Researched by Len Darling
STEPHEN CYRIL DIMES
1880 - 1918
On Friday, February 27. 2015 a very special event took place in Shobrooke's churchyard, when a new memorial was installed - nearly a century after the person it commemorates was interred. It commemorates the life of one of Shobrooke's Great War soldiers.
Stephen Cyril Dimes (sometimes known as Cyril Stephen Dimes), is thought to have been a short term resident of Shobrooke prior to the outbreak of the Great War when he and his wife may have joined her parents, who had moved to the village some years earlier. However, Stephen's story is particularly poignant and tragic.
Here is what is known at present (in the form of a timeline):-
1872 (first quarter)
William Edward Cooke c29 (thought to have been born in the first quarter of 1843: birth registered in Derby) married Alice Moore c25 (born in the first quarter of 1847: birth registered in Barrow-Upon-Soar). They married in the Barrow-Upon-Soar district in Leicestershire, in the first quarter of 1872. (Information is that William Cooke was born in Derby, his birth registered at St. Akmund's in March 1843 [RT]).
1876 (second quarter)
William Stephen Dimes, then aged c27 (born in the 3rd quarter of 1848 in Kingsbridge) married Lucy Mary Narracott aged c 26 (born in the Lambeth district of Surrey/South London). They married in the Kingsbridge district of Devon in the second quarter of 1876.
1880 Stephen Cyril born
StephenCyril Dimes birth was registered in the 4th qtr of 1880 in the Edmonton district of Middlesex: from his Army Attestation papers he seems to have been born in October 1880 (On November 29, 1915 he gave his age as 34 years and 1 month). It would be necessary to order a copy of Stephen's birth certificate to ascertain his precise date and location of birth).
April 3, 1881
In the 1881 census about six months after Stephen Cyril's birth, his father William Stephen was a "mechanical draughtsman" and living with his wife, Lucy Mary and family in 7, Buckingham Rd, Tottenham, Middlesex. By April 1881, the family consisted of three sons: Charles W aged 4; Percy E aged 2; and Stephen Cyril aged 0 (between four and six months old)
Stephen was educated at Highgate
1883 Winifred born
Winifred Mary Cooke's birth was registered in the first quarter of 1883 Loughborough, Leicestershire, one of the twelve children born to William Edward and Alice Cooke. The couple's first seven children had been born in Quorndon, also in Leicestershire (their last child was born in Quorn, Leicestershire and in the family's two final censii, taken in Devon, the earlier children's birthplaces are also shown as Quorn). In the 1891 census, Winifred is shown as being born in Loughborough.
1890 (first quarter)
Stephen's mother Lucy Mary died in the Holborn district in the first quarter of 1890 aged 39
1890 (fourth quarter)
Stephen's father William Stephen remarried in the fourth quarter of 1890. His second wife was Emily Kate Narracott and they married in the Lambeth district of South London.
April 5, 1891
When the 1891 census was taken, Cyril Stephen was living in 34, Lincoln Road, Finchley, East Finchley, Middlesex in his parent's home. His step-mother was Emily K (Emily Kate) Dimes who was born in 1854 in Lambeth Surrey and his father was William S Dimes (William Stephen) who was born in Blackawton in 1849 who was an "Engineer Assistant To Palent Agent" (it isn't known what a Palent Agent did!). In the household were Charles W (Charles William) 14; Percy E (Percy Elly) 12; Cyril S (Cyril Stephen - more frequently called Stephen Cyril) 10; Henrietta D M (Henrietta Dorothy Mary) 8; Louis T (Louis Thomas) 6; Douglas M (Douglas Henry - in the census transcripts on Find My Past, he is shown as Douglas M but the M is an unclear handwritten H. The error has been notified and may be amended) 4; Pauline E (Pauline Elsie) 3; and Susanna E Narracott who was Emily's Dimes' mother and who was a widow aged 66 "living on her own means".
Notes about the children's births from the GRO records:- The children's births were registered as follows:- Charles 4th qtr 1877 Totnes; Percy 4th qtr 1878 Holborn; Stephen 4th qtr 1880 Edmonton; Henrietta Dorothy 4th qtr 1883 Edmonton; Louis 4th qtr 1884 Edmonton; Douglas 2nd qtr 1886 Edmonton; Pauline 2nd qtr 1888 Edmonton.
Winifred Mary was eight and living with her parents at Mountsorrel Road, Quorndon, Barrow-upon-Soar, Leicestershire. Her father William E. Cooke was an artist painter who had been born in Derby; and her mother Alice had been born in Quorndon. There were eleven children (seven boys and four girls) [ Claude E A 18; Charles A 18; Charlotte E 17; Dorothy A 14; Frederick B 13; Louis M B 11; Herbert N E 10; Winifred M 8; Hilda M 6; Effie M 4; Mildred A 1; plus their parents, and a female servant called Annie Atter, aged 66 living in the house Claude to Louis were born in Quorndon and Herbert to Mildred were born in Loughborough. There was also a servant named Annie Atter who was single aged 66 and had been born in Grantham in 1825.
There were some errors in the "Find My Past" census indexing when I first used it for research. For instance, Louis was indexed as Louise but this has now been corrected. There is a possibility that Hubert is called Herbert as shown in the index. However, on the 1881 and 1891 census, the original manuscript is unclear and could be Herbert which they have assumed, but I think it is probably Hubert. The "puzzle" is also not helped because the GRO record of his birth has a broken letter/letters for the second/&third letter of his name. It has been indexed as Hurbert, but I think it is probably Hubert. It would be necessary to obtain a copy of the birth certificate to learn the correct version. I haven't found him in the 1901 and 1911 census as there are very many Hubert and Herbert Cooke listed and his whereabouts are not known as he had left the family home.
Notes about the children's births from the GRO records:- The children's births were registered as follows:-
Claude Edward A born in the fourth quarter of 1872 and birth registered in the Barrow-Upon-Soare district: Charlotte Edith born in the fourth quarter of 1873 and birth registered in the Barrow-Upon-Soar district: Charles Alfred born in the first quarter of 1875 and birth registered in the Barrow-Upon-Soar district: Dorothy Alice born in the third quarter of 1876 and birth registered in the Barrow-Upon-Soar district: Frederick Bernard born in the third quarter of 1877 and birth registered in the Barrow-Upon-Soar district: Louis Mansfield B. born in the third quarter of 1879 and birth registered in the Barrow-Upon-Soar district: Hurbert, Hubert or Herbert Norman E born in the second quarter of 1881 and birth registered in the Loughborough district (GRO ref 7a 121): Winifred Mary born in the first quarter of 1883 and birth registered in the Loughborough district: Hilda Marguerite born in the first quarter of 1885 and birth registered in the South Derbyshire Register Office in the Derbyshire district: Effie Margery born in the first quarter of 1887 and birth registered in the Loughborough district: Mildred Adeline born in the fourth quarter of 1889 and birth registered in the Loughborough district. One more daughter Muriel Agnes was born in the 1st quarter of 1892 and birth registered in the Loughborough district. In the 1911 census, the family is shown to have had twelve children and all twelve had survived at least until 1911.
1899 (fourth quarter)
Stephen's first step-mother Emily Kate died in the Kingsbridge district of Devon: her death was registered in the fourth quarter of 1899.
1900 (second quarter)
On June 2, 1900, Stephen's father William Stephen remarried. His third wife was called Catherine Martin Sims who had been born in Plymouth, Devon. The marriage took place in Perranuthnoe, and was registered in the Penzance, Cornwall district. Catherine Martin Sim's maiden name was Pearce and assuming the birth place shown in the census is correct, then she was born in the Plymouth district in the fourth quarter of 1854 and is seven years older than is shown in the 1901 census. As her maiden name is given as Pearce, which would suggest that she too had been previously married. However, in the baptism records her birth date is shown as November 21, 1855. Catherine's parents were Fanny and Samuel Henry Pearce and she was baptised in Christchurch, Plymouth on April 24, 1862. It is likely that there is an error in the birth year and that this should have been shown as November 21, 1854.
(Note that there was another Catherine Martin Pearce who was born in Redruth, Cornwall in 1857). In the parish register index, her name is shown as Catherina which may be an indexing error, or her correct name! A copy of the marriage certificate would help in positively identifying the correct lady.
March 3, 1901
By 1901 Stephen Cyril had left the family home and was living in High Street, Amersham, Buckinghamshire. His profession is shown as a "builder's junior assistant" living in the household of Edward D W Featherstone (who was a Builder's Manager) and his wife Rose E. Featherstone. Their home was in High Street, Amersham, Buckinghamshire. Stephen's birth place is now shown as Wood Green, Middlesex instead of Tottenham.
Stephen's father and his new wife Catherine, had also moved and they were now living at Higher Wadstray, Blackawton, Kingsbridge, Devon, where William was said to be "living on own means". In the household were William's daughter Henrietta who was 18, Dorothy Sims aged 9, who was Catherine's daughter; Myra Pearce who was said to be William's sister-in-law; plus an "assistant", called Florence E Westley, who was a dairymaid; and a servant called George O Tucker, who was an ordinary agricultural labourer: both were aged 22.
By 1901 Winifred's parents and six of their children had moved to Littleham in Devon, where William Cooke was described as an artist. Winifred, however, had left home and was working in Worthing (East Preston), Sussex, as a general domestic servant in the household of Florence A Burt (a widow "living on her own means") whose son and sister also lived there.
April 2, 1911
By the time of the next census in 1911 Cyril Stephen Dimes had also moved away from the Home Counties and the London area and was back in the new family home at Higher Wadstray, Blackawton in Devon. Stephen's profession was shown as an architect and his place of birth was again shown as Wood Green, Middlesex/North London. His father William S Dimes is shown as "Living on Own Means". Stephen's second step-mother Catherine was not at the Blackawton home at the time of the census: she died in the fourth quarter of 1938 in the Portsmouth district, but does not appear to be mentioned in any family events that took place in Shobrooke.
At the time of the 1911 census, Catherine was living at Healaugh Cottage, Marazion, Cornwall, where she is shown as "the head of the household" and "nil" is written in the occupation column. In the years married column she has written 10 & 12 years, but the enumerator has crossed through both entries as well as that showing that she had had three children and all had survived until the census date. Catherine's children were:-
- James Theo Sims 23, and an assay master working for the Royal Metal Exchange;
- Doris Marie Sims 19, and a governess;
- William Robert Sims 16, who is shown as a schoolboy.
All three children's birth-places are shown as Redruth, Cornwall and Catherine's as Plymouth, Devon. At the time of the census, the family were living in a house with six living rooms (as defined by the census ~ excluding bathrooms, scullery, lobby, closet etc). From this census form, it would appear that Catherine and William were no longer a couple and had separated, although this is an assumption from the few documents available and non-appearance of Catherine at any of the Dimes family events in 1911 and 1918.
Catherine's first marriage was when she was 31 and living in East Teignmouth. The marriage appears to have taken place on September 6, 1886 in East Teignmouth Anglican church to James Sims who was aged 50 and who's place of residence was Redruth, Cornwall. James' father's name was James Sims and Catherine's father's name was Samuel Henry Pearce.
In 1911 Winifred Cooke was working as an assistant in a farmer's house, (widower 72 year old William Couch and his family of Week Barton) in Milton Abbot near Tavistock. It is interesting that her place of birth is not given, but in that column is written, "Isle of Wight, Resident". It would be nice to know when and how Winifred and Stephen met but this is likely to have been a year or more prior to 1911, so we can assume that Stephen left the London area not too long after the 1901 census.
The Cooke family had by then moved to Shobrooke, where their address was given as Shobrooke, Crediton. Their home had nine living rooms (as defined by the census - excluding bathrooms, scullery, lobby, closet etc.) and so, must have been one of the larger houses in the village. The location is probably somewhere down the hill from the Red Lion pub and after Clergy Cottage: it is probable that their home at the time of the census was Zephyr Cottage but requires positive confirmation: they were living there in 1916. The family is shown to have had twelve children and all twelve had survived - at least until 1911.
August 24, 1911
After the 1911 census, Stephen Cyril Dimes married Winifred M Cooke on August 24, 1911, in Shobrooke Church. Winifred Mary Cook was one of twelve children born to the Cooke family all of whom were alive in 1911. Stephen Cyril Dimes was one of eight children, all of whom were born to his first mother, Lucy Mary and all of whom were alive in 1911.
The wedding was reported in the local newspapers and was a special occasion because on the same day, Winifred's sister Charlotte Edith Cooke was also married. Banns were read in Saint Michael's Church, Blackawton from August 6, 1911 (Stephen's home parish).
"Considerable interest was evinced among the inhabitants of the village of Shobrooke when two brides, the daughters of Mr. and Mrs. W. E. Cooke, were led to the altar by their respective bridegrooms. At 11 a.m. the first ceremony was solemised, the Rector of the parish, the Rev. W. Jukes, M.A. officiating, when Miss Charlotte Edith Cooke, eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Cooke, was married to The Reverend W J Gascoigne B.A. Rector of Upton Helions. The bride, who was given away by her father, looked charming in a gown of creme silk voile over cream silk, her only ornament being a handsome diamond and sapphire pendant, given by the bridegroom. She carried a beautiful shower bouquet of white roses. Miss Dorothy Cooke, her bridesmaid looked very pretty in an Empire robe of pale blue muslin-de-soie and wore a large black picture hat, carrying a bouquet of pale pink roses, her only ornament being a gold barred brooch, the gift of the bridegroom. The Rev. G.T. Llewellyn, M.A., Vicar of Sandford, was the best man.
After the ceremony a reception was held at the residence of the bride's parents, where numerous and costly presents were very much admired. These included a handsome case of silver cruets given to the bride by Sir John and Lady Shelley, of Shobrooke Park. also a travelling clock from Miss Shelley, and Mrs. Prescott. The parishioners of Upton Helions presented the bridegroom with a silver tea tray. Later the Rev. and Mrs. Gascoigne left for London, where the first part of their honeymoon will be spent.
At 2 p.m., the guests all reassembled at the parish church to witness the marriage of Mr. Cyril Dimes, of Blackawton, near Totnes, the third son of Mr W S. Dimes to MissWinifred Mary Cooke, third daughter of Mr & Mrs W E Cooke of Shobrooke.
The bride entered the church with her father, who subsequently gave her away,. She was attired in a gown of cream voile, with veil and wreath of orange blossom, wearing a pearl pendant, the gift of the bridegroom, and held a shower bouquet of roses and white heather. She was attended by two bridesmaids, Miss Hilda Cooke, her sister, and Miss Pauline Dimes, sister of the bridegroom. They wore pretty Empire dresses of creme chinon**, and black hats trimmed with pink roses. They carried bunches of pink roses and sweet peas, and wore pearl swallow broaches, the gift of the bridegroom. The service was choral, Mr Downing, the organist, tastefully rendering Mendelssohn's "Wedding March" as the wedding party left the church. Mr. Hubert Cooke, brother of the bride acted as best man. A second reception was held, similar in all respects to the previous one, when a most enjoyable time was spent. The many presents attracted special attention, and included a silver tea service and tray, given by the tennants of the Blackawton Estate, which is the property of the bridegroom's father, who was present at the wedding. Mr. and Mrs. Cyril Dimes left by the 4.44 p.m. train for Exeter, en route for the South Coast watering places. The church bells were merrily rung at intervals throughout the day.
In another report, we learn of a
PRESENTATION AT BLACKAWTON. Mr. and Mrs. C. Dimes, have at Blackawton Assembly Rooms been publically presented with a Queen Anne silver tea service as a wedding present. The gift was subscribed for by the tenants of Oldstone Estate and by a number of well-wishers of the bridegroom. The Vicar (Rev. W. Charnell) who presented it, wished Mr. Cyril Dimes and his wife every happiness this life could afford. Mr. Dimes heartily thanked all the subscribers for their kindness in giving him such a grand present, and said whenever they used the service, it would always remind them of their great kindness. Mr. W. S. Dimes also thanked those present on behalf of his son. Hearty cheers were given for the bride and bridegroom, Mr. W. S. Dimes, and the Vicar, at the close of the proceedings.
** the word chinon is unclear in the newspaper report
Both weddings took place in Shobrooke church and the receptions for both weddings were held at the Cooke family home in Shobrooke Village (probably in Zephyr Cottage): one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Quite a day. Sadly, much would change in a few short years.
September 9, 1912
On this day Stephen Cyril and Winifred Mary (Cooke) Dimes had a baby ~ they probably expected him to be the first of several. Hubert Cyril Dimes was born in the Kingsbridge district of Devon where the couple lived and Stephen worked as an architect.
August 3, 1914
Three years after these joyous weddings and two years after the birth of Hubert, came the Great War which was declared on August 3, 1914.
November 29, 1915 - Enlisted.
Stephen Cyril Dimes enlisted at Newton Abbot, for "Short Service" (that is for the Duration of the War, with the Colours and in the Army Reserve). He joined the Royal Engineers on November 29, 1915, giving his address as The Bungalow, Blackawton and his age was 34 years and 1 month. His profession was architect; he had been vaccinated or re-vaccinated. He had not served in the military previously. He gave his next of kin as Mrs Winifred M Dimes, wife, of The Bungalow, Blackawton, South Devon. It was recorded that he had married Winifred at Saint Swithen's Church, Shobrooke on August 24, 1911 and that at the time Winifred was a spinster. He gave the details of his children as Hubert Cyril Dimes, born on September 9, 1912 at Blackawton: he had one child. Stephen was said to have a chest measurement of 36 inches when fully expanded and the range of expansion was two inches.
Stephen's medical history was as follows:-
Born in Woodgreen, London: he was examined at Dartmouth on November 27, 1915 aged 34 years and 30 days. He was an architect, and was 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighed 140 lbs., & his physical development was good. He had 4 vaccination marks on his left arm and had been vaccinated as an infant. He had no marks and no slight defects and was declared "fit for service in the field, at home & ???? (writing unclear but I think the word is "abroad").
Stephen was given the number 120950 and was a Private and joined the Army Reserve on November 30, 1915: he was mobilised on January 15, 1916 and posted as a Sapper on January 18, 1916 when he was described as a skilled joiner.
May 15, 1916 funeral Stephen's father-in-law
William Edward Cooke died in the second quarter of 1916 and his funeral and burial took place on May 15, 1916 in Shobrooke Church and Churchyard. Two ministers officiated at the service: the Reverend Worthington Jukes, Rector of Shobrooke and the Reverend G J Llewellin, the vicar of Sandford and a friend of the family and who had been the best man at the wedding of their daughter Dorothy.
This event does not seem to have been recorded in the Parish Magazine either for May or June 1916. In the burial register, William's "abode" is given as Zephyr Cottage, Shobrooke.
July 25, 1916 ~ To France
Stephen embarked with the B.E.F. (the British Expeditionary Force
Stephen was involved in the Horne Farm (writing unclear) Campaign from November 29, 1915 until July 24, 1916 in the British Expeditionary Force.
Stephen's wife Winifred was granted a separation allowance of 19/6 (Nineteen shillings and six pence - now approximately 97.5 pence) and an allotment of Stephen's pay which was to be 8/2 (eight shillings and two pence ~ now approximately 41.5pence) and so had an income of 27/8 (twenty seven shilling and eight pence £1.7s.8d - now approximately £1.38,5p). This was to be paid on a continuing basis after he had been posted to Chatham. presumably at some time in February 1918 (most unusually for the military, this form is not dated! It is probably 1916/7)
October 4, 1917, the funeral of Stephen's mother-in-law
Alice Cooke aged 70, died in the third quarter of 1916 but her death was registered in the fourth quarter. Her funeral and burial took place on October 4, 1917 in Shobrooke Church and Churchyard with the Reverend Worthington Jukes, Rector of Shobrooke officiating. The November edition of the Parish Magazine recorded:- "We much regret the loss by death of several of our parishioners and wish to offer our sympathy with their respective families. Mrs Cooke survived her husband, Mr William Edward Cooke, by 17 months, when heart attacks suddenly hastened her death.
November 8, 1917 ~ injured
Stephen was in the 8th Field Company, No. 47 and was wounded on November 8, 1917
November23, 1917 ~ injured.
Stephen was injured and spent 82 days in hospital. from November 23, 1917 until February 12, 1918. His injuries were recorded as something like S W fl. Ord OS Ws L; (In the remarks column it is recorded Denture required) Chest Wall and abd (abdomen?) wall, and L (left) knee and L or R (L unclear and could also be read as R! ~ left or right) thigh. Comp Fract Phals (Fract ????) of 3rd finger on L (left hand?). (In the remarks column it is noted that "Septic finger opened freely".) This form was for Admissions to Hospital.......and is stamped The Beaufort War Hospital, Bristol. .
His injuries are summarised on the form in military medical abbreviations on his admission to hospital form and appear to read: "SW fl. Ord. O.S Ws L. chest Wall + abd Wall, & knee & L or R thigh. Comp Fract Phals of 3rd finger L. In the remarks column it is recorded "Denture Reqd." and "Septic finger opened freely"".
I will endeavour to obtain advice from military historians to decode this entry.
April 11, 1918 an entry on army form "Statement of the Services of No 120950 Name Dimes S C
R E Q Depot Coy. was "Found Dead on Railway Line, Chatham. Verdict Suicide during Temporary Insanity. 11.4.18". This entry is signed on behalf of Col., R E Records. There is a mark before the letters R E which may be one or two more letters. This entry is clearly wrong, and despite a later memorandum on April 22, 1918 correcting the date requesting that this be corrected in the records, it has not been. Presumably there must have been an memo giving the incorrect date, or possibly it was notified by some other means.
On the same form it was stated that Stephen had" served 239 days in England, 121 in the B.E.F. in France, and 140 days in hospital: a total of 2 years and 144 days. He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal". This entry is undated but there is a concluding date for his service which is also "11.4.18"
April 13/14, 1918
At some time during the night of Friday April 12, or Saturday April 13, 1918, Stephen met his death in a railway tunnel near Chatham.
April 19, 1918 STEPHEN'S FUNERAL
Western Times - Exeter, Devon, England April 19, 1918
FUNERAL AT SHOBROOKE
The funeral of Sapper Stephen C. Dimes, R.E., took place at the Parish Churchyard, Shobrooke, Wednesday. The deceased was well known at Blackawton, and was held the highest esteem, both at his native place and also at .Shobrooke. Sapper Dimes, who had been wounded in France, was for some considerable time in a hospital in Bristol, and on returning to Chatham met with his death on the railway. During the internment practically every blind, was drawn in the village. The Vicar of Sandford (Rev. G.T.Llewellin)** in the absence of the Rector (Rev. W. Jukes) officiated. The coffin was of English oak with brass mounts, the breastplate bore the following inscription: "Stephen C. Dimes, died April 13th, 1918, aged 37 years. The mourners were Mrs. Dimes (widow), Mr. W.S.Dimes (father, Blackawton), C.W.Dimes, R.F.C. (brother), L.T.Dimes, B.A. (brother), Mrs. Powell, (Paignton, sister), Mrs. Gascoyne, Misses Dorothy, Hilda and Muriel Cooke (sisters-in-law), Mrs. Lee, Mrs. Burrington and Mrs. Rooke, and many others. Amongst the large number of beautiful floral tributes sent were from his sorrowing wife and little son Hubert; Dora, Paul and Ruby; Charlotte; Dorothy; Effie, Mildred and Muriel; Charlie and Jennie; Fred and Lily; Hilda. #
** The Reverend Llewellin was best-man at Charlotte's wedding and a friend of the family.
# Many of the latter names in the list of mourners are from Stephen and Winifred's family.
April 21, 1918
A memo received on April 21, 1918 at the Royal Engineers, Chatham and addressed to
"Adulatory, Seven, London.
77 Regret to report death No. 120950 Spr. S. C. Dimes Q Coy. R. E. found dead by Civil Police on S. E. & C. Rly. lines near Chatham on the 14th inst.
Training, Chatham. "
I would assume this to be the transcript of a telegram. The date "14th" at the end of this memo has been altered and it appears that painted out and typed over, was a number 0
April 22, 1918
A memo stamped April 22, 1918 and sent to "The Officer Commanding, Depot Companies R.E.; No. 1 Group states:-
Re. No. 120950 Sapper S.C.Dimes, R.E.
Reference your memo of the 14th inst: reporting the death of the above named man who was found dead on the S.E.&C. Railway line on the 14th. inst:
Will you kindly cause the attached Army Form W.3037 to be complete where marked (x) and return with Newspaper Report of Inquest at your earliest convenience, please.
April 23, 1918
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette April 23, 1918
Announcements of Births, Marriages, and Deaths.
On April 13th, at Chatham, the result of an accident, Cyril Stephen Dimes, R.E., of Blackawton and Shobrooke, Crediton, aged 37 years, the dearly beloved husband of Winifred Mary Dimes and third son of W.S.Dimes, Esq., of Blackawton, South Devon, Interred at Shobrooke.
April 26, 1918
DIMES - On April 13th, at Chatham, the result of an accident, Cyril Stephen Dimes, R.E., of Blackawton and Shobrooke, Crediton, aged 37 years, the dearly-beloved husband of Winifred Mary Dimes and third son of W.S.Dimes, Esq., of Blackawton, South Devon. Interred at Shobrooke.
May 18, 1918
In another memo sent to C I/C Records, and date stamped Royal Engineers, Chatham May 18, 1918
Ref your mem, R4/Cas/T4.F3 will you please note that the correct date of Spr Dimes' death is 13/4/18 as reported in our last/short (writing unclear) II orders d/20 4/18 (dated April 4, 1918).
This is signed J R Holson, Capt R.E. Commanding "Q" Coy. R.E.
On the top right hand corner of this document someone has written "Not as in it Book. 11/4/18." and has initialled this comment.
The hand written note on the top right hand corner of the document does appear to read :- "Not as in it Book. 11/4/18." (this is not a transcription error !)
May 21, 1918
Ministry of Pensions
Re. No. 102950 Sapper Stephen C. Dimes. R. E.
On Army Form B 104 - 88 forwarded to you on 26 - 4 - 18 it was stated above man was found Dead - Suicide during temporary insanity, 11 - 4 - 18.
Part ii Orders No. 5 states the date of death was 13 - 4 - 18.
Please amend Army Form B . 104 - 88
There are some initials that appear to be H S C J as a signature on behalf of the Colonel
for Colonal i/c R. E. Records
Chatham 21 - 5 - 18 `
Some text is missing from this document due to Second World War bomb/fire damage. However, there is some text that is stuck to the left hand lower corner of this document that does not belong on it. See notes on the record of the Coroner's Hearing
Shobrooke Parish Magazine for May 1918 recorded that :-
"The whole of Shobrooke unites in sympathy for Mrs. Dimes and her little son in their great loss. Sapper Stephen C. Dimes, R.E. was buried at Shobrooke on Wednesday, April 17th, by the Vicar of Sandford, in the absence of the Rector."
September 20, 1918
On a form called "Widows - Form 3" from The Ministry of Pensions, (Widows and Dependants Branch), 45, Grosvenor Road, London, S.W.1. and dated September 20, 1918, sent to "The Officer in charge of Records" with the reference No. 5400RS W4; it states:-
I am directed by the Minister of Pensions to inform you that the widow of No. 120950 Sapr. Stephen Cyril Dimes, Royal Engineer, has been awarded a Pension of 20/5 (102.08 pence) a week for herself and one child with effect from 14/10/18.
The Officer issuing Separation Allowance has been informed of the award. The Pension will be paid from the Pension Issue Office. The certificates received in support of the application have been returned to the widow.
I am, SIR, Your obedient Servant Matthew Nathan, Secretary.
The form was received by The Royal Engineers Records, Chatham on September 23, 1918.
October 19, 1920
On Army Form W 5080 which was to be filled in by Officer in Charge of Records, and on which has been written "Final Application". we are given details of Stephen's next of kin.
120950 Spr. S. C. Dimes deceased.
STATEMENT of the Names and Addresses of all Relatives of the above named deceased soldier in each of the degrees specified below that are now living.
The form has different categories headed "Degree of relationship" and required the person's name and address in full. It appears to have been completed by many different people, possibly by each person mentioned.
Widow of the Soldier .. .. Winifred Mary Dimes, Parr's Bank House, Leek, Staffordshire.
Children of the Soldier and their dates of birth .. .. Hubert Cyril Dimes September 9th, 1912.
Father of the Soldier .. .. William Stephen Dimes, Greenslade, Blackawton, S. Devon.
Mother of the Soldier .. .. Lucy Mary Dimes. Died 1890
Brothers of the Soldier Full Blood .. .. Charles William Dimes 43: Holly Bank, Lower Bourne, Farnham
Percy Etty Dimes 42: 59 Strand, London.
Louis Thomas 36:Wallwood Lodge, Gainsborough Road, Leytonstone,
Douglas Henry 34: Wadstray, Blackawton, S Devon.
Brothers of the Soldier Half Blood .. ..
Sisters of the Soldier Full Blood .. .. Henrietta Dorothy Mary Powell 34: Wadstray, Blackawton, S Devon Pauline Elsie Davson 32: **Buckets Mertazam, Provisim, Wellesley Straits, Selhurst
(** this address is very difficult to read and may well be inaccurately transcribed!)
Sisters of the Soldier Full Blood .. .. Ruby Kathleen Dimes 27: 29 Bennett Park, Blackheath, S. E. 3.
The declaration was made by W M Dimes, Wife (widow) of Parr's Bank House, Leek, Staffs. Dated at Leek this 19th day of October 1920. A minister or magistrate had to witness the form although it has been witnessed by C A Cooke, Bank Manager, London County & Westminster Parr's Bank, Leek
On the bottom of the form "Please note change of address" has been written.
THE INQUEST ~ CORONER'S REPORT.
This document is one of the most badly damaged in the file and has the lower left hand corner missing. There are also a couple of holes in the page. The documents were amongst those damaged by fire and water following bombing in the Second World War. It is also not dated.
"A VICTIM OF WAR STRAIN"
Thee circumstances attending the death of Stephen Cyril Dimes, aged 36 years, a Sapper in the Royal Engineers, were investigated by the County Coroner (Mr. C. B. Harris) at an enquiry held at the Holy Trinity Schools on Monday evening. Mr. George A. V. Connolly, solicitor, appeared on behalf of the S.E.& C. Railway Coy.
Charles William Dimes, brother of the deceased, gave evidence of identification and ????? (said?) that in civilian life the deceased soldier assisted his father, a land ?????? in South Devon. He joined the Army in November 1915, and he had been wounded by a shell in France. It appeared that the deceased had not been in good health lately. His wife, had been anxious about him, and had written several times recently without reply. In one of his letters the words "Why don't you write to me" were used. Witness added that his brother had no serious troubles, and his relations with his wife were of the happiest.
Sapper William Barnacle. R. E. stated that he had known the deceased for seven weeks, and recently he had appeared very down-hearted. Witness last saw him alive at 5.30 p.m. on Thursday, when he went for a walk, asking witness to take his fatigue for him. Deceased was due at the great Lines Barracks at 9-30 for roll call, but he did not appear, and witness could find no trace of him next morning. He had never threatened to take his life. A Y.M.C.A. envelope was produced showing that on either Thursday or Friday the deceased had commenced to write to his wife, but had only got as far as the address. Two blank sheets of note-paper were beside the envelope. P.S. Lewis deposed that in consequence of a telephone message on Saturday morning he proceeded to the Gillingham Railway Station, and together with an inspector and a foreman, searched the line through Gillingham Tunnel. About 30 yards from the mouth of the tunnel on the Chatham side a body was found lying on the up-line. The right leg was discovered about 12 yards from the tunnel, and the head pointing towards Chatham. The man's cap was found on the bank, and cane on the down-line near the tunnel. A wrist watch picked up had stopped at 7-50. In witness opinion the deceased had been lying there for some considerable time. Witness added that there were several letters found in the deceased's pockets. No trace of the man had been found from Thursday morning to Saturday morning when the body was discovered.
The Coroner "Is there a footpath or crossing near the spot? No. sir.
Captain George Arthur Skinner, R.A.M.C., said that he had examined the body and found a number of abrasions on the thighs. The right leg had been severed six inches below the knee joint, the left leg was severed below the ????? joint, and there were very extensive injuries to the head. Death was caused by the latter, followed by haemorrhage. The jury of whom Councillor T. ?????side during temporary insanity", and added as a rider "probably due to ????? strain.
CERTIFIED THIS COPY.
T M Roberts, for Colonel i/c R.E. Records ????? Lieu???? (Lieutenant)
NOTES ON THIS REPORT AND ALSO SOME TEXT SHOWING ON THE MEMORANDUM TO THE SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF PENSIONS
Where an ? is shown, there is a section missing from the document having been damaged in the Second World War. However, the text in red was later found stuck to a memorandum sent to The Secretary, Ministry of Pensions on May 21, 1918. The letters in blue are assumed but are not found in either part of the notes about the Coroner's hearing.
GWR SHARES MARCH 4, 1919
Stephen held shares in the Great Western Railway and these were dealt with when his will was proved: after his death on April 13, 1918. The shares were jointly held by Stephen and his brother Percy Etty Dimes of 59, The Strand, London, W.C., to whom they were "transmitted" after the probate on March 4, 1919. At that time, Stephen's address was given as "The Bungalow, Blackawton in the County of Devon.
Stephen's father, William Stephen Dimes died in the Plymouth District in second quarter of 1928.
SON'S ENGAGEMENT SEPTEMBER 13, 1935
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette September 13, 1935
ANNOUNCEMENT OF ENGAGEMENT
The engagement is announced between Hubert Cyril, the son of the late Stephen Cyril Dimes of Blackawton, South Devon, and Mrs. Dimes of 1, Baring Crescent, Exeter, and Marjory Kathleen, only daughter of The Rev. R Y Holmes M.A., and the late Mrs. Holmes, of The Rectory, Monkokehampton, North Devon.
Stephen's second step-mother Catherine M Dimes died in the fourth quarter of 1938 in the Portsmouth District: in her death registration, her birth year is given as 1855.
Some additional notes and summary
Stephen Dimes was born in October 1880. He married on August 24, 1911. He and his wife had a son who was born on September 9. 1912.
Stephen joined the Royal Engineers on November 29, 1915. He went to France in 1916 with the 5th Field Regiment, Royal Engineers: he was a Sapper in B Company and G Depôt Company. It was originally thought that he was injured twice possibly both times in November 1917, but on the first occasion (date unknown), although he would have been taken away from the front line for treatment, the extent of his injuries are not known or recorded, but were not serious enough to be evacuated back to England. It is also possible that he was injured on November 8 and it wasn't until November 23 that he arrived at the Beaufort Hospital in Bristol. It is also possible that Stephen was only injured once.
However, at some stage in November 1917 and possibly on the second occasion, he was badly injured, suffering wounds to the chest and abdomen, left knee, right thigh and left hand. He was also said to require dentures, so presumably also had a facial injury. It was thought that he had been hit by shrapnel from a large shell exploding near to him. He was sent back to Britain to the Beaufort War Hospital in Bristol, where he arrived on November 23, 1917.
A quote from one injured soldier who was treated at the front and then brought back to England was that "inhumanity seemed to increase with the distance from the battlefields". Nurses, particularly at the Beaufort Military Hospital (where Stephen was treated) worked under the authoritarian & unchallenged command of the ward sister. It is recorded that the Beaufort Hospital operated "a fierce regime". The basic aim was to patch up the injured and get them fit to send back to the front or to return to military service. The hospital was run on strictly military and very severe lines.
Stephen is known to have been badly traumatised and a fellow soldier commented at the inquest that he had recently appeared very downhearted.
Stephen was then based at the Line Barracks in Chatham and it was also thought that he had also been transferred to the Chatham Military War Hospital, but this does not appear in the military documents available. Possibly, he continued to receive treatment and this was at the Chatham War Hospital. Clearly Stephen was suffering from what is now known to as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - also known colloquially as "shell shock", but it was not recognised at the time and only started to become known towards the end of the Great War and in the years after, when destroyed men returned home. Stephen would have received treatment for his physical wounds - although this may well have been very brutally and coldly administered, certainly at the Beaufort Hospital with little sympathy and compassion.
His injuries are summarised in military medical abbreviations on his admission to hospital form: SW fl. O.S Ms L. Short Wall + abd Wall, & knee & R thigh. Comp Front P hals of 3rd finger L. In the remarks column it is recorded "Denture Reqd." and "Septic finger opened freely.
Many men who returned home disfigured and maimed complained that they were shunned and mocked because of their appearance when they were out in public, and very many men feared that because of their injuries they would not be able to gain employment and support their families ~ and of course the "land fit for heroes" wasn't really fit for purpose. What sort of reception or help did Winifred receive after Stephen's death I wonder, especially if it became known that Stephen had committed suicide?
Stephen probably took his own life rather than be sent back to the fighting again, and he would certainly have been traumatised and depressed. He walked into a railway tunnel and into the path of fast moving train: he was a war casualty as much as he would have been had he died of his injuries on the battlefield. He died on April 12 or 13, 1918, aged 36, and is buried in Shobrooke churchyard most probably adjacent to his parents-in-law. George T Llewllin, Vicar of Sandford (and friend of Winifred Dime's sister and her husband) officiated at the burial service and interment of Stephen which took place on April 17, 1918 which was remarkably soon after Stephen's death, especially considering that there had to be an inquest and also that his death occurred in Rochester, Kent.
Stephen's name was added to Shobrooke's War Memorial a few years ago and on February 27, 2015, a Commonwealth War Graves Commission memorial was placed in the churchyard to Stephen's memory. It was located where it is thought that Stephen is buried and adjacent to Winifred's parent's grave and memorial.
Only in recent years has Stephen been accepted as a war casualty with his name being engraved on the military memorial in Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey: this will be removed now that the memorial has been erected in Shobrooke as he is now more appropriately remembered at the site of his last resting place. His name was engraved on the Brookwood memorial because his place of burial was unknown to the authorities until recent years.
To conclude this article, here is an extract from the Parish Magazine for May 1918 where it is recorded that :-
"The whole of Shobrooke unites in sympathy for Mrs. Dimes and her little son in their great loss. Sapper Stephen C. Dimes, R.E. was buried at Shobrooke on Wednesday, April 17th, by the Vicar of Sandford, in the absence of the Rector."
February 27, 2015
On February 27, 2015, the whole of Shobrooke honoured Stephen's memory ~ just one of the many men and women from the village who died in the two world wars. The church bells were rung whilst Stephen's memorial stone was installed and there was a small short ceremony around the probable location of Stephen's last resting place.
Len Darling, Shobrooke History Group
It would be wonderful to have a photograph of Stephen ~ and all of Shobrooke's war casualties ~ if you have any, do please let us have a copy as we only have a very few at the moment.
It is good to know that Winifred and Stephen Cyril Dimes and their son Hubert have a good number of descendants with the family now seeming to located in East Anglia and I will now endeavour to contact them.
Some notes about William Edward Cooke (Stephen's father-in-law) who was an accomplished artist.
An undated article on-line about William Cooke gave the following brief details about him:-
Artists in Exmouth before 1910
William Edward Cooke
(1843 - 1916) was a painter of rustic scenes, figures and landscapes who exhibited at the Royal Academy**
He was born in Derby, lived in Leicestershire and later moved to Devon: by 1898 he was living at Greenway Cottage Withycombe Exmouth and was offering lessons in oil and watercolour painting with the opportunity for private lessons in sketching from nature. He painted nearby Withycombe Mill in 1898. A few years later he moved to Shobrooke where he died in 1916.
** The paintings exhibited at Royal Academy were: The Village Wharf; Agricultural Depression and The Rent Day. Cooke also exhibited at The Royal Society of British Artists, London, The Royal Institute of Oil Painters, London
See website :-
for more information.
A painting of Withycombe Mill, Devon by William Edward Cooke painted: 1898 Oil on canvas, 60.2 x 50 cm is in the Exmouth Library Collection.
Memorials in Shobrooke Churchyard to people with Cooke or Dimes names
Stephen Cyril Dimes
Commonwealth War Graves Commission memorial.
"Buried elsewhere in this churchyard,
120950 Sapper S. C. Dimes, Royal Engineers, 12th - 13th April 1918 aged 36." and below an engraved cross the inscription continues: "In loving memory of Stephen Cyril Dimes who served his country with honour during the Great War".
Note ~ this memorial was installed on Friday February 27, 2015. It has standard wording because the precise location of Stephens internment is not known, but it is likely to be very close to the location in which the stone is located. Map ref 148a
William Edward and Alice Cooke.
"Sacred to the memory of William Edward Cooke who entered into rest May 11, 1916 aged 76 years
Also Alice his dearly beloved wife who fell asleep Oct 7th 1917 aged 70 years".
This memorial is a stone cross mounted on a three tiered plinth. All of the text is in lead lettering. Map ref 148
"In loving memory of Annie Cook
A wonderful mother."
Map ref 225
There is a single mention that I had extracted when compiling notes about Shobrooke from the Crediton Parish magazine for the Great War years
This was for November 1916 when it was reported that:-
The 19th of October was "Our Day" at Shobrooke. Flags were sold all over the Parish by the Misses Cockram, Cooke, Finning, Greenslade, Lavis, Lee, Punchard, Searel, and Mrs. Congdon. In the evening a Social was held at the School. It began with tea, of which over a hundred partook. Cake Guessing Competitions then took place. The cake given my Mr. Dawe, Shute, was eventually won by Mrs. J Greenslade, although three guessed its weight, and a second, given by Lady Shelley, was divided between the Misses Blatchford and Harding, of St. Cyres. Louie Tonkin won a bottle of sweets. Mr. Cockram, who guessed the name of the doll, "Ruth", put it up for auction after, and it sold for 5/6. A capital entertainment followed. Mrs. Jukes and Miss Cockram gave piano solos; Mrs. Burrington, Mrs. Downing, Miss Searle and Messrs. Wheeler and Helmore, songs; Mr. and Mrs. Downing, two duets; the Misses Lee, a pianoforte duet; Mr. Downing, a Cornish reading; Miss Morgan Jones, two recitations; Mr. Morgan Jones, conjuring tricks; Mr. Ching, two violin solos. The proceeds amounted to over £18.
The only other reference to the Cooke family was for the funeral of Alice and the only references to Stephen or Winifred Dimes are in connection with his death and funeral: all of these are detailed in the article.
Other relevant marriages in the Dimes and Cooke families in Devon between 1900 and 1920:-
3rd quarter of 1900 Millicent Edith Cooke to Herbert Willie Southcott.
2nd quarter of 1903 Walter Cooke to Mary Annie Elston
December 27, 1906 (the marriage took place on December 27, 1905 according to South West Heritage Trust but indexed incorrectly as the entry in the parish register is a badly written 1906 ~ error notified) but the entry in the GRO is correctly indexed in the fourth quarter of 1906 according to the GRO records Dorothy Henrietta Mary Dimes married Albert Powel or Powell (in the GRO records it seems to have been wrongly indexed as Powel ~ error notified) in the Kingsbridge district. Albert Powell was from the Anglican church of Saint Peter's, Brockley. Albert Powell who was 29, was a master mariner and his residence was in the Saint Peter's district of Brockley: his father was also called Albert Powell who was a carpenter. Dorothy was 24 and a spinster, who's residence was Blackawton and her father William Stephen Dimes was a Gentleman. Witnesses at the wedding were W S Dimes and Susanna Hook Edwards and the marriage took place in Blackawton Parish Church
June 21, 1909 in Wolborough, Devon, Louis Mansfield Baum Cooke of Shobrooke, Devon aged 30 and a bachelor who was a hosier; married Eleanor Louise Pearce of 92, Queen Street, Newton Abbot. aged 30 and a spinster. Louis' father was William Edward Cooke, an atrist and Eleanor's father was James Pearce, who was a fruiter. Witnesses at the wedding were William Henry Hooper and Charlotte Cooke.
2nd quarter of 1911 Eleanor M Cooke to Charles B Borne
3rd quarter of 1914 Ellen L Cooke to Alfred Breyley
Of course there were the marriages of Stephen Dimes and Winifred Cooke and Charlotte Cooke and Walter J Gascoigne in 1911 that are detailed in the text, plus the three marriages of Stephen's father William Stephen Dimes, Stephen's father.
SOME OTHER REFERECES TO THE DIMES FAMILY
and there are very many on the internet and numerous books dealing with members of the family both in Devon and the Home Counties. There is one showing descent from Royal Blood. References a both before and after the times of Stephen Cyril Dimes, the person to whom these notes are dedicated.
EARLIER REFERENCES OF INTEREST ~
July 26, 1880 The Gentleman's Magazine ~ obituary.
At Oldstone House, Blackawton aged 75. Mary, wife of William Dimes Esq., of London.
1884 ~ on line article
article dated Wednesday, November 2, 2005
A Suicide, or was it Murder?
Elizabeth Luckraft, wife of John, the Land Steward, at Oldstone House, Blackawton, Devon, found the body of the daughter of the house, in the lake on the estate, in 1884.
Gwen and I were visiting Blackawton a few years back, to do some searching of churchyards, and we were staying on a lovely caravan site within the grounds of what had been Oldstone House Estate.
The Death of Laura Dimes
When we were reading though the booklet about the estate, we found that John
Luckraft's wife had found the daughter of the estate, Laura Dimes, dead in the pool soon after her forbidden and secret marriage to a somewhat disreputable character, Hugh Shortland earlier that year. The circumstances lead to a verdict of suicide, but there were suspicions of something worse, and the booklet describes the various theories and investigations.
Ursula Dimes, now Ursula Khan, of Totnes, has written a booklet about her family and the history of the estate. It mentions the Luckrafts, and where they lived on the estate. In 1899, for the Jubilee, the family celebrated the hay-making, and William Dimes notes in his diary that "Luckraft was overcome by the heat." John Luckraft was 72 at the time.
I was able to sort out quite a bit of the Blackawton Luckrafts during that holiday. John and Elizabeth's gravestone still stands in Blackawton Churchyard Their son, William George Luckraft, was a shoemaker, and insurance agent, and a Trustee of the Weslyan Sunday School; his name is on the tablet of the wall of the building. William George's daughter, Laura, named after her mother, Laura Ann Best, married Fred Cousins, who was the baker in Blackawton.
The Blackawton Luckrafts are a large branch of the family in South Hams, and the earliest record is of Peter in 1675. But it's a bit vague until the 1700's, when several generations are recorded with large families in Blackawton. Some of them are related to the Tuckers in Dartmouth.
Where are they now?
I'm in touch with David Cousins, grandchild of John and Elizabeth, but I've not found any other living relatives of what was a large family. Does anyone know of Blackawton connections? A copy of the family tree is on the website.
posted by Ian Lucraft at 4:02 AM
The Lucraft/Luckraft One name study has been running since 1974, when I first started looking for my father's forebears. It now includes all the variants world-wide, including Lovecraft, Luccraft, Luckcraft, Loucraft, and others. Many of the articles in this blog are taken from past issues of the Luc(k)raft Newsletter. I am a member of the Society of Genealogists, the Guild of One Name Studies, and the Federation of Family History Societies.
Name: Ian Lucraft Location: Sheffield, England, United Kingdom. I'm now in my 60's and started this in the 1970's when my father asked me to find out about his roots.
Web pages:- http://www.lucraft.org/2005/11/suicide-or-was-it-murder.html
April 1884, Blackawton, Devon. From "A Ghostly Almanac of Devon & Cornwall"
Oldstone House at Blackawton in Devon was completely destroyed by fire in February, 1895 and is now just an ivy-covered ruin. However, it was once a grand house, occupied by Martha and William Dimes and their four children.
One daughter, Laura Constantia Dimes, who was born in December 1861, was a beautiful and popular girl who loved riding to hounds. Normally her groom accompanied her when hunting, but one day she went out alone and met a young man, Hugh Rutherford Shortland.
Twenty-two-year-old Laura fell madly in love with Shortland, who it seems, came from a good family but was involved in some rather shady business dealings in the area. Shortland, who was a year older than Laura, reciprocated her feelings and the couple made up their minds to get married. Laura's parents did not approve, so the couple obtained a special licence and married at Kingsbridge Register Office on 8 April 1884. On that day, Laura went for her usual morning ride (presumably having sworn her groom to secrecy) and returned home a married woman.
Immediately after the wedding, Hugh had to leave to go to New Zealand, so he went straight off to make arrangements for his trip, leaving his bride to ride home alone and break the news of her marriage to her parents.
On 25 April, less than three weeks after her wedding, Laura rode out in the morning as she normally did and returned home just before midday. She changed out of her riding habit into a dress and straw hat and set off to walk her collie dog in the woods near her home. She had received a letter from Hugh that morning and, when she didn't return to the house, her parents assumed that she had gone off to meet him.
On the following morning, Laura's mother walked to Oldstone Woods, but saw no trace of her daughter or her son-in-law. In fact, it wasn't until later that day that Laura's whereabouts were finally discovered.
Elizabeth Luckcraft, the wife of one of the estate workers, was walking her own dog in the woods when she happened to glance into one of the deep ponds located there and saw the top of a woman's straw hat a few inches below the surface of the water, about 3ft from the bank. Curious, she bent down for a close look and recoiled in horror, having seen a face and body beneath the hat. Laura Shortland was standing upright on the bottom of the pond, the water just covering the top of her hat, one arm stretched out in front of her.
The police were immediately summoned and an inquest was held a few days later at which it was pointed out that Laura's body bore no injuries whatsoever, save for a tine, insignificant bruise on one temple. She was fully dressed, her clothing had not been disturbed in any way and there was no evidence that she had struggled or fought off an attacker. At the point where she was found, the water was just 6ft 3in deep.
It emerged that Hugh Shortland had never actually been to New Zealand but, since his wedding, unbeknown to Laura, he had been staying with a friend, Mr Ryder, at nearby Modbury. Shortland and Ryder were both arrested and charged, Shortland with murder and Ryder with aiding and abetting murder, but there was not a shred of evidence against either of them and magistrates subsequently dismissed the case.
The local police then called in Scotland Yard. Laura's body was exhumed and a second post-mortem examination was carried out, but no further evidence was found.
It was indisputable that Laura had received a letter from her husband on the day of her death, although that letter was never found. Had she arranged to meet either him or Ryder in the woods? Had they argued? Did one of them strike her, causing the bruise on her temple? Was Laura pushed into the pool to drown, her feet becoming trapped in the soft, muddy bottom? Or did she commit suicide?
So many questions about the mysterious death of Laura Shortland remain unanswered. However, until the house was razed by fire, her ghost was said to regularly walk around the house and grounds and curiously, although the house was almost totally destroyed in the conflagration, the room in which Laura was most frequently seen remained relatively unscathed. The ghostly form of a woman has since been seen on numerous occasions walking through Oldstone Woods near to the pool where Laura lost her life."
From A Ghostly Almanac of Devon & Cornwall, by Nicola Sly
AND LATER REFERENCES OF INTEREST ~
BLACKAWTON IN KELLY'S DIRECTORY OF 1939 (extract
Charles William Dimes, Greenslade
William Henry Evans, Dartmouth House
Mrs Jones, Wadstray House
Rudolph Milner -White, Sheplegh Court
See also the Dimes family The Dimes (Dymes) of Guildford descendants of
which includes Stephen Cyril and Winifred (Cooke) Dimes