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Devonshire soldiers

The prayer on the reverse of the Lord’s prayer on a card distributed to the soldiers’ of the 7th Division


Almighty and most Merciful Father,
Forgive me my sins:
Grant me thy peace:
Give me thy power:
Bless me in life and death,
For Jesus Christ's sake.


Joseph BALE

Joseph BALE [290] was the third of the four sons of John and Mary Jane nee ROWE and a great grandson of Salathiel and Mary BALE nee JONES.(our direct line) born in the June quarter of 1883 in Abbotsham, Devon.

He had married Walborg Konstance GIERTSEN on 4 June 1908 in Abbotsham. She was born about 1886 in Bergen, Norway the daughter of Ole Micael GIERTSEN a Metal Worker. Joseph and Walborg appear on the 1911 census returns when he was a postman and they had two sons Olaf and Victor.

He enlisted in to the 9th (Service) Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment in Bideford and entered the theatre of war in France on 7 October 1915 and was killed in action on Sunday 14 Nov 1915. He was buried in Grave III. C. 5 Guards Cemetery, Windy Corner, Cuinchy, Pas de Calais, France. His name is on the war memorial outside the church at Abbotsham and appears on his parents gravestone in the churchyard. He was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory medals.

The cemetery grew up beside a house used as a battalion headquarters and dressing station a little west of the crossroads known to the army as 'Windy Corner'. Cuinchy is a small village located midway between Bethune and la Basee. In terms of the context of the Western Front, put simply it is located about 30 miles south of Ypres and 20-25 miles north of the Somme battlefields.

The 9th (Service) Battalion was formed at Exeter 15 September 1914 as part of K2. August 1914 attached as Army Troops to the 20th (Light) Division April 1915. The Left Division landed at L’Havre on the 28th of July 1915. They were then attached to the 20th Brigade 7th Division.

K2 was the second phase of the expansion of the army ordered by Field marshal Earl Kitchener of Khartoum when he took over as Minister for War in 1914.

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Frederick BALE

Frederick BALE [1954] was a cousin of Joseph BALE. He born in March 1889 the 6th of 9 children of Charles and Mary BALE nee HEARN and a great grandson of Salathiel and Mary BALE nee JONES. (our direct line).

When he attested for the Special Reserve of Devonshire Regiment in Exeter on 29 January 1908 he was 18 Years 10 Months old, a painter by trade and was with the 4th Volunteer Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment. He was described has being 5 ft 2 ins tall weighing 112 lbs with brown eyes and dark brown hair and no distinctive marks. He had five months of special training and although he had signed for 6 years with the reserve left after 258 days to join the 2nd battalion.

Attesting in Exeter on 15 October 1908 he was described as being 19 years 7 months old 5 ft 3 ins tall and weighing 112 lbs having high complexion brown eyes and dark brown hair.

Frederick was posted to Malta in 1909 for just over 2 years then had four month periods in Egypt and Cyprus. He went back to Egypt for 2 years and took part in a campaign there before returning to Britain to join the Expeditionary Force going to France for a month, returned to Britain and then within three months was back in France. During his time in France he was appointed Lance Corporal and then promoted to Corporal. Receiving a gun shot wound to his right arm he returned to Britain in April 1918 and transferred to section B Army reserve on demobilization on 28 Mar 1919

During his time in the army Frederick was said to be sober, clean, honest, intelligent, willing, hard-working but can't read or write. He was awarded three medals; 1914 Star, British War and Victory.

Between the time he was demobilized and his discharged on termination of period of engagement on 13 October 1920 he married Muriel Ellen BATTEN and had a daughter Violet Ivy Irene in Bideford.

He died in 1947.

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