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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Paul Roberts

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Family reunion inspired by remarkable Great War story a great success




A family reunion inspired by the remarkable story of John Roberts who had 30 grandsons in the Great War was attended by almost 150 people.

It took place at the Waie Inn at Zeal Monachorum in Devon – a village close to where many of the grandsons were born.

Those attending included a son and four daughters of three of the 30 grandsons of John Roberts who served in the Great War.

Fifteen great-grandchildren of the agricultural labourer, who died aged 90 in 1919, were among those at the reunion.

The eldest of John’s descendants there was 95-year-old Ivy Bucknell, of South Molton, who attended with her sister, Vera, who is 93.

Their father, Frank Roberts, survived being shot in the head while serving with the 16th Devons in Palestine in 1917.

The youngest at the event was nine-week-old Aurora Roberts, of Witheridge, who was joined by her young cousins, Ila and Orla.

Relatives of ten of John Roberts’ grandsons who went to war – spanning four generations of the Roberts family – were at the reunion.

People travelled from as far afield as Staffordshire, Wales, Norfolk, Buckinghamshire, London, East Sussex and Cornwall to attend.

The event raised more than £500 for a hospice charity.

The reunion exceeded all expectations. It brought together many direct descendants of John who were meeting for the first time.

It was a wonderful way to honour John and his grandsons in a year in which the centenary of the Great War is being commemorated.

The event was so successful, a follow up get-together has already been booked at the Waie Inn for October 2019.


The reunion took place nine days after an English oak memorial cross for John Roberts was dedicated at Witheridge Churchyard in Devon where he was buried 99 years ago.

The story of John and his grandsons who went to war is told for the first time in the book History Maker.


The pictures show:

1. Aurora Roberts, the youngest of John Roberts' descendants at the family reunion in Devon, with her great aunt, Anne Mackenzie. Picture by Jackie Walker

2. The Memorial Cross for John Roberts at Witheridge. Picture by Tony Martin

3. A son and daughter of two of the 30 grandsons who went to war lay a wreath at the base of the Memorial Cross at the dedication ceremony. Picture by Tony Martin

1. Aurora and Anne.jpg

3. Cross decorated after dedication.JPG

1. Ivy Bucknell and Michael Roberts - daughter and son of two of the grandsons who fought in the Great War - place a wreath at the base of the cross.JPG



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