Preserving your Past for the Future


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 These records have been drawn up with the help of a great many people, and we have tried to be as accurate as possible in our facts before making everything public in these pages. We apologise for any errors, and would be very grateful for ccorrections. There are also a number of names who haven't yet been identified, or as yet are only a suggestion; any further information would be greatly appreciated.

Don't forget tp acknowledge Cookworthy help 

This record owes a great deal to contibutions from family members who have generously lent photographs and given information about their own servicemen.   ... and particularly Alan Edgecombe and Cynthia Ellis whose families both come from the parish.  ??Their memories of people in the village when they were children, and their fund of stories told to them by their relations have helped to identify many of the servicemen, and this in turn made it all the easier to find service records of the men involved.??

numbers of each service, and conscription dates, info and changes - table and article Off to War.

Add - peace celebrations ? photo as newspaper article


Mrs Boultbee and Hospital support.

Headmaster - Pitman, and 2 rectors during war - have photos of both

women left behind - updated names - both photos also women in the street

Volunteer training corps - Willet injury. training SE quarries - newspaper articles as photos?

The Women left behind

photo of women on Fore St Sept 14 

The women left behind played their part in the war effort in a number of ways. With increasing numbers of their men taking part either in the services and going off to war, or themselves getting more and more involved in support roles and Volunteer training, the able bodied women found themselves taking on some of the roles of their menfolk.

Women had always worked on the land, but the war found them helping to play a large part in food production.

2 photos of AG womwn - 1 at Ashford   1 of a group with Mrs Dobell - Alans updated names

As the war progressed a network of War Hospital Supply Depots were set up throughout the United Kingdom. 

Volunteers contributed to the war effort in a number of ways; they sewed garments, knitted, made surgical dresssings and rolled bandages. They made everything from special sandfly-proof pyjamas for the troops in Mesopotamia, kitbags, surgeon's gowns, patient's clothing, felt slippers, shirts and underclothes, pillow cases and bedding, to bandages for every part of the body including stumps, pneumonia jackets, gauze sponges and swabs, poultices, and even sphagnum moss dressings. As demand increased paper patterns were issued to standardise the surgical requisites and clothing, and knitting patterns for a whole range of gloves, mittens, socks, cardigans, caps, and even heel-less operation stockings. Work Parties and Depots were set up to provide at least some of these supplies. Although the Work Parties comprised volunteer workers, strict rules applied, and the depots were run to coordinate the efforts to best effect. The work was not entirely sewing. Hospitals, many of them under the aegis of the Red Cross or the Order of St John of Jerusalem, required other support particularly food; volunteers were needed to tend their gardens, and local people to supply them with eggs and vegetables. The nearest Red Cross hospital was at Collapit, and the Kingsbridge Gazette featured weekly reports of donations of eggs and supplies of vegetables, with the names of those who had given them; "Mrs Yabsley, Ashford" could be found amongst them. Fund raising was also an ever pressing requirement, and again the Gazette features reports of all sorts of fund-raising events and collections to support this voluntary work and the local hospitals.

The Kingsbridge Branch of the War Hospital Supply Depot was run by Mrs Boultbee from Aveton Gifford Rectory. As the nearest neighbouring Depots in Devon were Totnes and Ivybridge, it is likely that the depot was in Kingsbridge itself, although Aveton Gifford women may well have worked there.There was also a network of Home Workers  supplying many of these garments or bandages if they were unable to travel to the central work place. Work at home meant that they needed to supply a minimum of 4 garments (or equivalent in bandages) per month.



The Oddfellows.


The Oddfellows are one of the earliest and oldest Friendly Societies; these were set up to protect and care for their members and communities at a time when there was no welfare state, trade unions or National Health Service. The aim was (and still is) to provide help to members and communities when they need it. The Friendly Societies are non-profir mutual organisations owned by their members and all income is passed back to the members in the form of services and benefits.

The Oddfellows society is an ancient one, and thought to have evolved from the mediaeval Trade Guilds. The origin of the name is unknown ; one theory is that because in smaller towns and villages there were too few Fellows in the same trade to form a local Guild, or that less wealthy craftsmen or tradesmen could not afford the expensive uniforms and regalia that memberships demanded, so Fellows from a number of trades joined together to form a local Guild of Fellows from an assortment of different trades. There was also a form of closed shop; the more important Trade Guilds restricted access to their membership to protect their own interests, so those perhaps less wealthy or influential Fellows set up their own Guilds to protect themselves. 

The various Guilds looked after their own members, but were often regarded as a political threat, subversive, or viewed with suspicion, and various Kings, Queens and governments tried to curb their influence; by 1600 they had been almost completely suppressed. To counteract this several groups including the Free Masons and Odd Fellows adjusted their “trade” function to that of a social one for their members, and had branches or lodges throughout the country to provide welfare relief and support for those in need. They also introduced early forms of employment insurance, and payments to a health scheme at a time when all medical treatment had to be paid for (the NHS came into existence in 1948).

At some point a lodge had been set up in Aveton Gifford - the Avon Lodge, No.5323 of the Oddfellows Friendly Society. At the turn of the 20th century it met monthly at the Kings Arms. The secretary was the postmaster C.H.Pengelley and treasurer William Henry Burner who was the coal merchant and barge owner. According to reports in the Kingsbridge Gazette, there was another branch in Kingsbridge as well.

After the war the Oddfellows would have been able to provide advice and support for servicemen who needed it. On discharge from the Army, particularly when a man was claiming a disability caused as a direct consequence of his military service, forms needed to be produced to apply for any financial support or pensions; records show that at least two of them in the parish, Fred Beer and Fred Sanders, had put in applications to the Oddfellows for help after their demobilisation.

Kelly’s Directory commercial pages for the year 1939 has an entry for Aveton Gifford; Oddfellows , Avon Lodge 5323, (C. H. Pengelley, sec.).The Lodge was obviously still in existence here, but it disbanded soon afterwards.