How Honiton welcomed home its heroes from battlefields

Honiton Museum wartime wallet

The wallet presented to Honiton serviceman Les Ackland on his return from World War Two - Credit: Honiton Museum

After World War Two ended and under the chairmanship of Mr C N Hatcher, fundraising efforts  for the Honiton Welcome Home fund began. The East Devon Pony Club donated the money raised at their gymkhana and the Allhallows School amateur dramatic society performed a three-act play ‘The Crooked Billett’ at the Mackarness Hall. All the proceeds from Carnival Week and a fete held in September 1945 were given. 

Two Welcome Home receptions were held for demobbed men and women at the Honiton Modern Secondary school. In May 1946, 205 people were invited and in January 1947,  150 were received. 

At both events, each guest was presented with a scroll signed by the three wartime Mayors - Mrs J M Phillips, Mr A F Studley and Mr C N Hatcher, together with a wallet inscribed with the borough arms and containing a £1 note.  Speeches of welcome were made by the Mayor, Mr B R Dunning (president of the Honiton branch of the British Legion) and Mr C N Hatcher (chairman of the Welcome Home Committee). 

Refreshments were served by the WVS and the rector read out the names of the Honiton men who did not return home. The evening concluded with  entertainment by the Chard Merrymakers’ Concert Party and a dance, to which each guest was invited to bring a partner, and the evening concluded with the singing of the National Anthem.

This wallet was presented to Leslie W J Ackland and is now on display in Honiton Museum. Les probably attended the first reception because he returned  home in May 1945 after serving four years overseas.

Les was born in Honiton and lived in the Lamb Inn with his parents William and Flossie and two sisters Ruby and Dorothy. When William was called up for World War One, 250 farmers in the area signed a petition appealing for his release from the Royal Navy as he undertook valuable veterinary work in the district. Sadly, William died of the Spanish flu in October 1918, when Les was only four years old. His mother continued to run the Lamb Inn and she was an agent for the Devon General Bus Company, arranging transportation for both passengers and parcels.

Most Read

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter