South Tawton and District Local History Group

WORLD WAR 1 AND SOUTH TAWTON PARISH

LOCAL HISTORY GROUP OVERVIEW

Derived from the 'Roll of Honour' which was published regularly throughout the War in the Parish Magazine, and from Parish Council records and other Archive sources we have compiled a list of WW1 serving men from South Tawton Parish totalling 197 names. Of these 24 are known to have been killed and a further two were listed as 'missing' with no subsequent note of their fate. Only 18 of those names are registered on either the South Tawton or Sticklepath war memorials, the former located in St Andrews Churh and also the Victory Hall, and the latter being situated on Sticklepath Village Hall which during the war was used by local territorials for drill. The fatalities, 11% of serving men and 10% of officers, closely match the national average. We have records of a number of wounded men, but little knowledge of their recovery or subsequemt wellbeing.

The population of the Parish in 1911 was 1173 so the proportion of men enlisting was high (although a number of the names were 'connected with the parish and living elsewhere' rather than being immediate residents). But judging by Parish Council Minutes, the School Log Book and Church Magazines of the period the fighting seems to have had limited lasting impact on local life. In the war years were were local scarcities of food, paper and timber, and the Vicar, Mr Ball, bemoaned a shortage of labour for causing Sunday funerals to become more numerous, not because there were more deaths in the Parish but because labour was scarce on weekdays. And although Parish Council minutes of the time were asomewhat more concise than nowadays, it is remarkable that throughout the period of fighting there were only two relevant minutes relating to the War. One in 1915 concerned the appointment of a 'Food Economy Committee', the other in 1917 a circular from the Board of Agriculture with regards to recruiting, and to obtaining greater production from the land.

The Rev Boultbee provided our best record of the early years of the War with his writings in the Church Magazine, but after 1916 such reports from his successor, Mr Ball, who himself served as an Army Chaplain and was wounded at the front, were much briefer. We read of women's clothing collections, of the gathering of horses for work in France, of the school at Langdown Cross closing, and news of men killed, wounded or missing, but there is little on the record or to be foud in the Parish Archive to describe the lasting social and working impact of the war on life during and after the fighting. Kelly's Directories for Devon held in the Devon Record Office show little differences in the local population, or in the number and types of shops, businesses, farmers and tradesmen in the years 1910 and 1919. South Tawton is believed to have been a relatively poor Parish, the lime quarries and Ramsley mine having closed in the early years of the century and farming in depression at the start of the war. There were few landed gentry or the larger manorial estates where elsewhere life changed for ever. Or was the impact far greater than we currently discern, but somehow passed over and soon chosen to be forgotten?

By researching the names on the list of serving men, and tracing family connections where additional material might be found to extend the current communal record, we hope over the next four years to build a more comprehensive picture of Parish life before, during and after World War 1. The help of everyone in this project is warmly invited. We would welcome all contributions to the Archive - actual material for permanent deposit and safeguard, or loans for copying. We also have a new facility to gather oral records for use where anyone is willing to contribute a personal interview.

Join us in making South Tawton's contribution to the national commemoration of World War 1 a fitting tribute to the fallen men.

For documents relating to World War 1, see the menu item above right.

Facebook

South Tawton Local History Group has an active Facebook page with interesting historical and recent photographs regularly appearing.

Map of South Zeal

In 2013 the South Tawton Local History Group installed a board with a historical map of South Zeal at the South Zeal car park:

Map of South Zeal