WW1 Roll of Honour

In September 1914 the county of Devon had begun collecting the names of all men and women who were serving. This was then called Devon’s Roll of Honour. The subsequent Roll of Honour was compiled only of those who had died in the service of their country.

In November 1918 the Lord Lieutenant, Hugh Fortescue KCB 4th Earl Fortescue announced that he felt a county roll of honour should be compiled. He said that `his vision originally was that the names of every one of Devon’s dead should be recorded on some central monument in Exeter but that the number made this impossible’.

The clerk for the Lieutenancy spent nearly two years obtaining the names and recording them. Forms were sent out in the summer of 1919 from the Lieutenant’s office to all parishes but these were not all received back by the deadline of 13 May 1920 which may account for some parishes having no names listed.

W. J. Southwood & Company of Exeter were given the job of producing three copies of Devon County’s Roll of Honour and these were completed in 1921.

The first was deposited in a copper casket inside the county’s memorial cross when it was unveiled on 16 May 1921 by the Prince of Wales. The second copy was presented by the prince to the Dean & Chapter. Its purpose was to be available for the inspection of relatives of the deceased. The third copy was handed to Devon County Council to be stored in its archives. It is this copy which is now housed at the Devon Heritage Centre and from which the transcription has been compiled

The covers of the volumes are in white vellum with a replica of the memorial cross stamped in gold. The book measures 16 inches by 12 inches and comprises 396 pages. The names of the 11,601 men and women were arranged alphabetically generally by parish. The book recorded their surname, first name, rank, regiment or ship, date of death and place of death. A separate mark was made if these men or women died in hospital. However the information returned by parishes was not always complete with in some cases no more than the names of the dead being provided.

This transcription is a true representation of the copy held in the Devon Heritage Centre so no extra information has been added to the listing. However, an additional web page has been added to the project site which will show any extra information that has become available either from personal knowledge of the transcribers or from their researches as they worked on the transcription.

Upwards of 60 people have assisted in this project as transcribers and checkers with varying amounts of input from transcribing one parish to many parishes. We acknowledge each and every one of them and thank them for their contributions, elsewhere on this site their names have been listed. One thing that has come through from the communications with the transcribers is the belief held by all of them that we should never forget those who fought and died in the service of their country in this horrific period of history.

The core aim of this project, the transcription of the Roll of Honour, has been achieved and the information therein can be accessed through the parish and surname search pages. The second stage of the project, the collection of information on those listed in the roll along with other information relating to the part that the people of Devon played in World War 1 is far from complete and will be ongoing over the next five years. At present this part of the database is sparsely populated but will fill as the data already provided is entered, but there will still be many names without further information so if anyone has information or images that can be used please use the contact page to contact me with details

This is a site of commemoration, not celebration and as I have worked on it I have always thought of those who died on both sides of no man’s land as they performed their duty.

I wish to thank Todd Gray MBE for the information about the inception of the Roll of Honour and for being the inspiration behind this project.

Pete Best
Project Co-ordinator

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