WW2 Book of Remembrance - Surnames C

Index

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[Content]

CAMERON, Douglas Hunter (Revised 26/06/2018)
CAMPBELL, Thomas (Revised 26/06/2018)
CANEY, Robert Alfred (Revised 26/06/2018)
CANHAM, Jack (Revised 26/06/2018)
CARPENTER, Reginald Robert (Revised 06/12/2017)
CARTER, William Thomas (Revised 06/07/2018)
CASEY, Charles (Revised 26/06/2018)
CASEY, Derek Anthony George. Lance Corporal (Revised 26/06/2018)
CATES, Alfred (Revised 27/06/2018)
CATOR, John Leonard (Revised 27/06/2018)
CHANDLER, Frederick George (Revised 27/06/2018)
CHANNON, Peter * (Revised 27/06/2018)
CHAPMAN, John Arthur (Revised 27/06/2018)
CHERRY, Harold Arthur (Revised 27/06/2018)
CHILDS, Albert Victor (Revised 27/06/2018)
CHILMAN, Richard Arthur (Revised 27/06/2018)
CIVELLI, Joseph (Revised 09/07/2018)
CLARK, Leonard Arthur (Revised 09/07/2018)
CLARK, Maurice Charles (Revised 30/06/2018)
CLARK, Victor James (Revised 06/12/2017)
CLARK, William George (Revised 30/06/2018)
CLEGG, Luke (Revised 30/06/2018)
CLEVERLEY, Arthur (Albert) Henry * (Revised 30/06/2018)
CLIFF, John William (Revised 30/06/2018)
CLIFF, Peter Robert (Revised 30/06/2018)
CLIFTON, John Lowrey (Revised 30/06/2018)
COADE, Charles Frederick * (Revised 30/06/2018)
COCKELL, Percival John (Revised 30/06/2018)
COCKROFT, Leslie Hermon (Revised 30/06/2018)
COLLETT, Charles Harry (Revised 30/06/2018)
COLLIER, John Mansel (Revised 30/06/2018)
COLLIER, Robert Arthur (Revised 30/06/2018)
COLLINS, Geoffrey Guy (Revised 01/07/2018)
COLLINS, Walter Thomas Douglas (Revised 01/07/2018)
COLLIS, Frederick Charles (Revised 01/07/2018)
COLLIS, Reginald * (Revised 01/02/2018)
CONDER, Peter James (Revised 01/07/2018)
CONNOR, Edith May (New 30/10/2017)
CONRAN, Edward Denis (Revised 01/07/2018)
COOKE, John Robert Alfred (Revised 01/07/2018)
COOKE Reginald J * (Revised 01/07/2018)
COPESTICK, Arthur (Revised 04/07/2018)
CORNOCK, William Edward (Revised 04/07/2018)
COWEN, Painton Sidney * (Revised 04/07/2018)
COX, Ethel (Revised 04/07/2018)
COX, Geoffrey Reginald Clifford (Revised 04/07/2018)
COX Harry Francis Thomas * (Revised 04/07/2018)
CRADDOCK-JONES, Arthur William (Revised 04/07/2018)
CRAIG-ADAMS, Michael Alexander (Revised 04/07/2018)
CRAWFORTH, Charles * (Revised 04/07/2018)
CROFT, Raymond Harold George (Revised 15/07/2018)
CROSS, James Vernon Cowley (Revised 04/07/2018)
CROWLEY, Emily * (Revised 04/07/2018)
CUNLIFFE, The Hon. Mrs. Sidney Patrick (Revised 11/03/2018)
CUNNINGHAM, John Charles (Revised 04/07/2018)
CURTIS, Claude Francis (Revised 04/07/2018)
CUTLER, Stanley Charles (Revised 04/07/2018)

* = Not included in the Book of Remembrance for reasons unknown.
If you are looking for someone whose name starts with a different letter please try:



Content


CAMERON, Douglas Hunter. Sergeant (517813)

148 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Died 28 January 1941 Age 24

Douglas is not listed in the Book of Remembrance, but had strong links with the Borough - indeed, he was born in Epsom on 16 August 1916 (and baptised in Christ Church Epsom Common on 4 October that year).

He was the third and apparently last child of William Hunter Cameron (b. 19 November 1877) andEmily Amelia (née Davison, born 15 January 1878). They were both originally from Scotland, but their Q3 1903 marriage was registered in Newcastle upon Tyne. They appear to have returned to Scotland as their first child, David, was born in Dundee in 1906.

By the time of the 1911 Census, the 33 year old couple and 5 year old David had moved to London, and were living at the Garibaldi Hotel, 16 Blackfriars Road - of which William Hunter was the "Publican & Manager" and his wife was "Assisting in Business". (The pub was badly damaged during an air raid in 1941 and subsequently demolished.) A second child, Margaret, was born Q4 1911.

By 1913, William had entered partnership with Alfred John Cope as proprietors of The Railway Inn, High Street, Epsom. The Inn was demolished in the late 1930s for the widening of the east end of the Hight Street but, before that, William had switched careers to racehorse training. In his record of "Racehorse Training at Epsom", Bill Eacott mentions: -
'[William Hunter] Cameron is shown as living in Rosebery Road in the Electoral Register 1923-25, and subsequently at Priam Lodge. He appears to have retired from training in the mid-1930s, moving to Church Road, was back at Priam Lodge either side of the 1939-45 War.'
Douglas's Service Number suggests that he had enlisted in the Royal Air Force for Regular service before the outbreak of WW2. And there is a strong possibility that he met his future wife, Almaza Marie Harfoush (born 17 June 1921), while serving in Egypt.

They married in Epsom, Q2 1939. The September 1939 Register records Mrs Almaza Cameron living with her parents in law and their now married daughter Margaret Thomas at Shifnal Cottage, Burgh Heath Road, Epsom. (Shifnal Cottage was formerly the head lad's cottage to South Hatch stables and named after the 1878 Grand National winner.) 61 year old William is now listed as a "Horse Dealer". 61 year old Emily, 28 year old Margaret and 19 year old Almaza are all listed with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". 23 year old Douglas was presumably already back on duty.

His last service was with 148 Squadron. This was re-formed in Malta on 14 December 1940 to operate Wellingtons out of RAF Luqa. During the early morning of 28 January 1941 a single enemy aircraft bombed Luqa, killing four airmen and wounding nine others. The fatalities, all believed to be from 148 Squadron, were: -
Sgt Douglas H. CAMERON, 517813,
Sgt Arthur H. MAY, 365514,
Sgt (AG) Thomas REAY, 751646
Sgt Wilfred WARREN, 349651.
They were buried alongside each other in the Protestant Section (Men's) of the Malta (Capuccini) Naval Cemetery. The family took the option of adding a personal inscription to Douglas' headstone on Collective Grave 16,
"In loving memory of our dear Douglas. Wife, Mother and Father."
Douglas's inscription on the Collective grave in Malta (Capuccini) Naval Cemetery.
Douglas's inscription on the Collective grave in Malta (Capuccini) Naval Cemetery.

There is no record of Douglas and Almaza having any children. The widowed Almaza got married again - to Petrus Jonker, registered in the local Surrey Mid Eastern District, Q1 1944. She died in Australia on 8 May 2003.

Brian Bouchard © 2018
Updated by Roger Morgan 2018

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CAMPBELL, Thomas. Sergeant (548217)

78 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Died 30 July 1943, Age 25

Thomas's headstone in the Hamburg War Cemetery
Thomas's headstone in the Hamburg War Cemetery
Photograph (20939647) by "PupDawg" via findagrave.com

Thomas is not listed in the Book of Remembrance, but is remembered here because the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's post-war records note that his widow, Eileen, was "of Ewell, Surrey". However, that address has yet to be established.

Thomas was born Q4 1919, the third child of William Campbell and Margaret (née Dooley). Their Q2 1911 was registered in the Salford District - as were the births of Thomas and their first two children, namely Jessie Q2 1912 and William Q3 1914. (Vincent and Bernard - births registered, respectively, in nearby Chorlton and Manchester South in 1924 and 1925 - may be the couple's fourth and fift children.) All these names are rather too common to be able to trace anything of the family background with any confidence in the readily available records.

Given his Service Number of 548217, Thomas appears to have joined the RAF between the wars as a Regular airman but the readily available records give few details of his service. In Q2 1940, Thomas married Eileen McCarthy, registered in the Lambeth District. It may be that they had a child, Christina, whose Q2 1943 birth was registered in the Blackburn District.

We are on more certain ground in knowing that, in mid 1943, Thomas was an Air Gunner serving in 78 Squadron, part of the RAF's Bomber Command, based in RAF Breighton in Yorkshire. At 22.11 hours on 29 July 1943, Thomas was among the 7-man crew aboard Halifax JB798, EY-P which - with Flight Sergeant Peter Aird Fraser at the controls - took off from RAF Breighton for a mass bombing raid on Hamburg. All 21 of 78 Squadron's Halifaxes were part of the eventual huge bomber stream of 340 Lancasters, 244 Halifaxes, 119 Stirlings, 70 Wellingtons and 4 Mosquitoes tasked with bombing Hamburg's hitherto untouched northern and north eastern districts.

Of the 777 aircraft despatch, 27 failed to return. Among these was Halifax JB798, EY-P, about which the first news was and early 1944 telegram from the International Red Cross Committee quoting German information that Sergeants Campbell and Woodcock plus five unidentified members of the same crew had been killed on 30 July 1943. An extract from official German totenliste No. 179 confirmed this and stated that the seven had been buried in the Cemetery Hellgrund VA in Bad Oldesloe special section, comrades grave, on 30 July 1943.

A post-war Inquiry found that the aircraft had been fatally damaged over the target area by Luftwaffe gunners of the 8th Motorised Flak Division. The crash occurred to the northeast of Hamburg, and it seems the pilot was looking for an open area in which to land when one propeller came off and the aeroplane disintegrated in the air, scattering pieces over a wide area.

This image and the mission information with thanks to aircrewremembered.com
This image and the mission information with thanks to aircrewremembered.com

The crew were:-
RAAF 413756 Flt Sgt P A Fraser, Captain (Pilot),
RAF Sgt J R Nicholls, (Flight Engineer),
RCAF Flt Sgt W M T Hetherington, (Navigator),
RCAF FO R C Baillie, (Air Bomber),
RAF Sgt W E Goodacre, (Wireless Air Gunner),
RAF Sgt T Campbell, (Mid Upper Gunner)
RCAF Flt Sgt G H Woodcock, (Rear Gunner).
They were subsequently reinterred among the 2,096 Commonwealth WW2 casualties in the Hamburg War Cemetery (situated within a large civil cemetery known locally as "Ohlsdorf Cemetery"). His widow took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave 6A.B.9,
'If love could have saved you, you would never have died '.
Given his place of birth, it may be that Thomas is the "T Campbell" remembered on the War Memorial in the church of St Philip with St Stephen, Salford.

Brian Bouchard © 2018
Updated by Roger Morgan 2018

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CANEY, Robert Alfred. Able Seaman (C/J 107852)

HMS Curacoa, Royal Navy
Died 2 October 1942, aged 34

Robert is not listed in the Book of Remembrance, but is remembered here because the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's post-war records notes that Robert was the "husband of Hazel Caney, of Epsom, Surrey". However, neither their marriage nor Hazel's address in Epsom is found in the readily available records.

We have had more success in establishing Robert's family background. He was the second child of Robert Theodore Caney and Ellen Clara (née Goldsmith - they had married on 15 January 1905 in the now-lost church of St John, Horseleydown, Bermondsey). His birth in Bermondsey, London was registered Q1 1908, but the actual birth may have been Q4 1907. The family of four were recorded in the 1911 Census living at 26 St Alban's Street, Kennington, London. 30 year old Robert was listed as a "House Painter". Mother Ellen was aged 28; sister Florence, 5; and Robert 3.

Anyway, Robert's WW2 service was on HMS Curacoa. She was built for the Royal Navy during WW1 as a C-class light cruiser but, as WW2 began, she was being converted into an anti-aircraft cruiser. She returned to service in January 1940 and, while providing escort in the Norwegian Campaign that April, was damaged by German aircraft. After repairs were completed that year, she then escorted convoys in and around the British Isles.

HMS Curacoa at anchor, 1941
HMS Curacoa at anchor, 1941
Image source © IWM (A 5808)

On the morning of 2 October 1942, HMS Curacoa rendezvoused north of Ireland with the ocean liner RMS Queen Mary which was bringing some 10,000 American troops to the UK. The liner was steaming in a zig-zag pattern to help evade possible submarine attacks. The escorting HMS Curacoa was steaming ahead of the liner, on a straight line course to maximize her ability to defend the liner from enemy aircraft. The faster liner was gradually gaining on the escort.

Each captain (Curacoa's Captain John Boutwood and Queen Mary's Commodore Sir Cyril Illingworth) understood the rules of the sea to give his ship the right of way. Evasive action came too late, and Queen Mary "sliced the cruiser in two like a piece of butter". The aft end of HMS Curacoa sank almost immediately, and the rest of the ship followed a few minutes later. (At nearly 300 metres long and with a displacement of some 82,000 tonnes, Queen Mary was twice the length and twenty times the weight of Curacoa.)

Acting under orders not to stop (because of the risk of U-boat attacks), Queen Mary steamed onwards with a damaged bow, radioing the other escorting destroyers to rescue the survivors, which numbered 101. 337 - more than three quarters of the Curacoa's complement - died in the disaster and most, including Robert, either went down with the ship or were lost. (Curacoa's wrecksite is designated a "protected place" under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.)

Robert is one of over 10,000 Royal Navy personnel of WW2 commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial as having no known grave.

The repaired Queen Mary arriving in New York
The repaired Queen Mary arriving in New York on 20 June 1945,
returning thousands of US troops from Europe.
US Navy photograph 80-GK-5645 - Public Domain

Because of national security concerns, those who witnessed the collision were sworn to secrecy. The loss was not publicly reported until after the war ended. The Admiralty had filed a writ against Cunard White Star Line (Queen Mary's owners) but, in January 1947, the Court laid all fault on Curacoa's officers. The Admiralty appealed the ruling and this was amended by the Court of Appeal to assign two-thirds of the blame to the Admiralty and one third to Cunard White Star. The latter appealed to the House of Lords, but they upheld the decision.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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CANHAM, Jack. Sergeant (6142408)

82 Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery
Died 28 February 1944, aged 30

Jack was born in Q3 1913, the second of six children born to Sydney J Canham (a "Carpenter") and Gertrude Maud (née Bates). The parents' marriage was registered in Islington Q4 1911, but they set up home in the Tendring District of Essex. This is where all the children's births were registered and where, at 15 Eagle Avenue, Walton on the Naze, the parents and their four youngest children (ie excluding Jack) were recorded in the 1939 Register.

In Q1 1940 Jack married Nora Edna Rush and, in Q2 1942, their son Anthony was born. Both the marriage and birth were registered in the Surrey Mid-Eastern District, into which Epsom came - which is where the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's post-war records note that the widowed Nora was "of", hence Jack's entry in the Borough Book of Remembrance. However, her address in the Borough has yet to be established.

Jack's WW2 service was in the 82 Anti-Tank Regiment. This arrived in India in early 1942 and, by 1944, was stationed at Imphal, the capital of Manipur State in northeast India. This bordered on upper Burma (now Myanmar) and was strategically well placed for the maintenance of all Allied operations there. Imphal was a main objective when the Japanese made their main thrust into India on 8 March 1944. The eventual Allied victory, on 3 July 1944, in the fiercely fought Battle of Imphal ranks in importance next only to the victory in the better known 4 April to 22 June 1944 Battle of Kohima.

In advance of those set-piece battles, there was much skirmishing and, as reported in Casualty List No. 1395, Jack was killed in action on 28 February 1944. He was initially buried locally. After the war, he was reinterred among the 1,462 Commonwealth WW2 casualties buried in the Imphal War Cemetery. The widowed Nora took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave 9.F.8.
"To a beautiful life came a sudden end he died as he lived, everyone's friend."
Imphal War Cemetery
Imphal War Cemetery
Photograph by Herojit th - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Roger Morgan © 2018

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CARPENTER, Reginald Robert. Lance Serjeant (1648148)

466 Battery, 72 Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery
Died 23 June 1943, aged 28.

Reginald's  headstone in St. Mary's  Cemetery
Reginald's headstone in St. Mary's Cemetery
Image courtesy of Clive Gilbert © 2018

Reginald was born In Orsett, Essex on 19 January 1915, probably the second child of Edmund John Carpenter and Emily (née Adam). In Q4 1937, the 22 year old Reginald married Lille-la-Basse Livock. The marriage was registered in Wandsworth - where Lille-La-Basse (also 22) had been born on 10 April 1922.

The 1939 Register records the couple living at 22 Willow Way, Ewell. Reginald is listed as a "Compositor" (or type-setter at a printer's) and Lille with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". Also there was their first child, two month old Derek. (Their second child, Keith, was born in Q4 1943 - registered, as for Derek, in Surrey Mid Eastern.)

Reginald attested for the Royal Artillery in 1940 and was assigned to 466 Battery of 72 Searchlight Regiment. His attestation was probably early enough in the year for him to have been involved in the Battery's action in Southampton during the Battle of Britain. By November 1940, the Battery had been moved to the East Midlands helping to protect the many airfields there.

Searchlights were vital defence tools. When enemy aircraft were caught by two separate beams from a distance apart on the ground, precise information on their location in the air could be calculated and passed to the anti-aircraft batteries. This made searchlights an obvious target for enemy aircraft and it may well be that Reginald was killed in an attack aiming to extinguish the beam.

Reginald's death was registered in North Walsham, Norfolk, but his body was brought home for burial in Ewell (St. Mary) Churchyard Extension (Grave C.60). His widow took the option of adding the following text to his headstone: "He loved the sunshine home and life; all this he gave in sacrifice".

Roger Morgan © 2017

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CARTER, William Thomas. Ordinary Signalman (LT/LD/X 4715)

HM Drifter Ocean Retriever, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.
Died 22 September 1943, aged 25.

William's headstone in the Lowestoft (Beccles Road) Cemetery
William's headstone in the Lowestoft (Beccles Road) Cemetery
Photograph (114646842) by "julia&keld" via findagrave.com

William was born on 14 September 1918, the third child of Samuel Carter and Susan Jane (née Houston). The couple had married in their very early 20s at Holy Trinity Church, Dalston on 17 September 1910. The 1911 Census records them living at 7, Temple Street, Dalston with Samuel listed as a "Printers Cutter". Their first two children were Susan Lily Ethel (born 24 January 1912) and Charles H (born 1 February 1914). Samuel died in December 1927 aged only 40. All these events were registered in the Hackney District and are likely to have been in Dalston itself.

In Q2 1936, 24 year old daughter Susan married 28 year old William Ernest Dines. The marriage was also registered in the Hackney District, but the couple made their home in West Ewell. This was William's home patch: the 1911 Census records him as the oldest of three children living with their late 20s parents - William (a "Night Attendant, Longrove Asylum") and Amelia Mary Dines - at 14 West Street, Ewell.

The September 1939 Register records William (a "Butcher") and Susan Dines living at 104 Belfield Road, West Ewell. Living with them were not only Susan's widowed 50 year old mother, Susan Jane, but also her younger brother Charles (occupied as what appears to be a "Produce Brokers Cable Clerk") and his wife Doris F (née Perry - they had married in Hackney in Q3 1937). All three women were listed the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". William Carter, the subject of this article, was not at home, probably already being in uniform.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission's post war records state that William was the "son of Samuel and Susan Jane Carter, of West Ewell, Surrey". As noted above, Samuel died before the family came to Ewell. Susan Jane died in Epsom Cottage Hospital on 13 June 1950 and 104 Belfield Road was noted as her address in the Probate record of administration of her £ 268 estate being awarded to her daughter, Susan Lily Ethel.

William's WW2 service was as part of the Royal Naval Patrol Service which, in both World Wars, undertook anti-submarine and minesweeping operations to protect British ports, coastal shipping lanes and convoys. Many of their vessels were requisitioned trawlers, the deep-sea range of which was obviously curtailed by wartime activities. Indeed, many of the wartime crew members were the peacetime fishermen - who, from their work with fishing trawls, had invaluable expertise in managing the cables and winches used for mine clearance.

Ocean Retriever in her days as a fishing boat.
Ocean Retriever in her days as a fishing boat.
Photograph of a painting by Kenneth Luck, courtesy of
the Lowestoft and East Suffolk Maritime Museum

William, though, was a signalman rather than a deckhand. His vessel was the Ocean Retriever. Constructed in 1913 as a drifter, this had been requisitioned during WW1. Between the wars, it returned to fishing (as drifter YH307, out of Yarmouth) but, in 1940 was again requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to an Armed Patrol vessel. It operated out of Sheerness as part of the Nore Command (named after a sandbank at the mouth of the River Medway).

After many successful patrols, Ocean Retriever was sailing in the Thames Estuary on 22 September 1943 when it detonated a mine and sank with the loss of all eleven of her crew. Some of the bodies were never recovered and those men are commemorated on the Royal Naval Patrol Service memorial at Lowestoft which overlooks the Service's former main base, HMS Europa.

William's body was recovered and he is one of 220 WW2 casualties buried in Lowestoft (Beccles Road) Cemetery. His family took the option of adding the following text to his headstone on Grave 25.527,
"His country called, he answered".
Because it used out-dated and poorly armed vessels, such as requisitioned trawlers crewed by ex-fishermen, the Royal Naval Patrol Service came to bear a number of unofficial titles that poked fun at it, such as "Harry Tate's Navy" (after that comedian's bungling music hall act) and "Churchill's Pirates". Churchill's post-war tribute to the service was a corrective:
"The work you do is hard and dangerous. You rarely get and never seek publicity; your only concern is to do your job, and you have done it nobly. You have sailed in many seas and all weathers… . This work could not be done without loss, and we mourn all who have died and over 250 ships lost on duty… . No work has been more vital than yours; no work has been better done. The Ports were kept open and Britain breathed. The Nation is once again proud of you."
Roger Morgan © 2018
With special thanks to Hazel Ballan

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CASEY, Charles

Civilian

The entry in the Borough's Book of Remembrance
The entry in the Borough's Book of Remembrance
Image courtesy of Clive Gilbert © 2014

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission's comprehensive database has no record of this person listed in the Borough's Book of Remembrance.

It notes seven WW2 deaths of civilians with the surname Casey, but none with a Christian name anything like "Charles" (or even beginning with the letter C) - and their family details give no hint of any connection with the Borough. The nearest in that database is the 58 year old Charles Francis CASE who died on 16 October 1940 at the now lost Upwey Street, Shoreditch. However, as he was "of 39 Felton Street, London N1", there again seems no connection with the Borough.

The only Charles Casey in the Borough recorded in the 1939 Register was the 24 year old Charles J Casey living with his parents at 8 Grove Road, Epsom - and older brother of Borough WW2 casualty Derek Casey. His death, at the age of only 26, was registered in the local Surrey Mid-Eastern District in Q3 1942 but it is hard to accept that this was the result of "enemy action" if the death is not on the comprehensive list of Service and Civilian casualties available through the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. (And this would not be the only occasion where the compilers of the Book of Remembrance misattributed a local death - see the case of George Dunster Newbery.)

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CASEY, Derek Anthony George. Lance Corporal (2756419)

2nd Battalion, Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)
Died 28 February 1942, aged 21.

Derek's headstone in the Prague War Cemetery.
Derek's headstone in the Prague War Cemetery.
Photograph by 'Adrienne' via findagrave.com

Derek was born on 28 February 1921, the second and last child of John Casey and Pauline (née Barry). Their Q4 1914 marriage was registered in London's Camberwell District, but they set up home in the Lambeth District in which the births of both first-born Charles (on 21 October 1915) and, six years later, Derek were registered.

At some point, the family moved to Epsom. The 1939 Register (taken in late September, shortly after the declaration of war), records the parents living at 8 Grove Road, Epsom. 47 year old John is listed as "Stableman (Racehorse)" and 53 year old Pauline as a "Housewife". Their 24 year old son, Charles (an unmarried "Male Nurse"), was living with them, as were three unrelated and unmarried odgers: two mid-20s stablemen and a 36 year old house painter.

The 18 year old Derek was probably already serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Black Watch: when war broke out with Nazi Germany in September 1939, the Battalion was already on active service in Palestine and was subsequently deployed in a successful rear-guard action against overwhelming Italian forces in Somaliland in July 1940. It was then sent to Crete - an important Mediterranean base for British forces - to help defend the island from the expected German invasion.

When it came, the Battle of Crete saw three significant "firsts": it was the first mainly airborne invasion in military history; the first time the Allies had made significant use of intelligence from decrypted German messages from Enigma machines; and the first time German troops encountered mass resistance from a civilian population.

German paratroopers landing on Crete, May 1941
German paratroopers landing on Crete, May 1941.
Image from the German Federal Archive via Wikimedia Commons

The first wave of German paratroops descended on the 2nd Battalion at Heraklion on 20 May. While that initial offensive was most effectively repulsed, later landings elsewhere forced the withdrawal of the garrison. Fierce fighting continued for several days, during which (on 24 May) Derek was wounded and taken prisoner. By 1 June, Crete was effectively in German hands - although the occupying forces were, in spite of some dreadful reprisals, harried by local resistance fighters until the island's liberation in 1945.

Derek was eventfully taken to one of the PoW camps in what was then Czechoslovakia, where he died on 28 February 1942. He was buried locally and later reinterred in the new Prague War Cemetery. This was constructed by the Czechoslovak Government (to plans provided by the then Imperial War Graves Commission) under the terms of the War Graves Agreement of 3 March 1949. It contains 256 Commonwealth WW2 burials - including Derek - brought into the cemetery from 73 small cemeteries scattered all over the country.

Derek's family took up the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave IV.D.13,
"Angels guard thee / Called on his 21st birthday".
Roger Morgan © 2018

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CATES, Alfred. Lance Bombardier (1044488)

88 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery
Died 26 July 1943, aged 42

Alfred's gravemarker and the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, Thailand.
Alfred's gravemarker and the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, Thailand.
Left: photograph (10759867) by "GulfportBob" via findagrave.com
Right: The cemetery, Wikimedia Commons

Alfred William Cates was born in Guildford on 21 June 1901 (GRO reference: Sep 1901 Guildford 2a 90) to Henry (Harry) William and Caroline Louisa Cates (nee Cates, formally Cargill). Alfred's grandfathers, George Cates and Charles Cates, were cousins making Alfred's parents 2nd cousins.

Alfred's mother, Caroline Louisa Cates, was the daughter of Charles Alfred and Elizabeth Cates. Aged 16 and around two months pregnant, she had previously married 25 year old William Charles Cargill on 3 February 1890 in St. John the Evangelist church in Stoke, Guildford.

Caroline and their 9 month old daughter Clara Elizabeth were living with Caroline's mother Elizabeth when the 1891 census was taken. William Charles Cargill was a Corporal in the Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment) and stationed in Aldershot, Hampshire. Their second daughter Lily Maud was born in 1892. William Charles Cargill was discharged from the army on 8 February 1893.

Available records for the next few years have been found to be somewhat confusing. Whether genuine mistakes were made when official forms were completed or the family had something to hide, we will probably never know.

Alfred's mother Caroline had her third daughter Daisy Laudymore Cargill baptised on 17 May 1896 and recorded that her husband William was deceased, however no record of his death has been found.

Alfred's mother gave birth to another daughter, Dorothy Victoria Cargill, registered in the September quarter of 1897, but seems not to have had her baptised; whether her biological father's name is on her birth certificate is unknown to us, but could not have been her husband William who was dead by 17 May 1896.

The marriage of Alfred's parents is recorded in the March quarter of 1901 in the Guildford registration district, which therefore took place before the 1901 census was taken on 31 March 1901.

When the 1901 census was taken Alfred's mother and older half siblings were living with his maternal grandmother Elizabeth Cates at New Cross Road, Stoke, Guildford. His mother was recorded as Caroline Cargill and as still being married, not widowed.

At this time, Alfred's father Harry, the son of George and Mary Cates, was recorded as being single and a soldier in the Royal Marine Barracks in Alverstoke, Hampshire, yet he had apparently married Caroline in the March quarter of 1901. Alfred was born three months later on 21 June 1901.

ALFRED WILLIAM CATES, HIS SIBLINGS AND HALF SIBLINGS
NameBorn - DiedNotes
Clara Elizabeth CargillBorn: 3 August 1890 GuildfordHalf sibling. Baptised 21 September 1890 St. John the Evangelist, Stoke, Guildford. Father recorded as a soldier.
Lily Maud CargillBorn: 8 January 1892 GuildfordHalf sibling. Baptised 3 April 1892 St. John the Evangelist, Stoke, Guildford. Father recorded as a soldier.
Married William Josiah 1911 Epsom.
Daisy Laudymore CargillBorn: 1896 GuildfordHalf sibling. Baptised 17 May 1896 St. John the Evangelist, Stoke, Guildford. Living in Drummond Road at the time.
Father recorded as deceased.
Married Philip G L Hill 1922 Epsom.
Dorothy Victoria CargillBorn: 1897 GuildfordHalf sibling. No baptism found, father unknown.
Alfred William CatesBorn: 21 June 1901 Guildford
Died: 26 July 1943 Thailand
Baptised 8 February 1903 in St. Saviour, Guildford and again on the same day in St. Lawrence, Stoke, Guildford
Caroline Hilda CatesBorn: 4 December 1902 GuildfordFull sibling. Baptised 8 February 1903 St. Saviour, Guildford and again on the same day in St. Lawrence, Stoke, Guildford.
Married Thomas Benjamin Fox 22 May 1926 St. Barnabas Epsom.
George Frederick CatesBorn: 2 November 1906 Addlestone
Died: 1961
Full sibling. Baptised 30 June 1907 Christ Church Epsom. Address Upper Court Road Epsom.
Ernest Robert CatesBorn: 7 September 1908 Epsom
Died: 1975 Kettering
Full sibling. Attested 2 April 1925, Royal Fusiliers.
Married Ruby Bryan 1938 Kettering
Cecil Eric Armadale CatesBorn: 16 November 1914 Epsom
Died: 1993 Berkshire
Full sibling. Baptised 10 January 1915, St. Barnabas. Married twice: 1) Louisa M Hairs 1939. 2) Phyllis K Hayward 1946.

When Alfred William and his sister Caroline were both baptised on 8 September 1903 in St. Saviour's church, Guildford, the family were recorded as living in Manor Road, Stoughton, Guildford. For unknown reasons they were both also baptised on the same day in St. Lawrence, Stoke-next-Guildford, Surrey, but their address there was recorded as 2 Baden Cottages, Stoughton. On both records their father Harry was noted as a Royal Marine.

By 1907 the family had moved to Upper Court Road, Epsom and Alfred's father Harry was working as a stoker. When the 1911 census was taken the family was living at 243 Hook Road Epsom and all of Alfred's half siblings were recorded with the surname Cates. His father was working as a carter for the London County Council while sisters Lilian (Lily) worked as a laundress and Daisy as a general servant. Also living with them was their maternal grandmother Elizabeth Cates and two boarders.

Alfred was too young to serve in the Great War but attested on 14 April 1919 at Kingston into the Royal Artillery. The Surrey Recruitment Register tells us that his age was 18 years and 1 month, he was 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighed 136 lbs, was born in Guildford and worked as a carter.

Alfred, aged 25, married 23 year old Emma Barber in St. Barnabas Church on 31 July 1926. Alfred was described as a male nurse whilst Emma was a 23 year old laundry maid. They lived at 243 Hook Road, Epsom, and their fathers were Harry William Cates, a carter and William George Barber, a labourer.

Alfred's parents continued to live at 243 Hook Road but Alfred and Emma, between 1927 and 1939 moved several times and lived either at 9 Hurst Road, 243 Hook Road or 331B Hook Road.

Alfred served in the Second World War with the 88th Field Regiment Royal Artillery, which was in Malaya in December 1941.

On 15 February 1942 British forces at Singapore surrendered to the Japanese and Alfred became a prisoner of war. The Japanese used prisoners of war as forced labour to build the notorious Burma to Siam railway (The Death Railway). Approximately 13,000 prisoners of war died whilst constructing the railway and were buried along the route. Building the railway took 14 months, work commencing in October 1942 with completion by December 1943.

After the war the remains of British servicemen were removed to three cemeteries at Chungkai and Kanchanaburi in Thailand, and Thanbyuzayat in Myanmar.

Alfred died of cholera on 26 July 1943 and, with 6,857 other Allied dead. is buried the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery. This is about 70 miles west of Bangkok and only a short distance from the site of the Kanburi PoW base camp through which most of the prisoners passed on their way to the various other camps.

The widowed Emma took the option of adding a personal inscription to the marker on his Grave 8.G.47,
"So young, so kind, so bright, I bid you, my dearest one, goodnight."
Alfred's mother died in 1944 aged 70, at 49 Dorking Road and was buried in grave M192 in Epsom Cemetery on 5 August. His father died in 1948, aged 72, at 243 Hook Road and was buried with his wife in grave M192 on 31 January 1948. Alfred is remembered on his parent's gravestone.

In addition to his entry in the Borough's Book of Remembrance, Albert is commemorated on the plaque of Horton Asylum employees in the Horton Chapel, and on the St. Barnabas Roll of Honour.

Clive Gilbert & Hazel Ballan © 2017
Updated by Roger Morgan 2018

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CATOR, John Leonard. Private (5771763)

2nd Battalion, Royal Norfolk Regiment
Died 1 March 1945, aged 32

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

John was born Q2 1914, apparently the first child of John Ernest Cator and Ellen (née Smith - they had married Q4 1912, registered in the Smallburgh District of Norfolk). The family was solidly East Anglian. The 1939 Register records the parents living at 3 Acle Road, Blofield and Flegg UD, Norfolk. 48 year old John senior is listed as a "Farm Labourer" (as is his 16 year old son Stanley) and 46 year old Ellen with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". Also at home were a 12 year old son, Godfrey, and one currently closed record - presumably a younger child. John junior, by now aged 25, was not at home and was probably already in the Army.

In Q4 1940, John junior married Kathleen Ada Dench. That marriage was registered in Acle, Norfolk, as was the birth of their three children: John (Q1 1942); Gordon (Q4 1943; and Jacqueline Q4 1944). The Commonwealth War Graves Commission's post-war records note that the widowed Kathleen was "of West Ewell, Surrey", that address has yet to be discovered but, in 1945, she was living at 46 Wells Road, Epsom.

All the readily available records state that John's WW2 service was with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Norfolk Regiment, but not when that began. If, as seems likely, he was in uniform by 1940, he would have seen action in France as part of the British Expeditionary Force and, in particular, during the fighting retreat to Dunkirk during which the Battalion suffered heavy losses. Some sources are clear that the 2nd Battalion was subsequently sent to Burma, and fought there until the defeat of Japan in August 1945. John, however, was clearly killed in action on 1 March 1945 during the closing stages of the Allies' final advance into Germany.

John is one of the 7,500 Commonwealth WW2 casualties buried in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery in NW Germany. The widowed Kathleen took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave 62.D.1,
"His thoughts were for others to the last. We shall miss him sadly all our lives"
Part of the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery
Part of the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery
Photograph by Wouter van Dijken via findagrave.com

Roger Morgan © 2018

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CHANDLER, Frederick George

Royal Marines
The entry in the Borough's Book of Remembrance
The entry in the Borough's Book of Remembrance
Image courtesy of Clive Gilbert © 2014

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission's comprehensive database has no record of this person listed in the Borough's Book of Remembrance.

While that database lists ten WW2 deaths of people surnamed Chandler and with Frederick as one of their Christian name, none of those was either a Marine or had any obvious connection with the Borough.

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CHANNON, Peter. Leading Aircraftman (1632935)

Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 15 March 1945, aged 22

Peter's headstone in the Brussels Town Cemetery.
Peter's headstone in the Brussels Town Cemetery.
Photograph (56433329) by International Wargraves Photography Project via findagrave.com

Peter is not listed in the Book of Remembrance, but is remembered here because, as noted on the WW2 memorial plaque in the Town Hall, he was employed by the Epsom & Ewell Council. (He is also commemorated in St Mary's Church, Fetcham.)

Peter was born on 16 September 1922, the first child of Arthur Septimus Channon to Olive Grace (née Cotterell). Their Q4 1919 marriage was registered in Dorking. Peter's birth was registered in the Wandsworth District. The couple had a second child, Barbara, whose Q2 1928 birth was registered in the Croydon District.

The September 1939 Register records the family living at 21 The Street Fetcham. 49 year old Arthur is listed as "Textile Agent & Traveller"; 50 year old Olive with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties"; and 17 year old Peter as a "Junior Clerk, Surveyor's Dept, Epsom & Ewell Corporation".

Peter Channon enlisted with the Royal Air Force at Cardington during September 1941. Disappointingly, the readily available records provide no information about his WW2 postings.

In Q4 1943 and registered in the local Surrey Mid Eastern District, Peter married Muriel Joyce Puttock - they were both aged 21. Muriel was the daughter of Walter E Puttock and Nellie (née Stanford). (Their Q4 1920 marriage and Muriel's Q2 1922 birth were both registered in the then Epsom District. By the time of the 1939 Register, Muriel's parents were living at 65 Welbeck Road, Doncaster.) Peter and Muriel appear to have set up home at 1a St John's Road, Leatherhead - his address as stated in the 1945 Probate record of administration of his £ 164 estate being awarded to the widowed Muriel.

The circumstances of his death on 15 March 1945 have not been established. The fact that he is one of the 670 Commonwealth WW2 casualties buried in the Brussels Town Cemetery implies that he was at the front of the action as the Allies closed in on Germany in the final months of the war. His widow took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave X22.18,
"Precious memories are all we have, Darling, until we meet again."
There is no record of Peter and Muriel having any children. In Q4 1952 and registered in the local Surrey Mid Eastern District, Muriel got married again, to William L Rivett.

Brian Bouchard © 2018
Updated by Roger Morgan 2018

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CHAPMAN, John Arthur. Second Lieutenant (170277)

8th Royal Tank Regiment
Died 10 July 1942, aged 21

John's 23 August 1921 birth was registered in the Bromley, Kent District. He was apparently the only child of Arthur Henry Chapman and Gladys (née Cuddon) whose Q4 1920 marriage was registered in the Lambeth District.

At some point, the family moved to Epsom. The September 1939 Register records the parents living at 33 Christ Church Mount, Epsom. 60 year old Arthur is listed as a "Chartered Surveyor FSI" and 43 year old Gladys with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". (The parents later moved to Sherborne, Dorset which is where the Commonwealth War Graves Commission post-war records note that they were "of".)

18 year old John was not at home for the 1939 Register, instead being recorded as a boarder at Felsted School, Essex, to which he had been admitted in 1935 (with an annotation that he was a Lance Corporal in the School's Officer Training Corps). According to the School's WW2 Roll of Honour:
When he first came to Felsted John Chapman did not find life easy. He was shy and nervous and progress at work and games was slow. But gradually all this changed and, by sheer determination, he achieved success. When he left he was a successful and reliable House Prefect, a member of the Upper Sixth and of the Bury Committee, a 2nd XI colour for hockey and had played regularly for most of his House teams. Then came more hard work to get a commission in the Tank Corps and again success. His letters showed enthusiasm for his work and genuine affection for School and House. The last was written in June in the Libyan desert, where shortly afterwards he gave his life.
John's WW2 service was in the 8th Royal Tank Regiment which in May 1942 was sent, as part of the 23rd Armoured Brigade, to the Middle East to bolster the British Eighth Army. It became active there in early July and was instantly in the thick of the 1-27 July first Battle of El Alamein.

The Italians declared war on the UK in June 1940. Among their first actions was the invasion, from their colony of Libya, of British-held Egypt with a view to taking the prizes of the Suez Canal and the Middle Eastern oilfields. That invasion was quickly rebuffed with, indeed, the British advancing to occupy much of eastern Libya - including the strategic port of Tobruk. Germany sent forces, under Rommel, to assist their Italian allies and, in 1942, these Axis forces were advancing eastwards - apparently inexorably - towards the Suez Canal.

As the Axis supply lines were stretched, the first Battle of El Alamein enabled the Allies - under Auchinleck - at least to halt the advance into Egypt. (The tide in North Africa - and, indeed, in the war as a whole - was decisively turned in the second Battle of El Alamein in October 1942, by when Montgomery had taken command of the Eighth Army.)

Both Battles of El Alamein were a combination of actions rather than single set-piece confrontations. From the date of John's death, it would seem that he was killed in the fierce attacks and counter-attacks at Tel el Eisa.

John is one of the 6,480 Commonwealth WW2 casualties buried in the El Alamein War Cemetery. His parents took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave XVII.E.20,
"He has gone home to God his Father."
The El Alamein War Cemetery, Egypt.
The El Alamein War Cemetery, Egypt.
Photograph with thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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CHERRY, Harold Arthur. Lieutenant (166851)

3 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery
Died 26 February 1945, aged 32

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Harold was born Q4 1912, apparently the only child of Artie Harry Cherry and Emily Florence, née Turner - they had married on 27 December 1907. Their marriage was registered in Luton and that is where the couple, both aged 28, were recorded in the 1911 Census, living at 45 Liverpool Road. Artie is listed as a "Manager Hat Trade" and Emily as a "Hat Finisher". (The parents were still in Luton at the time of the 1939 Register, living alone at 3 Douglas Road.)

In Q2 1938, the 25 year old Harold married Joan L Major, registered in London's Wandsworth. The 1939 Register records the married 24 year old Joan (listed with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties") as the head of the household at Colbell Cottage, Reigate Lane on the Epsom/Banstead border. Living with her were the 57 year old Kate Major - presumably her mother - and three currently closed records. (There is no record of the couple having any children, let alone three in their less than 18 months of their marriage.) It is not yet known whether Joan later moved further into the Borough, but the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's post-war records clearly state that she was "of Epsom, Surrey."

Disappointingly, the readily available records provide no useful information about Harold's WW2 service with 3 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery. His death on 26 February 1945 in the Salerno area came some months after that region of Italy was securely in Allied hands, and Casualty List No. 1696 of 3 March 1945 noted that he had been "accidentally killed".

Harold is one of the 1,745 Commonwealth WW2 casualties buried in the Salerno War Cemetery. The widowed Joan took the option of adding a well-known epitaph to his headstone on Grave VI.F.40,
"Tell England, all who pass this monument, I died for her and here I rest content".
The Salerno War Cemetery
The Salerno War Cemetery
Photograph with thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Roger Morgan © 2018

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CHILDS, Albert Victor. Gunner (1624407)

48 Battery, 21 Light Anti-aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery
Died 7 May 1945, aged 39

Abert's gravemarker and the Labuan War Cemetery, Malaysia.
Abert's gravemarker and the Labuan War Cemetery, Malaysia.
Left: photograph (20344126) by "GulfportBob" via findagrave.com
Right: The cemetery, Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Albert was born in Ewell on 15 July 1908, the second child of James Childs and Florence Maud (née Whittington). James was originally from South Warnborough in Hampshire and Florence from Cuckfield in Sussex. However, their Q3 1904 marriage was registered in the Epsom District - and the Q3 1905 birth of their first child, James Arthur Stanley, was registered in the Southwark District.

The couple were in Ewell for Albert's 1908 birth and the 1911 Census records the family living at "10 Hards Cottages, Gibraltar" in the West Street area of Ewell. In this, 37 year old James is listed as a "Farm Labourer" (employed by the London County Council - so perhaps working in the fields attached to one of the Epsom "cluster" of mental hospitals). As usual, no occupation is listed for the 27 year old Florence. There is a record of Albert, aged 5, being admitted to the "Ewell Church of England School (Infants)".

In Q4 1933, aged 25, Albert married the 22 year old Doris Bertha Bottrill. The marriage was registered in the Epsom District, as was the birth of their two children: Sheila in Q1 1935; and Maureen in Q4 1936. The 1939 Register records the family (assuming that the two currently closed records are their children) lodging with the widowed Florence Walsh at 108 Horton Hill, Epsom. Albert is listed as a "General Labourer" and Doris as a "Laundry maid".

Albert attested for the Royal Artillery in 1940 and was assigned to 48 Battery, 21 Light Anti-aircraft Regiment. In the early days of WW2, this was active in the Battle of Britain and the Blitz. Thomas served in 78 Battery of the 35th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment of the Royal Artillery. In the early days of WW2, this was stationed in the Reading area. In November 1941, the Regiment was kitted out for service in Iraq and, with others, set off in a convoy bound for Basra in the Persian Gulf. However, in view of the Japanese advances in the Far East, the Regiment and some others were diverted to Singapore. Just before Singapore fell to the Japanese on 15 February 1942, the 48 Battery and some others were withdrawn to defend the Allied bases in Borneo.

Notwithstanding stout resistance there, the Japanese forces again proved unstoppable. Surviving members (including Albert) of 48 Battery were among those ordered to capitulate by noon on 9 March 1942 and then taken Prisoners of War. (The record of his capture lists him as being of West Ewell, which is consistent with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's post-war records noting his widow, Doris, as being "of Stoneleigh, Surrey".)

Albert was probably sent to the infamous Sandakan PoW camp, on Borneo's north-east coast. As is well-known, the conditions and regime in Japanese PoW camps were extremely harsh and, like many others, Albert succumbed to these, dying on 7 May 1945.

After the war, some 2,700 burials (of which more than half were unnamed) were transferred from Sandakan - where the ground was subject to occasional flooding - to the new Labuan War Cemetery on an island off northern Borneo, which is now part of Malaysia. His widow took the option of adding a personal message to Albert's headstone on Grave M.B.4,
"Oh, how it would have eased the sorrow could we have only said good-bye."
In Q2 1948 and registered in the local Surrey M District, the widowed Doris got married again - to Spencer C Amans.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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CHILMAN, Richard Arthur. Lance Corporal (14402944)

1/6th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment
Died 8 July 1944, aged 19

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Richard was born Q3 1924, apparently the fifth and last child of Alfred Jesse Chilman and Beatrice May (née Atkinson). The parents' Q3 1906 marriage was registered in the Epsom District, but was probably in Cheam - which, at the time, came within the Epsom Registration District. The 1911 Census records 26 year old Alfred (a "Private Cab Driver") and 27 year old Beatrice living in Poplar Cottages, London Road, Cheam together with their first child two children, 2 year old George and new-born Jack, both of whom are listed as born in Cheam.

The birth of the couple's next three children - Frederick (b 1914), Leonard (b 1915) and finally Richard (b 1924) - were also registered in the Epsom District. One or more of these may actually have been born in Epsom.

The September 1939 Register records the family home as 95 Tunstall Road, Epsom. The record for the address includes 54 year old Beatrice (listed as an "Office Cleaner"), unmarried eldest son 31 year old George (listed as a "Surrey County Council Storeman") and one currently closed record - perhaps the 14/15 year old Richard). 53 year old Alfred was not at the address and, indeed, has not yet been found in the 1939 Register (although he did not die until 1942).

The readily available records provide very little information about Richard's WW2 service with the 1/6th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment, but he will not have been in uniform in time for the Battalion's first WW2 engagements in France as part of the 1940 British Expeditionary Force. By 1944, he was with Allied forces in Italy. Their northward progress had been halted in late 1943 by the German defensive Gustav Line. After much fierce fighting, the Allies had broken through that line in May 1944 and taken Rome on 3 June. The German forces made another stand at Arezzo (just south of Florence) in early July.

Richard was killed there on 8 July as part of the action that led to the town's capture on 16 July. He is one of the 1,266 Commonwealth WW2 burials in the Arezzo War Cemetery, where his family took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave I.C.23,
" 'Tis hard to break the cord when love binds the heart 'tis hard to speak the words we for a time must part."
The Arezzo War Cemetery, Italy
The Arezzo War Cemetery, Italy
Photograph (2181706) by Lamar Sarratt via findagrave.com

Roger Morgan © 2018

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CIVELLI, Joseph. Driver (T/177862)

522 Infantry Brigade Company, Royal Army Service Corps
Died 4 October 1944, aged 30

Joseph's headstone in the Jonkerbos War Cemetery, The Netherlands
Joseph's headstone in the Jonkerbos War Cemetery, The Netherlands
Photograph (13805033) by Des Philippet, via findagrave.com

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Joseph was born in Malta on 1 October 1914, the son of (according to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's records) "Joseph and Antonia Civelli". It is not clear when he came to England - but this was obviously before his Q3 1935 marriage to Jean S Patterson. That was registered in the local Surrey Mid-Eastern District, as was the birth of their only child, Anthony J, in Q2 1938 - when there are records of Joseph living at 542 Chessington Road, West Ewell.

Shortly after that, on 5 July 1938, Joseph's widowed 64 year old mother, Antonia, arrived at Southampton having sailed from New York on Cunard's RMS Aquitania. The manifest shows her intended UK address to be "Gilders Lane, Chessington". It is not clear whether she ever made it to see her son and new grandson: as noted in Epsom Cemetery's records of her burial on Grave G454 on 16 August 1938, she had died in the "Red Cross Hut, Waterloo Square, Bognor Regis".

Anyway, by the time of the September 1939 Register, Joseph and family were living at 4 Poole Road, West Ewell. The 24 year old Joseph is listed as a "Car Park Attendant" (with the original record subsequently annotated to show that he had taken up volunteer wartime "stretcher bearer" duties) and 28 year old Jean with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". There is one currently closed record at the address, doubtless of 1 year old Anthony.

There is disappointingly little information in the readily available records about Joseph's WW2 service as a Driver in 522 Infantry Brigade Company of the Royal Army Service Corps. It appears that the troops that Joseph's unit was supporting at the time of his death were active in the area of Nijmegen in The Netherlands (about 15 miles south of Arnhem and about 5 miles from the German border): from 17 September 1944 until February 1945 Nijmegen was a front line town.

However, according to Casualty List No. 1583 of 21 October 1944, Joseph's death on 4 October 1944 was the result of an accident rather than hostilities. He is one of 1,629 Commonwealth WW2 burials in the Jonkerbos War Cemetery, on the outskirts of Nijmegen. His widow took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave 4.B.6,
"Loving memories ever. Jean and Anthony"
The widowed Jean never remarried, and died in May 2000, registered in the Bristol District. In Q1 1963, son Anthony had married Daphne A Harbert, registered in the Gosport District. They had two daughters: Maria (born Q1 1966); and Helen (born Q3 1971).

Roger Morgan © 2018
With special thanks to Hazel Ballan

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CLARK, Leonard Arthur. Flying Officer (42590)

Royal Air Force
Died 26 September 1945, aged 31

Unusually, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database contains nothing about Leonard's parents. Without the clues their names would have provided, his names are too common to be able to trace his 1914/15 birth or family background in the readily available records.

The Commission's records note that Leonard was the husband of Helen Grace Clark, and their Q2 1941 marriage (with her maiden name being Morgan) was registered in the Surrey South Eastern Registration District). Leonard's 1945 Death Certificate notes that, before joining the RAF, he had been an "Insurance Superintendent" and that his home address was 69a Lower Hill Road, Epsom. That is also the address in the 1945 Probate record of administration of his £ 1,132 estate being granted to the widowed Helen.

Leonard was in uniform from at least the beginning of WW2. The London Gazette for 19 September 1939 records (on page 6352) that he had been granted short service commission as an Acting Pilot Officer on probation for six years on the active list from 2 September 1939 - the day before the formal declaration of war. His area of service was in the RAF's General Duties Branch, as confirmed on page 4866 of the Gazette for 22 August 1941 - shortly after his marriage - which records that "Acting Pilot Officer on probation Leonard Arthur CLARK (42590), is confirmed in his appointment and graded as Pilot Officer, 7th June, 1941 (seniority 7th December 1940)". Sadly, Leonard became unwell. The 24 August 1943 Gazette recorded (on page 3788) that "Flying Officer L A CLARK (42590) relinquishes his commission on account of ill-health and retains his rank. 27th July 1943."

At some point, Leonard was admitted to Horton Emergency Hospital, one of Epsom's "cluster" of mental hospitals that, as for WW1, had been taken over for dealing with wartime casualties. He died there on 26 September 1945, after the cessation of hostilities. His Death Certificate records that he died - in those days before dialysis (let alone transplants) - of kidney failure resulting from renal tuberculosis.

Leonard is commemorated on the memorial at South London Crematorium (situated within Streatham Park Cemetery, Rowan Road, Streatham Vale) where, over the WW2 years, 123 servicemen were cremated.

The WW2 memorial at South London Crematorium
The WW2 memorial at South London Crematorium.
Photograph with thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

No record has been found of Leonard and Helen having any children. In Q3 1950, the widowed Helen got married again - to Godfrey H Stafford, registered in the Marylebone Registration district.

Roger Morgan © 2018


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CLARK, Maurice Charles

Civilian
Died 9 September 1940, aged 9

Maurice was born in the Epsom area on 6 July 1931. He was the second child of Charles Frederick Clark and Minnie Ann (née Passaway - they had married Q4 1926 in Edmonton). Their first child, Dennis had been born in Edmonton in Q1 1928, but sadly, died later that year.

The 1939 Register records the family living at 88 Amberley Gardens, Stoneleigh. Charles (born 29 April 1901) is listed as "Chief Inspector (Aircraft)" and Minnie with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". The 8 year old Maurice was "at school". Also living with them was the widowed and "incapacitated" 72 year old Minnie H Passaway, presumably Maurice's grandmother.

On 9 September 1940, the second day of the Blitz, the 9 year old Maurice was killed at home by some "enemy action". If others in the house were injured in the raid, they survived.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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CLARK, Victor James. Steward

SS Penolver (Falmouth), Merchant Navy
Died 19 October 1943, aged 23.

Victor James Clark was born on 24 January 1919, the son of, according to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records, James and Hermina Ethel Clark - and then the stepson of Nellie Clark. The 1939 Register records James and Nellie living alone at 15 Pound Lane, Epsom. James is listed as a "master hairdresser" with Nellie (in addition to the then conventional "unpaid domestic duties") as "help in shop" - presumably her husband's hairdressers listed in the local 1938 Kelly's Directory at their home address, 15 Pound Lane.

Victor's secondary education was at Epsom County School for Boys (now Glyn School) which he joined in January 1931. He soon showed himself to be very able, never being lower than fourth in any end of year exam. He won a number of form prizes, and gained distinction in Maths in his School Certificate.

After school, he worked in local government finance, but his "zest for living" took him into the Merchant Navy before WW2.

In December 1939, Victor was serving on a meat ship which, on docking in Montevideo (in neutral Uruguay), found itself moored alongside the German "pocket battleship" the Admiral Graf Spee. This had been harrying allied shipping in the area but was hunted down by a large British and French naval effort. They engaged Graf Spee in what is known as the Battle the River Plate. Although badly damaged, Graf Spee managed to escape into Montevideo for repair. That proved to be impracticable and her Captain took the ship to sea and scuppered her. In Victor's words "The next time I saw this ship, after going up the river to Buenos Aires, she was a smouldering ruin, with her main-deck and tops just showing above the waters of the River Plate. Homeward bound, we brought home the British seamen who had been imprisoned on her, and the one thing I like to recall is that every one of those men spoke well of her commander, Langsdorf, and said that they were very well treated on her."

Over the following years, Victor - and the many others on the Merchant Navy - helped bring essential supplies to the UK. Service on such convoys was hazardous: enemy attack was always likely and often severe. In somewhat understated terms, Victor described action after one of his convoys had got separated: "So rather than risk being caught by the next hurricane while waiting for the convoy to reform, the captain decided to run for it. This was risky, to say the least, as we had 500 tons of TNT and several thousand tons of turpentine spirit in the hold, and if torpedoed, we would simply have blown up."

By 1943, Victor was serving as the Purser on SS Penolver, a 3,721 ton cargo ship. On the afternoon of 19 October, SS Penolver (with a cargo of 5,300 tons of iron ore) left Wabana in Canada as part of convoy WB-65 on its two day journey to Sydney, Nova Scotia, after which it would set off across the Atlantic.

SS Penolver shortly after its launch in 1912.
SS Penolver shortly after its launch in 1912.
Photograph courtesy of Mr H Appleby, via the Hartlepool history website

At 2030 hours, about 15 miles off St John's, SS Penolver struck a mine (laid a few days earlier by German U-Boat U 2200) and sank within 3 minutes. Of the forty-strong crew, twenty six - including Victor - perished.

Victor's body was never recovered and he is remembered on the Tower Hill Memorial which commemorates more than 35,800 merchant seamen of both World Wars who have no known grave.

This article has drawn heavily on material in Section 3 ("The War Years") of the Glyn School history, which is gratefully acknowledged.

Roger Morgan © 2017

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CLARK, William George. Flying Officer (150037)

10 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 15 February 1944, aged 21

William George Clark as a schoolboy.
William George Clark as a schoolboy.
Photo courtesy of Glyn School.

William was born on 6 June 1922, the son of William Thomas and Edith Satterly Clark. His secondary education was at Epsom County School for Boys (now Glyn School), where the records show the family lived at 68 West Hill, Epsom - and that, in 1934, his father (who owned a food store) was struggling to pay the fees.

By the time of the 1939 Register, the family had moved to 22 The Crescent, Epsom. 47 year old William senior is listed as a "Baker's Roundsman" (and ARP Warden) and 48 year old Edith with the usual "Unpaid Domestic Duties" (and ARP post telephonist). The 1939 Register originally recorded the 17 year old William junior as being at school, but that was later corrected to "Chemist". (The parents subsequently moved away: the Commonwealth War Graves Commission post-war records list them as "of Sutton, Surrey".)

William's WW2 service was in 10 Squadron, part of the RAF's Bomber Command. For the latter stages of the war, it was based at RAF Melbourne in Yorkshire, flying Handley Page Halifaxes.

The Handley Page Halifax B.III
The Handley Page Halifax B.III
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Squadron flew many missions over Germany, and the date of William's death (plus his burial in Germany) almost certainly means that he died during the controversial bombing of Dresden on 13-15 February 1944.

William is buried in the Berlin 1939-45 War Cemetery that was established soon after hostilities ceased. Graves were brought there from not only the Berlin area but also from eastern Germany, including Dresden. About 80% of the 3,595 now buried there were airmen who were lost in the air raids over Berlin and the towns in eastern Germany. William's parents took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Collective Grave 13.E.1-7,
"For God so loved / the world that he gave / his only begotten son. / St. John iii. 16"
William's headstone in the Berlin War Cemetery
William's headstone in the Berlin War Cemetery
Photograph (18402922) by "Uwe", via findagrave.com

Roger Morgan © 2018

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CLEGG, Luke. Serjeant, (T/117517)

Royal Army Service Corps
Died 9 January 1944, aged 43

The family headstone in St. Mary's Ewell Churchyard Extension
The family headstone in St. Mary's Ewell Churchyard Extension
Image courtesy of Clive Gilbert © 2018

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission's background information about Luke is unusually brief: it has nothing about his parentage (or even his age), noting only that he was the "Husband of Lily Clegg", without giving any of the usual information about her address. Lily died in 1984 and was buried in St. Mary's Ewell Churchyard Extension. Her headstone (pictured above), notes that Luke was 43 when he died.

Armed with that information, Luke's Q1 1902 birth can be traced to the Wakefield District of Yorkshire. This is where, Q4 1920, he married Lily C Ashton and the couple then had at least two children: Doreen (birth registered Q1 1924; and Queenie (birth registered Q1 1930). The 1939 Register records Lily (born 25 July 1900 and listed as a "Munitions Worker") as the head of the household at 2 Ashton Terrace, Rothwell which is just a few miles from Wakefield. There are four other records at the address. Two are currently closed, but one of the open ones is the 15 year old Doreen (born 27 December 1923 and a "Tailoress"); the other is another daughter, schoolgirl Shirley (born 14 November 1925). It has yet to be established when Lily moved to Ewell but, in 1945, her address was 7 Ewell By-Pass.

Disappointingly, the readily available records provide very little information about Luke's WW2 (and probably pre-war) service with the Royal Army Service Corps. All we currently have is Casualty List No. 1328 of December 1943 which notes that Luke, whose base was in Sicily and who had previously been reported as "wounded" on 3 September was now "wounded and missing".

Now, 3 September 1943 was the date of the Allies' invasion of mainland Italy, principally with amphibious landings at Salerno launched from the just-captured Sicily. It would seem that Luke was seen to have been wounded in that first day's action, later confirmed as missing, and subsequently found to have died.

Luke is one of the 1,202 Commonwealth WW2 casualties buried in the Naples War Cemetery, in Grave II.S.13. The Cemetery was established in late 1943, shortly after the liberation of Naples on 1 October. Burials came from the Naples garrison as well as the nearby 65th, 67th and 92nd General Hospitals. Later graves were brought in from a number of small cemeteries in the immediate vicinity.

The Naples War Cemetery
The Naples War Cemetery
Photograph with thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Roger Morgan © 2018

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CLEVERLEY, Arthur (Albert) Henry. Serjeant (760824)

157 Battery, 53 Light Anti Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery
Died 30 March 1942, aged 39

Arthur's  headstone in St. Mary's Cemetery
Arthur's headstone in St. Mary's Cemetery
Image courtesy of Clive Gilbert © 2018

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records note that Arthur was the son of Sydney and Louisa Cleverley and the husband of Eva Cleverley. For someone with this relatively unusual surname, it was surprising that details of Arthur's birth, family background and marriage were not to be found in the usually available records. It seems clear that this is because he seems to have changed his given name from "Albert" to "Arthur" for his Army service.

Albert Henry Cleverley was born on 13 April, the first child of Albert Sydney Cleverley and Louisa Ada (née Parry - they had married in Q3 1902, registered in the West Ham District. The 1911 Census records the family - now with five children (from new-born Lillian to 8 year old Albert) living at 10 Botolph Road, Bow in East London. The 40 year old father - styling himself plain "Albert" on the return - is listed as a "Carman" for a "Rope Maker".

In Q3 1930, Albert junior married Eva Lewer, registered in Prescot, Lancashire. They made their home in West Ham which is where the births of their two children (Audrey S in Q3 1933 and Jeffrey J in Q4 1936) were registered. The 1939 Register records the 35 year old Eva (listed with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties") living at 11 Wilson Street, West Ham. Albert is not found in the Register - probably because he was already in uniform. However, adding confusion to the names in all this, another resident of 11 Wilson Street was Albert's married younger brother, 23 year old Arthur E Cleverley.

Having unpicked that rather confusing family story, it is disappointing that the readily available records are, after finding Albert/Arthur's 157 Battery (of the Royal Artillery's 53 Light Anti Aircraft Regiment) involved in the defence of Coventry in late 1940, of no help in tracing either his subsequent WW2 service or the cause of his death on 30 March 1942. The fact that his death was recorded in the local Surrey Mid Eastern District does not necessarily mean that it occurred locally - and, if he did die locally, this could have been the result of succumbing to injuries received earlier and elsewhere.

In any event, he is buried in of the Ewell (St. Mary) Churchyard Extension. All this seems clearly to indicate that the family was resident in the Borough at the time, although no address has yet been established for them. The widowed Eva (noted in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's post-war records as being "of Harrow Weald, Middlesex") took the option of adding a personal inscription to the headstone on Grave E.64,
"Promoted to a higher rank".
Roger Morgan © 2018
With special thanks to Clive Gilbert

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CLIFF, John William. Ordinary Seaman (P/JX 386283)

Royal Navy
Died 27 August 1943, aged 18

&

CLIFF, Peter Robert. Able Seaman (P/SSX 36112)

Royal Navy
Died 27 August 1943, aged 20

John and Peter were, respectively, the third and second children of Joseph Cliff and his wife Florence Rose (nee Crump). The parents had married in Epsom Q3 1914, when Florence was aged 17 and Joseph 22. The full list of their children - all born in Epsom - is shown below.

NameBornDied
Joseph Edwin6 November 1914 1990
Peter RobertQ4 1922 1943
John William15 September 1924 1943
Dennis Donald12 February 1926 1981
Pauline M
(In Q1 1953 she married William M Foster
in the local Surrey Mid Eastern District)
Q2 1930-
Michael DavidQ4 19322010

The Cliffs lived at 12 Castle Road, Epsom - which is where most of the family were recorded in the September 1939 Register. The first entry is not, as would be usual, 47 year old Joseph senior as the "head of the household" but 42 year old Florence (listed with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties"). Joseph (listed as a "Heavy Labourer") is, instead, found in the 1939 Register as a visitor in the home - 50 Combe Road, Godalming - of his recently married 24 year old son Joseph Edwin (listed as a "Storekeeper-Timekeeper") and his 27 year old wife Dorothy May (listed with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties").

Of the remaining five entries at 12 Castle Road in the 1939 Register, three are currently closed, but they seem certain all to be of the couple's five other children - from nearly 17 year old Peter to nearly 7 year old Michael. That is reinforced by the open entries (at third and fourth place in the overall list) being, respectively and in logical sequence, of 15 year old John, listed as a "Surveyor's Assistant" and 13 year old schoolboy Dennis.

John and Peter both joined the Royal Navy during WW2, serving aboard HMS Egret (L75/U75). She had been launched in May 1938 as the first of three sloops of the Egret Class - of which only one (HMS Pelican) survived World War 2. These 1,200 ton craft were long-range convoy escort ships which were also used for anti-submarine patrols.

HMS Egret leaving dock, September 1942
HMS Egret leaving dock, September 1942.
Image Source : Imperial War Museum © IWM (FL 22644)

The Germans had a new weapon, the Henschel HS 293, which was a radio-guided glide bomb with a rocket slung underneath. These were launched from an aircraft at a considerable distance and kept in sight as they were guided to their target. Like most experimental weapons at that period it had been developed in a rush and was far from perfect. In due course the Allies developed effective radio-jamming techniques, but in August 1943 the Luftwaffe was trying out the HS 293 in the Bay of Biscay.

Henschel HS 293
Henschel HS 293
Image Source: Deutsches Museum Munich, photo by Jean-Patrick Donzey via Wikipedia(Creative Commons Licence.)

The Royal Navy's first experience of the weapon was on 25 August 1943 when the 40th Support Group was attacked in the Bay of Biscay. The sloop HMS Bideford was hit and damaged, with one sailor killed, though more serious damage was avoided because the bomb's explosive charge did not fully detonate. In the same attack, the sloop HMS Landguard was slightly damaged by a near miss.

Two days later, the 40th Support Group was relieved by the 1st Support Group consisting of HMS Egret, her sister HMS Pelican, four frigates, the Canadian destroyer HMCS Athabaskan and the British destroyer HMS Grenville. Egret was commanded by A/Cdr John Valentine Waterhouse DSO, RN (later Captain Waterhouse OBE).

A/Cdr John Valentine Waterhouse DSO, RN
A/Cdr John Valentine Waterhouse DSO, RN
Image Source : Imperial War Museum © IWM (Art.IWM ART LD 3299)

On 27 August 1943, its first day of duty on the station, the 1st Support Group was just west of Vigo, Spain and was attacked by a squadron of 18 Dornier Do 217 carrying Henschel glide bombs. HMS Egret suffered the grim fate of being the first ship ever sunk by a guided missile. 194 crew members died, including the Cliff brothers.

HMS Egret blowing up and sinking, 27 August 1943.
HMS Egret blowing up and sinking, 27 August 1943.
Image Source : Imperial War Museum © IWM (A 19448)

In the same attack, one of the two covering destroyers, HMCS Athabaskan, was heavily damaged when one of the glide bombs passed clean through her and detonated on the outside of the ship. The other destroyer, HMS Grenville, was also targeted by the Dorniers firing one missile at a time, but survived by being able out-turn the glide bombs. This whole incident led to the anti-U-boat patrols in the Bay of Biscay being suspended until systems for jamming the missiles' guidance were developed.

Having no known grave, John and Peter are among the almost 15,000 WW2 naval personnel commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial (Panel 76, Column 2 and Panel 74, Column 1 respectively).

Linda Jackson © 2016
Updated by Roger Morgan 2018

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CLIFTON, John Lowrey. Flying Officer (136320)

157 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 26 February 1944, aged 31

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

John (apparently known as Jack) was born 31 January 1913. Although the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's database notes that he was the "son of John and Elizabeth Atkinson Lowrey Clifton", it has not yet proved possible to trace the family background in the readily available records.

In Q2 1934 and registered in the Marylebone District, the 21 year old John/Jack married 25 year old Florence (Lammy) Mary Tate. The birth of their first child, John H F G Clifton, was registered in the Paddington District in Q2 1936.

In 1937, the family moved to the Borough and the birth of their second child, David A G M Clifton, on 19 April 1939 was registered in the local in Surrey Mid Eastern District in Q2 1939. The September 1939 Register records them all living at 18 Sterry Drive, Ewell. 26 year old John is listed as a "Senior Audit Clerk) and 30 year old Florence with not only the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties" but also as a "State Registered Nurse". The one closed record at the address is doubtless of 3 year old John junior. The final record, for new-born David, is not closed since he died in May 1999.

John enlisted in the RAF at Euston during August 1940 and was allocated a Service Number 1376614. He was subsequently commissioned from Flight Sergeant to Pilot Officer 136320 backdated to 31 October 1942, and promoted to Flying Officer on 30 April 1943. He was assigned to 157 Squadron, a night fighter unit equipped with the latest Mosquito night-fighter aircraft. From RAF Castle Camps on the Essex Cambridgeshire borders, the Squadron flew patrols over East Anglia. In July 1943, the Squadron moved to RAF Hunsdon in Hertfordshire and began intruder attacks on German fighter bases. In November 1943, it moved to RAF Predannack in Cornwall, closer to the German bases.

On 26 February 1944, John was flying Mosquito DZ707 back to RAF Predannack. While on its approach (and having, it is thought, stalled) the aircraft dived to port from 200 feet and John was killed in the crash.

(John's Navigator, F/O Gordon Hamilton SCOBIE (136335) RAFVR was badly injured but survived, thanks to the joint efforts of the Station Medical Officer and the NCO i/c Fire Section. He died on 8 December 1954 in Pinner, Middlesex.)

John is one of the 30 WW2 casualties buried Helston Cemetery (NW Section, Grave C.34).

John's headstone in Helston Cemetery.
John's headstone in Helston Cemetery.
Photograph (42553755) by 'julia&keld' via findagrave.com

The widowed Florence was still living at 18 Sterry Drive when, in 1945, she was awarded administration of her husband's £ 952 estate. She never remarried, and died in Littlehampton on 20 April 1972.

Brian Bouchard © 2018
Updated by Roger Morgan 2018

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COADE, Charles Frederick. Sergeant/Wireless Op./Air Gunner (1212410)

218 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 29 July 1943, aged 26

Charles's headstone in the Hamburg Cemetery
Charles's headstone in the Hamburg Cemetery.
Photograph (20939718) by "PupDawg", via findagrave.com

Charles is not listed in the Book of Remembrance but is commemorated on Town Hall WW2 memorial as an employee of the Epsom & Ewell Corporation. (As to the nature of his role, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission credits him with Associate Membership of the Institution of Sanitary Engineers.)

Charles's birth was registered in the Lambeth district in Q4 1916. He was apparently the only child of Arthur James Coade and Kate M A F (née Richardson - their Q1 1916 marriage was registered in the Wandsworth District). The marriage came shortly after Arthur had enlisted in the Royal Army Service Corps in November 1915. The record of his attestation, notes that he lived at 3 Rectory Gardens, Clapham and had been employed as a "Motor Driver Mechanic". He was initially assigned to the RASC's Mechanical Transport Depot at Osterley Park. He survived WW1, but died aged only 37 in Q4 1927, registered in the Hackney District.

Young Charles has left a disappointingly light trace in the readily available records. His next appearance is in Q1 1940 when his marriage to Ermine Olive Short was registered in the Winchester District - they were both aged 23. (While Charles is not found in the 1939 Register, Ermine was recorded as a "Glove Salewoman" living with many other saleswomen at 140/148 Earls Court Road, London.

Shortly after their marriage, Charles enlisted with the RAF at Cardington. He was assigned to 218 (Gold Coast) Squadron, part of the RAF's Bomber Command. On 28 July 1943, he was one of the crew aboard Stirling III EE895 HA-S, piloted by Sergeant J Clark, which took off from RAF Downham Market at 22.32 hours to take part in a bombing raid on Hamburg. In the early hours of 29 July, the aircraft was brought down by flak and crashed on Billstedt in the city's eastern suburbs. All the crew - Sergeants J Clark, C Eden, R J Chapman, G M Crawford & C F Coade - were killed.

The fuller story is told in the History of 218 (Gold Coast) Squadron which, for 29/30 July 1943, notes:
"...third Hamburg raid, for which eighteen Stirlings from Downham Market made up a force of 777 aircraft. EF449 returned early with intercom problems, but 707 aircraft arrived over the city approaching from the north to deliver 2,300 tons of bombs. The Pathfinders were again two miles east of the aiming point with their markers, which fell a little to the south of the firestorm area. A creep-back developed across the devastation of two nights earlier, before falling onto other residential districts beyond, where a new area of fire was created, although of lesser proportions. The city's fire service was already exhausted, while access to the freshly afflicted districts was denied by rubble strewn and cratered streets, and there was little to be done, other than to allow the fires to burn themselves out. The defences were beginning to recover from the shock of Window, and as they did so, the bomber losses began to rise. Twenty eight aircraft failed to return on this night, two of them, BF578 and EE895, belonging to 218 Squadron. The former's demise came at the hands of a combination of flak and a nightfighter, which brought the Stirling down over Germany, killing the pilot, Sgt Pickard, and one of his gunners, and delivering the remainder of the crew into captivity. The latter was a victim of flak in the target area, and there were no survivors from the crew of Sgt Clark. Both crews were just emerging from their freshman status, and were on their third and fifth operations respectively."
Charles and the other four crew of Stirling EE895 HA-S were initially buried at Billstedt. They were subsequently reinterred in the Hamburg Cemetery which holds 2,096 WW2 Commonwealth casualties. The widowed Ermine took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Collective Grave 6A.A.1-6,
"There is in this rich earth a richer dust concealed."
(This is drawn from Rupert Brookes' WW1 poem, The Soldier, and follows the better known line "That there's some corner of a foreign field that is for ever England".)

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission notes that Charles's widow was "of Raynes Park, Surrey". The Probate record of her being awarded administration of his £ 74 estate noted the address as 20 Bushey Court, Raynes Park. There is no record of Charles and Ermine having any children. In Q3 1951, she got married again - to Rex Mantle, registered in the Surrey NE District.

Brian Bouchard © 2017
Updated by Roger Morgan 2018

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COCKELL, Percival John. Lance Bombardier (1113773)

160 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery
Died 21 January 1945, aged 34

Percival was born on 17 October 1910, the third child of Charles Cockell and Sarah Mariah (née Ford - they had married in Morden on 24 December 1901). The family are recorded in the 1911 Census living at 9 Craven Road, Kingston-upon-Thames. They were still there at the time of the 1939 Register with Charles listed as a "Builders Joiner", Sarah with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties" and the nearly 29 year old Percival as "Local Government Officer Finance Department Accounting Assistant".

In Q2 1940, Percival married May Leggatt. The marriage was registered in the Surrey North Eastern District, but they set up home in Worcester Park. This is where the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's post-war records list the widowed May as being "of", and the Probate record of May's being granted administration of Percival's £ 1,166 estate gives the address as 69 The Warren, Worcester Park. The couple do not appear to have had any children.

The readily available records are of no help in tracking Percival's WW2 service in the 160 Field Regiment of the Royal Artillery. In 1944/45, the Regiment was clearly in the thick of the fighting as Allied troops battled to drive Japanese forces out of Burma. On 21 January 1945, Casualty List No. 1754 declared him missing and presumed killed in action.

His body was never found and he is remembered on the Rangoon Memorial (in the centre of Taukkyan War Cemetery in what is now Myanmar) as one of the nearly 27,000 Land Forces of the British Empire who died during the campaigns in Burma and who have no known grave.

The Rangoon Memorial
The Rangoon Memorial
Photograph with thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Roger Morgan © 2018

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COCKROFT, Leslie Hermon. Lieutenant (237629)

1/7th Battalion, The Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey)
Died 29 September 1943, aged 30

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Leslie's parents were Charles Cockroft and Alice (née Snowden). They were both from Yorkshire, their Q2 1908 marriage being registered in Scarborough. Their first child, Eva, was born in Yorkshire in 1910. By the time of the 1911 Census, the family had moved to southeast London, living at 92 Salehurst Road, Crofton Park, Brockley. Charles is listed as a "Printing Machine Minder (Letterpress)". The couple then had five more children - twins Rose and Violet Q3 1911; Leslie Q4 1912; Lilian Q4 1915; and Charles Q3 1914 - all registered in the Lewisham District.

In Q4 1939, the 26/27 year old Leslie married Dorothy Gow. The marriage was registered in the Camberwell District. No record has been found of their having any children. The Probate record of administration of Leslie's £ 246 estate being awarded to Dorothy notes that his address had been 5 Hawkslade Road London SE (in the Brockley/Nunhead area). The widowed Dorothy subsequently moved into the Borough: the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's post-war records note that the widowed Dorothy was "of Epsom Downs, Surrey", but that address has yet to be established.

The readily available records provide very little information about Leslie's WW2 service with the 1/7th Battalion of The Queen's Royal Regiment. He may well have been in uniform in time to be sent to France in 1940 as part of the British Expeditionary Force. After the fighting retreat to Dunkirk and the evacuation, the Battalion was sent to North Africa and helped with the defeat of Axis forces in that theatre which cleared the way for the Allies' mid-1943 invasion and capture of Sicily.

The next step was for the Allies to invade the Italian mainland. The main attack - in which Leslie's Battalion was involved - was at Salerno, just to the south of Naples, with the aim of capturing the port of Naples and establishing an Allied line across to the east coast, cutting off the German forces to the south (the Italians had by now signed an armistice and rejoined WW2 on the Allied side) to be attacked by other Allied forces landing in Italy's "toe" and "heel".

While ultimately successful - the whole of southern Italy was in Allied hands by the end of October 1943 - the Salerno beachhead and subsequent advances were hard-won against a number of German counter attacks. It was during this fierce fighting that Leslie was, according Casualty List No. 1258, killed in action.

Leslie is one of the 1,846 Commonwealth WW2 casualties buried in the Salerno War Cemetery. His widow took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave II.D.32,
"They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old."
The Salerno War Cemetery
The Salerno War Cemetery
Photograph with thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Roger Morgan © 2018

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COLLETT, Charles Harry. Second Lieutenant 180754

1st Derbyshire Yeomanry, Royal Armoured Corps
Died 2 September 1941, aged 28

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Charles was born on 8 October 1912 in Kentucky, USA, probably the first child of Charles Otto and Ida Collett. The readily available records do not indicate when the family came to the UK, but they are found in the 1939 Register living at "Deepdene", Epsom Road, Ewell. 61 year old Charles Otto is listed as "Electrical Engineer (Retired)"; 51 year old Ida with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties"; 26 year old Charles Harry as "Rubber Planter"; and his 24 year old brother Niels as an "Articled Clerk Accountant". Also living with the family was 53 year old widow Eleanor Man ("Unpaid Domestic Duties") - perhaps Ida's sister.

The readily available records provide very little information about Charles junior's WW2 service with the 1st Derbyshire Yeomanry. From 1942, the regiment saw active duty in North Africa and then Italy. It was presumably in training for this that, on 2 September 1941, Charles died (according to Casualty List No. 618) as the result of an accident. The death was registered in the Aylesbury District.

Charles was cremated at Woking (St. John's) Crematorium where his name is one of 137 WW1 & WW2 casualties commemorated on the Services memorial there.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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COLLIER, John Mansel. Lieutenant (247606)

54 (9th Battalion The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) Lt. A.A. Regiment, Royal Artillery
Died 23 October 1944, aged 33

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

John was born on 26 March 1911, the fourth child of Albert Collier and Miriam Olive (née Lloyd - they had married Q2 1902). He was only a week old when the 1911 Census was taken and entered on that as "Albert", presumably after his father. The parents had changed their mind by the time of his Christening on 25 May when he was baptised "John Mansel". The family lived at 18 Clarence Street, Gelli Pentre, Rhondda - which is where John was born, as were his sisters Olive Mary (born 1908) and Maud (born 1910). (His oldest sister - Elizabeth, born Q4 1902 - was not at home for that Census.) Albert was employed as a "Blacksmith's Striker", above ground work at a nearby colliery.

John became a schoolmaster. The 1939 Register records him lodging with "Wine Merchant" Kenneth and Eileen Lloyd (perhaps relatives on his mother's side) at "Southover", Park Lane East, Reigate. John attested for the Royal Artillery in 1940 and, in Q2 1941, married Renee Amy Heather, registered in the Wandsworth District. There is no record of the couple having any children. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission's post-war records note that the widowed Renee was "of Ewell, Surrey", but that address has yet to be established.

The readily available records provide very little information about John's WW2 service in the 54th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment. It seems clear that he was actively engaged in the Allies' advance eastwards after the 6 June 1944 D-Day landings. Casualty list No. 1591 records that he "died of wounds" on 23 October 1944.

John is one of 224 WW2 Commonwealth casualties buried in the Boulogne Eastern Cemetery (which also houses 5,577 WW1 burials). The widowed Renee took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave 11.C.1,
"Naught can come without His knowing, come what may, 'tis His bestowing. All's well."
(That is taken from the poem "All's well!" by John Oxenham, the pen name of William Arthur Dunkerley 1852-1941.)

The Boulogne Eastern Cemetery
The Boulogne Eastern Cemetery
Photograph with thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Roger Morgan © 2018

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COLLIER, Robert Arthur. Sapper (19039674)

Royal Engineers
Died 12 September 1947, Age 18

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Robert was born on 14 June 1929 (registered in Hackney), apparently the only child of William Arthur Collier and Frances Emma (née Shephard - they had married Q2 1926, registered in the Islington District). The 1939 Register records the family living at 550 Chessington Road, West Ewell. 39 year old William's employment is listed as "Medical Gases Factory (Charge Hand)" and 34 year old Frances with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". 10 year old Robert was at school.

The readily available records provide no information about Robert's service with the Royal Engineers. Given his age (his 16th birthday fell on 14 June 1945), active WW2 service should be ruled out. Indeed, he died (registered in the Surrey South Western District) more than two years after the cessation of hostilities.

Robert is commemorated on the memorial at South London Crematorium (situated within Streatham Park Cemetery, Rowan Road, Streatham Vale) where he was one of the 123 servicemen were cremated over the WW2 years.

The WW2 memorial at South London Crematorium
The WW2 memorial at South London Crematorium.
Photograph with thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Roger Morgan © 2018

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COLLINS, Geoffrey Guy. Corporal (7902679)

1st Royal Tank Regiment
Died 12 June 1942, aged 25

Geoffrey was born on 28 June 1916, the second son of William Isaac Collins (a carpenter/builder) and Ellen Matilda (née Guy - they married Q2 1909 in Wincanton, Somerset). Like his older and younger brothers (respectively Edward Thomas, born in 1914 and John Noel, born in 1920) Geoffrey was baptised at Christ Church Epsom Common. At the time of his birth, the family lived at Fern Lea, Ladbroke Road, Epsom. By the time of the 1939 Register, the family were living at 22 Dorking Road, Epsom - and Geoffrey was recorded as "Clerk (Electricity Company)".

Geoffrey's WW2 service was in the 1st Royal Tank Regiment which, by 1942, was part of the Allied forces seeking to halt the eastwards progress of the Axis forces (under Rommel) along the Libyan coast towards the prizes of the Suez Canal and the Middle East's oilfields.

That progress was not halted until the first Battle of El Alamein from 1-27 July 1942 (and decisively reversed in the 23 October to 11 November 1942 second Battle - a turning point in the war as a whole). However, the Axis advance was greatly slowed in a series of actions just to the west of Tobruk from 21 January to 7 July 1942. These actions are now known as the Battle of Gazala, and it was during the later stages of this that Geoffrey was killed, on 12 June.

Geoffrey is one of the 2,674 WW2 Commonwealth casualties buried in the Knightsbridge War Cemetery - named after the Allies' main defensive "box" which had been nearby - in Acroma, Libya. His family took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Joint Grave 16.C.22,
"He was our son our brother, our friend. Loved by us all we will ever remember."
The Knightsbridge War Cemetery, Libya.
The Knightsbridge War Cemetery, Libya.
Photograph with thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Roger Morgan © 2018

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COLLINS, Walter Thomas Douglas. Leading Aircraftman (917643)

Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 18 April 1942, aged 24.

Walter was born on 4 February 1918, the first child of William Collins and Louisa E (née Ralph). Their Q2 1917 marriage had been registered in the Epsom District for the June Quarter of 1917. However, Walter's birth was registered in Southwark - as were the births of the couple's other two children (Phyllis E J on 4 December 1919 and Ernest M S in Q3 1923).

At some point, the family moved to the Borough. The September 1939 Register records them living at Bourne Hall Flats, Spring Street, Ewell. In this: 51 year old William is listed as a "Motor Driver"; 42 year old Louisa with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties"; 21 year old Walter as a "Mechanic"; and nearly 20 year old Phyllis as a "Clerk - Typist". Possibly they were on the staff of the Bourne Hall School for the daughters of professional men, established in what had been Garbrand Hall. (The only other record at the address is currently closed, but is presumably of the 16 year old Ernest.)

Walter subsequently enlisted in the RAF at Uxbridge and, by 1942, was serving on the strategically important British colony of Malta that had been under siege by Axis forces since June 1940.

On 18 April 1942, the island was subjected to sustained attacks from the air. At 18.11 hours, 24 JU 87s and 27 JU 88s with three ME 109s approached the Island and split into separate formations to bomb Delimara, Kalafrana, Birzebbuga, Benghaisa and Hal Far. Bombs hit the RAF's main workshops, Delimara and Benghaisa Forts. Delimara searchlight projector was damaged. There were 16 identified casualties from this raid of whom three RAF servicemen were killed at Kalafrana seaplane base at Kalafrana. In "Lest We Forget, RAF and Commonwealth Air Forces Servicemen Lost in the Defence of Malta" (by John A Agius, MBE, & Frederick R Galea, with Kevin Mifsud), LAC Collins is reported to have been another, but from the aerodrome at RAF Hal Far.

Walter is one of 694 Commonwealth WW2 casualties buried in the Capuccini (otherwise known as Kalkara) Naval Cemetery, Malta, in Plot F Collective grave 99.

Walter's headstone in Capuccini (otherwise known as Kalkara) Naval Cemetery, Malta
Walter's headstone in Capuccini (otherwise known as Kalkara) Naval Cemetery, Malta
Image Source findagrave.com

Brian Bouchard © 2017
Updated by Roger Morgan 2018

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COLLIS, Frederick Charles. Sergeant (1804816)

70 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 3 March 1945, aged 37

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Frederick's headstone in the Bari War Cemetery.
Photograph (56106877) by Bob Boston, via findagrave.com

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Frederick was born in Guildford on 26 November 1907 (and baptised at St Mary's, Guildford, on Christmas Day). He was the fourth child of Henry Collis and Jane Eliza (née Ware). The 1911 Census records the family living at 2 Testard Road, Guildford. The parents were in their early 40s, and Henry was employed as a "Railway Engineman". Their children - all born in Guildford - were Lily 16, William 13, Leonard 9 and Frederick 3.

Frederick appears to have joined the Royal Navy - with an Official Number J. 107330, [National Archives ADM 363/343/75] - around 1923. However, by 1935, he was was back living with his apparently widowed mother Eliza Jane (sic) Collis at their home address in Guildford.

In Q4 1935 and registered in the Surrey Mid Eastern, Frederick married Muriel Dinah Davies. They had three sons - Alan, Hugh and Lyndon. The 1939 Register records the family living at the Police House, Cobham Road, Fetcham and 31 year old Frederick is listed as a Surrey Police Constable.

In December 1941, Frederick enlisted with the Royal Air Force at Euston and three years later had risen to the rank of Sergeant. During December 1943, his 70 Squadron had moved to the Foggia area in Southern Italy, to remain there equipped with Wellingtons until early 1945.

On 3 March 1945, Frederick was on a course at No. 4 Parachute Training School at Gioia del Colle. (This had been established the previous year and began training both parachutists and supply-drop crews from 23 July 1944.) He was aboard a parachute training flight in the School's Hudson V, AM 817 piloted by Flt Lt Sidney Charles Willis RAFVR (162011). 5 miles north west of Gioia, the aircraft stalled in a turn, crashed to ground and caught fire. The crew of five and eight of the ten trainees were killed - including Frederick.

The fatalities were:
Flt Lt Sidney Charles Willis,
Sgt Percy Raymond James Bosely,
Sgt Frederick Charles Collis,
Flight Sergeant Ronald Vincent Cremins,
Leading Aircraftman William Briggs,
Sgt Robert Hall,
Sgt Frank Turner,
Flight Sergeant John Andrew Wingrove,
Sgt Frederick Charles Leonard,
Flight Sergeant Kenneth Morison,
Cpl Newby Whyvel
Plt Off Henry William Yearley
Eight were members of 70 Squadron and assumed to have been trainees.

All were buried in the Bari War Cemetery which holds 2,128 Commonwealth WW2 casualties The widowed Muriel took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on IX.E.4,
"In gratitude to Frederick beloved husband of Muriel and darling Daddy of Alan, Hugh and Lyndon."
Frederick is also commemorated on the Guildford War Memorial, Castle Grounds Garden of Remembrance 1939 - 1945. In remembrance of those Guildfordians who died in the Second World War.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission's post-war records note that the widowed Muriel was "of Epsom Downs, Surrey" but that address has not yet been identified.

Brian Bouchard © 2018
Updated by Roger Morgan 2018

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COLLIS, Reginald. Private (19077301)

Army Catering Corps
Died 23 May 1947, aged 18

Reginald's headstone in Epsom Cemetery
Reginald's headstone in Epsom Cemetery
Image courtesy of Clive Gilbert © 2018

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission's records in this case are unusually brief in having only an initial rather than his first name but nothing about his family background or even his age. However, thanks to the mention that the burial was in Epsom Cemetery, we know from the records there that his first name was Reginald and that he was 18 when he died.

With that information, records are found of Reginald's birth registered in Epsom Q3 1928. His mother's maiden name is given as Bowles. Among other children born locally with the surname Collis and whose mother's maiden name was Bowles is Kenneth R Collis born Q4 1934. In the 1939 Register, Kenneth R Collis (born 26 October 1934), is recorded living at 1 Hook Road, Epsom with his parents, 57 year old Henry Collis (listed as "Kiln Burner, Brickworks") and 46 year old Edith Mary (listed with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties"). Of the eight other records at the address, five are currently closed; one of these seems likely to be the 11 year old Reginald.

The readily available records provide no information about Reginald's WW2 service in the Army Catering Corps. As he was not 16 until Q3 1944, this can only have been in the last stages of the war. Indeed, his death - on 23 May 1947 - was two years after the end of WW2.

On 28 May 1947, Reginald was buried in Epsom Cemetery (Grave 243), where the records note that he had died at Brompton Hospital.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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CONDER, Peter James. Private (14423869)

5th Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment
Died 8 March 1945, aged 20.

Peter's headstone in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery
Peter's headstone in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery.
Photograph (56033403) by Des Philippet, via findagrave.com

Peter was born Q1 1925, the third child of John Conder and Ada Beatrice (née Repton). The parents' Q3 1916 marriage and all three children's births were registered in Kingston upon Thames.

The 1939 Register records the parents living at 91 Meadowview Road, West Ewell. John (born 12 October 1895) is listed as "Engineer Turner, Fitter & Millwright Heavy Worker" and Ada (born 19 September 1892) with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". There are four currently closed records at the address, one of which is likely to be the 14 year old Peter's. (Also present was the 45 year old Marjorie Louise Conder, an unmarried children's nurse, and probably John's older sister.)

Peter's WW2 service was in the 5th Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment. While this was heavily involved in early stages of the war in France, this would be before Peter was old enough to join. So his first action is likely to have been the 1944 Normandy landings. After the breakout from Normandy, the 5th Wiltshires were one of the first two British battalions to force a crossing of the Seine River on 25 August 1944. The Battalion was then closely involved in the Allies' further advances eastward: it was among the ground troops which sought to reach (sadly, without success) the Allied airborne forces at Arnhem; and was more successful in the mid-November 1944 operation to capture the Geilenkirchen salient on the so-called Siegfried Line.

There were, inevitably, casualties all along the way. Peter's luck ran out when he was killed in action on 8 March 1945, shortly before the Battalion was involved in the action to capture Bremen.

Peter is one of 7,500 Commonwealth WW2 casualties buried in Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany. His parents took the option of adding a personal message to his headstone on Grave 47.C.5,
"We shall always remember and cherish your memory."
Roger Morgan © 2018

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CONNOR, Edith May

Civilian
Died 1 February 1945, aged 42

Mrs Edith May Connor (42)
Mrs Connor
Image Source Epsom and Ewell Advertiser 08 February 1945

Edith was born in Newhaven on 24 July 1902 to Arthur and Mabel Leppard. In Q3 1924, also in Newhaven, she married Percy Ernest Connor. They appear to have had two children: Derek, born in Lambeth Q3 1925; and June, born in Croydon Q3 1930.

The 1939 Register records the couple (with Derek listed as an Insurance Clerk) - but not their children - living/lodging in Standish with Langtree, Lancashire. At the time of her death in early 1945, Edith was living at 20 Ravensfield Gardens, Ewell. However, the July 1945 Probate record (of administration of her estate being awarded to her "insurance broker" husband) gives her address as 65 Falmer Road, Woodingdean, Brighton - where her parents lived.

Anyway, and as described in the article Tragedy on the Home Front, Edith was killed when a new variant (Mark V) of the Vickers Warwick twin-engined bomber under test crashed on 14 Ruxley Lane, Ewell. This was the home of her local friend Annie Swan - who was also killed - with whom she was about to have lunch. (Their deaths were thus not the result of "Enemy action" as attributed in the Borough's WW2 Book of Remembrance.)

Roger Morgan © 2017

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CONRAN, Edward Denis. MC and Bar

Air Raid Warden
Died 7 November

Edward Denis Conran
Edward Denis Conran in WW1
Image courtesy of Edward's daughter Pauline Hill ©2014.

On 3 April 1881, Agnes Blatch had been a spinster daughter, aged 22, of William H Blatch, Brewer & Spirit Merchant (Employing 35 Men) of The Brewery, Brook Street, Basingstoke, Hampshire. Her marriage to Edward Petman Conran was registered in Basingstoke for the September Quarter of 1882. The birth of a son from that union, Edward Denis Conran came to be registered in the same District, June 1888.

His father was a Wine and Spirit Merchant, born in Limerick, of the Spirit Stores, Flaxfield Road, Basingstoke - at that time in partnership, trading as Petman & Co, but from 1891 conducting his business as a sole trader.

For the 1901 Census Edward Denis Conran was enumerated at 9 Priory Road, Bedford park, Chiswick, with his aunt Alice (née Blatch) and her husband, George H Edwards, a Civil Servant. On 6 April 1908, after a Limited Competition, Edward Denis Conran was appointed Second Class Clerk in the Receiver's Office, Metropolitan Police. In 1911, aged 23 and single, he had taken up residence in his aunt Mary Agnes Paterson's house, 5 Priory Gardens, Bedford Park, and was employed in the Receiver's Office. Scotland Yard.

Denis Conran had enlisted as Private 447 with the Artists Rifles, a volunteer light infantry unit which formed part of the Territorial Force, during February 1909 - its full title had become 28th (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment. Called up on 3 August 1914, he went to France on 25 October and by March 1915 had entered Officers' training at the Artists School of Instruction, Bailleul. A number of enlisted members of The Artists' Rifles were selected to be officers in other units of the 7th Division, including Conran from April 1915 when he became a Temporary 2nd Lieutenant in the 2nd Royal Munster Fusiliers - with a 'Long Number' 6791006.

1915

The story of the Munsters at Etreux, Festubert, Rue du Bois and Hulloch by Mrs Victor Rickard

[Article first published in The Sphere on July 15, 1916, giving an account of the work of the 'The 2nd Royal Munster Fusiliers at Hulloch'.]
"September 25, 1915
Below the chateau of Vaudricourt there is a wood which closes it around with a sense of security belonging to fir woods, and the zone of pines is dense and fragrant.
On the night of September 23, 1915, the Royal Munster Fusiliers marched from the little village of Philosophe and bivouacked in the Vaudricourt domain. The battalion was on the march again, and that dim, cloudy night they trooped in under the shelter and lighted their camp fires.
The whole effect was mysterious and unreal as things seen in dreams; the columns of luminous smoke soared upwards, illuminating the low strong branches of the trees, and around the fires the men lay huddled in their great-coats, grouped within the circles of flickering light.
Just as the fires were dying down into blackness a little incident that memory dwells upon changed the Vaudricourt woods into an undying picture for those who saw it. One of the men stretched out his arm and placed a lighted candle on a branch just over his head, and as though this simple act appealed to the memories and imaginations of his comrades, in a moment the pine woods of Vaudricourt became transformed into a forest of Christmas trees. One after another the tiny flames appeared, and burned like a hundred little glittering shrines. God knows what memories of childhood and things that were far enough away from war it recalled to the hearts of these men.
Yet the memory of the clouded night, the whisper of the wind in the trees, and the woods of Vaudricourt, bright with the soldiers' candles, comes like a gleam across the vast darkness and lights again the faces of the war-worn battalion once more on its way to the fighting line.
On September 24 the Munsters took up their position close to La Routoire Farm. Beyond these trenches the Germans occupied a long, sweeping ridge of down land; a space of quiet scenery spread out to the horizon like a calm sea. On the German side were Auchy, Hulloch, and Loos, and on the British Cambrin, Vermelle, Philosophe, and Mazingarbe, and between them the desolate ground from which living things are fenced and barred out. The trenches divided the two main roads at right angles, and the Hulloch road played an important part in subsequent operations. Here and there over the grass piles of slag stood out like stubborn towers, black and desolate as some minor, haunting fragment of an evil dream. They masked the mines, and were treacherous, cruel defences on a poor, wasted land.
The weather was gloriously fine, and under the heavy bombardment of the British guns the whole sky line seemed to be in eruption. Huge masses of chalk-dust and smoke lifted hundreds of feet into the air, and rolled slowly away like a drowsy cloud trailing near the ground and reluctant to depart from this "best of all possible worlds."
In the grey light of the morning of September 25 the British guns opened a furious fire, joined by the rattle of rifle and machine guns. Without fuss or disorder the Munsters awaited the moment when they should face a pouring stream of bullets and charge into the teeth of the storm.
Led by Major Considine, the Munsters pushed up the winding trenches to the front line, exchanging a word or two as they went, and relying, as all men do in time of crisis, upon those unexplained resources that stand for all that is best in a soldier. When they reached the front line the leading company was blocked, for the trenches were full of men, with their faces coloured an ashen blue and the buttons and badges on their coats turned green. Some were dead and others unconscious, for they were the helpless victims of gas fumes.
When the Munsters charged over the parapet the Hulloch road was alive with troops racing towards the German trenches, but to the front all was quiet, and a number of khaki figures in blue gas helmets lay very still out over the grass towards the German lines, having so encountered that "last and greatest of all fine sights" in the cold dimness of half oblivion.
The fire from the enemy's guns increased as the Munsters advanced with a yell, and the wire ahead of them was apparently unbroken.
Leading "A" Company, Major Considine fell in the advance, and as he sank down Sergeant-major Jim Leahy rushed forward to carry him into safety. He, too, was hit through the heart by a German bullet, and when he fell the advancing Munsters cheered him as they raced ahead, carrying with them the memory of the two men who had fallen so gallantly, into their fierce charge. Both Major Considine and Sergeant Leahy are buried on the battlefield almost where they fell, 800 yards west of Vermelles.
Up the long-deserted, grass-grown Hulloch road six batteries came at a gallop, wheeling boldly across the open under heavy fire, the Munsters, in conjunction with the brigade, following at a run. Great volcanoes of black smoke shot up immediately as the bombers worked down the German trenches. Lieutenant Denis Conran with six of his company occupied a support trench crowded with German troops, and for forty-eight hours held this small salient of the advance, waging a steady war with unwavering determination and grit. The enemy were all around this small handful, and from where they fought they could see the village of Hulloch being knocked to pieces like a card-house, and again on the right the shell-torn havoc of the advance to Loos, the chalk pit, and Hill 70. The larger stride had been taken at last, and the men in their gas helmets with their five days' growth of beard looked strange and almost oriental as they advanced, receded, and again advanced as the deadly conflict rolled onwards.
Towards evening the weather turned bitterly cold and heavy rain began to fall. The smell of poison gas, shell fumes, and blood became almost overpowering. Among the torn bodies the flotsam of war lay unheeded in the mud. Innumerable blankets, rifles, caps, belts, and bloodstained dressings told that a memory was all that was left to many of those who had been alive and glad a few hours before, and everywhere there were dead, dying, and wounded men, and all the helpless misery of battle.
The troops charged again, and the remnants of the Munsters raised another cheer and rallied for the last rush, and then the strain ended as you may see men pulled suddenly over at a tug-of-war. Four columns of German soldiers filed out of the trenches, holding their hands above their heads.
The road from Loos to Hulloch was clear at a cost of 1,000,000 shells and 50,000 men. A right of way was established at a price that no one can ever tell, since broken lives and hearts are not entered into any known roll of honour, and this right of way was made good by the simple valour and indomitable constancy of the ordinary man.
For them there is no return, for those who waited for them no more reason to cross the days off the calendar; stillness has intervened - the stillness that marks the passing of the mortal to immortality. Tears are useless, broken hearts useless; life will not alter because of these things. The days go on, and we with them; those who have gone have "bought eternity with a little hour, and are not dead."
And the road is now clear from Loos to Hulloch."

Edward Conran advanced to Temporary Captain but relinquished that rank on 25 May 1916.

1918

The 2nd Battalion of the Munsters was finally transported on 1 October 1918 to Epehy, scene of its March experiences where it was again ordered into the lines on 4 October, to capture Le Catelet. Largely gaining their objective, they had to retire encountering heavy counter attacks and failures elsewhere on the line. The 50th Division's advance was resumed on 10 October...

The Munsters in France, Lt. Col. H S Jervis, MC, first published in 1922, by Gale and Polden, Aldershot, mentions: -
"14th Oct [1918] Lieutenant E. D. Conran, M.C, an officer who first distinguished himself with the Battalion at Loos, September, 1915, was wounded, and the transport lines at Reumont were heavily shelled. They were accordingly moved back to Bertry about 1a.m."
By 16 October 1918, the Battalion had been reduced to 13 officers and 411 men.

Citation for Bar [to M.C awarded 3 June 1916].

T./Lt. Edward Denis Conran, M.C., 2nd Bn., R. Muns. Fus. (M.C. gazetted 3rd June, 1916.)

"LE CATELET, 4th October, 1918. For conspicuous gallantry, determination and resource when in command of a platoon in the attack. By his cheerfulness and complete disregard of danger he set a good example to all under his command, He materially assisted the attack on VILLERS FERME on 6th October, 1918, by outflanking the enemy and bombing down his trench." (Gazetted 29 July 1919)

Conran relinquished his commission, 2 January 1920, on re-enlistment in the Territorial Force.

By 1921 E D Conran, MC, was back in the Metropolitan Police Receiver's Office as a Junior Clerk.

[A 'Jack the Ripper' connection existed through Conran's uncle and mentor who as 'GHE' made a pencilled notation in Scotland Yard's copy of From Constable to Commissioner, reminiscences, published by Messrs Chatto and Windus in 1910, of Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Henry Smith, late Commissioner of Police in the City of London, acting at the time of the investigation into the death of Catherine Eddowes. George H. Edwards, Secretary to the Metropolitan Police (1925-1927), remarked:- "A good raconteur and a good fellow, but not strictly veracious: most of the book consists of after dinner stories outside his personal experience. In dealing with matters within his own knowledge he is often far from accurate as my own knowledge of the facts assures me."]

In Q3 1928 and registered in Hammersmith, 40 year old Edward married 29 year old Dorothy H Efford. They lived at 58 Upper Mall during 1929 and at another Hammersmith address in 1934.

With their two children (Nicholas born Q4 1929 and Rosemary born Q4 1931), they then moved to the Borough, and were recorded in the September 1939 Register living at 70 Alexandra Road, Epsom. Edward (by now a Higher Executive Officer in the Metropolitan Police Receiver's Office) is listed as "Senior Clerk, New Scotland Yard SW1" and Dorothy with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". The two currently closed records at the address are doubtless of their children. (A third child, Pauline was born in Q3 1940.)

1940

In the early days of WW2, Edward took on the additional role of Air Raid Warden. On 7 November 1940, he was visiting fellow Warden, George McCormick, at his home in 19 Links Road, Epsom when a bomb fell on the house killing George, his wife and father in law as well as Edward.

Edward was buried in the churchyard of Holy Trinity, Theale, Berkshire, near his parents. (His mother, Agnes, had died on 19 November 1937 and his father, Edward, on 26 January 1940.)

Edward's headstone inscription
Edward's headstone inscription
Image courtesy of Phil Wood, President of the Newbury District Field Club.

Edward's memorial was inscribed: -
"In loving memory of / Edward Denis Conran MC / Aged 52 / Artists Rifles and 2nd Royal Munster Fusiliers / 1914-1918 / Air Raid Warden / killed by enemy action at Epsom, Surrey, / on 7th Novr 1940. / Son of Edward Conran and Agnes Blatch"
Probate was granted to Dorothy Helen Conran, Widow. Effects £3235, re-sworn £5046. 13 January 1941

His relict survived until 1996 as shown by a ledger stone placed upon the grave.

Dorothy's inscription
Dorothy's inscription
Image courtesy of Phil Wood, President of the Newbury District Field Club.

Brian Bouchard 2014
Updated by Roger Morgan 2018

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COOKE, John Robert Alfred. Flight Sergeant/Pilot (1336866)

51 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 30 June 1944, aged 21

J R A 'Bob' Cooke
J R A "Bob" Cooke
Photograph (and mission details below) courtesy of aircrewremembered.com.

John Robert Alfred Cooke - apparently always known as "Bob" or "Bobby" - was born on 3 February 1923, the son of Henry John and Hilda Jeanne Cooke. His secondary education was at Epsom County School for Boys (now Glyn School), where the records show the family were living at 18 Chessington Road, West Ewell.

It is not readily established where Bob was when the September 1939 Register was taken, but this records the parents living at St Ebba's Hospital in Hook Road, Epsom, with Henry (born 22 May 1882) listed as "Inspector Mental Hospital Nursing Service" and - on the original document, but not the transcript - "Chief Air Raid Warden for the Hospital", and Hilda (born 4 December 1986) with the conventional "Unpaid domestic duties". (Henry was a long term employee in the "Epsom Cluster" of mental hospitals: the 1911 Census records him there in the much more junior role of a "Day Attendant On Male Lunatics".)

On leaving school, Bob worked in the accounts department of an engineering firm in Dorking and, before volunteering for the RAF on his eighteenth birthday, was a member of the Home Guard. He was called up a few months later, in August 1941. After initial training he was sent to South Africa, returning in May 1943 as a pilot. After conversion to multi-engine aircraft at Lossiemouth, he met the other members of his eventual crew at 1652 OTU, at Marston Moor. On completion of their training, they were posted in May 1944 to 51 Squadron, part of Bomber Command, based at RAF Snaith, Pollington, Yorkshire. During May and June, he flew 18 successful operations against transport targets and V-1 sites in France and Belgium.

At 1800 hours on Friday 30 June, piloting Halifax III LV782 MH-T, Bob took off from RAF Snaith with the rest of 51 Squadron to join the force of 266 heavy bombers attacking a large formation of enemy armour at Villers Bocage. This key target, south west of Caen, Normandy, was a Panzer Corps that had been assembled to counter-attack the Allies' invading forces the following morning. It was essential therefore to attack them that evening.

At a late stage in the attack, the master bomber (in Lancaster LL620 JI-T from 514 Squadron) ordered the bombers to reduce height from 12,000 to 4,000 feet because of cloud cover over the target. The order came too late for most of the formation and only five at the end of the bomber stream - including Bob's aircraft - were able to do so. In making the necessary steep dive, they speeded up and started flying beneath the aircraft that had been in front of them and thus became vulnerable to the bombs that were being dropped.

Indeed, it seems a "friendly" bomb destroyed Bob's aircraft: an eye-witness in one of the other low flying aircraft recounted how he had seen the wing of Bob's Halifax III LV782 MH-T "fold up" from the wing root. The aircraft crashed on farmland between Cahagne and Le Quesnay. Bob and the other six on board were killed.

All seven are among the 1,143 WW2 casualties buried in the Tilly-Sur-Seulles War Cemetery, which is about 12 miles west of Caen. Bob's family took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave XI.G.3,
"Into the mosaic of victory is placed this precious piece enshrined in our hearts."
Bob's headstone in Tilly-Sur-Seulles War Cemetery.
Bob's headstone in Tilly-Sur-Seulles War Cemetery.
Photograph (56498373) by "Les", via findagrave.com.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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COOKE, Reginald J(ohn). Serjeant (2316204)

Hong Kong Signals Company, Royal Corps of Signals
Died 8-25 December 1941, aged 35

The entry in the St Barnabas WW2 Roll of Honour
The entry in the St Barnabas WW2 Roll of Honour.
Photograph by Clive Gilbert © 2014.

Reginald is not listed in the Borough Book of Remembrance, but is remembered here because he is the only individual in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's comprehensive database of service and civilian WW2 casualties that matches the "Reginald J Cooke" commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour of St Barnabas in Temple Road, Epsom. All seventeen other names on the St Barnabas Roll appear also in the Borough's Book and, unsurprisingly, have clear links with Epsom. Despite checking all readily available sources of information, however, no such link has yet been found for this Reginald.

Reginald was born in Norwich in Q4 1906, the fourth child of John Cooke and Emily Elizabeth (née Gray). John was originally from Wiggenhall St Germans near King's Lynn and Emily (sometimes called by her second name of Elizabeth) from Colchester, but their Q2 1897 marriage was registered in the West Ham District.

They set up home in 61, White Post Lane near Hackney Wick where they were recorded in the 1901 Census. 32 year old John was listed as "Foreman in GPO Telegraph" Emily was aged 33 and had already given birth to their first child, Edgar, in Q1 1898. Their second and third children were also born in East London - Gladys in Q3 1901 and Cyril in Q3 1903. The family then moved to Norwich where Reginald was born in late 1906, The 1911 Census records the family living at 74 Portland Street, Norwich. John is now listed just as a "Foreman".

In Q4 1929 and registered in the Richmond area of Yorkshire, Reginald married Elizabeth Jane Hutchinson - they were both aged 23. The birth of what appears to be their only child, Elizabeth J (after her mother), was registered in Worcester in Q2 1932. Mother and daughter are found in the September 1939 Register living at 27 Old Row, Washington, County Durham - and "Washington, Co. Durham" is where the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's post-war records note the widowed Elizabeth as being "of".

The 33 year old Reginald is not found in the 1939 Register, probably because he was already in uniform. Given his father's occupation in GPO telegraphy, it is perhaps no surprise that Reginald's WW2 service was in the Royal Corps of Signals, in his case, in the Hong Kong Signals Company.

Japan declared war on the US and UK on 8 December 1941. Four hours after the attack on Pearl Harbour, Japanese forces invaded Malaya and started attacking Hong Kong, both then British possessions. Commonwealth forces were overwhelmed and, on 25 December 1941, Hong Kong and tens of thousands of surviving Commonwealth troops were surrendered to the Japanese.

At some point in those somewhat chaotic two and a half weeks, Reginald was killed. He is one of the 427 Commonwealth WW2 casualties buried in the Stanley Military Cemetery, on the south of Hong Kong island.

Reginald's headstone on collective grave 6.B.3-14 in the Stanley Military Cemetery.
Reginald's headstone on collective grave 6.B.3-14 in the Stanley Military Cemetery.
Photograph (15287353) by Iain MacFarlaine, via findagrave.com

Roger Morgan © 2018

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COPESTICK, Arthur. Flight Lieutenant (113211)

Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 2 October 1942, aged 37

Arthur was born in Poplar on 30 December 1905, the second child of Samuel Copestick and Anna (née Leak - they had married Q2 1903 in their home town of Wolstanton, Staffordshire). The 1911 Census records the family of four living at 4 South Road, Burnt Oak, Edgeware with Samuel as a Metropolitan Police Constable.

In Q2 1936, Arthur married Isabel Evelyn Nora Hiscock in Holborn, London. The couple were listed in the 1939 Register living at 16 Walberton Avenue, Portsmouth - with Arthur's occupation recorded as "Manager Multiple Stores Marks & Spencer". The couple had two children. The Q1 1940 birth of the first, Peter, was registered in Portsmouth. The family then moved to 30 The Greenway, Epsom where Anthony was born Q3 1941.

The readily available records provide no information about Arthur's RAF career, and note only that his death on 2 October 1942 was registered at East Dereham, Norfolk. More detail (including The Greenway address noted above) - and a sad story - may be found in Arthur's death certificate. This notes that, serving as an "Equipment Officer", he was stationed at RAF Swanton Morley in Norfolk, about halfway between Norwich and King's Lynn. From mid-1941 to mid-1943, this was the base of 22 Squadron which, equipped with twin-engined Douglas DB-7 "Boston Mk III" multi-role (attack, light bomber, and intruder) aircraft, carried out attacks on German coastal shipping and targets on the coast of occupied Europe.

The death certificate also notes that, as determined at an inquest by the Coroner for the Dereham District (which included Swanton Morley) on 3 October 1942 - the day after Arthur's death - the cause of death was "Shot himself with a revolver whilst the balance of his mind was disturbed". We shall never know what led him to this tragic end.

Arthur is buried in Edmonton Cemetery, Middlesex - in a section holding 156 WW2 casualties. It may be significant that this is only a few miles from his childhood home in Edgware.

Notwithstanding the Epsom address on Arthur's death certificate, the 3 December 1942 Probate record of administration of his estate (of £1,760) being granted to his widow, Isabel, notes both of them as "of" their pre-war home of 16 Walberton Avenue, Portsmouth.

Isabel appears never to have re-married and, on 30 October 1986 (one day short of her 75th birthday), died at 76 Fairmile Lane, Cobham.

Roger Morgan © 2017

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CORNOCK, William Edward. Flying Officer/Pilot (186723)

Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 27 July 1945, aged 21

William Edward ("Teddy") Cornock was born on 7 July 1924 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. He was apparently the second child of Alfred Gardiner Cornock who had been born in Lambeth on 5 February 1891 and, in his late teens, emigrated to Australia. He married Lilian Chivers in New South Wales on 22 October 1921. Their first child, John, was born there on 30 November 1922.

A few years later, the family returned to the UK, arriving on 18 July 1930. In 1931, they were living at Newtons, Rosebery Road, Langley Vale, Epsom. By the following year, they had moved to the next road and were living at "Waverley", 3 Grosvenor Road. They were still there at the time of the 1939 Register. In that, 48 year old Alfred's occupation is almost impossible to decipher, and seems to end ". . . Coal Owner Driver. Heavy Worker". 46 year old Lilian is listed the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". 16 year old John is listed as a "Milling Machine Operator". There is one currently closed record at the address behind which is doubtless the 15 year old William ("Teddy").

After September 1941, Edward entered the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve at Oxford with a Service Number 1603006. He appears to have flown as a Sergeant/Pilot with 178 Squadron before being appointed to commission as a Pilot Officer on probation (emergency) with effect from 2 October 1944.

1675 HCU, which had been formed in 1943 by re-designating No 5 Heavy Bomber Conversion Unit, Lydda, Palestine, moved to RAF Abu Sueir. On 27 July 1945 a Liberator VI, EV934 of 355 Squadron, on an early morning training flight with 1675 Heavy Conversion Unit, caught fire in the air and crash-landed 1m SE of Abu Sueir.

The casualties were: -
Cornock, William Edward - Flying Officer 186723
Bradley, Douglas - Pilot Officer 163317
Eve, Peter John Newlan - Warrant Officer 1515315
Eaton, John George - Pilot Officer 193172
Veitch, Thomas - Sergeant 1822858
Ashton, Peter John - Sergeant 1813703
were buried in Moascar War Cemetery, Egypt.

The Moascar War Cemetery, Egypt
The Moascar War Cemetery, Egypt
Photograph with thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

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Updated by Roger Morgan 2018

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COWEN Painton Sidney. Temporary Lieutenant

Royal Marines - HMS Formidable
Died 21 December 1942, aged 24

Painton Sydney Cowen
Painton Sydney Cowen
Picture courtesy of Oundle School

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Painton was born in 1918, probably in South Africa where his engineer father Walter Painton Cowen had also been born and had probably married his wife Amy. The family travelled extensively. There are records of: the parents and their three children (Laurie aged 5, Painton aged 4 and Patricia aged 2) leaving London for Trinidad in 1922; father Walter entering the United States in 1925; and, the same year, of the mother and three children leaving London for Cape Town.

It is not clear when Painton returned to the UK but, in May 1932, he was admitted to Oundle School in Northamptonshire (where the records note that his parents were "of Mawchi and Cape Town S.A."). He gained School colours for football, cricket and fives. He left there in July 1936 and went to St John's College, Cambridge to read - following in his father's footsteps - Engineering. (He also played fives for the University.)

He joined the Artists Rifles in 1939 and later transferred to the Royal Marines. In Q2 1940, he married Doris Maud May. The marriage was registered in the Marylebone District, as was the Q3 1942 birth of their son Painton D Cowen. (However, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's post-war records note that the widowed Doris was "of Ewell", hence the Borough connection.)

Painton transferred to the Fleet Air Arm in 1941. With thanks to flyingmarines.com, we know that after training in Canada and gaining his wings on 30 November 1941, he flew the Grumman Wildcat fighter and served with:
781 Squadron at Lee-on-Solent from 10 March 1942 to 14 April 1942;
775 Squadron at Dekhelia, Egypt from 18 April 1942 to 23 June 1942; and
888 Squadron aboard the aircraft carrier HMS Formidable from 12 August 1942 until his death.
A Grumman Wildcat
A Grumman Wildcat
Photo by Max Haynes, MaxAir2Air.com

On 21 December 1942, HMS Formidable was at Mers-el-Kebir, French Algeria. After flying as a target for a Fleet Gunnery training exercise, Painton was carrying out a slow roll alongside his ship when, for some reason, he crashed into the sea and was killed.

Painton was buried at sea from the destroyer HMS Laforey. He is commemorated on the Fleet Air Arm Memorial at Lee-on-Solent (near its principle base) as one of the Arm's nearly 2,000 WW2 casualties with no known grave.

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COX, Ethel

Civilian
Died 14 January 1945, aged 67

The entry in the Borough's Book of Remembrance
The entry in the Borough's Book of Remembrance
Image courtesy of Clive Gilbert © 2014

"Enemy Action" was the convention adopted by compilers of the Borough Book of Remembrance to indicate a civilian casualty. The Ethel Mary Cox whose outline facts are given at the head of this article is the only Ethel Cox (civilian or military) in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's comprehensive database of WW2 casualties. The only other details given in that database are that she was:
  • the widow of Samuel Cox;
  • of 97 Edward Road, Penge; and
  • died at 4A Panmure Road, Sydenham.
The 1939 Register lists three Ethel Coxes living in the Borough of Epsom & Ewell. However, none of these was born in 1878/79, as necessary to be aged 67 in early 1945. Given the relatively common names, it has not so far proved possible to establish the connection of Ethel Mary Cox with the Borough.

There was a plain Ethel Cox, born in 1879, whose death in the relevant Q1 1945 was recorded in the local Surrey Mid Eastern District. But again, the common names effectively rule out tracing that individual in the readily available records.

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COX, Geoffrey Reginald Clifford. Cadet

SS Harpalyce (London), Merchant Navy
Died 25 August 1940, aged 19

Geoffrey's birth was Q4 1920 in Wandsworth the first child of Reginald William Cox and Mary (née Balderson - they had married Q3 1918 in Bedford). The birth of a second child, Peter, was registered in Wandsworth in Q1 1930.

The family then moved to the Borough. The September 1939 Register living at 23 Kinross Avenue, Worcester Park. 47 year old Reginald is listed as a "Library Attendant" and 49 year old Mary with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". There is one currently closed record at the address. As it is likely that the then 18 year old Geoffrey was already a cadet in the Merchant Navy, this is likely to be of the 10 year old Peter.

In 1940, Geoffrey was serving on SS Harpalyce, a new 5,169 ton merchant ship that had been completed in Sunderland only in June that year. In late August, she was part of Convoy HX-65A from Baltimore in the USA to Hull carrying a cargo was 8,000 tons of steel and iron. As noted by uboat.net, it was shortly after 2350 hours on 25 August, U-boat U-124 fired four single torpedoes at four ships in the convoy when it was off northwest Scotland. Whilst it claimed the sinking of all four, only three were hit and only two were sunk.

One of these was SS Harpalyce which, within a minute of being hit, sank by the stern with a list to port, giving the crew no time to launch the lifeboats. Of the 47 on board, only five were rescued. Geoffrey was one of the 42 lost. He is remembered on the Tower Hill Memorial which commemorates more than 35,800 merchant seamen of both World Wars who have no known grave.

A model of the 1940 SS Harpalyce (there is no known photograph) can be seen on the Royal Museums, Greenwich website.

As a postscript, the owners, J&C Harrison Ltd of London, must have had a feeling of déjà vu. They had owned an earlier SS Harpalyce which, in April 1915, was being used by the Red Cross in New York for the relief of the hard-pressed Belgian population during WW1. She flew a large white flag which had "Commission for Belgian Relief" emblazoned on it - and the same was painted on her hull in large white letters, legible from some miles away. She was also carrying a certificate from the German minister at The Hague, guaranteeing safe passage to the ship while on the relief mission.

Having unloaded her cargo in Rotterdam without incident, she set off on 10 April 1915 for the return, in ballast, to Norfolk, Virginia. At 10am, a torpedo from SMS UB-4 hit her on the starboard side causing such damage that the ship sank in less than five minutes. Fifteen of the 44 people on board were lost.

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COX Harry Francis Thomas. Able Seaman C/LD/X 3248.

RN Volunteer Reserve - HMS Gallant
Died 10 January 1941, aged 28

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Harry's Q1 1912 birth was registered in the St George Hanover Square District of London. He appears to have been the only child of Harry Cox and Florence (née Haddock - they had married Q3 1911, registered in the Chelsea District).

In Q3 1937, 25 year old Harry junior married Frances Elisabeth Rogers, registered in Chelsea. None of these people is readily found in the 1939 Register. However, when probate on Harry's estate was awarded to the widowed Frances, the records note that he was "of 45 Newbury Gardens, Stoneleigh".

Harry's WW2 service was aboard HMS Gallant (H59). This was a G-class destroyer built in the mid-1930s and which, during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939, spent considerable time in Spanish waters, enforcing the arms blockade imposed by Britain and France on both sides of the conflict.

HMS Gallant in 1938
HMS Gallant in 1938
Image source © IWM (FL 22249)

The readily available records do not indicate when Harry joined the ship which, shortly after the beginning of WW2, was brought back to the British Isles. She participated in the evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk at the end of May 1940, during which she was slightly damaged by German aircraft. Following repairs, HMS Gallant was transferred to Gibraltar and served with Force H for several months. In November 1940, the ship was transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet, where she escorted several convoys.

On 10 January 1941, HMS Gallant struck a mine. This blew the bow off the ship, killing 65 of the crew - including Harry - and injuring 15 more. Harry's body was never recovered and he is one of the over 10,000 Royal Navy WW2 casualties commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial as having no known grave.

HMS Gallant was towed to Malta for extensive repair. While these were under way, she was further damaged during an air raid in April 1942. The additional damage made the ship uneconomical to repair so she was scuttled as a blockship in 1943.

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CRADDOCK-JONES, Arthur William. Captain (178882)

Royal Army Ordnance Corps
Died 21 December 1942, aged 34

Arthur (surnamed plain "Jones") was born on 11 October 1908, the fourth of at least five children born to John William Herbert Jones and Eliza Elizabeth (née Craddock - they had married Q1 1986 in Eliza's home area of St Saviour's Southwark). The 1911 Census records the family living at 368 Old Kent Road, Camberwell, London. John was a "Boot and shoe seller", employing staff.

In 1935, Arthur - now Craddock-Jones (double-barrelling with his mother's maiden name) - gained a London BSc degree in Physics, following study at Norwood Technical Institute. It might be that he travelled there from 16 Eaton Road, Sutton, which is where his parents are found in the 1939 Register.

(In that Register, the 71 year old John is listed as having "Private means" and the 66 year old Eliza as "Incapacitated". Living with them were two of their sons. One was 41 year old Herbert William listed as "Incapacitated", perhaps as a result of teenage WW1 service - there are records of two Herbert William Joneses in WW1 being discharged as unfit for military service: a Gunner 815112 in the Royal Field Artillery; and a Private 5180 in the Devonshire Regiment. The other son, 29 year old William Edward, is listed as "Traveller - building materials". In Q2 1938, he had married Rosella Brogan in Lewisham, and she - now as Rosella Jones - was living with her husband and in-laws, listed as having "Unpaid domestic duties". Some time after the 1939 Register was completed, the original text was amended to change William's and Rosella's surname - like Arthur's - from "Jones" to "Craddock-Jones".)

To return to Arthur, the subject of this article, his marriage to Mary Parton was registered in Camberwell in Q2 1935. They appear to have had two children. The birth of the first, Roger W C Jones, was registered in Deptford in Q1 1936. The family then moved to the Borough. The birth of their second child, William G Jones, on 24 May 1939 was registered in the local Surrey Mid-Eastern District and the 1939 Register records them living at 46 Courtlands Drive, Epsom. 30 year old Arthur is (as "Jones, Arthur W C") listed as a "Secondary Schoolmaster". (The Register entry for son William was later amended to note his surname as "Craddock-Jones".)

Arthur's WW2 service records was in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps. The readily available records provide no information about the nature of that service, other than that his duty location was in the UK. Casualty List No. 1016 records that Arthur was "accidentally killed" on 21 December 1942. His death was registered in Wallasey, Cheshire, so this accident may have been on the Formby ranges. service. If that was so then as, among other things, the Royal Army Ordnance Corps was responsible for the supply of weapons and ammunition, the cause of Arthur's fatal accident is all too easily imagined.

Not long after the September 1939 Register was taken, the family moved from Epsom to Frome in Somerset. The Probate records note that Arthur's address was 66 Nunney Road, Frome. (Administration of Arthur's £ 2,185 was awarded to his brother William, noted as an "ARP instructor".)

Although Arthur's death was in the North-West, and his home was in the South-West, he is buried in Grave 39072 of Nunhead (All Saints) Cemetery, London - about 4 miles south east from Charing Cross.

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CRAIG-ADAMS, Michael Alexander. Pilot Officer (41672)

263 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Died 22 May 1940, aged 20

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Michael was born in Kussowlie, Bengal in 1920, the second child of Robert Logan Craig-Adams (who became a Captain in the Indian Army to serve during WWI with the 28/29th Punjabis and Phyllis May (née Johnston). They had married in Bombay - modern-day Mumbai - on 16 September 1916, and their first son, Ian Maxwell, was born during 1917.

During 1930, Phyllis instituted legal proceedings for a Judicial Separation from her husband and came to London, probably accompanied by the children. Her estranged husband, Robert, remained in business overseas as a Director of Craig Adams & Co. Ltd trading out of Lahore, Punjab.

The 29 September 1939 Register records the 41 year old Phyllis May Craig-Adams living at 77 Manor Green Road, Epsom. She is listed as "Married" and employed "Manageress and Letting Agent, Chase Estate". There is one currently closed record at the address. This is unlikely to be either of the two known children since Michael had, on 4 March 1939, obtained an RAF Short Service commission as Acting Pilot Office (re-designated as a Pilot Officer on probation with effect from 23 September 1939) and his older brother, Ian, had joined the Indian Army on 3 September 1938.

Michael's WW2 service was as a pilot with 263 Squadron, part of the RAF's Fighter Command and equipped with the Gloster Gladiator. This was the RAF's last bi-plane fighter and was being rendered obsolete by newer monoplane designs even as it was being introduced. Although often pitted against more formidable foes during the early days of WW2 (its top speed was barely more than a bomber), it acquitted itself reasonably well in combat.

A Gloster Gladiator in pre-war RAF markings
A Gloster Gladiator in pre-war RAF markings.
Public Domain

The Squadron was involved in two Norwegian expeditions. Early in the morning on 26 April 1940, Michael's Gladiator N5647 was one of two Gladiators that took off from Lake Lesjaskog on patrol. No sooner were they in the air than the engine of Michael's aircraft suffered a piston rod seizure. He baled out safely and N5647 crashed at Litjdalen, Sunndalsøra. Its wreckage was later recovered for the serial number to be identified. The remnants of Gladiator N5719 have been put into a reconstruction project. (Click here for images of this and his subsequent and fatal crash scene.)

Having suffered heavy losses, 263 Squadron was withdrawn to England to be re-equipped. On 21 May 1940, the squadron was again sent to Norway, landing at Bardufoss in the north after having flown off the carrier HMS Furious. On 22 May, the Gladiators undertook more than 30 sorties. Michael's aircraft, N5719, crashed on Høgfjellet at Sjøvegan, reportedly [National Archives, AIR 81/599] after being engaged in a dog fight with a Heinkel 111 of 5./KG26. Michael's remains are said to have been found by French troops in 1945 still strapped in his cockpit.

Michael was initially buried at Iaberg but, 26 August 1946, was re-interred as one of 27 WW2 casualties in Narvik New Cemetery. His mother and brother took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave XI.K.6,
"One of a gallant squadron a most adored son & brother. Faithful to the end. Mother & Ian."
The Narvik New Cemetery
The Narvik New Cemetery
Photograph with thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Michael's brother, Ian, survived the war and rejoined Phyllis at 77 Manor Green Road, Epsom. They later moved to 15 White Beam Way, Tadworth where Phyllis died in 1970 and Ian, who had retired from the Queen's Regiment as a Major, died on 8 April 1991. (His father, Robert Logan Craig-Adams, died on 31 December 1963, having last resided at 32 Gordon Place, London W8.)

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Updated by Roger Morgan

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CRAWFORTH, Charles

Civilian
Died 11 January 1941, aged 39

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Charles was born in Hull on 1 December 1901, the second child of David Crawforth and Emma (née Clark their Q1 1896 marriage was registered in the Sculcoates District of Yorkshire.

The 1911 census records the family living at 4 Juno Avenue, Victor Street, Holderness Road, Hull, Yorkshire. 36 year old David is listed as an "Ironmongers Rullyman" (equivalent to today's truck driver). As usual for the time, no occupation is listed for 34 year old Emma. The only other residents at the address were their two sons, 11 year old William and 9 year old Charles.

In Q1 1927 and registered in Sculcoates Yorkshire, the 26 year old Charles married 23 year old Ethel Bloomfield.

The couple moved south and the 1939 Register records them living at 16 Cuddington Avenue, Worcester Park. Charles is listed as "Shipping and Fruit Importer's Clerk" and Ethel with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". There is a currently closed record at the address. One would normally assume this was of a young child but no record has been found of the couple's having any children.

Charles presumably worked at banana importers Elder and Fyffes of Bow Street, London, which is where he was killed by the same bomb that also killed Francis Burlton (the article on whom has fuller details) and Allen Purcell.

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CROFT, Raymond Harold George. Private (6291508)

1st Battalion, The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment)
Died 24 March 1943, aged 23

Raymond was born on 4 January 1920, the first child of Henry George Croft and Mabel (née Cox). His birth, like their Q2 1919 marriage, was registered in the Stockbridge District of Hampshire.

The parents (and Raymond) subsequently moved to the Borough. The birth of their second child, Sheila on 24 January 1928 was registered in the Epsom District - as was 37 year old Henry's death in Q4 1932. The September 1939 Register records the widowed Mabel and her two children living at 13 Cottage Road, West Ewell. It lists 42 year old Mabel as a "Non-resident Housekeeper"; 19 year old Raymond as a "Public Work Contractor & Labourer (Heavy Worker)"; and 11 year old Sheila at school. Raymond's place in the Borough Book of Remembrance is (as would be expected) fully merited - in spite of the potential for doubt in finding that he was born in Hampshire and, as noted in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's post-war records, his widowed mother was "of Houghton, Hampshire".

Raymond's WW2 service was in the 1st Battalion, The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment) which was part of the British Eighth Army in North Africa. Shortly after Italy declared war on the UK in June 1940, Italian forces had invaded British-held Egypt from their colony of Libya with a view to capturing the prizes of the Suez Canal and access to the Middle East's oilfields. British forces quickly drove them back, indeed then capturing parts of Libya including the strategic port of Tobruk. Germany came to the assistance of their Italian Allies by sending additional troops under Rommel. These Axis forces nearly achieved the Italian's earlier objectives but their eastward advance was halted and then decisively reversed in the First and Second Battles of El Alamein in the second half of 1942. Continuously harried by the Eighth Army, Axis forces gradually retreated back across Libya. In late February 1943, Raymond was reported missing during action in Libya, but found his way back to his Unit.

By mid-March 1943, Axis forces 1943, reached their defensive Mareth Line in the south of Tunisia. The so-called "Battle of the Mareth Line" from 16-31 March was a series of fiercely fought actions aggregating into the largest action since El Alamein. Allied forces were eventually successful but at a heavy price in casualties - including Raymond who, as reported in Casualty List No. 1114, was killed in action on 24 March 1943.

(Coupled with Allied advances from the west following their November 1942 Operation Torch invasion and capture of Vichy French held Morocco and Algeria, Axis forces were finally driven back into Tunis where they surrendered on 13 May.)

In the heat of the action, Raymond's body was lost and he is remembered on the Medjez-el-Bab Memorial, Tunisia, which commemorates almost 2,000 soldiers who died during WW2 operations in Algeria and Tunisia, and who have no known graves.

The Medjez-el-Bab Memorial, Tunisia
The Medjez-el-Bab Memorial, Tunisia
Photograph with thanks to nzwargraves.org.nz

Roger Morgan © 2018

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CROSS, James Vernon Cowley. Lance Corporal (14105756)

112 Provost Company, Corps of Royal Military Police
Died 22 August 1947, aged 20

James's headstone in the Padua War Cemetery
James's headstone in the Padua War Cemetery
Photograph (21559440) by "Jim from London" via findagrave.com

James was born in Q3 1927, the apparently the only child of Horace Grafter Roberts Cross and May (née Cowley - doubtless the source of James's third name). Their Q1 1927 marriage was registered in the Epsom District, as was James's birth.

The 1939 Register records the parents living at 15 Kingsmead Close, West Ewell. Both are listed as "Mental Nurse", doubtless at one of Epsom's "cluster" of mental hospitals. There is one currently closed record at the address, doubtless of the 11/12 year old James.

It is not clear when James began his WW2 duty in the Military Police. Given his age - his eighteenth birthday was in Q3 1945, after VE Day on 8 May - it will surely not have been before the later stages of the war.

The readily available records provide no information about James's role in 112 Provost Company. As his death - in northern Italy - came some two years after the cessation of WW2 hostilities. It seems unlikely that this came as the long-term result of some wartime injury, so the probability is that it came from some post-war incident or illness.

Whatever the case, James was buried among the 517 Commonwealth WW2 casualties in the Padua War Cemetery. His parents took the option of adding a personal inscription on his headstone on Grave VI.G.10,
"Memories / our greatest treasure / until we meet again, darling. / Mum and Dad."
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CROWLEY, Emily

Civilian
Died 18 September 1940, aged 44

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Emily was born on 7 January 1897 in South Woodford, Essex, the seventh of thirteen children of Alfred Mead and Eliza (née Barton - their Q1 1888 marriage was registered in the West Ham District). The 1911 Census records the parents and younger children living at 42 Oxford Terrace, South Woodford. 45 year old is Alfred listed as "General Dealer Furnisher Etc" and 42 year old Eliza had her hands full with a household of eight children from 17 year old Annie to new-born Edith.

In Q4 1920, the 23 year old Emily married 28 year old Frederick William Crowley in West Ham. On 30 April 1922, their son - another Frederick William Crowley - was born. The 1939 Register records these three living at 15 Thornham Grove, West Ham, London E15. Frederick senior (now 47) is listed as a "Railway Labourer", Emily (now 42) with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties", and Frederick Junior (now 17) as "LCS Shop Assistant (Grocery)".

(In the meantime, Emily's parents had moved to the Borough. The 1939 Register records them - now in their 70s - living alone at 44 White Horse Drive, Epsom. Alfred is listed as a "Labourer" and Eliza as "Housewife".)

On 18 September 1940, in the second week of the Luftwaffe's Blitz bombing campaign, a bomb fell on 15 Thornham Grove killing Emily, her husband and their son.

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CUNLIFFE, The Hon Mrs Sidney Patrick. Volunteer (W/37860)

Auxiliary Territorial Service
Died 31 October 1940, aged 42

Sidney and her first child, Robert, on 30 July 1923
Sidney and her first child, Robert, on 30 July 1923
(Hon. Patrick Sidney Cunliffe (née Frend); Robert George Cunliffe
by Bassano Ltd whole-plate glass negative)
Image source National Portrait Gallery NPG x122622(CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Sidney Patrick (not obvious names for a girl) was born in County Tipperary, Ireland in 1898 (a date inferred from the age in the Register of Deaths), the daughter of Mr and Mrs Robert Frend.

On 16 August 1922, she married the Hon Geoffrey Cunliffe. The couple had two children: Robert, born 20 June 1923; and Peter, born 29 May 1925. Both births were registered in the Epsom District. On 13 October 1925, the couple were passengers on SS Aquitania sailing from Southampton to New York. Their address was given as "Headley, Epsom" - also the address in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's records. However, it is not clear that they ever lived in the Borough.

No record has yet been found of Sidney's return to the UK, and neither she nor Geoffrey is found in the 1939 Register. By late 1940, Sidney was a volunteer in the Auxiliary Territorial Service. No information has so far been found about the role she played in this women's branch of the Army. Casualty List No. 354 notes that she died (with no other information) on 31 August 1940.

The death was registered in the Portsmouth District, consistent with her being buried in Portsmouth (Milton) Cemetery.

Her headstone in Portsmouth (Milton) Cemetery
Her headstone in Portsmouth (Milton) Cemetery
Photograph by Andy Baker © 2013, via findagrave.com

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Postscript: Sidney's son Robert served in WW2 as Flight Lieutenant (150242) in 625 Squadron. On 14 February 1945, aged 21, he was the pilot of Lancaster N7996 brought down over Berlin killing him and the other six members of the crew. They are buried in the Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery.

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CUNNINGHAM, John Charles. Sergeant/Flight Engineer (1212445)

207 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 16 August 1943, aged

John Charles Cunningham
John Charles Cunningham
Photograph with thanks to fallenheroesofnormandy.org

John Charles Cunningham was born in Chelsea, London, on 18 August 1922, apparently the only child of James Davies and (Alice) Norah (née Dicker) Their Q4 1921 marriage - when James was 26 and Norah 23 - was registered in the Wandsworth District.

At some point the family moved to Epsom and it is known that John was active in the local Scouts. The 1939 Register records the Cunningham household at 76 Hook Road, Epsom - with 44 year old James listed as a "Dairyman Inspector".

John's WW2 service was 207 Squadron, part of the RAF's Bomber Command. On 15 August 1943, he was the Flight Engineer in the 7 man crew of board Lancaster Mk.1 ED498 EM-D which took off from RAF Langar, in Nottinghamshire, to join another 198 Lancasters on a mission to bomb war production factories in Milan. Seven Lancasters were lost on the raid, mainly to German night fighter aircraft which were waiting for the bombers' return over France. In the case of John's aircraft, it was brought down in flames, crashing near Houlgate, Normandy, about 15 mile north-east of Caen.

John and five others of the crew were killed in the crash. The remaining crew member, Flying Officer George Blakeman, survived and was taken Prisoner of War. Thanks to him, rather more of the story can be told.

Having crossed the Channel on the outward journey, they passed directly over Cabourg on the Normandy coast north of Caen. After 15 minutes on track for their next turning point - the southern tip of Lac Annecy - they were hit by a night fighter which, inexplicably, did not continue its attack. Nevertheless, the port inner engine overheated and had to be shut down. They decided it would be safer to continue to Milan than to return on their own to RAF Langar. On their homeward journey, over Cabourg again and almost over the Channel, George Blakeman saw a bright flash down in the bay. The next he knew the aircraft was on fire and in a vertical dive. With just one buckle of his parachute connected he was, like the rest of the crew, pinned by gravity and unable to move. Through a window. he watched as the rivets in the wing root changed colour as they melted. (He regained consciousness two days later, tended in a French farmhouse, guarded by German soldiers.)

The other six members of his crew are buried (together with six other WW2 Commonwealth casualties) in the Houlgate (Beuzeval) Communal Cemetery, Calvados - near the Normandy coast and about 25 miles east of the 1944 D-Day beaches. John's parents took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave 10.6.
"Not only to-day but every day in silence we remember."
Left: John's original Grave Marker, Right: The Commonwealth War Graves plot in Houlgate (Beuzeval) Communal Cemetery
Left: John's original Grave Marker,
Right: The Commonwealth War Graves plot in Houlgate (Beuzeval) Communal Cemetery
Left source: Photograph with thanks to fallenheroesofnormandy.org
Right source: Photograph (2296347) by "Aircrew Remembered" via findagrave.com

Roger Morgan © 2018

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CURTIS, Claude Francis. Sergeant/Pilot (1375137)

57 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 2 April 1942, aged 22

Claude was born on 28 January 1920, the second and last child of Horace Claude Curtis and Louisa (née Holttum - they had married at All Saints, Deptford on 25 October 1914). The 30 August 1915 birth of their first child, Sibyl, was registered in the Camberwell District, while Claude's 1920 birth was registered in the Hackney District.

By at least 1937, the family had moved to 9 Lymington Gardens, Stoneleigh which is where they were recorded in the September 1939 Register. 51 year old Horace is listed as a "Fireman (Fire Brigade)"; 54 year old Louisa with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties"; 24 year old Sibyl as a " Telegraophist GPO" and 19 year old Clause as an "Audit Clerk". Also living with them was Louisa's 79 year old widowed mother, Eleanor Holtum.

In September 1940, Claude enlisted with the RAFVR at Euston. He became a member of 57 Squadron, part of the RAF's Bomber Command. This converted to Wellingtons and, from January 1941, joined in the strategic night-bombing offensive.

On 1 April 1942, 12 of the Squadron's Wellingtons took off from RAF Feltwell in Norfolk as part of a bombing raid directed to undertake low level attacks on railway targets at Hanau and Lohr (to the east of Frankfurt). Claude was the co-pilot of Wellington X3410 which took off at 21.20 hours. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it failed to return to base. (Five of the Squadron's 12 Wellington's were lost on the raid - nearly half the 13 losses among the 49 aircraft sent on the mission.)

It was later established that the aircraft had crashed at Frettingheim, about 35 miles south west of Hanau, killing all the crew, who were:-
RAF Sqn Ldr Harvie, G de L Captain (Pilot)
RAF 1375137 Sgt C F Curtis, (Pilot)
RAAF 404564 Sgt S L Green, (Observer)
RAF 1356436 Sgt D Henderson. (Wireless Op./ Air Gunner)
RAAF 400306 Sgt R Marshall, (Wireless Op./ Air Gunner)
RAF Flt Lt T H Tozer, (Air Gunner)
All are buried in Collective Grave 7.A.7-12 of the The Rheinberg War Cemetery (about 50 miles north of Cologne) which holds 3,183 Commonwealth WW2 casualties.

The Rheinberg War Cemetery
The Rheinberg War Cemetery
Photograph with thanks to the New Zealand War Graves Project

Brian Bouchard © 2017
Updated by Roger Morgan 2018

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CUTLER, Stanley Charles. Corporal (6090281)

1/5th Battalion, The Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey)
Died 31 October 1943, aged 23

Stanley is not listed in the Book of Remembrance but is remembered here because the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's post-war records note that his widow was "of Epsom, Surrey" - although, as noted below, her address in the Borough has yet to be established.em>

The Commission also notes that Stanley was the "son of Harold and Lucy Cutler" but, as they were in Lancashire until the mid-1920s, that doesn't square with the Army's Roll of Honour noting that Stanley was born in Surrey. The birth of the only such Stanley (to be aged 23 at his death in late 1943) in the readily available records was registered in Kingston Upon Thames Q3 1920, the son of Ernest S E Cutler who, in Q2 1915 and registered in the Eton District, had married Florence K Lay. Stanley was the middle of their three children: older brother Edward's birth was registered in the St Pancras District Q1 1918; and younger brother Geoffrey's in Kingston Q2 1922 .By 1936, these three children were orphans: father Ernest died aged 44, registered in Kingston Q4 1931; and Florence died aged 42, registered in Surrey NE Q1 1936.em>

(There was a Stanley Cutler born in Lancashire in Q4 1920, but he was the son of Harold's older brother Ralph who, in Q4 1915 had married Lydia Renshaw. Harold didn't marry Lucy Cowdrey until Q4 1921, also registered in Lancashire.)em>

Whatever the truth about Stanley's parentage and upbringing, we are on firmer ground for his later life. In Q4 1941 and registered in Wokingham, Berkshire, he married Margery Celia Moyes. They were both aged 21, (Stanley had been in uniform for a couple of years and, as noted below, was already battle-hardened). They appear to have had one child, Anthony, whose Q1 1943 birth was registered in the Maidenhead District.em>

Stanley's WW2 service was with 1/5th Battalion of The Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey). He was with the Battalion when it was sent to France in 1940 and was quickly involved in the Battle of France and subsequent Dunkirk evacuation, during which he was wounded in action.em>

In mid-1942 - shortly after his marriage, and leaving behind a pregnant Margery - Stanley's Battalion was sent to North Africa to reinforce the British Eighth Army which, after El Alamein, completed the defeat of the Axis powers in that theatre. The Battalion then participated in the Italian Campaign. After the invasion and capture of Sicily in August 1943, an armistice was made with the Italians who rejoined the war on the Allied side. Over the next couple of months the Allies made fairly rapid progress north in spite of stiff resistance from German troops then occupying Italy. It was during this fighting progress that Stanley was wounded in action. Casualty List No. 1310 records that he died of wounds on 31 October 1943.em>

Stanley is buried among the 1,54 WW2 Commonwealth casualties in the Minturno War Cemetery, near the coast about 50 miles north of Naples. The widowed Margery took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave V.B.8,
"In ever-loving memory."
The Minturno War Cemetery
The Minturno War Cemetery
Photograph with thanks to battlefieldswww2.com

As noted at the beginning of this article, the "of Epsom" address attributed to the widowed Margery has yet to be established. However, the local connection is supported by the fact that her Q3 1947 remarriage to Henry Cook was registered in the local Surrey Mid Eastern District.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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