MORETONHAMPSTEAD'S WAR DEAD

 

Introduction
Most of us are familiar with the war memorials in Moretonhampstead, & some of us recognise the names inscribed on them. But what did these men do? Few members of the community actually can remember what struggles these men endured, or are aware of the far-flung places of the world in which they gave their lives. In view of this we have put together a fuller list of the war dead, to illustrate in greater depth what happened to these men, & to remind us that every name on every war memorial has a story, & each story constitutes a small piece of one of the most remarkable periods in British history.



Rolls of Honour for the two World Wars


First World War 1914-1918

Abraham

Hubert

L/Corporal 9341, 1st Battalion, Devonshire Regiment. Born, educated & resident in Moretonhampstead. Son of William & Elizabeth (nee Pethybridge), baker of Ford St. A young, early volunteer, Hubert served in the British Expeditionary Force which helped the French & Belgians to stop the Germans from winning the war in the first six weeks; the Schlieffen Plan aimed to focus the main German attack on the Western Front, capture Paris via weak Belgium & knock out the French before the British could prop them up. Hubert's battalion was rushed to France as part of what the Kaiser dismissed as 'a contemptible little army' that held up the Germans on the river Aisne & in the battle of La Bassee in north east France which saved Paris from capture. His battalion experienced the early days of trench warfare as both sides dug in east of Paris & he died of wounds received on 24th November 1914. Aged 19. Buried in grave III A 70, Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, France.

Aggett

Hubert

Private 267745, 1st/6th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment. Born & resident in Doccombe, Moretonhampstead. Son of William & Sarah (nee Warren), agricultural labourer of Doccombe. Enlisted 18th January 1915. Started in the 5th Reserve Battalion and then transferred to the the 6th. After nearly 2 years in India, Hubert's battalion landed at Basra (see AL Bond below) in January 1916 & served there against Turkish forces for the rest of the war. He was discharged with TB lung on 15th December 1917 and died at Doccombe on 5th February 1918. Aged 22. Buried in grave FO35, St. Andrew's Church, Moretonhampstead.

Aggett

Sydney

Sergeant 240473, D Company, 1st/5th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment. Military Medal. Born in Chagford & educated in Moretonhampstead. Son of John & Emma Aggett, stone quarryman of Cross Street. In the last phase of the war Sydney's battalion had helped to breach the German Hindenburg defence line in northeast France & was pushing the Germans back to the river Selle. He was killed in action at Masnieres Crevecoeury, France during a bold assault against German machine gun posts on 30th September 1918. Aged 32. Buried in grave VI C 8, Flesquieres Hill Cemetery, Cambrai, France. Posthumously awarded the Military Medal.

Aggett

William Henry

L/Corporal 34560, 2nd/4th Battalion, Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry. Born & educated in Moretonhampstead. Son of Daniel & Alice (nee Kerswell) Aggett & brother of Sidney (see 1939-45 below), builder's labourer of Egypt Court, Lime Street. Started in the 2nd Battalion, Devonshire Regiment (9481). Just 2 weeks before the armistice, William's battalion was helping to push the Germans back across the river Rhonelle in the Battle of Valenciennes in northeast France. He was killed in action in an attempt to capture the Maresches & Preseau high ground in the face of German machine guns & snipers on 1st November 1918. Aged 23. Buried in the southeast end of Maresches Communal Cemetery, Valenciennes, France.

Beer

Charles Howard Nelson

L/Sergeant 9507, 1st Battalion, Devonshire Regiment. Born in Bideford & resident in Doccombe, Moretonhampstead. Son of James and Janetta, farm cart driver. Charles arrived in France in late December 1914 & by the spring of 1915 his battalion were engaged in a fierce battle for the key strategic position of the Ypres salient overlooking the lowlands of Belgium. The Germans used phosgene & chlorine gas for the first time & he died of wounds after fighting at Hill 60, Ypres, Belgium on 17th May 1915. Aged 23. Buried in grave 1 A 71, Bailleul Community Nord Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium.

Beer

Frederick James

Private 8251, 2nd Battalion, Coldstream Guards. Born & educated in Moretonhampstead. Son of James & Elizabeth Beer (nee Ford), granite labourer of 18 Kinsman's Dale. He first enlisted for three years in 1909 & served mainly in South Africa.  In August 1914 he was a policeman in Tiverton & was called up as a reserve on declaration of war. Frederick was a skilled marksman & Coldstreamers were among the first British regiments to arrive in France after Britain declared war on Germany on August 4th 1914. They suffered heavy casualties in the first battles of the war at Mons & on the rivers Marne & Aisne which stopped the Germans reaching Paris (see H Abraham above). The Germans turned north in a 'race to the sea' (see G Crout below) & the British Expeditionary Force successfully stopped the Germans from outflanking the allies in Flanders at the First Battle of Ypres. This also came at a heavy cost as the 3 Coldstream battalions suffered 75% casualties & Frederick was killed in action (fighting alongside Capt. Monk, a descendant of the Coldstream's founder) on the Ypres Salient on 5th November 1914. Frederick kept a diary while on active service. Aged 24. Buried in grave IV J 8, Sanctuary Wood Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium.

Bennett

George

Private PLY/11509, Royal Marines Light Infantry, Royal Navy. Born in Okehampton & resident in Moretonhampstead. Son of George & Anna Bennett & brother of Samuel (see below) & William (see 1939-45), builder's mason of Cross Street, Moretonhampstead. George died in the UK on 5th October 1917 while serving on HMS Champagne (auxiliary cruiser), which was sunk by U-boat off the Isle of Man just 4 days later. Aged 31. Commemorated on grave F033, St. Andrew's Church, Moretonhampstead.

Bennett

Samuel

Private 81386, 32nd Company, Machine Gun Corps (Infantry). Formerly Private 24471, Dorsetshire Regiment. Born in Chagford & educated in Moretonhampstead. Son of George & Anna Bennett (nee Jeffery) & brother of George (see above) & William (see below), builder's mason of Cross Street, Moretonhampstead. Between June & November 1917 during the Third Battle of Ypres (aka Passchendaele) the British attempted a series of 'bite & hold' operations to capture critical terrain around the Ypres Salient & wear down the Germans in a battle of attrition. In reclaimed marshland, made swampier by unusually heavy rain, Samuel was killed in action on 7th August 1917. Aged 19. Buried in grave XII F 8, New Irish Farm Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium & Commemorated on grave F033, St. Andrew's Church, Moretonhampstead.

Bond

Anthony Lambert

Private 14204, 2nd Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment. Formerly Private 18087, Devonshire Regiment. Born in Blackawton & resident in Moretonhampstead. Husband of Alice M Bond (nee Lamacraft) & father of Dorothy, farm labourer of Ludons Cottage, Pepperdon Estate, Moretonhampstead. Anthony's battalion was attached to the India Expeditionary Force who were sent at the start of the war to safeguard oil refineries & supply lines in Bahrain & then Mesopotamia from hostile Arab tribes & the Turks. They captured the key port of Basra (see H Aggett above), advanced up the Tigris Valley to Kut-al-Amara & marched on towards Baghdad. This proved to be too ambitious & the Turks counter-attacked, pushing them back to Kut-al-Amara where 6,000 Indian & 2,000 British soldiers were besieged by 11,000 Turks for 147 days from December 1915 until they surrendered in April 1916. Some 23,000 British & Indian soldiers died in the attempts to retake Kut. Conditions were desperate inside the town & Anthony's battalion lost so many men that they had to amalgamate with the 2nd Norfolk Battalion & were called the 2nd 'Norsets'! He died of wounds on 14th February 1916. Aged 25. Commemorated on Panels 22 & 63 of Basra War Memorial, Iraq.

Bray

George

Private 32747, 2nd battalion, Prince of Wales's Volunteers (South Lancashire Regiment). Formerly Private 50875 Welsh Regiment. Born in Ashburton & resident as a carter in Moretonhampstead. Son of Thomas & Bessie Bray (nee Dunstan) of Ashburton & husband of Louisa Emma (nee Edwards) Bray of Pound Street, Moretonhampstead. After Russia had dropped out of the war in early 1918, the Germans switched 1 million men to the Western Front & mounted the massive Ludendorff offensive using Hutier tactics (see WE Stockman below) in the spring in an attempt to knock out the allies before their new American partner's forces had arrived. George was killed in action defending a position on the crucial Ypres Salient on 28th April 1918. Aged 28. Commemorated on Panels 92-93, Tyne Cot Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium.

Brimblecombe

Albert William

Gunner 107901, X Company, 55th Trench Mortar Battery, Royal Field Artillery. Son of George & Anna Brimblecombe, road contractor of 15 Ford Street. Born & resident in Moretonhampstead. After the first-ever tank battle near Cambrai (see WE Stockman) in northeast France, William was killed in action in an unsuccessful attempt to gain the key communication points of the Vimy-Lens railway & the bridges over the river Suchez on 30th November 1917. Aged 19. Commemorated on Panel 1 Cambrai Memorial, Louverval, France (see WE Stockman below) & on grave F072, St. Andrew's Church, Moretonhampstead.

Crout

George

Private 9783, 2nd Battalion, Devonshire Regiment. Born, educated & resident in Moretonhampstead. Son of Herbert & Elizabeth Crout, quarryman of 2 Cross Street. George was a young, early volunteer for the war & was killed in action near Ypres during the 'race to the sea' (see FJ Beer above) as the British Expeditionary Force successfully stopped the Germans from outflanking the allies in Flanders on 19th December 1914. Aged 18. Commemorated on Panels 8 & 9 Le Touret Memorial, Bethune, France.

East

Albert John

L/Corporal 240471, 1st/5th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment. Born in Hambleden, educated & resident in Moretonhampstead. Son of Frank (steward to Hon. WFD Smith) & Louisa & brother of Percy (see below) East of Court House, Court Street. After the capture of Jerusalem in November the Turks made a last defensive stand in the harsh mountain strongholds of Judaea. Albert's battalion & the 1/5th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry (see WA Hannaford below) attacked the 3000ft high El Jib stronghold dressed only in their desert uniform of khaki drill tunics & shorts! He was killed in action climbing almost unscaleable terraces in the face of machine gun fire on 23rd November 1917. Aged 28. Commemorated on panel X 5 Jerusalem War Cemetery & grave G088, St. Andrew's Church, Moretonhampstead.

East

Percy William

Rifleman A/200151, 17th Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps. Formerly Private 4252, London Regiment. Born, educated & resident in Moretonhampstead. Son of Frank (steward to Hon. WFD Smith) & Louisa & brother of Albert (see above) East of Court House, Court Street, Moretonhampstead. In the fourth month of the battle of the Somme, Percy's battalion took part in an assault on the deeply entrenched German forces on the Le Transloy Ridge in atrocious weather. After making gains measured only in a few trench yards over 2 weeks, the weary troops were ordered into yet another attack & he was killed in action on 15th October 1916. Aged 24. Buried in grave IX J 8, Connaught Cemetery, Thiepval, France & commemorated on grave G088, St. Andrew's Church, Moretonhampstead.

Endicott

Alfred Thomas

L/Corporal 25818, 1st Battalion, Devonshire Regiment. Born, educated & resident in Moretonhampstead. Son of Lewis & Sarah (nee Woodley) Endicott of Court Street, brother of Frederick (see below) & husband of Amy Endicott, granite mason of Pound Street, Moretonhampstead. In the second battle of Arras (9th April-16thMay 1917) Alfred's battalion were on the southern flank of a Commonwealth offensive to drive the Germans off their heavily defended Hindenburg Line around Vimy Ridge & to divert German forces from a major French offensive under Nivelle to the north. The Canadians famously took Vimy Ridge but elsewhere the Germans remained well dug in & brought up reserves in spite of Nivelle's Offensive. He was killed in action as the British renewed their efforts around Arras on 23rd April 1917. Aged 33. Commemorated on Bay 4, Arras Memorial, France & on grave A032, St. Andrew's Church, Moretonhampstead.

Endicott

Frederick Woodley

Chief Yeoman of Signals 183550, Royal Navy. Born & resident in Moretonhampstead. Son of Lewis & Sarah (nee Woodley) Endicott of Court Street, brother of Alfred (see above) & husband of Laura Endicott, sailor of 10 Kinsman's Dale, Moretonhampstead. Frederick was a regular serving on HMS Colossus, a new Dreadnought class battleship with the distinction of being flagship of the 1st Battle Squadron Grand Fleet. It was patrolling in the North Sea to deter a German invasion when he died on 5th February 1915. Aged 36. Buried in grave F054, St. Andrew's Church, Moretonhampstead.

Griffin
[aka Griffen]

James Charles

Corporal 54161, 17th Signals Company, Royal Engineers. Born in Langport, Somerset, the son of Charles, a Gas manager, and Caroline (née Mundy). The family were in Ireland where James worked as Fitter and Electrician when he volunteered. During the war his father moved from Ireland to manage the Gasworks at Moretonhampstead. James went to France in July 1915 with his Signals Company, who provided communications for 17th (Northern) Division formed in September 1914, as part of Kitchener's Second New Army. In 1917 they were part of a concerted action with Empire forces to push the Germans out of the Arras area in France, including Vimy Ridge. The British launched a successful assault east of Arras in The First Battle of the Scarpe (9th-14thApril) where the Germans for once failed to launch an effective counter-attack. James was killed during the battle on April 12th. Aged 25. James is for ever honoured at Cabaret-Rouge Cemetery 11 Souchez Grave XVII G. 37 near Arras. [N.B. His name is incorrectly written as ‘Griffen’ on the Moretonhampstead War Memorials.]

Hannaford

William Alan

2nd Lieutenant 8638, 5th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry. Formerly Private in London Regiment. Born in Newton Abbot & resident in Moretonhampstead. Son of William & Bessie Hannaford, grocer & draper of Cattiscombe, Moretonhampstead. William went to Palestine in August 1917 & took part in the capture of Jerusalem. The Turks made a last defensive stand in the harsh mountain strongholds of Judaea. His battalion & the 1/5th Battalion, Devons (see AJ East above) attacked the 3000 ft high El Jib stronghold dressed only in their desert uniform of khaki drill tunics & shorts! He was killed in action (mentioned in despatches) climbing almost unscaleable terraces in the face of machine gun fire on 23rd November 1917. Aged 19. Buried in grave G 21 in Jerusalem War Cemetery.

Harding

Thomas

Corporal 123767, 10th Labour Company, Royal Engineers. Born in Ottery St. Mary & resident in Moretonhampstead. Husband of Alice Harding, tobacconist of Ford Street. Thomas suffered an accidental death while serving in Northern France on 13th March 1916. Aged 45. Buried in grave Plot B R4 G11, Calais Southern Cemetery, France.

Hillman

William John

Driver T/21339, 13th Cavalry Brigade, Mobile Veterinary Section, Royal Army Service Corps. Born in Callington & resident in Moretonhampstead as a stonecutter. On October 1st 1918 William took part in the capture of Damascus by Arab & British forces in which TE Lawrence was an instrumental commander & which completed the liberation of Arabia from the Turks after 3 years of grueling fighting in deserts & mountains. His unit cared for the horse & camels, which were the main means of transport for men & equipment in the campaign. An epidemic of influenza & cholera erupted In the overcrowded & run-down city soon after its capture & he died on 21st October 1918. Aged 32 (?). Buried in grave A 115 in Damascus Commonwealth Cemetery, Syria.

Huxtable

Francis

Private CH/19290, Royal Marines Light Infantry, Royal Navy. Born in Chagford, educated & resident in Moretonhampstead. Son of William & Emma Huxtable, baker of Court Street Rear. Francis, known locally as Frank, was serving on HMS Formidable, a pre-Dreadnought battleship, the first British battleship sunk in the war. It was hit while on exercises by 2 torpedoes fired from U-boat 24, 20 miles off Start Point, Devon at 2 a.m. on 1st January 1915. It sank in 2 hours amid 30ft high waves, strong winds & driving rain. Many of the lifeboats were smashed as they were lowered into the water, killing all occupants, or else were swamped & sank. 199 men reached the shore or were saved by local trawlers, some clinging to the ship's piano, but 551, including Frank, never made it. Aged 28. Commemorated on Panel 13, Chatham Naval Memorial, Kent.

Hyett

Arthur Tom

Private 33163, 16th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Born, educated & resident in Moretonhampstead. Son of William & Ruth Hyett of Kinsman's Dale, Moretonhampstead. After the Ludendorff Offensive (see G Bray above) was halted with the help of the new, fresh American forces, the allies launched an immediate & effective counter-attack on 8th August 1918 & Arthur's battalion broke through the hitherto impregnable German Hindenburg Line of defences on the river Piave (see FR Jackman below) in Picardy. He was killed in action as the allies launched their second-phase & ultimately successful 'big push' beyond the Hindenburg Line on 23rd August 1918. Aged 27. Commemorated on Panel 3, Vis-en-Artois Memorial, Arras, France.

Jackman

Felix Rowe

Private 25345, 9th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment. Born in Chagford & resident in Moretonhampstead. Son of Rebecca & late John Jackman of Uppacott Farm. Felix's battalion served initially in Italy in tough Alpine warfare against Austro-Hungarian forces before transferring to France for the final 'big push' against the Germans in September 1918. He died of wounds received in action on River Piave (see AT Hyett above), France a month after the end of the war on 14th December 1918. Aged 21. Buried in grave SIII CC14, St. Sever Extension Cemetery, Rouen, France.

Lake

George Herbert

Private 5350, 6th Dragoon Guards, Household Cavalry. Born in Exeter & resident in Moretonhampstead. Son of Hannah & late Alfred G Lake of 63 Kinsman's Dale. In the spring of 1918 the Germans launched the massive Ludendorff Offensive (see G Bray above) against the allies on the Western Front & drove them back for about 3 months. George was killed in action defending the area previously gained with such heavy losses on the Somme (see PW East above) on 23rd March 1918. Aged 23. Commemorated on Panel 2, Pozieres Memorial, Somme, France.

Miller

Richard

Corporal 27075, 1st Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry. Formerly private 23775, Devonshire Regiment. Born & resident in Moretonhampstead. Son of William & Emma Miller, Court Street & husband of A. Miller of New Cottage, Pound Street. In the last weeks of the war Richard was with the 11th brigade, 4th Army Division, engaged in very tough fighting as the Germans put up rearguard actions on the river Selle & in the city of Valenciennes in Picardy. He died of wounds received 3 weeks after the armistice on 5th December 1918. Aged 32. Buried in grave SII NN3, St. Sever Extension Cemetery, Rouen, France.

Slee

William Henry

Private 28545, 9th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment. Born in Moretonhampstead. Son of William & Mary Slee (nee Major) of Ford Street. He was killed in action, hit by sniper fire while on patrol near Ecoust ( where the 2 opposing front lines of trenches were only yards apart) in the area along the Somme (see PW East) gained with such heavy losses the previous year, on 26th March 1917. Aged 33. Commemorated on Bay 4 of Arras Memorial, Faubourg-d'Amiens Cemetery, Arras, France.

Snell

Frank Parker

Private 45607, 1st Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers. Born in Drewsteignton & resident in Moretonhampstead. Son of Edith & late Henry W Snell (gardener) & brother of William (see below) of 1 Elm Terrace, Station Road. Husband of Ellen (nee Lewis) Snell, wall mason of Pound Street, Moretonhampstead. Between June & November 1917 in the Third battle of Ypres (aka Paschendaele), the British attempted a series of 'bite & hold' operations to capture critical terrain around the Ypres Salient & wear down the Germans in a battle of attrition (see S Bennett above). Frank's battalion went over the top yet again on September 26th in the Battle of Polygon Wood. Amidst the clamour of an immense protective artillery bombardment his infantry battalion attacked at 5.50 a.m., enveloped in smoke & dust mixed with heavy ground mist. By mid-morning most objectives had been gained & the afternoon German counter-attack was repulsed but Frank was never seen again. Aged 30. Commemorated on Panels 60 & 61, Tyne Cot Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium.

Snell

William

Private 240096, 5th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment. Born & resident in Torquay. Son of Edith & late Henry W Snell & brother of Frank (see above) of 1 Elm Terrace, Station Road, Moretonhampstead. Having demolished the Turkish lines at the Third Battle of Gaza in late October/early November 1917, the newly installed British Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, Sir Edmund Allenby, continued his autumn offensive along the Mediterranean coast en route to Jerusalem by dealing with the danger to his inland flank posed by the Turkish Seventh Army. Consequently British infantry divisions, including William's battalion, launched an attack upon a ridge northwest of Junction Station (where the railway joined the Haifa-Jerusalem line) on 13th November 1917. Difficult terrain slowed the advance before a charge by 800 cavalry troops - assisted by artillery & machine gunnery - cleared El Mughar by evening. Some 1,400 Turkish troops had been lost during the encounter, set against 616 British losses, including William. Aged 34. Commemorated on Panel 16, Jerusalem War Cemetery.

Stockman

William Ewart

Private G/20856, 1st Battalion, East Kent Regiment. Born in Cardiff & enlisted at Moretonhampstead. The Battle of Cambrai, launched by the Allies on 20th November 1917, saw the first use tanks in significant force. In a mixture of old & new warfare, 6 infantry, including William's battalion, & 2 cavalry divisions, accompanied 476 tanks in the latest 'big push' against the Germans. After initial success the momentum was lost as they came up against deep German rearguard defences & lacked sufficient second-phase support. The Germans counter-attacked with their own new Hutier tactics (see G Bray above); launching small, lightly equipped infantry forces against enemy rear areas while bypassing enemy front-line strong points & isolating them for attack by follow-up troops with heavier weapons. In one of these attacks, on Bourlon Wood, William was killed in action on 1st December 1917. Aged 20. Commemorated on Panel 3 Cambrai Memorial (see AW Brimblecombe above, Louverval, France.

Sussex

Edgar William

Captain 3505, Cameronians Scottish Rifles. Formerly Private, London Yeomanry. Born in Dartmouth & resident in Moretonhampstead. Son of William & Augusta Sussex & brother of Reginald (see below), grocer of Fore Street. In December 1916 Edgar was awarded the Military Cross: 'For conspicuous gallantry in action. He showed marked courage & initiative in leading his men over the parapet on the flank of the attack, in order to stop a machine gun which was enfilading the line of attack.' During the Third Battle of Ypres (see S. Bennett) he was killed in action near Koksijde, Belgium on 25th August 1917. Aged 25. Buried in grave III C 15, Coxyde Cemetery, Koksijde, Belgium & commemorated on memorial SA20 in St. Andrew's Church, Moretonhampstead.

Sussex

Reginald Arthur

2nd Lieutenant 2114, 4th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment. Formerly private RAMC. Born in Dartmouth & resident in Moretonhampstead. Son of William & Augusta Sussex & brother of Edgar (see above), grocer of Fore Street. In late 1916 Reginald became attached to Ist Battalion, York & Lancaster Regiment that had been decimated in the Battle of the Somme. The battalion were part of The British Salonika Army, formed in Salonika, Greece in October 1915 to oppose Bulgarian advances in Macedonia. The Bulgarians occupied one of the most formidable natural fortresses in Europe, a succession of fortified ridges over 2,000 feet above Lake Doiran. In an attack on one of these formidable positions (see E Wannell below) he went missing in action on 20th March 1917. Aged 24. Commemorated on Doiran memorial, Greece & on memorial SA20 in St. Andrew's Church, Moretonhampstead.

Townshend

John Blamey

Private 345843, 16th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment. Son of John & Martha Townshend of Fore Street, Moretonhampstead. Born & educated in Moretonhampstead & resident in London. John's battalion was newly formed in Egypt in 1917 from the Royal 1st Devon & Royal North Devon Yeomanry &, following successful campaigns there against the Turks, it was transferred to the Western Front in May 1918. In the allied counter-attack of August 1918 (see AT Hyett) it took part in pushing the Germans back from their recent gains on the Somme around Bouchavesnes. John died of wounds received in an assault on the heavily contested Moislains Wood on 4th September 1918. Aged 30. Buried in grave VII B 108, Heilly Station cemetery, Mericourt-L'Abbe, France.

Underhill

William John

L/Sergeant 10690, 8th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment. Born in Chagford & resident in Moretonhampstead. Son of William & Emma of Lowton, Moretonhampstead. William was an early volunteer in Exeter for the newly formed battalion, which reached France in July 1915. On 25th September they were sent over the top in the Battle of Loos, the major Allied offensive that year & one of the most disastrous of the whole war. 250,000 shells had been fired the previous four days to knock out the forward German trenches but many were later found to be dud (see ironic name of his resting place below); the British released 140 tons of chlorine gas but the wind changed direction, causing 2,632 British casualties (7 dead); after several delays the men went ordered to advance uphill towards the Germans without covering fire & were decimated by repeated, enfilading machine gun fire from the intact German high points. He was killed in action near Lens in an assault on the German trench system at Hulluch, France on 25th September 1915. Aged 25 (?). Commemorated on Panels 35-7, Loos Memorial, Dud Corner Cemetery, Loos-en-Gohelle, France.

Wannell

Ernest

Private 11651, 10th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment. Born, educated & resident in Moretonhampstead. Son of George & Susan Wannell, North Kingwell Farm, Doccombe, Moretonhampstead. Ernest arrived in France in September 1915 & was later sent to Macedonia (see RA Sussex above) where he was killed in action in an attack on a Bulgarian-held hill, which the French forces fighting alongside him christened Petite Couronne, on 10th February 1917. Aged 21. Commemorated on Doiran Memorial, Greece.

Willcocks

William

Private 34619, 9th Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. Born in North Tawton & resident in Moretonhampstead. Nephew of William & Elizabeth Parker, mason of 121 Ford Street, Moretonhampstead. William's infantry battalion was newly formed at the start of the war & served on the Western Front from September1915. In mid 1917 they took part in the first phase of the Third Battle of Ypres in a brave attempt to take control of the Messines Ridge, which was heavily fortified with German pillboxes, blockhouses & deep dugouts. After 2 weeks of preparatory bombardment by 2,266 artillery pieces & the detonation of nineteen mines with nearly 1 million pounds of high explosive between them, the battalion attacked on June 7th alongside tanks & underneath creeping artillery barrage. After initial success they had less protection from British artillery as they progressed over the ridge & William went missing in action, probably killed by German artillery fire, on 8th June 1917. Aged 33. Commemorated on panels 41-43 on Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium.

Wills

Oliver Byerley Walters

Lieutenant, Royal Air Force. Formerly Private, Honourable Artillery Corps. Born in London & educated at Bedales School & Cambridge University. Son of G. Wills of Pepperdon House, Moretonhampstead & husband of Ursula (nee Carr). In March 1918 Oliver was awarded the Military Cross: 'For conspicuous gallantry & devotion to duty. He carried out a reconnaissance on a hostile heavy howitzer emplacement nearly. 8,000 ft. over the line. He descended to a height of 2,000 ft., & carefully examined the position. Having decided the exact position of the gun, he successfully directed the artillery on to it, securing a direct hit on the emplacement.' On 10th November 1918 (the penultimate day of the war) Oliver was flying over Orford in Suffolk & stood up in his open cockpit two-seater plane to talk to the pilot in front of him when he fell out, probably trying to catch a glove that was later found near his body. Aged 26. Buried at St. Bartholomew's Church, Orford, Suffolk.

 

 


Second World War 1939-1945

Aggett

Sidney

Petty Officer Cook D/L 14530, Royal Navy. Born, educated & resident in Moretonhampstead. Son of Daniel & Alice (nee Kerswell) Aggett of 23 Fordlands, brother of William (see 1914-18 above) & husband of Ellen (nee Heale), sailor of 36 Cross Street, Moretonhampstead. Sydney was a regular sailor on HMS Hermione, a new cruiser that saw service in the mine-infested Denmark Strait, in the pursuit of the Bismarck in the Atlantic & took part in the assault on Diego Suarez in the Indian Ocean. In the Mediterranean she escorted convoys to beleaguered Malta & had rammed & sank the Italian submarine Tembien. She was torpedoed by U-boat 205 between Sollum & Crete in the eastern Mediterranean, returning to Alexandria for a break from convoy duty on 16th June 1942. She sank in 20 minutes & while 440 men were saved, 87 were lost, including Sydney. Aged 41. Commemorated on Panel 72 Column 1, Plymouth Naval Memorial.

Bennett

William J

Leading Seaman D/224159, Royal Navy. Son of George & Anna Bennett of Cross Street & brother of George & Samuel (see 1914-18 above). William was a regular sailor who served on HMS Escapade, a destroyer, that was immediately deployed at the start of the war in September 1939 for convoy defence & anti-submarine patrol in the Western Approaches. He was drowned while helping to rescuing 37 survivors from SS Navasota in convoy OB-46 that had been sunk by U-boat 47, 400 miles west of Land's End on 5th December 1939. Aged 52. Commemorated on Panel 33 Column 2, Plymouth Naval Memorial & on grave F016, St. Andrew's Church, Moretonhampstead.

Colwill

Leslie Charles

Driver 1547298, Royal Army Service Corps. Born & educated in Moretonhampstead & resident on a farm in Lincolnshire. Son of Sidney & Bessie Colwill of Keeper's Cottage, Pepperdon. In the autumn of 1944 Leslie was in the 8th Army which was advancing northward against very fierce German resistance that was propping up the Italians along the Gothic Line in north central Italy. By late November they had reached the eastern outskirts of Faenza, a vital road & communications hub on the Rimini-Bologna highway. He was killed in action as stubborn German resistance was smashed & British & Polish troops established a bridgehead across the river Lamone, 4 miles southwest of Faenza, posing a new flanking threat to German troops in a bulge southeast of Bologna on 6th December 1944. Aged 28. Buried in grave III B II, Faenza War Cemetery, Italy.

Cuming

Albert Henry

Private 5619626, King's Shropshire Light Infantry, attached to 1st Battalion Hereford Regiment,. Formerly in Devonshire Regiment. Son of Albert & Edith (nee Harvey) Cuming of Clifford Bridge. Albert's battalion took part in the major battles of 11th Armoured Division across northwest Europe from D-Day June 1944 to the German surrender in 1945. They combined tank & infantry movement in what the Official History later called 'model encounter battle' to over come much more battle-hardened opposition. Just a month before VE day he was killed in action in final mopping up operations at Grindau in Germany on 10th April 1945. Aged 26. Buried in grave 4 F 1, Becklingen War Cemetery, Germany & commemorated on grave E108 in St. Andrew's Church, Moretonhampstead.

Davie

Geoffrey Bowcher

Lieutenant, Fleet Air Arm, Royal Navy. Born at Kingston-on-Thames. Son of Mervyn & Evelyn Davie, meteorologist of North Harton Farm, Lustleigh. Geoffrey was serving as a pilot on HMS Formidable, a new aircraft carrier, that took part in the Battle of Cape Matapan 27-29th March 1941 off southwest Greece in which several Italian ships were sunk or badly damaged. In the next 2 months she was on convoy escort duty & was supporting operations in Crete. He died in action on 8th May 1941. Aged 29. Commemorated on Panel 6 Bay 2, Lee-on-Solent War Memorial, Essex.

Drodge

Herbert Ernest

L/Corporal 1902324, Royal Engineers. Born in Oswestry. Son of Frederick & Mary Drodge & husband of Rosemary of 26 Embleford Crescent. Died at Leeds Ministry of Pensions Hospital of wounds received in the war on 8th August 1947. Buried in grave NB03 in St. Andrew's Church, Moretonhampstead.

Heale

Eric

Petty Officer Stoker D/KX 94468, Royal Navy. Born, educated & resident in Moretonhampstead. Son of William & Emily Heale of 9 Lime Street & husband of Gladys (nee Brimblecombe) of 28 Court Street. Eric served on HMS Rapid, a destroyer, that saw much action, after completing her build in 1943, in South Africa & Asia. He was mentioned in despatches during hazardous patrols against the Japanese around the miriad islands of the Indian Ocean. On 19th March 1945 his ship entered Stewart Sound in the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal & sank an enemy junk ship but was hit by fire from a shore battery. 23 were wounded & 11 killed, including Eric. Commemorated on Panel 94 Column 3, Plymouth Naval War Memorial.

Jeffery

Charles Ethelbert

Petty Officer D/K 67301, Royal Navy. Born in Eastry. Son of John & Rosa Jeffery & husband of Elsie of 26 Fordlands. Charles served on HMS Matabele, a destroyer, that saw much action in Home Waters, Norway & on convoy to USSR. In January 1942 she formed the screen, with HMS Somali for the cruiser HMS Trinidad on Convoy PQ-8 from Iceland to Murmansk (USSR). The convoy departed on 11th January, & came under torpedo attack on 16th January. On 17th January Matabele was hit by a torpedo from U 534 & sank almost immediately. Many who were able to leave the stricken ship succumbed in the ice-cold water before rescue was possible (see FP Milton below). Only 2 out her complement were picked up by the minesweeper HMS Harrier & 238 perished, including Charles. Aged 33. Commemorated on Panel 69 Column 2, Plymouth War Memorial.

Milton

Frank Pellowe

Leading Stoker D/KX 95537, Royal Navy. Born & educated in Moretonhampstead. Son of Kate Milton of Millbrook. Frank was killed in action serving alongside Charles Jeffery (see above) on HMS Matabele, sunk by U-boat off Iceland on 17th January 1942. Commemorated on Panel 69 Column 3, Plymouth War Memorial.

Neck

Colin Glover

Pilot Officer 178124, Royal Air Force. M. A. Born in Moretonhampstead. Son of Samuel & Helen Neck of 29 Court Street. Initially a Volunteer Reserve, Colin was promoted on 20th July 1944 from Aircraft Mechanic 2nd class to acting Pilot Officer. He was killed in action near Antwerp, Belgium on 23rd December 1944. Aged 32. Buried in grave V C 64, Schoonselhof Cemetery, Antwerp, Belgium. Commemorated on grave D22, St. Andrew’s Church, Moretonhampstead.

Painter

Ronald

Engine Room Artificer 3rd class D/MX 55811, Royal Artificer. Born & some of education in Moretonhampstead. Son of William & Mary (nee Caseley) Painter of Court Street. Ronald served on HMS Neptune, a cruiser, that saw action over a wide area of the Southern Atlantic, Indian Ocean & the Mediterranean. On December 18th 1941 she was part of a force which chased off the warship support of Italian convoy M42 bound for Tripoli. In trying to intercept the convoy 20 miles from Tripoli she ran into a minefield; the first mine disabled her; the second wrecked the propellers & rudder; the third caused further damage aft; after drifting helplessly for 3 hours she struck a fourth mine amidships & sank very quickly. There was only a single survivor out of a complement of 764. Aged 26. Commemorated on Panel 51 Column 2, Plymouth War Memorial.

Peardon

Clifford Sidney

Officers' steward D/LX 26690, Royal Navy. Born & in Moretonhampstead & educated at Greenhill Infants School, Pound St. Boys School & Newton Abbot Secondary School. Son of William & Margaret (nee Hatherley) Peardon of 14 Lime Street. Died of wounds, received in the war, while serving on HMS Drake on 21st September 1947. Aged 25. Buried in grave NG02 in St. Andrew's Church, Moretonhampstead.

 

Further Information

MHS have written a booklet called 'We will remember them' with more detailed information on all the men named on the First World War section of the war memorial. It is available at Greenhill Arts & Heritage Centre (in the old primary school) and in the Tourist Information Centre.



           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
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