News from 1917.

It is worth remembering that a daily newspaper in 1917 was not the norm so the Parish Magazine was a valuable source of news. Here are some excerpts to give a flavour of the news topics 100 years ago in Ivybridge.


Departure from the parish

With great regret we record the departure from Pound Farm of Mr and Mrs Bowden. They and their family have, during their residence, been amongst the keenest of Church-workers; and Mr and Miss Bowden, and the late W.Bowden, were valued members of the choir. Miss Bowden was married in the Parish Church on Oct.3rd. We shall miss them much, and wish them God-speed in their new spheres of life.

Hospital Sunday

The collections amounted to £5 13s., an increase of 8s. on last year; a very satisfactory amount in view of the many calls made on people today and of the war-absence of so many of the congregation. £1 1s. will be given to the Children’s Ward, S.D. and E.C. Hospital, and the balance to the general hospital fund.

Bible Class Outing

Through the kindness of Mrs Rutherford seventeen members of her Women’s Class, with some friends and children, had a most enjoyable day at Bigbury; driving thither, lunching on Burgh Island, and returning to the mainland for tea. All who went took their own rations, so carrying out the food regulations.

Roll of Honour

Additional names of those serving or about to serve:-
Frederick Bird, Alfred John Edwards, Harold Crocker, Samuel J.Fone, John Rundle Hart, Benjamin Jago, Frederick C. Hingston, Frank Moon, and John A.F. Smerdon.


Bertram Walke, in hospital at Birkenhead
Benjamin Jago, “somewhere in France”, seriously scalded and burnt by an explosion
Harold Pearse, in hospital in Scotland
Edgar Winsor, seriously wounded in right eye, shoulder, and arm, in hospital in Birmingham
Frederick F.Northmore, dangerously wounded in the left arm, but now out of danger, and with the others named above, progressing favourably. Mrs Northmore has been across to see her son, and has returned with a very hopeful account of him, and bearing testimony to the excellent care taken of her by the authorities.
In December 1917 there is further information that Frederick Northmore was “in a base hospital in France”.  His mother must have clearly undertaken a not inconsiderable journey during those troubled times and returned safely to provide further information to the community.


Our Wounded Soldiers

We are glad to hear that B. Jago and A. Holman are now in hospital in England and are making satisfactory progress. F.J. Northmore is still at the base hospital in France; he has again been dangerously ill and has had to lose his left arm. He is gradually mending. G. Phillips is in hospital suffering from trench fever, and his brother has just returned to the line, after recovery from gas poisoning.
Trench fever was a disease transmitted by body lice. From 1915 to 1918 between one-fifth and one-third of all British troops reported ill had trench fever.

Golden Roll

L.Cpl. J.R. Anstiss and Private R.J. Damerell (both of the Devon Regt.), some months ago reported wounded and missing, are now reported killed. R.I.P. We sympathise much with their relatives, who after a long and wearing period of anxiety and uncertainty have now received this sad news.
L/Cpl Robert John Anstiss of Highland St, Ivybridge, and Pte Martin John Damerell are both on the Golden Roll.  They both served in the 9th Battalion, Devon Regt, and died on the Somme on the same day Sept 6th 1916. So it was over a year before their families would know that, from being listed as ‘Missing’ they had been killed. They are buried in Delville Wood Cemetery.  They are both named correctly on the Ivybridge War Memorial although not quite accurately in the Parish magazine.

Red Cross Hospital at Stowford Lodge

The public meeting on Nov. 7, convened to consider ways and means, was splendidly attended, and intent on business. Mrs Mildmay, at great inconvenience, kept her promise to preside; not many ladies would have had either the will or the strength to cycle on a dark wet night from Yealmpton to Ivybridge to preside at a meeting, however important, and especially after having been at another meeting in Plymouth in the afternoon. Dr Fox, R.A.M.C., explained in a most interesting and lucid speech, the need of the Hospital; and Mr W.B. Craig, Assistant County Director of Red Cross Hospitals, alluded to the help already promised financially, materially, and in the way of personal help since this meeting; Ivybridge is putting its whole heart into the matter, therefore it is going to be carried out well.
Mrs Mildmay showed admirable determination by cycling from Yealmpton to Ivybridge on a winter’s night to chair the Red Cross Public Meeting to establish a hospital at Stowford Lodge.  She probably had no gears on her bike either.
In 1909, The Red Cross in Devon started working on plans to create hospital and convalescent homes to help relieve pressure on the military hospitals in the case of war. By August 1914, many V.A. (Voluntary Aid) Hospitals were ready to take in patients. The first convoy arrived in October 1914.
Stowford Lodge was used as a second line V. A. Hospital from December 1917 to January 1919. During that time, the 50-bed hospital had 154 Neurasthenics and 113 ordinary patients. ‘Neurasthenic’ patients were men suffering a condition of the nervous system which today would be termed a mental illness – the symptoms being fatigue, anxiety, headache, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, neuralgia and a generally depressed mood.
Stowford Lodge was kindly lent by the owners of Stowford Paper Mill for the duration of the war or as long as required. The hospital was equipped and liberally supported by the residents of Ivybridge and the surrounding area. Convalescent homes in the village included The Chantry, Cleeve, the home of H J F Lee as well as various other houses.
In many cases, women from the neighbourhood volunteered on a part time basis to help with clerical and kitchen duties, although the role of cook was a paid position. With so many of the men engaged in military service the women also took on roles such as civil defence workers and welfare officers.
The patients at these hospitals were generally less seriously wounded than at other hospitals. The servicemen preferred the auxiliary hospitals to the military counterparts because they were less strict, not so crowded and generally more homely in nature.
The standard uniform for WW1 convalescent soldiers was a blue jacket with white lapels.   These were known as “hospital blues” or “convalescent blues” and made of flannel resembling ill-fitting pyjamas and were accompanied with a red tie.  Military authorities required that the garment be worn at all times by soldiers.  However, officers were exempt and were provided with a white armband bearing a red kings crown.

Patients and nurses outside the VA Hospital

The viaduct can be seen in the background


Offerings of flowers and evergreens, and help for decorating the Church, are invited for the morning of Christmas Eve.
Offertories at 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. Christmas Day, for Church of England Homes for Waifs and Strays; at 11 o’clock for poor widows of the parish.

Reginald Sudlow Hawker, Capt., R.G.C.,

Captain Hawker was dangerously wounded in Palestine on Nov. 6, and died as the result of his wounds on Nov.9. He was called up with the S.D. Yeomanry in the first days of the war, and served with them at Gallipoli; after the evacuation he went with them to Egypt, and later, as machine-gun officer took part in the advance to Gaza, and in the late fighting there. His work as an officer has all through been spoken of most highly. His whole life up to the outbreak of war had been spent in Ivybridge, and all Ivybridge folk are at one in paying tribute to the sterling worth of his character. He was absolutely straight. He had a cheerful smile and kind word for every one, and was deservedly popular. His religion was natural to him, was just part of his life. He was a most regular and devout communicant at home: and when on service, in spite of difficulties at times, he carried on his practice. His was truly a godly and a virtuous life, and one which we could ill spare from amongst us. The Holy Sacrifice was offered on his behalf on Saturday, Nov.14, at 8 a.m., many of his friends being present. R.I.P. Our deepest sympathy is with his widow, with his father, mother, and sister. God comfort them, and all the many in like case.
Capt R.S. Hawker is reported to have died three days after being wounded.  He served with the South Devon Yeomanry in Gallipoli, then Egypt and on to Gaza.   He was clearly a much respected and loved member of the Ivybridge community. As you walk from Blachford Road through the church gate towards St John’s Church there is a fine granite cross on the right, which countless villagers must have passed, commemorating Capt. Hawker.  The plaque at the foot of the cross gives his story.
Reginald Hawker's Grave Stone

Ivybridge and District Nurse Fund – Report for 1916-1917

“The Nursing Committee have pleasure in presenting their annual report, and thanking all subscribers who have helped by their generous support to carry on the work of nursing the sick in the district. Nurse Courtney has paid 1,660 visits and attended 10 maternity cases. A war bonus of £2 has been given to the Nurse. Subscriptions for the coming year will be gladly received by Mrs Craig, Torr Hill, Ivybridge. (signed) Margaret Deare.”

Food Economy – Beleaguered City

The Bishop of London’s Call to the Men and Women of England. “Men and women of England: under the providence of God, and by His arm, that steels the heroic self-sacrifice of our kinsfolk, fighting on sea, on land, and in the air, you live in safety. But to you also the call now comes to serve in the cause of humanity. Will you not therefore offer yourself as a member of the League of National Safety?” – “An Appeal”, issued in St Paul’s Cathedral. Extracts from a sermon at St Paul’s Cathedral, on Sunday, Nov. 25, by the Bishop of London, on the text, “Thou therefore, bear hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” :-
“It is only,” he said, “the super-human courage of our mercantile marine that has saved us so far, and I have no doubt that it will save us to the end; but we have no right to gamble with the lives of these men. I have no hesitation in saying that the man or woman who does not live within his or her ration is gambling with the lives of those glorious men – all far more valuable in the eyes of God and man than their own selfish ones.
Thirdly, we might forget the need of holding the Alliance together by mutual support. ‘If there is only one front and one purse, there must be only one larder and one bakery’.
The Real Traitor
“Finally, there was the danger of each man or woman refusing to economise because somebody else was being extravagant. Let each say, ‘If there is a traitor in the beleaguered city, at least it shall not be me. If some member of the garrison is stealing other people’s bread at least it shall not be me. If somebody takes his beer rather than let the children have their milk, at least it shall not be me.’ Thus, having shared the hardship, the nation as a whole would be able to share the victory; and when a Te Deum in St Paul’s proclaimed that the freedom of the world had been won, they would not have to hang their heads in shame.”