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Devonshire Rgt.

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German troops thowing gas grenades
German soldiers, protected by gas masks, lobbing gas bombs into British positions


During the Great War, Valentine Williams was the War Correspondent of the Daily Mail. He wrote graphic descriptions of what he saw as he moved through the trenches and he was totally partisan, always placing the actions of British troops and British generals in the best possible light, especially when things were going badly for them. His pieces were excellent morale boosters for the public back home, and his despatches were eagerly awaited by thousands of people who, in normal times, would never have considered reading the Daily Mail. This is what he sent home after the fighting on Hill 60 in 1915:


"The Dorsets, belonging to the brigade which had relieved the 18th, were holding the hill.  It was in the early hours of 1 May (1915), that a low, greenish cloud cam rolling over the top of the hill towards the trenches. Our men were taken unawares, unprepared.  In a minute or two, the gas had them in its grip and they were choking with the stifling fumes.  As the forms of the Germans appeared, these gallant Dorsets, half asphyxiated though they were, scrambled  on the parapet of their trench and opened fire on them. Notwithstanding the deadly vapours, the Dorsets kept their machine guns playing continually on the Germans and thus prevented the recapture of the hill. 


All that day the Devons, waiting in support heard the brave tap-tapping of the Maxim and knew that the Dorsets were sustaining their grand old name. Again and again during the day, in response to urgent demands, the Devons sent up ammunition for the guns that were frustrating the enemy. The ground was thick with empty cartridge cases when they relieved the Dorsets.


The Devons went up that night, cleverly led to our trenches without the loss of a single man. In the fields, in the long grass, in the ditches, many gallant Dorsets lay. As the Devons plodded on through the dark, stumbling over those prostrate forms, the men cursed the Germans savagely and bitterly.


The Devons held the line until 4 May when, after dark, they were, in their turn, relieved by the Duke of Wellington's regiment. At one time, on 5 May however, the situation seemed so critical that the Devons mustered every reserve they could find, even taking away the cooks from their cooking pots, and lined them up in anticipation of a Germen rush. But that rush never came."


(Another interesting account can be found at /www.hellfire-corner.demon.co.uk/hill60.htm)



Reserves being called up from Ypres

Reserves billeted behind the lines in Ypres respond to the muster order "Stand to your arms!"


From the Exeter Flying Post

7 August 1915

The Distinguished Conduct medal won by Devonshire Regiment men at Hill 60, near Ypres, are included in the list issued this week. They are:

Private R. Ball, 1st Battalion:

"For conspicuous gallantry on May 2nd at Hill 60 near Ypres. After the Germans had made use of asphyxiating gas, which caused many casualties. Private Ball, with another man, went out from the trench into the open under heavy fire and brought in a man who had been overcome by gas fumes."

7798 Private Robert Ball of the 1st Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment was the son of John and Lucy Ball of Sandford.  Born in Sandford in 1887. Died 4 September 1916 aged 29.

Sergeant Charles Jeffery:1st Battalion:

"For conspicuous gallantry between April 21 and May 4 at Hill 60. Corporal Jeffery was in charge of the bomb throwers, and by his energy and the frequent display of courage of a very high order, the effect of the enemy's bombs was reduced and kept under. His zeal and resource were especially conspicuous during the night of the 1st/2nd May, when asphyxiating gas was used."

9343 Sergeant Charles ("Charley") Jeffery of the 1st Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment was the son of Samuel and Mary Jeffery of Chagford; husband of Laura Emily (née Hatherley). Born in Throwleigh in the March Quarter of 1879. Died 13 May 1915 shortly after this incident.

Corporal C. W. Lock, 2nd Battalion:

"For conspicuous gallantry and ability on the night of 6 May when some 300 or 400 men were working in the neighbourhood of a sap-head*between our trenches and those of the enemy. Corporal Lock was in charge of the picquet occupying the sap-head. On two occasions, the working party rushed back to the trenches, believing that the enemy was advancing in strength. On each occasion, he encouraged his men by his coolness and example, keeping them at their post. On the 9th of May, near Rouge Bancs, he led his section under heavy shell  and Maxim gun fire until he was wounded.

8827 Corporal Courtney Wilson Lock of the 1st Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment was the son of Frank and Grace Lock. Born in Up Ottery in the June Quarter of 1891. Believed to have survived the war.

The medal ceremony at which Lance Corporal Tremlett was decorated

Three men were decorated at this ceremony- Sergeant D'Arcy (dressed in white and almost invisible against the white-painted shed), Major Clarke and Lance Corporal Tremlett (see  below). The first-named received Russian medals - Lance Corporal Tremlett the DCM. The presentation took place in the No. 1 Temporary Hospital which, we believe, was in St. Leonard's, Exeter.

From our collection


Lance Corporal W. H. Tremlett, 1st Battalion:

"For conspicuous gallantry on May 2nd at Hill 60. After the Germans had made use of asphyxiating gas, which caused many casualties, Lance Corporal Tremlett with another man, went out from the trench into the open under a heavy fire and brought into cover a man who had been overcome by the gas fumes. This act was entirely voluntary."

7376 Lance Corporal William Henry Tremlett of the 1st Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment was born in Wythicombe, Exmouth in the September Quarter of 1887. The Western Times recorded that he was presented with his medal at a special ceremony at the VAD Hospital in Exeter in front  of his wounded comrades 17 May 1916. Believed to have survived the war.

7451 Lance Corporal H. Webber, 1st Battalion:

For great gallantry and resource between April 21st and May 4th at Hill 60 where he formed one of the regimental bomb throwers. He rendered most valuable  services, especially during the night of the 1st/2nd May during a period when asphyxiating gas was used."


*Sap-head was the name given to listening posts - concealed positions, usually in no-man's land, from which  the enemy could be watched and intelligence gathered.



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