Go-ahead for name of fallen nurse Olive, 26, to be added to Exmouth War Memorial

The name of a nurse from Exmouth who died during World War One can be added to the town’s memorial to the fallen.

The Royal British Legion’s bid to recognise Olive Jane Willey, of Withycombe Raleigh, by including her on the War Memorial in The Strand has been given the go-ahead.

Olive, a nurse with the Voluntary Aid Detachment, was just 26 when she lost her life in July 1918.

She is buried in the churchyard at St John in the Wilderness in Diane Close.

The Exmouth branch of the Royal British Legion wants to honour her and approached East Devon District Council (EDDC), which owns the War Memorial.

The authority in turn submitted a planning application to add of the heading ‘WWI’ and the name ‘Willey OJ’ to an existing panel on the south side of the memorial.

Plans stated the existing World War One plaque has insufficient space for further names to be added

The application said: “As the panel for WW1 is full, a separate WW1 heading will also need to be added on another panel where there is space.

“This will also allow for any other further names from ww1 to be added, if required, at a future date.

“Olive Jane Willey was a resident of Exmouth. In may 1918 she enlisted as a nurse in the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD). Sadly, she lost her life in July 1918. She was 26.

“She was buried in St John in the Wilderness, her grave marked with a simple cross. Her name was not put on the War Memorial in Exmouth.

“Recently, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission have been replacing VAD headstones with CWGC headstones, finally recognising their service.

“Olive’s new headstone was unveiled on the 4th of August [2019] and the Exmouth Branch of the Royal British Legion have requested that Olive is now recognised on the Exmouth War Memorial.”

Listed building consent was given for the bid.

Granting the application permission under delegated powers, an EDDC officer said: “There is no objection to the addition of the name subject to it matching other existing inscriptions in terms of dimension and lettering type.”

Two VAD nurses are already listed on the War Memorial.

Doris Page, wo died in February 1917, aged 20, is commemorated on the World War One plaques.

Joyce Bowmer, who died in 1943 aged 24, is honoured on the World War Two plaques.

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