Thursday, 20 November 2014

Cornwall in the First World War

During this month, each weekday I'm posting a photograph showing Cornwall's First World War.

Here is Charles Dyer, born at Mevagissey in 1883. By 1901 the Dyer family was living at Heligan Mill, and Charles, aged 17, was working for the Squire as a gardener. Later the family moved back to Meva and he became a fisherman. Charles married his sweetheart Annie, and on their wedding day they swapped identical rings.

Like so many Cornish fishermen Charles had enlisted for the Royal Naval Reserve. After war broke out he served aboard His Majesty’s Trawler Rosa on mine-sweeping duties, and also saw action during the Battle of Jutland in 1916.

Later wounded, he was moved to a naval hospital at Chatham Dockyard. But Charles disappeared; he was registered as a deserter. His family was left disgraced and penniless.

Two years later, in woods by the hospital, a skeleton was found with a ring matching Annie’s. The Royal Navy removed Charles’s name from their list of deserters and the family’s name was redeemed.

Charles Dyer is buried in Mevagissey cemetery, beneath a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone.

My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon:

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