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Devon County

Devonshire Rgt.

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Parish Records




War Memorials




From the Western Times

December 1915:

"The Great Western Railway Magazine for December (1915) contains the following information of local interest:

The reported casualties to Great Western men now number 1,039 viz., 344 men killed or died from wounds or other causes, 642 wounded, sick or prisoners of war and 53 missing.

Among those who are reported to have lost their lives is L. A. Dinwiddy, porter at the Passenger depot, Exeter (St. Thomas)


The Great Western (116th) Company of Royal Engineers has now completed its appointment of non coms. Among them is E. Staple of Taunton who has been made a corporal.

An appreciative notice in reference to the death of Mr. William Butcher in Exeter, in September last at the age of 95, is not the least interesting of the Magazine's contents. He was among the earliest of the Company's servants.


Among the deaths of old servants mentioned are J. Vince (* see below), of Exeter, aged 43; W. P. Parkhouse, Exeter, 68;  and S. Hutchings, Tiverton, 55.


Staff accommodations noted for special vigilance and prompt and judicious action in emergencies, include H. J. Haines, second group engineman of Newton Abbot.   


Staff changes during the past month:

Passenger Department:

A. Hartnoll, Chard to Kingswear.

R. S. Bale, Barnstaple to Tiverton

C. E. Lockyer, Buckfastleigh to Dawlish

R. E. Bence, Dawlish to Tiverton Junction

W. C. Dawe, Tiverton Junction to Paignton

L. W/ Richard, Hele to Taunton

P. G. C. Bailey, Taunton to Totnes

C. Rogers, brakesman, Taunton, appointed goods guard

W. Horrell, porter, Newton Abbot to Taunton as brakesman

W. Gratton, shunter, Exeter to Taunton as brakesman

A. J. Hodge, porter shunter, Burlescombe to Exeter as shunter

H. Hodge Brooks, porter, Kingskerswell to Ashburton as porter guard/


Appointed second group enginemen: J. Vince (3879) Exeter; second group fireman: W. Wood (70) Taunton."




Leonard Arthur Dinwiddy was born in Thornbury, Devon in 1894, the son of Thomas and Annie Dinwiddy. At the outbreak of war in 1914 he joined the 3rd Battalion of the Coldstream Guards. He died 8 October 1915 aged 20 and is commemorated on the Loos Memorial. A few months earlier he had been awarded the DCM - his citation in the London Gazette for 3 June 1915 reads as follows:

"For conspicuous gallantry on 25th and 26th April 1915, at Givenchy, in assisting to rescue Officers and men from a deep mine full of poison gas. The courage and devotion to duty displayed were very pronounced, the risk of death through asphyxiation being very great."


William Butcher was born in 1821 in Bradley, Wilts. He is reputed to have started working as a railway policeman for the Bristol and Exeter Railway (the company set up by the GWR to extend its line from Bristol into the south-west) in 1844 when St. David's Station was opened and the 1851 census shows him aged 30, living in nearby Okehampton Street with his wife and niece. When he retired,  he had saved enough to set himself up in a little grocery shop in St. Sidwells, which he ran for many years.


James Vince was an engine driver living in St. Thomas. Born in Bristol in 1873, he died in service. William Parkhouse had been a railway inspector (born in 1848 in Musbury, Devon)  who lived in Heavitree, Exeter. Samuel Hutchings (born in 1860 at Stogumber in Somerset) was a porter based at Tiverton who also died in service.


By 1915, although there was  no conscritpion at that stage, the Great Western had lost many of its staff to the armed services. By the end of 1915, the company  needed to move their remaining staff around with frequency to cover the absence of some men at the front. By the end of the war in 1918, all the railway companies were employing women to perform many tasks previously done by men as they struggled to maintain essential services.

*From the Western Times

Thursday 14 Oct 1915

The sudden death of James Vince, aged 43, a Great Western engine driver living at 14 Buller Road, Exeter, was the subject of an inquest held by the City Coroner, Mr. W. Linford Browne at the Police Station last evening. His widow said that deceased had always enjoyed particularly good health, and went to work as usual on Monday. When he returned in the afternoon he was just as usual and went to bed at 10.20 pm. Directly he laid down he said he felt choking. She lifted him up and sent for a neighbour and a doctor. P.C. Heath came and tried artificial respiration and Dr. Corbett gave him an injection, but he was nearly dead then. During the previous two or three days, deceased had been excited over his promotion to a second class driver.

Dr. Corbett told the jury that the constable was trying artifical respiration when he arrived but all efforts were fruitless. A post-mortem examination showed the heart to be slightly enlarged and fatty, and death was no doubt due to heart failure. The excitement referred to probably had much to do with it.

The verdict was death by natural causes.


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