WW2 Book of Remembrance - Surnames R

Index

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[Content]

RANDALL, Dennis Charles (Revised 23/08/2018)
RASEY, William George (Revised 23/08/2018)
RAWKINS, Geoffrey Lubbock (Revised 23/08/2018)
RAWSON, John Leslie (Revised 23/08/2018)
REACH, Sidney Christopher * (Revised 23/08/2018)
REACH, Thomas Edmund * (Revised 23/08/2018)
READ, Charles Edward (Revised 23/08/2018)
READ, Clive Ronald (Revised 25/04/2018)
REDFORD, Keith George (Revised 25/04/2018)
REES, Dewi (Revised 25/04/2018)
REESE, Frederick Oscar (Revised 25/04/2018)
REEVES, Charles Walter (Revised 24/01/2018)
RELF, Harold Albert John * (Revised 25/04/2018)
REYNOLDS, Ernest Robert Frank (Revised 25/04/2018)
RICHARDS, John Conway (Revised 25/04/2018)
RICHARDSON, Charles Henry (Revised 22/01/2018)
RICHARDSON, Edgar Arthur (Revised 25/04/2018)
RICHMOND, John Roderick (Revised 25/04/2018)
RINGER, Edwin Charles (Revised 29/11/2017)
ROBERTS, Albert (Revised 25/04/2018)
ROBERTSON, Adelaide Elvira May * (New 30/10/2017)
ROBINSON, George Radford (New 30/10/2017)
ROLL, John Castledine (New 07/08/2017)
ROOK, Peter (New 08/01/2018)
ROSS, Jack Kenneth (New 30/10/2017)
ROTHON, Norman Ashford (New 08/01/2018)
ROUTLEDGE, Leslie Thomas (New 30/10/2017)
ROWE, Charles * (New 30/10/2017)
ROWE, William (New 08/01/2018)
ROWLAND, Leah Frances * (New 30/10/2017)
ROWLAND, Thomas Alfred (New 21/08/2017)
RUMSEY, Eric George Henry * (New 30/10/2017)
RUSSELL, Alexander (Revised 02/01/2018)
RYAN, Ronald (New 30/10/2017)

* = 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


RANDALL, Dennis Charles. Rifleman (6855672)

1st Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps
Died 10 July 1944, aged 22

Dennis was born Q3 1922, the third child of Alan Randall and Florence Kathleen (née Shepherd). The parents' Q3 1916 marriage had been registered in the Epsom District - as were the births of all three children.

The 1939 Register records the family living at 134 Kingston Road, Ewell. 46 year old Alan is listed as a "Builders Decorator" and 42 year old Florence with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". There is one currently closed record at the address, doubtless concealing the 17 year old Dennis. Of the other two children: 21 year old Sidney was a "Butchers Roundsman"; and 19 year old Arthur a "United Dairies Milk Roundsman".

Dennis's WW2 service was with the 1st Battalion of the King's Royal Rifle Corps. At the outbreak of the war, this was among the forces deployed to North Africa but, as Dennis was only 17 at the time, it is likely that he joined them later. Even so, he seems bound to have seen action with them at the key Battles of El Alamein in the second half of 1942, the defeat of Axis powers in North Africa and then in the Italian Campaign.

From the springboard of a secured North Africa, the Allies had captured Sicily in August 1943 and, on 3 September, they invaded the Italian mainland. (The invasion coincided with an armistice made with the Italians who then re-entered the war on the Allied side.) Progress through southern Italy was rapid despite stiff resistance from German forces, but the advance was checked for some months at their winter defensive position (the "Gustav Line") south of Rome. The line eventually fell in May 1944 and the Allies took Rome on 3 June.

The Germans withdrew and, about 100 miles north of Rome (and about 45 miles south east of Florence) made a stand in front of Arezzo early in July 1944. In the fierce fighting, Dennis was (according to Casualty List No. 1512) killed in action on 10 July. The town was finally taken on 16 July.

Dennis is one of 1,266 Commonwealth WW2 burials in the Arezzo War Cemetery. His parents took the opportunity of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave IV.B.5, "In loving memory of our son who died that we might live."

The Arezzo War Cemetery
The Arezzo War Cemetery
Picture with thanks to "Nordalbert" via Twitter

Roger Morgan © 2018

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RASEY, William George. Sergeant/Wireless Op./Air Gunner (1801807)

101 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
Died 29 August 1944, aged 22.

William's headstone in the Palsjo War Cemetery, Sweden
William's headstone in the Palsjo War Cemetery, Sweden
Picture courtesy of www.hembygdshistoria.se/palsjo

The Borough's Book of Remembrance includes an Edward Rasey of the RAF. That first name must be a transcription error: the only person - of any service - with the surname Rasey in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's database is this "William George Rasey" who, as described below, is well connected with the Borough.

William was born Q1 1922 in the Epsom District, the second child of William Charles Rasey and Lilian Amelia (née Boulcott - they had married Q1 1919, also in the Epsom District). The couple eventually had six children.

The Raseys were a well-established Epsom Family: William Charles (William's father) was one of 14 children born to Thomas and Emily Rasey of Epsom Common. While William Charles survived his WW1 service (in the East Surrey Regiment & Labour Corps), three of his brothers - Frederick (whose WW1 entry sets out the family background), Albert & Bertie - did not.

The 1939 Register records William Charles, Lilian and their family living at 18 Tonstall Road, West Ewell. 47 year old William Senior is listed as a "General Labourer, Heavy Work" and 44 year old Lilian with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". Three of the other five records at the address are currently closed, but presumably cover some of their children (including 17 year old William George). The two open ones are of first born Rosina (a 20 year old "Laundry Maid") and the penultimate 5 year "Schoolboy" Charles).

William George's WW2 service was in 101 Squadron, part of the RAF's Bomber Command. In 1944, this was equipped with Avro Lancaster heavy bombers and was operating from RAF Ludford Magna, an airfield built the previous year some 20 miles north east of Lincoln.

Late on 29 August 1944, William was part of the 9-strong crew of Avro Lancaster Mk.I LL757 SR-W which took off from Ludford Magna to take part in a bombing raid on Stettin (now Szczecin) in Poland, an important port and industrial centre. On the way to the target, the aircraft was attacked by a German night fighter and badly damaged. It seems that the pilot was making for neutral Sweden. Having crossed the coast just north of Helsingborg, it appears that the crew bailed out but the aircraft (which had a full bomb load) exploded in the air at the same time, killing all nine.

William is one of 47 Commonwealth airmen of the Second World War buried in the Helsingborg (Palsjo) Municipal Cemetery, Sweden. The family took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone (on Grave XV.5),
"Deep in our hearts / a memory is kept / of one we loved / and will never forget."
Roger Morgan © 2017

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RAWKINS, Geoffrey Lubbock

Civilian
Died 11 October 1940, aged 41

Geoffrey was born on 11 September 1899, the first child of David Josiah Rawkins and Margaret (née Lubbock - they had married Q1 1899, registered in the Hackney District). The 1901 Census records the young family living at 19, Woodberry Grove, Stoke Newington with the 29 year old David listed as a "Builder's Manager". By the time of the 1911 Census, the family (now with the second child, Sydney, born in 1903) had moved to 27 Park Court Mansions, Clapham and David is now listed as an "Estate Agen and Builder".

On 12 September 1917, the 18 year old Geoffrey (described as an "Insurance Clerk") attested into the Royal Flying Corps. He served as a Second Lieutenant in 103 and then 116 Squadron, transferring out (from what had become the RAF) in April 1919.

In Q4 1924, Geoffrey married Dorothy Hale - they were both 25 years old. The birth of their only child, Anthony St John, was registered Q1 1932 in (like their marriage) the Wandsworth District.

The 1939 Register records the couple staying/lodging with Malcolm and Nora Pickett at 38 Farm Avenue, Harrow. Geoffrey is now listed as a "Quantity Surveyor" and Dorothy with the conventional "unpaid domestic duties".

That residence would seem to be only a temporary arrangement, since there is no closed record there to cover their son, Anthony. (There is no record of his early death - indeed, he appears to be the Anthony S Rawkins who, in Q3 1961 and registered in the local Surrey Mid Eastern District, married Beryl G Harrison.)

As noted by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (and the Probate record about administration of Geoffrey's £ 2,397 estate), the family were living at Craven Cottage, Woodcote Hurst, Epsom in 1940 - which is where Geoffrey died on 11 October 1940 as the result of enemy action. If Dorothy or Anthony were injured in the attack, they recovered.)

Roger Morgan © 2018

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RAWSON, John Leslie. Gunner (1542741)

3rd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery
Died 21 April 1942, aged 25.

John was born on 25 March 1917, the first of four children born to Frank John Rawson and Emma Constance (née Palmer). They had married Q2 1914, registered in the Epsom District, and set up home in Ewell - John was baptised at St Mary's, Ewell on 19 April 1917, and siblings were also baptised there.

The 1939 Register records the family living at 57 Heatherside Road, West Ewell. 54 year old Frank is listed as a "School Master (Head)" - possibly at Pound Lane, Epsom - and 47 year old Emma with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". Their third child, Emma (born Q2 1922) was away from home but 22 year old John is listed as a "Surveyor's Clerk; 19 year old Joyce as a "Civil Servant (Tithe Redemption)"; and nearly 15 year old Robert as "Seeking Work (not previously employed)". Also living with them was Emma's 80 year old and "Incapacitated" widowed mother, also called Emma.

John's WW2 service was in the 3rd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery. This was sent to Malaya where, notwithstanding fierce fighting, Commonwealth troops were unable to halt the Japanese invasion from the north which began on 8 December 1941. Survivors retreated to Singapore which, with some 80,000 troops, was surrendered to the Japanese on 15 February. The Japanese, who had already taken about 50,000 prisoners on their progress through Malaya and Singapore, then set about processing these people for, as is now well-known, extremely harsh imprisonment.

In the very early stages of all this, on 15 February itself, John and Lieutenant Eric Alan Sawyer of the same Regiment somehow managed to escape, and it was reported that they had left Singapore by sea. It was later presumed that they had died, and this was later taken as confirmed - in John's case taking the date of death as 21 April 1942.

John's body was never recovered (or, if it was, could not be identified) and he is commemorated on the Singapore Memorial as one of the more than 24,000 casualties of the land and air forces of the Commonwealth who died during the campaigns in Malaya and Indonesia or in subsequent captivity and have no known grave.

The Singapore Memorial (rear) in the Kranji War Cemetery
The Singapore Memorial (rear) in the Kranji War Cemetery
Picture with thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Roger Morgan © 2018
With thanks to Brian Bouchard for some family background

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REACH, Sidney Christopher

Civilian
Died 15 October 1940, aged 37

&

REACH, Thomas Edmund

Civilian
Died 15 October 1940, aged 66

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Sidney was born on 6 November 1902 the second child of Thomas Edmund Reach (born 28 December 1874) and Ellen Mary (née Christopher). The couple had married in Q4 1897, registered in Thomas's home Hendon District - Ellen had been born (on 28 January 1877) in Jersey. The 1901 Census records the mid-20s couple living at 54 Fordingley Road, Paddington with their first child, 2 year old Charles. Thomas's occupation is listed as a "Woodworking Machinist".

By the time of the 1911 Census, the family had moved to 104 Roundwood Road, Willesden - and grown with the addition of now 8 year old Sidney and 4 year old Edna. Thomas is now listed as just a "Machininst". Both Sidney and now 12 year old Charles were at school, but Charles was also a "Newsboy".

In Q3 1927, the 24 year old Sidney married 21 year old Margaretta Winifred Parks. They had two children - Kenneth and Ronald - whose births (in, respectively, Q4 1928 and Q1 1936) were, like their parents' marriage, registered in the Croydon District.

The 1939 Register records Sidney and Margaretta (listed here as "Margaret") living at 24 Norfolk Road, Thornton Heath together with two currently closed records, which will be covering their children. Margaretta is listed with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties" and Sidney as a "Wood Working Machinist".

Sidney's work was with his father, Thomas who - with Ellen - is recorded in the 1939 Register (where the surname is mistranscribed as "Leach") living at 88 Newbury Gardens, Stoneleigh and listed as a "Working Director Wood Machinist".

They worked in a sawmill located under some of the railway arches in Hercules Road, Lambeth. On 15 October 1940, a few weeks into the Lufwaffe's "Blitz" bombing campaign, there was a particularly heavy raid on London. A high explosive bomb in Hercules Road killed Sidney, Thomas and four others at the Sawmill. Thomas and Sidney are both buried in the Lambeth Cemetery, Blackshaw Road, Tooting.

Thomas's widow, Ellen, died aged 71 in Q3 1948, registered in the local Surrey Mid Eastern District. Sidney's widow, Margaretta, did not remarry and died aged 88 in Q1 1994, registered in Croydon.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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READ, Charles Edward. Sergeant/Observer (580828)

37 Squadron, Royal Air Force.
Died 15 July 1940, aged 20.

Charles was born Q3 1920, the first child of Charles Edward (in some records, written "Edward Charles") and Florence Ethel (née Rider - they had married Q1 1920). Their marriage, Charles's birth and those of his siblings (John, born Q1 1923, and Elizabeth, born Q4 1925) were all registered in the Epsom District. The 1939 Register records the parents living at 29 Shortcroft Road, Ewell together with three currently closed records at that address, presumably of their three teenage children. Father Charles is listed as "Electrician (Lighting Heating)" and Florence with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties".

Clive junior served in 37 Squadron, part of RAF's Bomber Command. At 2200 hours on Sunday 14 July 1940, Charles was part of the five-strong crew on Wellington 1c L7792/LF-L that took off from RAF Feltwell, Norfolk, as part of a larger mission to to bomb Hamburg. Before reaching the target the aircraft was shot down by flak from the No.1 Reserve Flak of 182 Blumental-Bremen, and crashed at Beckedorf.

German troops inspecting the crashed Wellington L7792/LF-L
German troops inspecting the crashed Wellington L7792/LF-L
Image (and mission details above) courtesy of aircrewremembered.

While two of the crew survived and were taken prisoner, the other three, including Charles, were killed. He is buried in the Becklingen War Cemetery, Niedersachsen, Germany

Roger Morgan © 2017

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READ, Clive Ronald. Galley Boy

SS Christian Michelsen, Merchant Navy
Died 26 September 1943, aged 18

Clive's surname was Read rather than the "Reed" noted in the Borough's Book of Remembrance. Unusually, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records contain no information about his family background. However, it seems likely that he was the first child of Ambrose Read and Doris (née Dench). They had married in Reigate Q1 1924 and this is where Clive's Q2 1925 birth was registered - as was the Q1 1929 birth of his sister Audrey.

The Q4 1934 birth of the couple's third child, Anthony, was registered in the Surrey Mid Eastern District so the family was probably already living at 28 Wheelers Lane Epsom, which is where the parents (with Ambrose as a "Sign Writer and Decorating Contractor") and 5 year old Anthony were - with two currently closed records - at the time of the 1939 Register.

Clive served aboard the Norwegian steam merchant SS Christian Michelsen which, in September 1943, was part of trans-Atlantic Convoy UGS-17 which from New York. Its cargo included 3,000 tons of oil (in drums), and 7,000 tons of aircraft bombs and ammunition. At 1900 hours on 26 Sep 1943 - and not far short of the destination in Sicily - the Convoy was attacked by U-boat U-410. A torpedo hit the SS Christian Michelsen which - unsurprisingly, given its cargo - blew up, sinking in less than a minute. Miraculously, three crewmen survived, but 47 - including Clive - were killed

The SS Christian Michelsen
The SS Christian Michelsen
Photo courtesy of Karl Morten Bardsen, via uboat.net

His body was never found and he is remembered on the Tower Hill Memorial.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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REDFORD, Keith George. Flight Sergeant/Air Bomber (656698)

578 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Died 16 March 1944, aged 22

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

Keith was born Q3 1921, apparently the only child of Osbert Henry Redford and Amelia Phyllis (née Kent). Their Q2 1915 marriage had been registered in Blything, Suffolk, and Keith's birth in the Marylebone District.

The 18 year old Keith is not found in the 1939 Register, but his parents were recorded living at 12 Curvan Close, Ewell. 48 year old Osbert is listed as a "Motor Engineer" and 53 year old Amelia with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". Then only other resident is Osbert's widowed 72 year old mother, Fanny.

Keith's WW2 service was in 578 Squadron, part of the RAF's Bomber Command. On 15 March 1944, he was part of the crew of 578 Squadron Halifax Mk III LW495 LK-C which took off from RAF Burn (a few miles outside Selby, Yorkshire) at 18:52 for a night raid on Stuttgart. (862 other aircraft also took part in this night raid: 617 Lancasters, 230 Halifaxes and 16 Mosquitoes.)

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

Clear weather with adverse winds caused the delayed opening of the attack and the same winds may have caused the Pathfinder marking falling well short of the target. Early bombing fell in the centre of Stuttgart, but most of the bombing fell in open ground south-west of the city.

37 of the 863 aircraft involved in the attack were lost that night. In the case of Keith's Halifax, this was only a few miles from home when, presumably as a result of damage over enemy territory, the aircraft crashed at 03:35 into the brickworks at Selby. Keith and four others of the seven man crew were killed.

Keith's body was brought home for butial in Epsom Cemetery on 21 March 1944. His parents took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave N257,
"Greater love hath no man than this."
Roger Morgan © 2018

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REES, Dewi. First Radio Officer

MV Fort Richepanse (Belfast), Merchant Navy
Died 3 September 1941, aged 29

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Dewi Rees was born in Porthcawl, South Wales, Q1 1912. His mother's maiden name was Jones but, without more information, these common Welsh names cannot be traced in the readily available records. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission's post-war records note that Dewi's (presumably widowed) mother was "Mrs P E Rees, of Ewell". However, she is not found in the 1939 Register, and the address has yet to be established.

The Commission's records also note that Dewi was the "husband of Elizabeth Rees, of Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire." A record is found of Dewi's marrying Elizabeth Evans in Q2 1935, registered in the Sculcotes District of Yorkshire but, again, the common Welsh names rule out tracing them (and any children) in the readily available records.

Dewi was a radio officer in the Merchant Navy. In 1941, he was serving aboard the 3,485 ton MV Fort Richepanse. This Danish-built (and originally French-owned) vessel had, since the Franco-German Armistice signed on 22 June 1940, been operating under Vichy French colours. On 9 February 1941, while en route from the Antilles to Casablanca with a cargo of 834 tons of bananas and 85 passengers, she was captured by HMS Registan (F106), and escorted to Gibraltar. The vessel was transferred to the Ministry of War Transport and began operating out of Belfast.

MV Fort Richepanse
MV Fort Richepanse
Photo courtesy of Danish Maritime Museum, Elsinore
Image and incident details with thanks to uboat.net

At the end of August 1941, MV Fort Richepanse sailed from Montreal, bound for Liverpool with 12 passengers and 2,890 tons of general cargo (including eggs and mail) - and a crew of 46. At 20:42 hours on 3 September 1941, the ship (which was unescorted) was torpedoed and sunk by U-567 about 300 miles west of Ireland. The master, 25 crew members (including Dewi), 5 gunners and 5 passengers were lost. (15 crew members and 7 passengers were picked up by two ships of the Polish Navy and landed at Greenock.)

Dewi is commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial as one of 24,000 British Merchant seaman who died during WW2 and have no known grave.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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REESE, Frederick Oscar

Civilian
Died 15 October 1940, aged 55

Frederick was born on 26 June 1884, the third of five children born to John Thomas Reese and Catherine (née Thomas). The 1891 Census records the family of seven living at Plasyoner House, College Row, Ystradgynlais - which was then the largest town in the county of Brecknockshire (now the second largest in the present-day county of Powys). This was a prosperous household. 50 year old John Thomas was a "Medical & Surgical Practitioner and he, his 44 year old wife and five children aged from 1 to 11 (Frederick - listed here as "Oscar" - was aged 7) were supported by two domestic servants.

Frederick's secondary education was at Epsom College and he was recorded there in the 1901 Census as a 16 year old student. He is not found in the 1911 Census but, on 7 November 1914, Frederick received a temporary commission as an Assistant Paymaster in the Royal Naval Reserve. By the end of WW1, he had risen to the rank of Paymaster Lieutenant.

In Q4 1918, 34 year old Frederick married 33 year old Frances Margaret Meade (she had been born on Christmas Day 1884). The marriage was registered in the St Martin area of London. No record has been found of the couple having any children.

The couple are found in the 1939 Register living alone at "Knighton", at 28 Woodcote Park Road, Epsom. The now 54 year old Frederick is listed as "Export & Imports Company Director" and Frances with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". On 27 April 1940, less than 18 months later, Frances died in Epsom's Cottage Hospital. The 12 July 1940 Probate record of administration of her £5,701 estate being awarded to Frederick clarifies his business as a "textile importer".

However, on 15 October 1940 (only six months after his wife's death), Frederick himself died at Epsom County Hospital. To rank as a Civilian Casualty for the purposes of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's database, this must have been the result of injuries caused by "enemy action" - probably received in the Luftwaffe's "Blitz bombing campaign that began on 7 September 1940.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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REEVES, Charles Walter. Leading Aircraftman (1291215)

Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 5 May 1944 Age 21

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

The marriage of Charles Reeves to Florence E West was registered in Wandsworth for the September Quarter of 1922. Birth of their son Charles Walter Reeves came to be recorded in the same District, 3/1923.

Charles, junior, enlisted with the Royal Air Force, probably at Uxbridge, during September 1940.

The RAF's main base in Palestine was at Aqir, located 9 km southwest of Ramleh, which became the home station for 76 Operational Training Unit. This had been formed at RAF Aqir on 1 October 1943 and equipped with Vickers Wellington Mk.IIIs and Xs to train night bomber crews for squadrons in the Middle East. RAF Ramleh, however, was right beside the town of Er Ramleh: there was a 'Y' junction with one road going towards Jerusalem and the other branching off to RAF Ramleh.The main road carried on to RAF Aqir and further towards Gaza.

No evidence has been found to suggest that LAC Reeves was involved in any aircraft crash. He may have been posted to RAF Ramleh and expired from illness or injury at No 12 Military Hospital also at Ramleh.

During the Second World War, Ramleh War Cemetery was used by the Ramleh Royal Air Force Station and by various Commonwealth hospitals posted in turn to the area for varying periods. Charles Walter Reeves was interred there in Grave 5. C. 7.

Recorded by CWGC as the son of Charles and Florence Emily Reeves, of Epsom, Surrey. In 1939, Mrs Florence Emily Reeves lived at 76 Hook Road, Epsom.

Brian Bouchard © 2018

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RELF, Harold Albert John

Civilian
Died 13 November 1940, aged 48

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Harold was born on 15 April 1892, the oldest child of Albert and Elizabeth Relf. His birth was registered in the Croydon District, the area where, after their marriage, his parents spent all their lives. The 1891 Census records the newly married early 30s couple living at 440 Whitehorse Road, Croydon with Albert working as a "Dairyman". By the time of the 1901 Census, all three children had arrived (the now 9 year old Harold, 7 year old Daisy and 5 year old Cecil), and Albert was working as a "Greengrocer". By the 1911 Census the parents had moved to 61 Lakehall Road, Thornton Heath and 51 year old Albert was working as a "Jobbing Gardener". Only their youngest child (now 15 year old Cecil) was still at home.

At some point, their some Harold moved to Kent. In Q3 1923, he married Una Emily Turner. The marriage was registered in the Tonbridge District, as were the births of their two children: Marjorie on 22 January 1924; and Gerald in Q4 1930.

By the time of the 1939 Register, Harold and Una had moved back to his parent's patch of Thornton Heath - perhaps not unconnected with the death of Harold's father. The Register records his 88 year old widowed and "Incapacitated" mother, Elizabeth, living 13 Ramsey Road, Thornton Heath together with her 45 year old unmarried daughter, Daisy, whose occupation is listed as "Home Dress Making".

Harold and Una were living a few streets away at 42 Woodcroft Road, Thornton Heath. 47 year old Harols is listed as a "Nursery Foreman" and 48 year old Una with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". Their 15 year old daughter was living with them, working as a "Junior Shop Assistant (Milliner)".

On 10 November 1940, in the third month of the Luftwaffe's "Blitz" bombing campaign, Harold was injured at home in Woodcroft Road. He was taken 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 - but died there three days later, on 13 November 1940.

If either Una or Marjorie were injured in the same attack, they recovered.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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REYNOLDS, Ernest Robert Frank. Leading Aircraftman (1265608)

Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 13 December 1944, aged 39

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

Ernest was born on 8 June 1905, the first child of Henry Ernest Reynolds and Clara Annie (née Mercer - they had married in Epsom Q1 1905). The 1911 Census records the 25 year old Clara living with or visiting her parents (61 year old Frank, a "Carter", and 50 year old Eliza) at 38 Victoria Place, Epsom, the house she had been brought up in. Husband Henry was elsewhere but, with her, were not only 5 year old Ernest but also three more children aged from 1 to 4. Henry and Clara had three more children, born in 1912, 1913 and 1915. Ernest and all their children were, like Clara herself, born in Epsom.

In Q1 1930, also in Epsom, the 24 year old Ernest married 20 year old Irene Mabel Tugwell. She was from Walton on the Hill, where the 1911 Census had recorded her as the third child of the late 20s James (like Ernest's father, a "Carter") and Mabel Alice Tugwell living at Wooden Row, Walton on the Hill.

Ernest and Irene had two children - Michael (in Q4 1938) and Gerald (Q2 1940) - both births being registered in the local Surrey Mid Eastern District. Gerald arrived after the 1939 Register which recorded the family of three living at 45 College Road, Epsom. Ernest's occupation was listed as a "General labourer and Irene with the conventional "unpaid domestic duties".

Ernest's WW2 service was in the RAF as a Leading Aircraftman. The readily available records provide no information about the location or nature of this service - or the cause of his death on 13 December 1944. It is known that he died in Horton Emergency Hospital, one of Epsom's "cluster" of mental hospitals that, as for WW1, had been taken over for dealing with wartime casualties. But he would have received his mortal injuries (or, alternatively, have fallen ill) somewhere else.

Anyway, Ernest was buried in Epsom Cemetery on 19 December 1944. His widow took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave N254), "Love's greatest gift, remembrance."

Roger Morgan © 2018

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RICHARDS, John Conway. Able Seaman (P/JX 141477)

HM Submarine H.31, Royal Navy
Died 24 December 1941, aged 22.

John was born Q1 1919, the third child of Alfred Thomas Richards and Alice Margaret (née Strudwick - they had married Q3 1905, registered in the Epsom District, but certain to have been in Alice's now home town of Ewell).

John's father, Alfred, had been born in Dorset. The 1891 Census records him as a 17 year old living with his parents - John (a "Retired Gardener") and Martha Richards - in West Street, Allington, Bridport and working as a "Shoemaker Apprentice". By the time of the 1901 Census, the now 27 year old was working as a "Prudential Assurance Agent" and lodging with the Arthur family at 1 High Street Ashtead.

It was perhaps while calling on clients that he met Alice Mary Strudwick. She had been born in Godalming in 1882, the daughter of Surrey-born John and Dublin-born Martha Strudwick. By the time of the 1901 Census, the early 40s John and Martha were living in the High Street, Ewell, where John was the "Coffee House Manager". Alice, now aged 18 and a "Dressmaker Assistant" was one of their three children living at home.

As noted above, Alfred and Alice married in 1905 - and the 1911 Census finds them living at The Cave Coffee Tavern, High Street (now 1 Cheam Road), Ewell with 37 year old Alfred as "Manager Coffee Tavern" and 28 year old Alice "Assisting in Business". Alice's parents and two of her sisters had moved to Vernon Cottage, London Road, Ewell where the 1911 Census lists the 56 year old John Strudwick as a "Retired Caterer". (It is understood that Alice actually ran the Coffee Tavern with help from Alfred alongside his shoemaking.)

Alfred and Alice had three children: Phillip (Q2 1912); Frances (Q4 1916); and John Conway, the subject of this article (Q1 1919). Either because of his age or because he was already in uniform, the 20 year old John is not found in the 1939 Register. His parents, however, remained at 1 Cheam Road where the 1939 Register lists the 66 year old Alfred as a "Bootmaker & Repairer" and the 57 year Alice with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". 1 Cheam Road, Ewell, is stated as John's address in the 1942 Probate record of administration of his £107 estate being awarded to his mother.

John's WW2 service was as an Able Seaman in Submarine H 31, built by Vickers in Barrow in Furness and commissioned on 21 February 1919. In the early days of WW2, she was used in many anti-submarine training exercises in home waters, but did also undertake a number of war missions in the North Sea (where, on 18 July 1940, she torpedoed and sank the German auxiliary patrol vessel UJ 126 off the Dutch island of Terschelling). She was also involved in the November 1941 operation to keep the German battleship Scharnhorst in Brest.

HM Submarine H 31.
HM Submarine H 31.
Copyright acknowledged.

On 19 December 1941, H31 sailed from Falmouth for a Bay of Biscay patrol, 250 nautical miles north of Cape Finisterre. She was reported overdue on 26 December 1941. The precise date of her loss with all 22 on board (including John) is unknown - as is the cause, although this is generally understood to have been a drifting mine.

John is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial as one of nearly 15,000 naval personnel of WW2 who were lost or buried at sea.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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RICHARDSON, Charles Henry. Flight Sergeant (1392954)

630 Sqdn. Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 22 May 1944 Age 26

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

The marriage of Frederick S Richardson to Mabel L Christian was registered in the December Quarter of 1911 at Poplar. Birth of their son Charles H Richardson came to be recorded in the same District, 3/1918.

The death of Frederick S Richardson, aged 60, appears to have been registered in Surrey Mid E, 12/1943 - buried from the General Hospital as Frederick Samuel Richardson, Weigh Bridge Clerk, in Plot O530 of Epsom Cemetery, 11 November 1943.

Charles had enlisted with the Royal Air Force at Euston in September 1940.

He was aboard Lancaster I, LL950, LE-Y, of RAF 630 Sqn Bomber Command which took off at 22:18 hrs on 21May 1944from East Kirby for a 'Gardening' operation - (Forget-Me-Not, Kiel Bay)

The Lancaster was flying at 4700 metres over the Jutland peninsula when it was attacked by a German night fighter from 10./NJG 3 piloted by Unteroffizier Heinz Koppe. It exploded in the air and crashed at 02:00 hrs. on 22 May 1944 just south of the railroad line west of the small village of Vesterlund, Denmark. A large part of the fuselage fell to the ground some five kilometres away a little to the east of the village of Dørken.

Four bodies were found in the wreckage near Vesterlund, and two more in the fuselage east of Dørken together with a third body wearing an unopened parachute in a nearby field.

The dead airmen were left lying where they were found until the evening of 24 May when the Wehrmacht from Give collected the bodies and took them to Esbjerg where they were laid to rest in Fovrfelt cemetery on 27 May1944.

They were identified as: -
Pilot P/O Ronald W. Bailey
Flt. Engr. P/O Jack M. Whiting
Navigator F/S Charles H. Richardson
Navigator F/S James M. Henderson
W/Op F/O Albert E. Truesdale
Air Gnr. Sgt James Lindsay
Air Gnr. Sgt Martin E. Murton.

Charles was interred with his comrades in Esbjerg (Fourfelt) Cemetery, Collective grave A. 12. 18-24.

Described by CWGC as the son of Frederick Samuel and Mabel Louisa Richardson, of Epsom, Surrey, his address for Probate was stated to have been 60 The Greenway, Epsom. Administration of his effects was granted to Mrs Mabel Louise Richardson, widow.

Brian Bouchard © 2018

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RICHARDSON, Edgar Arthur. Private (29808)

18th Battalion, New Zealand Infantry
Died 25 May 1941, aged 31

Edgar's headsone at Grave 6D4  in the Suda Bay War Cemetery, Crete
Edgar's headsone at Grave 6D4 in the Suda Bay War Cemetery, Crete.
Photograph (18993109) by "BobBoston" via findagrave.com

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission notes that Edgar was the "son of Victor Richardson and of Mary Richardson, of Ewell, Surrey, England." That address has yet to be established but, even so, the connection with the Borough is not strong. To date, the closest the parents are found is in the 1939 Register living at what seems to be called "Haifi Lockeel Rest" in Box Hill Village's Ashurst Drive. 70 year old Victor is listed as a "Decorator, Retired" and 76 year old Mary with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties".

The house name clearly reflects a more exotic location - perhaps India, where their son Edgar was born on 1 January 1910. He was baptised on 6 March 1910 in St Thomas Church, Dehradun (in the hills about 150 miles north of New Delhi) where the records note him as the son of Albert Victor John and Mary Jane Richardson.

Military records are clear that Edgar had (or had taken) New Zealand nationality - reinforced by his membership of an NZ battalion. And things get thoroughly confused by finding that the NZ War Graves project - alongside a repeat of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's note that Edgar was the "son of Victor Richardson and of Mary Richardson, of Ewell, Surrey, England." - has other and apparently well-informed material about Private Edgar Arthur Richardson (29808). This is that, on enlistment into the New Zealand Infantry, 18 Battalion:
  • Edgar's next of kin was given as "Mrs M. Mayo (mother), 31 Wellington Street, Bangalore, India";
  • His address was "c/o C A Bowler, Waikarau, Te Aroha, Waikato, New Zealand"; and
  • his occupation was "Farm manager".
The 18th Battalion was formed in New Zealand in September 1939. After a period of training, in 1940 it embarked for the Middle East as part of the 2nd New Zealand Division and then, in 1941, on to Greece as part of the Allied reinforcement of the Greek Army as it prepared to repulse a second invasion by Italian forces from Albania compounded by a threatened invasion by German forces from Bulgaria. When the invasions came, Greek and Allied forces were in insufficient strength to repel them.

They withdrew to Crete which, on 20 May 1941, was invaded by German forces in the first mainly airborne invasion in history. With the active involvement of Cretan civilians, it seemed initially that the Germans might be repulsed. However, an Allied tactical error allowed the Germans to capture the Meleme Airfield at Chania in NW Crete and gave them the upper hand. The Allies were driven south and it was during this that Edgar was killed in action on 25 May. The Battle of Crete ended with Axis forces' victory on 1 June.

Edgar is one of 1,500 Commonwealth WW2 casualties buried in the Suda Bay War Cemetery, which is located 3.5 miles east of Chania in NW Crete. The Cemetery was established shortly after the war to receive graves from the four burial grounds that had been established by the German occupying forces at Chania, Iraklion, Rethymnon and Galata, and from various isolated sites and civilian cemeteries.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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RICHMOND, John Roderick. Sergeant/Pilot (658703)

211 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Died 2 May 1943, aged 22.

John ('Jack') Richmond
John ("Jack") Richmond
Copyright acknowledged.

John (known as "Jack") was born in Q3 1920, the first child of Herbert Roderick Richmond and Bessie Harriet (née Reeves). The couple had married Q1 1919 (registered in the Poplar District of London), perhaps immediately following Herbert's discharge from the RAF on 18 March 1919.

Herbert's background is worth a digression. He had been born in Norfolk on 31 August 1891. The 1901 Census records him, 9 years old, as the second child of early 40s Frederick (a "Farmer") and Clara Richmond living at The Hall, Booton, St Faiths, Norfolk. This was a prosperous household, supported by two domestic servants. His RAF record card notes that he had, from 15 December 1914 to 9 December 1915, Herbert had served in the 65th Lowland Division Signal Company of the Royal Engineers - the Scottish link presumably arising from his pre-war work for over 8 years as a fitter at Argyll's Ltd, a motor manufacturer in Alexandria, Dumbartonshire. On 9 December 1915, he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps - presumably to use his mechanic's skills - which later became the RAF.

Anyway, Herbert and Bessie set up home in Epsom where, in 1920, he founded Epsom Coaches. The couple's second child, Roydon, was born Q2 1925 - perhaps at 45 Copse Edge Avenue, Epsom which was the family home in the 1939 Register (and the 1943 Probate record about administration of Jack's £276 estate being awarded to his father, "Motor Coach Proprietor'). In the 1939 Register, the 48 year old Herbert is listed as "Company Director (Heavy Goods Vehicle Driver)". The 49 year old Bessie was not at home - being recorded in the Register as a patient at the Cottage Hospital in Alexandra Road.

Given his father's WW1 service, it is perhaps no surprise to find that Jack's WW2 service was in the RAF - in his case, in 211 Squadron which was part of Bomber Command. In the early hours of 2 May 1943, the 22 year old Jack was the pilot of a Wellington Bomber IC Z8806 of 11 OTU which took off from RAF Westcott on a night training flight over Oxfordshire. He apparently lost control and, at 0245 hours, the aircraft crashed at Stadhampton (a few miles south east of Oxford) killing him and the other six on board.

Jack's body was brought home and he was buried in Epsom Cemetery on 8 May 1943. His family took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave N258,
"To a beautiful life / came a sudden end; / he died as he lived / everyone's friend."
Jack's headstone in Epsom Cemetery
Jack's headstone in Epsom Cemetery
Image courtesy of Clive Gilbert © 2018

Roger Morgan © 2018

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RINGER, Edwin Charles. Serjeant (5771996)

1st Battalion, Royal Norfolk Regiment
Died 5 November 1944, aged 28.

The CWGC website entry for Edwin C (Charles) Ringer states his age as 28 when he died in 1944, which means that he was born around 1916, and the Army Roll of Honour states that he was born in Norfolk. However, no birth record has been found for him.

Edwin married Edith Frances May Bullen in the December quarter of 1940 in the Surrey Mid Eastern registration district. Edith was born on 25 March 1914 in Epsom and was baptised at St. Barnabas church on 21 June 1914. Her parents, Walter, a labourer, and Edith Bullen (nee Stevell), lived at 237 Hook Road, Epsom. Four of Edith's siblings were also baptised at St. Barnabas church. The 1939 Register records Edith (currently employed as a laundry maid) living with her parents and an older brother at 237 Hook Road, Epsom.

Edwin and Edith had two children, Rosemary E.F. registered in 1941 and John G. registered in 1944.

It is not known if Edwin was a Regular Army soldier before the war but the 1st Battalion Royal Norfolk Regiment was a Regular Army unit that was stationed in Bangalore, India at the outbreak of war, being recalled to Britain in the summer of 1940 for home defence and initially was billeted in Ashtead.

The Battalion became part of the185th Infantry Brigade and landed on Red Queen Beach, the left flank of Sword Beach at 07:25 on 6 June 1944, D-Day, and fought through the Normandy Campaign, then throughout the North- West Europe Campaign. Allied forces entered the Netherlands on 12 September 1944. Airborne operations later that month established a bridgehead at Nijmegen and in the following months, coastal areas and ports were cleared and secured.

The battle of Overloon began on 30 September as the Allies in Operation Aintree advanced from nearby positions south toward the village of Overloon. An advance on Venray resulted in serious losses, especially around the Loobeek creek, which was swollen due to heavy autumn rains and was flooded and mined by the Germans. Casualties were heavy here among the First Battalion of the Royal Norfolk Regiment. By the end of the war in Europe, the 1st Battalion had gained a remarkable reputation and had suffered 20 officers and 260 other ranks killed with well over 1,000 wounded or missing in 11 months of almost continuous combat.

The CWGC records that Edwin died on 5 November 1944, has no known grave and is commemorated on the Groesbeek Memorial to the missing in the Netherlands. Groesbeek is a village about 6 miles south east of the city of Nijmegen. The memorial commemorates 1,029 members of the Commonwealth land forces who died during the campaign in north-west Europe.

Edwin is commemorated in the Book of Remembrance in the foyer of the Town Hall and on the St. Barnabas Roll of Honour.

Edwin has no know grave and is commemorated on the Groesbeek Memorial, Gelderland, Netherlands.

Clive Gilbert & Hazel Ballan 2014

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ROBERTS, Albert. Private (5768951)

Royal Norfolk Regiment, 2nd Battalion
Died between 10 May and 22 June 1940, aged 30

In Albert's case, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission does not provides the usual family background details. There is a Forces record giving his birth town as Plymouth, and he is likely to be the Albert whose birth was registered in Plymouth Q3 1911, apparently the child of the hard to trace Lewis Arthur Sandover Roberts and Marie Mary (nee Goodman).

The next clue comes from the Probate record of administration of Albert's £460 estate being awarded to his widow, Mary Frances Roberts, giving their address as 67 The Greenway, Epsom. From this, the record of their Q3 1938 marriage can be found. This was registered in the local Surrey Mid Eastern District, and gives Mary's maiden name as McCawley - but she, too, is hard to trace back in the readily available records.

It seems likely that Mary is the Mary Roberts recorded in the 1939 Register as a married 29 year old (born 25 March 1911) lodging with Frank (a male nurse at Horton Mental Hospital) and Ellen Gilkes at 42 The Greenway. Albert is not found in the Register and may already have been in uniform. It is possible that the couple had a child: the birth of Douglas M J Roberts was registered in the Surrey Mid Eastern District in Q1 1940, whose mother's maiden name is recorded as "Macauley".)

Albert's WW2 service was in the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Norfolk Regiment. This was sent to France in early 1940 as part of the British Expeditionary Force ready to repel the expected German invasion. However, when it came on 10 May 1940, the invasion was of unanticipated speed and ferocity and the BEF was pushed back. The 2nd Battalion was part of the rear-guard actions with French allies seeking to maximise the time for other British forces to reach Dunkirk and then be evacuated in Operation Dynamo (from 26 May to 4 June 1940).

Many men were killed or captured during those rear-guard actions and their aftermath. At some point, Albert was lost and, in Casualty List No. 422 of 27 January 1941, formally declared as "killed in action" at some point in the "Battle of France".

Albert's body was never recovered - or, if it was, he could not be identified. He is one of 4,513 members of the BEF commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial as having no known grave.

The Dunkirk Memorial
The Dunkirk Memorial
Photograph by the International War Graves Project via findagrave.com

Roger Morgan © 2018

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ROBERTSON Adelaide Elvira May

Civilian
Died 20/02/1942, aged 30

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Of 109 Mann Street, Southwark, London. Daughter of the late James Mcdonald Robertson. Died at Horton Emergency Hospital, Epsom.

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ROBINSON, George Radford. Lance Corporal (2619629)

6th Battalion, Grenadier Guards.
Died 9 November, 1943, aged 30.

Son of Harry Radford Robinson and Annie Robinson; husband of Winifred Florence Robinson, of Worcester Park, Surrey.

Buried in the Cassino War Cemetery, Italy.

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ROLL, John Castledine. Captain (155657)

2nd Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment
Killed in action 8 July 1944, aged 28

Captain J C Roll
Captain J C Roll
Image courtesy of his nephew, John Roll-Pickering © 2017

John Castledine Roll was born on 14 June 1916, the first child of Henry John Roll and Elizabeth (née Castledine - hence John's middle name). Before the birth of Nora (the couple's only other child) in 1920, they moved to their long-term home, Harmston (now numbered 12) in Christ Church Road, Epsom. (The house name honoured Elizabeth's home town in Lincolnshire, where the couple - normally known as Harry and Bessie - had married in 1914.)

Harry was the oldest son of Henry Roll who with, his partner Henry Taylor, ran an Epsom-based building firm. Harry (with his younger brother, Frank Ernest) continued in the building trade and, as H H & F Roll, became significant local developers - among other projects, overseeing the 1930s development of Hookfield.

The 1939 Register (taken on 29 September, three weeks after the British declaration of war) lists Harry as a "Building Contractor" - and the 23 year-old John as a "Builder's Assistant". Before long, however, John had enlisted. Having successfully completed his officer training on 9 November 1940, he was gazetted as a Second Lieutenant in the Lincolnshire Regiment, in which he was assigned to the 2nd Battalion. (The Regiment did not become the Royal Lincolnshire Regiment until after the war.)

The 2nd Battalion had seen action as part of the British Expeditionary Force in Northern France where it suffered losses, through both death and capture, before the remainder were evacuated from Dunkirk. So, by the time John joined it, the Battalion was back in the UK. At first, it was engaged in home defence in anticipation of the threatened German invasion. After the tide of war turned, the Battalion - in which John had been promoted to Captain - was then involved in preparations for the D-Day landings on 6 June 1944.

The Battalion was part of the British forces assigned to land on Sword Beach, the easternmost of the D-Day beaches. After aerial bombardment, the first ashore were tanks to provide covering fire for the infantry landings that began at 0730. The 2nd Battalion was in the wave that began landing at 1130. Casualties during the actual landings were relatively light, but there was fierce fighting not far behind the beach. The rapid advance and quick capture of objectives (including Caen itself, some 6 miles inland) did not materialise as planned.

It took several weeks' hard fighting to get sufficient men and materiel in place to mount "Operation Charnwood" - a three-pronged attack aiming to take Caen. In this, the 2nd Lincolnshire Battalion was assigned to the easternmost "prong" aiming to take the bordering village of Herouville-Saint-Clair. This was their first major action of the invasion, and was directed from Battalion HQ in the Chateau de Beuregard.

Following the Allies' air bombardment of Caen the previous evening (the first use of heavy bombers for tactical bombing), the early hours of Saturday 8 July saw a tremendous artillery barrage, coupled with shells from the 16-inch guns of HMS Rodney stationed off-shore. While that led to the relatively straightforward liberation of Caen itself, the three-day "Battle of Herouville" was a much tougher fight as the attack was over ground exposed to enemy fire from across the Orne canal.

On the first day of the battle, Captain John Roll was overseeing the mortar support for the attack from various positions just in front of the Chateau. Late in the morning, he was between two of the mortar positions when the German forces launched a Nebelwerfer rocket, known by the troops as a "Moaning Minnie" because of its distinctive whine in the air. It landed just a few feet from the mortar pit that John had just visited. While the pit provided sufficient cover for the men of the mortar platoon to survive, the blast killed John instantly.

The capture of Herouville cost the 2nd Lincolns around 200 casualties (including 50 deaths, one of which was John's) between 8-12 July 1944. The dead were first buried in the grounds of the Chateau de Beuregard but, with about 2,500 others from the general area, were subsequently re-interred in the new War Cemetery at Ranville, the first village to be liberated in France when the bridge over the Caen Canal was captured intact in the early hours of 6 June by troops of the 6th Airborne Division.

The Roll family were very active members of Christ Church, Epsom Common: among other things, Harry was a Churchwarden from 1941 to 1946. In addition to John's entry on the parish WW2 memorial, he is also remembered on one of Christ Church's new peal of bells installed in 1992. Kindly sponsored by Harry and Bessie's other child, Nora (who married Thomas Pickering in 1943), the bell carries the following dedication: "In loving memory of Harry and Bessie Roll and their son John who worshipped and worked in this church".

Roger Morgan © 2017

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ROOK, Peter. Captain 67912

1/5th Bn. Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment)
Died 11 February 1942 Age 26

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Son of Maurice and Ethel Rook, of Epsom, Surrey; husband of Helen Rook.

Buried: Kranji War Cemetery, 23. C. 16-17 (Jt.)

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ROSS, Jack Kenneth. Flight Lieutenant (79163) D F C

134 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
Died 6 January 1942, aged N/K

Jack Kenneth Ross
Jack Kenneth Ross
Copyright acknowledged.

For someone with a distinguished record as a WW2 fighter pilot, there is surprisingly little background information about Jack Kenneth Ross. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission's records do not give any of the usual, albeit brief, family connections - nor, indeed, even his age when he died.

The following is known about his WW2 career. Jack joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve about March 1939 as an Airman u/t Pilot. Called up on 1 September, he completed his training and, on 25 May 1940, was posted to RAF Kenley to join 17 Squadron, which flew Hawker Hurricanes. The Squadron was sent to France on 5 June where, operating from bases in Le Mans and Dinard, it was active in impeding German attacks on the British Expeditionary Force as it withdrew to Dunkirk. Jack had a natural flair as a fighter pilot and used this to good effect.

Back in the UK, the Squadron and Jack were heavily engaged in the Battle of Britain. On the particularly intense day of 13 October 1940, Jack was involved in a dogfight over Chatham when his Hurricane was shot down by friendly anti-aircraft fire. He baled out, wounded, and was admitted to Gravesend Hospital. His Hurricane, P3536, crashed at Rochester.

When 134 Squadron - equipped with Spitfire fighters - was formed at RAF Leconfield on 31 July 1941 from 17 Squadron personnel, Ross was promoted and went to the new unit as a Flight Commander. He and the Squadron then served in Russia to assist their forces resistance to German attacks eastwards. In November 1941, Jack was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

The Squadron returned from Russia in December 1941 and, after a short stay at Catterick, was posted to RAF Eglinton, Northern Ireland (now the City of Derry airport) for defence and convoy escort duties.

During a convoy escort on 6 January 1942, Jack had to ditch his Spitfire IIa P8393 in the Irish Sea - it is thought as result of engine failure. Extensive searches failed to find him.

This WW2 "Ace" (credited with 7 kills - and will have assisted in many others) is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

Roger Morgan © 2017

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ROTHON, Norman Ashford. Captain 149749

Royal Artillery
Died 26 March 1944 Age 31

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Son of Sydney and Ida Jennie Rothon, of Epsom Downs, Surrey. A.A.I.

Buried: Taukkyan War Cemetery, 7. C. 5.

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ROUTLEDGE, Leslie Thomas. Stoker 1st Class (C/KX 95515)

HMS Eskimo, Royal Navy
Died 13 April 1940, aged 20

Leslie was born in Epsom Q4 1919, the son of Lily Routledge (née Mitchell). The 1939 Register records the presumably widowed Lily (born 12 February 1886) living at 41a Heatherside Road, West Ewell. Also present are three youngsters (presumably her children - but not Leslie), a currently closed record and a young lodger. Lily's occupation is described as (Café Kitchen Hand").

Leslie served on HMS Eskimo, a Tribal-class destroyer. From the date of his death, it would appear that he was a victim of the torpedo which, during the "Second Battle of Narvik", blew off Eskimo's bow.

HMS Eskimo after the 12 April 1940 torpedo attack.
HMS Eskimo after the 12 April 1940 torpedo attack.
Imperial War Museums photograph N 233, Public Domain.

Although extensively damaged, the ship did not sink and, after repair, saw further active duty in the Mediterranean and English Channel.

Leslie's body was never recovered and he is commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial.

Roger Morgan © 2017

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ROWE Charles. Fireman

National Fire Service
Died 17/02/1944, aged 43

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Husband of Inez Rowe, of 4 Station Hill, Lelant, St. Ives, Cornwall. Injured 17 January 1943, at St. Ives; died at Horton Emergency Hospital, Epsom.

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ROWE, William. Driver 1878857

Royal Engineers
Died 17 June 1940 Age 25

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Son of William and Mary Rowe, of Epsom, Surrey.

Buried: Pornic War Cemetery, 2. A. 6.

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ROWLAND Leah Frances

Civilian
Died 05/10/1940, aged 81

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Of 47 Haydock Road, Bermondsey, London. Widow of J. Rowland. Injured 6 September 1940, at 47 Haydock Road; died at Horton Emergency Hospital, Epsom. Buried Epsom Cemetery, Grave M354.

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ROWLAND, Thomas Alfred. Private (5436797)

Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, 5th Battalion
Died 28 March 1945, aged 31

Thomas was born on 31 August 1913 to William and Emily Rowland. Like his older and younger brothers - William (born 1906) and Walter (born 1921) - he was baptised in Christ Church Epsom Common. That was on 12 October 1913, when the parents' address was recorded as 2 Chandlers Cottages, Epsom.

The 1939 Register records the family living at 11 Ebba's Way, Epsom. Father William is listed as a "Locomotive Driver" and Thomas as a "Contractor's Labourer".

Thomas served in the 5th Battalion of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry. This was a unit of the Territorial Army, and was engaged in home defence duties from the outbreak of WW2 until 1944, when they landed in Normandy with 43rd (Wessex) Division. The Division was closely involved in the Allies' hard-fought advance eastwards, including the significant March 1945 crossing of the Rhine, shortly after which Thomas was killed.

He is buried in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery - near the Rhine in the extreme north-west of Germany, just south of Arnhem in The Netherlands. The Cemetery was created after WW2 when burials were brought in from all over western German. With some 7,600 Commonwealth servicemen of the Second World War buried or commemorated there, it is the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the country.

Roger Morgan © 2017

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RUMSEY Eric George Henry. Leading Sick Berth Attendant P/MX 58359.

Royal Navy - HMS Cossack
Died 23/10/1941, aged 24

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Son of George Henry and Dorothy Florence Alberta Rumsey, of Epsom. The Rumseys were originally a Suffolk family.

Served aboard HMS Cossack which was torpedod by the German submarine U-563 off Gibralter. Although the vessel did not sink immediately in total 159 lives were lost.

Commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Panel 57, Column 2.

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RUSSELL, Alexander. Flight Sergeant/Flight Engineer (653110)

97 Squadron, Royal Air Force.
Died 17 December 1943, aged 25

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

The marriage of William Russell (b. 21 July 1890) to Mary S Middleton (b. 7 August 1887) was registered at St Martin for the June Quarter of 1915. Birth of their son Alexander followed at St George Hanover Square, 6/1918.

In 1939 the Russell family were living at 32 Seaforth Gardens, Stoneleigh, with William described as 'Police Constable - re-engaged pensioner'. [He is presumed to have been an officer in the Metropolitan Police who joined on 23 Jan 1911, and left on 23 May 1937. Last posted to A Division, Whitehall, as a PC.]

Alexander's Service Number 653110 indicates that he enlisted with the RAF as a civilian in or after March 1938.

97 squadron (RAF) arrived at RAF Bourn on 18 April1943. They came to suffer one of the worst nights on Bomber Command record, over 16/17 December 1943, which became known as 'Black Thursday'. A large number of aircraft had left to attack Berlin and casualties to and from the target were relatively light. For 97 Squadron, however, it was on arriving home that they ran into trouble because the weather had closed in on Bourn and some aircraft attempted to hang about hoping for improvement of the conditions. Cosequently they suffered a critical loss of fuel and several aircraft crashed in the dense fog. JB531 'OF-Y'; JA963 'Q'; JB243 'P'; JB482 'S'; JB219 'R'; JB117 'C'; JB119 'F' and JB176 'K' of 97 Squadron were all lost in the vicinity of the airfield with many of the crews being killed. In particular, Lancaster JB243 ran out of petrol during a landing at Graveley, and suffered a horrific crash and fire which left only one badly-burned survivor, James Benbow.

Its crew had been: -
  • Pilot: S/L Ernest Alfred Deverill, Buried in Docking (St Mary) Churchyard, Norfolk
  • Flight Engineer: F/S Alexander Russell, Buried in Epsom Cemetery
  • Navigator: P/O John Thomas Brown, Buried in Belfast (Dundonald) Cemetery
  • Bomb Aimer: F/S Francis Roy Farr, Buried in Windsor Cemetery
  • W/Op: F/S Ralph Crossgrove, RNZAF, Buried in Cambridge City Cemetery
  • Mid-Upper Gunner: W/O James Benbow, severely injured obtained life-saving treatment treatment in Ely Hospital and at East Grinstead - a Gunea Pig Club member.
  • Rear Gunner: W/O Donald Jamieson Penfold, Buried in Worthing (Durrington) Cemetery.
Alexander was was buried in Grave N593 of Epsom Cemetery, son of William and Mary Russell, of Markinch, Fife, with a headstone that indicates he was known as "Sandy" Interment records note that he died at RAF Graveley, Cambridgeshire.

Brian Bouchard © 2018

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RYAN, Ronald. Lance Serjeant (6090148). MM

2/6th Battalion, The Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey)
Died 9 September 1944, aged 25

Son of Vincent and Ann Ryan, of Epsom Downs, Surrey.

Buried in the Coriano Ridge War Cemetery, Italy.

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