Private Daniel German, Devonshire Regiment, died 9 April 1918, aged 19. The son of Mrs. Mary Ann German, of 58, North St., Ashburton, Devon.

Daniel was born in Ashburton in 1898 and his birth was registered in Newton Abbot in the 2nd quarter of 1898. Daniel was the younger brother of John Germon born in Ashburton in 1887: John died whilst serving in the Devonshire Regiment in France and Flanders in 1918.

The 1901 census shows the family living in North Street, Ashburton, with head of the family Robert, who was born in 1859. He is employed as a general labourer. Mary Ann is Robert's wife: she was also born in 1859. There are three daughters who work: Thurza born 1880, Bessie born 1883 and Kate born 1885. All three girls are employed in the woollen industry and all were born in Ashburton. John is still at home and he is a general labourer, and there are a further five children: Jessie born 1888, Sidney born 1892, Ivy born 1895, Winifred born 1896 and Lillian born 1901, all born in Ashburton.

The 1911 census shows the family still in North Street, but Mary Ann is now head of the family, and she is employed as a housekeeper. Thurza is employed as a weaver, William is a general labourer, Bessie and Jessie are weavers, Kate is a wool sorter and Sidney is a general labourer. Daniel aged 12 is at school, and since the 1901 census three more children have been born: Lilian Pretoria born 1902, Ellen born 1902 and George born 1903. They are all at school.

Daniel enlisted into the 5th (Prince of Wales) Battalion Territorials in Ashburton, and his service number was 240372. He had previously served in the Devon Regiment as a private, number 1795.

Daniel's medal index card does not record when he first entered a theatre of war, but he did serve in Mesopotamia and Palestine, and it was during his time in Palestine that he was killed in action on the 9th April 1918. Daniel is remembered at the Ramieh War Cemetery and also on the Ashburton War Memorial

Many thanks to Bob Shemeld for the above research.


Serjeant Jack German, Devonshire Regiment, died 20 June 1918, aged 32. The son of Robert and Mary Ann German, of Ashburton, Devon; husband of Ellen Meyers (formerly German), of 29, Compton Place, St. Mary Church, Torquay.

John was born in Ashburton in 1886 and his birth was registered in Newton Abbot in the 2nd quarter of 1886. The 1891 census for Ashburton records the family living in North Street, with head of the family Robert born 1859 in Ashburton. His occupation is recorded as a general labourer, and his wife, Mary Ann, who was born in Ashburton also in 1859 is a wool weaver.

The parents have four daughters and two sons, and all the children were born in Ashburton: Thirza born 1879, William H born 1881, Bessie born 1883, Katie born 1885, Jessie born 1888 and John. Apart from Jessie all the children are scholars.

According to the 1901 census the family are still living in North Street. Robert is still employed as a labourer, Mary Ann is at home, Thirza and Bessie are wool weavers, Kate is a wool sorter and John is a builder's labourer. Jessie is aged 13. Sidney A is aged 9, Ivy is 6, Winifred is 5, Daniel 2 and Lillian aged 10 months have all been born since the 1891 census.  

John married Ellen Dunn (born Torquay in 1889) in 1909 and the marriage was registered in Newton Abbot in the 3rd quarter of 1909. The 1911 census records John residing in North Street, Ashburton with his wife and son Ernest. Ernest was born in 1900 in Ashburton.

John's medal index card shows that he served as a private soldier with a service number of 603 in the Devonshire Regiment as a Territorial soldier earning a Territorial Forces War Medal. When war broke out John joined or rejoined the 1/5th (Prince of Wales) Battalion (Territorials) with a service number of 240074, and during his career he attained the rank of Sergeant.

John was killed in action on the 20th June 1916, the day the 1/5th Devon's assaulted the line Sarcy-Aubilly during the second Marne, and it is probable that it was during this action that John was killed. A total of 2 officers and 34 other ranks were killed in action, and 7 officers and 185 other ranks wounded. John is remembered in the Bienvillers Military Cemetery and also on the Ashburton War Memorial.

John's brother Daniel also died whilst serving his country on the 9th April 1918 in Palestine, and a separate entry for Daniel is on the web page.

Many thanks to Bob Shemeld for the above research.



Reginald George Gibbs RN

Reginald was born in Exeter in 1893 and his birth was registered in the 2nd quarter of 1893 in Exeter. I cannot trace the 1901 census for Reginald, but the 1911 census shows the family living at 70, Ennis Road, Plumstead, Kent.

Head of family is Henry Smyth born in Barnstable in 1860. He is employed as a clerk in Woolwich Arsenal, and Reginald is employed as a tailoring worker. I can find no details for the marriage of Reginald's parents, if they were married, but there is a record of Henry and Clara being married in 1908 in St Thomas, Exeter, Devon.

I have a copy of Reginald's service record, but there is very little information available due to his early demise. He joined the Royal Navy with a service number of L5833 and his trade was Officers Steward 3rd class. His record shows that he was on the crew list for HMS Monmouth on the 6th August.

HMS Monmouth was on patrol off the west coast of South America as part of Rear Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock's Squadron. The squadron consisted of HMS Good Hope (Craddock's flag ship) and HMS Monmouth, both armoured cruisers, and HMS Glasgow, a light cruiser. The crews were untrained and inexperienced. On the 1st November 1914 the squadron encountered the German armoured cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau off the coast of Chile at Coronel. The British ships were outmatched both in speed and firepower and were very quickly overwhelmed. Early in the battle an 8.2 inch shell from Gneisenau penetrated the armour of the forward 6 inch gun turret on Monmouth, destroying it and causing a massive fire on the forecastle.

More direct hits followed and Monmouth was put out of action. A short while later, drifting and on fire, Monmouth was attacked by the newly arrived light cruiser Nurnberg which proceeded to fire seventy five 4.1 inch shells at very close range into what remained of Monmouth. Both Monmouth and Good Hope sank with a total loss of 1570 lives. There were no survivors from either ship, and no bodies were recovered for burial.

Above: HMS Monmouth. Photograph supplied by Bob Shemeld.

Reginald is remembered on Plymouth Naval Memorial on Plymouth Hoe, panel 4, and also on

the Ashburton War memorial. John's father, who still lived in Plumstead, was informed of his death.

I can find no link between Reginald and Ashburton.

Many thanks to Bob Shemeld for the above research.


Pte Frederick W Gilbert.

Frederick was born in Burlescombe, Devon in 1896; the 1901 census for Ashburton records the family living in Windsor Court, North Street. Thomas Gilbert, the head of family, born in Tavistock in 1858, is employed as a general labourer (mill hand). Mary is Frederick's mother, and she was born in South Molton in 1865.

There are four more children in the family: John born in Ashburton in 1885 is a wool sorter, Sarah born in Ashburton in 1886, William born in Wellington Somerset in 1893 and Mary born Ashburton in 1898.

The 1911 census for Ashburton confirms the family still living in North Street, with Thomas now employed as a wool combing jobber. John is a wool comber and William is a feeder wool combing engine. Frederick's occupation is a woollen mule piece, and Mary is a wool sorter. A further son, Tom, born 1901 in Ashburton is at school, but Sarah the eldest daughter is not recorded on the census

Frederick enlisted into the Welsh Regiment in Cardiff sometime after 1915, and on enlistment he was living in Pontypridd. His service No was 60038, he was engaged into the 13th (Service) Battalion Welsh Regiment and he served as a private. The 13th Battalion (2nd Rhondda) became a part of the 114th Brigade in the 38th (Welsh) Division, and landed at Le Havre in December 1915. The Division was brought into action almost immediately, and spent the duration of the First World War in action on the western front until the armistice in 1918.

The Division's single action of 1916 was the capture of Mametz Woods during the Battle of the Somme. It was so badly mauled that it did not return to major action for over a year, when it successfully captured the Pilkem Ridge on the 31st July 1917. The Division was also involved in the Battle of Langemark.

1918 saw the Division in action at the Battles of Albert and Bapaume. The Battle of Bapaume was fought between the German and British Forces between the 21st August and the 3rd September 1918; it followed the Battle of Amiens, and is also referred to as the second phase of that battle. The British pushed the Germans back 8kms, capturing 34250 prisoners and 270 guns, as well as vital strategic positions.

The attack is believed to be the turning point of the First World War on the western front, and the beginning of what was known as the allies' 100 day offensive. It is likely that on the 30th August 1918, during the Battle of Bapaume, Frederick was killed in action. He is remembered in the Morval British Cemetery near Pas de Calais, and his grave reference is A20.

Frederick was entitled to the British War Medal and Victory Medal.

Thanks to Bob Shemeld for the above research.



Private William John Hannaford, Somerset Light Infantry, died 4 October 1917, aged 31. The husband of Mary Ann Hannaford, of 6, Station Cottage, Ashburton, Devon. 

William was born in Ashburton in 1886, and his birth was registered in Newton Abbot in the 2nd quarter of 1886.

The 1901 census for Kingsbridge Lane, Ashburton shows William living in the house of William and Mary Eales. William is their grandson, and his occupation is recorded as a Roin Barrier (I am not certain if this is correct, I assume it has some bearing on the woollen mills); also living in the same house is a granddaughter called Mabel Hannaford, and she was born in Ashburton in 1888.

In 1906 William aged 20 married Mary Ann Voicey, born Cullompton 1887, and the marriage was registered in the 3rd quarter of 1906 in Totnes. The 1911 census for Ashburton shows William and Mary Ann living at 6 Station Cottages in Ashburton; they have been married for 4 years and have 2 daughters, Phyllis Cecilia born 1908 in Buckfastleigh, and Doris Susan born 1910 in Ashburton. William's occupation is recorded as a wool washer labourer.

William had previously served in the Devonshire Regiment when he enlisted at Barnstable into the 1st Battalion Prince Albert's Regiment Somerset Light Infantry. His rank was a Private and his service No 235139, and according to his Medal Index Card he would have enlisted after 1915. The 1st Battalion Somerset Light Infantry were a part of the 11th Brigade, 4th Division, and they arrived in France on the 22nd August 1914 and stayed on the Western Front until the end of the war.

They were in action in the second Battle of Ypres in 1915, The Battles of Albert and Le Transloy in 1916, and in 1917 they were present at the 1st and 3rd Battles of the Scarpe, The Battle of Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcapelle and the 1st Battle of Passchendale.

The Battle of Broodseinde was fought on the 4th October 1917 near Ypres in Flanders at the east end of the Gheluvelt plateau by the British 2nd and 5th Armies and the German 4th Army. The battle was the most successful allied attack of the Battle of Passchendale. Using bite and hold tactics with objectives limited to what could be held against German counter attacks, the British devastated the German defence. There was unrest in the German command and they prepared to withdraw; this would have lost the Belgium coast to the Germans. The weather in September had been settled, but heavy rain began on the 4th October, and this affected the remainder of the campaign.

The British had to move their artillery across ground which was devastated by gunfire and was soaking wet. This caused some restriction on movement, and the result of this push gave a victory to the British. The casualties were high with total losses to the Allies of 20,000 and 35,000 to the Germans.

It is probable that this is the action in which William was killed, and he is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial, panel 41 to 42 and 163a. William is also remembered on the Ashburton Memorial. He was entitled to the British War Medal and Victory Medal.

Thanks to Bob Shemeld for the above research.


Samuel Harding (son of James William Harding and Sarah Ann Wills was born abt. Mar 1875 in Ashburton, and died 13 May 1915 in Gallipoli.
On 13 May 1915 Samuel was a leading stoker aboard the "Goliath" and was torpedoed and sunk with all hands by a German manned Turkish destroyer.
His twin, John Harding, always refused to believe that his brother had died.
Thanks to Jim Greenwood for permission to use this quote and information

Samuel's memorial is at the Plymouth Naval Memorial

Above: Plymouth memorial
Myown photograph 1999

Samuel Harding RN

Samuel was born in Ashburton on the 14th February 1876, and his birth was registered in Newton Abbot in the 1st quarter of 1876. The 1881 census for Ashburton records the family living in North Street, Ashburton, with James W as head of the family. He was born in 1839 in Ashburton, and his occupation is a stonemason.

Samuel's mother is Sarah born 1846 in Ashburton, and she is at home. The eldest son Frederick, born 1867, is a stone mason, and the only daughter Ann born 1871 is a scholar. Apart from Samuel there are two further sons, James born 1873 and John born 1875. Both were born in Ashburton and both are scholars, as is Samuel.

The 1891 census shows the family living in Heavyhead Lane, Ashburton. James W and Frederick are stonemasons, and Samuel and John, both aged 16, are masons' labourers. Two further daughters have been born in Ashburton to the family, these being Edith born 1882 and Bessie born 1887.

The 1901 census for Torquay shows Samuel as head of family living at 27, Queen Street, Torquay. Two of his sisters are living with him, Edith aged 29 and Bessie aged 22: both are domestic servants. In 1912 Samuel married Margaret E. Henley, and the marriage was registered in Newton Abbot in the 4th quarter of 1912.

Samuel enlisted into the Royal Navy on the 31st July 1895 for a period of 12 years, and throughout his career he was a stoker, with a service number of 280105. He served on a variety of ships including HMS Torch, Black Prince, Hood, Leander, Vulcan and Thesus, and was discharged after his time was served on the 30th July 1907. He joined the Royal Fleet Reserve (RFR) on the 1st August 1907 with a new service number of RFR (Dev B 1893). He re-enrolled on the 30th July 1911 to serve until the 31st July 1917. Samuel joined HMS Goliath on the 5th August 1915, and he was promoted to leading stoker. He stayed with the ship until his death on the 13th May 1915.

At the outbreak of the First World War HMS Goliath joined the 8th Battle Squadron of the Channel Fleet. She was then dispatched to Loch Awe in Scotland as a guard ship and also to support the Plymouth Battalion Royal Marine Light Infantry at Ostend. On the 29th September 1914 HMS Goliath transferred to the East Indies to support cruisers on convoy duties in the Persian Gulf and German East Africa.

HMS Goliath took part in the blockage of the German Light Cruiser Konisberg in the Rufiji River until November 1914. The ship was also involved in the bombardment of Dar es Salaam on the 28th and 29th November 1914. HMS Goliath underwent a refit in Simonstown, South Africa between December 1914 and February 1915 and then resumed operations against Konigsberg at the Rufiji River until March 1915.

On the 25th March 1915 HMS Goliath was ordered to the Dardanelles to participate in the campaign there. Goliath was part of the allied fleet supporting the landings at X and Y beaches during the landing at Cape Helles. On the 25th April the ship sustained damage from Ottoman gunfire; she maintained on station to support the troops landing that day.

On the night of the 12th-13th May Goliath was anchored in Morto Bay off Cape Helles. At around 01.00am on the 13th the Turkish Torpedo Boat Destroyer-i-Milliye which was manned by Turkish and German sailors, fired two torpedoes which struck Goliath abreast her fore turret and abeam the fore funnel causing a massive explosion. Goliath began to capsize immediately and being hit by a third torpedo she sank, taking with her 570 of the 700 strong crew including the captain of the ship.

Samuel's body was never recovered, but he is remembered on the Plymouth Naval Memorial on Plymouth Hoe, and also on the Ashburton War Memorial. Samuel's wife, who was living at 27, Queen Street, Torquay, would have been able to claim his 1914 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.