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Shebbear at war

Shebbear C Company Home Guard 1944

Back row: William Ackland; A Quance; W Hearn; J Squance; Walter Ackland; G Metter; F Gregory
Fourth row: F Buse; R Luxton; G Ackland; W Heard; T Johns; A Moore; S Balsdon; J Jones; S Quance; H Curtis; R Broad
Third row: J Underhill; T Sillifant; R Metherell; C Stacey; A Ackland; R Pett; J Sanders; R Arnold; A Buse; L Nancekivell; D Davey; C Facey
: Sgt A Lott; Sgt H Nethacott; QSM Griffin; Capt J Page MBE; Major H Woolcock; Lt S Pett; 2nd Lt W Haine; Sgt R Ley; Cpl W Larkworthy
Seated front row: E Davey; K Sluggett; W Jeffery; H Jeffery; C Curtis; C Hocking; E Wheeler; E Brown

In memoriam

"When your children ask 'What do these stones mean?' shall tell them..." (Joshua, chapter 4 verse 7)

In 1995 - fifty years after the end of the Second World War - the names of the Shebbear men who had given their lives during the two World Wars of the 20th Century were commemorated on the granite obelisk in Shebbear Square sited where the old pump once stood.

World War I or 'The Great War' 1914-1918 - with thanks to Ted Lott

Pte. Embert John Adams
Clarence Blight
Sidney Blight
Austin Edmund
Basil Clarke
George Arthur Stacey

Pte. Embert John Adams of the Somerset Light Infantry was the son of John and Elizabeth Adams of Worden Farm, Shebbear. He lost his life during one of the final Allied offensives of the war. It is said that he was killed by a misdirected British shell. Embert Adams was a teacher at Lake Sunday School and there is a memorial to him in the school hall. He was a former pupil of Shebbear College and the 'Shebbearian' of 1918 records:

"It is sad to fall in the moment of victory, but we feel sure that Pte. Adams would not have begrudged his life in such a cause."

Embert Adams is buried in Verchan British Cemetery, Verchan-Maygree, Nord France.

Clarence Blight lost his life on September 28th. 1918 aged 18 years. Clarence was the son of Thomas and Mary Blight of New Inn Cross. He worked as a young man for Squire Browne at Buckland Filleigh helping with the breeding of Shire horses. He advanced his age to eighteen in order to volunteer, although, as he was involved in 'essential work' there was no need for him to go to war. He was a Private in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Clarence Blight is one of the many with 'no known grave' and his name is recorded on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial, Pas de Calais. Sidney Blight was a Private in the 2nd. Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment. He was the son of William and Grace Blight of Newton St. Petrock, and brother of Fred Blight.

Sidney Blight was killed in action on August 16th 1917 aged 26 years. His name is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium.

Austin Edmund Basil Clarke M.C. was a Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps and Regimental Surgeon to the Royal Victorian Rifles. He was decorated with the Military Cross in 1916 and was killed on November 23rd. 1917 aged 25. Austin Clarke was the son of the doctor at Shebbear - Dr.Albert Clarke and his wife, Mary. He was a pupil at Shebbear College for 10 years. At the time of Austin Clarke's death his Colonel wrote to his mother: "He deserved a decoration for bravery every time he went into action." Capt. Clarke is buried in the Lebucquiere Cemetery, Pas de Calais (I.B.13)

George Arthur Stacey lost his life during the battle of Arras in 1917, aged 23 years. He was one of the Stacey family who lived at Pitt Cottage, Shebbear. He entered Shebbear Council School in 1899.

There were other young men who 'walked our lanes and breathed our air' and gave their lives during the dreadful conflict of the First World War. In 1914 Shebbear College was a boy's school with about 120 pupils. These are the names of the 48 Old Shebbearians who lost their lives. (* are those on both the Shebbear College and Parish memorials)

John Ash
Rev. A.M.Foley
John Graves

Ulysses Harris
J. Heggadon
Howard Ley

L.V.Nye Thompson Page



World War II - with thanks to John Dart
Twenty one years after the 'war to end wars' this nation was once again involved in a conflict with Germany, Italy and Japan - the 'Axis powers' which was to last six long years and became known as the Second World War.

At the Shebbear College Speech Day of 1940 Headmaster Leslie Johnson said:

"Shebbear has never failed to send a stream of men who had the same ideals of justice, fair play for all men, and who had always sought to improve the lot of the underdog and help those who have been overtaken by misfortune. It is for the same ideals that our country stands today, opposed to the ruthless barbarity of a powerful enemy. In that same spirit we go forward prepared to sacrifice our all, that these ideals might bring in a new era for posterity."

During the six years of Word War II four men of Shebbear lost their lives: they were all lost at sea. Not one of them has a known resting place, other than the dreams of the world. It is very fitting that they should have their names inscribed upon the Shebbear war memorial, the place where they were perhaps born and educated and lived the peaceful years of their lives.

Frank Densem
Eric John Lock
Brian Pett
Clarence Tucker

Frank Densem
Early in 1943 Frank Densem was reported missing with his ship, the SS Empire March. For some months it was hoped that he might have survived. It was later revealed that the ship had left Durban for the USA on December 20th 1942 and sent out signals every day until December 27th. Then they ceased. No more was heard of the ship or its crew. Frank Densem had been at sea throughout the war and for years before 1939. He had served for twelve years as a radio officer.

Frank was brought up at Lake Farm, Shebbear, and was educated at Shebbear College, 1921-1927. (Quoted from the Old Shebbearian Association Roll of Honour)

Eric John Lock
On Christmas Day 1943, a report came to his parents that the wreckage of Eric Lock's aircraft had been identified on the sea two hundred miles west of Corunna in Spain. His Sunderland flying boat had been on anti-submarine patrol when it sighted a force of enemy destroyers. At 12.25 p.m. an SOS was received from them, but no further signals, and the crew were never found.

Eric Lock was serving as a flight engineer with the rank of sergeant, he was gifted as a craftsman and had been pressed to stay in the workshops at Halton where some of his work was kept on exhibition. After training at Inverness, he was posted to 288 squadron at Pembroke, South Wales, with Coastal Command. His crew were outstanding, and survived many patrols; in one they were forced down with engine trouble into the Atlantic, and were rescued by a Royal Navy corvette. In December 1943 he was on his last flight before a six-month rest.

Eric Lock's home was at the present Endford Engineering. He was educated at Shebbear from 1936 to 1940.

Brian Pett
Brian was a local boy from a well-known Shebbear family, a cousin to the late Leonard Pett. By chance both Brian and Leonard were drafted to the same ship, the well-known West Country cruiser, HMS Exeter.

The Exeter had been stationed for some time in the South Atlantic, and with the other cruisers HMS Ajax and HMS Achilles was involved in the battle of the River Plate with the German pocket battleship, the Graf Spee.

During this battle the superior gun power of the Graf Spee eventually did serious damage to HMS Exeter which took the brunt of the fire, causing her to withdraw from the battle.

According to Leonard Pett, in the heat of this battle Brian was working with the damage control parties, and while carrying out these duties was killed by the heavy enemy shellfire.

Petty Officer Leonard Pett survived the battle, and was present to honour and pay his final respects to his cousin Brian, who gave his life in a battle well-recorded in British naval history .

Clarence Tucker
Clarence Tucker was married to a local girl, a Miss Doris Brock of Splatt, Shebbear. Clarence lived in Shebbear upon his marriage and was serving as a seaman on a minesweeper, HMS Bramble.

He was involved in minesweeping and convoy work, in particular convoys to Russia and the Arctic Circle. It was on such a convoy that HMS Bramble was detailed to break away to try and locate a ship that was having difficulty in keeping up with the main convoy. While making their search, it was most unfortunate that they encountered the German cruiser Admiral Hipperd and destroyers. HMS Bramble put up a fight but it was a hopeless situation and the heavy enemy gunfire soon put paid to the little Bramble. She was lost with all hands, and Clarence Tucker lost his life against heavy odds, while trying to find a missing merchant vessel.

At the time of the outbreak of the Second World War, Shebbear College had become a school of about 130 boys. The following Old Shebbearians lost their lives:

H.Badge D.A.Gibbs H.G.M.Osborne S.M.Russ F.E.Barnard R.G.Ham W.Perkin R.Shorney F.S.Bazelgette K.Heywood P.C.J.Pilbrow W.Slee R.A.Crighton W.R.Houghton S.E.Pilbrow C.G.Smith *F.Densem W.R.F.Laramy W.A.Pilkington L.J.Symes W.G.Foale C.G.Ley L.C.Quick J.K.Symons W.A.Friendship *E.J.Lock F.Raine W.F.Tollworthy N.H.Gale M.G.Lovick F.Rawle F.R.Westcott W.E.S.German J.D.Mould S.J.Rennels

"Finally, for themselves, we must and shall remember them. As they went to battle their spirits called to us for recollection. The thought of death on some desolate spur of Gallipoli or Burma, or of 'dumb things that the tides push,' chilled their hearts. How far, how lonely! In their last hours they longed for warm friendly days again among these green hills. And so we remember them, murmuring to their gallant and immortal spirits.

Once war had come there was no other way. Only by the payment of many lives could our English traditions be saved - if we save them now. But for our Europe, our Christendom, the loss is one, the struggle internecine."

(from Shebbear College 'Roll of Honour') Jackson Page. (1897-1987)
Jackson Page served in the First World War and would have known very nearly all, if not all of the 87 men of Shebbear who laid down their lives in the two World Wars.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

The details below was kindly provided by Bridget Deane. Bridget Deane2018

Private Embert John Adams

1st Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry

Died 24th October 1918, aged 23

Buried at Verchain British Cemetery, Verchain-Maugre, Nord, France

[Son of John and Elizabeth Adams of Worden farm, Shebbear]

'News of the West'
Western Times, 22nd November 1918

Western Times 24th October 1919

Private Clarence Blight

14th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment

Died 28th September 1918, aged 18

Commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial, Pas-de-Calais, France

[Son of Thomas and Mary Blight, New Inn Cross, Shebbear]

Western Times, 10th October 1919

'District News' Devon and Exeter Gazette,
25th October 1918

Private Sidney Blight

2nd Battalion, Devonshire Regiment

Died 16th August 1917, aged 26

Commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium

[Son of William and Grace Blight of Newton St Petrock]

'News of the West' Western Times,
14th September 1917

Captain Austin Basil Clarke, M.C. RAMC,

attached to 1st/9th Battalion London Regiment (Queen Victoria's Rifles)

Died 23rd November 1917, aged 25

Buried at the Lebucquiere Communal Cemetery Extension, Pas-de-Calais, France


[Son of Dr. Albert and Mary Clarke of Woodlands, Topsham, Native of Shebbear, Devon]

'North Devon War Items' North Devon Journal, 26th October 1916

'Gallantry in the Field: Westcountry Heroes' Devon and Exeter Gazette, 15th November 1916

Western Morning News 1st December 1917

Private Arthur George Stacey

9th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment

Died 28th October 1918, aged 25

Buried at Mont Huon Military Cemetery, Le Treport, Seine Maritime, France

[Son of Lucy Stacey, Pitt, Shebbear]

'District News' Devon and Exeter Gazette,
1st November 1918

'District News' Devon and Exeter Gazette, 8th November 1918


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Shebbear at war, the Home Guard and the fallen.

Shebbear Parish Plan. Surveyed in 2003 and published in 2005, this spells out a vision for the future of the parish.This is a big file and will take some time to download. more...

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Turning of the Stone

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Shebbear Community Appraisal 1998
A survey of the residents of the community offering a fascinating snapshot into lives and views of the time.
Flower Show
This is an important date in the calendar with most of the community getting involved with either organising or displaying or both. More than just a flower show. 2006 report 2007 report 2008 report 2010 results

Torridge District Council 'Local Plan' for Shebbear 1997-2011
Here is the plan in detail as announced by the council.

Shebbear Census information 1831


Shebbear, par. and vil., Devon, 8 miles NE. of Holsworthy, 5827 ac., pop. 913; p.p. (John Bartholomew, Gazetteer of the British Isles (1887))


Highlighted gazetteer entry In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Shebbear like this:

"SHEBBEAR, a village, a parish, a sub-district, and a hundred, in Devon. The village stands near the river Torridge, 12 miles S by W of Bideford r. station; and has a post-office under Highampton, North Devon.

The parish comprises 5, 827 acres. Real property, 4, 363. Pop., 1, 109. Houses, 219. The property is much sub-divided. The manor was anciently called Shepesbear; belonged early to the Barons of Okehampton; passed to the Nevilles, the Rolles, and Lord Clinton; and belongs now to P. A. Kingdon, Esq. The living is a vicarage-united with Sheepwash, in the diocese of Exeter. Value, 334.* Patron, the Lord Chancellor. The church ischiefly later English. There are three dis-senting chapels, a national school, and charities 104.

The sub-district contains 5 parishes, and is in Torrington district. Acres, 17, 666. Pop., 3,063. Houses, 600. The hundred contains 26 parishes. Acres, 73, 250. Pop. in 1851, 16,064; in 1861, 15, 726. Houses, 3, 194."


Shebbear had a recorded population of 946 in 2001. Source: FHSA 2001