Help solve riddle of 100-year-old war photo
15:18 27 March 2014
Can you identify troops pictured at Barnstaple Railway Station in 1914?
NORTH Devon Gazette readers are being asked to help shed light on a 100-year-old photograph of North Devon troops leaving Barnstaple for the battlefronts of World War One.
The framed black and white photo shows a group of soldiers boarding a steam train at Barnstaple Station in 1914.
They are thought to be members of The Royal North Devon Yeomanry, also known as ‘Hussars’, soldiers who were mobilised on August 4 that year.
The photo has been tucked away under the stairs at the Army Reserve Centre in Barnstaple for many years but is raising fresh questions ahead of this summer’s commemoration marking 100 years since the outbreak of war.
According to an inscription underneath the photograph, it was presented to the squadron by Kath and Tony Lord of the Royal Exchange, who are possibly former landlords of the pub in Joy Street.
Major Stuart Keegan, commanding officer of the Royal Devon Yeomanry D Squadron, said the picture served as a poignant link to the squadron’s forebears.
“The current squadron is directly descended of this regiment and although we now deal with Challenger Two tanks rather than horses, we still consider ourselves to be cavalry,” he told the Gazette.
“It is a very poignant photo; the soldiers pictured are fresh-faced and I would imagine that it was very likely the first time they were leaving Devon.
“We hope there are families still living in this area that may be able to help identify who these men were.”
Kevin Coughlan, of the Wessex Reserve Forces and Cadets Association, said Yeomanry from North Devon were known to have moved to East Anglia and sailed for Gallipoli in the former Ottoman Empire, now Turkey, in September 1915.
“After Gallipoli, they won battle honours on the Western Front in France and Flanders, and later in the war in Egypt and Palestine,” he said.
Do you recognise any of the men in the photograph? Telephone the Gazette newsdesk on 01271 345056 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Barnstaple Army Reserve Centre is also seeking information about a World War One ‘death penny’, a memorial plaque issued to the next-of-kin of all British and Empire service personnel killed in the war.
The penny (above) was issued to the family of Stanley Rowe but no other information is known about how it came to be at the centre. Contact the Gazette newsdesk if you think you can help.