Devon Remembers

Devon Remembers logo

To Commemorate the Centenary of the First World War


In the period leading up to the centenary of the First World War, Devon County Council joined with a range of partner organisations to plan and support community projects across Devon & Torbay which would commemorate the centenary of the First World War. An initial focus of the Devon County Council’s Devon Remembers project was on supporting the restoration and maintenance of public war memorials. The project will continue until 2018.

Devon Heritage Services (now renamed Devon Archives and Local Studies Service) received a First Round Heritage Lottery Fund development grant in 2014 to plan its own Devon Remembers Project, based at Devon Heritage Centre.   A Project Development Officer was appointed for a set period in March 2014 to develop this aspect of the project and to assist in preparing a Second Round grant application. The progress of this First Phase of our project and links to information on other local and national First World War projects are found on this webpage.

In 2015, the Southwest Heritage Trust was awarded a Second Round grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to fund the second phase of our Devon Remembers Project, to be based at Devon Heritage Centre.   A full-time Project Officer and part-time Project Assistant were appointed in 2015 to work on the project.

This project forms part of the county’s Devon Remembers programme of First World War commemoration activities. It has additional support from the South West Heritage Trust, Devon County Council, Torbay Council and the University of Exeter.

Project launchProject launch

Project Launch Event at Devon Heritage Centre, February 2013

Aims: Devon Remembers

Our project was named ‘Devon Remembers’, and when applying for a first round grant application, we stated that we aimed to:

  • Recognise and pay tribute to the sacrifice and contribution that the people of Devon made during and after World War One
  • Bring communities together to discover stories about their past and forge new relationships for the future
  • Create a legacy collection of images, objects and documents contributing to the national archive
  • Help the younger generation to find out about and understand the experiences of the conflict and the impact that it had on their community
  • Assist communities to help themselves by signposting resources and funding opportunities available to them
782M6699G-H-Z6Ide war memorial

Support for community war memorials

The central focus of the Devon County Council’s Devon Remembers project was initially on supporting communities to restore, renovate and maintain war memorials across Devon. Devon County Council made £150,000 available from the Investing in Devon fund to support this activity.  The grant fund was to be administered by the Community Council of Devon on behalf of the County Council. A similar scheme was in operation in Torbay.

More than 11,000 men and women from Devon died in the First World War, and there were around 2,000 war memorials set up in local communities, as well as by schools, clubs, churches and even businesses.

While many memorials survived and are well maintained, others had fallen into disrepair and lay largely unnoticed. The County Council Devon Remembers project aimed to bring the county’s legacy of war memorials and those they commemorate back to prominence and to re-position them at the heart of their communities. As of March 2014, fourteen applications for money to restore local war memorials had been received and approved, and it was agreed to lower the minimum grant sum to less than £750 so that small scale projects could also be approved and funded.

Phase One: Devon Remembers

In 2013, while still under the management of Devon County Council, Devon Heritage Services submitted a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund to support up to 50 individual community projects which could conduct intergenerational and interpretative projects,  to explore the stories behind the names recorded on their war memorials and, in some case, to research the names that are missing from memorials.  The bid was successful, and Devon Heritage Services (now renamed Devon Archives and Local Studies Service) received a First Round development grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for this strand of the Devon Remembers project.

In March 2014, Emma Waldron was appointed to the post of part-time Project Development Officer to carry out the necessary work. She was originally working thirteen hours a week until the end of 2014, and later had her appointment extended until June 2015.  Much of her time was initially spent talking to local history groups to identify projects that could be supported by us as part of the project.  

This allowed Devon Heritage Services to begin to engage with Devon’s communities about the huge range of centenary activity being planned over the next four years, to start identifying some of the projects the project could support, and to begin to plan the infrastructure to capture all the information we wished to collect for the benefit of future generations.

The aim of the second phase of the Devon Remembers project, to be funded by a second round grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, was to stimulate wider engagement from schools, residential homes, local history groups and services organisations in exploring the heritage and stories inspired by memorials and investigating the legacy of the conflict on their communities. This was intended to encourage research and the accumulation of a legacy collection contributing to an online digital archive, exhibitions, publications and artistic productions, all of which should be presented at an event to mark the conclusion of the centenary.

It was anticipated that phase two of the Devon Remembers project would continue until the anniversary of the end of the First World War, and would be led by us at Devon Archives and Local Studies Service, with staff based at Devon Heritage Centre.

Planned outcomes included:

  • Improving access to private and public library and archive objects, books, documents and artefacts
  • Creation of a legacy collection of physical and digital material
  • Capturing stories, memories, photographs, research and events data on a project website
  • A series of public engagement events held in communities, including ‘roadshows’ with digitisation opportunities and talks by experts
  • Submission of Devon information to national databases
  • Commissioning a major exhibition with touring versions
  • Commissioning community drama, creative writing, visual art and music productions
  • Production of attractive publications on First World War heritage
  • Signposting to resources and funding opportunities available in Devon and elsewhere
  • Promoting and publicising events through an online events calendar

Phase Two: our Devon Remembers Heritage Project

Later in 2015, the newly formed Southwest Heritage Trust was awarded a Second Round grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to fund the second phase of our Devon Remembers Project, to be based at Devon Heritage Centre.   A full-time Project Officer and part-time Project Assistant were then appointed to work on the project.  

A new website has been created to promote and report on this phase of the Devon Remembers Heritage Project.

World War One Devon Roll of Honour Project

A database based on the original County Roll of Honour held at Devon Heritage Centre has been launched by the Friends of Devon’s Archives on their website. It also incorporates extra information submitted by researchers and site users.

Guide to researching World War I sources

The Devon Archives and Local Studies Service will offer signposts to resources available both within Devon and further afield and provide practical assistance with research.

During a month’s volunteering at Devon Heritage Centre, university student Roisin Hannon produced a research guide to First World War resources held here and by other organisations, and to resources available online. She also compiled a database of WW1 references held by the Devon Heritage Centre, which expands on the information provided by the subject index cards in the searchroom.

Devon Arts in Schools Initiative (DAISI) project

A separate bid was made to the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Young Roots funding stream, submitted by the Devon Arts in Schools Initiative (DAISI). It was planned that this project would be led by young people from a small number of selected groups with diverse characteristics and would involve the production of creative outputs through working with skilled practitioners in a variety of art forms inspired by the First World War.

1516M add fLaunch event displayE C Rayner 1896-1932

First World War 100 - the National Archives programme

The National Archives hold the official UK government records of the First World War, including a vast collection of letters, diaries, maps and photographs. To mark the centenary of the war the National Archives are running First World War 100 , an extensive programme of activities and events, spanning a five-year period between 2014 and 2019. For full details of these and the rest of the programme visit their First World War 100 webpage to see all of their First World War records, including advice on how to carry out your research.

Operation War Diary – a National Archives Project

The unit war diaries (record series WO 95) represent one of the most popular collections held by The National Archives. In January 2014 the first batch of digitised unit war diaries, have been released online, and Operation War Diary, an innovative project in partnership with the Imperial War Museums and Zooniverse, has been launched. With over 1.5 million pages of unit war diaries due to be released over the coming months, the National Archives need your help to transcribe the pages and unearth the hidden stories.

Imperial War Museum Centenary Partnership: First World War centenary projects

The Imperial War Museum [IWM] was established in 1917, while the First World War was still being fought, to ensure future generations understood the causes and consequences of war, to collect and display material as a record of everyone’s experiences during that war, and to remember the men and women who served.

The museum is commemorating the Centenary by leading the First World War Centenary Partnership, a global network of cultural and educational organisations, as well as opening new First World War Galleries at IWM London and a new major exhibition at IWM North, and launching its own digital online initiative Lives of the First World War, and other educational projects.

BBC: World War

Find out what's happening on the BBC and around the UK to mark World War One a hundred years later. The BBC: World War One website also includes a growing number of stories which show how the war affected people of the United Kingdom and Ireland.1 At Home: a growing collection of stories that show how WW1 affected the people and places of the UK and Ireland.

WW1 autograph books3rd-4th Devons Battalion Depot Sergeants MessWWI Autograph books

Other useful links

Royal British Legion logoRoyal British Legion
Somerset remembers logoSomerset Remembers
WMT logoWar Memorials Trust
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Devon Remembers in Torquay
IWM logoTorbay Council logoDCC logo