Infantrymen of the 11th Foot

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To set the scene for this story Roy Hewitt writes:

"It was not for nothing that the Devonshire Regiment`s earlier nickname was "The Bloody 11th ". It was earned after its costly, but successful, participation in the Peninsular War battle at Salamanca. This was just one of the many battles fought in by Devon`s County Infantry Regiment.

Initially the Regiment was formed as the Duke of Beaufort`s Musketeers in Bristol 1685 to help to suppress the Duke of Monmouth's  Westcountry Rebellion. In 1689 the regiment fought in Ireland at the Siege of Londonderry and the Battle of the Boyne. The first battle honour was gained at Dettingen when in 1743 it fought with the numerical title of the 11th Regiment of Foot.

During the Peninsular War, serving under Wellington, the Regiment fought at Albuera and Salamanca and participated in many other parts of the campaign to drive Napoleon`s army out of Spain.

During Queen Victoria`s reign the 11th Foot served in places around the British Empire including participating in campaigns in Burma. During the Boer War it lost heavily at Spion Kop and at Ladysmith where Lieutenant Masterton gained the Regiment`s first Victoria Cross. It was at Ladysmith that Gandhi acted as a stretcher-bearer for the Devon`s.

When the British Army was reorganised with regiments being amalgamated and County names being allocated instead of numbers the 11th of Foot became the Devonshire Regiment.


The Higher Barracks, Exeter in the early 1900s

The Higher Barracks, Exeter in the early 1900s

Formerly the headquarters of the Devonshire Regiment

Now a Grade 2 Listed private housing development 

utilising all the military buildings inside these walls.


The 1891 Census reveals the presence of representatives of three separate Stentiford families at the Higher Barracks in Exeter. The first group was a complete family living in there in the married quarters and we shall be returning to tell their story in a later Issue.

Then we can trace the presence of a young soldier referred to as " Alfred Stentiford" but there is considerable evidence to support our belief that his correct name was "Albert Stentiford". His place of birth is given as Morchard Bishop and he is described as being 17 years old. A check in that Parish Register reveals him as being Albert, the son of James and Lucy Stentiford, who was baptised there on 24 May 1874. At the time of the census he was described as a private in what was considered to be one of the senior infantry regiments in the British Army - the 11th Foot .

Looking through the complete census return for the Higher Barracks reveals a large number of women together with children who were born on British Army bases ranging from Aldershot to the East Indies. These were chiefly the families of the married NCOs who followed their husbands and fathers around the British Empire when the order to march was given.

The return also shows a large number of quite young single men ranging from trumpeters to gunners to horse drivers, a surprising number of whom were recruited from counties outside Devon. But Albert Stentiford was a Devon man and we can also find another - a Charles Stentiford who was right at home - he was born in Exeter and was 18 - just a year older than Albert.


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