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War Memorials

GIDLEIGH DOWN UNDER

 

 

Gidleigh is an unusual places in that it has no war memorial. There are a handful of Devon villages this can be said of - most of them very tiny places in very remote areas. The reason is that it seems that none of the men of the village were killed in either of the wars. 

 

After conscription began in 1916, panels were set up all over the country to deal with appeals against the compulsory orders which were dropping through letterboxes everywhere. Some were very sad appeals, others frivolous but it does look as though, in Devon, a case was made for the preservation of some rural communities by leaving farm workers in their place of work to carry out the vital task of sustaining food supplies and crop rotation. The population of Gidleigh, Devon had peaked at 180 in the 19th century and that figure included women and children under 16 so the removal of even 3 or 4 men from the village would have had a huge impact.

The article  below, from a New South Wales newspaper, began to appear in UK newspapers and over the years has brought  visitors to the area trying to find this pretty and unusual War Memorial.

 

The Soldier's Memorial Trees at Gidleigh (No, not "our" Gidleigh but  a place in New South Wales - this article has caused a lot of confusion over the years.

From the Goulburn Post 5/7/1919:

 

'We have already recorded the planting at Gidleigh on June 27 of a row of trees as a memorial to the men who enlisted from that station. Following are the names of the soldiers:

- Lieut-Colonel T. F. Rutledge, Lieutenant H. F. (Pat) Rutledge (killed in action), Sergeant A. C. Taylor, Lance-Corporal J.T. Flynn, (M.M), Trooper W. J. McKay (died on Gallipoli), Trooper J.O. McKay (killed in action), Privates E.R. Flynn, J.T. Flynn, Trooper W.J Wark, Privates A.H. Donnelly, H. Harrison, S. McFadzean, W.C. Bootes and S. Parker.

 

A brass plaque is attached to each tree. The trees are flowering chestnuts – pink for the men who came back, double white for the three who died – and should do well in the alluvial flat along the main road through Gidleigh, where their growth will be watched with interest. At the head of the row is a brass plaque with the inscription: - “Lest we Forget”. These trees are planted as a memorial to the men who volunteered from Gidleigh to take their part in the Great War. “God gave them a hard thing to do and they did it”.

 

 

 
 
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