Tribute to East Devon villagers' World War One sacrifices go online
Their names and stories have been added to the website www.devonremembers.co.uk, which was set up to honour the men and women from Clinton Devon Estates communities who served in the conflict between 1914 and 1918.
The names of the men from Beer have been added to the site after being researched by village resident Richard Scott.
He said: “As a former pupil of Colyton Grammar I was asked to research the names on the school’s Great War memorial. I found that project so intriguing that I just carried on the work in Beer looking at the names on the village war memorial. After that I also began to research those who survived the war.
“I tracked down and spoke to the descendants of some of the men who died, as well as those who came back, and they were incredibly helpful, adding personal stories and pictures to the information available publicly.
“These stories have already featured in an exhibition in Beer. I’m really pleased to say that they will now be available permanently online for people across the world to see.”
Listen to Richard Scott talk about www.devonremembers.co.uk here:
The website was launched in August 2014, telling the stories of the men and women honoured on war memorials in the estate communities of Budleigh Salterton, Colaton Raleigh, East Budleigh, Newton Poppleford and Otterton in East Devon, and Merton and Huish in the north of the county. Volunteers from Budleigh Salterton’s Fairlynch Museum and elsewhere had carried out the research.
Website www.devonremembers.co.uk is funded by Lord Clinton’s Charitable Trust and Clinton Devon Estates. Estates Director John Varley said: “The website helps us all to remember that thousands of young people from Devon were prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country, and for those they left at home.
“While many of their names are recorded on memorials across the county, there is a real danger their stories will be lost as time passes, so www.devonremembers.co.uk serves as a digital memorial to those who fought on our behalf a century ago.
“The website is an also an invaluable research tool for schools, societies and local historians.”
People can leave tributes online at www.devonremembers.co.uk, as well as add their own family stories about the Great War.
Wartime stories from Beer
Among the stories told on the website www.devonremembers.co.uk are those of five brothers from Beer who all went away to fight, and who all survived the conflict. One of the White brothers, sons of artist John White, lost an arm, another was to go on to fight in Africa in World War Two.
Brothers Charlie and Archie Gush were not so fortunate. Both survived the fighting, in Africa and on the Somme, Archie winning a Military Medal, with bar, for his bravery under fire. Tragically, they were both to succumb to the influenza epidemic which swept the globe at the end of the conflict. They died within a few days of each other, on different continents and far from home.
Beer grocer’s assistant Stanley Westlake was taken prisoner in 1916 alongside more than 10,000 Commonwealth troops when a Turkish siege on the British garrison of Kut, in modern-day Iraq, forced them to surrender. Three thousand soldiers died when they were marched off into captivity, and Stanley was to remain a prisoner for two years. His family heard very little until a letter he wrote in October 1917 reached them in February 1918. It was to be another year before he came home.
Norman Franklin, William Mutter and Robert Orley, three shipmates from Beer, died on the same day as their ship HMS Defence sank in the Battle of Jutland, on 31 May 1916. Walter Abbott, also from Beer, was also lost in the same battle, on HMS Invincible.