David Tipper was born in Shaftesbury, Dorset, in August 1883. His father, James Tipper, (the son of a licensed victualler) married Sarah Ann Hartshorn in about 1877 in the Wolverhampton District. James was a licensed teacher in the Tettenhall district. Their first two children were Eleanor, born about 1879, and Harry, about 1880 who were both born in the Wolverhampton area. In 1886, when David was three years old James Tipper was appointed Master of the Winkleigh School which had opened in 1874 as a result of the 1870 Education Act. At the same time David’s mother Sarah Tipper became the uncertified teacher of the infants’ class and remained there for the rest of her working life. James’ sister Sarah came with them to help care for the family as they moved into the school house, a damp and unhealthy building, as indeed was the school itself.
The 1891 census records the family after their arrival in Winkleigh four years before. James was now 35, Sarah 34. Eleanor aged 12, was to remain with her mother for many years to come. Harry and David were 11 and 7: eventually both were to play their part in the war. Arthur was 1. Living also in the crowded household was James’ sister Sarah, 40 years old and unmarried. By 1901 and following the death of her husband on 3rd September 1900, Sarah was living in part of Lindon House in South Street with Eleanor, Harry, David, Arthur and George who had been born in 1895. Growing up in such a family and in these particular circumstances, their futures managed by their parents, the boys saw careers for themselves by becoming pupil-teachers and working to help support the family finances. It was a traditional story of children following the family ‘trade’.
The history of the early years of Winkleigh and Hollocombe Schools, together with the part played in them by James and Sarah Tipper and their family, will be attached to this web-site. This account, forms the background to the early lives of so many of the men of Winkleigh who took part in the war.
The records of the school show that David was not entirely dedicated as a young man to the work of disciplining rowdy children or studying hard to pass his exams and there are indications that his father’s death left David without the strong guidance that he seems to have needed. Almost his first act following the bereavement was to follow Harry’s example by enrolling in the Devon Volunteers, very largely for the opportunities offered by a paid holiday at annual camp, together with ample opportunities for cricket and shooting during the year, much of which of course drew him away from his studies and his teaching. Annual camps for the brothers always caused a huge problem of staffing in the school.
In May 1881 the Childers Reforms, undertaken by Secretary of State for War Hugh Childers, had restructured the infantry regiments of the British army. A continuation of the earlier Cardwell reforms, Childers created a network of multi-battalion regiments. In England, Wales and Scotland, each regiment was to have two regular or “line” battalions and two or three militia battalions, numbered the 3rd, 4th and 5th Battalions. This was done by renaming the numbered regiments of foot and county militia regiments. In addition the various corps of county rifle volunteers were to be designated as volunteer battalions. Each of these regiments was linked by headquarters location and territorial name to its local “Regimental District”. This organisation preceded the establishment of the Territorial Army in 1908.
The Territorial Army was created as a result of the Haldane reforms in 1906, which envisaged a force of 300,000 men in fourteen large infantry divisions, including field artillery and ancillary services, a battalion of cyclists per division, and with the Yeomanry Regiments providing a matching 14 cavalry brigades. The Territorials were designed to be the main force in home defence - to repel enemy coastal raids and deter the threat of a possible invasion if war broke out. Service overseas was intended to be strictly on a voluntary basis. The Territorial Force had come into existence on 1st April 1908, and was initially very successful in attracting recruits, responding both to the national mood regarding German expansion of their fleet following the launching of British super-battleships, the ‘Dreadnought’s and the fact that the annual camp provided young men with between 8 and 15 days paid holiday which their employers were constrained to permit, though there were many complaints about this in many areas of employment. The invasion scare of 1909 and the popularity of Guy du Maurier's play ‘An Englishman’s Home’ which opened in London in January 1909, both boosted the idea of the necessity of a well-equipped Home Defence Force. 30,000 recruits alone were recruited in the foyer of the theatre before the scare subsided. The publication of Erskine Childres’ novel ‘The Riddle of the Sands’ in 1903 also had an enormous effect on public opinion.
By the time of his discharge from the army, David had served in both the Devon Militia and the Territorial Army. David’s military career gave him a welcome relief from the school and provided him with the much needed consolations of sport and leadership opportunities, plus of course all the sport, excitement and fellowship of the annual paid camp. In 1900 he followed his brother by joining the Devon Regiment ‘Volunteer militia’ as early as age would allow. There was a huge surge of enthusiasm among young men to enlist as a part-time volunteer soldier in that year, as a response to the outbreak of the South African War in 1899, a war that was indeed the catalyst that eventually led to the creation of the Territorial Army. The huge effort it required to win the war caused consternation in the country, and many new organizations came into being as a result, among them the Boy Scouts and the National Service League, advocating conscription.
In his very mixed career David showed practical and leadership skills rather than academic ability, and only after 1910 did he really flourish: In 1910, aged 27, he married Camilla Joan Inch, the 23 year old daughter of Samuel J. Inch, a rural postman living in Park Place. Camilla had been at one time one of David’s pupils. (At the school inspection in February 1903 Camilla was commended for her attendance record.) Interestingly, there are two marriage records for David and Camilla, one in 1910 and a second record in 1912. This might be because the first was at a Registry Office and the second after the couple decided to get married in church. David and Camilla had three children, David George, born in 1910, Christian Kathleen, born in 1912 (died 1997 in Gloucester) and Vernon J. born in 1914. Continuing to serve at home with the 6th Devons in the first years of the war, David took over the mastership of the little school at Black Dog, not far from Morchard Bishop, Devon, where he was installed by 1911. (Document 10). By continuing his teaching career after the introduction of conscription in 1916, David was able to claim exemption from further military service on the grounds of a ‘restricted occupation’. It is sad that his father never lived to see his son’s eventual success as a schoolmaster, though we can know that his mother would have been very proud of him.
David served with much distinction for 8 years with the Devon Volunteers and from 1908 in the 6th Battalion of the Devon Territorials, reaching the rank of Lance/Sgt. We are fortunate that a number of military documents have survived from that period of his life and they are included on this site.
Document 1: 1908 David Tipper’s attestation into the 6th Battalion Devonshire Regiment, number 344 having (as stated) that he had been serving previously in the 4th Volunteer Battalion. He is described here as a ‘pupil-teacher’: in this same year he would achieve un-certificated teacher status. His age was 24years and 4 months. Document 11 is the third page of this form, his military record, showing that he had already been promoted to L/Cpl. while serving in the Devon Volunteers. Document 2: Page 2 of the 1908 attestation.
Document 3: 1909 Renewal of his service with the 6th Devons for a further period of one year. He then re-engaged in the 6th Devons in 1909 for one year, and again in 1911 for a further one year. He was now promoted to Cpl.
Document 4: 1911 Re-engagement of service for a further period of one year.
Document 5: Re-engagement 1911-12.
Document 6: Re-engagement 1912-13.
Document 7: Re-engagement 1914-15 with promotion to Lance-Sergeant in ‘F’ Company.
Document 8: 29.3.15 Inoculated against typhoid, in case of immediate transfer overseas.
Document 9: Medical history at time of discharge from the army, April 1916. David is already described as ‘Schoolmaster’, that is he is in charge of Morchard Bishop School.
Document 10: Military History Sheet at time of discharge. He had been posted from the 6th Devons to 86 Provisional Battalion (Infantry) following the re-organisation of the Territorial Army with the introduction of conscription. It shows his war record, ‘Home’ from 4th August 1914 to 7th April 1916.
Document 11: Discharge from the Territorial Army at the end of his voluntary service. Normally, a man in this situation was immediately liable for conscription, unless as in David Tipper’s case he obtained exemption because he was working in a restricted occupation. This document is page 3 of his original 1908 Attestation into the 6th Devons, and was the record sheet kept up to date in the following years. It reiterates his military career, as follows:
Promoted L/Cpl in the Devon Volunteers from 4.12.00 to 31.3.08
Enlisted 8.4.08 into the 6th Devons Battalion 8.04.08
Promoted to Cpl. 1.7.09
Transferred to ‘E’ Company, South Molton 1.4.13
Embodied (put on a war footing) 4.8.14 to 7.4.16 (the end of his volunteer period)
Promoted T.A. Lance-Sergeant 7.10.14
Discharged on 6th April 1916. David had been posted to the 86th Provisional Battalion of the Territorial Force and his discharge took place was recorded at their Headquarters, Herne Bay. It is not known whether David had to attend in person.
Record of the annual camps David attended in the 6th Devons:
1908 East Anstey L/Cpl. 24.7.08 - 07.8.08
1909 Whitchurch Cpl. 24.7.09 - 07.8.09
1910 Salisbury Plain Cpl. 23.7.09 - 06.8.10
1911 Minehead Cpl. 29.7.08 - 12.8.11
1912 (not recorded) Willsworthy
1913 (not recorded) Salisbury Plain (Bulford Barracks)
In August 1914 the 6th Devons were in camp at Woodbury Down, and David would certainly have been with them. The Battalion was actually part of Army Troops, but was attached to the Devon and Cornwall Infantry Brigade for annual camp. The Battalion was immediately embodied (put on a war footing) but instead of moving back to Barnstaple it moved immediately to Plymouth to share coastal guard duties with 5th Battalion. The next day the 6th moved to Fort Renny. On August 9th the three territorial battalions entrained for Salisbury Plain where the Wessex Division was concentrating under canvas.
Service overseas was not what the Territorials had enlisted for: Document 1, David Tipper’s attestation, clearly states his limited obligation, but in the extreme national emergency the entire regular army (a mere 6 Divisions) were either needed in France or held in readiness as reinforcements in England. India, meanwhile, needed policing and it was decided to send the territorials to carry this out, while continuing their more advanced training. In common with the others, the 6th Battalion was invited to volunteer for active service. Quite clearly, David Tipper was unable to do this. His place was greatly needed in Winkleigh, and this of course saved him from the possibility of any further transfer. Most of the battalion volunteered at once, thinking they would soon be in France. Some were rejected as medically unfit, others could not offer to go because of their work, and some refused to leave their families. While by August 31st the battalion was ready to move, David would have already returned home to serve in the 2nd/6th reserve battalion for home defence and the initial training of new volunteer recruits. Meanwhile it was a huge disappointment to the 1st/ 6th that they did not after all, go to France but to India, announced to them at the very last minute, but there is no doubt that India provided them with a mostly safe, exciting, though very arduous adventure. What followed later, their transfer to Mesopotamia, is a different and very terrible story.
16 July 2011