Samuel was born in 1879 in Winkleigh. The 1901 Winkleigh census records Samuel aged 22 living with his mother Harriet aged 67 in a 4 room cottage at Barnard’s Cross as well as Bertha aged 26. Ten years later in 1911 we see that Samuel had married Mary Heale in 1903. Mary had been born in Ashreigney. There were two children, Albertha aged 2 and Francis, 8 months. The family was living in a cottage on Cooper’s Hill, and Samuel is described as working as a horseman on a farm.
Little is known at the present time about the military history of Samuel Clements, apart from his medal card. His service records were lost, as with so many others, in the London blitz and there are no pension records to help us out. Awarded the Victory and British medals, we know that his army number shows that he joined as a ‘regular’ rather than as a ‘territorial’. However, we are helped by a report in the ‘Western Times’ for 3rd December 1915 which reads: Winkleigh. Two more recruits for the army proceeded from this parish last week, viz. Samuel Clements and John Ellacott.
By the May of 1915 the shortage of volunteer recruits coming forward became severe. The volunteer age limit was raised from 38 to 40 but it did little good. In July 1915 a National Registration Act required all men, married or unmarried, aged 15 to 65 to register. In October 1915 Lord Derby became Director General of Recruiting, and he immediately launched the ‘Derby Scheme’ ordering all men 18-40 to either enlist at once or attest. Voluntary enlistment (giving recruits their choice of unit) ceased on 15th December 1915. Henceforth men were enlisted and posted by direction to a ‘suitable’ location, the majority of course into the infantry.
With a young family to care for it is easy to understand why Samuel probably waited as long as possible before being enlisted, but we can now know that he enlisted voluntarily at the very end of the Derby Scheme, in order to be able to choose to serve with the Devons. Of course this does not help us to know in which battalion he served or more of his war service. The outline history of all the Devon battalions is attached on the right of this page, together with Samuel’s medal card.
In the Second World War Samuel served in the Winkleigh Home Guard platoon, and the photo of the group is attached to this site.
12 October 2017