1890 and Robert Trevor b 1893, both born in Wrexham, Wales.  Other than the 1891 Census, there is no record of their other son, John born 1884 unless he was the John A Wraight who died in Tavistock 1912 aged 29.  Robert Trevor died in 1909 aged just 16 and is buried in Christ Church graveyard.  By 1911 Robert and Elizabeth were living at Burn View where he was described as a farmer pensioner.  When Robert died in 1917, they were living at 1 Canal Road Tavistock and he was an Army pensioner.

In 1917, Edwin Benjamin Yelland was employing Frederick T SYMONS (above), who was granted a 6 month exemption from Apr 1917- Sep 1917 to work on the farm.  Edwin, of Yellands, Brentor died in 1942.


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