Lustleigh War Memorial – May

Edwin Wilfred Wrayford May

Mr Edwin May must have taken great solace in the gathering that assembled in Lustleigh Church on Saturday 15th July 1916 to remember his only son who had fallen at the front less than two weeks earlier.  People came from far and near with one villager reporting that he had never seen so many people in the church before; many of them not regular church-goers and some who had not been since their wedding, but they came to show their respect for the boy they all loved and sympathy for his father.

In his address, Rev. Johnson said, about Edwin Wilfred Wrayford May, that he was not someone who could have ever chosen the army as a profession, nor did he have any taste for fighting; rather he possessed a great sense of beauty and was far more in his element working in his garden or putting a touch to a vase of flowers. Similarly, a friend had once said “it will not do for you to join up, you are too gentle”, to which he countered that he would never be a coward. So, seeing his duty, and with his father’s blessing, he joined the cause.

It must have been especially hard for Edwin to wave off his son from their house at Rudge Farm, which had become increasingly empty in recent years. His only daughter was married in 1909, his wife died in 1911, one of his main farm hands had joined the Royal Navy in 1912 and even his son’s  bay jumping pony, Rex, had been requisitioned by the army the day after war was declared. Indeed, the worry for his son weighed so heavily on Edwin that he felt unable to continue as Churchwarden, resigning in May 1916 after 22 years service.

Edwin Wilfred Wrayford May, had been baptised in Lustleigh on Ascension Day 1891. As well as helping his father farm the 135 acres at Rudge, Wilfred (as he was known, or Fred to his army pals) was a prize-winning amateur gardener, a very fine horseman and, it was said, it took a good man to equal him with his gun, rod, bat or racket.  Perhaps little wonder then, that it was the Sportsmen’s Battalion that would have him among its ranks.

Wilfred answered the call of Lieut. AE Dunn, one time MP and Mayor of Exeter, who held many rallies in the city and surrounding areas calling upon men to form a special Western Company of sportsmen from Devon and Cornwall, later to be known as ‘C’ Company of the 2nd Sportsmen’s Battalion. On February 22nd 1915, he enlisted at the recruitment centre in Castle House, Castle Street, Exeter, the offices of the solicitors Dunn and Baker, of which AE Dunn was a founder.

A few days later, the Battalion was given a farewell concert at Barnfield Hall, followed a week later by an inspection by the Mayor of Exeter at Bury Meadow. Then, on March 16th, after a supper the previous evening at King’s Hall, St Thomas, the men began their journey, parading past throngs of well-wishers along Sidwell Street, the High Street and Queen Street before departing St David’s station on their way to camp at Hornchurch.

They later moved to Tidworth in Wiltshire where, on 8th November 1915, Wilfred took part in review of the 33rd Division and a march past in front of The Queen. One week later, the 2nd Sportsmen’s Battalion, otherwise known as the 24th Battalion Royal Fusiliers had landed in France. The early days were occupied with training interspersed with football matches, but it wasn’t long before the men proceeded to the front and engaged in fighting with the enemy often entrenched as little as 250 yards apart.

By the end of June, they were on the front line at Carency, north of Arras in the Pas-de-Calais. The night of July 3rd saw particularly frantic action. The Germans had blown a crater of strategic value to the allies, so it was quickly occupied by a small band of bombers and a party of two NCOs and thirty men who worked through the night to consolidate the crater.  As the work continued, a heavy bombardment was exchanged between the two sides; Private 3193 caught some shrapnel and died within minutes.

“It is with deepest regret that I write to you, to condole with you on the loss of your son”, wrote a comrade from the trenches. “Fred and I stood side by side when we took the oath of service to our King. In training, we were always together. In France, we slept next to each other, and in the trenches, we stood shoulder to shoulder. The night you lost a son, I an incomparable companion in arms. A mine exploded, and Fred was amongst the first to jump the parapet and take up a position on the top of the crater. In the willing discharge of his duty, he was hit by pieces of a grenade and was mortally wounded, dying in my arms”.

He went on to mention the high esteem in which he was regarded, “his quiet unassuming manner endeared him to us all, and gained for him a popularity envied by us all. His loss stings us deeply”.

May Photo-tryThe following night, Wilfred was buried by the Chaplain in the valley behind their lines.  Today, a few kilometres away, he is remembered at Zouave Valley Cemetery, on the outskirts of Souchez. He is also commemorated by The Royal Fusiliers memorial at Holborn in London, erected as a tribute to the 22,000 men of the regiment who lost their lives in the Great War. He was posthumously awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal, which were respectively and endearingly, nick-named Pip, Squeak and, most appropriately, Wilfred.

During his short time in the army, Wilfred was twice offered a commission, but he refused on both occasions, preferring to stay with his friends and fight in the ranks where “he was a splendid soldier”, according to his Captain. “Admired and respected by his officers, beloved by his comrades”. His quiet and gentle personality, says his obituary “endeared him to the whole countryside, and made him the favourite in the village”.

Chris Wilson



Lustleigh War Memorial – Baillie

Humphrey John Baillie
Humphrey John Baillie was born on 14th June 1893 at Newnham-on-Severn Gloucestershire, the son of Rev. William Gordon Baillie and Mary Harriet (Evans) Baillie. He moved to Lustleigh aged eleven when his father became Rector here in 1904, a living he held until 1910. He was educated at Haileybury College, a public school 20 miles north of London from 1906 to 1912. Whilst he was at Haileybury he became the Cadet Colour–Sergeant in the Officers Training Corps and on 27th May joined the Regular Army as a Second Lieutenant (on probation) in 2nd Battalion the Dorsetshire Regiment.
On 3rdMarch 1915, just one year before his death, he distinguished himself at the battle of Ahwaz, then part of Persia. An Expeditionary Force was dispatched from India in mid October 1914 to protect British interests in the region, in particular the oil pipeline, which the Turks were targeting. The British garrison at Ahwaz included 20 Rifles of the Dorsetshire Regiment, alongside many Troops and Companies of the Indian Army and sections of Royal Horse Artillery plus the 23rd (Peshawar) Mounted Battery. In all about 1000 British soldiers faced overwhelming enemy troops numbering 12000 men- 2000 of them Turks. They were forced to retreat and the 20 men of Number 10 Platoon 2nd Battalion Dorsets became the solid defensive rock during this period of battle. Despite their prominence in action, the Dorsets only suffered one casualty who was wounded. The regimental history records that Lieutenant Baillie was recommended for the Victoria Cross but was awarded a Military Cross. Eight of his men were awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.
The Lustleigh parish magazine of September 1915 recorded the relevant extract from despatches of Sir Arthur Barret, General Officer The Indian Expeditionary Force in Mesopotamia and the Rev. Johnson wrote that “Lustleigh would like to take off its hat to Lieut. Baillie, as he now is, and to offer its congratulations to his parents in their hour of pride”
One year later on 2nd March 1916, aged 23, Lieut Baillie was killed by a sniper during a later action when the Ottoman forces laid siege to Kut-el-Amar. He was buried in the Kut war cemetery. Of the 350 men of the 2nd Dorsets only 70 survived the siege, and the British were forced to surrender on 29th April 1916. This was one of the greatest humiliations to befall the British Army in its history. For the Turks – and for Germany – it proved a morale booster and weakened British influence in the Middle East.
In May 1916, the parish magazine published a letter from Rev. W. Gordon Baillie including the following. “My wife and I have been deeply touched by the generous gift of the people of my old parish in memory of our dear son……..we propose to devote it to a cause which is very dear to our hearts, whereby we hope to found a room and bed in his memory at the “Star and Garter” home for disabled sailors and soldiers … we are sure that my son, had he lived, would have been keenly interested in such a scheme, for he was always full of sympathy for his men.

Lustleigh War Memorial – Maunder

Samuel Maunder

In the North East corner of our churchyard, you will find a memorial to Samuel Maunder.  Sam died on June 5th 1915 and was buried there five days later. On the grave, there is a single red rose and a note reading
ALWAYS REMEMBERED BY HIS SWEETHEART MARY MAUDE (MORTIMORE) MARSDEN AND HER FAMILY This rose and the note bears witness to the great love and loyalty that Samuel inspired in another, as will be explained later.


Samuel Maunder was born in Lustleigh on December 2nd 1888, the son of William Maunder and Elizabeth née Osborne of Bowhouse Wreyland. He was baptised by Rev. Tudor. We know little of Samuels’s early life as he grew up in Lustleigh, but have found a clue that he was full of mischief. In Cecil Torr’s Small Talk in Wreyland, Torr wrote about the Wild Beast Shows, which moved round the towns of Devon, the camels and elephants being walked along the roads. He wrote that there was a salamander in one of these that an old lady described to him as “a critter as they calls a Sammy maunder”. Torr explained that Sammy was a Lustleigh boy that died in the war that used to play tricks on her, and she thought his fame had spread!

Samuel moved away from the village for three years to serve as a sapper in the Royal Engineers as soon as he was old enough. When he returned to Lustleigh aged about 20, he became an army reservist for six years before being called up in August 1914. We know he had just set up as a fish and poultry dealer living at 1 Pound Cottage when he was recalled to serve with the Royal Engineers. The only clue we have as to how he earned his living before that comes from a local newspaper report in 1913 of the funeral of an ex Kelly miner. The report said that his mates from the Kelly Mine were the bearers at his funeral and S. Maunder was listed as one of them, so it could be that he was employed there. There is no other evidence to support this however.  In 1911 when Sam was aged about 22, Lustleigh joined the celebrations for the Coronation of King George V. One of the events held was a sports day at Woodpark Meadow. Samuel came first in the high jump, second in the quarter mile, and was leader of the winning tug of war team. He was also listed as winner of the cock fighting! This had been banned since 1835 so it must have been the human equivalent,
In the early part of 1915, whilst serving abroad Samuel became very ill with TB and was sent back from France. He was sent to Dunrobin Castle in the North East of Scotland where huts had been built in the grounds for TB patents. The Duchess of Sutherland, who owned Dunrobin Castle, went to Belgium and France in August 1914 to set up field hospitals and worked in some of them. It might be that Sam was one of her patients, which would explain why he was sent to a hospital so far from his home.
Sam died three months after arriving in Scotland. In the July 1915 Parish Magazine the Rev. Johnson wrote about the remarkable demonstration of sympathy at Samuels’s funeral in Lustleigh. He wrote that a large assembly of parishioners of all classes were present at Sam’s funeral, and noted that Samuel had settled down in Lustleigh and had “marriage in view”.
These words “marriage in view” take us forward 100 years to explain the red rose now on the grave in our churchyard and the love story behind it*. In August 2014, the archive was contacted by the granddaughter of Mary Maude Mortimore. She explained that Sam and Mary were childhood sweethearts who grew up together in Lustleigh. Mary was born in Brook House in 1894, one of twelve children of William Mortimore. When the rest of Mary’s family moved to London, she stayed in the care of her aunt and uncle – Lillian and Scott Painter – who ran the Cleave Hotel. Aunt Lillian did not approve of Sam as she considered him of a different class. When Sam returned from France Mary joined him, and his Mother, in Scotland against Aunt Lillian’s wishes.  When Samuel died, Mary stayed on in Scotland for a time, and never returned to Lustleigh She did meet her Aunt again but not until 1934.  Mary never forgot Sam even after she got married. She would often cry when she thought about him years later, and always on Armistice Day. Mary’s son is now 94 years old but still came to Lustleigh last year to visit the grave of his mother’s great love, even though Sam was not his father. It was during this visit that flowers were put on the war memorial, and the rose on the grave.

Chris Vittle

* One hundred and thirty-nine friends and neighbours from the village paid for Sam’s memorial (a list of their names is held in the Archive Room).
On Friday 5th June 2015 there will be a muffled peal rung in memory of Samuel Maunder who died 100 years ago, the second of those on our memorial to die in the Great War.

Lustleigh War Memorial – Boileau

Col. Frank Ridley Farrer Boileau

As the country commemorates the centenary of the start of World War I, in 1914, it is a time to focus more closely on Lustleigh’s own war memorial, and those listed on it whose association with the village was so tragically cut short when they gave their lives for their country. It is a time to remember that behind each name etched into the stone was an individual with their own story and with all of the hopes and dreams that we can also associate with, and someone that was as familiar with the village as we are.boileauOn 28th August 1914, just three weeks after the start of the Great War the first of those commemorated on the Lustleigh war memorial died of his wounds in France. It was tragic to die so soon after the start of the war but at least Col. Frank Boileau reached the age of 46 having had a life full of achievement. The average age of those listed on the Lustleigh memorial for the first war is below twenty-five.
Born into a military family on the 28th of November 1867, in Lucknow, India, Col. Boileau’s father was a Colonel, his grandfather was a Major General, and his uncle was Colonel Bradford of Welparke, Lustleigh. Educated at Cheltenham College, his family background meant that he was always destined for the military, and after undergoing military training, he was commissioned in the Royal Engineers in February 1887, as 2nd Lieutenant. There followed seven years’ service in India, with him becoming a Captain in the Royal Engineers from 1897.
As a Royal Engineer the then ‘Captain’ Boileau was heavily involved in the logistics for the British army’s relief of the siege of Chitral from warring tribesmen in March and April 1895, in what was then northern India. The action has gone down as a major victory in the annals of British military history.
Postings in Africa followed for the Captain, including action with the Royal Engineers alongside the 9th Infantry Division in the South Africa war, which lead to him being mentioned in despatches by Lord Roberts in March 1900.
Whilst back in England in January 1902, he married Mary Aurora Tudor, the daughter of Sub-Dean Tudor, Rector of Lustleigh, at a ceremony in Newton Abbot. Since her father’s death, Mary Tudor had been an advowson* of the parish of Lustleigh.
Following four years back in India from 1906, teaching at the staff college in Quetta, Baluchistan, Captain Boileau was promoted to Colonel on the 21st of January 1910 and was with HS3 Division as GSO 1 (General Service Officer) when the Great War broke out.
The 22nd of August 1914 was the bloodiest day of the entire western war when the French alone lost 27,000 dead. Colonel Boileau was wounded four days later at Ham, France, immediately before the battle of Le Cateau. He was evacuated to a military hospital in Boulogne but died of his wounds on the 28th August. He is buried at Terlincthun British Cemetery near Boulogne, Plot 16 Row AB, Grave 1.
The battle of Le Cateau was an extraordinary action by the British, under the command of General Sir Horace Smith Dorrien against the oncoming Germans, one of the last of its kind in History. Unlike the earlier battle of Mons, just to the north, where the majority of casualties were from rifle fire, Le Cateau was an artilleryman’s battle, demonstrating the devastating results, which modern quick-firing artillery using air-bursting shrapnel shells could have on infantry advancing in the open.
After the war, his widow Mrs Mary A Boileau resided at Windout Hill House in Exeter. She died in 1958 aged 83. They had three sons – Etienne Henry Tudor, Peter Claude and Hugh Even Ridley. In the Lustleigh Parish Magazine of October 1914 the rector, Herbert Johnson, wrote how “the death of Colonel Boileau had touched many hearts in Lustleigh, and that Lustleigh should feel some of the pride as well as of the sorrow caused by his death – R.I.P.”
In August 1916, the Parish Magazine noted that the memorial tablet on the south wall in Lustleigh Church to Colonel Boileau had been approved and the September issue recorded that it was now in place. Mrs Mary Boileau and her three sons were present at a short dedication service held on 26th September. The rector noted, “There will, we think, be a general admiration of its taste, execution and agreement with its position and surroundings”.
Colonel Frank Boileau is also listed on the village memorial at the foot of Mapstone Hill, which was erected a few years after the war.

Chris Vittle

* In ecclesiastical law, from advow or advocare, a right of presentation to a church or benefice.
We wish to acknowledge the help of Colin Gibson with editing this piece.

On Thursday August 28th, the church will ring a muffled peal in honour of Col. Boileau.