The latest book in CAHMS' Local History Series describes life in Crediton during the Great War.
Crediton Area History & Museum Society’s archivist and chairman, John Heal, has written ‘Life in Crediton in World War One’ which the Society has just published as part of its Local History Series.
Born and bred in Crediton, John is well known as the author of ‘The Book of Crediton’, published by Halsgrove in 2004 which is now out of print. He is an authority on the history of the town.
In 2014 Crediton Museum launched its exhibition ‘Echoes of the Great War’ and John used the work he did on this as the foundation for further extensive research into how the local community was affected by and managed during the years of the Great War ‘to end all wars’. It covers the hopes of the early months right through to the increasing worry of food shortages and rationing of the closing months.
Describing life in the town as the war progressed, John gives accounts of how conscription was handled, including controversial exemptions, how local people opened their homes to Belgian refugees and the pressure on farmers to maintain a food supply despite great loss of labour. He goes into detail about the two V.A.D (Voluntary Aid Detachment) hospitals in the town, one in the old workhouse and the other in the Liberal Club, under the leadership of Miss (later Dame) Georgiana Buller, daughter of General Sir Redvers Buller. Also described in some details are the many fund-raising and social events the townspeople arranged for the benefit of troops and the wounded.
This very well written and readable account includes information John’s colleague Keith Parsons has discovered about the lives of almost 200 local men who perished as a result of the war, most of whom are commemorated on the town’s war memorial. Throughout it benefits from the inclusion of many evocative period photos from the History Society’s photo archive. Priced at £4.50 this is a very good buy. The book is to be launched at a book signing at Crediton Museum at 11am on Saturday, 17th November.