100 Years on

Occasionally over the next four years I will record the actions of some of my ancestors during the First World War.

100 years ago today, on the 7th August 1814, a great great Uncle of mine, Charles Robert Stephens, enlisted with the Royal Engineers (Territorials) in Falmouth aged 42.

He was comfortably employed in the Family rope making business and enlisted the second day after Great Britain declared war on Germany without telling his brother and business partner. This probably caused some tension between them because Charles was the company Engineer and in addition the family was prominent amongst the Cornish Quaker community.

After building defensive positions around Falmouth his unit was attached to the Hampshires and Wiltshires and served in France building bridges and water supplies for trenches and hospitals.

He was awarded the Military Cross in June 1917 having been twice mentioned in dispatches.


Mark Stephens said…
Both his brother J Gilbert and father John were staunch supporters of the Quaker principle of non violence and conscientious objection. GIlberts two sons were equally split with Robert Tregelles Stephens volunteering along with his motorbike very early serving in Gallipoli, Egypt, Iraq and India, while his brother John Sturge Stephens was a 'conchie' and served with the Red Cross and Friends Ambulance Unit in France and did farm work in Cornwall. These brothers had always quarreled as children and took very different views on the duties of citizens during the war.

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