Remembering the men and women of Pilton

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Reference WMO/266122


Rotary Gardens



EX31 1PQ


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Status: On original site
Type: Freestanding
Location: External
Setting: Within a garden/park/churchyard/enclosure/Marketplace
Description: Board/Plaque/ Tablet
  • Other Other
  • Stone Sandstone
Lettering: Inscribed on a plaque
  • First World War (1914-1918)
About the memorial: A new memorial was unveiled in Rotary Gardens on 8th September 2018 by Mayor of Barnstaple Councillor Ian Roome, in tribute to the men and women of Pilton, Barnstaple, who served in World War One. It remembers the 39 men from the Pilton area who died during the war, the 340 men who served and returned home to Pilton and the many women who served and sustained the war effort. It also remembers a further 19 men having connections to Pilton who died during the war or who died later as a result of their service. It takes the form of an illustrated plaque about 600mm x 500mm mounted on a stone plinth. The plaque tells the stories of eight men who died during or as a result of World War I. It also describes the war medals they received. It is illustrated with individual and family photographs, a roll of honour and a border of poppies by local artist Al Brown. Below the plaque, on the stone plinth, is a small plaque with the names of the 58 soldiers who died.
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This memorial honours and remembers the men and the women of Pilton who served in World War I. The thirty nine men who died during the hostilities are represented by the poppies. Three hundred and forty men from Pilton also served and came home again. Regrettably, we have found no records of the many women of Pilton who must also have served and sustained the war effort. These are the stories of just a few of the men. The names of each of the men who died and a folder with more information can be seen in St Mary’s Church at the top of Pilton Street. The images of the three service men and one woman are taken from the church’s west window. The Pilton Story is pleased to recognise that this memorial would not have been possible without the extensive research by local historian Brian Barrow and the Barnstaple's Local Studies Centre, the diligent reporting by the North Devon Journal and personal information and images received from relatives and descendents including John Norman, Jon Frayne, Marion Abbott (the Fry Vicary family) and Monica Jarman (the Dix family). The more complete story of each of these servicemen can also be found on The Pilton Story archive at Claudius Wilfred Dix Private Claudius Wilfred Dix was born in May 1892 to George and Alice Dix of Gloster Road, Barnstaple. He was working in London as an architect’s clerk and was newly married in early 1916 when he joined the County of London Yeomanry. Claudius suffered gas poisoning on the battlefield when his horse fell on him. Although he was treated in hospital and returned to Pilton, his health was so compromised by the war injury that he died of pulmonary tuberculosis in October 1921 at the age of 29. By that time he was living with his Barnstaple-born wife, ¬¬-Marguerite Eva (née Ackland), and their young son Claude Eric, and working as a grocer at 11 Pilton Street. The young Claude, aged four when his father died, became the headmaster of Pilton Church of England Primary School. Ronald Thomas John Frayne Private Ronald Frayne of Pilton Street was 21 when he died on March 8th 1916 helping to relieve British comrades besieged inside the city of Kut, near Baghdad. He was one of five children of John and Martha Frayne. A few days before he was killed he had met his brother Harold who was in the Devonshire Regiment. He had told his parents in a letter of a “coming great fight”. A fellow soldier wrote that Ronald died from a head wound as they advanced on the city. "He was liked by all who knew him and you can be proud he died fighting for his country". Before volunteering at the outbreak of war, he had been an apprentice engineer at Raleigh Cabinet Works and was known in Barnstaple for his athleticism and football skills. He is remembered on a family stone in Pilton Church Yard. William James Norman Sapper William James Norman was born in Barnstaple in May 1885, the eldest son of William and Susanna Norman of 47, Bradiford. In this 1904 family photograph with his parents and siblings, he is centre back. He married Mary Ellen ‘Nell’ Norman (née Ford) in 1907 and lived at 12 Carrington Terrace, Yeo Vale Road. Before joining up he was a carpenter with Mr H Slee, a Braunton builder. He served in the 64th Field Company, Royal Engineers, attached to the British Army’s 9th Division. This came into existence in August 1914, the first volunteers of Kitchener’s ‘Pals’, and served particularly on the Somme in 1916. That summer, during the capture of Delville Wood, the company suffered heavy casualties and William was seriously wounded. He died on 22nd July 1916, aged 31, and is buried in the Etaples Cemetery. His wife was left to bring up their six children. William Darch Two Darch brothers, the sons of Thomas and Jane Darch of Pilton Street, were killed in the Great War. Private William Darch of 26 Pilton Street worked at the Barnstaple Cabinet Works in Newport. He was married in Pilton Church in May 1914 to Ethel Mary Gratton. He enlisted in the 1st/6th Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment early in the war and served in India and then in Mesopotamia. He died from malaria and yellow fever on 17th December 1916, aged 29, and is buried in the Basra War Cemetery in Iraq. He is remembered on the Devons’ memorial in Barnstaple Guildhall, the family gravestone in Pilton Churchyard, & the Roll of Honour of the Barnstaple Cabinet Works. Frank Norman Private Frank Norman was born in Barnstaple in 1894 to William and Susanna Norman and lived at 47, Bradiford. In the 1904 family photograph he is far right. Prior to enlisting with the 1st Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment, in July 1914, he worked at Radford Bros Turning Mill in Bradiford. In February 1915, Frank was home recovering from frost bite suffered during the First Battle of Ypres and his story of Christmas in the trenches was reported in the North Devon Journal under the headline ‘Barumite’s Experience at the Front’. On Christmas morning a truce was called and the opposing forces spent the day singing carols, exchanging cigarettes and cigars, and talking and walking. At dusk they were ordered back to their trenches and the truce ended. The battalion returned to the Somme in July 1916 and, in September, was involved in the capture of Leuze Wood in the Battle of Guillemont. Frank is thought to have been wounded on 3rd September, one of the 376 casualties suffered by the 1st Devons. He was evacuated by hospital ship but died of his wounds on 5th September, age 22, and was buried at sea. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and in Rock Park, Barnstaple. Walter Charles Darch Private Walter Charles Darch of 16th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment, was married to Annie and lived at 58 Littabourne. He joined up in May 1916 and, after time in Egypt, transferred to France in July 1918. He was killed in action near Rouen on 7th September, aged 28, and is buried in the St Sever Cemetery. Thomas and June Darch had four other sons who served - Albert, John, Reginald and James. Reginald and James were invalided out of the war. Harry Fry-Vicary Sapper Harry Fry-Vicary was born in 1897 to William and Adelaide Fry-Vicary and lived on The Rock. Before enlisting in the Royal Engineers in 1916 he was a cabinet maker at the Barnstaple Cabinet Works. In France he would have been involved in bridging and water work. He died on 24th March 1918 in the First Battle of the Somme, probably defending river crossings. His commanding officer wrote “I have to inform you that your son, Sapper H. Fry-Vicary, was killed in action on the 24th ult. The company was called up to hold part of the line at a critical moment, and your son died in the performance of his duty. Owing to the splendid behaviour of the men, the enemy was kept in check. I should like to express my great regret at losing your son and my sympathy with you in your loss.” Harry is commemorated in St Mary’s Church and Christ Church, Barnstaple, on the Barnstaple Cabinet Works Roll of Honour in Barnstaple Museum, and on the Pozieres Memorial in France. World War I Medals After the war, three medals were awarded to most servicemen – the 1914 Star or 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. The British War Medal, 1914-1920, (below right) was issued to all members of the armed services who left his or her native shore. The medal has King George V on the obverse and Saint George on the reverse. The bronze Victory Medal (below centre) was awarded to all those who fought. The lacquered bronze 1914 Star (above left), or Mons Star, was awarded to all officers, warrant and non-commissioned officers and all men of the British and Indian Forces, including civilian medical practitioners, nursing sisters, nurses and others employed with military hospitals. The 1914-15 Star was awarded to those who served before 1916 but did not qualify for the 1914 Star. The soldier’s regiment, name and/or number are inscribed around the rim or on the reverse. The combination of all three medals was commonplace and earned the nicknames ‘Pip, Squeak and Wilfred’ after Daily Mirror cartoon characters. The pair of the Victory Medal and British War Medal is seen more often because of the numbers who began service overseas after January 1916, and was often called ‘Mutt and Jeff’ after other cartoon characters. The silver British War Medal was often sold by soldiers or their families when times were hard. The medals and the death plaque (also known as the dead man’s penny and shown here) are those awarded to William Norman.

Edwin Ackland Ernest Alford William Ashton Leonard Baker William Barlow Frederick Braddon William Darch (Senior) William Darch (Junior) Walter Darch Sydney Dennis  William Ellis Ronald Frayne Walter Garnish William Goss Eric Gould William Gratton Frederick Harris William Heddon John Hill R Hill  William Hill Arthur Jewell William Knill Walter Loosemore Frank Norman William Norman Herbert Perrin Walter Radford Samuel Sanders Neville Shapland  Arthur Steer Ernest Squire Frederick Tossell John Turner Harry Fry-Vicary Frederick Wickham George Wickham Burton Williams William Yeo  Edward Berry Jack Boaden Arthur Conibear Sydney Conibear Charles Davies Claudius Dix John Harris James Hartnoll Jack Hill Ernest Huxtable  Frederick Marles Frank Mock Charles Priscott William Pulling Frederick Roth Thomas Roth Albert Tossell William Tythcott Frederick Worth

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