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REMEMBERING

 

(The Devonshire Cemetery continued)

 

Even at the time the two battalions were raised in August and September 1914, not all the recruits were Devon men. There had been considerable competition in the County  from recruiting by the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines. These two battalions of Devonshires went to France in 1915 and were not involved in heavy fighting before the Battle of the Somme and replacements of casualties were not always County men. In the 9th Devons, 68 of those killed in action that July day were Devon-born although not all of them were resident in the County on enlistment, whereas 20 of the 38 dead belonging to the 8th Battalion were born in the County.*

When my wife Pat and I first visited this cemetery in 1993, some debris of battle was still apparent. The local farmer had been digging chalk from the side of Mansel Copse. He had deposited his harvest of unexploded shells at the side of the road to await collection by the French Army. Further along the track, there were the rusting remains of a sarding tin lying beside an unexploded British hand granade, an item not to  be touched under any circumstances. I found a spent rifle bullet on the track.

 

Unexploded Shells still in the Devonshire Cemetery

Unexploded shells awaiting collection by the French Army

Behind the shells is the bank on which the cemetery

was created from the old trench.

© Roy Hewitt

 

We have visited the Devonshire Cemetery on a number of occasions and we lay a poppy cross on the grave of  20610 Private H. Rowlands of the 8th (Service) Battalion, born in Marystowe, enlisted in Tavistock, aged 20. He is remembered on a brass plaque in the church of St. George, Thrushleton (one of four names remembered there) and his parents were John and Eliza Rowlands of Church Cottage, Thrushleton, Lew Down, Devon. Since my mother's ancestors originated in Thrushleton and my grandfather was born at Lew Down, I have adopted Herbert for my visits to the cemetery. I hope that over the years, some of the descendents of  his family have been able to visit him and pay their respects.

 

Private Albert Edward James.Harwood of the 9th Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment. Son of Thomas and Jane Harwood and husband of D. Harwood of 9, Addison Road, Neachells, Birmingham. Born in Birmingham. Died 1 July 1916 aged 37.

Grave of Private Rowland

Private Herbert Rowland of the 8th Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment. Son of John and Eliza Rowland of Church Cottage, Thrushleton, Lew Down. Born in Marystowe, Devon. Died 1 July 1916 aged 20.

  © Roy Hewitt

 

View of the Devonshire Cemetery

The Devonshire Cemetery, Mametz

© Roy Hewitt

 

*See the Devonshire Regiment Index for listings of known Devon-born casualties from these two battalions

 

CLICK HERE TO RETURN TO THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT INDEX

 

 
 
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