Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sgt Matt Devlin, Border Regiment (1891 - 1961)

1. Sgt Matt Devlin, 8th Bn Border Regiment (1942) 
[Courtesy of  Major Ray Devlin, T.D. (son)]

2. L/Cpl Matt Devlin: calling a hound trail to order (March 1940) 
[Courtesy of 'The Whitehaven News'] 

For additional information click on 'Comments' below. 


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

Summary of military service

Sergeant Matthew ('Matt') Devlin (1891 - 1961) of Whitehaven, Cumberland (now Cumbria) served in the Border Regiment during three distinct periods during his lifetime. These are summarised below.

(a) Pre-WW1 service
(17 March 1908 - 2 February 1914)
Enlisted with the Border Regiment as a regular soldier
Served with the 1st Battalion (posted to Rangoon, Burma)

(b) WW1 service
(re-enlisted 12 August 1914)
Served with the 5th Battalion the Border Regiment
[wounded on 3 occasions]

(c) WW2 service
(1939 - 1942)
Served with the 8th (H.D.) Battalion the Border Regiment
This was an 'Old Soldiers' battalion that was later expanded to 'train up' young soldiers
Originally a Lance Corporal, Matt was promoted firstly to Corporal and then to Sergeant. He was discharged on 3 August 1942 at the age of 51.

Sunday, 25 November, 2012  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

A family tradition serving in the Forces

During the inter-war years Matt Devlin worked as a coal miner in his hometown of Whitehaven. Before the outbreak of WW2, Matt, his wife Mary Hannah and their large family had moved to a new council house at 67 Fell View Avenue, Woodhouse, Whitehaven.

Until re-enlisting with the Army in 1939 Matt was also the official "runner" for the H.T.A. (Hound Trailing Association). Hound Trailing is one of the oldest and most popular sports, which has highly-trained train hounds (originally fox hounds) following a long-distance cross country trail marked by an aniseed and paraffin scent.

The "runner" needs a good voice, mainly calling the instructions to the hound trailing dogs and their owners. Although Matt Devlin had relinquished the role of "runner" for the H.T.A. when he re-enlisted in 1939, he was able to attend one of the early season hound trails at Distington (between Whitehaven and Workington) in March 1940 where he was able to show he had lost none of his skills at calling the hounds and their owners to the start line (Photograph No 2 above).

For further information about Matt Devlin during WW2 and to see another photograph of him on the BBC "People's War" website click on the following link:

'In the Quartermaster's Stores': 'Bish' Burney and Matt Devlin

Matt Devlin served in the Army during both World Wars and survived both of them. However, one of his sons, Trooper George Knowles Devlin (15th / 19th King's Royal Hussars), lost his life during WW2. Having been taken prisoner by the Germans in May 1940 during the withdrawal to Dunkirk, George was sent to Stalag XXB from where he made several unsuccessful escape attempts.

George lost his life while working on a farm while saving a German farmer from being trampled by a rampaging bull. The German commandant of the prison camp accorded him a full military funeral.

To read the wartime experiences, escape attempts and heroism of Trooper George Knowles Devlin on the BBC "People's War" website click on the following links:

1. 'The day the 15th / 19th King’s Royal Hussars met its Waterloo'

2. "How do you feel about taking a long walk?"

Another of Matt's sons, Major Ray Devlin, T.D. (retd.) later served with the Border Regiment and the Parachute Regiment. Ray Devlin also became a noted historian, writing and lecturing about the local West Cumbrian history, military history and the history of coal mining.

To listen to a short talk by historian Ray Devlin about his childhood at Woodhouse, Whitehaven (also known locally as "Hollywood") first broadcast on BBC Radio in 2009, click on the following link:

1. "A tour with historian Ray Devlin"

To see two additional photographs of Major Ray Devlin during a visit to 'Pegasus Bridge', Normandy with the Parachute Regiment Association, click on the following link:

2. "The 'Red Devils' of the night"


Major Ray Devlin, T.D.,
Parachute Regiment Association

BBC "People's War" and Radio Cumbria

Cumbria County Archives & Local History Centre
(Whitehaven Records Office)

'The Whitehaven News'

Sunday, 25 November, 2012  

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