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Killed in the Great War

Fifty three Clayhidon men served with the armed forces during World War I and seven of them died, including two from the same family, the twin brothers Hubert and Reginald Bright.

 Clayhidon Local History group compiled the following stories for an exhibition, and they were displayed in St Andrew's Church for the 100th anniversary Armistice Day service on 11 November 2018.  All photographs are copyright Clayhidon Local History Group.



William Richards, a twin boy was born at Clayhidon on 24 April 1895, the son of farmer John Richards of Wiltown Valley, later Honniballs and Eliza, nee Culverwell formerly of Graddage. William, became a farm worker and in 1913 married Annie Backhouse but shortly after, departed unaccompanied to Canada. Annie never joined William.
William commenced farm work in Manitoba as a butter maker and joined the Militia: The 34th Fort Garry Horse and later The Winnipeg Grenadiers. A year after the Great War began, he volunteered for service with the Canadian Expeditionary Force already fighting in France. He told the Army that his ‘Next of Kin’ was his father and so his marriage may not have survived.
He fought with The 78th Canadian Infantry (Manitoba Regiment) in some of the most difficult fighting between 1916 and his death in 1918. During the German March 1918 offensive he was in action at the  defence of Amiens and in September, the final advance to victory then at the Battle of The Canal du Nord. William died on 1 October following leg wounds the previous day at Boulon Woods. It was 6 weeks before the Armistice. William had been awarded The Meritorious Service Medal. He is buried at the Bucquoy British Military Cemetery, Ficheux. In 1928 at Tiverton, Annie Richards married Arthur Sellek. She died in 1975 aged 86. 



William James Trickey was born at Bradford on Tone in 1895 and the eldest son of Thomas Trickey, farm labourer and Sarah-Ann, nee Manley. In 1901, the family lived at Pooles, Battle Street where Thomas worked as a journeyman miller and by 1911 at Sandpit, Clayhidon Turbury where William was now a 16-year old stable boy. 
William Trickey volunteered for service with the 8th Battalion of The Devonshire Regiment and landed at Le Havre on 25 August 1915. A month later on 25 September it took part in the first day of The Battle of Loos, an industrial and coal-producing area used extensively by the Germans. The Battle lasted until 28 October 1915. William died on the first day of this Battle having been in France for just one month.
Generally, there was considerable success on the first day of the Battle and 8th Devons took part in the initial assault on the village of Hulluch. They suffered badly from British cloud gas and German machine gun and artillery fire. The day is remembered for the absolute courage of men who pressed on regardless of the cost to themselves. They suffered grievous losses. Only Sergeant Lee, the senior surviving soldier and 35 fit men paraded at the end of that day.  Not an officer remained. William Trickey has no known grave and is remembered on the Loos Memorial and the Clayhidon war memorial. 


Gilbert Hutchings, born Wellington in 1887 was the son of Robert Hutchings, farm labourer of Dowlands Cottages, near Beacon Lane and his wife Emma. Robert died in 1895 and by 1911, widow Emma lived at Jennings, Clayhidon with her eldest sons who were farm labourers; daughter, Selina, a tailoress and Gilbert a pig and poultry dealer.
e know little of Gilbert’s war service other than he served initially in the North Somerset Yeomanry and then the 6th Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry, both largely home-service units. It is possible that Gilbert made the case to remain in the UK for family and farming reasons. 
Gilbert then went on active service in or after 1916 and died serving with 12th Battalion, The Gloucestershire Regiment on 24 April 1918 in French Flanders during the latter stages of the German March Offensive. His Battalion had been rushed to Flanders from the Italian Front to reinforce against the German breakthrough. Around the 24 April, the Battalion was in the front line near Merville and Messer and being shelled and attacked by gas. Here he died.
Gilbert has no known grave and his name is missing from the British Commonwealth War Graves Commission Memorial at Tyne Cot, Passchendaele, Belgium. The Commission are aware of the omission and intend for it to be added to an addendum stone.

FRANCIS G DRAKE 1896 - 1918

Francis George Drake Junior born at Shepherd’s Bush London in 1896, was the eldest son of Devon butcher, Francis Drake and wife, Mary. By 1918, the Family had returned to Devon at Gray’s Farmhouse, Lower Ashculme, Clayhidon. Here they farmed and opened two shops in Hemyock, one of which was a butcher’s shop. 
In 1913, Francis enlisted into the Regular Army and joined the 1st Battalion, East Surrey Regiment, stationed at Dublin. When war broke out in August 1914, Francis Drake aged 18, landed at Le Havre on 16th August 1914 and was on active service within days with The British Expeditionary Force (B.E.F) around Mons in Belgium. There followed a long and exhausting fighting withdrawal to the final defensive position north of Paris which checked the German Army. 
Francis’ went on to serve in The Nottingham and Derbyshire Regiment and The Royal West Surrey Regiment and almost certainly fought in most of the great battles of the War. He was possibly wounded during the final battles of the Artois Region which lead to the surrender of the German Army.
Francis George Drake died at his parents’ home on 5th October 1918. It is not known whether the cause of death was illness, gas effects, wounds received or the virulent flu epidemic. He was buried in Hemyock Cemetery and is remembered on the Clayhidon War memorial.

Frederick and Charlotte Bright, of Burrows Farm, Clayhidon, in about 1918. Fifty three Clayhidon men served in the Great War, of whom seven died. Of these, the Brights lost their twin sons. Reginald and Hubert. Leonard Bright served in the Royal Field Artillery. He is not recorded at either Clayhidon or Hemyock where he died in 1928 and is buried.
HUBERT BRIGHT 1896 - 1917

In 1911, Frederick Bright, an itinerant farmworker and wife Charlotte lived at Burrows Farm, Clayhidon. They had seven children of whom the two eldest, were twin boys, Reginald and Hubert Bright. The twins, aged 14 had already left this crowded home in 1910, Reginald to work in a village post office and Hubert into domestic service in London.
When the Great War broke out in August 1914, Hubert like many responded to the call to arms and joined a London infantry regiment, The Rifle Brigade. He arrived as an individual reinforcement at the 3rd Battalion in Belgium on 11 January 1915.
There are no personal records of Hubert after January 1915 but we know he fought at The Battle of Loos, 1915 and Delville Wood and Guillemont during the Somme Offensive of 1916. In April 1917, he took part in the Battle of Arras in particular, the assault on and capture of Vimy Ridge, long held by the Germans. It was a great feat of arms but sadly Hubert Bright was killed whilst serving with 17 Machine Gun Company. 
Hubert’s body was never identified on the battlefield but his name is remembered at the Arras British Military Cemetery Memorial and on the Clayhidon parish war memorial alongside that of his sailor brother, Reginald.