Robert Yeo & Ann Syms


William Yeo and Edith Hammacott

Petty Officer William Yeo

William Yeo , the eldest son of John Yeo and Catherine Lee , was born in 1894 in Christow and died in 1968 in Newton Abbot hospital of cancer, aged 74. William married Edith Hammacott , daughter of George Hammacott and Lucy Ellen Friend , in 1915 in Chudleigh, Devon. Edith was born on 25 Mar 1893 in Chudleigh, Devon and died in 1979 in Kingsteignton, Devon at age 86

William joined the navy and serving on board HMS Lion (Admiral Beatty's Flagship), during the Battle of Jutland and was mentioned in despatches as he was the messenger sent by Major Harvey to the bridge to warn them that HMS Lion had been hit and badly damaged and that they were to flood the 'Q' magazine which undoubtedly saved many lives.

HMS Lion in Battle

The third German shell which hit at 1600 almost sank Lion. It struck 'Q' turret on the right corner of the left gun port, a weak point, penetrated the turret and exploded over the left-hand gun. Everyone in the turret was killed or wounded and the port roof plate was blown off. The right gun was being loaded when the shell struck and the entire turret system was fully charged with cordite.

It was a dangerous situation and a sailor climbed down the trunking from 'Q turret's working chamber to inform the magazine crew of the state of affairs. Lion's Chief Gunner, Grant, was there and he ordered the magazine doors to be closed and then for the magazine to be flooded. Major Harvey of the Royal Marines, the turret commander, despite fatal burns, had meanwhile sent a messenger to the bridge to report the situation. Chatfield, therefore, himself ordered that 'Q' magazine be flooded and Stoker William Yeo was sent from the transmitting station to give the orders. It is not clear which orders actually caused the flooding but it was a timely precaution.

William with hisnaval colleagues

As Grant approached the handing chamber at 1628 , a major cordite explosion occured in the turret trunking. Grant's precautions had prevented an immediate catastrophe, but fire had probably spread slowly down from the gun house via the inflammable coverings of the electric cables. At least eight full cordite ignited, one in the right gun loading cage that had dropped to 4ft above the working chamber, one in the left cage in the working chamber, one in the waiting positions in the working chamber, plus one in both lower turret cages, and one in both magazine hoppers in the handing room.

The magazine doors were not fully flash tight and were bulged inwards by the force of the explosion. If the magazine had not been flooded, the ship would undoubtedly have blown up. Major Harvey was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for sending a man, (William Yeo ) to the Bridge to report the dangerous situation despite fatal burns. William's cousin, John Henry Yeo was not so lucky and was killed serving on HMS Tiger.

William continued in the Navy and was promoted to Chief Petty Officer . He served a long period in Hong Kong, so Edith was left to bring up the children on her own. They bought their own house at 130, Exeter Road, Kingsteignton , with help from their children. He retired from the navy around 1936, but was recalled to serve in the second world war. After retirement he worked as a market gardener. William loved his Euchre, a card game, and played this with his sons at many different local pubs.

William in later years

As a serviceman's wife, Edith brought up her family virtually on her own. She did have her own family around her and was close to them. When William retired from the Navy they shared a few years together and seemed very happy. Edith was a good cook and the grandchildren would visit for tea and cakes. When William died she was involved in all the family events. Her daughter Marje, lived just across the road and her son Laurie a few streets away, so they were able to look after her.

Children from this marriage are:

William, Edith & Les
William, Edith & Marge
Edith at the christianing of her Gr Grandaughter, Jackie.


William Leslie Yeo and Betty Stancombe

William Leslie Yeo was born on 2 Dec 1917 in Chudleigh, Devon, the eldest son of William and Edith . and died on 30 Dec 2003 in Newton Abbot, Devon at age 86. William married Ethel Betty (Betty) Stancombe . Les, as he was known, worked as a sawyer for Watts, Blake & Bearne . He never learnt to drive and would cycle to work every day. He and Betty lived in Albert Road in the house where Betty was born and she still lives. When he was younger he was quite a 'dandy' dresser and always took an interest in his appearance. He was quite a sentimentalist and till he died kept the newspaper cuttings of his own and Laurie, his brother, weddings in his wallet.





St Paul's Church, Newton Abbot, was the scene of a very pretty wedding on Saturday, when the marriage took place of William Leslie Yeo , eldest son of Chief Petty Officer W. Yeo, RN., and Mrs Yeo, of 130, Exeter Road, Kingsteignton, and Miss Ethel Betty Stancombe , youngest daughter of Mr J Stancombe, of 14, Albert Road, Newton Abbot, and the late Mrs Stancombe. The Rev. A. P. Mole officiated.

Given away by her father the bride was prettily attired in a dress of ivory satin, with a wreath and veil, and carried a shower bouquet of pink carnations. She was attended by Mrs L. Beazley, her sister, as matron of honour. She wore a pretty dress of blue silk taffeta, with hat to match, and carried a shower bouquet of coloured sweet peas. Leading Aircraftsman L. G. Yeo, the bridegroom's brother, acted as best man. After the reception at the bride's home the happy couple left for their honeymoon at Chudleigh.

He was very interested in wild life and had quite a collection of books on this. He, his dad and brother's used to love playing Euchre in the local pubs. He was thrilled when Sheila, his youngest daughter gave birth to his first grandson and just couldn't get over his large hands which were just like his. Les and Betty had two daughters, Christine and Sheila.

Les as a toddler
Les working in the sawmills
Baby Christine


Lawrence George Yeo and Kathleen Clara Keall

Laurie as a boy

Lawrence George Yeo was born on 25 Dec 1919 in Chudleigh Devon and died on 25 Jul 1981 in Kingsteignton, Devon at age 61. He married Kathleen Clara Keall , daughter of George Keall and Mary Edna Picksley , on 19 Dec 1942 in St James Nottingham, Notts. Kathleen was born on 8 Apr 1917 in Nottingham, Notts and died on 5 Aug 2005 in Torbay Hospital, Devon at age 88.

Laurie was the second eldest son and grew up mainly in Chudleigh . He attended Chudleigh School. At the age of 13 he was admitted as a member of the Oddfellows, the Loyal Chudleigh Lodge in the juvenile section and that year he also received a swimming certificate for covering a distance of 150 yards whilst at Chudleigh Church School . Shortly after this in 1936 he moved with his parents to 130 Exeter Road, Kingsteignton and when he left school worked as a market gardener, before joining the RAF to serve during the war years. He met Kathy whilst he was stationed at RAF Hucknall near Nottingham and the marriage was reported in the local newspaper.



Kingsteignton Bridegroom - Mr L. G. Yeo and Miss K. Keall at Nottingham

Laurie & Kathie's wedding in 1942

A very pretty wedding took place at the parish church, Porchester, Nottingham , on December 19th, where the vicar (Rev. G. B. Whittaker) officiated. The contracting parties were Mr Lawrence Yeo , R.A.F. second son of Chief Petty Officer W. Yeo and Mrs Yeo of 130, Exeter Road, Kingsteignton, and Miss Kathleen Clara Keall , youngest daughter of Mr and Mrs G. Keall of 3 Hills Road, Woodthorpe, Nottingham. The bride, who was given away by her father, looked charming in a white satin dress, with wreath and veil, and carried a bouquet of pink carnations. The bride's brother acted as best man. The bride's cousin acted as bridesmaid and looked very pretty in a pale blue dress, with a posy of carnations. The hymns sung were "O perfect love" and "Love divine". A large congregation of relatives and friends were present at the church to witness the happy event. The reception was held at the bride's home. The bride and bridegroom will be travelling to South Devon for the honeymoon at a later date.

Laurie in RAF Uniform, 1945

During the war years, Laurie was stationed in Iraq, near Bagdad and whilst he was serving his country. Kathy was living in Nottingham with their children, toddler, Stanley (born 1943) and baby Ann (born 1845). When Laurie was demobbed they moved to Devon and lived with his parents in Exeter Road, Kingsteignton until they received one of the first new council houses to be built post war in Captains Road, Kingsteignton . The house was then very modern, with a proper bathroom and separate indoor toilet and three decent sized bedrooms. Bryan , their second son was born shortly after this in 1947. For a few months after returning from Iraq he was very run down and suffered with boils etc., however in May 1946 he started work at Springfield Nurseries in Kingsteignton and when he left five months later his employers said he was a conscientous and hard working man with a good knowledge and experience of tomatoes, chrysanthemums and general horticultural subjects and that he always proved to be punctual, honest and reliable, this was echoed in many other testamonials and he won many prizes in competitions such as the Sandygate flower and vegetable annual show. His wages were minimal as agricultural work was and is, very low paid, so with his ever increasing family, Margaret (born 1948), Colin (born 1953) and Gordon (born 1955) he subsidised his earning by growing tomatoes, vegetables and chrysanthemums in his own garden and selling these locally. In the early 1950's Laurie and his brother Ron took up running and in 1951 Laurie had a certificate from Taunton Athletic Club for a race he ran, Bridgwater to Taunton Road Race, 10 miles and he achieved this in 54 minutes and 58 seconds, which is a very fast speed. He also ran in the fifteen miles road race at Paignton Regatta in the same year.

He had tins in which he kept all his money and planned for any eventualities. However, Christmas was the time he splashed out and there was always plenty of food and during the January sales bought many bargains. When the Ware Cross Nursery closed down in 1957 he changed career and worked as a porter in Newton Abbot Hospital where he was deputy head porter when he died. As the children grew up he welcomed the chance to be involved in leisure activities such as learning to drive, with the help of his brother, Ron , fishing and winemaking.and was introduced to nights out and dancing by his younger children.

The Grandchildren - Xmas 1977

When his grandchildren began to appear, he was delighted and spent many hours entertaining them and every Christmas he held a party for them all. It was a double celebration as it was also his birthday. He would act as Father Christmas and there was always plenty of food and presents. Laurie had a heart of gold and when the first grandchildren arrived, knowing how tight money was with both Stanley and Margaret , he would buy clothes for the eldest grandchildren, Debi and Mark when he saw something special in the sales. He would then send the items by post as a surprise with no note inside. Sheila remembers the beautiful grey coats with red fur lining that were sent and also the pretty outfit for Debi. . Laurie was much loved by all, wife, siblings, children, grandchildren and workmates. His death from coronary thrombosis was mourned by all as he was only 61 years old and should never have died. He lived in the house, 5 Captains Road until he died there on the 25th July, 1981, some 34 years later

Kathy in 1944

Kathy was born during the First World War and was to grow up with three brothers and two sisters in a strict but loving and supportive home. Her father a country postman in the days when it involved more than just sorting and posting letters was in active service in Egypt and Palestine during her early childhood. He disliked both the war and the military life. The family were very physically fit they enjoyed cycling; walking and they were competent swimmer. Kathy was always an attractive woman with beautiful skin and hair, which remained with her until she died. Her brother George was killed in a motorbike accident in 1937 and this was the one she was really close to and she never ever got over his death. She was to never allow any of her children to even get near a motor cycle. During the Second World War Kathy worked in a factory making bus tickets and met Laurie whilst he was stationed in the RAF near Nottingham. They married in 1942 and moved to Bulwell where she lodged with a wonderful woman called Mrs Baldwin while Laurie serve in the middle east at RAF Habbaniya, Iraq. They kept contact with Mrs Baldwin for many years. Stanley and Ann were conceived during those war years in Nottingham. When Laurie was demobbed they moved down to Devon around 1946 and at first she lived with her in laws in very cramped conditions. When she was expecting Bryan they were given a new Council house in Captain's Road .

Kathy and Laurie furnished the house with money Kathy had saved while Laurie was in Iraq. Kathy was never a big spender and never wanted much for herself so saved quite a sum of money from his wages. When Laurie left the air force, he was quite ill and was unemployed for sometime so times were extremely hard for them. Her life was taken up looking after the children with little time for social contact with others. She missed her family in Nottingham and never forgot her roots, returning, as money would permit on a regular basis. They in turn never forgot her and sent money and gifts to support her ever increasing family. Kathy and Laurie 's offspring had a mix of blood from the opposite ends of the country and produced children with a wide diversification of talents. She was often overwhelmed by her children and Laurie 's strong character often overshadowed hers. The children were allowed free rein to develop and this even extended to dismantling and repairing car engines on the kitchen floor. When things got too much there was always the copper stick to bring her brood back in line. It was not easy for her, six children, three hundred miles from her own family and a world apart culturally but she did her best.

Children from this marriage were:

  • Stanley Michael Yeo was born in 1943 in Basford, Nottingham and married Sheila Mary Preece
  • Ann Kathleen Yeo was born in 1945 in Basford, Nottingham, Notts and married John Small
  • Bryan David Yeo was born on in 1947 and married Christine Jupp
  • Margaret Jean Yeo was born in 1948 and married Michael Bowden in 1965.
  • Colin George Yeo was born in 1953 and married Averil Schneider .
  • Gordon John Yeo was born in 1956 and married Julie Vaughan .
Laurie, Kathy & Stanley - 1945
Laurie, Kathy & Ann - 1945
Laurie & Kathy - 1979

Laurie & Kathy's wedding in 1942 at Nottingham

Ronald W J Yeo and Dorothy Moxam


Ronald W J Yeo, the youngest son of William and Edith, was born on the 8 th May, 1922 in Chudleigh , Devon. The family were then living at 4, Oldway, Chudleigh. Ron attended both the Chudleigh Church and Chudleigh Council Schools. The family moved to Plymouth for a brief period before moving to Exeter Road, Kingsteignton on November 24 th , 1934. Ron then attended Kingsteignton Senior School , which is now known as Teign School. He found school quite boring especially as he was extremely good at mathematics and hated most other subjects. When he was bored he would be sent to the headteacher who would send him to the Kerslake's nursery which adjoined the school playing fields. Ron's father, William, worked there and he would then bring back to the head teacher fresh tomatoes and his misdemeanours would be forgotten !!

When Ron left school he had numerous jobs. He worked at Jack Tarr's Fish Shop, Perks Grocery Store in Queens Street, Newton Abbot , in the Clay Pits as a grease boy and then as a market gardener with Mr Stentiford in Exeter Road.

However in 1939 war broke out and Ron was one of the first to be called up. He was just seventeen and a half when he was enlisted in the Territorial Army . He served at Plympton in the Royal Artillary Regiment and was then transferred to the 66 Middlesex Ak Ak Regiment where he was trained to use the 45 Ak Ak guns . During the Battle of Britain in 1940 he was stationed at Hornchurch Aerodrome . However around this time he was taken into hospital for an appendix operation and this was followed by two more spells in hospital in 1940 ( Grays Essex Hospital ) and 1943 ( Lincoln Military Hospital ) when he had ruptures, probably caused through using the heavy weapons.

He served at Petersborough and then was posted to Easawold ? in Hull, Yorkshire to work on the search lights and next to Mid Wales the training site for coastal guns.

Ron & Dorothy - 17th March, 1945

After this he was posted to Winchester and met Dorothy (Moxham) there in June 1944, on an evening out. They were married within the year on the 17 th March, 1945 at Winchester Register Office .

It was whilst he was at Chadwick Manor that Dorothy gave birth to a baby daughter, Barbara Jean and it wasn't until a week later when he was demobbed that Ron was told this, such was communications in those days.

Jean, as she was always known married Mervyn Churchll and had three daughters, Tracey, Nicola and Julie.


Jean's Wedding in 1966 which includes many Yeo family relatives


Marjorie Yeo and Thomas Hocking


Marjorie E Yeo , was born in 1934 in Chudleigh just before her parents moved to Kingsteignton and she attended the Kingsteignton Schools. She was the only daughter and was born twelve years after the youngest son, Ron, so had a special place.

She married Tom Hocking in 1952 as a young bride and they lived initially in a cottage at Preston, just outside Kingsteignton which had very limited amenities, no electricity or gas.

Stanley spent a lot of time at the house and Tom taught Stan how to make up bikes and he has never forgotten this. Marjorie now lives in Clifford Avenue, Kingsteignton and sadly having celebrated their 60th wedding anniverary in 2002, Tom passed away in 2007.

They were very proud of the fact that in that year, 2002, their son Michael was made Mayor of Newton Abbot. Marjorie married Tom Hocking on 12 Jul 1952 in St Michael's Parish Church, Kingsteignton, Devon and had sons, Stuart Hocking and Michael Hocking

Marjorie c. 1940





Written by me, Sheila Yeo, as I see the family. I welcome any other views from family members, which I will also put o the website. I do have more recent notes on the younger members of the family and will willingly share these if you e-mail me.


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