Sunday, August 17, 2014
Through the course of World War One 116 Sidmouth men and 1 woman gave their lives and are commemorated on the tablets at the west entrance to Sidmouth Parish Church, writes Rab Barnard.
There are also memorials in both Sidbury and Salcombe Regis parishes, but this article and, in particular, the featured album, relate only to Sidmouth people.
Not all of those who died were killed by enemy action; some died in accidents or of disease.
Nonetheless they were on active service and are properly commemorated on the tablets in the church.
In December 1917, thought was being given on how to commemorate those who served.
A postcard poll was conducted in 1919 and the result was the Sidmouth War Memorial Club.
The Retreat in Church Street was purchased, adapted with R W Sampson as the architect and opened in July 1922.
Another memorial tablet was erected in the Congregational Church, created by the Exeter sculptor Harry Hems.
Another memorial was unveiled at the Anchor Hotel to Sidmouth men connected to the Sid Valley Lodge of the RAOB.
At some point, we do not know when or by whom, an album was made.
This listed the men and one woman of Sidmouth who died in the course of the war, although the list is not fully consistent with the tablets in the parish church.
The album contains the photographs of 59 men and the one woman all of whom died in WWI.
Why there are no more photographs we do not know.
The majority of these photographs are men in uniform and are typical of those taken at the time.
Of the men, two are unknown for some reason and there is some uncertainty about the identities of two more.
This album was originally in the possession of the War Memorial Club and was generously donated by them to the museum.
This year, as part of its WWI commemorative activities, the museum is displaying a panel listing some of the interesting articles that appeared in the local newspapers during 1914.
Copies of the actual articles are also available to see.
In addition, this panel lists the eight Sidmouth men and 1 Sidbury man who died that year.
There are no photographs of these men; so the photographs of the two unknown men plus the two over whom there is some uncertainty are displayed in the hope that someone may be able to identify them.
Each year up to and including 1918 a fresh panel will be produced which will include photographs of some of the men who died that year.
The album is regrettably not on display, as the light would damage the photographs, but each year you will be able to see copies of some of those photographs.
Do come and see them.