Bravery of young Meavy girl is recognised 100 years after her death by adding her name to war memorial

By Sam Hughes in Local People

A YOUNG Meavy girl, who left the village to volunteer underage during the Great War, has had her bravery recognised by having her name added to the war memorial in the village a day before the 100th anniversary of her death.

Kitty Trevelyan lived at The Parsonage in Meavy (now Meavy House) with her mother and stepfather and was confirmed at Meavy in 1914 at the age of 16.

Research by West Devon resident Peter Hamilton-Leggett found that nothing was known of Kitty between her confirmation and World War One when she went to France as a Civilian Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) connected with the Army Service Corps. Somehow she had managed to convince the authorities that she was over 21, the age required to join the VAD, despite only being 17.

While serving in France, Kitty caught measles, then pneumonia and died in hospital at Wimereux on February 27, 1917 at the age of 19. She was buried in Wimereux Communal Cemetery.

Kitty was mentioned in a book by R Richardson Through War to Peace (1919), which said: ‘Her name is on the Roll of Honour of Meavy Church and will, doubtless, be found on the memorial when erected.’

Mr Hamilton-Leggett, who had been researching Kitty’s story and initiated the project to get Kitty’s name added to the memorial, said: ‘The memorial was erected in Meavy Green in 1920 but Kitty’s name was sadly omitted. It would be good to see her name added as she is the only person on the memorial roll hanging in Meavy Church who is not commemorated on a memorial stone somewhere else.

‘The War Grave Commission and numerous other websites list Kitty’s grave and one site mentions her among “inspirational women who died in the service of their country during WWI”. The main reason she was left off seems because she was a woman. This had happened throughout the country — women did not go to war — women were not heroes! Her exclusion was not an oversight but rather an ingrained policy — men only.’

Last year Mr Hamilton-Leggett contacted Meavy PCC with the aim of getting Kitty’s name put on to the war memorial. While the PCC had every sympathy with the idea, funds were not forthcoming and ownership of the memorial was questioned. He then contacted Burrator Parish Council, which also denied ownership.

Late last year, Mr Hamilton-Leggett received a chance email from the Cornish charity Wenches in Trenches, which had also been researching Kitty’s history, and it offered to pay for Kitty’s name to be added to the memorial in Meavy village.

Under the 1923 War Memorial Act and subsequent amendments there is a clause that allows councils to give permission even if they do not own the land. This was granted and a 28-day notice was put up on the Lych Gate notice board asking if anyone objected. There were no objections received.

Kitty’s name was added to the memorial on February 16 and a special memorial service was held on Sunday (February 26) at the war memorial, led by the Rev Preb Nick Shutt, the day before the 100th anniversary of Kitty’s death.

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