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02nd September 2014

Rector and Chaplain pay homage to Exeter’s victims of the First World War

In the First World War, 771 Exonians served and of these 143 died, including two Fellows. This was a huge toll at a time when only around 50 matriculated each year. Of the 59 who came up in 1911, the same year as JRR Tolkien, 23 were killed, the highest casualty rate of any year.

Rector Frances Cairncross and Chaplain Andrew Allen have embarked on a pilgrimage to remember the members of Exeter College who died during the First World War. They are currently travelling to as many as possible of the Exonians’ graves and memorials in Italy, northern France and Flanders, to leave a sprig of rosemary from the College gardens tied in a slip of Exeter ribbon. Current and old Exonians are invited to join them along the journey in remembering those who died, and to visit graves outside of Italy, northern France and Flanders so that all Exonian graves may be visited by a member of the Exeter family.

The journey began with a ceremony at East Peckham Church on the centenary of the start of the First World War, Monday August 4th. At this church there is a plaque to commemorate John Norwood, VC, the first Exonian to die in the Great War. The Chaplain spoke and members of the Exeter College Chapel Choir sang at a moving service attended by current and former Exeter students, relatives, friends and others.

Further details including the schedule of the trip and details of those graves and memorials visited to date are available on If you are holidaying near by, please consider joining the Rector and Chaplain as they pay tribute to the young Exonians who, in 1914, did not make it through the following four years.

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