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TAYLOR, Douglas Albert * (Revised 19/03/2019)
TAYLOR, Ernest Robert Frederick (Revised 24/10/2018)
TAYLOR, George Hudson (Revised 19/03/2019)
TAYLOR, Leslie Henry William (Revised 24/10/2018)
TELFORD, James Gordon * (Revised 24/10/2018)
TELLING, Robert Douglas (Revised 17/02/2019)
TEPPER, Roland Harcourt (Revised 24/10/2018)
THOMAS, Florence Edith Caroline (Revised 27/10/2018)
THOMAS, Henry (Revised 27/10/2018)
THOMAS, William Ernest (Revised 27/10/2018)
THOMPSON, Samuel George (Revised 27/10/2018)
THOMPSON, Stanley (Revised 27/10/2018)
TILDEN, Eric Henry * (Revised 28/10/2018)
TILDEN, Osmond Peter * (Revised 28/10/2018)
TIPLADY, George * (Revised 29/10/2018)
TODD, Eric Joseph (Revised 29/10/2018)
TOFT, Ronald Frederick (Revised 17/02/2019)
TOMOANA, Tamaturangi Te (Revised 29/10/2018)
TOTTLE, Peter (Revised 29/10/2018)
TOY, Gordon Frederick (Revised 30/10/2018)
TREADAWAY, Charles Frederick Arthur (Revised 30/10/2018)
TREADGOLD, Leonard Horace (Revised 30/10/2018)
TREAYS, Edwin * (Revised 30/10/2018)
TRENT, Mary Frances * (Revised 30/10/2018)
TRITTON, John Frederick (Revised 30/10/2018)
TROUGHTON, Robert Walter * (New 02/12/2018)
TUCK, William Ernest (Revised 30/10/2018)
TULLETT, Mathew Richard (Revised 15/05/2018)
TURNER, William * (Revised 17/05/2018)
TURNBULL, Richard Dominic (Revised 17/05/2018)
TYRRELL, James Hannaford (Revised 17/05/2018)

* = 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]

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Content


TAYLOR, Douglas Albert. Private 97001009

Non Combatant Corps
Died 28 April 1946, Age 28

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

Douglas is not listed in the Book of Remembrance, but is remembered here because he both died and is buried in Epsom.

He was born on 11 November 1917 at Nunhead, Southwark, the fourth and last child of Charles William Taylor and Ellen Mary (née Thomas). The parents had married in St. Anthony's Church, Nunhead, Southwark on 4 July 1909. They had been near neighbours: the marriage records note that Charles (an "Electrician") lived at 11 May Place, Nunhead while Ellen lived at No. 6 May Place.

The couple set up home at 18 Northway Road, Herne Hill where, as 26 year olds, they were recorded in the 1911 Census. Charles (originally from Newington, Lambeth - registered St Saviour Q3 1884) is now listed as an "Electrical Engineer, Cocoa Manufacture". As usual at the time, no occupation is listed for housewife Ellen (originally from Peckham), who had her hands full with their first child, Nellie, born on 26 April 1910 so just short of a year old. Three more children followed:
  • Charles William (the same names as his father), born on 14 March 1913;
  • Frank, born on 31 October 1915; and
  • Douglas Albert - as already noted, born on 11 November 1917.
It seems that both parents died relatively young - it is certainly the case that neither is found in the September 1939 Register, in which the children - all still single - were recorded rather spread around:
  • Charles William junior (a "Cashier & Departmental Manager to Aeronautical Plywood Manufacturer") and Nellie (a "Civil Servant, London Telecommunications") were living together at 105 Canonbie Road, Lewisham;
  • Frank (a "Clerk") was one of about a hundred staying at the NALGO Holiday Centre, Croyde Manor, Barnstaple, Devon (NALGO being the National Association of Local Government Officers - one of three public sector Unions that, in 1993, merged to form UNISON); and
  • Douglas (a "Coppersmith") was living/lodging with the apparently unrelated Samuel (a "Stoker") and May Pearce at 69 Marshfield Road, Chippenham, Wiltshire. (The 1946 Probate record of administration of Douglas's £ 223 estate being granted to his sister "Nellie Taylor, Spinster" states that he was most recently "of 1 Duchess Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham" - a middle class villa that was vacant at the time of the 1939 Register.)
Douglas's WW2 service was in the Non Combatant Corps (NCC). This Corps was first set up in 1916 as part of the arrangements flowing from that year's Military Service Act which, for the first time, introduced conscription in Britain. The Act allowed individuals to claim "conscientious objection" to service in the armed forces. Individual cases were heard by Military Service Tribunals which, if individual's "conscientious objection" was accepted, had three options which it applied in the light of the quality of the objection: absolute exemption; directing the individual to perform civilian work; or service as a Private in the NCC. (The Corps' NCOs and Officers were seconded from other Corps or Regiments.) Members of the NCC wore army uniform and were subject to army discipline, but did not carry weapons or participate in battle. Their duties were mainly to provide physical labour - building, cleaning, loading and unloading anything except munitions.

The NCC was disbanded after WW1 but reformed in August 1940, just over a year after conscription for WW2 was reintroduced. Unlike WW1, this incarnation of the NCC also included enlisted men who had been deemed not physically fit for combatant service, giving the nearly 7,000 man WW2 Corps less of a stigma than in 1918-18. The Corps mainly worked on road-making, transport, non-weapons stores etc.

Non-combatant Corps
Men of the Non-Combatant Corps undergoing training at a camp on the East Coast.
Image IWM (HU 36258) public domain via Wikimedia

It is not currently known whether Douglas served in the NCC consequent on a "Conscientious Objection" or because of some physical incapacity - although the strongly religious inscription on his headstone perhaps makes the former more likely. The nature of his work in the NCC is also unknown - and likely to remain so until Second World War service records are released.

On 26 April 1946, almost a year after the cessation of hostilities, the 28 year old Douglas died at "The Grove, Horton Lane, Epsom" - consistent with the death being registered in the local Surrey Mid Eastern District for Q2 1946. "The Grove" is presumably Long Grove Asylum, one of Epsom's "cluster" of mental hospitals which continued as such throughout the War. It is not necessarily the case that Douglas had mental problems: his hospital stay could have been necessitated by injury (whether enemy action of otherwise) or physical illness. Epsom's Horton Mental Hospital had, as for WW1, had been taken over as Emergency Hospital for dealing with wartime casualties and it is understood that, when pressed for space, some long-stay casualties were housed in odd wards at other hospitals in the cluster.

On 3 May 1946, Douglas was buried in grave L275 of Epsom Cemetery, the tenth person of twelve to be buried in a communal facility between February 1945 and June 1947. It was presumably his sister (and Executor), Nellie, who took the option of adding a personal inscription to Douglas's headstone as shown at the head of this article,
"The gift of God / is eternal life / through Jesus Christ / our Lord"
It does not seem that anything particular should be read into the only other marker on this very full grave being, as shown in the picture at the head of this article, in memory of 35 year old Gwyneth Tydfil Davies, a "Sister at St Ebba's Hospital", another of Epsom's "cluster". She had died 9 months before Douglas and, on 18 August 1945, was the sixth burial in the plot.

Clive Gilbert & Roger Morgan © 2019
With special thanks to Hazel Ballan

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TAYLOR, Ernest Robert Frederick. Corporal (1930745)

1 Bomb Disposal Coy. Royal Engineers
Died 8 November 1944, Age 35

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Ernest was born on 30 August 1909, the second child of Frederick Thomas and Ruth (née Chapman) Taylor. The parents' Q4 1905 marriage was registered in the St Olave, Southwark District. The 1911 Census records the family living at 37 Bush Road, Rotherhithe. 31 year old Frederick is listed as an "Assurance Agent for the London & Manchester Society". As usual at the time, no occupation is listed for 30 year old Ruth. The other occupants were their two children, 3 year old Ruth and 1 year old Ernest.

Ernest's next appearance in the readily available records is in 1931 when, as a 20 year old, he married 19 year old Beatrice Martha Olgilvie. The marriage was registered in the Croydon District.

The September 1939 Register records the couple living at 177 Shawford Road, West Ewell. 30 year old Ernest is listed as a "Plumber & Gas Fitter" and 28 year old Beatrice with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". There is one currently closed record at the address which one could reasonbly assume to be of their child (and perhaps the reason for their early marriage): however, no record of a Taylor/Ogilvie child's being born in the 1930s has yet been found.

Ernest's WW2 service was in the Royal Engineers, in which he rose to the rank of Corporal in No. 1 Bomb Disposal Company. It is estimated that between 5% and 15% of the many, many WW2 bombs did not detonate as planned. There was no way of telling whether an unexploded bomb was a complete dud or in danger of exploding at any moment. Until it was made safe - the extremely dangerous job of these brave men - it would paralyse the surrounding area.

In Durham on 8 November 1944, the 35 year old Ernest was, as reported in Casualty List No. 1607, killed in action. 22 year old Sapper Leslie James Mansell was killed in the same incident, details of which remain to be established.

Ernest was buried in Wallington (Bandon Hill) Cemetery, a location doubtless connected with his parents now being, as noted by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, "of Wallington". (Ernest's father died on 15 August 1947 at 14 Rectory Lane, Beddington.) The family took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave Q.181,
"Perfect peace. We have been parted in life but will meet again in death."
In Q1 1848 and registered in the local Surrey Mid Eastern District, the widowed Beatrice got married again, to Claude P Gibbs.

Brian Bouchard & Roger Morgan © 2018

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TAYLOR, George Hudson. Gunner (1588624)

284 Battery, 90 Heavy Anti Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery
Died 29 July 1944, aged 31

George was born on 18 August 1912, the seventh child of Harry Hudson Taylor and Elizabeth Martha (née Moss) who had married Q2 1898, registered in the Chelsea District. The 1901 Census records the mid-20s couple living at 1, Kings Street, Chelsea together with their first child, 2 year old Mabel. Harry's employment was listed as "Clerk At District Messenger Office".

By the time of the 1911 Census, taken the year before George's birth, the now 37 year old parents (with Harry still in the same job) had moved 2A Kilton Street, Battersea where they were recorded with their four surviving children (Mabel and one other having died), aged from 7 months to 9 years.

Apart from the record of George's 2 October 1912 baptism at St Saviour's, Battersea, his next appearance in the readily available records is in the September 1939 Register as a 27 year old "Baker's Roundsman" living at 18 Linton's Lane, Epsom with the widowed 63 year old Alice Staplehurst and five of her unmarried children (she had had 11 children in total) - from 36 year old Elsie to 21 year old Eric.

Alice's second oldest child at the address was 27 year old Olive. She had been born in Epsom on 24 November 1910 and was recorded in the 1911 Census as the eighth child of mid 30s Henry (a "Railway Engine Stoker") and Alice living at 42 Middle Lane, Epsom. By the time of the 1939 Register, she was working as a "Shop Assistant (Tobacco & Confectionery)".

In Q2 1940, George and Olive Alice Staplehurst got married in the local Surrey Mid Eastern District. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission's post-war records note that the widowed Olive was "of Epsom." The precise address has yet to be established, but this is consistent with the birth of the couple's two children - Derek and Trina - being registered in the local Surrey Mid Eastern District (in, respectively Q1 1942 and Q2 1945).

George attested into the Royal Artillery in 1940. The readily available records provide no useful information about the nature or location of this for much of the war. By 1944, George was in 284 Battery of the 90 Heavy Anti Aircraft Regiment which was among the Allied forces landing in Normandy on and after the 6 June 1944 D-Day. At some point in the early days of the invasion, George was wounded in battle. As noted in Casualty List No. 1522, he died of his wounds on 29 July.

George is one of the 4,144 Commonwealth WW2 casualties buried in the Bayeux War Cemetery, a few miles inland from the Normandy beaches and the largest Commonwealth WW2 cemetery in France. The widowed Olive took the option of adding a personal inscription (from Matthew 11:28) to his headstone on Grave III.K.17,
"Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest."
The Bayeux War Cemetery.
The Bayeux War Cemetery.
Photograph with thanks to "NigelDCapeTown" via TripAdvisor

Roger Morgan © 2019
With special thanks to Hazel Ballan

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TAYLOR, Leslie Henry William. Second Lieutenant (225847)

General List
Died 17 July 1945, Age 31

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Leslie's birth on 29 April 1914 was registered in the Hackney District. He was the son of 34 year old Joseph Taylor and 32 year old Margaret Frances (née Lane). No records of the parents' marriage has been found and may have taken place abroad: it is known that Joseph had become employed as a Prison Officer in the Straits Settlements.

At some point, the parents returned to the UK on Joseph's retirement, but Leslie seems to have remained a Rubber Planter at Ipoh in Malaya. The September 1939 Register records the parents living at 67 Bradstock Road, Stoneleigh. 58 year old Joseph is listed as "Prison Officer Straits Settlements, Retired" and 57 year old Margaret with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". (Joseph died in Epsom Hospital on 4 September 1940. The widowed Margaret lived for nearly another 30 years, dying aged 87 on 26 June 1969 at Cullompton House, Highfields Ashtead - a nursing home.)

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records have Leslie's WW2 service as on the "General List". The General List is normally a holding unit for specialist officers (usually reservists) who have not yet been assigned to a unit. In Leslie's case, however, it cover his membership of the Special Operations Executive and, more specifically, Force 136. He was appointed a Second Lieutenant on the General List without Army pay and allowances on 20 January 1942, and was remunerated in that position with effect from 20 April 1942. (His SOE file is held by the National Archives under reference HS9/1447/1.)

Reportedly,
"In 1941, when the Japanese military began its offensive in Southeast Asia, SOE Orient Mission decided to set up 101 Special Training School in Singapore (at Tanjung Balai, at the mouth of Jurong River) to prepare stay-behind teams in parts of the British Empire that might be conquered by the enemy. The school was housed in a large Art-Deco style bungalow, formerly the private estate of an Armenian millionaire. It was in a secluded and relatively inaccessible corner of the Singapore island, thus ideal for a secretive espionage training school.

Those stay-behind teams trained by 101 STS would then be in place across Southeast Asia to begin the work of relaying intelligence to the British armed forces, of executing acts of sabotage, and of recruiting indigenous people willing to take part in operations against the occupying forces. In the final days of the Japanese's offensive in Malaya (December 1941), the school also trained 165 Malayan Chinese communists to prepare them for anti-Japanese guerrilla warfare in Malaya. They would later form the nucleus of the Malayan People's Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA).

When the Japanese conquered Singapore in February 1942, the school was abandoned."
Although the school's graduates mounted a few operations against the Japanese lines of communication, they were cut off from the other Allied forces by the fall of Singapore on 15 February 1942.

At some point, Leslie was captured by the Japanese, and said to have been incarcerated as a Prisoner of War in a camp located in northern Johore (the Malaysian province immediately to the north of Singapore). As is well-known, conditions in Japanese PoW camps were extremely harsh. Leslie succumbed to these, dying in captivity on 17 July 1945 - less than a month before the Japanese surrender to the Allies on 15 August.

Leslie's body was lost - or, of recovered, could not be identified. He is one of more than 24,000 Commonwealth casualties of the land and air forces commemorated on the Singapore Memorial in the Kranji War Cemetery who died during the campaigns in Malaya and Indonesia or in subsequent captivity and have no known grave.

Singapore Memorial
The Singapore Memorial
Image source: CWGC

Brian Bouchard & Roger Morgan © 2018
With helpful contributions from Roger Morgan

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TELFORD, James Gordon. Gunner (1481929)

8th (Belfast) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery
Died 10 June 1947, Age 34

James' headstone in St Mary's graveyard, Ewell
James' headstone in St Mary's graveyard, Ewell
Photograph by Clive Gilbert © 2018

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

James was born in Scotland in 1913, the son of James Bryce Telford (born 14 November 1884) and Marion, younger daughter of David Chalmers, who had married at the Masonic Temple, Greenock, Scotland, on 3 July 1912.

His next appearance in the readily available records is enlisting with the Royal Artillery during 1938. His initial duties were presumably in the UK. In Q2 1941 and registered in the Knaresborough District of Yorkshire, he married Kathleen Freda Green. Kathleen was some way from home. Her birth on 3 September 1915 had been registered in the Epsom District. The September 1939 Register records this 24 year old living with her family at 22 Church Street, Ewell and employed as an "Insurance Clerk". Here parents were 50 year old Henry (a "Haulage Contractor") and 45 year old Charlotte (listed with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties"). Also at home were younger siblings 22 year old Dorothy ("Telephonist London Fire Service") and 11 year old schoolboy Henry.

It is not currently clear James started serving abroad but, on 18 February 1944, he joined the 8th (Belfast) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment in Burma (modern-day Myanmar). The Regiment had embarked for the Far East In the spring of 1942. Over the following two and a half years, it took part in the Arakan campaign (in territory which now forms the Rakhine State in Myanmar), firing effectively against the Japanese Air Force - and even more extensively against ground targets, when their accuracy at long range earned them the nickname "The Twelve Mile Snipers". On 3 February 1945, however, James was discharged under King's Regulations, Para. 390 (XVI) as "ceasing to fulfil Army physical requirements".

He returned to the UK and the birth of a son, Peter F Telford, seems to have been recorded in Brentford, Q3 1945.

James died on 10 June 1947 in Epsom County Hospital. The Probate record of administration of his £ 429 estate being awarded to the widowed Kathleen gave his address as 22 Church Street, Ewell (Kathleen's home address in 1939). He is buried in St Mary's Ewell Churchyard Extension, Grave B.48.

Notwithstanding the Probate address, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's post-war records note that the widowed Kathleen was "of North Cheam". In any event, in Q4 1964 Kathleen got married again to Maldwyn P Newman, registered in the local Surrey Mid Eastern District.

Brian Bouchard & Roger Morgan © 2018

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TELLING, Robert Douglas. Sergeant/Pilot (916899)

9 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 19 January 1942, aged 23.

Bob's grave
Bob's headstone and the Honington (All Saints) Churchyard, Suffolk
Left: photograph courtesy of Kelvin Youngs, Aircrew Remembered © 2014
Right: photograph with thanks to the South African War Graves Project

Robert (in later life, known as "Bob") was born in Q4 1918, the first child of Major Walter Brougham Telling MC and Dorothy Eugenie (née Cocks). The parents had married at St John the Evangelist, Palmers Green, on 30 August 1913 when Walter was 31 and Dorothy 21.

That was Walter's second marriage. The 1911 Census him (as a 29 year old "Auctioneer's Clerk") living at 68 Woodberry Avenue, Winchmore Hill with his wife of three years, 35 year old Augusta Wilhelmina Louisa. No record has been found of their wedding which, as Augusta was a German national, may have been abroad. Nor has any record been found of this couple's having any children. Augusta died in Q1 1912 and, as noted above, Walter remarried the following year.

During WW1, Walter served as a Major in the Royal Artillery. As recorded in the London Gazette (Issue 29837 of 24 November 1916) he was awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry in action. The citation on page 11545 reads:
"He handled his battery with great courage and skill, accounting for over 90 of the enemy. He has previously done fine work."
Robert's 1918 birth was registered in the St George Hanover Square District of London. The parents had a second child, John, whose birth on 22 November 1920 was registered in the Edmonton District. Aged only 39, Water died in Q2 1922, registered in the Hendon District.

Robert was educated at Christ's Hospital, Horsham, West Sussex, from 1928 to 1935. At some point the widowed Dorothy came to live at 91 West Hill Avenue, Epsom. As a 48 year old widow, she was recorded there in the September 1939 Register with her occupation listed as "Independent" (rather than the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties"). There is a currently closed record at the address which seems likely to be covering the 20 year old Robert. That is followed by the entry for her younger son, 18 year old John, listed as "Clerk, Wholesale Caterers".

Having enlisted in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Robert was inducted at Uxbridge after September 1939. After training, he was, by the summer of 1941, assigned as a Sergeant/Pilot to 9 Squadron. Part of the RAF's Bomber Command, this was stationed at RAF Honington, Suffolk (about halfway between Bury Sr Edmunds and Thetford) and equipped with Vickers Wellingtons.

A formation of four Vickers Wellingtons bombers of 9 Squadron.
A formation of four Vickers Wellingtons bombers of 9 Squadron.
Official RAF photograph (CH 16 in the IWM Collections), Public Domain.

Robert had a narrow escape when, on 14/15 July 1941, he was second pilot on a Wellington (Serial: Not known, Code: WS-T) which took off from RAF Honington at 23.30 hours loaded with 7 x 500 lb GP bombs to attack the shipyards and the goods station at Bremen.

The Aircrew Remembered website takes up the story.

"They commenced their bombing run, coming out of the clouds, zoo, after dropping the first bomb at 01.40 hrs. they were caught and held by the powerful searchlights - anti aircraft shells burst just behind them and then another inside the fuselage wounding Sgt English [one of the Air Gunners] in the shoulder and hand. This also cut the hydraulic controls to his rear turret.

The fabric of the fuselage caught fire. Sgt Saich [the Pilot] took evasive action and Sgt Smitten went to assist the rear gunner, spraying the area with fire extinguishers. He managed to release Sgt. English who entered the aircraft. The aircraft was hit again, the port wing caught fire. The pilot switched off the fuel supply to the port engine and the fire stopped. He managed to restart the engine - the bomb doors however would not close due to the damage. The situation seemed to be hopeless as they turned to go home.

At 05.35 hrs. they managed to cross the Norfolk coast - fuel had registered zero for the last two hours. The pilot noticed a Barley field and decided to try a forced landing. He managed it, the aircraft broke in two as it came to rest - no serious injuries to the crew, Sgt. English though was taken to the local hospital for further treatment. All crew survived, to be back on operations in less than two weeks."
The crash landing was at High Barn Farm, Somerton, Near Caister, Norfolk. As noted above, the aircraft broke in two and was damaged beyond repair, but all the 6-man crew survived.

Further details of this incident are recorded by Martin Bowman in Bomber Command: Reflections of War, 2011. In particular, the author mentions that after the engine had been re-started: -
". . . Bob Telling was crouched beside the main spar behind the wireless cabin pumping all the oil which could be extracted from a riddled auxiliary tank. T-Tommy was still under intense anti-aircraft fire and the shell splinters, one of which wounded him, were described by Telling as 'angry hail tearing through the aircraft'."
Robert was killed early in the following year when, on 19 January 1942, he was piloting Wellington III X3370 WS-D on a navigation exercise using the brand new GEE box system. GEE was originally devised as a short-range blind landing system to improve safety during night operations. It worked by measuring the time delay between two radio signals to get a "fix", and was found to effective over far greater distances, with accuracy of the order of a few hundred yards at ranges up to about 350 miles.

In a history of 9 Squadron, Bombers First and Last, 2006, Gordon Thorburn remarks on page 68:-
"Day and night the squadron was doing top secret Gee box exercises, carrying special crews, which meant that any loss was a blow way beyond the usual. On the morning of 19 January part of X3370's starboard wing fell off and she came down at Folly Farm, Thetford. All seven aboard were killed."
National Archives have a Report W1120 under reference AVIA 5/20, as recorded in Chorley's Bomber Command Losses: -
"Wellington III X3370 coded WS-D. Training. Crashed 1050 following structural failure at 250 feet of the outer section of the starboard wing. The Wellington fell and burst into flames at Folly Farm, just to the N of Thetford, Norfolk. At least one civilian had to be treated for burns to his hands as a result of trying to rescue the trapped crew. F/L Cresswell RNZAF was instructing the crew in navigation techniques.

Crew: Sgt. R D Telling, F/L P H Cresswell RNZAF, P/O H L Tarbitten DFC, Sgt. J Amphlett, Sgt. T F Greenwood,Sgt. T G Banks & Sgt. R S Aitchison."
The fatal crash was about 8 miles north of RAF Honington, and Robert was buried in Grave D.7 of the Base's local cemetery of Honington (All Saints) Churchyard, Suffolk, which holds 57 WW2 Commonwealth casualties.

Robert's mother, the widowed Mrs Dorothy Eugenie Telling, migrated to Melborne, Australia, on SS Largs Bay on 18 June 1954. The ship's manifest states her last address in the UK as "Midland Bank Ltd, 97 High Street, Epsom".

Brian Bouchard & Roger Morgan © 2018

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TEPPER Roland Harcourt, Lieut-Commander Royal Naval Reserve

HMS Leigh, Royal Naval Reserve
Died 6 April 1943, aged 55.

Roland's headstone in Epsom Cemetery
Roland's headstone in Epsom Cemetery
Image courtesy of Brian Bouchard ©2014

Roland was born on 6 January 1888 - reportedly at Weymouth, Dorset - the son of Charles William Richard Tepper and May Jessie H (née Carew) whose Q2 1885 marriage had been registered in the Elham District of Kent. Although born in the UK, Roland was baptised on 4 April 1888 in Darjeeling, Bengal, India, where his father was a Civil Servant. Sadly, Charles died later that year aged only 26 and the family returned to the UK, and Roland entered the Merchant Navy.

In 1906, Roland is found aboard the 'Galena', a steel sailing ship, rigged as a four-masted barque of 2169 tons registered tonnage, built at Dundee in 1890. On 15 September 1906, she sailed from Junin, Chile, bound for Portland, Oregon, with about 1,150 tons ballast, consisting of refuse from the nitrate of soda works, and a crew of thirty hands. On 13 November, the vessel went aground on Clatsop Beach, near Astoria, Oregon. Rowland (sic) Harcourt Tepper, acting second mate, was amongst those members of the crew commended for good conduct and discipline during the subsequent work of dismantling the ship. [A full report of the finding and order of a Naval Court held at the British Vice Consulate at Astoria, Oregon, on the sixth, seventh, and eighth days of December, 1906, may be found at PortCities Southampton]

British four-masted bark GALENA
Wreck of the British four-masted bark GALENA,
vicinity of Gearhart, Oregon, 13 November 1906
Image source not known

Roland entered the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve on 8 January 1907. The Imperial Merchant Service Guild recorded in 1915 that he had been admitted for service in the Great War to the Royal Navy as a Sub-lieutenant 1640, Royal Naval Division, gazetted Temporary Lieutenant, 29 June 1915. He then undertook a course in gunnery at HMS Excellent before joining HMS Ness. The latter was a White Type River Class Torpedo Boat Destroyer [built 1905] in the 9th Destroyer Flotilla based at Chatham tendered to the depot ship HMS St George.

In Q1 1915 Robert married Letitia Alice Laidlaw, registered in the Wareham District of Dorset. They were both aged 27. Their son, Vyvyan Floyd H Tepper, was born on 16 November 1915, the birth being registered in the Portsmouth District.

In 'Nelson', 2nd Battalion, Royal Naval Division, Robert served with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force in Gallipoli, and was "mentioned" in General Sir Ian Hamilton's despatch dated 22 September 1915 (London Gazette, 5 November 1915).

After demobilisation, Robert joined the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, rising to the rank of Chief Officer on RMSP Narenta by 1924. He was, however, Chief Mate on Loch Goil 1927/8 before commanding Avon, which cruised round Britain, and taking over Ardacian during 1929. We are told that:
"Roland Harcourt was looked upon by Head Office as one of the firm's most efficient Chief Officer, and by most other people as a slave-driving tyrant. He [claimed] you can't be popular and efficient. He certainly made no attempt to be anything but efficient. Nevertheless he was the right man to be sent along if there was any nastiness to cleaned up. There were long faces round the decks of Arcadian when she left Immingham with a full passenger list, but things were done with alacrity and smartness and the ship had that Tepper look with every rope yarn in place and not a dirty mark on her enamel anywhere".
During 1933, Royal Mail Lines acquired the cargo liner SS Nalon for Roland to be the Master on a voyage from Cape Town to the Clyde. He continued as Master of the ship into WW2, carrying cargo and people far and wide.

In early November 1940, SS Nalon across the Atlantic with supplies for the UK. At 09:56 hours on November 6, 1940, the convoy was about 200 miles west of Ireland (at 54.00N, 15.38W) when it was attacked by low level German Bombers (Focke-Wulf Fw 200 aircraft of I Staffeln, Kampfgeschwader 40). Five bombs were dropped and, although there were no direct hits, one bomb exploded underwater on the starboard side of SS Nalon alongside her bridge. This holed her below the waterline. When seven feet of water was reported in the No. 3 hold, the ship was abandoned and all 72 on board - including Roland - were safely rescued by HMS Viscount. Since SS Nalon carried a valuable cargo of copper, tugs were ordered to be sent out to recover the vessel but she sank before they could arrive.

On 13 July 1942, Roland joined HMS Leigh as a Temporary Lieutenant, RNR. HMS Leigh was not a ship but the Navy's name for Southend Pier. This had been taken over by the Admiralty, primarily as a convoy assembly point. (During WW2 some 3,367 convoys, representing 84,297 vessels, sailed from Southend.)

He was subsequently promoted to Temporary/Acting Lieutenant Commander and became associated with HMS President - again, not a ship but the Royal Naval Reserve's "stone frigate" shore establishment on the north bank of the River Thames near Tower Bridge, London. He appears in the Royal Navy's Casualty Lists as having died on 6 April 1943 from "illness" whilst on the way to Guy's Hospital, Southwark. (A report on the circumstances is lodged in the National Archives under reference ADM 358/1501.) His death registered at Southwark, Q2 1943.

Roland was buried in Epsom Cemetery on 10 April 1943. It was doubtless the widowed Letitia (who, oddly, is not mentioned in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's usual brief sketch of the family background) who took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave N.259,
"Late Captain Royal Mail Line. / At the setting sun / and in the morning / I will remember you."
The link with the Borough is explained by the address given in the Probate records of 4 Meadside, South Street, Epsom - a property not occupied at the time of the September 1939 Register. For some reason, administration of Roland's £ 155 estate was awarded to the apparently unrelated "Annie Hunt, Spinster".

None of the family has yet been found in the 1939 Register. From Electoral Rolls, it is known that Letitia, using the surname "Harcourt-Tepper" lived in the Swanage District in the early 1930s. Son Vyvyan was presumably with her. In Q3 1942 and registered in Taunton, Vyvyan married Jeanann MacLaren, and his death was registered in the Bridport District Q2 1987. Letitia, died in the same District the following year, on 9 April 1988. Her Probate record notes that she had been living at "Hilles", Uplands, Walditch, Bridport.

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THOMAS, Florence Edith Caroline

Civilian
Died 9 September 1940, aged 27

Florence was born in West Ham on 26 July 1913, the second of four children of Harry Keeble and Florence (née Harman - they had married Q3 1908, registered in the Poplar District). At the time of his marriage, Harry was a Pawnbroker's Assistant. By the time of the September 1939 Register, most of the family were living at 125/127 Newington Butts, Southwark. Harry had become a "Manager (Jewellery Shop)" and one of his sons - perhaps working with his father - a "Pawnbroker Pledge Holder".

Florence junior was not at home then because, in Q2 1937 and registered in the Southwark District, she had married fellow-Londoner Frederick George Thomas. They set up home at 80 Thorndon Gardens, West Ewell - where they were recorded living alone in the 1939 Register. 29 year old Frederick is listed as "Salesman Jewellery" (presumably explaining how he first met a jewellery shop manager's daughter) and 26 year old Florence with the conventional "unpaid domestic duties". There is no record of the couple having any children.

Florence was killed at home by enemy action on 9 September 1940 - the third day of the Luftwaffe's "Blitz" bombing campaign. On 14 September, she was buried Grave M624 of Epsom Cemetery. (If Frederick was injured in the same incident, he recovered - and was still at 80 Thorndon Gardens, West Ewell when he died on 30 July 1970.)

Roger Morgan © 2018

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THOMAS, Henry Albert. Flying Officer/Wireless Operator (161024)

227 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
Died 15 March 1945, aged 34

Henry's headstone in the Durnbach War Cemetery
Henry's headstone in the Durnbach War Cemetery
Photograph (18612691) by Dave Hansen via findagrave.com

Henry was born in Tottenham on 13 October 1910, the third child of Samuel Walter Thomas and Catherine Margaret (née Connelly - they had married Q3 1899, registered in the Shoreditch District). The 1911 Census records the family living at 92 St Ann's Road, Tottenham. Both parents were aged 35, and Samuel is listed as an "Electric Tramcar Driver". The three children were: 10 year old Walter; 7 year old William; and new-born Henry. (The couple's fourth and last child, Catherine, was born Q4 1913.)

In Q2 1939, the now 28 year old Henry married 27 year old Ada Mary Taylor. The marriage was registered in their local Edmonton District, and the couple are recorded in the September 1939 Register living at 15 Briaris Close, Tottenham. Henry is listed as a "Sanitary Inspector's Assistant" and Ada with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". The original record was later annotated to record that Henry was a volunteer with the Ambulance Depot Casualty service and ARP warden, and that Ada was a volunteer telephonist for the Tottenham Auxiliary Fire Service. Living with them was another similarly-aged married couple, Percy (a "Caterer") and Elsie Field - their entries are also annotated with volunteer WW2 activities exactly matching those for Henry and Ada.

At some point, Henry and Ada moved to 108 Edenfield Gardens, Worcester Park. This was noted as their address in the 1946 Probate record of administration of Henry's £ 329 estate being awarded to the widowed Ada. There is no record of the couple having any children and, on 29 September 1951, Ada married again - to Henry C Lane, registered in the Wood Green District.

Henry's WW2 service was in the RAF. The readily availably records provide no information about when this began of where he was before 227 Squadron was reformed in October 1944. The Squadron, based at RAF Balderton in Nottinghamshire, was part of Bomber Command and flew Avro Lancasters.

On 14/15 March 1945, Henry was among the crew - pictured below - of Lancaster PA214 9J-P (nicknamed "Polly Peppermint") which took off from RAF Balderton at 1705 to bomb Wintershall's synthetic oil plant at Lutzkendorf in southern Germany. This was as part of a mass raid by 5 Group: the combined force was 244 Lancasters and 11 Mosquitos.

Lancaster PA214 9J-P
Lancaster PA214 9J-P ("Polly Peppermint") and its crew on 14 March 1945
Photograph with thanks to Pete Stevens via findagrave.com

"Polly Peppermint" was one of 18 Lancasters that were lost during the raid - in its case, shot down and crashed near Illesheim, killing all on board. The downing was by Hauptmann Martin Becker and his 3 man crew flying nightfighter Ju 88G-6 2Z+MF, who also shot down a record seven other Lancasters on the raid.

Henry and fellow crew members were originally buried locally. After the war, they and many others from scattered sites were reinterred (in Henry's case in Grave 9.F.5-7) in the Durnbach War Cemetery. This is located about 25 miles south of Munich, and contains 2,934 WW2 Commonwealth burials.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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THOMAS, William Ernest

Civilian
Died 12 July 1944, aged 56

William's name on the Town Hall's WW2 Memorial for Council employees
William's name on the Town Hall's WW2 Memorial for Council employees
Image courtesy of Clive Gilbert © 2014

Unusually, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's records say nothing about William's parents only that he was the "husband of Rosina Thomas of 21 Carters Road, Epsom." The couple are, indeed, found at that address in the September 1939 Register where William's entry shows his birth date as 2 November 1888.

The GRO records have only two children named William Ernest Thomas registered in the relevant Q4 of 1888: one in the Bridgend District, whose mother's maiden name was Devereux; and the other in the Nantwich District, whose mother's maiden name was Walley. Accordingly, the 2 year William is found in the 1891 Census as either:
  • the older of two children in the household of 27 year old Gwilym (a "Builder") and 25 year old Rosina (née Devereux) Thomas at 18 Gray Road, Llandyfodog, Bridgend; or
  • the oldest of three children in the household of 31 year old George (a "Railway Clerk") and 25 year old Rosina (née Walley) Thomas at 53 Farrington Street, Coppenhall Monks, Nantwich.
No way has yet been found in the readily available records of differentiating between these two and, combined with the complications of William's common names there is disappointingly nothing that can be said about his early life - in which he seems likely also to have seen service during WW1.

At some point, William moved to the District and, in Q2 1925 and registered in the Epsom District, this 36 year old married 21 year old Rosina Elizabeth Martin. She was a local girl, having been recorded in the 1911 Census as the fourth of seven children living with their parents George (a "General Labourer") and Emily (née Wooloff) at 34 East Street, Epsom.

As noted at the head of this article, William and Rosina are recorded in the 1939 Register living at 21 Carters Road, Epsom Downs. Living with them was their nearly 10 year old schoolgirl daughter, Brenda - her 31 October 1929 birth had been registered in the Epsom District - and a currently closed record which is likely to conceal a second child. (There were three children with the surname Thomas and mother's maiden name Martin whose births were registered in the local Surrey Mid Eastern District between Q1 1935 and Q1 1939.) William's occupation was recorded as "General Labourer Heavy Worker" - perhaps already working for the Borough Council, as he was at the time of his death - while Rosina's was the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties."

Also living at the address were apparently unrelated (and presumed lodgers): the widowed 56 year old George Oxley (a "Saddler"); and unmarried 49 year old Patrick Power (a "Groom in Racing Stables").

On Wednesday 12 July 1944, William was killed by enemy action on Derby Arms Road, Epsom Downs. He was buried in Epsom Cemetery (Grave O540) on 18 July.

The widowed Rosina never remarried and appears to have stayed in the area. Her death in May 1987 (when she was nearly 84) was registered the local Surrey Mid Eastern District.

Roger Morgan © 2018


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THOMPSON, Samuel George. Sergeant/Wireless Op./Air Gunner (918136)

77 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
Died 27 December 1941, aged 23

Samuel's headstone in the Rheinberg War Cemetery
Samuel's headstone in the Rheinberg War Cemetery
Photograph (18408538) by Des Philippet via findagrave.com

Samuel was born on 15 September 1918, the second of two children born to William and Lily Thompson (née Smith). They had married Q4 1915 registered in the Warwick District, but set up home in Essex: the 10 August 1916 birth of their first child, Lily Eileen was registered in the Billericay District; and Samuel's, two years later, in the Romford District.

At some point the family moved to the Borough. The 1939 Register records them living at 17 Vale Road, Worcester Park. 57 year old William is listed as a "Clerk Messenger"; 51 year old Lily with the conventional "unpaid domestic duties"; 21 year old Lily Eileen as a "National Cash Ledger Machine Operator"; and 19 year old Samuel's occupation is listed as "Clerical Records Research".

Samuel's WW2 service was with 77 Squadron, part of Bomber Command's No 4 Group. The Squadron was equipped with Armstrong-Whitworth Whitleys - which, as illustrated below, flew in a distinctively nose-down attitude. (Until the arrival of the four-engined Avro Lancaster in February 1942, the Whitley was the RAF's heaviest bomber.)

An Armstrong-Whitworth Whitley V bomber, circa 1940
An Armstrong-Whitworth Whitley V bomber, circa 1940
RAF official photograph - public domain

On the evening of 27 December 1941, Samuel was the Wireless Operator/Air Gunner in the five-strong crew of Whitley V Z9226 KN-? which took off from RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire to participate in a bombing raid on Dusseldorf. The aircraft was brought down (apparently near Cologne, south of the target - so likely to be after the plane had dropped its bombs) with the loss of all the crew:
  • P/O Anthony David SCOTT-MARTIN (103534), aged 20.
  • P/O John Norman CHISHOLM (104513), aged 29.
  • Sgt Philip George CLARK (918535), aged 22.
  • Sgt Samuel George Thompson (918136), aged 23.
  • Sgt Wilfred Jowett (1058855), aged 42.
They were initially interred at Cologne South Cemetery. In June 1946, they were reburied in the Rheinberg War Cemetery, a little to the north of Dusseldorf - five of the 3,330 Commonwealth servicemen of WW2 buried or commemorated there.

Samuel's family took the opportunity of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave 1.C.12,
"Beloved, you will always be remembered Father, Mother and Sister."
Roger Morgan © 2018

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THOMPSON, Stanley. Pilot Officer (79787).

Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
Died 5 August 1940, aged 42/43

Stanley's headstone in Maidenhead Cemetery
Stanley's headstone in Maidenhead Cemetery
Photograph (56138450) by "Julia&Keld" via findagrave.com

Stanley's entry in the Book of Remembrance must mean that the compilers were aware of some Borough connection. However, that has yet to be rediscovered. Indeed, Stanley has left little trace in the readily available records. Unusually, the entry for him in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's database lacks the usual brief details of his family background and even his age when he died.

That database did give his Service Number and the date of his death - the record of which, registered in the Hammersmith District, states that he was born in 1897 and was thus aged 43 when he died. There is, however, a near certainty that he was a year younger than that, hence the "aged 42/43" shown in the heading above.

During WW1, Stanley joined the Royal Flying Corps as a Cadet to be commissioned Temporary 2nd Lieutenant on probation with effect from 26 September 1916. His next of kin were stated to have been P Thompson, father, of 148 Fenchurch Street, London and Miss M Thompson, sister, of Lincoln Avenue, Twickenham. The only candidate who fits this bill seems to be the Stanley Thompson who was born on 1 February 1898, the second child of Philip Thompson and Mary Elizabeth (née Greener). The parents had married Q1 1894 (registered in the Lewisham District, as was Stanley's birth) and the 1901 Census records the parents (with 30 year old Philip is listed as a "Timber Broker") living at 128, Lennard Road, Beckenham with two children: 6 year old Mildred - the requisite "Miss M Thomson, sister" of the 1916 RFC record - and 3 year old Stanley. Philip's older brother, 36 year old Oliver Thompson (a "Commercial Reporter") was staying with them. This was a reasonably prosperous middle-class household, supported by a live-in domestic servant.

By the time of the 1911 Census, the parents had moved to Ashburnham House, Heathcote Road, Twickenham. Another daughter, 7 year old Kathleen, had arrived - but Stanley was not at home, and has not yet been found elsewhere. The family still had a live-in servant.

As noted above, Stanley served in the RFC in WW1. He was confirmed in the rank of Flying Officer on 13 March 1917 which seems to have been followed by a transfer to 42 Squadron at Bailleul, in France. This was equipped with the Royal Aircraft Factory RE8 reconnaissance/bomber.

A WW1 RE8 at the Duxford Air Show, 2012
A WW1 RE8 at the Duxford Air Show, 2012
Photograph © "John5199" via Flickr & Wikimedia, licensed CC BY 2.0

He may have been an Observer with F/O William Henry Maturin shot down on 12 August 1917 on reconnaissance over the German lines at Ypres when "something struck him" and his memory was a blank till he woke 33 hours later in hospital with concussion and bruising. In any event, Stanley had been reported missing on 21 August 1917, apparently from 42 Squadron (& not to be confused with 2nd/Lt Sidney Thompson of 27 Squadron Royal Flying Corps flying a Martinsyde G 100 Elephant No. 7276 who was actually shot down on 21 August 1917 at Bouilly). He was then said to be wounded in France on 14 September 1917 and taken Prisoner of War. Stanley received treatment in a convalescent hospital, from 13 April 1918, before repatriation to Hull, arriving there on 14 December 1918. On 13 February 1919, he was discharged from what, since 1 April 1918, was the Royal Air Force as "unfit for further service".

Assuming we have identified Stanley correctly, his next appearance in the readily available records is in the September 1939 Register living with his now-widowed mother and two sisters at Tudor Lodge, Westfield Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire. The 41 year old Stanley had followed in his late father's footsteps and is listed as a "Timber Traveller". The three women are all listed as having "Private Means". Older sister Mildred was now married with the surname Lund; while her husband was not there, their three children (aged between 8 and 13)were. The household was, again supported by a live-in servant.

On 3 June 1940, Stanley was re-commissioned as a Pilot Officer on probation for the duration of hostilities. In what are currently opaque circumstances, he was declared "missing" but later registered (in the Hammersmith District) as having died on 5 August 1940, just two months after his re-commissioning.

Stanley was buried in Grave D.KK.15 (recorded as owned by his family) of the Maidenhead (All Saints) Cemetery. In the light of the 1939 Register entry, this strengthens further the assumptions above about his family background. The Cemetery holds 47 Commonwealth WW2 casualties, a large proportion being Air Transport Auxiliary personnel, whose headquarters were at the nearby White Waltham Airfield.

None of that, however, throws any light on Stanley's connection with the Borough.

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TILDEN, Eric Henry. Commander (DSC)

HMS Firedrake, Royal Navy
Died 1 December 1942, aged 37

Eric Henry (Tom) Tilden
Eric Henry ("Tom") Tilden
Photograph (and much of the information below) with thanks to the HMS Firedrake website

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance, notwithstanding his parents' - and, indeed, his - long-standing connection with the Borough.

Eric, known as Tom, was born in Q2 1905 in Winchmore Hill, the second child of Harry Tilden and Ada (née Osmond). The parents had married on 3 October 1899 at Totteridge, Hertfordshire (when Harry was 29 and Ada 26). They set up home at "Lydstep", Old Green Dragon Lane, Winchmore Hill, Enfield where they were recorded in the 1901 Census with their first child, 6 month old William. Harry is listed as "Clerk, Bank of England". Living with them at the time was Ada's younger sister, 24 year old Clara Osmond. The household was supported by a live-in servant. Eric and a third child were also born in Winchmore Hill.

In about 1908, the family moved to "Coniston" (later, No 9) Ashdown Road, Epsom, where the couple's last two children were born. The 1911 Census records the parents and four children (aged from 2 to 10) at the address (the last child was born Q3 1911) supported by a Nursery Governess, a Cook and a Housemaid. The 40 year old Harry is now listed as "Assistant Secretary, Bank of England".

The couple's five children were:

NameDetails
William Osmond1900-49. Educated at Epsom College; spent 10 years as a tea planter in Assam, then proprietor of the Progressive Laundry in Banbury and latterly a farmer near Rugby. Married Evelyn Mary Frogley in Calcutta, 1926 (3 children). Buried Preston Capes, Northamptonshire.
John Frederick1903-96. Married Olive Butterfield 1928. Lived in Banstead for many years. Followed his father into banking. Recorded in the September 1939 Register living in Purley with his wife, four children and his widowed mother in law.
Eric Henry1905-42. The subject of this article, of whom more below.
Osmond Peter1909-39. The family's first WW2 casualty, see the following article.
Mary Osmond1911-94. Married Roland Wigg 1934. Latterly lived in Eastbourne.

In 1917, Harry became Secretary of the Bank of England, a post he held until his retirement on 31 December 1926. At some point, the family moved a few doors along Ashdown Road to "Selma", No 6. This is the address at which the parents were recorded in the September 1939 Register, in which the nearly 69 year old Harry is listed as "Bank Official, Retired" and 68 year old Ada with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". The couple were supported by a live-in domestic servant.

9 (l) and 6 (r) Ashdown Road, Epsom - the first and subsequent Epsom homes of the Tilden family.
9 (l) and 6 (r) Ashdown Road, Epsom - the first and subsequent Epsom homes of the Tilden family
Photographs (2016) courtesy of Peter Reed

Harry was still at 6 Ashdown Road when he died on 27 January 1951. The widowed Ada subsequently moved away, and was at "Haslemere", Grange Road, Uckfield when she died on 29 December 1970.

Eric's family moved to Epsom when he was three. He attended Rose Hill Prep School, then in Banstead: this was a school which specialised in preparing boys for universities and military/naval colleges. Eric entered the Royal Naval College, Osborne in 1919 and graduated from Dartmouth in 1922. From 1923 until 1926, he was a midshipman in HMS Barham (the ship which caused his brother Osmond's death in 1939). He then became a Sub-Lieutenant and served in HMS Wryneck (destroyer) and HMS Ramillies (battleship).

In Q4 1930, Eric married Kate Esther Susan Jones whom he had known since childhood; they were both aged 25. The marriage, registered in the Maidenhead District, was actually in Cookham where they set up home and had several children. The Probate records state Eric's address as Lee Cottage, School Lane, Cookham, Berkshire. The widowed Kate, who never re-married, was still at Lee Cottage when she died on 18 March 1987.

From 1931, Eric specialised in anti-submarine duties. Subsequently, he served in the 6th Destroyer Flotilla and the 4th Submarine Flotilla in China. After a course at the Royal Naval Staff College, Greenwich he joined HMS Nelson in 1938.

HMS Nelson firing her 6 inch guns, 1940
HMS Nelson firing her 6 inch guns, 1940
Photograph taken from the Battleship HMS Rodney © IWM (A 2066)

Nelson was sister to HMS Rodney which was famously involved in the demise of the German battleship Bismarck, and the two ships were often together in the early days of the war, along with other famous names of the period, such as the King George V, the Ark Royal and the Hood. There is a full account of HMS Nelson's exhausting activities on the Naval-History.net website which, if I may say, is a stunning piece of research. However, for present purposes we must stay with Eric, who, as a Lieutenant-Commander on Nelson, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in June 1940 for "courage and resource in operations on the Norwegian Coast".

In June 1941, he was promoted to Commander and ran HMS Osprey, the anti-submarine training establishment, which was by then at Dunoon. In September 1942, he was given command of the destroyer HMS Firedrake (H79). The ship had been in the wars, especially during 1942, but by September she was back on Atlantic convoy defence duties.

HMS Firedrake
HMS Firedrake
Official Royal Navy photograph © IWM (FL 10040)

In mid-December 1942, HMS Nelson was part of the 6-strong British escort group B7 escorting the 43 ships in Convoy ON-153 from Londonderry to New York. The convoy began to be stalked by U-boats on 15 December and lost three cargo ships, with significant loss of life, the following day, 16 December. At 01:15 hours on 17 December, when the Convoy was some 600 miles south of Iceland, HMS Nelson was torpedoed by U-211 and broke in two. The bow sank quickly, but the stern section floated for a while before finally sinking in the heavy weather. The corvette, HMS Sunflower, managed to rescue just 26 of the crew. 122 others, including Eric, perished.

Eric is commemorated on panel 51.1 of the Chatham Naval Memorial as one of over 10,000 Naval personnel who were lost or buried at sea during WW2.

Linda Jackson © June 2016
Census and convoy data extended by Roger Morgan, 2018

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TILDEN, Osmond Peter. Lieutenant (E)

HMS Duchess, Royal Navy
Died 12 December 1939, aged 30

Osmond Peter Tilden as a young cadet at Lancing College
Osmond Peter Tilden as a young cadet at Lancing College
Photograph (and much of the information below) with thanks to
the Lancing College War Memorial website

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance, notwithstanding his parents' - and, indeed, his - long-standing connection with the Borough.

Osmond was born in Epsom on 8 March 1909, the fourth child of Harry Tilden (who was Secretary of the Bank of England from 1917 to 1926 - and who lived in Ashdown Avenue, Epsom for some 40 years) and Ada (née Osmond, hence the boy's first name). He was the younger brother of the family's second WW2 casualty, Eric Henry Tilden, the article on whom sets out fuller details of the family background.

In 1923, Osmond was enrolled at Lancing College (between Brighton and Worthing) - which his older brother John had attended between 1917 and 1921. He joined the Officer Training Corps (as pictured at the head of this article) and gained the rank of Sergeant. In 1926, he was Captain of the College's Olds House and achieved a Grade A School Certificate. In 1927, and now aged 16, he joined the Royal Navy as a special entry cadet on HMS Erebus, an old First World War monitor, which was at that point a gunnery training ship. He became a midshipman in 1928 and then attended the Royal Naval Engineering College at Keynsham for four years; he was appointed Sub-Lieutenant in 1930 and Lieutenant in 1932.

In Q4 1931 and registered in the Devonport, Plymouth District, the 22 year old Osmond married 18 year old Sophia Hilda Ife. The couple had three children: twins Peter & Paul, whose Q1 1934 births were registered in Plymouth; and Jane in Q3 1938, registered in the Medway District.

To revert to Osmond's naval career, he first saw service in home waters in HMS Champion (light cruiser), HMS Exeter (a heavy cruiser which subsequently engaged the Graf Spee at the Battle of the River Plate), followed by stints in the Mediterranean with HMS Dauntless (light cruiser) and back to the Home Fleet in HMS Sovereign (assumed to be HMS Royal Sovereign, a battleship). None of these ships was modern but the next one, HMS Duchess (H64), a destroyer, had been commissioned only in 1933 so at least she wasn't one of the Jutland relics which were still around.

HMS Duchess
HMS Duchess
Image Source © IWM (FL 10926)

In December 1939 and under the command of Lt. Cdr. Robert Charles Meadows White, HMS Duchess was returning to the Clyde with two other destroyers as escort to a much larger battleship, HMS Barham, which most definitely was a Jutland relic. To give you a crude comparison of the relative sizes of the two ships, Barham was 643 feet by 90 feet and Duchess was roughly half the length and a third of the width.

HMS Barham
HMS Barham (1914).
Image Source The U.S. Naval Historical Center via Wikipedia

There is a point to make here which is no reflection at all on the crew of any ship, or indeed on the Admiralty, but the fact is that war had only just been declared, personnel were being drafted to vessels - some of which had been in mothballs - in a hurry and it was chaotic, with crews not being as well trained in unfamiliar wartime situations as anyone would have wished. So, at just after 04:00 hours on 12 December 1939, Duchess was zig-zagging in complete darkness and fog off the Mull of Kintyre when she and Barham collided. The massive Barham cut Duchess in half and many of the crew, including Meadows, were trapped in the sinking wreckage (there were no escape hatches at this time). All of that was awful enough but it got worse. Duchess's depth charges had been primed and, as the ship sank, they exploded to devastating effect.

According to most reports, just 23 men survived the sinking. Osmond was among the 129, including six officers, who were killed. He is commemorated on panel 33.1 of the Chatham Naval Memorial as one of over 10,000 Naval personnel who were lost or buried at sea during WW2.

In the September 1939 Register, just three months before Osmond's death, Sophia was recorded living at 11 Stopford Place, Plymouth with her late 50s parents - Ivor (a "Plumber & Naval Pensioner") and Jane Ife. Like her mother, the 26 year old Sophia is listed with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". Her entry is followed by some currently closed records, doubtless of her children. In Q2 1946 and registered in the Plymouth District, the widowed Sophia married George R Hunter. She died in Q4 1985, also registered in the Plymouth District.

As a postscript to Osmond's story, HMS Barham did not last much longer after the sinking of HMS Duchess. She had had a close shave only two weeks after that accident, being torpedoed, with some casualties, on 28 December 1939. What happened to her in the end was a monumental tragedy. On 25 November 1941, she was on escort duty in the Central Mediterranean when she was torpedoed by U-331 at a range of just 375 metres. The U-boat commander, who had fired a salvo of four torpedoes, was not sure what he had hit as he escaped. In fact, Barham had been hit amidships by three of the torpedoes; she capsized and a few minutes later the magazine exploded, sending her to the bottom. 862 men were killed (some reports of the numbers lost say about 840), although hundreds of survivors were rescued. The dramatic sinking was captured on film by British Pathé.


Linda Jackson © June 2016
Census and convoy data extended by Roger Morgan, 2018

Note: Nearly all of the ships mentioned are covered in depth on the internet, either on Wikipedia or one of the specialist naval websites such as uboat.net or Naval-History.net.

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TIPLADY, George Henry Frederick. Petty Officer (C/NX1874)

HMS Caroline, Royal Navy
Died 2 November 1943, Age 39

George's headstone in Epsom Cemetery
George's headstone in Epsom Cemetery
Photograph (97569212) by Lawrence Hennessy via findagrave.com

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

George was born in Petworth, Sussex on 8 May 1904, the second child of Arthur Tiplady and Mary May (née Moore). The parents - both also born in Petworth - had married in Q1 1904 when Arthur was 31 and Mary only 16. The 1911 Census records the couple living at Pound Cottages, Petworth, Sussex, with Arthur listed as "Estate Bricklayer" - presumably on the Petworth Estate. Living with them was their first child, 7 year old William John. The 1911 Census 7 year old George visiting his widowed 60 year old grandmother, Fanny Moore, at Lappards Yard, High Street, Petworth. Records show that George attended attended schools in Petworth and Three Bridges, Sussex.

On 7 December 1930, at St Martin of Tours, Epsom, the 26 year old George married 18 year old Christina May Smith, who had been born in Epsom on 4 May 1912. During 1934, the couple lived at 2 Adelphi Road, Epsom and, in 1937, at 1 Hook Road, Epsom. The September 1939 Register, however, records the couple living at 39 Tynedale Road, Betchworth. 35 year old George is listed as a "Grocery Manager" and 27 year old Christina with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". There is no record of the couple having any children.

George's WW2 service was as the Canteen Manager on HMS Caroline, stationed in Belfast Docks. On the outbreak war, this vessel became a depot ship to an anti-submarine striking force of patrol vessels. With the fall of France in 1940, this force was reinforced and soon increased to 70 vessels. Caroline provided signal and cypher facilities to her attached light craft and, as the war developed, Belfast soon came to play a vital part in the Battle of the Atlantic. In 1943, Caroline became the strategic operations base for a force of Destroyers and Corvettes protecting convoys in the North Atlantic. Operations were planned and conducted directly from Caroline where a total six escort groups, each composed of six frigates, were controlled.

It is a worthwhile digression to note that HMS Caroline, a C-class light cruiser was built and commissioned in 1914. She served throughout WW1 in the North Sea, and participated in the mid-1916 Battle of Jutland, the largest naval battle of the War and the only occasion that the British and German fleets of "dreadnought" battleships actually came to blows.

HMS Caroline during WW1
HMS Caroline during WW1
Image with thanks to the National Museum, Royal Navy

In 1924, she came out of reserve and, with her weaponry and some of her boilers removed, became a headquarters and training ship for the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve's Ulster Division at Belfast. Still moored in Belfast, she became the depot ship mentioned above for WW2. After the war, she was returned to the RNVR, and served as its last afloat training establishment. Finally decommissioned in 2011, she is now a visitor attraction in Belfast - the last survivor of the Battle of Jutland still afloat one of only three surviving Royal Navy warships of WW1.

To return to George, he developed lung cancer and 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 medical purposes) for appropriate surgery, but to no avail: George died there on 2 November 1943. He was buried in Epsom Cemetery on 5 November, and the widowed Christina took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave O.337,
"Gone, but not forgotten."
The February 1944 Probate record of administration of George's £ 308 estate being awarded to his widow states that his address had been 1 South Grove, Station Road, Petworth. In Q2 1944 and registered in the North Kesteven District of Lincolnshire, the widowed Christina got married again to John J Gilmartin.

Brian Bouchard & Roger Morgan © 2018

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TODD, Eric Joseph. Leading Aircraftman (137616)

Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 5 August 1945, aged 30.

Eric Joseph Todd
Eric Joseph Todd
Image courtesy of Peter Todd ©2016

Eric was born on 28 January 1915, the first child of Joseph Todd and Violet Elizabeth (née Fisher). The parents' Q3 1912 marriage had been registered in Croydon, but Eric's birth and that of his brother Kenneth (on 21 December 1920) were registered in Fulham

It appears to be during the second half of the 1930s that the Todd family moved to the Borough. The September 1939 Register finds them living at 54 Elmstead Gardens, Worcester Park and records:
  • 50 year old Joseph as a "Gas & Water Heating Engineer";
  • 49 year old Violet with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties";
  • 24 year old Eric as a "Salesman Tobacconist" (with an annotation on the original record that he was also No 294 in the Auxiliary Fire Service in Richmond); and
  • 18 year old Kenneth as an "Acting Postman GPO".
In Q1 1940, Eric married Margaret Ruth Yates; they were both aged 25. The marriage was registered in Battersea. The 1939 Register had recorded Margaret living with her parents (John, a "Bus Conductor", and Helen Yates) at 8 Dents Road, Battersea. Margaret's occupation was listed as "Tobacconist Assistant" which, as Eric was a "Salesman Tobacconist", would seem to be how the couple met.

Eric became a member of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve before being inducted into the RAF at Euston in August 1940. Disappointingly, the readily available records provide no information about the nature, location or duration of his service. It may well be that he was discharged before the cessation of WW2 hostilities. He died at St Helier County Hospital, Carshalton on 5 August 1945 and was buried in Plot O.177 of Epsom Cemetery on 9 August when the records described him as a "Joiner".

As a WW2 serviceman whose death occurred before 31 December 1947, he was eligible for commemoration in a Commonwealth War Grave: -
Those still in military service at the time of death qualified automatically. The location of their death and the cause of death were immaterial and they could have been killed in action, died of wounds, died of illness or by accident, died due to suicide or homicide or suffered judicial execution. CWGC treats all casualties equally and all must be commemorated under the terms of their Royal Charter. Under Category Two, personnel who had been discharged from or retired from the military before their deaths during the same qualifying periods of an injury or illness caused by or exacerbated by their service during the same qualifying period. These cases qualified only if it was proven to the authorities' satisfaction that death was service attributable
.
The Probate record of administration of Eric's £ 568 estate being awarded to the widowed Margaret note that his (and, presumably, their) address had been 17 Bradstock Road, Stoneleigh.

There is no record of Eric and Margaret having any children. In Q3 1950 and registered in the Batterseas District, Margaret got married again, to Ernest I Braes.

Eric's headstone in Epsom Cemetery
Eric's headstone in the CWGC section of Epsom Cemetery
Image courtesy of Brian Bouchard ©2016

Brian Bouchard & Roger Morgan © 2018

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TOFT, Ronald Frederick. Steward's Boy

Merchant Navy, SS Somme (London)
Died 16 February 1942, aged 17

Ronald was born Q1 1925, probably the fourth child of Francis Henry Toft and Daisy Margaret (née Warwick). She was an Epsom Common girl so, like her parents, their Q2 1917 marriage in Epsom was probably in Christ Church Epsom Common. Francis, a merchant seaman, died in 1927 aged only 32. In Q3 1929, Daisy married again - to David G Williams. Sadly, she died on 23 February 1935 aged only 38, leaving Ronald and his siblings as orphans.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission post-war records therefore noted that Ronald was the grandson of Mrs Emily Warwick, of Woodlands Road, Epsom Common. She (née Wood) had married William Warwick in Christ Church on 28 Jun 1891. The 1939 Register records her (aged 78) and 73 year old William, living at 44 Woodlands Road, Epsom Common. Both are listed as "Retired" - from occupations that were listed in the 1911 Census (when they were living in Woodlands Road with their surviving 8, of 10, children) as, respectively a "Laundress" and "Labourer in the Building Trade". Living with them in 1939 was their 36 year old son, Richard (a "Motor Driver"), and his 40 year old wife Daisy (née Jewell - they had married Q2 1930 in Epsom) listed as a "Laundress". There are two currently closed records at the address in 1939. One is likely to be Richard and Daisy's only child, Pamela (born Q3 1930 Epsom). Might the other be Emily's 14 year old grandson, Ronald?

Anyway, at some point, Ronald followed his late father's footsteps into the Merchant Navy and served on the cargo ship SS Somme. In February 1942, the ship set off from Loch Ewe across the Atlantic in Convoy ON-62. When, partway across, the U-boat threat was taken to be past, the Convoy dispersed and SS Somme headed for Bermuda - her last stop on the way to the intended destination of Curacao to pick up cargo for the return trip.

SS Somme
SS Somme
Photograph and incident details with thanks to uboat.net

However, the U-boat threat was not past. At 23:27 on 18 Feb 1942, the SS Somme - about 250 miles north east of Bermuda - was hit amidships by a torpedo from U-108. The ship settled by the stern, and the surviving crew abandoned ship in three lifeboats. Ten minutes later, the U-boat fired a second torpedo which caused the ship to sink fast by the stern. The survivors in the lifeboats were questioned by the Germans, but they were never then seen again.

All 48 crew members and ten gunners were thus lost. They, including Ronald, are among the nearly 24,000 merchant seamen of WW2 commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial as having no grave but the sea.

The Tower Hill Memorial
The Tower Hill Memorial (the WW2 section is the sunken garden in the foreground).
Photograph with thanks to Dan Jenkins "lost at sea memorials" blog

Roger Morgan © 2018

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TOMOANA, Tamaturangi Te Rakai-a-Hawea. Flight Sergeant (NZ41514)

149 (RAF) Squadron, Royal New Zealand Air Force
Died 29 June 1943 Age 29

Tamaturanga Te Rakai-a-Hawea Tomoana
Tamaturanga Te Rakai-a-Hawea Tomoana
Image source Portrait, Weekly News via aucklandmuseum.com

This New Zealander (who, in the UK, apparently used the simplified name of Hawea TOMOANA - a practice we follow here) is not listed in the Book of Remembrance but is commemorated here because the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's records note that he was the "husband of H Tomoana, of Epsom, Surrey".

Hawea was born in New Zealand in about 1914, a son of Paraire Henare Tomoana (known as Friday) and Kuini Ripeka Tomoana. His father had been a prominent Maori leader in the Hawkes Bay region on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island. The family home was in Waipatu Road, Hastings, Hawkes Bay. Hawea became a rugby player in Hawkes Bay and, after joining the Royal New Zealand Air Force, played for them in competitions.

The readily available records provide now details about his coming to the UK (doubtless with the RNZAF for WW2) or where he met Joyce J Butler. Their Q4 1942 marriage (when Hawea was about 28 and Joyce 22) was registered in the local Surrey Mid Eastern District and was doubtless in Joyce's home town of Epsom. She was born in Epsom on 10 April 1920 and the September 1939 Register records her (listed as a "Manageress, Library") living at 40 Upper Court Road, Epsom with her parents: 55 year old George Butler (an "Upholsterer"); and 53 year old Martha Jane Butler (listed with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties").

As an aside, Martha (née Ellcome) had been born in mid-Sussex and is first found in Epsom in the 2 April 1911 Census as the 25 year old Cook among the four-strong domestic staff in the Methuen household at The Hylands in Dorking Road, Epsom. She married George Butler in Epsom in Q4 1911. George was originally from Hoxton in the East End of London, and is found in the 1911 Census as a 26 year old "Upholsterer's Assistant" boarding with the unrelated George (a "Plumber") and Annie Petters at 13 Upper Court Road, Epsom.

To revert to Hawea, by early 1943, he was serving with a bomber squadron in the Western Desert, possibly in 55 or 223 Squadron of 232 Bomber Wing. By June 1943, he had returned to the UK and was assigned to 149 Squadron which was based at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk and equipped with the Short Stirling heavy bomber.

On 28 June 1943, Hawea was among the crew of Stirling Mk. III BF 483, OJ-C which took off from RAF Lakenheath at 23.45 hours as part of a group targeting Cologne. The aircraft subsequently went missing without trace, but is thought to have been attacked by a Luftwaffe night-fighter "ace" Oblt. Werner Hopf of 2/NJG1 at 02.47 hours on 29 June 1943, crashing into the North Sea some 25 miles west of the island of Schouwen-Duiveland in the south-western Netherlands.

Like the others killed on board, Hawea is commemorated among the more than 20,000 airmen and women who were lost in WW2 during operations from bases in the UK and North and Western Europe and who have no known grave. He is also included in the Roll of Honour at Hastings (NZ) War Memorial Library, erected by the people of Hastings and District to commemorate those who gave their lives in WW2.

The RAF Runnymede memorial and Hawea's entry on Panel 199
The RAF Runnymede memorial and Hawea's entry on Panel 199
Photographs with thanks to the NZ War Graves Project

The is no record of Hawea and Joyce having any children. In Q1 1945 and registered in the Edmonton District, the widowed Joyce got married again to Richard K Wilkinson.

Brian Bouchard & Roger Morgan © 2015

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TOTTLE, Peter. Flying Officer/Pilot (191781)

149 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 5 June 1945, aged 21

Peter Tottle was born on 5 April 1924 in Epsom, the only child of William Henry and Daisy Muriel Bell Tottle (nee Bates). Peter's parents had married on 6 June 1921 in Christ Church, Epsom. His father, aged 31 was a chemist living at 58 High Street, Epsom and his mother was a 23 year old clerk, living at the Wellington Hotel, 72 High Street, Epsom, daughter of the landlord.

In 1930 the family lived at 1 Manor Green Road East, Epsom. Peter attended Epsom County School for Boys (now Glyn School). By the time of the September 1939 Register, the family had moved to 7 Hamilton Close, Epsom. 49 year old William is listed as a "Commission Agent, Turf" and 41 year old Daisy as a "Chemist Assistant". There is one currently closed record at the address, doubtless of the 15 year old Peter. Also living with the family were Daisy's unmarried older sister, 43 year old Ada (listed as "Independent") and the apparently unrelated 36 year old Eileen Durling (a "Chiropodist"). The original record is annotated to note the parents' involvement on local ARP arrangements, in Daisy's case as a Nursing Auxiliary.

On December 13 1940, Peter's father, William, was cycling on Manor Green Road. This was very slippery at the time, and he fell from his bicycle fracturing his thigh. He was taken to Surrey County Hospital (Middle House, Dorking Road) but died on 11 January 1941 from septicaemia. There was some controversy about his treatment, but at the inquest a verdict of accidental death was recorded. He was buried in grave M591 in Epsom Cemetery on 15 January 1941. A full account of the inquest can be read in the Epsom Advertiser. The Probate record of administration of William's £ 123 estate being awarded to the widowed Daisy confirms the family's address as 7 Hamilton Close, Epsom.

Peter's WW2 service was in the RAF, in which he qualified as a pilot of heavy bombers. Given his age (he was only 15 when the war began) he will not have seen active service until the late stages of the fighting. Thanks to Colin Cummings' book "The Price of Peace: A Catalogue of RAF Aircraft Losses Between VE-Day and End of 1945" (ISBN: 9780952661955), we know the circumstances of Peter's death shortly after the cessation of WW2 hostilities in Europe on 8 May 1945. (WW2 continued in the Far East until Japan's surrender on 15 August.)

On 5 June 1945, Peter was the pilot of a Lancaster 1 PP693 of 149 Squadron coded OJ-B. The aircraft had taken off at 16:52 hours from Juvincourt (Aisne) bound for the UK on what is thought to have been a POW repatriation flight.

At 17:20 hours, the Lancaster crashed in Noyelles sous Bellonne, near Arras. It has been reported that at 2,000ft the aeroplane suddenly went into a steep dive, which the pilot was able to flatten out before the starboard outer wing and engine fractured and broke away. The aircraft then dived into the ground, burst into flames and was destroyed. The accident is thought to have been caused by a failure of the auto pilot. There was one survivor from the 11 on board. (National Archives - AVIA 5/25 Type: Lancaster 1 (PP-673); Location: Nr Vitry-en-Artois France; Report No.: W2214 1945 June).

The ten who died in the fatal crash were:
  • Flying Officer Peter Tottle. Pilot, aged 21.
  • Flight Sergeant Paul Cochrane Wyatt. Navigator.
  • Sergeant Robert Edward Tilley. Flight engineer.
  • Flight Sergeant Jack Dyer. Wireless operator, aged 27.
  • Flight Sergeant Kenneth Hird. Air gunner, aged 21.
  • Flight Sergeant Leonard Jones. Air gunner.
  • Flight Sergeant Eric Paige. Bomb aimer, aged 21.
  • AC2 William Quinn, aged 24.
  • LAC William Christie Spark, aged 34.
  • LAC Wilfred Herbert Wardle, aged 22.
The three junior airmen, are stated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission also to have belonged to 149 Squadron.

All ten are buried together in Collective grave 5.C.9-17 of Lille Southern Cemetery which holds nearly 300 Commonwealth WW2 casualties. Peter's mother took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone,
"In proud and everloving memory of a dear son."
The Lille Southern Cemetery
The Lille Southern Cemetery
Photograph with thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Peter's mother, Daisy, moved to Worthing, Sussex - which is where the Commonwealth War Graves Commission post-war records note her as being "of" - dying at 99 South Farm Road on 15 April 1979.

In addition to his entry in the Borough's Book of Remembrance, Peter is commemorated on the St. Barnabas Roll of Honour.

Clive Gilbert & Hazel Ballan © 2014
Census and memorial data extended by Roger Morgan 2018

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TOY, Gordon Frederick. Flying Officer (128915) MiD

622 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 1 September 1943, aged 22

Gordon (on the right) with crewmates Ritson and Carter at RAF Mildenhall, 1943
Gordon (on the right) with crewmates Ritson and Carter at RAF Mildenhall, 1943
Image and much of the mission information below with thanks
to the Winter 2009/10 Mildenhall Register

Gordon is not listed in the Book of Remembrance but is commemorated here because the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's records state that he was the "son of Walter Ernest and Dora Winifred Toy, of Epsom, Surrey". While (from the family history outlined below) it does not seem that Gordon's mother ever lived in the Borough, Walter did so after the start of WW2, living at 27 Burgh Heath Road, Epsom.

Anyway, Gordon was born Q4 1920, the second child of Walter Toy and Dora (née Cooper). The parents' Q1 1918 marriage was registered in the Wandsworth District but the Q1 1919 birth of their first child, Winifred, was registered in West Bromwich, Staffordshire and Gordon's the following year in Daventry, Northamptonshire.

The family subsequently moved south. The Q1 1932 death of Gordon's mother, Dora (aged only 32), was registered in the Reigate District - and Gordon's secondary education was at Reigate Grammar School. The family might, however, have been living in nearby Redhill. The widowed 63 year old Walter was recorded in the September 1939 Register living at 4 Oxford Road, Redhill with his occupation listed as "Manufacturing Agent Hardware, Government Contractor." There are two currently closed records at the address, presumably covering his children - the 18 year old Gordon and 20 year old Winifred.

In June 1940, Gordon enlisted with the Royal Air Force at Blackpool with a Service Number 1355328. From Leading Aircraftman, a commission to Pilot Officer followed on 5 September 1942, and Gordon was promoted Flying Officer with effect from 5 March 1943.

Following Gordon's successful completion of training in 1665 Heavy Conversion Unit, Woolfox Lodge he was assigned to the new 622 Squadron (part of 3 Group in Bomber Command) that had been formed from 'C' flight of 15 Squadron. Based at RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk, 622 Squadron was equipped with Short Stirling heavy bombers.

Three Short Stirlings (of 1651 HCU) over Cambridge, 1942
Three Short Stirlings (of 1651 HCU) over Cambridge, 1942
Official RAF photograph (TR37 in the IWM Collections), Public Domain

Gordon, nicknamed "Chunky", led one of the newly trained crews. Their first operational mission was on 22 August, dropping mines over the West Friesians. Lasting just over 4 hours, Gordon's HK 816 GI-B was the only one of three aricraft to complete an otherwise uneventful mine laying (gardening) operation. Over the night of 23 August 1943, at the beginning of the Battle of Berlin, Gordon piloted Stirling EH490, GI-F, and again brought that aircraft back safely.

Gordon and his crew returned from a spell of leave to find that they were going back to Berlin, flying in the newly arrived Short Stirling EF119 GI-Q. The aircraft, piloted by Gordon, took off from RAF Mildenhall at 20:20 hours on 31 August 1943. Before reaching Berlin, the Stirling was targeted by Hauptman Wilhelm Telge of 5/NJG 1 in a Bf 110 night fighter. The cannon fire set light to the front fuselage of the Stirling and severely damaged the controls. Gordon ordered his crew to bail out. Sergeants P H M Smith, F Poyser & Benham and Pilot Officer G F Ritson parachuted to safety, but were taken into captivity.

Just after midnight, the fully laden Stirling crashed near Wollerhausen, about 50 miles south of Hanover, killing the three left on board, namely:-
  • F/O Gordon Frederick Toy (128915), aged 22;
  • Pilot Officer Fred Moncrieff Carter, (RCAF J/22472), aged 26; &
  • Sergeant Sidney Mackrell (1620313), aged 19.
They were initially buried in the nearby Gieboldehausen cemetery. On 18 October 1946, they were re-interred in the Hanover War Cemetery which holds 2,407 Commonwealth WW2. Gordon's father took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Joint Grave 2.A.15-16,
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
Gordon's headstone and the Hanover War Cemetery
Gordon's headstone and the Hanover War Cemetery
Left: Photograph (18586240) by "BobB" via findagrave.com
Right: Photograph with thanks to the NZ War Graves Project

Gordon was posthumously Mentioned in Despatches, gazetted 1 January 1945, and is also commemorated on the Reigate Grammar School War Memorial.

Brian Bouchard & Roger Morgan © 2018

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TREADAWAY, Charles Frederick Arthur. Lance Serjeant (2756418)

6th Battalion, Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)
Died 9 November 1944, aged 24.

Charles's headstone in the Forli War Cemetery
Charles's headstone in the Forli War Cemetery
Photograph (21615202) by "bbmir" via findagrave.com

Charles was born in Q1 1920, the fifth and last child (all of whom were born in Epsom) of Joseph Treadaway and Mary Ann Jane (née Shilham). Joseph was originally from Buckinghamshire and their Q3 1904 marriage was in Mary's home patch of Fulham. However, they set up home in Epsom. The 1911 Census records the parents (listing 35 year old Joseph as a "Labourer, Brickworks") living at 4 Nonsuch Cottages, Linton's Lane, Epsom with their first two children. The parents - Joseph and Mary - died in, respectively, January 1936 and April 1939 although both of them in Epsom's Cottage Hospital followed by burial in Grave K391 of Epsom Cemetery.

The orphaned 19 year old Charles is not found in the September 1939 Register. He could either be behind some currently closed record or already in uniform with the 6th Battalion, Black Watch. If the latter, he would have been sent to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force. It was north of Brussels when ordered to withdraw to Dunkirk. Survivors of the evacuation and others reformed the Battalion on the Isle of Wight, where it served as front line defence against the expected German invasion.

Men of the Black Watch's 6th Battalion training on the Isle of Wight in August 1940.
Men of the Black Watch's 6th Battalion training on the Isle of Wight in August 1940.
IWM photograph H 2917 - Public Domain.

The Battalion remained in Britain until March 1943 when it sailed to Algiers to strengthen the Allied army that, since Operation Torch in November 1942 had been driving Axis forces back towards Tunis as the other half of the pincer to Allied forces advancing westwards after the turning point of El Alamein. By April, the Battalion had moved forward to west of Tunis and was closely involved in the fierce fighting that culminated in the surrender of Axis forces in Tunis on 13 May 1943.

From the springboard of a cleared North Africa, the Allies invaded and captured Sicily. That victory led to an armistice made with the Italians who then re-entered the war on the Allied side. The Allies invaded mainland Italy on 3 September 1943 and, albeit with much hard fighting against German forces, made relatively rapid progress northwards until reaching the German prepared defensive "Winter Line" south of Rome.

The best known actions to break through this line were the hard-fought Battles of Monte Cassino from January to May 1944. The 6th Battalion (which had been training for amphibious landings in Egypt), landed at Naples 6th March 1944 and was closely involved in the final breakthrough at Cassino. It was then in the van of other actions as the Germans withdrew to a series of prepared positions.

By November 1944, the Battalion was among the forces on the front line at Forli near the Adriatic coast, about 15 miles southwest of Ravenna. As noted in Casualty List No. 1612, Charles was killed in action there on 9 November.

Charles is one of the 738 WW2 burials in the Forli War Cemetery. His family took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave VIII.A.16,
"God takes our loved ones from our homes but never from our hearts."
Roger Morgan © 2018

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TREADGOLD, Leonard Horace. Private (14426422)

1st Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment
Died 27 August 1944, aged 19

Charles's headstone and the Vernon Communal Cemetery
Charles's headstone and the Vernon Communal Cemetery
Left: photograph (67297937) by Joel Legout via findagrave.com
Right: Photograph with thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Leonard Horace Treadgold (the middle "G" initial given in Christ Church's WW2 memorial does not appear in any other of the readily available records) was born Q2 1925 in Epsom, the third of four children born to Horace Earl Treadgold and Kathleen Hilda (née Williams - they married Q4 1919 in Epsom). The 1939 Register records the 45 year old Horace (a "Roads Labourer") and 39 year old Kathleen ("Home duties") living at 4 Ruthen Close, Epsom with a similarly aged lodger and three currently closed records - probably their younger children.

Leonard was too young to have been in the Worcestershire Regiment's original 1st Battalion, the remnants of which - along with many other Commonwealth troops - surrendered at Tobruk on 22 June 1942, during the disastrous Battle of Gazala.

The 1st Battalion was reformed on 1 January 1943 by drafting in personnel from the 11th Battalion (a Service Battalion formed in May 1940) which was then disbanded. It spent the next year and a bit preparing for "Operation Overlord", the Allied invasion of Normandy. The Battalion landed shortly after the initial D-Day landings on 6 June 1944. Their first action (part of "Operation Epsom" to outflank and seize Caen) resulted in the capture of Mouen - just to the west of Caen - was described by the Divisional Commander as "one of the slickest attacks of the war".

There then came the spectacular drive to the Seine - over one hundred miles in three and a half days. After heavy fighting, the 1st Worcestershire were the first to cross the Seine - at Vernon, about halfway between Paris and the sea (and on the outskirts of which is Giverny, famous for its association with Monet). This was followed by further fierce fighting as the Allied forces drove east.

It was during the fighting at Tilly (about 4 miles east of Vernon) that, as noted in Casualty List No. 1553, Leonard was killed in action. With 13 of his fellow soldiers, he is buried in the Vernon Communal Cemetery. His family took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave 1.8,
"A voice we loved is stilled a place is vacant in our home which never can be filled."
Roger Morgan © 2018

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TREAYS, Edwin

Civilian
Died 2 October 1940, aged 91

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Edwin was born in Deptford on 5 March 1849. On 7 June 1888, in All Saints Church Newington, this 39 year old married 26 year old Emily Matilda Castle. She was presumably a widow since the 1891 Census records the couple (with Edwin listed as a "Mariner") living at 30 Frederick Street, Bermondsey with five children. Three of these had the surname Castle and were born before their marriage. Born after that were 2 year old Lilian and new-born Ethel, both with the surname Treays.

The 1901 Census records the family still at 30 Frederick Street. 52 year old Edwin is now listed as a "Waterside Labourer". Some of the older Castle children had left home and four more Treays children had been born, although two had died in infancy. By the time of the 1911 Census, the couple had moved to 1 Tristan Cottages, 1 Church Street, Bermondsey. 62 year old Edwin is now listed as a "Ship Worker" The couple's four surviving children were still at home as was Emily's 25 year old son Frederick Castle and three of her granddaughters.

Emily died in Bermondsey Q1 1935. The September 1939 Register records the widowed 91 year old Edwin (his name mistranscribed as "Edward") living at 110 Lllewellyn Street, Bermondsey and listed as "Mercantile Mariner Retired". Living with him were the apparently unrelated 41 year old James Phipps (a "Wharf Labourer") together with his wife Charlotte and their child.

On 21 September 1940 - in the early weeks of the Luftwaffe's "Blitz" bombing campaign - Edwin was injured while at home in 110 Llewellyn Street. 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. He died there on 2 October 1940.

(If any of the Phipps family were injured in the same attack, they recovered.)

Roger Morgan © 2018

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TRENT, Mary Frances

Civilian
Died 23 May 1943, on her 30th birthday

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Mary was born on 23 May 1913, the first child of Alfred Trent and Jessie (née Hyde). The parents' Q3 1912 marriage was registered in the Upton on Severn District of Worcestershire, but they made their home in the Surrey village of Cranleigh, about 8 miles southeast of Guildford, where Alfred was a "coachman domestic", living at Knowle Stables. When, in 1915, Alfred enlisted for WW1 service in the Army Service Corps, Mechanical Transport, his civilian occupation was listed as "Chauffeur".

At some point after the birth of the couple's second child, Marion (in Q4 1919), the family moved to Epsom. The September 1939 register records them living at 38 Copse Edge Avenue: 56 year old Alfred is listed as a "Private Chauffeur"; 52 year old Jessie with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties"; and 26 year old Mary as a "Private Secretary". The currently closed record at the address doubtless covers 19 year old Marion.

On Sunday 23 May 1943, Mary was at the Central Hotel on Richmond Hill, Bournemouth. She was one of the many killed there when the hotel received a direct hit during the most destructive of the many bombing raids that Bournemouth experienced throughout the war.

The raiding party was 26 of the Luftwaffe's powerful Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Würger ("Shrike") single-seat fighter-bombers, flying from their base in Caen. This was a carefully-planned lightning strike. Bournemouth typically received at least 20 minutes' warning of approaching enemy aircraft but, on this occasion, the sirens sounded at 12.54pm and the first bomb was dropped barely 5 minutes later. Within little more than a minute, each aircraft had dropped its high-explosive bomb and caused further carnage by almost continuous strafing. By the time the fighters at RAF Ibsley had scrambled, the enemy aircraft (bar two that had been brought down by anti-aircraft fire) were on their way back to base.

The raid killed 200+ people, of which at least 54 (including Mary - on her 30th birthday) were at the Central Hotel. Hundreds more were injured, many with life-changing results. 22 buildings were destroyed - including the Central Hotel and the landmark Metropole Hotel at the Lansdowne. Over 3,300 other buildings were damaged, 37 so extensively that they had quickly to be demolished. It is not currently known why Mary was in the Central Hotel at the time, but it may be relevant that members of the Civil Defence were meeting at the Central to discuss the placement of air raid shelters in schools.

Central Hotel Before and After
Background: Victorian photograph of the Central Hotel (with thanks to Alwyn Ladell)
Inset: What was left after the bomb (with thanks to the Bournemouth Echo)

The particular motivation for the raid is understood to have been a retaliation to the previous week's now-famous "Dam Buster" raid by 617 Squadron on 16-17 May 1943. The Luftwaffe was aware that Bournemouth had a key role in maintaining the vital supply of aircrew to the RAF: In addition to the town's being a convalescent centre for injured airmen, RAF Station Bournemouth was welcoming thousands of aircrew (3,000 on the day after the raid alone) and was home to the No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre for Dominion aircrew and No. 11 Australian Personnel Dispatch and Receiving Centre. On 23 May, hundreds of Canadian airmen were staying at the Metropole Hotel and the Central Hotel was similarly full of Australians.

On the evening of that day, the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra was scheduled to play a concert at the Winter Gardens to celebrate its 50th anniversary and to be broadcast by the BBC. Aware of the propaganda value should the broadcast be cancelled, the concert and broadcast went ahead and, conducted by Sir Adrian Boult, the orchestra's programme included Nimrod from Elgar's Enigma Variations in tribute to those that died that day.

On 2 June 1943, Mary was buried in grave M4/65 of the Bournemouth North Cemetery.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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TRITTON, John Frederick. Flying Officer (133803)

214 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 26 June 1943, aged 28

John Frederick Tritton
John Frederick Tritton
Photograph courtesy of the Tritton Family

John is not listed in the Book of Remembrance but is commemorated here because the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's records note him as the "son of Frederick James Tritton, and of Grace Emily Tritton, of Ewell, Surrey".

John was born on 23 June 1915, the first child of Frederick Tritton and Grace (née Webb. The parents' Q3 1914 marriage was registered in the Lambeth District, as was John's birth the following year. In February 1917, the nearly 36 year old Frederick was conscripted for service in WW1. Following a hearing before the Lambeth Local Tribunal, he was granted exemption from combatant service on conscientious grounds and assigned to the Non-Combatant Corps (No 10 Eastern Company). His address at the time was recorded as 21 Mantilla Road, Tooting. Within days of starting active service, Frederick was found guilty of disobeying a lawful command given by his senior officer and sentenced to 112 days of imprisonment with hard labour, which he served in Wormwood Scrubs.

After the war, the couple had two more children - Frank, born on 8 February 1921 and Freda born in Q2 1924 - both births being again registered in the Lambeth District, and almost certainly at 5 Thurlestone Road, Lambeth. This was noted as Frederick's address when, aged 55, he died on 30 April 1936.

This was still the family address at the time of the September 1939 Register. This lists the residents as below.
  • The widowed 50 year old Grace is recorded with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties";
  • 24 year old John is a "Process Artist". (His late father, Frederick had been a process etcher on the Daily Express in Fleet Street and, before he was called up, John was serving an apprenticeship as a process artist on the Daily Sketch.)
  • 18 year old Frank is listed as a "Surgical Appliance Fitter".
(15 year old Freda was not at home and is not found elsewhere in the readily available records.)

As to the Borough connection, John's brother, Frank, and their mother, Grace Emily, subsequently came to live at 62 Ruxley Lane, Ewell and remained there at least until 1954.

Against that background, John's WW2 service was in the RAF, and the following details are taken from Broken Wings, Immortal Glory - The Story of 214 Squadron RAF Bomber Command, by Paul Tritton, with kind permission from the author:-
"John … was called-up for service with the Royal Engineers on June 13, 1940. His military service records state that he was 5 ft 5 in tall, with dark brown hair, hazel eyes and a fresh complexion. In 1942 he was transferred to the RAF [with a Service Number 657178] and qualified as a bomb aimer [after undertaking training in Canada].

He returned home a few days before Christmas, having been given a temporary commission and promoted to the rank of pilot officer [gazetted with effect from 6 November 1942] ….

On January 12, 1943, he was posted to No. 26 Operational Training Unit [at RAF Wing near Aylesbury] where he joined a crew captained by a newly qualified pilot, Sgt Bernard Church. John was now 27, whereas the rest of the crew were 20 or 21….

Church's crew was posted to RAF Stradishall and trained to fly Stirling bombers. In May John was promoted to the rank of flying officer and on June 12 he and the rest of the crew arrived at RAF Chedburgh, near Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, to join 214 Squadron, then making nightly raids on the Ruhr, Germany's industrial heartland and laying mines in sea-lanes used by German ships. On the night of Monday, June 22 the crew flew on their first 'op', taking off at five minutes past midnight DBST (Double British Summer Time) on June 23 - John's 28th birthday.

Their 'drop zone' was near Heligoland Bay. At 02.12 hrs John flicked a switch on the control panel in his compartment in the nose of the aircraft and released his mines. At 04.40 the crew landed safely at Chedburgh ….

On Wednesday, June 24, Church's crew was part of a force of 630 bombers that raided Wuppertal-Elberfeld. They took off at 22.30 with 1,080 41b incendiaries and 88 30lb incendiaries. Near Cologne their aircraft was hit by flak but no-one was injured. Over the target, John did the job he had been trained to do calling out course corrections to the pilot, releasing the bombs, and operating the camera that all bombers carried to photograph the results of their sortie. … They arrived back at Chedburgh at 0415.

John was 'on ops' again with Bernard Church's crew the following night (June 25/26), for a raid on Gelsenkirchen. The aircraft they had flown on their earlier 'ops' was out of service, due to damage sustained the previous night, so they were allocated a brand-new aircraft, BK767. Their wireless operator, Sgt W.C. Thomas, reported sick shortly before take-off so the squadron's signals leader, Flying Officer Keith Neilson, took his place.

Sunset that night was at 22.22…. BK767 took off at 23.48. Reports written immediately after the raid merely state: 'Nothing was heard of this aircraft, which is missing.' However, thanks to eye-witness accounts and recent research in Britain and Holland, we now have an almost complete story of BK767's last moments.

At Aalten, near the German border, Air Raid Precautions wardens saw 'a burning aeroplane crashing in the south west direction' at 01.23 hrs. Two minutes later it disintegrated on a farm at IJzerlo, 5.5 km from Aalten. Chief warden Jacob Tilbusscher reported: 'The 'plane came down on farmland belonging to Gerrit H. Jan ter Horst and Gerrit van Lochem. Five occupants of the airplane died in the crash'. The aircraft, which had evidently been hit by 'flak' and then shot down by an ME110 nightfighter piloted by Oberleutnant Ludwig Meister, was later identified as BK767. The men who died were Bernard Church, John Tritton, Sgt William Harris Thompson (flight engineer) and air gunners William Thomas Davis and Frederick Mills. Sgt E.G. Taylor (the navigator) and Keith Neilson parachuted to safety but were captured by the Germans.

John and his comrades were buried in Berkenhove Cemetery, Aalten, on June 29. Next day a wreath was secretly laid beside their graves, bearing the words 'Broken wings, immortal glory. From the Dutch people'. Soon afterwards it was removed by the German authorities….

In Berkenhove Cemetery, about half a mile north of Aalten, their graves are impeccably maintained by Oorlogsgraven-stichting for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Every year, on May 4 (Dutch Liberation Day) the people of Aalten place flowers there."
John (in Grave 590/2) and his crewmates are five of the 17 WW2 Commonwealth casualties buried in the Aalten (Berkenhove) General Cemetery.

John's headstone and the war graves section of the Aalten (Berkenhove) General Cemetery
John's headstone and the war graves section of the Aalten (Berkenhove) General Cemetery
Both photographs (13855722 & 2172100) by Des Philippet via findagrave.com

Brian Bouchard & Roger Morgan © 2018

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TROUGHTON, Robert Walter. Signalman (D/JX 211616)

HMS Galatea, Royal Navy
Died 15 December 1941, aged 24.

Robert was born on 8 July 1917, the son of Walter Troughton and Ellen Elizabeth (née Crane). It appears that Robert was their only child and, for some yet to be discovered reason, was born in Paris.

The parents had married in Ellen's home area of Blything, Suffolk in Q2 1905. The 1911 Census recorded them living alone at Stoke Gardens, South Stoke, Lincolnshire: 31 year old Walter is listed as a "Golf Groundsman Domestic"; and, as usual for the time, no occupation is shown for 29 year old Ellen.

The September 1939 Register records the parents and 22 year old Robert family of three living at "The Farm", Woodcote Park, Epsom. 50 year old Walter is listed as "Head Green Keeper Golf Course" (doubtless of the RAC's course); 48 year old Elizabeth with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties"; and 22 year old Robert as "Accounts Auditor".

In Q2 1940 and registered in the local Surrey Mid Eastern District, the 22 year old Robert married 28 year old Elsie Wilhelmina Dunstan. The September 1939 Register had recorded her and her older sister living with their widowed mother at 11 The Crescent, Epsom, listing Elsie's occupation as "Post Office Counter Clerk Telegraphist".

It appears that the young couple lived with Robert's parents: the Probate record of administration of Robert's £ 316 estate being awarded to the widowed Elsie records their address as "The Farm, Royal Automobile Club, Woodcote Park, Epsom".

Robert's WW2 service was as a signalman on HMS Galatea, an Arethusa-class light cruiser commissioned in August 1935. Her early WW2 career was in home and Norwegian waters, but Robert probably did not join the ship until mid 1941 when, on 29 June she left the Clyde as part of the escort for convoy WS9B en route to join the Mediterranean Fleet via the Cape of Good Hope.

HMS Galatea
HMS Galatea
A Public Domain photograph

HMS Galatea She arrived at Alexandria in mid-August and joined the 15th Cruiser Squadron. At the end of the month she took part in Operation Treacle, which was the relief of the 18th Australian Infantry Brigade at Tobruk by the Polish Brigade, after which she returned to Alexandria covering HMS Phoebe which had been hit by an aircraft-launched torpedo off Bardia. In mid-September, she was sent with HMS Naiad to reinforce HMS Coventry and others in the Red Sea. On the night of 20/21 October 1941, along with HMS Ajax and HMS Hobart, she bombarded an enemy battery east of Tobruk.

By November 1941 she was based at Malta with Force "K", operating against Axis supply convoys to North Africa. On 21 November, she left Alexandria with the Mediterranean Battle Fleet for Operation Landmark which was support for the Libya offensive. On 6 December she left Alexandria again, with HMS Hobart and others to join the commissioned supply ship Breconshire and escort her to Alexandria.

On 14 December 1941, Galatea was returning to Alexandria with the cruiser force of the Mediterranean Fleet after a hunt for an Italian convoy to Libya. The force was attacked by German dive bombers and, at 19.55 hours, by the Italian submarine Dagabur (Torri). It is not clear what damage HMS Galatea sustained in these attacks. However, just before midnight and some 35 miles north west of Alexandria, she became a target for U-557 which hit her with two torpedoes in quick succession. The cruiser turned over and sank in three minutes.

On 15 Dec 1941 HMS Galatea (71) was sunk by U-557 with three torpedoes about 35 miles west of Alexandria, as the cruiser was returning to this harbour with the cruiser force of the Mediterranean Fleet after a hunt for an Italian convoy to Libya. Of the 640 on board, only 144 survivors were picked up.

Robert was among the 470 lost in the sinking, and is one of the nearly 16,000 naval personnel commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial as having no grave but the sea.

The widowed Elsie obviously moved from Woodcote Park: the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's post war records note that she was "of Banstead, Surrey". It does not appear that Elsie and Robert had any children and, in Q3 1953 and registered in the Bromley District, Elsie got married again to Reginald J Fullilove.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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TUCK, William Ernest. Gunner (1699261)

109 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery
Died 21 November 1944, Age 24.

William was born Q3 1920, the second of five children born to Albert Tuck and Violet Louisa (née Embling). The parents' Q3 1918 was registered in Epsom - as were the births of all their children who, in addition to William, were: Albert (Q4 1918); Alice (Q4 1922); Sylvia (Q3 1928); and Ronald Q3 1931).

The September 1939 Register records the family living at "Rossar", Grosvenor Road, Langley Vale, Epsom Downs. 42 year old Albert senior is listed as a "Grave Digger Heavy Worker" and 44 year old Violet with "House duties at home". Of the four other records at the address, three are currently closed and doubtless cover some of the children - perhaps including the 19 year old William (who is not found elsewhere in the Register). The open record is of 20 year old Albert junior, listed as a "Painter Decorator".

William attested into the Royal Artillery in 1940. The readily available records provide disappointingly few details about his service. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records note that he was with the 109 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment at the time of his death. The Regiment was part of the Allied forces that, by November 1944, were fighting the German Army in the Netherlands.

Casualty List No. 1600 of 10 November 1944 reported that, on some unspecified date, William was wounded. He was repatriated for treatment in the Park Prewett Hospital, Basingstoke. (Like Epsom's Horton Hospital, this had been a psychiatric hospital but was taken over for dealing with wartime casualties during WW2.)

As reported in Casualty List No. 1617, William died of his wounds on 21 November 1944. On 27 November, he was buried in Grave L198 of Epsom Cemetery (poignantly, probably where his father worked as a grave digger).

Roger Morgan © 2018

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TULLETT, Mathew Richard. Private (6149458)

2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
Died 7 August 1944, aged 23.

Unusually, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's database contains no family background for Matthew. It turns out to be more than a little complicated - and interestingly out of the ordinary.

Matthew Richard Tullett was born on 14 May 1921. According to the record of his baptism at St Mary's, Ewell on 29 May 1921, his parents (53 year old Matthew Richard Tullett and 25 year old Caroline McCleave) were recorded as living at 2 Adelphi Road, Epsom. (There is no record of this couple having any other children.)

Matthew senior and Caroline were not married to each other because he was still married to Helen Edith (née Routledge). They had married in Westbourne, Sussex, on 22 May 1895 - when Matthew was aged 27 and Helen was 25. Matthew had joined the Metropolitan Police in 1892 (with a Warrant No. 77765) and the couple made their home in Islington, where their two daughters Emily Winifred (in other records, "Winifred Emily") and Violet Helen were born in 1896 and 1898 respectively.

PC Matthew Tullett and his family later moved to what is now the London Borough of Bromley. They are recorded in the 1911 Census living at 6 Church Road, Shortlands, near Bromley itself. Matthew senior retired from the police on 11 August 1919, having last served in P Division covering the Camberwell/Peckham area. Helen, however, had been admitted to Warlingham Park Mental Hospital at Chelsham - about 6 miles south of Croydon - where she was to remain for over 20 years. (Warlingham Park was reputedly the first such institution to be called a Mental Hospital rather than an Asylum.)

As Matthew junior - the subject of this article - was born in 1921, Matthew senior had clearly begun his relationship with Caroline McCleave at least some time before that. His wife, Helen, died at Warlingham Park on 20 January 1940, although this was Registered (presumably by Matthew senior) in the local Surrey Mid Eastern District. In that first quarter of 1940 and Registered in the Deptford District, Matthew senior was finally able to marry Caroline. They had been recorded in the 1939 Register living at 13 Prospect Place, Epsom, with one currently closed record - probably of then 18 year old Matthew junior. Matthew senior is listed as "Pensioned Police Officer Retired" with Caroline's occupation being "Housekeeper Domestic Duties".

To complete the family background, administration of Helen's small personal estate (of £ 30) was awarded to her daughter Emily/Winifred and husband, Harold Frederick Skinner - they had married in 1921. Matthew senior died in 1954 and was buried in Epsom Cemetery (Grave N327) on 21 May. In 1958, the widowed Caroline married again - to Charles E Ede. That marriage and her death in 1974 were both registered in the local Surrey Mid Eastern District.

To return to the subject of this article, Matthew junior's WW2 service was in the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. It is not clear from the readily available records when this service began. Given his age - he was only 18 when war was declared - this is probably not in time to be sent to France with the Battalion in 1940 as part of the British Expeditionary Force and its subsequent evacuation from Dunkirk in early June. It is more likely that he joined the Battalion during its following years on home duty, and then in preparation for Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of France from the Normandy beaches.

The Battalion landed in Normandy on D-Day itself, 6 June 1944. While, thanks to careful preparation, the initial landings were an unqualified success, the next stages - particularly capturing the German stronghold of Caen a few miles inland - proved much harder than the Allies had anticipated. (Caen was finally taken on 6 August 1940.)

In late July and early August 1944, Matthew's Battalion was part of the Allied forces making a major thrust made from Caumont l'Evente towards Vire, aiming to drive a wedge between the German 7th Army and Panzer Group West. On 6 August 1944, the Battalion encountered the German 9th SS Regiment on a ridge above Le Bas Perrier and, over the following two days, suffered 23 fatalities - including the death of Matthew on 7 August.

Matthew was initially buried at Presles. On 3 May 1946 he was reinterred (Grave IV,C.14) in the War Cemetery at St Charles de Percy, a village about 25 miles south-west of Caen. Its War Cemetery contains 809 WW2 burials and is the southernmost of the Normandy cemeteries.

The St Charles de Percy War Cemetery
The St Charles de Percy War Cemetery
Photograph with thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Roger Morgan © 2018
With special thanks to Brian Bouchard

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TURNBULL, Richard Dominic. Private (6400600)

Royal Sussex Regiment, 5th Cinque Ports Battalion
Died 16 June 1940, aged 21

Richard's headstone in the Cement House Cemetery.
Richard's headstone in the "Cement House" Cemetery.
Photograph (12777642) by the International Wargraves Photography Project via findagrave.com

Richard was born in Q3 1918, the first child of Richard Eric Turnbull and Phyllis Adeline (née Francis - they had married in Q4 1916). His sister, Phillippa was born in Q4 1921. All these events took place in the Cardiff Registration District - as, indeed, did the parents' 1890 births.

The young family's move to Epsom may have been connected with a change in vocation for Richard Eric. Before his marriage, the 1911 Census recorded him (and six siblings) living with his widowed father at home at 130 Newport Road, Cardiff. Richard Eric and an older brother were both listed as "Clerk, Coal Exporters" - perhaps not unconnected with their father and an older brother both being listed as a "Ship Owner". (This was a prosperous household: it was supported by four domestic servants.)

Anyway, the 1939 Register finds the Richard Eric and Phyllis living at 17 Ridgeway, Epsom. The 48 year old is listed as "Farmer, (retired)" and 49 year old Phyllis with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". Living with them was the apparently unrelated 46 year old Gwendoline Geddes listed as a "Nurse Companion" plus another currently closed record (probably covering 17 year old Phillipa).

Richard junior's WW2 service was in the 5th Cinque Ports Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment. In April 1940, the battalion (of 29 Officers and 690 other ranks) was sent to France as part of the Allied forces to resist the expected German invasion. It was later sent further east, to Wortagem in Belgium - about half way between Lille and Brussels - to take up defensive duties covering the River Scheldt, with trenches on the forward slopes. Hostilities began on 20 May when the Battalion came under shell & mortar fire. The German forces proved unstoppable and, over the next week, the Battalion gradually retreated east and north, taking losses through death and injury along the way. On 28 May, the remainder reached Dunkirk from which they were among the near 340,000 troops evacuated in the famous Operation Dynamo.

Through some mischance or injury, Richard lost touch with his Battalion during its retreat and, like many others, found himself behind enemy lines seeking to avoid capture and find a way home. It is not known if he was captured and killed in one of the many post-Dunkirk atrocities or died of earlier wounds. One way of the other, the date of his death is firmly recorded as 16 June 1940, 12 days after the end of the Dunkirk evacuations.

He was initially buried in the Communal Cemetery at Waregem, about 5 miles north of the Battalion's 20 May position at Wortagem. Four years later, in September 1944, two British soldiers killed in the Allied advance towards Germany were also buried there. In April 1968, these three WW2 soldiers - plus four from WW1 - were exhumed and, together with other scattered burials, reinterred in the major Cement House WW1 cemetery a few miles north of Ypres. ("Cement House" was the WW1 military name given to a fortified farm building on the nearby Langemark-Boezinge road.)

The family took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave XVII.B.8.,
"Requiescat in pace."
Roger Morgan © 2018

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TURNER, William

Civilian
Died 13 June 1941, Aged 62

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance.

William was born in Tunbridge Wells on 18 August 1878. On 26 October 1901, he married Edith Gertrude Tyler in her home village of Marden, about 10 miles east of Tunbridge Wells: they were both aged 23.

The couple set up home in Bexhill-on-Sea where the 1911 Census records them, now aged 32 living at 7 Leopold Road with four children from 8 year old William junior to new-born Cecil. (They had four more children between 1915 and 1923.) The Census lists William senior as a "Railway Porter."

The couple were still at 7 Leopold Road at the time of the 1939 Register, now both aged 61. William is listed as "Retired" and Edith with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". Also living with them was 21 year old unmarried daughter Gertrude (working as a "Domestic Daily") and one currently closed record - probably concealing their youngest child, 16 year old Kenneth.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records note that William - still "of 7 Leopold Road" - was injured by enemy action on 8 October 1940 while at 58 Amherst Road, Bexhill-on-Sea. (This still-standing large late-Victorian house was, at the time of the 1939 Register, occupied by early 60s Reginald and Hazel Watson and eight apparently unrelated people, four of whom are listed as "Blind Person".) His injuries were probably the result of one of the many random incidents Bexhill experienced as a result of German aircraft dropping bombs unused in the "Blitz" bombing campaign before returning across the Channel.

Anyway, William 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. Eight months later, on 13 June 1941, he died there, aged 62.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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TYRRELL, James Hannaford. Major (189776)

Royal Army Ordnance Corps.
Died 6 September 1945, aged 34.

James was born on 21 August 1911, the second child of Percy Tyrrell and Mary Gertrude (née Hannaford, hence James's middle name). The parents - both originally from London - had married in London's St Giles District Q2 1906, but set up home at 34 Station Road, Prittlewell, a district of Southend-on-Sea.

They were recorded at that address in the 1911 Census, together with their first child, 3 year old Marian (born Q3 1907). The Census lists 31 year old Percy is listed as a "Draper (Linen), Shopkeeper/Employer" and, as typical for this census, lists no occupation for the 28 year old Mary - who was already pregnant with James, born five months later. The couple had a third child, Jean, born Q3 1923. The births of all three children were registered in the Rochford District, into which Prittlewell came.

The family of five is next found in the records as passengers on the P&O liner SS Bendigo which sailed from London on 27 November 1924 bound for Sydney in Australia, noted on the manifest as their "country of intended future permanent residence". The now 45 year old father's occupation is still listed as "Draper", and the family's last address in the UK is given as 11 Boscombe Road, Southend-on-Sea.

At some point, James returned to the UK. According to the Norwich Union Life Insurance Society's WW2 Roll of Honour, he worked in their Office in Fleet Street, London. As noted by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's post-war records, James had become both AICS and ACII (an associate of, respectively the Institute of Chartered Surveyors - it did not become a Royal Institute until 1947- and the Chartered Insurance Institute). Further, the 1939 Register lists this then 28 year old as an "Assurance Official". That Register also records him in the household of presumed relatives Edward and Nellie Tyrrell at 4 Sabrina Terrace, Worcester. Given his London job, this seems likely to be a visit rather than a permanent arrangement. Alternatively, it might have been connected in some way with his move into the Royal Army Ordnance Corps: it is known he enlisted in 1939.

In Q3 1941, James - now aged 30 - married 29 year old Olga Ellen Love. She was recorded in the 1939 Register as the youngest of three unmarried daughters living with their widowed 68 year old mother, Emily, at 7 Nonsuch Court Avenue, East Ewell. Her occupation was listed as "Civil Servant Typist". The marriage was registered in the local Surrey Mid Eastern District and it seems James moved in with his in-laws: the Probate record of administration of James's £ 2,707 estate being awarded to the widowed Olga gave his address as the same 7 Nonsuch Court Avenue. There is no record of the couple having any children.

The readily available records provide disappointingly little information about James's WW2 service in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps. His last posting was to Italy to support the Allies' advance against German forces there. Casualty List No.1856 reported that he died on 6 September 1945 - some four months after VE Day. A previous Casualty list had reported that he was "dangerously ill" which rather implies a medical condition or disease rather than wounds. He is buried in the Naples War Cemetery, and his death almost certainly occurred there. The site for the Cemetery was chosen in November 1943 and burials were made in it from the Naples garrison and, particularly from the hospitals that were there, namely, he 65th and 92nd General Hospitals from late in 1943 until the end of the war, and the 67th General Hospital for the greater part of that time.

James is one of 1,202 Commonwealth WW2 burials in the Naples War Cemetery. The widowed Olga took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave IV.L.11,
"In proud and loving memory."
The NaplesWar Cemetery.
The NaplesWar Cemetery.
Photograph with thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Roger Morgan © 2018

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