Friday, 24 April 2015

WW1 tragedy of Budleigh Coast Guard remembered

 Pam Ashcroft with the WW1 plaques that she is lending to Fairlynch Museum  

 Precious and poignant items relating to the 1914-18 world conflict continue to be offered for display as part of ‘The Great War at Fairlynch’ in Budleigh Salterton’s museum.

The latest mementos to take their place in the exhibition come from Pam Ashcroft, great-niece of Ordinary Seaman Francis Thomas Veal.


The son of Francis and Elizabeth Veal of Budleigh Salterton’s Coast Guard Station, he lost his life, aged just 18, along with 800 other crew members in the HMS Vanguard explosion on 9 July, 1917.  His name is on the Budleigh War Memorial, opposite his then family home. 

It seems that the prime cause of the explosion is not known, but the most likely scenario is thought to be a fire in a compartment adjacent to a magazine which caused the cordite to explode.  Smoke detectors and automatic sprinkler systems were not fitted in HM ships of this date.


The commemorative plaque and scroll are treasured reminders to Francis Veal’s family of the son that they lost in the Great War

Budleigh-born Pam, who lives in Kilkenny, last visited the town some 15 years ago. The granddaughter of Bill and Kath Veal, of Boyne Road, she made the journey to the Museum on 10 April, coming all the way from Ireland to bring a commemorative plaque and a scroll, having heard about its ‘Great War’ display.

“They’re so special for me and my family, and it’s a privilege for us to have them,” she said. “We’re delighted to lend them to Fairlynch so that other people can see them in this wonderful exhibition.” 

If you can help the museum with similar WW1 items or stories please call Sheila on 01395 443197 or email  

‘The Great War at Fairlynch’ 2015 exhibition at Budleigh Salterton’s very special museum! Reviews included: “Wonderful display on WW1, informative, bright and relevant. Well done!!  


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