Don't miss a story sign up to Exmouth Journal's FREE daily newsletter CLICK HERE

War-time message plea reveals family tradition

07:00 22 February 2012

Ivan Santer with a picture of his father-in-law Dennis McLeod. Photo by Terry Ife ref shs 8444-07-12TI To order your copy of this photograph go to and click on myphotos24

Ivan Santer with a picture of his father-in-law Dennis McLeod. Photo by Terry Ife ref shs 8444-07-12TI To order your copy of this photograph go to and click on myphotos24


Sidmouth Herald readers helped decorating dad solve mystery

A POLICE officer’s plea over a war-time message has revealed how a family tradition has survived seven decades – and can be found in scores of Sidmouth homes.

Herald readers have helped decorating dad Dave Wallace solve the mystery of a hand-written memo he discovered while stripping wallpaper in his house.

Dave, 46, uncovered a note, penned by Dennis McLeod in September 1944, that read: “Germany is on the run at last. It won’t be long now.”

Relatives of Dennis, who died in 1984, say the painter and decorator, from Brewery Lane, always left a unique and topical remark – and his descendents have continued the trait to this day.

“As a family, we’ve carried on the tradition of writing on the walls every time a room is decorated, which is an ongoing source of great amusement and nostalgia,” said Dennis’ grandson, Paul Santer.

“There’s houses all over Sidmouth with these messages - he was quite a character,” said Dennis’ son-in-law Ivan Santer, 82, of Winslade Road.

“They are always topical comments on things happening at the time.

“I’ve been in this house since 1956 and dare not move as there’s too much under the wallpaper!”

The painting and decorating profession still runs through the family.

Ivan’s grandson, Adrian Baker, 28, of Ottery, has taken on the trade.

Ivan’s youngest daughter, Lesley Rule, married painter and decorator Nick.

Both Adrian and Nick adhere to the family tradition.

Dennis McLeod ran the family painting, decorating and signwriting business in Sidmouth with his younger brother, Malcolm.

The firm was started by their dad, HG McLeod, and became established as one of the most reputable and professional decorating firms in the town.

Dennis played rugby for Sidmouth, fought in the First World War and joined the ranks of the Home Guard during World War Two, while also entertaining American troops stationed locally with music and comedy routines.

He lived in Brewery Lane with wife, Nel, and the couple had a daughter, Joan, who died in 2006.


Other News Stories

Yesterday, 12:30

A groom who tied the knot on water skis was filmed learning the skill in Exmouth as part of television show Don’t Tell the Bride.

Read more
Yesterday, 10:00
23-05-0399SH Otter Estuary

The risk of ‘toxic’ landfill substances being released by plans to revamp the Otter Estuary is ‘low’, and more surveys will be carried out before anything is done, those behind the project have said.

Read more
Yesterday, 09:41

Fire crews were called out to a kitchen fire in Exmouth.

Read more
Yesterday, 06:30
The Owen Building at Rolle College

A speech justifying Plymouth University’s approach to the Rolle College site has been branded ‘grotesque’.

Read more
Sunday, November 29, 2015
Children from the Topsham school had an assembly as part of Anti Bullying Week given by Roisin Turley: NSPCC Schools Organiser for the region. Roisin Talked to the children on staying safe and it is hoped the youngsters will help raise funds for the charity during their next term. Ref ext 7019-47-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

Schoolchildren in Topsham were visited by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) with an anti-bullying message.

Read more
Sunday, November 29, 2015
Exmouth Mayor cllr Maddy Chapman and Town Crier Roger Bourgein joined Bob Dennison-the MD of Stagecoach SW to launch the new Gold Stagecoach bus service which features free wi-fi and USB charging points and will be on the 57 route between Exmouth and Exeter. Ref exe 7072-47-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

Stagecoach is promising customers in Exmouth a first-class service after spending £2.1 million on a fleet of 10 new buses.

Read more
Sunday, November 29, 2015
Melissa Hockings, from Marpool Primary School, who was named as Children and Young People’s Workforce Apprentice of the Year at the Exeter College Apprenticeship Awards.

An Exmouth pre-school and nursery, and an apprentice at an Exmouth primary school, are celebrating after receiving awards for their work.

Read more
Saturday, November 28, 2015
Father Nick Batchelor with his daughters Rosie (left) and Grace (right)

A kind-hearted school pupil from Topsham has nominated her father for a community award.

Read more
Saturday, November 28, 2015
Syria children were 'overwhelmed' to receive letters of friendship from Lympstone Primary School pupils.

‘There wasn’t a dry eye left’ as Lympstone Primary School pupils looked at pictures and watched a video of Syrian youngsters receiving letters of friendship.

Read more
Saturday, November 28, 2015
Overflowing recycling bins at Tesco, Salterton Road.

Supermarket chain Tesco has called for people to use its recycling area responsibly, after it was left strewn with dumped waste.

Read more

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 13°C

min temp: 12°C

Most Read News

Great British Life

Great British Life

Useful Links

Advertise in the Paper
Submit a Story
Subscriptions Order
Photo Orders
Family notices
Google Plus
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Read Online

Read the Exmouth Journal e-edition E-edition

Local business directory

Exmouth's trusted business finder

Search for a job in Exmouth

Find planning applications