FOR KING & COUNTRY
(Frank sitting far right front row)
Frank was born and grew up in Sussex before emigrating to Canada. He was one of the original contingent to land in Plymouth on 16th October 1914.
The troops noted above left Canada for Britain on 26th September 1914. Frank sailed on the Cunard ship Franconia. The convoy’s intended destination had been Southampton but the fear of U-boats in the Channel saw her put in at Plymouth. There the troops disembarked and were taken to camps on Salisbury Plain.
The weather there was the wettest it had been for several years and rained non-stop for six weeks. With many men being British born with relatives not too far away, leave was initially freely given to prevent the camps turning into quagmires.
With their camps on Salisbury Plain, it was an easy matter for ex-pat Teigntonians to visit family and friends in the West Country when they had some leave. Sometimes they would bring their mates with them. Friendships with local girls soon blossomed and, as so often in wartime, whirlwind romances between servicemen and local girls ensued. One wartime romance involved Frank Burt and village girl Mary Joslin who were quickly married in the spring of 1915.
Frank and his new wife set up home with her parents at 1 Victoria Terrace, Kingsteignton. By the time Frank was married he had been transferred to Shornecliffe Camp in Kent.
Once training was finished the battlefields of northern France beckoned. Like many soldiers in the battle field Frank was to gain quick promotion, in his case to Sergeant in December 1914.
Another promotion was earned in September 1916 to Sergeant Major.
In September 1916 he was part of The Canadian Corps participating in the Battle of the Somme. Their attack began well with a victory as they made an assault on the village of Courcelette aided by the "new engine of war”, the armoured tank. In the weeks that followed, the Canadian divisions again and again attacked a series of German entrenchments beyond the village, particularly a German line known as Regina Trench which one soldier called a "ditch of evil memory."
The letter Frank wrote to his wife on 22nd September 1916 is printed out below:-
Letter from Frank Burt to his wife in Kingsteignton
My darling wife
Just a few lines to you in answer to your kind and loving letter which I got last evening. I was glad to hear from you once again. Well dear, I am alright up to date. Dear, I am going to try to answer your letter now as I have a little while to share now with you. You must not worry when you do not hear from me regular. Well dear it does not matter what I am at. It is danger all the time. You bet it is furious fighting here. I hope to be spared to come back to you and babe. How is the darling getting on now? Hope his cold is better. Let me know when you get parcel, old dear, I am looking forward for your parcel. Now I expect it tonight by this mail. Yes you people there cannot realise what we have to go through. It is like hell itself, but we never flinch. We have got to win and we are gradually doing it. Now, so Lucy is still away, you must not worry about babe like that but I know he is wonderful. I also know that his Mama will look after him. I guess you will spoil him well. Dear, do not worry if you do not hear for a few days again now as we will be at it again. Well darling I must close no, so goodbye for the present.
Remember your loving and affectionate hubby.
For dear babe xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
The next communication Mary Burt received from France was a telegram to inform her that her husband had been killed, followed by a letter from his army chaplain.
TO: MARY BURT KINGSTEIGNTON
EXCEEDINGLY REGRET TO INFORM YOU 46965 SERGT FRANK BURT THIRTEENTH BATT. CANADIAN KILLED IN ACTION TWENTY FOURTH SEPTEMBER. LETTER FOLLOWS
CANADIAN RECORD OFFICE LONDON.
Grateful thanks to Larry Lee for sharing these documents with the KHS
CHARLES HENRY COOK
Charles Henry Cook was born in Kingsteignton on 28th December 1886 the son of James and Susan Cook. He grew up in Honeywell Road and his father worked as a lighterman on the Hackney Canal. When Charles left school like many village boys he worked as a clay carter before moving on to take up work as a clay cutter in one of the local pits.
He is one of thousands of servicemen whose records were destroyed by enemy bombing during WW2.
However, we can ascertain brief details of his career after he joined up in August 1914 as he regularly wrote to his parents to inform them of his progress. On one postcard in October 1914 he wrote that he had gained his first stripe. In 1917 we learn from the local press that he had been promoted to Staff Sergeant Major and he wrote home to say that he had seen the grave of his fellow Teigntonian Harry Walters.
In 1917 we learn from the local press that he had been promoted to Staff Sergeant Major and he wrote home to say that he had seen the grave of his fellow Teigntonian Harry Walters.
He was still in France in December 1918 when he sent this card (see left) to his sister Olive wishing her a Happy Xmas. Even though the war had ended it had to be checked by the censor.
After the war Charles returned to work in the clay industry.
FREDERICK GEORGE DENNIS
Frederick Dennis was born in Newton Abbot on 11th February 1885, the son of Noah and Ann Dennis. At the time of the 1901 Census he was recorded as a labourer in a brick works (most probably Hexter, Humpherson & Co in Kingsteignton). He joined the Royal Navy as a Boy 2nd Class at HMS Northampton on 21st April 1902 signing on for a twelve year Continuous Service engagement starting on 11th February 1903.
Fred married Kingsteignton girl Florence Lily West on 5th January 1907 at St Michael’s Church, Kingsteignton - at the time his residence was given as Kingsteignton and he was serving on HMS Cornwall.
On 2nd January 1908 he joined the Submarine Depot Ship HMS Forth (Devonport Submarine Flotilla) 'for Submarine Training'.
The 1911 Census shows him as living at 18, York Terrace, Kingsteignton, with his wife Florence Lily and children Charles (two) and Gwendoline (seven months).
On 11th November 1911 Fred joined the Submarine Depot Ship HMS Vulcan (Submarine Section VII). From 17th January to 21st March 1912 he served in the Submarine Tender HMS Hebe before re-joining HMS Vulcan (7th Submarine Flotilla) at Dundee on 22nd March 1912 'for Submarines'. A third child, Catherine, was born in 1912.
He joined HMS Dolphin (5th Submarine Flotilla) at Gosport on 12th July 1913 and volunteered for service in the Royal Australian Navy when the R.A.N decided to develop a Submarine Arm.
His service record shows him as 'Lent to R.A.N. for three years from 1.12.1913 for service with the Submarine Spare Crew' and he was drafted to HMAS Penguin 'for Submarine AEI' on 28th February 1914. Submarine AEI had been built at the Vickers Yard at Barrow-in-Furness having been 'Laid down' on 3rd November 1911, 'Launched' on 22nd May 1913 and Commissioned' on 28th February 1914.
Fred was serving in that submarine when it sank (cause unknown) off New Britain in the Bismarck Archipelago on 14th September 1914 with the loss of 35 crew members. Fred was twenty eight years old at the time of his death and his wife's address, as listed in the Next of Kin List, was Mill Head Villa,Kingsteignton (now the site of Little Leat Cottages). He is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval War Memorial on Panel No. 4 and on the War Memorial at Kingsteignton.
On 21st December 2017 ABC News reported that the first Allied and Royal Australian Navy submarine HMAS AE1 lost in World War I had finally been found after a 103 year search off the coast of Papua New
Guinea. "Australia's oldest naval mystery has been solved," Defence Minister Marise Payne said. "It was a significant tragedy felt by our nation and our allies."
Twelve previous private and government-funded expeditions over the years failed to find the vessel, which was a grave to so many.
The latest, 13th and final search began on board the vessel Fugro Equator a week before she was finally located.
GEORGE HENRY DISCOMBE MM
The following information was sent to the KHS by Janet Farley (nee Discombe) regarding her grandfather George Discombe.
George Discombe was born in 1896 in Kingsteignton, the son of William and Annie Maria Discombe. He grew up at Millpark and in 1911 at the age of fourteen he is shown on the census as a grocer's errand boy.
Following the outbreak of WWI he joined the 1st Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment.
In January 1916 the battalion was transferred to the 95th Brigade of the 5th Division and in March took over a section of the of front line between St Laurent Blangy and the southern edge of Vimy Ridge, near Arras where they were engaged in numerous actions. The division was enjoying some rest and refit (R&R) but this did not last long as the Battle of the Somme started on 1st July 1916. They were called into the fray in the attack on High Wood and the Battle of Flers Courcelette, alongside the Canadians. Other engagements on the Somme included Guillemont, Morval and Le Transloy.
By Autumn the Division had moved from the Somme and was tasked with defending a section of the line near Festubert.
Nineteen seventeen saw the brigade in the thick of action at Vimy Ridge and other phases of the Battles of Arras. In September the brigade was moved to Flanders to take part in various actions, including Paschendaele, which became known as the Third Battle of Ypres. It was here that Janet says his bravery was acknowledged with the award of the Military Medal.
After coming through the hell of Paschendaele the brigade were sent to North Italy and stationed along the River Piave. The sojourn in Italy was a welcome break from Flanders .
However, this respite was short lived and it was called back to France in March 1918 to help repel a massive German offensive. In August the brigade was recalled for some well earned rest but within a fortnight was back in action as part of an offensive that saw the German Army eventually forced into retreat and sue for surrender.
George was awarded the Military Medal for his bravery at Paschendaele and notification of this award was published on page 10572 of the London Gazette of 20 August 1919. The Gazette entry reads: 257348 Sgt G Discombe, 1 st Battalion, Devonshire Regiment (Kingsteignton) . His medal card also shows he earned the 1914-18 War Medal and Allied Victory Medal. By the end of the war he had been promoted to Sergeant at the young age of twenty two.
After the war George returned to Kingsteignton and in 1923 he married Ellen Horsam. He followed in his father's footsteps and worked in the local clay industry for Whiteway & Co which merged with the Devon and Courtenay Clay Company in 1957. In 1966 both companies merged with Watts, Blake Bearne & Co.
Janet's father, Ken, related to her how as young boy he would often be sent over to the clay pits to take lunch to her grandfather George where he worked and how he used to be lowered down into the mineshaft to deliver the lunch. This was an errand performed by many children whose father's worked at the pits.
Left George & Ellen's Wedding Day 1923 outside Millpark
JACK EDWARDS MM
Thomas John Edwards (better known as “Jack” to distinguish him from his father) was one of Kingsteignton Rugby Club’s finest players before he moved to play for Newton Abbot All Whites where he gained county recognition. One rugby correspondent described him as “the stamp of a footballer who is in the habit of dashing in where angels fear to tread”.
He followed his father into the dairy industry and either side of the war ran a successful dairy on his own account from 19 Oakford delivering milk from his horse drawn cart. When he joined up he served with the 77th Field Company, the Royal Engineers.In November 1917 he married Mary Chammings of Chudleigh Road with Mary’s brother Fred of the 1st Devons as his best man. By the end of the war he had been promoted to sergeant and on 13th June 1919 the report of his award of the Military Medal was published in the London Gazette.
WILLIAM RICHARD EMMETT DCM, MM
BSM W R Emmett pictured on the right outside the family home in Sandpath Road (photo courtesy of John Ellis
William Richard Emmett was born on 1st August 1879 in a cottage at Hackney. His father John was a lighterman on the Hackney Canal.
He enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery at Leeds on 12th September 1899 when his occupation was given as a groom.
Promotion quickly followed and he was made a bombardier on 19th June 1900 and a corporal on 9th January 1902.
1905 was a bit of a mixed bag for William as he seems to have got himself in a spot of bother and was reduced to the rank of gunner on 13th January 1905. He quickly made amends and was promoted to bombardier again on 16th March 1905. He held this rank for seven months when he reduced to gunner on account of misconduct. In February 1907 he was posted to India and by May 1913 he had made it back to the rank of Corporal.
In April 1914 his unit was recalled to Britain. The day after war broke out on 4th August he found himself promoted to sergeant.
Just over a fortnight after the declaration of war he was posted to France before returning for some leave 14 months later.
In November 1915 he returned to France and within two months his bravery came to the fore which resulted in him being mentioned in dispatches on 1st January 1916. In October 1916 he was awarded the Military Medal.
His unit remained in the thick of the action throughout 1917 and was mentioned in dispatches again on 18th May 1917.
On 9th August 1917 he was wounded in the shoulder which necessitated being invalided back to Britain on 13th August 1917. In October 1917 his display of leadership and gallantry in the aforementioned action led to him being awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.
The award was reported in the London Gazette of 26th January 1918 and the citation reads:
910 B. S.M. W.R. Emmett, R.F.A. (Kingsteignton, Devon) (LG 26 Jan. 1918).
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty on three separate occasions. When in charge of the first line wagons he led them through intense hostile barrage during which his horse was killed under him and a team destroyed. He succeeded, however, in bringing all the wagons into position, and made two more journeys under the same dangerous and difficult conditions.
On the following day he again had his horse killed under him, and lost several men and horses, but was again successful in bringing many rounds of ammunition to the guns. A few days later, when under heavy shell fire with his battery, he was knocked over by a shell when assisting a wounded man to cover. He declared he was not hit and assisted to dress four wounded men before blood was observed coming through his clothing and he was found to be wounded himself. No praise can be too high for his splendid gallantry and devotion to duty.
William was discharged from the army on 11th September 1920 with a pension of 4s 6d per day for life.
AMOS HEWINGS (photo courtesy of R Harris)
Bishopsteignton born Amos Hewings was the fifth son of Robert and Mary Hewings. His family moved to Kingsteignton in the late nineteenth century and like many village boys he grew up working on local farms and driving a clay cart.
In the 1901 census when working at Gappah Farm his occupation was given as that of a cowboy. By 1906 he was driving a clay cart for J Vallance from the local pits to the Teign Bridge Clay cellars beside the Stover Canal.
He was the last of four Hewings brothers to enlist, joining the 9th Devons on 29th November 1915. His shooting ability was quickly recognised and with just a few months training he was sent to the Front.
On 1st July 1916 the 9th Devons were located near outskirts of the French village of Mametz, dug in behind the cover of Mansel Copse. There was a German machine gun post positioned beside a roadside shrine on the outskirts of the
French village of Mametz, dug in behind the cover of Mansel Copse. There was a German machine gun post positioned beside a roadside shrine on the outskirts of the village which had been noted by a young officer named Captain Duncan Martin. Captain Martin realised the danger from this gun-post but his fears were dismissed by his commanders. At the appointed time Amos and the 9th Devons went over the top to launch the attack on Fricourt. As they broke the cover of Mansel Copse and advanced across open countryside to achieve their objective, the German machine gun sprayed the advancing Devons just as Captain Martin had warned.
Captain Martin was killed by the enemy fire. Amos was struck on his lower right arm which was shattered. He found himself in No Man’s Land concussed and unable to get back to his own line. There he remained for 24 hours until he was finally rescued. By the time of his rescue his right arm was in such a mess the lower part had to be amputated.
Amos was dismissed from the Army in November 1916 as unfit for active service. When he had recovered from his injuries he found work sitting beside the road at Crossley Moor cracking stones with his good left arm to fill in potholes. This was the land that Prime Minister Lloyd George had promised would be “A Land Fit for Heroes”.
GEORGE HEWINGS (photo courtesy of R Harris)
George Alfred Hewings was born in Kingsteignton in 1895, the youngest son of Robert and Mary Hewings. He joined up on 5th December 1914 at Aldershot. In civilian life he had worked as a clay carter and the Army judged his experience with horses as making him suitable as a wagon driver for the military.
He was posted to France on 3rd August 1915 as part of the British Expeditionary Force. On 16th February 1916 he embarked from Marseilles on the Minneapolis as part of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force bound for Greece, arriving at Salonika on 23rd February.
His time in Greece in 1916 saw him, like many others, stricken with bouts of dysentery, sandfly fever and malaria (the latter two infections carried by mosquitos).
On 28th March 1918 he was attached to the Likovan Light Railway which indicates a posting to the Macedonian Front. On 28th April 1918 he re-joined his company.
In October 1918 he was granted 21 days leave in the UK re-joining his unit in Salonika on 11th November 1918, the date of the armistice.
An accident on 14th December 1918 when exercising some “awkward” mules resulted in him suffering an inguinal hernia. His medical records show that he was admitted to hospital, patched up with a truss and sent back to work.
On 25th January 1919 he was despatched to the Concentration Camp at Salonika and on 7th February 1919 he embarked for the UK via Taranto before being discharged from the army on 23rd March 1919.
SAM HEWINGS (photo courtesy of R Harris)
Berry Pomeroy born Samuel Hewings had moved with his family to Kingsteignton in the early 1890s. By the time of the outbreak of World War One he had married Kingsteignton girl Sarah Dobb and was working as a clay-cutter for Hexter & Budge.
Like many men who served in World War One his service records were destroyed during World War Two as the result of enemy bombing action. However, his medal card was stored at a different site and that survives.
Newspaper accounts mention him being part of the 8th Devons and his medal card shows that he went to France on 7th October 1915. This would place him arriving in the midst of the Battle of Loos, the day before the Germans launched a great counter offensive. His younger brother Tom was also at Loos at that time with the 9th Devons.
After Loos we know through newspaper reports that in April 1916 he was wounded in the face. The same newspaper account (the Western Times of 15.04.16) mentions that his brother-in-law Lew Tolley (also with the Devons) was in hospital in France.
Later family correspondence reveals that he was part of the 8th Devons who saw action in another ferocious battle in July 1916 near Mametz as part of the Somme Offensive.
His medal card indicates that at some time he was transferred to the Labour Corps, indicating that he was not fit for front line duties, and that he returned to England in March 1919 when he was placed on the “Reserved List”. It also shows that he was awarded the three medals that became known as Pip, Squeak & Wilfred.
TOM HEWINGS (photo courtesy of R Harris)
Stokeinteignhead born Tom Hewings joined the 9th Battalion, The Devonshire Regiment on 30th November 1914 at Exeter. The 9th Devons had been formed on 15 September 1914 as one of the New Army battalions called for by Lord Kitchener.
In 1911 Tom had married Lucy Tolley in St Michael’s Church Kingsteignton. His marriage certificate gave his occupation as claycutter. Lucy was the daughter of another claycutter, William Tolley. Tom and Lucy set up home at 4 Fairfield Cottages Kingsteignton (now 63 Exeter Road). By the outbreak of war had a two year old daughter, Beatrice.
On 4th December 1014 Tom’s service records show him as posted but no destination is given. He most probably went to Aldershot where the 9th had been stationed since late November.
At Aldershot he would have received his basic training in rifle handling and shooting plus the obligatory square bashing. The battalion had just received 100 new rifles which meant that serious shooting practise could start. In February the 9th were moved to Haslemere in Surrey. Before their move a big review of Lord Kitchener’s New Army was arranged on the Chobham Ridges to which French officials were invited.
On 2nd October 1915 Tom embarked for France as part of the Expeditionary Force. The main body of the 9th Devons had already arrived in France on 28th July and were engaged in the Battle of Loos (a battle famous for being the first instance in which Britain had employed Chlorine gas on the battlefield).
The 9th Devons, along with the 8th Devons formed part of 20th Brigade attached to 7th Division. Tom’s elder brother Sam, a miner with Hexter and Budge was with the 8th Devons.
There had been particularly fierce fighting the week before Tom reached Loos and soon after his arrival the Germans launched a counter attack on 8th October. The subsequent counter-offensive brought the battle to an end on 13th October. The British sustained 61,000 casualties in this battle of whom 7,766 died. Casualties were especially high among the New Army units sent up to the front shortly after landing in France, as for many it was the first taste of battle. The Battle of Loos was part of what was commonly referred to as “The Big Push”. There were to be a number of “Big Pushes” before the war ended. Like many battles in the war many were lost for little territorial gain.
The battle was alluded to in a letter sent home to Kingsteignton by Lance-Corporal Sweetland and reported in the Kingsteignton news column in the Mid Devon Advertiser of 23rd October. The newspaper’s correspondent mentioned that Lance Corpl Sweetland had reported that the 8th Devons had led in the great battle of a fortnight ago and took the guns, and that the 8th and 9th were now back for a rest. L/Corp Sweetland went on to say that he had seen Tom Hewings, Sam Hewings and Alf Gay but missed Lew Tolley (Lew was Tom’s brother-in-law and a miner with Hexter & Budge).
The Brigade needed miners to work with the Royal Engineers, and on 4th November 1915 Tom was attached to the Brigade Mining Company where his experience as a miner was put to use. Tunnels were dug under enemy lines and mines exploded whilst on the opposing front the Germans were doing very much the same. In his book on the Devonshire Regiment, Captain Atkinson gives an account of the arduous nature of the methods used in the mining with men having to carry wet sacks of mud out of the tunnels and along muddy communications trenches to the dumps.
Tom re-joined his Battalion on 3rd December 1915, the day after the 7th Division was withdrawn from the line for a spell of rest.
It may have been during this rest period that Tom got involved in railway construction as it was at this time that the 9th was converted into the 7th Division’s Pioneer Battalion, working under the Royal Engineers on railway construction, mining and road making.
Tom’s service record shows that did not go back to the trenches. Following an application for a transfer from the 9th Devons on 28th February 1916 he was attached to the Railway Construction Company. The transfer was confirmed on 10th March 1916 and he was posted to the 120th Company Royal Engineers for the duration of the war. Later in the year, on 30th May 1916, Tom passed his examination as a Platelayer. For the rest of the war Tom was engaged in laying and repairing railway tracks to the front in preparation for battles such as Ypres, building sidings and bridges.
At 11.00 am on 11th November the armistice began. The company received instructions to commence work repairing the Audenarde Line on 13th November. For the next three months Tom was involved in various activities repairing damaged tracks.
On 5th February 1919 Tom returned to England and was discharged from the Army on 28th March 1919.
He then resumed his work with Watts, Blake, Bearne & Co as a clay miner.
ERNEST JAMES HOLLAND (photo courtesy of Len Holland)
When war broke out many young boys eager to do their bit, no doubt seeking adventure and the chance to see foreign climes, presented themselves at recruiting offices and gave false dates of birth to ensure that they would not be rejected by the recruiting officers. Ernest Holland from Kingsteignton gave his correct age of 14 when he was first interviewed by a recruiting officer at Newton Abbot and was told to come back when he was 16. Ernest left the office and mulled over what he had been told and later went back to be interviewed by the same officer, but this time gave his age as 16 and was duly signed up for the 1/5th Devonshire Territorial Regiment.
In October Ernest found himself on his way to India where the 1/5th Devons were posted to take over garrison duties from regular troops. On 11th November the battalion landed at Karachi (in what is now Pakistan) before being moved to Lahore in December.
In March 1917 Ernest found himself on his way to Egypt where the 1/5th Devons became part of 232nd Brigade which was to form a part of General Allenby’s advance into Palestine along with Indian Army and ANZAC troops with the aim of capturing Jerusalem.
Ern Holland pictured far left back row (photo courtesy of Len Holland)
Ern’s first encounter with the enemy with the 1/5th Devons was near Gaza on 8th July where they came under heavy fire from the Turks.
The battalion was involved in more fierce fighting at Saris and El Jib before Jerusalem was taken in December 1917. In April 1918 the 1/5th captured the town of Berukin despite heavy casualties.
In May 1918 Ernest and the 1/5th were sent to France where they saw action on the Marne. When the Armistice came in November they were behind the line at Monplaisir after some 30 months of almost continuous action. After the war Ern retaied his links with the Territorials and bevacme a recruiting officer and trainer.
JOSEPH HOLLAND (photo courtesy of Len Holland)
Joseph Holland was born at Wolborough on 20th November 1897. When he attested for service at Exeter on 4th September 1914 he was living with his family in Kingsteignton and gave his year of birth as 1895, no doubt adding a couple of years to ensure his acceptance. His application was quickly processed and he was posted to the Royal Field Artillery as a driver.
Joe saw action in France and suffered spinal injuries which were to affect him after the war and see him need the use of a wheel chair.
He was mentioned in a poem written after the war by TC Wood to honour men from Kingsteignton who had fought in the conflict.
I see Sam and Will, their brothers,
Bickhams, of the Navy true;
Short Alf. Gay, White, Rich and others
Who fought cross the water's blue.
Holland, now so bad there lying,
Luxton, Lang, I see so true,
Johns, the bugler, with acts trying
For to carry on right through.
ALBERT JOHN HONYWILL DSO, MC.
“Bert” Honywill was born in Cardiff on 2nd December 1892, the son of Joseph and Mary Honywill. His father hailed from County Cavan and his mother was from a Kingsteignton farming family (the Snows).
By the time of the 1901 census the family had moved back to Kingsteignton and were living in Church Street where they ran a butcher’s shop. Ten years later in the 1911 census Bert was described as “assisting in the business”.
When war broke out in 1914 Bert joined up as a Private in the Devon Yeomanry and later was promoted to Corporal in the 1st Battn, Devonshire Regiment.
He soon made his way up to 2nd Lieutenant and served in France/Flanders, 10th July to 8th September 1916; 28th December 1916 to 28th March 1917; 17th to 28th November 1917; and 19th March to 26th August 1918; and in Italy, 29th November 1917 to 28th March 1918. During the course of the war he was wounded on two occasions.
As 2nd Lieutenant (Acting Captain) Bert was awarded the M.C. for his service in repelling the German advance at Nieppe, 16th April 1918.
His award of the M.C. was posted in the London Gazette of 16th September 1918 and the citation read as follows:-
‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. When the defence of a bridgehead gave way without a moment's hesitation he charged forward with the counter attack company, carrying those who had withdrawn with him. He and his men had to charge through a brook up to their waists in water, and over 100 yards in the open, against shell and machine gun fire, but nothing would stop him. He did splendid work. He is the youngest son of Mr J Honywill of Kingsteignton'.
He was an Acting Captain with the 1st Battalion, when was awarded the D.S.O. for his services in the vicinity of Achiet-le-Petit, 21st August 1918. The following day he was instrumental in sending out Lance-Corporal Onions and Private Eades to make contact with units on their flank. In doing so, Onions and Eades came upon a large number of advancing Germans. Placing themselves on their flank they opened fire. The German advance wavered and some hands were held up in surrender. Onions and his comrade moved forward and found themselves in possession of some 200 German prisoners which were then marched back to the company commander. For his great gallantry in action, Onions was awarded the Victoria Cross. On the 23rd August, Bert led an advance which resulted in the capture of Irles. In this action he was wounded.
The citation posted in the London Gazette 7 November 1918 read:-
‘Second Lieut. (Acting Captain), Devonshire Regiment. For conspicuous gallantry, skill and ability. He handled his company with great skill in face of heavy machine-gun fire, and captured two machine-guns which were holding up our advance. Later in the day he advanced with considerable tactical ability and captured 200 prisoners. He was later wounded in the capture of a village, in which he materially assisted. Throughout the action his coolness and good judgement were remarkable and worthy of great praise’.
When the war was over Bert returned to Kingsteignton to carry on the family business with his brother Joe. They moved from their shop on the corner of Church Street to new premises at Oakford on the site of Pickett’s old cycle shop.
He married in 1922 and lived at 9 Golvers Hill Road. Bert was a founder member of the Kingsteignton branch of the British Legion and for many years served on the Ram Fair Committee.
CHIEF P.O. THOMAS PIKE.
Extract from a newspaper report submitted
by the late Mrs A Leaman grand-daughter of Thomas Pike
Kingsteignton Man’s Death
With the loss of the Laurentic, Kingsteignton lost one of its best known and most respected citizens, in the person of Chief P.O. Thomas Pike. Mr. Pike entered the Navy in 1889 joining almost at the same hour as Mr. E.G. Glanfield, of Newton Abbot, they being lads together. In 1891 he received promotion to man’s rank. After constant service he went to South Africa during the Boer war, being landed at Mossel Bay for the defence of that place. There he acted as a qualified Diver. For his services there he received the South African medal and the Cape Colony Clasp in 1902. In 1907 Mr. Pike received the long service and the good conduct medal. Mr Pike was on the H.M.S. Doris when General Cronje and his wife were transported during the South African campaign. He concluded his long Naval career as a Chief Petty Officer and retired to civilian life, just before the outbreak of war in August 1914 acting as a sporting groundsman at Newton College, where he will be remembered for his genial and obliging manner being a general favourite with the lads, some of whom have written letters of sympathy to Mrs Pike. On the outbreak of war Mr. Pike was called up, and during the two years previous to hisdeath had travelled over the whole world seas practically on the Laurentic. He was home on leave as late as the Christmas season. He leaves a wife and two children to mourn his loss, besides a host of personal friends in the Village as he was a ‘Teignton lad through and through. The flags have been at half-mast at the clubs and many blinds have been drawn in memory of one who was a credit to the village and an example of grit and determination.
Below: SS Laurentic Below: Memorial plaque in respect of Thomas Pike set into pew in
St Michael’s Church
PHILIP HENRY PADDON (photo courtesy of Robert Thorp)
Philip Henry Paddon was born in Berry Lane on 30th January 1888, the son of a shoemaker. As a boy he attended the Chapel School in Sandpath Road and in the 1911 census is shown as working in his father’s boot and shoe store in Fore Street.
With king and country calling for more volunteers in 1915 he decided to join up. Whilst most men making that choice went to their local recruiting office, his love of horses saw him travel to London to join the Household Cavalry in August 1915. He took with him references from his former schoolmaster Mr C W Freestone and his employer, Mr Frank M Stark of Twelve Oaks Farm, Teigngrace for whom he had driven a clay cart.
He was stationed at Regent’s Park Barracks before being posted to the B.E.F on 8th November 1916. What he was soon to encounter was a world away from the glamorous dress uniform and parade grounds of the Blues & Royals.
It was during the preparations for the 3rd Battle of Ypres in 1917 that he contracted a serious bacterial infection (sycosis) of the face and neck through an open wound (probably a shaving cut). These were the pre antibiotic days and in the filthy conditions of the trenches the infection quickly took hold and he was sent back to Britain for treatment at Grove Military Hospital in Tooting. photo left showing Phil in uniform
It was whilst he was being treated at the military hospital that he decided to marry his sweetheart, Hilda Kate Miller from Newton Abbot. At the time Hilda was employed as a munitions worker at Woolwich Arsenal having volunteered for such work, along with her sister Marian, after their brother Hubert was killed during the Battle of the Somme.
Phil’s army records show that he was given two weeks furlough at Kingsteignton following his marriage before being transferred from the Household Division to the Labour Corps on 25th February 1918 where he served with the 154th Agricultural Company, an indication that he was no longer fit for front line duties. Unfortunately the sycosis infection did not clear up and in August 1919 he was sent to the Millbay Military Hospital in Plymouth. He was eventually discharged from the service on 15th November 1919 as being no longer being fit for war service. By then his head was almost completely bandaged and he was assessed as 40% disabled.
Phil’s fiancée and future sister in law (back row 2nd & 4th left) at Woolwich Arsenal
(photos above left and bottom left courtesy of Robert Thorp)
Left Phil with head bandaged.
Right :- His Blues & Royals Cap Badge
Following his marriage he and his wife Hilda (Kitty) made their home lodging with the Vallance family at Whiteway Terrace Kingsteignton before finding a home of their own at 6 Hays Terrace, Chudleigh Road. Phil was fortunate in that his wife was from a family with an active St John Ambulance background and Kitty nursed him back to
health by carefully and regularly changing his dressings (his father-in-law was a member of St John Ambulance and had worked at the Newton VAD Hospital). Despite this some forty years later his face required a skin graft.
Mrs Virginie Lucy Quinton
“Cometh the hour, cometh the man”, goes the saying, but when one looks at the work done in Kingsteignton by Mrs Virginie L Quinton of Blindwell House during WW1 there is a good case to make for saying “Cometh the Hour, cometh the woman”. Throughout the war Mrs Quinton worked to provide comforts for the troops and supplies for institutions such as VAD Hospitals. She also encouraged women and children in the village to do what they could for the war effort either by tilling their gardens or saving their pocket money.
Mrs Quinton was a woman of her time, a daughter of the Raj, having been born in Rawalpindi in 1851. Her father, Henry Mills, entered the East India Company Military Service on 20 October 1840, and became a Major General on 12 August 1876. He served in the Afghanistan campaign of 1842, and the actions at Kandahar and Pesharajporer in 1843, and the Sutlej campaign of 1845-46. He was also employed during the Indian Mutiny in 1857, in moving troops to the front.
In the census of 1861 we find Virginie had been sent back to England to school and was living with her aunt and uncle in Canterbury.
On 14th September 1876 she married army surgeon Major William W Quinton MB LRCSI at St Mary’s, Harrow-on-the-Hill. By 1891 they had moved to Devon and were living in St Paul’s Road, Newton Abbot, from where they later moved to Blindwell House, Kingsteignton.
She lost her husband in tragic circumstances on 31st March 1899 when, after suffering years of ill health, he took his own life by drinking a bottle of carbolic acid in Blindwell Meadow, the field opposite where they lived.
Following her husband’s death her younger sister, Priscilla, who like Virginie, had been born in India came to live with her. Both sisters took an active role in the parish church. Virginie was a manager at the Church School and Priscilla taught at the Church Sunday School and in 1912 became the first female manager at the Council (Chapel) School.
Prior to the outbreak of WW1 Mrs Quinton had been chairman of the Kingsteignton Nursing Association and in charge of raising monies to employ a nurse for the village. In 1910 the salary for the nurse was £46 6s per annum who was supplied with a uniform and a bicycle.
On 8th August 1914, Queen Mary had launched an appeal for women to make a useful contribution to the war effort. Using the London Needlework Guild, of which she was the patron, as its vehicle, amid great fanfare, the organisation was re-named the Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild. It was intended as a means for women, who were as deeply stirred by the war as men, to play their part in the war effort.
Just over a week after war had been declared a public meeting was held at the Church School on 12th August to discuiss what the village could do to help the war effort. Mrs Quinton referred to work that women might do in response to the Queen’s Appeal on behalf of those who might suffer owing to the war. She suggested that working parties be set up and a committee be appointed to co-ordinate the making of clothing items. This was duly done with Mrs Quinton as Chairman of the Kingsteignton Patriotic Work Party.
By early November she was able to report to the Kingsteignton War Committee that weekly sewing meetings were being held in the Liberal Club making various comforts for the wounded. This work continued through 1915 with no let up.
In February 1916 Mrs Quinton received news that the efforts of the Kingsteignton Patriotic Work Party had been recognised by the War Office and that it had been affiliated to the British Red Cross Society through the Devon and Exeter Linen League. The group had been granted a flag and registered with an official number. The Work Party was well supported by both political clubs in the village which availed the use of their club rooms to the group. Since the outbreak of war the Working Party had dispatched some 1,216 articles, including 154 pairs of socks, 80 mufflers, 38 shirts, 56 pairs of slippers and 194 hospital bags to institutions and organisations such as the Newton Abbot VAD Hospital, the Chudleigh VAD Hospital, Twickenham VAD Hospital, a POW at Doeberitz, the 128th Battery RFA and a hospital in France. The Working Party collected contributions from the village school children and other village groups such as the Sunday schools. It also co-ordinated the collection of voluntary subscriptions from individuals in the village to be used in procuring the types of articles listed above. In May the Work Party was awarded the War Office Bronze badge for continuous service in making comforts for the troops.
At a talk given by Mrs Wale, the wife of the Principal of Seale Hayne College, at the National School at the beginning of June 1916, it was explained the need to increase the nation’s food production and Mrs Wale urged women to cultivate their gardens or keep poultry and pigs in their gardens. She also urged them to help with the harvest and explained how women were now being enrolled for farm-work training at Seale Hayne so they could help on the land and take the places of men who had been called to the colours. A committee was set up with Mrs Quinton as the Registrar to co-ordinate how women from the village could obtain help and acquire the necessary skills to till their gardens or enrol on farm-work training courses at Seale Hayne.
Mrs Quinton shared in the trials that many people suffered during the war. In May 1917 she received the sad news that her former coachman, Fred Murrin of Clifford Street had been killed, whilst in July 1918 she wrote to Major Hurst at Seale Hayne thanking him for helping her groom, Frank Partridge, recover the speech he had lost through shell shock.
When the war ended Mrs Quinton informed the Kingsteignton War Committee that the Red Cross had asked the Kingsteignton Working Party to continue their work until further notice to provide comforts and articles for the hospitals receiving injured men returning from the various theatres of war. This work continued until April 1919 when the group was stood down.
In October 1919 Mrs Quinton became a member of the committee set up to look into a suitable war memorial for the village. When it was decided on a granite cross she suggested to the committee that her brother, Canon Mills of Truro, might be able to help as he had designed stone memorials for parishes in Cornwall.
A suitable designed was chosen and its construction commissioned. The memorial was erected in the northern portion of Kingsteignton churchyard and took the form of a wheeled cross made of granite with a slate panel attached to its base containing the names of the fallen. It was unveiled on 24th May 1921.
Mrs Quinton died at Blindwell House in 1928 and is buried in Kingsteignton churchyard.
Sid Sanders (circled sitting third from the left in the front row - photo courtesy of Jim Sanders) was born on 17th March 1898 at Oakford and joined the Army Service Corps in 1914.
Sid’s army service records, like so many others, were destroyed by German bombing in WW2. We know from newspaper cuttings that he was serving in Salonica in September 1916 where he had contracted malaria and was being treated on a hospital ship. The Western Times of 22nd May 1917 reported that he had transferred to the West Riding Regiment having served in Egypt, Serbia and Salonica.
On 22nd April 1918 Sid was captured and taken as a POW. He and several others found themselves sent to the Sennelager POW camp just north of Paderborn in Westphalia. There he was put to work in a coal mine doing twelve hour shifts. He and other prisoners were kept in appalling conditions and became infested with lice. Relief from lice infestations came in the form of cream sent in Red Cross parcels by their families. According to Sid’s relatives no treatment was offered by his captors, which ties in with other accounts from other prisoners who were there. They were fed two meals a day of boiled turnips and cabbage.
Food shortages amongst the civilian population in Germany were becoming severe in 1918 and when it came to the allocation of food POWs were at the bottom of the pile. Military prisoners such as Sid were forced to work 12 hour shifts in coal mines and on their release their emaciated state meant that it was several months before they could stomach what one would term a normal diet. Although cheered by his release a hearty Christmas dinner in 1918 was out of the question for Sid.
Another prisoner, Henry Charles Maloney ( a civilian interned in Gemany at the outbreak of the war), described the brutality meted out at Sennelager under the direction of its Prussian commander Major Bach in a book he wrote after the war under the title “Sixteen Months in four German POW Camps” . He referred to Sennelager as the Black Hole of Germany. Sharing his Kaiser’s hatred of all things British, Major Bach singled out the British prisoners for particularly harsh treatment. A group of Grimsby trawlermen captured in the North Sea were falsely accused of laying mines. Each man was submitted to the indignity of having one half of his head shaved clean, one half of his moustache removed, or one half of his beard cut away which afforded Major Bach endless amusement.
On another occasion Mahoney described how British POWs were placed in an open barbed wire compound without any shelter and spent days there subject to the wind and rain.
His description of the food ties in with that described by Sid, i.e. watery turnip or cabbage stew and bread, whilst the sanitation consisted of open ditches dug across the compounds. One did not have to be there long before one was infested with lice.
GEORGE HENRY VALLANCE
(photo courtesy of Keith Sanders)
George Henry Vallance was born in Kingsteignton in 1884 and attended the Church School. After leaving school he worked in the clay industry and later served in the army, returning to the clay industry with Watts, Blake, Bearne & Co when he had served his time.
He married local girl Ellen Sanders in 1910 and the couple lived at Whiteway Terrace, Chudleigh Road with their two daughters, Ellen aged 3 and Greta aged 1, when war broke out in 1914.
As a reservist George was one of the first in the village to join up after the outbreak of war and was soon posted to France with the 4th Devons.
He was killed during the Battle of Arras on 9th May 1917. His body was never recovered and he is one of nearly 35,000 soldiers of the British, South African and New Zealand forces with no known grave recorded on the Arras Memorial.