Preserving your Past for the Future

 

S to Y

 

These records have been compiled with a great deal of help from families, friends and public records. We have tried to be as accurate as possible before making them public, but if there are errors or omissions we sincerely apologise, and would be very grateful for any further information, and also to confirm the identities of those whose contribution hasn’t yet been acknowledged.

All the servicemen are recorded on the full marble Roll of Honour. Those who lost their lives and are also on the war memorial are highlighted in red.

 

S

 

H C Sandercock - Private Herbert Claud Sandercock, known as Claud. He was born in Dartington in 1899 to parents Francis and Eliza. To begin with he joined the Devonshire Yeomanry, but then transferred to the 11th battalion Cheshire Regt. In March 1918 the battalion took part in various actions on the Somme at St Quentin and Bapaume. Claud came through these, however in June he was reported as missing, and on 12th July the Kingsbridge Gazette reported that Constable and Mrs Sandercock had received confirmation that he had been killed on the 1st of June. He died at the Battle of Soissons, aged 18, and was subsequently listed on the memorial located in the town of Soissons. This memorial gives 3,887 names of British soldiers with no known grave who were killed in the area from May to August 1918 during the Spring Offensive of that year.

F Sanders – Frederick George Sanders, born in Braunton in 1880. His parents were Joseph and Christina; Joseph became the Police Constable in Aveton Gifford. Frederick worked for David Symons at Bigbury as a market gardener and fruit grower before the war. He tried to enlist (according to a report in the Kingsbridge Gazette) in September 1914, but was initially rejected maybe through age or his occupation. However in July 1915 now aged 35 he was successful, and in Kingsbridge was able to join the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment as an infantryman. He was posted to France, and in 1917 was court marshalled for “drunkenness”, found guilty and reduced to the ranks. In October ’18 his report says “missing” and it seems he may have been a prisoner of war. He was discharged on demobilisation in 1920.

P Sandover – unidentified.

W J Sandover - William James Sandover was born in 1883 in Aveton Gifford, son of William James and Mary Ellen Whiteway both from this parish. Before he enlisted in the Royal Navy in 1901 he was a farmer and had married Agnes Harris from North Efford in 1908. Naval records show that he was a Chief Stoker in 7 different postings during the war, mainly on HMS Dido, used as a depot ship to a cruiser squadron, and for 8 months on HMS Attentive II on the Dover patrol.  He was awarded the DSM, and remained in the Navy until 1921.

R Saunders – John Roger Seaward Saunders, known as Reg. He was the son of Stephen (below) and Elizabeth, and born in 1894 in AG. The family lived in adjoining cottages at Mount Pleasant (Rock Hill), and would have lived next door to the Weekes family (Charles and Reginald.) He enlisted in the Navy in 1910 giving his birth year as 1891. His served in the Royal Navy as a cook until 1922, and during the war was on HMS Revenge for the Battle of Jutland. After demob he worked on a farm at East Charleton. He married Chrissie Putt in 1936. (Her aunt Lily had married Mark Harvey, above).

S Saunders – Stephen Thomas, known as Steve. His parents were Roger Bound Saunders and Mary Ann Shears. He was born in the village in 1868, and is thought to have had some service in the Navy before the war. He is remembered by family members to have served throughout the WW1, although no military records have been found for him. The photos of him taken at the time shows him in army uniform, one with the cap badge of the Devonshire Regt . He married Elizabeth (Lizzie) Hingston in 1891, and they had 2 children, Reg (above) and Gertie. Like his father and grandfather before him he was a thatcher, and as a boy Alan Edgecombe would work for him if he needed an extra hand. He lived in Mount Pleasant, and then Fore St.  After his wife died he left the village to live with Reg in East Charleton. He died in 1958 and is buried at St Andrew’s.

J Sibley – John Sibley, born in 1868, the son of Isaac and Mary from Aveton Gifford. Isaac had been in the Merchant Navy (John was born in Donegal), and John is thought to have joined the Navy like his father. He married Lilian Ann Chapman from Padstow in 1901; their daughter Lilian Mary married Fred Hallett after the war. John was a carpenter, and the family lived in Hillside Cottages, Rock Hill. He died in 1943 and is buried at St Andrew’s.

E Steere – Edwin William, known as Eddie, born in 1894 – his parents were John and Elizabeth Steere who owned the Kings Arms. Before the war he had moved into Plymouth working in a drapery business. He served as a Private in the Devonshire Regiment, but few records survive. After the war he returned to work for Dingles in Plymouth, living in Whitsand Bay. He never married, and after his death in 1979, his ashes were buried in Ringmore.

F Steere – Francis John, aka Frank, born in 1890, who married Arthur Edgcombe’s widow Florence after the war, and farmed Yabbacombe with a tenant, running one of the local milk rounds for some years, but lived in Rock Hill House. He remained in the village, dying in 1943, and is buried at St Andrew’s. He was the older brother of Edwin (above). Their sister Mary Ann married Marconi telegraphist Frank Wilson (see appendix).

W H Steere – William Hingston Steere. Bill Steere was born in 1883 to parents Francis, a builder, and Rosina nee Hingston (born in AG).  After his father died he had moved to Devonport and was working there as a barman when he married Ethel Gertrude Weeks in 1908. He took over the shop opposite the Memorial Hall after Alan’s grandmother Mary Edgecombe gave it up. He also had a taxi business.

H S Stephens – Herbert Samuel Stephens, born 1899, the son of Samuel and Emma Stephens from Fishley Farm.  He had joined up in the early months of the war, probably under age, and in 1916 transferred to serve in the 3rd Battalion, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry. Records show that he served on the Eastern Front (Russian and Eastern Europe), and was demobilised in 1919. He returned to Fishley afterwards, but died in 1928 aged 29. He is buried at St Andrew’s.

E Stevens – Sergeant Edgar Louis Stevens. He was born in 1894, from a local farming family, and was working for his father Louis Farley Stevens before he enlisted in the Devonshire Regt in 1912. During the war Edgar was posted overseas but in 1917 was discharged because he was suffering from Pulmonary TB. After his recovery he became landlord of the Commercial Inn, and his wife was a teacher at the village school; they later lived at Highfield. He died in 1980, and is buried at St Andrew’s.

 

 

T

 

G R M Taylor – Gilbert Richard Maunder Taylor, son of Martin (a farmer at Dallacombe, B’awton) and Eliza Jane. Born in 1876 in Blackawton, by 1891 he had come to lodge with the Sanders family in AG working as a baker’s assistant. He then became a carpenter in the village, had married Mary Louisa Widger in 1901, and had 4 children by the outbreak of war.  He joined up initially into the Army in 1916, then was transferred to become a Royal Air Force Air Mechanic in May 1918. When he came out, he was a carpenter in the village, and lived in the top flat of Beelzebub’s Castle, with his stores and workshop below. Gilbert died in 1944, and is buried at St Andrew’s.

J T Taylor – Private John Thomas Taylor, the son of Gilbert (from Ringmore) and Caroline Taylor, was born in 1882 in Aveton Gifford; he married Ellen Edgcombe, the sister of the 4 Edgcombe brothers (see above) in 1906, and by the start of WW1 they had 7 or even 8 children, were living at St Ann’s Chapel, and he was working on a local farm. He enlisted in the 9th battalion of the Devonshires, one of the battalions of the New Army; they were trained and mobilised for war, landing in France in 1915 and engaged in actions on the Western Front. John was killed in action in Flanders on 6th August 1916, and he is commemorated on the Tyne Cot memorial in Belgium, just on the outskirts of Passchendaele. His name was included on the Bigbury war memorial, and although included on the roll of honour in St Andrew’s as one who served, it was not until 2009 that his name was added to the war memorial here. His widow Ellen lived on in the village and did not remarry. Her house in Fore St was destroyed by bombing in 1943, and she and her granddaughter Lorna were buried in the rubble, lucky to escape with their lives. Lorna's memories

W J Taylor – Private Walter John Taylor, the son of Albert and Bessie Taylor, was born in Loddiswell in 1886. He was a farm labourer before the war, and married Hilda Alice Hart from Aveton Gifford in 1912. (Albert Hart, above, was his brother-in-law.) He also enlisted in the 9th battalion of the Devonshires (Kitchener’s New Army) after war was declared. He must have been present at one of the first battles where poison gas was used as he was badly affected by it, and was invalided back to England; after much further suffering he died at Southwark Military Hospital on February 23rd 1916 at the age of 29, and was buried back here in St Andrew’s churchyard. His name is included on the Loddiswell war memorial, and although included on our roll of honour here as one who served, it was not added to the war memorial here until 2009. His widow Hilda remained in the village; their only child Albert was 2 when his father died. She did not remarry, living with her mother in Fore Street until her death in 1935.  Hilda died here in 1959, and is buried at St Andrew’s with Walter.

A Toms – Albert John Toms was born in Aveton Gifford in 1877 to parents James and Mary. He became a carpenter, and by the census of 1911 he was the father of 6 children. He enlisted in the Royal Navy (Royal Naval Air Service) in 1917, then was transferred to the newly formed Royal Air Force in April 1918; he served at the RNAS station Longside (Aberdeen) then Prawle and latterly Torquay before being transferred to the RAF Reserve in March 1919, and discharged in 1920. A carpenter after the war, he lived in one of 3 cottages at Townswell by the old Baptist chapel, and had his workshop there. He died in 1937 and is buried in St Andrew’s.

J Toms – John Samuel Toms, born in Aveton Gifford in 1861 to parents William and Fanny. He joined the Navy in 1880 aged 19 as a tailor, but records show that in 1888 he enlisted for 12 years as a stoker. He served until 1902 when he then joined the Royal Fleet Reserve, and was finally discharged in 1911 when he would have reached the age of 50. The 1911 census shows him living in Aveton Gifford with his wife Susan (nee Whitelock) and daughter Lily. However on the outbreak of war, he joined up again on 2nd August, and joined HMS Impregnable for the duration of the war. HMS Impregnable at this time was a naval training establishment in Devonport based on an old three decker ship of 1860 initially named HMS Howe, and he served here as a Stoker Class 1 until September 1919. After the war he returned to his wife and family, dying here in 1928. He is buried in St Andrews churchyard. His younger brother was David Harry Toms (see the Also Served page) whose granddaughter Sonia Weekes lost her life in WW2 when the Rectory was bombed.

 

 

C Weekes – Charles Baden Weekes. He was born in Sherford in 1900, the son of George Henry and Annie Weekes. The family had moved to live in the parish by the time his little sister Margery died here in September 1915, and she was buried in the churchyard here. Records show that Charles Baden Weekes joined the Navy at the end of the war, serving initially onshore at Plymouth. After the war he remained in the Navy until December 1928. His parents remained in the village until their deaths, and both are buried here.

R Weekes  –  Norman Reginald, known as Reginald, was Charles’ (above) older brother. He joined up with the Devonshire Regiment, but transferred to the Machine Gun Corps. On 25th March 1918, the fifth day of the second Battle of the Somme, Private Weekes, service number 14055, lost his life during the assault by the German Army to drive back the Allied Fifth Army. He is commemorated on the nearby Pozieres Memorial, and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission gives the additional information: “son of George Henry Easterbrook Weekes and Annie Weekes, of 1, Mount Pleasant, Aveton Gifford, Kingsbridge, Devon”.  (He is commemorated here on the marble plaque as “one who served”, but for some reason is not included on it on the list of those who died, or on our Aveton Gifford war memorial. His name is also included on the South Milton war memorial (he spent much of his early life there), but his family had moved to the village by 1915.)

 

G Willcocks - George was born in Aveton Gifford in 1888. He had joined up well before the war; Bombadier George Thomas Willcocks was serving in No 11 Company, Royal Garrison Artillery before 1911. In 1916, now a Corporal, he was attached to an RGA seige battery as a telephone operator, and he died of his wounds on 29th February, aged 29. He was buried in the Bedford House cemetery near Ypres, and his memorial printed in the Gazette read “George, dearly beloved son of Harry and Susan Willcocks of Aveton Gifford,..... It’s sweet to know we’ll meet again Where partings are no more, And that the one we loved so well     Is only gone before”

The Willcocks family: George’s  parents were Harry and Susan Willcocks of Aveton Gifford. They had 8 children, including eldest son also Harry, other sons Jack and Sam (below), and daughter Eliza who had married Jim Elliott (above).   Harry’s daughter Dorothy later married Reginald Deliah Bone, Joy and Rod’s father, who also served in the war.  George was therefore Joy and Rod’s great uncle, and Joy remembered that he was the only member of her family to join the Army rather than the Navy.

J Willcocks – John William Willcocks, (Jack), born in 1891 in Aveton Gifford, who enlisted in the Royal Navy in 1910. He spent most of his war service as a leading stoker on HMS Leander, a depot vessel for torpedo boat destroyers at Scapa Flow. After the war he remained in the Navy until November 1929. (He was Joy and Rod’s “Uncle Jack”).

S Willcocks –Samuel Willcocks, born in 1888 in Aveton Gifford, enlisted in the Royal Navy in 1909 as a stoker. During the war he served on HMS Indus, Nottingham (at the Battle of Jutland) and Revenge. He remained in the Navy until 1927, and at some point during this time he was given an award by the Royal Humane Society’s Testimonial for “saving life”. After he left the Navy he farmed first at North Efford, then Creacombe, and after retiring lived at Bridge End. He was Joy and Rod’s “Uncle Sam”.

J H Wyatt – Chief Petty Officer John Hingston Wyatt, Jack. He was born in North Huish in 1878, to parents Edward and Mary Jane. He had already joined the Royal Navy in 1904 when he married May Adams from Aveton Gifford, sister to George (above). He was called up again on the outbreak of war, and joined the naval Expeditionary Force to the Dardanelles early in 1915. In May he was wounded in the back and admitted to hospital in Cairo, but returned to his unit in June. Just a month later he received a gun shot wound to the chest, and this time was invalided home to be discharged from the Navy early in 1916. He worked at the Naval College as a lecturer for some years, and lived at no 2 Wesley Terrace.


Y

 

J Yabsley. –  Josias Yabsley from Ashford  (Brian’s Uncle Joe). He enlisted in May 1915 with the Royal Devon Yeomanry, aged 22, then transferred to the Labour Corps of the Devonshire Regiment and after that the 448th Agricultural Company. In February 1917 he went over to serve in France where he worked with the horses taking supplies up to the Front. In 1920, aged 26 he was still in the Infantry Labour Company of the Devonshire Regt. but on discharge returned home again.

In the first month after the outbreak of war “Yabsley J, Aveton Gifford” was rejected when he volunteered for enlistment “on the grounds of age or other cause” (Kingsbridge Gazette report).

W R Yabsley – William Reginald Yabsley (Brian’s Uncle Will), from Ashford, born in 1897, brother of Josias. He farmed at Borough Farm after the war. Their parents were Joseph Josiah and Elizabeth, and the family farmed at Ashford.