WW2 Book of Remembrance - Surnames W

Index

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[Content]

WAITE, Edward Harry (Revised 29/11/2017)
WAITE, Gerald Francis John (Revised 21/05/2018)
WALKER, Douglas Bland (Revised 23/02/2018)
WALL, Thomas Henry (Revised 21/05/2018)
WALLIS, Susan * (Revised 21/05/2018)
WARD, Bernard (Revised 21/05/2018)
WARD, Georgina * (Revised 21/05/2018)
WARWICK, Benjamin (Revised 21/05/2018)
WATERMAN, Arthur George (New 30/10/2017)
WATERMAN, Douglas Allenby (Revised 21/05/2018)
WATKINS, Robert Charles Leslie (Revised 21/05/2018)
WATSON, Peter Leslie (Revised 09/11/2017)
WATSON, Robert Sims (Revised 26/05/2018)
WATT, Christina Alice * (Revised 23/05/2018)
WATTS, Alfred John (Revised 23/05/2018)
WAYLAN, John Evan Francis (Revised 23/05/2018)
WEBB, Arthur Frederick Oliver (Revised 23/03/2018)
WEEKS, Roy Keeble (Revised 21/03/2018)
WELLS, Alice Ellen * (Revised 24/05/2018)
WEST, Alfred Malet (Revised 23/05/2018)
WESTCOTT, Alice Mary * (Revised 23/05/2018)
WESTON, Arthur (Revised 23/05/2018)
WESTON, George Percy (Revised 23/05/2018)
WHALE, Ronald Cecil (Revised 29/11/2017)
WHEELER, Claude George (Revised 04/03/2018)
WHICHELO, Edna (Revised 24/05/2018)
WHITE, Albert Kenneth (Revised 24/05/2018)
WHITE, Eric Vincent Ewart (Revised 24/05/2018)
WHITE, Hugh Edgar (Revised 24/05/2018)
WHITE, Philip Alfred (Revised 26/05/2018)
WHITE, William John (New 08/09/2017)
WHITLOW, John William Bradbury (Revised 26/05/2018)
WHITTY, George Oliver Samuel (Revised 26/05/2018)
WILBY, Edward John (Revised 26/05/2018)
WILDEY, Richard Kemp (Dick) (Revised 17/02/2018)
WILLIAMS, Herbert Charles (Revised 26/05/2018)
WILLIAMS, John Francis (New 30/10/2017)
WILLIAMS, Laurence Mervyn. (Revised 26/05/2018)
WILLIAMS, Philip Edwin (Revised 26/05/2018)
WILLIAMSON, Robert (Revised 26/05/2018)
WILSON, Harold Strong (Revised 26/05/2018)
WILSON, George (Revised 26/05/2018)
WILSON, Ronald George (Revised 26/05/2018)
WINTER, John George (Revised 10/03/2018)
WISE, Douglas Arthur (Revised 28/05/2018)
WOOD, Harry (Revised 28/05/2018)
WOODGER, Elizabeth May Revised 28/05/2018
WOODGER, Horace Edgar Revised 28/05/2018
WOOLFENDEN, Jack (Revised 28/05/2018)
WRIGHT, Basil Owen (Revised 06/04/2018)
WRIGHT, Henrietta * (Revised 28/05/2018)
WYATT, George * (Revised 28/05/2018)
WYLIE, William Jeffery Price (Revised 06/04/2018)

* = 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


WAITE, Edward Harry

Civilian
Died 6 November 1940, aged 50.

Edward Harry Waite was born in Battersea in 1890 (GRO reference: Dec 1890 Wandsworth 1d 569) to Edward and Alice Ada Waite (nee Quinnell). His parents were married in the September quarter of 1889 in the Epsom registration district.

In the 1891 census the family lived at 7 Mantua Street, Battersea. Edward's 26 year old father was a railway guard from Edmonton; his mother was aged 25 from Bookham, Surrey. Edward was 7 months old.

EDWARD HARRY WAITE AND HIS SIBLINGS
NameBorn - Died
Edward HarryBorn: 1890 Battersea
Died: 6 November 1940 Epsom
ErnestBorn: 1897 Earlsfield
Etta PhyllisBorn: 1899 Earlsfield
Ida NellieBorn: 1901 Earlsfield

By 1901 the family had moved to 2c Atheldene Road, Wandsworth. Edwards father was still earning his living as a railway guard and Edward had three siblings, Ernest aged 3, Etta Phyllis aged 2 and Ida Nellie aged 6 months.

Edward started working for the Post office, as a clerk, on 3 June 1910.

In 1911 the family lived at 20 Wilna Road, Earlsfield. Edward's father was now a railway inspector working for L and SW Railway. Edward, aged 20, was a Civil Servant working as a clerk in the Post Office Savings Bank. Edward's 48 year old mother recorded that she had had four children and that all were still living.

The Surrey Recruitment Registers tell us that Edward attested in Kingston on 18 October 1916 into the 4th Battalion Royal West Kent Regiment. Aged 26 years and 1 month, he was 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighed 119 lbs and had a chest measurement of 35 inches expanding by 3 inches. He was employed a clerk and lived at 9 Camberley Avenue, Raynes Park. No other Great War military record has been found for him.

Aged 29, Edward married 22 year old spinster Leontine Marie Francoise Hamet (Hammett) on 4 August 1920 in St. Saviours church, Raynes Park. Edward was still working as a Civil Service clerk. Leontine's deceased father, Mathurin Hamet, was a French Marine. Their witnesses were Edward and Ernest Waite. I have found no record of births to them.

By 1929 Edward and Leontine were living at 'Belle Vue' in Chesterfield Road, Ewell and by 1938 were living at 26 Chase Road, Epsom. There is no obvious record of the couple having had children, but the 1939 Register finds them still living at 26 Chase Road, with one currently closed record. Edward is listed as "Civil Service Clerk" and Leontine with the conventional "Home Duties (Unpaid)".

Towards the end of 1940 Edward applied to become an Air Raid Warden. The Epsom Herald newspaper dated 15 November 1940 reported that on the night of 6 November 1940, bombs had fallen on two semi-detached houses and that when Edward attempted to move to a safer part of a damaged room, a beam fell across his back, killing him; his wife was rescued and their young son escaped injury, although as previously noted, I have been unable to find any record of a birth to them. The paper also reported that Edward worshiped at a nearby Anglican church.

Edward was buried in grave M579 in Epsom Cemetery on 12 November 1940, sharing the grave with Harry Lawes. The next grave, M579 holds the remains of Harry Lawes wife Bertha Mary. They were both killed, aged 60, by enemy action on 16 April 1941, at 10 Sutherland Terrace, S.W.1.

Probate was granted at Llandudno, on 13 January 1941, to Edward's widow, Leontine Marie Francoise Waite, in the sum of £632 0s 7d.

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

Clive Gilbert & Hazel Ballan 2014

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WAITE, Gerald Francis John. Flying Officer (67688)

221 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 7 February 1943, aged 22

Gerald was born in Q2 1920, the second child of Edwin Gerald Waite ("Wait" in some records) and Ellen Irene, née Fisher. The parents' Q1 1917 marriage and the birth of both their children (Gerald's older sister, Irene, was born Q1 1919) were all registered in the Birkenhead District of Cheshire.

At some point, the family moved to Epsom. The 1939 Register records the 46 year old Ellen (workimg as a Nurse with the British Red Cross) living at 28 West Hill Epsom together with 20 year old daughter Irene (Irene's occupation is (listed as a "Stable-worker, Horse-breaker" - probably at "Nelson & Nelson's Riding Establishment" next door, at No 20 West Hill). There is one currently closed record at the address, likely to be the 19 year old Gerald. For some reason, 45 year old Edwin was not at home, and this "Electrical and Mechanical Engineer" was recorded in the 1939 Register living alone at 60 Balham Park Road, Wandsworth.

Gerald's WW2 service was in 221 Squadron. After an initial spell of home duties as part of Coastal Command, the Squadron relocated to the Mediterranean in January 1942 and operated in that area for the rest of the war.

By early 1943, the Squadron was operating from RAF Luqa on Malta, subsequently developed into Malta's International airport. It was equipped with the Wellington Mk VIII - a variant specially developed for maritime work, being equipped with anti-submarine radar, torpedoes and "Leigh Lights" for night operations.

A Vickers Wellington GR Mk VII of 221 Squadron
A Vickers Wellington GR Mk VII of 221 Squadron
Photograph CNA 3535, taken in 1944, courtesy of the Imperial War Musuem

Gerald was part of the crew of six on board HX600 when, for some unknown reason, it was lost off Sardinia on 7 February 1943. He is commemorated on the Malta Memorial (in the Floriana area just outside the main entrance to Valletta) as one of the 2,298 Commonwealth aircrew who lost their lives in the various WW2 air battles and engagements around the Mediterranean.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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WALKER, Douglas Bland. Able Seaman (P/JX 237396)

HM Submarine Trooper, Royal Navy.
Died 17 October 1943, aged 21.

Unusually, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's database contains no family details in this case - and not even Douglas's age at the time of his death. However, thanks to his unusual second name, it is been possible to fill in the blanks.

His father was Walter Hatfield Walker, who originated from Kendal in the Lake District. His mother was born in Northampton as Mary Elizabeth Margery (normally called by her third Christian name) Bland. The 25 year old couple's Q4 1920 marriage was registered in the Chertsey District. For some reason, Douglas's birth on 22 July 1922 was registered in Salford, Lancashire. The 14 December 1925 birth of the couple's second child, Betty, was registered back in the Chertsey District. And that is where the parents and schoolgirl Betty are found in the 1939 Register, living with Margery's 71 year old widowed mother at her sweets, tobacco and toy shop at 68 Terrace Road, Walton on Thames. (Walter is listed as a "Storekeeper Raw Materials" and Margery with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties".)

The 17 year old Douglas was not there because he had become an apprentice groom in one of Epsom's racing stables. The 1939 Register finds him lodging with 33 year old Francis M Oates (a "Groom in Racing Stables") and family at 25 Beech Way, Epsom.

Douglas's WW2 service was in the T-class submarine Trooper (N-91). This was built by Scotts of Greenock in the early days of WW2 and commissioned on 29 August 1942. She spent most of her short career serving in the Mediterranean, with two enemy sinkings and other damage to her credit.

HM Submarine Trooper at sea.
HM Submarine Trooper at sea.
Photograph © IWM (A 29870)

On 26 September 1943, HM Submarine Trooper sailed from Beirut on her 8th War Patrol to cover in the Aegean Sea off the Dodecanese islands. On 14 October, she challenged an enemy Schooner Flotilla off Alinda Bay, Leros. She failed to return on 17 October and was presumed lost on German mines around Leros.

Douglas was among the crew of 60 - all of whom were lost - and is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

Roger Morgan © 2017

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WALL, Thomas Henry. Gunner (1462626)

Attached to 1st Special Air Service Regiment, Army Air Corps
(from 28 Heavy Anti Aircraft Battery, Royal Artillery).

Died 20 November 1942, aged 21

Thomas was born in Wandsworth Q4 1921, the last of the five children of John Wall and Rhoda Elizabeth (née Drew - they had married in Wandsworth Q2 1912).

The 1939 Register records the parents living at "Matlock", Grosvenor Road, Langley Vale, Epsom Downs. 47 year old John is listed as a "Carpenter" and 52 year old Rhoda with the conventional "Unpaid domestic duties". Living with them were their daughter Dorothy ("Unpaid Domestic Duties") and her husband Samuel Whorton ("Builders Labourer"), both now aged 24 - they had married in Q1 1938 (registered in Surrey Mid Eastern, so probably in Epsom). There is also one currently closed record at the address - likely to be of the 17 year old Thomas.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission's records note that Thomas - originally of the 28 Heavy Anti Aircraft Battery, Royal Artillery - was attached to 1st Special Air Service Regiment (the "SAS") of the Army Air Corps. As such, he would have been involved in various special operations.

In late 1942, his duty location was the "Western Desert". This was the scene of the British Army's halting (in the 1-27 July 1942 first Battle of El Alamein) the Axis forces' advance eastwards towards the prizes of the Suez Canal and the Middle East oilfields and, in a key turning point of WW2, gaining the upper hand in the 23 October - 11 November 1942 second Battle of El Alamein. The SAS would have been highly active in all this. At some point, Thomas was wounded and, as noted in Casualty List No. 1004, he died of his wounds on 20 November 1942.

Thomas is one of the 2,674 Commonwealth WW2 casualties buried in the Knightsbridge War Cemetery, Acroma, about 15 miles west of Tobruk in Libya. His parents took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave 1.K.25,
"The dearest son the world could hold / with tender smile and heart of gold."
The Knightsbridge War Cemetery, Libya.
The Knightsbridge War Cemetery, Libya.
Photograph with thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Roger Morgan © 2018

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WALLIS, Susan

Civilian
Died 28 July 1944, aged 80

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Susan was born in Camberwell on 16 April 1863, the last of four children born to Thomas (an Auctioneer's Porter") and Amelia Wallis. The early 40s parents and their children - from 8 year old "Scholar" to 15 year old "Errand Boy" William - are recorded in the 1871 Census living at 6 Wellington Street, Camberwell.

By the time of the 1881 Census, the now 17 year old Susan was the "General Servant" in the household of Sydney (a "Wholesale Perfumier") and Elizabeth Brown at 26, Denmark Road, Lambeth. Susan - who never married - is not readily traced in subsequent Censuses, but is found in the 1939 Register as a 76 year old pensioner living as a household of one at 72 Barset Road, Camberwell. (There was another apparently unrelated household at the same address.)

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission's records note that, at the time of her death in 1944 in she was "of 43 Tappesfield Road, Peckham", so she must have taken a room or lodgings there. (At the time of the 1939 Register, 43 Tappesfield Road was the home of the apparently unrelated Henry and Emily Wilson and their 6 children.)

Following Susan's injury by enemy action on an unspecified date, she 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. She died there on 28 July 1944, aged 80.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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WARD, Bernard. Marine (CH/X106548)

HMLCF.42, Royal Marines
Died 29 June 1944, aged 22

Bernard was born in Epsom Q2 1922, the third of the six children of Patrick Ward and Annie (née Budgen - they married Q2 1919 in East Grinstead). The 1939 Register lists the 56 year old Annie living at 33 Ebbisham Road, Epsom with eight others: one of these is her youngest daughter; three appear to be lodgers; and four of the records are currently closed. (The Register does not list Annie as widowed, by husband Patrick is not readily found in the records.)

Bernard's WW2 service was on LCF.42 - a "Landing Craft, Flak". These were converted "Landing Crafts, Tank" (in the case of LCF.42, converted from LCT.880) to provide anti-aircraft cover for troop landings. Conversion involved welding the LCT's ramp shut, and building a deck on top of the Tank deck. Typical armaments on that new deck were eight 20 mm Oerlikon cannons and four QF 2-pounder "pom-poms". Each LCF had a crew of about 60. The operation of the craft was the responsibility of RN crew, while the guns were manned by Royal Marines such as Bernard.

A typical 'Landing Craft, Flak' (in this case LCF 24)
A typical "Landing Craft, Flak" (in this case LCF 24)
Image (FL 5979) courtesy of the Imperial War Museum

Landings of men and materiel on the Normandy beaches continued for some time after the initial D-Day landing on 6 June 1944. The Luftwaffe obviously sought to disrupt this continued strengthening of the Allied invasion force, and LCFs played an important part in helping repel its attacks. The LCFs were as much targets as the reinforcements being landed, and Bernard was one of two killed at their posts on 29 June. That attack did not put the LCF out of action: records show other losses from LCF.42 on subsequent days.

Bernard is buried in Grave 1.V.18 of the Hermanville War Cemetery (about a mile inland from D-Day's Sword beach) one of the 903 Commonwealth WW2 burials there.

The Hermanville War Cemetery, Normandy
The Hermanville War Cemetery, Normandy
Photograph (2202098) by "soilsister" via findagrave.com

Roger Morgan © 2018

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WARD, Georgina

Civilian
Died 1 November 1940, aged 65

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission's records note that Georgina was the "wife of Edwin Ward, of 69 Manor Drive, Ewell, Surrey". They were not at that address in the 1939 Register (when the occupants were the apparently unrelated William and Hilda Tovani) and, with such relatively common names, Georgina and Edwin are not confidently found elsewhere in that Register - or, disappointingly, anywhere else in the readily available records.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission also notes that Georgina's death from enemy action occurred at 36 Shawfield Street, Chelsea. There is no entry for that property in the 1939 Register, so there is currently no clue as to Georgina's connection with the address. The fact that, unlike the rest of the typical Victorian Street, the housing around No 36 is all post-war rather suggests the location was badly bombed - and the 1 November 1940 date of Georgina's death was two months into the Lufwaffe's "Blitz" bombing campaign.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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WARWICK, Benjamin. Boy 1st Class (P/JX 194732)

HMS Hood, Royal Navy.
Died 24 May 1941, aged 17.

Benjamin was born in Q2 1924, the second of four children born to Benjamin John Warwick and Hilda Kathleen (née Baxter). The parents' Q4 1921 marriage was registered in the Epsom District, as were the births of all their children.

The 1939 Register records the couple living at 3 Hook Road, Epsom. 39 year old Benjamin senior is listed as a "Chauffer" and 38 year old Hilda with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". There are also three currently closed records at the address - doubtless of their children, and probably including 15 year old Benjamin junior.

Benjamin (like Edward Hales) served on HMS Hood, the last battlecruiser built for the Royal Navy and commissioned in 1920. Despite the appearance of new and more modern ship designs over time, HMS Hood remained the largest and most powerful warship in the world for twenty years after her commissioning and her prestige was reflected in her nickname, "The Mighty Hood".

HMS Hood.
HMS Hood.
Copyright acknowledged.

When WW2 began, HMS Hood was operating in the area around Iceland, and she spent the next several months hunting between Iceland and the Norwegian Sea for German commerce raiders and blockade runners. After a brief overhaul of her propulsion system, she sailed as the flagship of Force H, and participated in the destruction of the French Fleet at Mers-el-Kebir. She was subsequently stationed at Scapa Flow, and operated in the area as a convoy escort and later as a defence against a potential German invasion fleet.

In May 1941, she and the battleship Prince of Wales were ordered to intercept the German battleship Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, which were en route to the Atlantic where they were to attack convoys. On 24 May 1941, early in the Battle of the Denmark Strait, HMS Hood was struck by several German shells, exploded and sank. Due to her perceived invincibility, the loss affected British morale.

The moment of HMS Hood's destruction.
The moment of HMS Hood's destruction.
Sketch by Captain J C Leach RN (d. 1941) for the Official Inquiry into the sinking.
via Wikimeda - Public Domain.

Of the 1418 men aboard HMS Hood, only three survived. The dead - including Benjamin (and Edward Hales) - were never found and are commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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WATERMAN, Arthur George.

Civilian & member (B25420) of the Auxiliary Fire Service
Died 30 December 1940, aged 37.

The Borough's Book or Remembrance has this man's Christian names reversed: he was Arthur George Waterman.

Arthur was born Q4 1903 in Hampstead, the son of George H Waterman and Kate (née Clarke - they had married in West Ham Q3 1902.)

He is not readily found in the 1939 Register, but his parents were by then living in 5 Garden Cottages, East Street, Epsom. George is listed as a "House Painter" with Kate occupied in the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". There is one currently closed record at the address, but it seems unlikely that this would be their 38 year old son.

Alongside whatever his day job was, Arthur was in WW2 a fireman (B25420) in the Auxiliary Fire Service attached to London's Station 3 at Westminster. He - and many others - were called into action on the night of 29/30 December 1940, when London experienced one of the most destructive air raids of the September 1940 to May 1941 "Blitz".

For over three hours from 6:15 pm on 29 December 1940, over 24,000 high explosive bombs and 100,000 incendiary bombs were dropped on London. The bombs and the subsequent fires destroyed an area greater than that of the 1666 Great Fire of London and, at the time, was referred to as the "Second Great Fire of London". It was during this raid that Herbert Mason, a Daily Mail photographer, took the famous picture of St Paul's (below) from the roof of the Mail's offices in Fleet Street.

St Paul's London, 29/30 December 1940.
St Paul's London, 29/30 December 1940.
Public Domain photograph via Wikimedia.

The fire crew of which Arthur was part was deployed in fighting the fire at London's Guildhall. Fire from the bombed St Jewry had drifted to the Guildhall's roof and, by 10.10 pm, the Great Hall's roof was ablaze. Since the Thames was at low tide (understood to have been taken into account by the Luftwaffe in planning the raid), water pressure was too weak for fire-fighters to be able to hose the roof. Volunteers moved dangerously along it with buckets of water, but by 10.30 pm the building had to be abandoned. By the next morning, it had been gutted, as below.

The gutted Great Hall of London's Guildhall on 30 December 1940.
The gutted Great Hall of London's Guildhall on 30 December 1940.
Photograph © The Museum of London

At some point in fighting the Guildhall fire, Arthur was severely injured. He was taken to the Royal Free Hospital (then in nearby Gray's Inn Road) but died there on 30 December. On 6 January 1941, he was buried in Epsom Cemetery (Grave M409).

Roger Morgan © 2017

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WATERMAN, Douglas Allenby. Sergeant 921037

Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 228 Squadron
Died 12 July 1943, aged 25

Douglas was born in Epsom Q2 1918, at least the fourth child of George Henry Waterman and Kate (née Clarke - they married in St Saviour's Church, Walthamstow in 1902). The 1939 Register records the 61 year old George (a "House Painter") and 56 year old Kate (listed with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties" living at the now lost 5 Garden Cottage in the Kiln Lane area of Epsom.

The only other record at the address is currently closed. That is most unlikely to be the 21 year od Douglas since, in Q2 1939, he married Epsom-born Annie Rose Oakshott. Their marriage and the Q3 1942 birth of their son (another Douglas) were both registered in the local Surrey Mid Eastern District.

Douglas served in the RAF's 228 Squadron which, during WW2, undertook anti-submarine duties in their Short Sunderland Flying boats. The Squadron's home base was RAF Pembroke Dock in SW Wales - although it began WW2 in Alexandria and, in between periods at Pembroke, was also stationed on the West coast of Scotland and in the Gambia, West Africa.

 The Short Sunderland Flying Boat
The Short Sunderland Flying Boat
Image Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

In July 1943, however, the Squadron was operating from RAF Pembroke Dock. From the date of Douglas's death and the fact that he is one of the many RAF personnel remembered on the Runnymede Memorial as having no know grave, it seems likely that he was one of those lost when, during a patrol in the Bay of Biscay, Sunderland DV977/Y was shot down by enemy Junkers Ju88 multi-role aircraft. (Of the Sunderland's 11-strong crew, only one survived - the Flight Engineer, Sergeant Davidson, who had been operating the mid-upper turret, picked up by a Royal Navy sloop after 8½ hours in the sea.)

Roger Morgan © 2018

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WATKINS, Robert Charles Leslie. Private (14399717)

1/6th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment
Died 12 May 1944, aged 19

Robert was born Q2 1924, the second child of Ernest Edward Watkins and Phillis Eleanor (née Calver). The parents had married in Epsom Q3 1919, and the birth of their first child, Ernest, in Q3 1921 was also registered in Epsom. Robert's birth, however, was registered in Colchester, Essex.

By the time of the 1939 Register, the family was back in Epsom, living at 10 Chase Road, Epsom. 45 year old Ernest is listed as "Chief Charge Mental Nurse" - doubtless at one of the Epsom Cluster of mental hospitals - and 43 year old Phillis with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". There are three currently closed records at the address, one of which is doubtless the 15 year old Robert.

Robert's WW2 service was with the 1/6th Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment - given his age, unlikely to have joined them in action before the Allies' invasion of the Italian mainland in September 1943. The invasion coincided with an armistice with the Italians who rejoined the war on the Allies' side. Albeit with stiff resistance from German troops, the Allies progress northwards was relatively quick until, in late 1943, meeting the Germans' prepared defensive "Gustav Line" from coast to coast south of Rome. It took months of hard fighting to break through that, and the fiercest fighting was around Cassino in the west.

The fourth and final Battle of Cassino began on 11 May, the day before which Robert wrote to his mother enclosing a likeness a likeness drawn by one of his mates in 'D' Company.

Robert's final letter, of 10 May 1944, to his mother.
Robert's final letter, of 10 May 1944, to his mother.
From the Surrey History Centre Collection (ref. ESR/25/WAT/4)

Robert was killed on 12 May - instantly, according to the letter of condolence sent by his Platoon Commander, who was alongside him at the time. On 17 May 1940, the Allies finally dislodged the German forces holding the strategically sited hilltop Abbey enabling them to continue their northward advance through Italy.

In the confusion of battle, Robert's body was either lost or could not later be identified. He may be one of the 289 unidentified WW2 Commonwealth burials among the 4,271 servicemen buried in the Cassino War Cemetery. He is, in any case, named on the Cassino Memorial situated within that cemetery which commemorates over 4,000 Commonwealth servicemen who took part in the Italian campaign, and who have no known grave.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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WATSON, Peter Leslie. Midshipman

HMS Exmouth, Royal Naval Reserve.
Died 21 January 1940, aged 19.

Peter Watson
Peter Watson.
Picture courtesy of his nephew, John Morgan

Peter (known as "Pete") was born Q2 1920 in Devizes, Wiltshire, to Edward C Watson and Mildred Catherine (née Haynes - they married in Southwark, London Q3 1912). The couple also had a daughter. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission describes Pete's now-widowed mother as being "of West Ewell, Surrey". The address is understood to have been 34 Fulford Road, West Ewell, and that Mildred subsequently lived in Chesterfield Road.

In 1934, aged 14, Pete was admitted to St Edmund's College, Ware, Hertfordshire. He appears to have been a lively all-rounder. He joined the Officer Training Corps and, despite his youth, became the first solo drummer of its band. Less than two years later, before he was 16, he left the College to join HMS Worcester for naval training, after which he joined the P&O Steamship Company as a cadet. He travelled widely on the company's SS Strathmore, and made the most of the sight-seeing opportunities at the various ports of call.

In April 1939, he obtained permission to leave P&O to train as a midshipman in the Royal Navy. Having completed that training, he was assigned to HMS Exmouth, an E-class destroyer flotilla leader built for the Royal Navy in the early 1930s.

HMS Exmouth.
HMS Exmouth.
Photo courtesy of Paul Johnson Collection, via uboat.net

On 21 January 1940, HMS Exmouth was escorting the British motor merchant SS Cyprian Prince around the north of Scotland. At 0535 hours she was hit on the starboard bow by a torpedo from U-boat U-22. She sank within three minutes about 20 miles off Noss Head in the Moray Firth. All 190 on board were killed. Eighteen bodies were later washed ashore at Wick and were buried there with full military honours.

Pete was one of the 172 who were lost, and is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

Roger Morgan © 2017

A fuller description of Pete's time at St Edmund's College and as a cadet with the P&O Steamship Company is in the College magazine's obituary, a transcript of which is available by clicking here. (Adobe PDF Reader required.)

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WATSON, Robert Sims. Pilot Officer (114422)

252 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 8 December 1942, aged 26

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance.

Robert was born on 26 March 1916, the fourth and last child of William Watson and Rose (née Sims - hence Robert's middle name). William (originally from Scotland) and Rose (originally from Dorset) had married Q4 1898, registered in the Wharfedale District of Yorkshire. The 1911 Census records this late 20s couple living at 4 Gragg Hill Cliffe Terrace, Horsforth, Wharfedale, together with their first child, 1 year old Wilfred.

By the time of the 1911 Census, the now late 30s couple have moved south to The Lodge, Bushey Down, Tooting Common. William was, as for the 1901 Census, working as a "Gardener, Domestic". 11 year old Wilfred was at school, and the record notes that a second child had died. The couple then moved again, the 23 August 1912 birth of Jessie Kate and the 26 March 1916 birth of Robert were both registered in the Reigate District.

It is not known where the family was living when the teenage Robert undertook his secondary education at Epsom County School for Boys (now Glyn School). Aged 12, he joined the school at its opening in 1928. He was talented academically, particularly in Mathematics, where he gained a Distinction in the School Certificate. He was also a fine all-rounder in sport being in the school's football and cricket teams during each year of his career.

The Glyn School history notes that, after leaving school, Robert worked as a a commercial clerk in a local milling firm. However, in the 1939 Register, the 23 year old Robert is recorded living with his widowed 65 year old mother (a "Dairy Farmer") at Broadstone Farm, Oakwood Hill south of Ockley, Surrey. He is listed as "Farmer assisting mother". His sister, 27 year old Jessie was also living there: she was working as a clerical assistant in the Civil Service.

Robert's WW2 service was a pilot in 252 Squadron which he joined some time in 1941. With the Squadron (equipped with the powerful Bristol Beaufighter), he was posted to the Western Desert of North Africa in early 1942.

The Bristol Beaufighter
The Bristol Beaufighter
Picture courtesy of BAE systems

The Squadron flew from various bases in the Western Desert. Initially, its main role was long-range fighter patrols escorting naval convoys running between Alexandria and Tobruk, with some detachments occasionally going out to Malta. Axis forces drove the Allies eastwards during 1942 - a progress halted by the first Battle of El Alamein in July and (in a turning point in WW2 as a whole) reversed in the 23 October to 11 November 1942 second Battle of El Alamein, during which 252 Squadron switched to escorting the torpedo-carrying Beauforts hunting Axis ships seeking to supply their ground forces.

On 30 October 1942, Robert took part in a different mission called "Ground Strike", flying one of five Beaufighters to attack the Axis-held El Adem airfield, destroying four of 12 Ju 52s on the ground. A war correspondent described Watson's contribution in dramatic terms: "Swooping down from behind a curtain of sand kicked up by his engine, the pilot poured cannon and machine-gun fire into two Junkers standing side by side. Almost immediately one burst into flames and became a blazing mass while the other, riddled with shell and bullets, flew into pieces". The same correspondent reported that, on Robert's return journey flying at zero feet, he discovered that he had picked up hundreds of feet of telephone wire draped around his tail and rudder "thus neatly sabotaging the enemy's communication lines". Less glamorously, it appears Robert had to abandon his plane 12 miles North West of Domanhur because it ran out of fuel after an electrical storm rendered both radio and compass useless.

During November 1942, the Squadron kept the pressure on Axis forces retreating after their defeat at El Alamein by strafing ground targets and attacking supplies. From December, it returned to convoy escort duties. On 8 December 1942, Robert and his navigator, Flight Sergeant George Hudson (923696), took off in their Beaufighter coded A for Apple and were soon engaged in combat with some Ju 88s of III./KG 76 over a convoy off the coast. Under heavy attack, the only other Beaufighter in the fray made it back to base and successfully crash landed.

Robert and George were not so lucky. Last seen some 75 miles from Benghazi in combat with two Ju88s, their aircraft was shot down. Their bodies were never recovered and they are commemorated on the Alamein memorial as two of the 11,868 Commonwealth WW2 servicemen who died in the Western Desert campaigns and who have no known grave.

The cloistered memorial at the entrance to the El Alamein War Cemetery
The cloistered memorial at the entrance to the El Alamein War Cemetery
Photograph with thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

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

Roger Morgan © 2018

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WATT, Christina Alice

Civilian
Died 27 November 1940, aged 42

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Christina was born on 25 December 1897, the fifth child of William Watt and Sarah Ann (née Martin) - they had married Q4 1879, registered in the Pancras District of London). After the birth of their first three children, the family moved from north London to 47 Kildoran Road, Brixton - their address in both the 1901 and 1911 Censuses. In 1911, the Scottish-born 58 year old William is listed as an "Accountant's Clerk" and, as customary, 55 year old housewife Sarah is not shown with any occupation. Their second oldest child had left home. Of the remaining four, 13 year old Christina was still at school and the others - aged between 20 and 31 - were all unmarried and in a variety of employment.

Aged 77, William Watt died Q3 1930, registered in the Lambeth District. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission's records note that, by the early 1940s, the widowed Sarah had moved to 36 Parsons Green, Fulham. That was, in fact, the address of her oldest child, still unmarried Daisy - recorded living alone there in the 1939 Register as a 58 year old "Dressmaking Fitter". (And when, aged 85, Sarah died at the Memorial Hospital Finchley on 25 December 1940, the Probate record noted that her home address was actually 33 Summers Lane, Finchley.)

Christina never married, either, and the 1939 Register records this 41 year old "Clerk Civil Service" lodging with the widowed 69 year old Alice Sylvester-Polkinghorne and her 35 year old daughter Phyllis (a "Clerk, Secretary) at 33 Holmedene Avenue, Camberwell.

According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Christina then moved to nearby 64 Herne Hill, where, on 1 November 1940 (a couple of months into the Lufwtaffe's "Blitz" bombing campaign) she was injured. She 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). This 42 year old died there four weeks later, on 27 November 1940 - just less than a month before her mother also died.

Sister/daughter Daisy was appointed executor for both estates, each of which totalled about £ 120.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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WATTS, Alfred John. Guardsman (2720212)

3rd Battalion, Irish Guards
Died 4 October 1944, aged 26

Alfred's headstone in the Jonkerbos War Cemetery, Normandy.
Alfred's headstone in the Jonkerbos War Cemetery, Normandy.
Photograph (13827846) by Des Philippet via findagrave.com

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Alfred was born on 23 April 1918, apparently the only child of William Watts and Hannah Elizabeth (née Burcham - they had married Q2 1913, registered in the Uxbridge District).

The couple made their home in Hertfordshire. Alfred's 1918 birth was registered in the Watford District and the 1939 Register records the family of three living at 72 Kingsfield Road, Watford. William and Hannah were then both aged 55: he is listed as a "Retired Newsagent" and Hannah with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". 21 year old Alfred is listed as a "Motor Works Clerk".

While it is not clear that young Alfred ever lived in the Borough, his parents moved here during WW2. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission's post-war records note that the parents were "of Ewell, Surrey" and, when William and Hannah died (on, respectively, 28 September 1958 and 8 August 1968), the Probate records note their address as 14 Manor Drive, Ewell.

Alfred's WW2 service was in the 3rd Battalion, Irish Guards. This was initially raised in 1941 as a Holding Battalion. In 1943, now formally the 3rd Irish Guards, the Battalion joined the Guards Armoured Division as an infantry battalion and began training for the Invasion of France. Its troops landed on the Normandy beaches at the end of June 1944, a few weeks after the D-Day landings.

They took part in Operation Goodwood, the early attempt to capture the German stronghold of Caen, strategically placed a few miles inland from the Normandy beaches. They then saw action in the Mont Pincon area and, on 29 August, crossed the Seine and began the advance towards Brussels with the rest of the Guards Armoured Division.

In an ambitious move to break through the German lines in the Netherlands the Allies developed undertook Operation Market Garden on 17-25 September 1944. The "Market" section of the operation was a mass airborne assault to capture and hold a series of bridges behind enemy lines, including the furthest into enemy territory at Arnhem on the Rhine. This was synchronised with a major push by land forces - of which the 3rd Irish were in the van - to reach and relieve the airborne troops. As is well-known, Arnhem proved to be a "bridge too far". While airborne and land forces succeeded in the liberation of the Dutch cities of Eindhoven and Nijmegen, they failed in keeping their farthest positions in and around the city of Arnhem.

At some point in this fierce fighting Alfred was injured and, as noted in Casualty List No. 1580, he died of his wounds on 4 October 1944.

Alfred is one of 1,629 Commonwealth WW2 burials in the Jonkerbos War Cemetery on the outskirts of Nijmegen, which was a front line town from 17 September 1944 until February 1945. (The cemetery was created by No. 3 Casualty Clearing station in a wooded area known as Jonkers Bosch, from which it took its name.) His parents took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave 22.D.3,
"Loved, lost / but remembered always / until we meet again. / Mum and Dad."
Roger Morgan © 2018

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WAYLAN, John Evan Francis. Sergeant (963167)

15 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer
Died 16 July 1942, aged 31

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Augustus Francis Waylan was baptised at All Saints, Banstead on 22 February 1891, son of George Waylan, Asylum Proprietor. By the age of 20 he had become an attendant in the London County Asylum, The Downs, Banstead, where he met Edith Francis Climpson, a housemaid, born in Harmondsworth, Mx. During 1887, a son John Evan Francis Waylan was born from their relationship and registered at Epsom for the September Quarter of 1911. Marriage of the parents was recorded in the same District, 3/1914.

J E F Waylan obtained his education at Southall County School.

The death of his mother, Edith, came to be registered in Epsom, 3/1930, as was re-marriage of his father to Mary Robson (b. 19 December 1906), 3/1931.

Before 1939 John had gained employment as a 'Share Registrant Clerk' and during that year was living at St Katherines, High Street,Hounslow, with members of the Alcock family who possibly were his relatives. In September 1939, he enlisted with the Royal Air Force at Cardington.

Stirling W7524 of 15 Squadron took off from RAF Wyton at 1840 hours on 16 July 1942 in an attempt to reach Lubeck, Germany, using cloud cover and the approaching dusk. The aircraft was shot down by ack-ack fire at 2130 hours and crashed in the tidal area of the River Sneum, 8kms south-east of Esbjerg, a major port on the west coast of Jutland.

Crew:-
RAAF 400637 PO Melville, R L Captain (Pilot)
RAF Sgt D R Barrett, (2nd Pilot))
RAF Sgt R Nicholls, (Flight Engineer)
RAF PO Arnott, K (Navigator)
RAF Sgt H J I Lockhart (1st Wireless Air Gunner)
RAF Sgt G A Donovan, (Front Gunner)
RAF Sgt J E F Waylan (Mid Upper Gunner)
RAF Sgt L C Masfen (Rear Gunner)
Further details including images may be found at aircrewremembered.com

Six of the crew were killed in the crash but Sergeants Donovan and Masfen were made Prisoners of War. Those who had been killed were buried in the Esbjerg (Fourfelt) Cemetery, on the North Sea coast of Jutland, Denmark. John lies in Grave AIII. 10. 5, one of the 272 WW2 Commonwealth burials in the Cemetery.

John's headstone in Esbjerg (Fourfelt) Cemetery, Denmark.
John's headstone in Esbjerg (Fourfelt) Cemetery, Denmark.
Photograph with thanks to Aircrew Remembered

He is commemorated on a WW2 Plaque in the Assembly Hall of Villiers High, formerly Southall County, School.

CWGC record him as the son of Augustus Francis and Edith Frances Waylan, of West Ewell, Surrey. His parents had resided at 20 Oakdale Road, Ewell, convenient for Augustus' employment at Long Grove Hospital, from 1918.

Brian Bouchard © 2018
with thanks to Roger Morgan

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WEBB, Arthur Frederick Oliver. Motor Mechanic (P/MX86712)

HMS Pembroke III, Royal Navy
Died 16 October 1941, aged 23

WEBB, Arthur Frederick Oliver. Motor Mechanic (P/MX86712)
Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

On 7 August 1916 at St Anne, Wandsworth, Frederick Edward Webb (baptised 12 April 1891), an Engineer, married Nellie Oliver. Their son Arthur Frederick Oliver Webb, born 7 April 1918 at Woolston, Hants., came to be registered in South Stoneham, 6/1918.

During 1934, the family were resident at 22 High Street, Wandsworth but had opened a shop at 9 Ruxley Parade, Ewell. This became The Estate Supplies Co., Hardware Dealers, 423 Kingston Road, Ewell. In 1939 the name of Arthur Frederick Webb appears there in Surrey Electoral Rolls with those of his parents.

The marriage of Arthur F O Webb to Margaret W Hall was recorded in Surrey Mid E, 6/1940.

Arthur joined the Royal Navy as a rating and entered service at HMS Pembroke, the Naval Barracks at Chatham, Kent next to Chatham Dockyard. On 16 October 1941 he was accidentally drowned at Gravesend , Kent, death reg. Chatham 12/1941.

He was brought home for interment in St Mary, Ewell, Churchyard Extension, Sec. E. Grave 34, described by CWGC as the son of Frederick Edward and Nellie Webb; husband of Margaret Winifred Mary Webb, of Ewell.

Margaret W M Webb married secondly George Echlin, registered Surrey Mid E, 6/1947.

Brian Bouchard © 2018

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WEEKS, Roy Keeble. Sub-Lieutenant

H.M.S. Heron Royal Naval Reserve
Died 2 August 1943 Age 21

Roy's headstone in Yeovilton Churchyard RNAS Extension
Roy's headstone in Yeovilton Churchyard RNAS Extension
Photograph (168152106) by Janice Dennis via findagrave.com

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

The marriage of Arthur J Weeks to Muriel O M Keeble was registered in Colchester for the June Quarter of 1921. Birth of their son Roy K Weeks came to be recorded at Wandsworth, 9/1922.

In 1939, the family were resident in Mitcham but during WW2 they arrived locally to live at 8 Hambledon Hill, Woodcote Green, Epsom. Arthur James Weeks had become a Taxation Accountant.

Roy was commissioned as an Acting Sub-lieutenant in the Royal Navy with effect from 22 June 1942. He seems to have been deployed to RNAS Yeovilton (HMS Heron)

On 2 August 1943 he became involved in an aircraft accident which led to his death being registered at Wincanton, 9/1943. A report on the incident is held in the National Archives under reference ADM 358/1703.

He was interred at Yeovilton Churchyard R.N.A.S. Extension, Row B. in Grave 4, described by CWGC as the son of Arthur James Weeks and Muriel Olive May Weeks, of Epsom, Surrey. His headstone carries the inscription 'INTO THY HANDS'.

Brian Bouchard © 2018

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WELLS, Alice Ellen

Civilian
Died 23 May 1941, aged 45

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Alice was born in Walworth on 9 February 1896, the first of two children born to Herbert Owen Harvey and Alice Ellen Hopkins. The couple married in the Lambeth District Q2 1896, shortly after the birth - when new-born Alice was registered as Hopkins, Alice Ellen Harvey. The couple's second daughter, Elsie, was born in 1900. The 1901 Census records the 25 year old parents (with Herbert listed as a "Tram Car Conductor") living at 40 Hinton Road, Camberwell with 1 year old Elsie and two of Alice senior's brothers. In the same Census, 5 year old Alice is recorded living/staying with her maternal grandparents' home at 1 Kemerton Road, Lambeth.

Herbert died in Q3 1901, aged only 40. In Q2 1903 and, like Herbert's death, registered in the Lambeth District, Alice senior got married again - to Frederick C Hemple. The 1911 Census records these mid-30 year olds (with Frederick as a "Bricklayer") living at 10 Conderton Street Lambeth with four children of their own (aged between 2 and 7) and 11 year old Elsie Harvey. (Alice's mother and step-father were living at nearby 53a Codrington Hill, Lewisham - subsequently, according the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, moving to 23 Kemble Road, Honor Oak Park.)

The 15 year old Alice is not readily found in the 1911 Census. In Q2 1920 and registered in the Croydon District, the now 24 year old Alice married 26 year old William Frederick Wells. The couple are recorded in the 1939 Register living at 32 Beadnell Road, Lewisham, with two children.

On 10 May 1941 - the last day and most destructive day of the Luftwaffe's "Blitz" 8 month bombing campaign - Alice was injured while at home in Beadnell Road. She 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 where she died a fortnight later, on 23 May 1941. (If others of her family were injured in the same attack, they survived.)

Roger Morgan © 2018

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WEST, Alfred Malet. Captain (122548)

Royal Army Service Corps
Died 5 February 1941, aged 45

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

Alfred was born Q1 1896 in Morley, Yorkshire, the first child of GP Dr Lionel Frederick West and Emily (née Veale). She was South African by birth and their Q4 1892 marriage was registered in the Okehampton district of Devon. The couple set up home in Lionel's home patch of Yorkshire. The 1901 Census records them living at 2 Queen Street, Gisburn Place, Morley, Dewsbury with 5 year old Alfred and three other children (aged from 0 to 4 - one of whom later died in infancy) supported by two domestic servants. They subsequently had two more children who, like the first four, were born in Morley.

During WW1, Alfred served first as a Lieutenant in the South Staffordshire Regiment and then as a Captain in the Royal Flying Corps.

In Q4 1939, Alfred married Betty Laura Hughes. The marriage was registered in Surrey Mid Eastern. It seems certain that this was in Epsom: the 1939 Register - taken just before their wedding - recorded Betty (born 11 November 1909) living at 81 College Road, Epsom with her parents (Stanley, a "Carpet Merchant Agent" and Edith "Unpaid Domestic Duties"). A subsequent annotation of the original Register notes her new surname "West" and that, having also been "Unpaid Domestic Duties" was "now ARP ambulance driver".

The readily available records contain no information about Alfred's WW2 service in the Royal Army Service Corps until his death on 5 February 1941 which (according to the Epsom Cemetery records) occurred at Drumgay, Cranley Road, Guildford as (according to Casualty List No. 438) the "result of an accident".

His body was brought home for burial in Epsom Cemetery (Grave N262) where his headstone notes also his WW1 service as a Captain in the Royal Flying Corps, 1917-1918.

It seems likely that the Wendy West whose Q4 birth was registered in the local Surrey Mid Eastern District (and whose mother's maiden name was Hughes) was the couple's only child. And it is not unlikely that the widowed Betty later remarried: there are four records of a Betty L West getting married between 1947 and 1957, three in the London area and one in Hull.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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WESTCOTT, Alice Mary

Civilian
Died 4 October 1940, aged 77

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Alice was born in Newington, Southwark, on 7 February 1863, the first of five children born to Robert (a "Carver and Gilder") and Mary Norrington. The 1881 Census records the family living at 76, Amelia Street, Newington, with 18 year old Alice working as a "Dressmaker".

In Q3 1885, the 22 year old Alice married 25 year old Henry Westcott, registered in the St Saviour, Southwark District. They set up home at 19 St Paul's Road, Newington - where these 31 year olds (with Henry listed as a "Compositor" in the printing trade) were recorded in the 1891 Census together with what proved to be their only child, Sydney, now aged 3: Henry died, aged only 40, in Q4 1900.

Alice and Sydney moved back to live with her now widowed father. The 1901 Census records 64 year old Robert (still working as a "Carver and Gilder"), 38 year old Alice ("Housekeeper"), Alice's 31 year old Brother, Alfred (also a "Carver and Gilder") and 13 year old Sydney all living at 33, Penrose Street, Newington. for him and her younger brother, Alfred, recorded in living at 33, Penrose Street, Newington. also registered in the St Saviour, Southwark District.

Father Robert died in Q4 1904, and the 1911 Census records the widowed 48 year old Alice as head of the household at 47 de Laune Street, Kennington. Living with her were the 23 year old Sydney (now a "Tea Grocer's Assistant") and 41 year old Alfred (a "Picture Frame Gilder').

Son Sydney died in Q2 1934, aged only 46, and by the time of the 1939 Register, the still single 69 year old Alfred (now listed as a "Picture Restorer & Gilder") is the head of the household at 45 Bedford Road, Lambeth and 76 year old Alice is living with him, listed with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties".

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records do not note where or when Alice was injured by enemy action, but this is likely to have been in the early days of the Luftwaffe's "Blitz" bombing campaign that began on 7 September 1940. (If Alfred was injured in the same attack, he survived.) Alice 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 where, aged 77, she died on 4 October 1940.

She is buried in Epsom Cemetery, Grave M364.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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WESTON, Arthur. Serjeant (6144232)

1/6th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment
Died 6 May 1943, aged 24

Arthur was the eighth of ten children born to William John Weston (a bricklayer) and Ethel Maud (née Easton). William originated from Norfolk, but Ethel was the daughter of Charles John Easton, the publican at the Jolly Coopers in Stamford Green Road (and thus a sister of Charles Easton). The couple were married at Christ Church Epsom Common on 4 April 1904. The readily available records show that their first seven children were baptised at Christ Church, and that is likely to be the case for the final three: Arthur, Alice and Albert.

Date of birthChild's nameResidence
14/01/1905Rose AdaEpsom Common
28/02/1906Ethel MaudEpsom Common
22/09/1907William JohnGriffiths Cottage, Epsom Common
(No 2 at the time of the 1911 Census)
22/08/1909Charles HenryEpsom Common
06/08/1911EvaEpsom Common
Q3 1913George Percy107 Churchside, Epsom
Q3 1915Henry Edward10 Stamford [Green] Rd, Epsom
Q3 1918Arthur(none recorded, but probably 10 Stamford Green Rd)
Q2 1920Alice(none recorded, but probably 10 Stamford Green Rd)
Q1 1925Albert(none recorded, but probably 10 Stamford Green Rd)

Nine months or so after the birth of her tenth child and aged 45, mother Ethel Maud died (at "Middle House, Dorking Rd, Epsom" - the former Workhouse Hospital that became Epsom General Hospital). She was buried in Epsom Cemetery on 10 December 1925.

The 1939 Register records the widowed 52 year old father William John - still a "Bricklayer" - living at 10 Stamford Green Road (the address recorded at the time of Henry Edward's 1915 baptism), together with sons:
William John ("Invalid");
George Percy ("Builder's Labourer") who, a couple of years after Arthur, was also killed on military service - see separate entry ;
Henry Edward (another "Bricklayer");
plus two currently closed records - possibly including the 20/21 year old Arthur.

Arthur's WW2 service was in the 1/6th Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment, a Territorial Army unit. It is not clear from the readily available records if he was involved in the April 1940 deployment to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), its subsequent action in the Battle of Belgium, and the evacuation of its survivors from Dunkirk in June 1940.

However, it is certain that Arthur was involved in the extensive preparations for "Operation Torch" in late 1942 - the first Anglo-American operation of the War. These Allied landings in Morocco and Algeria on 8 November 1942 aimed to move along the North African coast as a pincer movement against German forces which, thanks to Allied success at El Alamein, were held in the east. Arthur's Battalion landed at Algiers, the easternmost of the three landings. (Unlike the landings at Oran in Algeria and on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, the Vichy French forces in Algiers were quickly overcome.)

The Germans responded immediately by sending a force from Sicily to northern Tunisia, which checked the Allied advance east in early December. In the south, the Axis forces that had been defeated at El Alamein withdrew into Tunisia along the coast through Libya, pursued by the Allied Eighth Army. By mid April 1943, the combined Axis force was hemmed into a small corner of north-eastern Tunisia and the Allies were grouped for their final offensive. That assault against Tunis began on 22 April. It involved much fierce fighting during which Frank was killed on 6 May - the day before Allied forces entered Tunis itself, after which the Axis forces finally surrendered.

All these actions were alongside the East Surrey's 1st Battalion, so it may be that Arthur knew fellow Christ Church parishioner Frank Stone who was killed 10 days earlier, in the preliminary fighting to take Medjez-El-Bab.

Arthur is buried in the Massicault War Cemetery, situated about 20 miles south-west of Tunis. It contains 1,576 Commonwealth WW2 burials, most of whom died in the preparation for the final drive to Tunis in April 1943 and in that advance at the beginning of May. His widowed father took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave I.J.11,
"Although he is gone he is not forgotten. Loved by us, his memory lives. Dad."
The Massicault War Cemetery, Tunisia.
The Massicault War Cemetery, Tunisia.
Photograph with thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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WESTON, George Percy. Corporal (5731203)

1st Battalion, King's Own Royal Regiment (Lancaster)
Died 29 March 1945, aged 31.

George was born in Epsom Q3 1913, the sixth of ten children born to William John Weston (a bricklayer) and Ethel Maud (née Easton), and older brother of Arthur Weston who died on war service in North Africa - the separate article on whom has fuller details of the family background.

The 1st Battalion King's Own moved around a lot during WW2. On the outbreak of war, it was stationed in Malta but, at the end of 1939, was moved to Karachi in British India (now Pakistan) where it served with the 17th Indian Infantry Brigade. It subsequently served in Iraq and Syria with 25th Indian Infantry Brigade, then in Cyprus - and then back to Syria. In late 1943, the Battalion joined 234th Infantry Brigade in the Aegean Islands where, on 16 November, after the Battle of Leros, the bulk of the Battalion was captured by the Germans with only 57 officers and men managing to escape the island. The readily available records do not indicate in how much George was involved in all that.

In any event, the 1st Battalion was reformed (in the 25th Indian Infantry Brigade) on 30 January 1944, by amalgamating with the 8th Battalion King's Own. It then joined the Allied forces in the Italian campaign which, after the initial landings on Sicily in mid-1943 (and, post Armistice, the Italian forces re-entering the war on the Allied side) was making steady progress northwards up the Italian mainland.

Following the fall of Rome to the Allies in June 1944, the German retreat became ordered and successive stands were made on a series of defensive lines. In the northern Apennine mountains the last of these, the Gothic Line, was breached by the Allies during the Autumn campaign and the front inched forward as far as Ravenna in the Adriatic sector. However, as some Allied forces were transferred to support the new offensive in France, and the Germans dug in to a number of key defensive positions, the advance stalled as winter set in.

During those winter months, Bologna lay tantalizingly just out of reach of the Allied armies, and the town became their first major objective in the spring of 1945. That Spring Offensive formally began on 6 April but there was, of course, sporadic action fighting before that - during which, on 29 March, George was killed. (Bologna was finally taken on 21 April.)

George is one of the 184 Commonwealth WW2 burials in Bologna War Cemetery. His widowed father took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave II.A.4,
"The part of him I loved, the spirit and the mind, is clothed in immortality."
The Bologna War Cemetery.
The Bologna War Cemetery.
Photograph with thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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WHALE, Ronald Cecil. Sergeant/Wireless Operator (1212110)

97 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
Died 6 January 1944, aged 24

Ronald Cecil Whale was born in 1920 in Epsom (GRO reference: Sep 1920 Dolley Epsom 2a 66) the son of Tom Cecil and Emily Whale (nee Dolley).

Aged 19 in 1902, his father enlisted into the Northamptonshire Regiment, served in India where he suffered from enteric fever and having served his time with the colours was transferred to the Army reserve on 17 March 1912.

The 1911 census records Ronald's father as a 29 year old soldier living at 43 East Street, Epsom. Ronald's widowed grandmother, 54 year old Eliza Whale was the head of the household.

Ronald's parents married on 14 June of 1913 in St. Martins Church, Epsom. They were living at 43 East Street and his father worked as an upholsterer. However, being on the Army reserve he was recalled on 5 August 1914 on the outbreak of the Great War. He went to France on 30 August with the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and was thus an 'Old Contemptible'. On 23 October he suffered a gun shot wound to his right arm, which was fractured, and returned to the UK on 28 October. When fit again he returned to France on 14 April 1915 and was discharged on 3 September 1915 having completed a total of 13 years with the colours and reserve. However, on 31 August 1916 he joined again, attesting at Kingston into the Northamptonshire Regiment. He served with his battalion until 10 July 1917 when he was taken prisoner and sent to Dulmen prisoner of war camp in Westphalia, Germany. Tom was awarded the 1914 Star, British War medal and the Victory medal.

Ronald's sister May Emily Eliza was born on 13 May 1914 in Epsom. She later married George Armstrong in the June quarter of 1947 in the Surrey Mid Eastern registration district.

From 1919 until 1937 the family lived at 51 Lower Court Road, Epsom and from 1938 to 1945, lived at 9 Chase End, Epsom.

Ronald joined the RAF with a Service Number, which suggests that he was inducted at Cardington after April 1940. He served during 1943 with 9 Squadron on a Lancaster ED 656, WS-V. 1212110 Sgt. R.C. Whale, Wireless Operator, then joined 97 Squadron from 9 Squadron on 4 December 1943. Subsequently he was involved in the following operations: -
1/2 January 1944 - Berlin LM346O F/O J. Anstee, Sgt C.W. Cartwright, P/O L. Hazell, F/O A. Stanislaus, Sgt R.C.Whale, P/O W. G. Craddock, Sgt A. West. Took off 0039, landed 0734. Bombs: 1 x 4000lb, 4 x 1000lb. Primary target bombed from 19,000 feet. Visibility moderate-good. Target identified by red/green Wanganui flares. Bombing circuit caught fire after which bombs were released by jettison gear.

2/3 January 1944 - Berlin
JB720S F/O J. Anstee, Sgt C.W. Cartwright, P/O G. Hazell, F/O A. Stanislaus, Sgt R. C.Whale, P/O W. G. Craddock, Sgt N. W. Hamment. Took off 0003, landed 0303. Bombs: 1 x 4000lb, 5 x 1000lb. Texel airfield bombed (last resort) from 13,000 feet on return. Primary target not reached due to icing and inability to gain height. Visibility moderate.

5/6 January 1944 - Stettin
JB720S Lancaster III. F/O J. Anstee, Sgt C. W. Cartwright, P/O J. Hazell, F/O A. Stanislaus, Sgt R. C. Whale, P/O W. G. Craddock, Sgt P. G. Kerr. Took off 2346, did not return, missing.
Berlin War Cemetery holds the graves of 3,198 British servicemen, including Ronald who is buried in plot 7. Z 5. The CWGC states that he was the Son of Tom Cecil and Emily Whale, of Springburn, Glasgow.

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

Clive Gilbert & Hazel Ballan 2014

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WHEELER, Claude George. Corporal (1292669)

Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
Died 21 December 1942, aged 30.

Claude George Wheeler
Claude George Wheeler
Image courtesy of Tino Casavecchia

Claude was born in Epsom on 13 September 1912 (reg.10/1912). His mother appears to have been Emily Alice Wheeler whose own birth, 18 November 1892, had been registered in Epsom for the December Quarter of 1892. Her marriage to George W Matthews came to be recorded in the same District, 12/1918.

On 22 September 1922, Claude George Wheeler, aged 9, of Protestant religion, arrived in Quebec on a migrant ship SS Minnedosa, sponsored by Dr Barnados Homes* for farm work. He was destined for Barnardo's Canadian headquarters at 538 Jarvis Street,Toronto. The building, a large old mansion, bought for $90,000, was managed by John W Hobday and his wife, Rose. Having declared his next of kin as Mrs Matthews, 36 Bramble Walk, Epsom, Claude signed a certificate in a firm clear hand 'George Wheeler' and was admiited to Canada as a 'bona fide farmer'.

[* You can read more about Epsom Barnardo's and the Canadian connection in part 2 of Epsom's 'Orphans']

He returned to London, via Plymouth, on SS Ascania, landing on 24 November 1930. His destination was given to be 36 Brambull (sic) Walk, Epsom Common.

In Q1 1935, he married Alice Mary (née Taylor, born 9 June 1912). The marriage in Epsom was registered in Surrey Mid Eastern. It seems likely that they had at least two children: Dorothy born Q2 1935; and Barbara, born Q3 1936.

In 1937 & 1938 the family lived in 97 Heatherside Road, Epsom.

The 1939 Register records the couple living at 6 Adelphi Road, Epsom. Claude is listed as a 'Jobbing Gardener' and ARP volunteer, with Alice as the conventional 'Unpaid Domestic Duties'. There are three currently closed records at the address - perhaps three children.

By 1939, Claude's stepfather, George William Matthews, and Mrs Emily Alice Matthews had moved to Leatherhead. They died repectively on 31 December 1957 and 20 August 1978 to be interred in the parish churchyard of St Mary & St Nicholas, Leatherhead.

During May 1940, Claude enlisted with the Royal Air Force probably at Uxbridge.

There are no readily available records about Claude's WW2 service in the RAF. As he is buried in the Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt, Grave 4 H3, he obviously died in the area. His headstone was inscribed 'AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN AND IN THE MORNING WE WILL REMEMBER THEM'.

Burial Ceremony, Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt
Burial Ceremony, Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt
Image courtesy of Tino Casavecchia

CWGC record Claude as the husband of Alice Mary Wheeler, of Epsom, Surrey. The widowed Mrs Alice M Wheeler seems to have married secondly Sidney E Saunders, reg. Surrey Mid E, 6/1958.

Roger Morgan © 2017
with additional material provided by Brian Bouchard

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WHICHELO, Edna.

Civilian
Died 8 July 1944, aged 35

Edna was born in Cork, Ireland on 25 February 1909, the daughter of soldier J Lambie. She is not found in the 1911 UK Census and next appears in the readily available records in 1927 as an 18 year old marrying the 23 year old Tedwyn Stanley Whichelo in the Channel Island of Jersey.

The readily available records note the Q2 1934 birth of their daughter, Pauline, registered in Elham, Kent. However, they seem also to have had another child, since the 1939 Register - which records the couple living at 135 Amis Avenue, Ewell - has two currently closed records at the address, of which 5 year old Pauline seems bound to be one. That 1939 Register lists Tedwyn as a "Records Clerk - Aircraft" and Edna with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties".

According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Edna was living at 42 Amis Avenue, West Ewell when she died there as a result of "enemy action" on 8 July 1944. If others of the family were injured in the same attack, they survived and, in Q3 1950, the widowed Tedwyn got married again - to Betty Beetlestone.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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WHITE, Albert Kenneth. Petty Officer (P/JX 141325)

HMS Diamond, Royal Navy
Died 27 April 1941, aged N/K

Unusually, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database does not contain its usual brief details of Albert's family background - nor, indeed, even his age when he died in 1941. As he is listed in the Book of Remembrance, there must be a family link to the Borough but his common names and ignorance of his date of birth rule out establishing this in the readily available records.

The Commission's database does, however, record that his WW2 service was on HMS Diamond, a D-class destroyer launched in 1932 as the 14th Navy ship to carry the name since the first in 1652. Having served in the Far East, she was undergoing a refit in Singapore when WW2 was declared. She was recalled to home waters and, from April 1940 was deployed in the Mediterranean, principally on convoy escort duties.

HMS Diamond anchored at Hong Kong before WW2.
HMS Diamond anchored at Hong Kong before WW2.
Copyright acknowledged.

In late April 1941, HMS Diamond was part of a large fleet sent to help evacuate allied troops from Greece after the German invasion. On 26 April 1941, She rescued more than 600 troops after their transports were attacked. At sea the following day, she and another destroyer, HMS Wryneck (on which Paul Hyde was serving), were rescuing the survivors of the sinking of a Dutch troop ship, the Slamat, when they were attacked by German Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers.

Both ships were sunk, with the combined loss of about 250 officers and crew, as well as 700 troops: only 23 survivors were rescued. Albert and Paul Hyde were among those lost, and they commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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WHITE, Eric Vincent Ewart. Major (153500). MiD

154 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery
Died 20 August 1944, aged 35

Eric's now-fallen memorial on his father's grave in Epsom Cemetery
Eric's now-fallen memorial on his father's grave in Epsom Cemetery
Photograph (59421411) by Lawrence Hennessy via findagrave.com

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Eric was born Q3 1909, the first child of Bertram Ewart White and Avera Emily (née Vincent - they had married Q2 1909, registered in the Wandsworth District). The couple set up their first home on Adelaide Road, Brockley, and had at least five more children.

The births of their last three children (Cecil in Q1 1918 and twins Eveline and Florence in Q2 1920) were registered in the Epsom District, so the family were probably already living at "Ranworth", 1 Kingsdown Road, Epsom, where they were recorded in the 1939 Register. In that, 58 year old Bertram is listed as a "Solicitor" (he was part of the successful legal practice, Reid Sharman & Co) and 52 year old Avera's occupation is listed as "none (not even the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties"). There are five other records at the address in 1939: two of these are of their children 25 year old Marjorie (a "solicitor") and 21 year old Cecil (a "Solicitor's Articled Clerk"); another is of Avera's widowed 79 year old mother (of "Private Means"); and the last two are currently closed, presumably of other children - although one could be of a domestic servant.

Neither of those closed entries would be of the then 30 year old Eric. After his secondary education at Epsom College, he studied at Pembroke College, Oxford and gained an MA degree. He then became a Barrister-at-Law (Lincoln's Inn) and, in 1935, co-wrote a book with Thomas Froude entitled, "The Practice Relating to Debentures: a Handbook of Legal and Practical Knowledge for Directors, Receivers, Secretaries, Accountants and Debenture Holders, with Full Appendix of Forms".

On the outbreak of WW2, Eric joined the Leicestershire Yeomanry as an officer cadet. Having learned the skills needed for field artillery at one of the Officer Cadet Training Units, he was commissioned on 19 October 1940 as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 154th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery.

1941 was a particularly significant year for Eric.
  • On 9 April 1941, his 60 year old father, Bertram died at the Homeopathic Hospital in Great Ormond Street, London. Eric is likely to have attended the 15 April funeral and burial in Epsom Cemetery (Grave F378A).
  • Just a few weeks later, the 31 year old Eric married 28 year old Nona Lesley Davidson. The marriage was registered in the Honiton District of Devon Q2 1941. The 1939 Register had recorded Nona living with her early 50s parents, John and Edith, at "The Shieling" in the upmarket Boughmore Road of Sidmouth. Her father is listed in the Register as "Chairman & Managing Director of Financial Trustee & Banking Companies" while both she and her mother are annotated with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties".
  • On 4 and 5 August 1941, the now Captain Eric was - because of his legal background - called upon to defend the alleged German spy Josef Jakobs at a court martial held at the Duke of York's Headquarters in Chelsea. Josef was found guilty and, on 15 August, was the last person to be executed in the Tower of London.
Eric's career in the Royal Artillery prospered and, by 1942, he was a Temporary Major. In the autumn of 1942, his regiment was posted North Africa and he bade farewell to the pregnant Nona. (Their only child, David - who it seems Eric never saw in person - was born Q1 1943, registered in the Exeter District.)

Eric's first taste of action seems to have been as part of the 154th Brigade of the Highland Division in the 23 October to 11 November 1942 second Battle of El Alamein. As is well-known, this was a turning point in the fighting in North Africa - and WW2 as a whole. The stalemate first Battle (1-27 July 1942) had managed to halt the Axis forces' apparently inexorable advance towards the prizes of the Suez Canal and the Middle East oilfields. It was in this decisive second Battle that Allied forces at last gained the upper hand.

In January 1943, the 154th Brigade were (with Eric) transferred to Persia (modern-day Iran) for several months before returning to North Africa in April. At some point during those early months of 1943, it is known that a letter from his wife caught up with Eric announcing the birth of their son, David.

Over the next few months, Eric served in North Africa, Syria, Palestine and then Italy. For "gallant and distinguished service" during the Italian Campaign, Eric was one of many "Mentioned in Dispatches", as recorded on page 316 of the supplement to the London Gazette published on 11 January 1945.

In Eric's case, this announcement was posthumous: after several years in harms way, he was (as noted in Casualty List No. 1533) killed on 20 August 1944 in a road accident in Egypt. He is one of the of the 1,789 Commonwealth WW2 casualties buried in the Heliopolis War Cemetery in a suburb of Cairo, Egypt. The widowed Nona took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave 6.N.14,
"Of Epsom, England: beloved husband of Nona. 'With Christ which is far better' "
The Heliopolis War Cemetery, Cairo.
The Heliopolis War Cemetery, Cairo.
Photograph with thanks to Lydia Smith's blog

His family erected a memorial to him on his father's grave (F378A) in Epsom Cemetery, and Eric is also named on Epsom College's WW2 memorial.

The Probate record of administration of Eric's £ 5,633 estate being awarded to the widowed Nona gave his address as "The Shieling", Boughmore Road, Sidmouth - Nona's family's pre-war address, as noted above.

Roger Morgan © 2018
With thanks to Giselle Jakobs' blog about her grandfather

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WHITE, Hugh Edgar. Pilot Officer (40787)

105 Sqadron, Royal Air Force
Died 14 May 1940, Age 26

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

As remarked in relation to Hugh Huntley Robinson in Other WWI Casualties, his daughter , Hilda Mary, married William Edgar White in 1912. Birth of their son Hugh E White came to be registered in Lambeth, 6/1914.

Hugh obtained a short service commission as an Acting Pilot Officer on probation with the Royal Air Force from 4 June 1938, to be confirmed in his appointment on 4 April 1939.

He is thought to have been the Pilot Officer H E White, with Sergeant R W Spillar, who were injured in an aircraft accident over the English Channel involving Battle Mk. I, L5229, of 98 Squadron which ditched in the sea on 13 February 1940. [National Archives AIR 81/1827]. The pilot was reported to have been experienced with 128 hours on type. For the first nine months or so of the Second World War No. 98 served as a reserve squadron and during the period April/June 1940, was based in France.

Hugh appears, however, to have been transferred to 105 Squadron and flew on Operation Sedan taking off on 14 May 1940 from Villeneuve-les-Vertus at 15.40 hrs. The aircraft was crewed by: -
WHITE, HUGH EDGAR 40787 Pilot Officer (Pilot)
CARTWRIGHT, GEOFFREY ANDREW 580604 Sergeant (Obs.)
POTTER, JAMES 610963 Aircraftman 1st Class (W. Op. Air).
The deaths of Pilot Officer H E White, Sergeant G A Cartwright and Aircraftman 1st Class J Potter were reported having been aboard Battle L5523, GB-?, which crashed near Bulson in the township of Raucourt-et-Flaba part of the district of Sedan, France, 14 May 1940 [AIR 81/342]. In other records there has been confusion between this aircraft and L5230 piloted by Flight Lieutenant H C Sammels.

Difficulty over identification is explained by a 1941 French report from La Neuville à Maire : -
'trois corps carbonisés ont été retrouvés au auprès d'un avion, présumé anglais, portant sur le fuselage l'indication : L.5523/U. Les trois aviateurs ont été inhumés au cimetière communal.'

English Translation:
'three charred bodies were found at a plane, presumed English, bearing on the fuselage the indication: L.5523/U. The three airmen were buried in the communal cemetery.'
Choloy War Cemetery was created by the Army Graves Service for the re-burial of casualties recovered from isolated sites, communal cemeteries, and small churchyards in north-eastern France.

Hugh's headstone in the Choloy War Cemetery
Hugh's headstone in the Choloy War Cemetery
Photograph (56180177) by "Ben" via findagrave.com

Hugh's remains were recovered from Bulson French Military Cemetery to be interred in Collective grave 1A. A. 7-9 on 25 June 1950.

CWGC record him as the son of William Edgar White, and of Hilda Mary White, of Epsom, Surrey. - the family lived in Pound Lane.

Brian Bouchard © 2018

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WHITE, Philip Alfred. Corporal (6106113}

2/7th Battalion, The Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey).
Died 28 October 1943, aged 37.

Philip was born on 30 June 1906, the last of five children born to fifth and last child of George Anderson White and Alice Lands (née Farley). George was originally from Cowes on the Isle of Wight and Alice from Exeter, but their Q2 1891 marriage was registered in the Kingston upon Thames District. George, was a boat builder and, like his father before him, carried on the business in premises on Portsmouth Road, Long Ditton (immediately across the River Thames from the home park of Hampton Court Palace.

The 1911 Census records the family living at Leith Villa, Portsmouth Road, Long Ditton. George (like Alice, in his early 40s) is listed as a "Boat & Punt Builder" in his own business on the premises. Of the five children - all of whom had been born in Long Ditton - Philip, the youngest was aged 4; the next two (aged 11 and 12) were at school; and the two oldest (aged 17 and 18) were, respectively, an "Assistant Boat Builder" and a "Solicitor's Clerk".

In Q3 1933, Philip married Mabel Lydia Thomas. They were both aged 27. The marriage was registered in the Kingston District, but the couple set up home in the Borough: the 1939 Register records the couple living alone at 132 Stoneleigh Park Road, Ewell. In that, Philip is listed as "Wholesale Silk Traveller" (with the original annotated with his service as an Air Raid Warden) and Mabel as "Hosiery Saleswoman". There is no record of the couple having any children.

The readily available records provide few details of Philip's WW2 service in the 2/7th Battalion, The Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey). This may have begun in time for him to have been sent to France in 1940 as part of the British Expeditionary Force. The Battalion was still less than fully trained and, when the unexpectedly ferocious German invasion came, suffered heavy casualties during the fighting retreat to Dunkirk. The Battalion then saw action with the Eighth Army in the Western Desert Campaign against Axis powers in North Africa.

On 4 May 1943, in the final stages of overcoming enemy forces (which finally surrendered in Tunis on 13 May 1943), Philip was wounded. It is not clear how long he took to recover from his wounds, but he was back in action during the early stages of the Italian Campaign.

From the springboard of a secured North Africa, the Allies had invaded and - after much hard fighting - captured Sicily. On 3 September 1943, they invaded the Italian mainland, principally with landings at Salerno. This coincided with an armistice with the Italians who then re-entered the war on the Allies' side. While there was stiff opposition from German forces, the Allies' progress northwards was relatively rapid until they came close to the Germans' well-prepared defensive "Gustav Line" from coast to coast south of Rome. That Line was finally broken in May 1944, after some of the fiercest fighting of the Italian Campaign - the best-known being in the protracted Battle of Monte Cassino.

According to Casualty List No. 1301, Philip was killed in action at a rather earlier stage of the advance, on 28 October 1943 when he was aged 37. He was initially buried locally and was later re-interred as one of the 2,049 Commonwealth WW2 burials in the Minturno War Cemetery, close to the coat about 50 miles north of Naples. The widowed Mabel took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave VII.H.21,
"Sadly missed."
The Minturno War Cemetery, Italy
The Minturno War Cemetery, Italy
Photograph with thanks to ww2warcemeteries.com

Roger Morgan © 2018

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WHITE, William John. Telegraphist (C/JX 149044) DSM and Bar

Royal Navy HM Submarine Triumph
Died 20 January 1942, aged 21.

William John White
William John White
Image courtesy of www.hmstriumph1942.com/crew.htm

William, with his twin Robert, was born Q3 1921 to Harry White and Alice Maud Evelyn (née Bristow). He had an older sister, Kate born Q4 1919, and a younger brother and sister - another set of twins, born Q3 1924. All these births were in Epsom - as father Harry's had been Q1 1882, followed by his baptism at Christ Church. The mother's post-war address was noted as 8 Woodlands Road, Epsom.

William (normally known as "Billy") was almost certainly in the Royal Navy before WW2 as it is reported that he served on the light cruiser HMS Ajax during the mid-December 1939 Battle of the River Plate off South America. Before joining the HM Submarine Triumph, he also served in HMS Pembroke (a shore base at Chatham) and the battleship HMS Ramilles.

By early 1941, he was serving as Senior ASDIC operator in HM Submarine Triumph, stationed in the Mediterranean. While in Valletta in mid-1941, he helped extinguish a fire on MS Talabot that had arrived from Alexandria with supplies in convoy MW.7A. For his bravery and resourcefulness on this occasion, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.

HM Submarine Triumph
HM Submarine Triumph
Image courtesy of www.hmstriumph1942.com/crew.htm

In addition to success in attacking enemy merchant and naval shipping, HMS Triumph was also used for covert operations, such as landing agents in enemy occupied areas. In November 1941, HMS Triumph received orders to return home, and was on the point of doing so when she was sent on one final patrol, to pick up a party of agents in Greece. She sailed from Alexandria on 26 December 1941, but was lost somewhere in the Aegean Sea. As Axis forces claimed no credit for the loss, this was probably the result of colliding with a mine. All fifty-nine crew, including Billy, were lost.

As he has no known grave, he is one of the 10,098 WW2 sailors remembered on the Chatham Naval Memorial.

On 5 May 1942, Billy was awarded a posthumous Bar to his Distinguished Service Medal "For daring, enterprise and devotion to duty in successful patrols in HM Submarines".

Roger Morgan © 2017

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WHITLOW, John William Bradbury

Civilian.
Died 11 October 1940, aged 49.

John was born in February 1891, the second of three children born - all in Northwich, Cheshire - to "Railway Porter" John William Whitlow and Susan Elizabeth (née Bradbury - the source of his third Christian name). The family is recorded in the 1911 Census living at 5 Victoria Road, Northwich, and 20 year old John junior is listed as a "Clerk, Chemical Trade".

On 12 September 1918, the 27 year old John married 25 year old Eva Mary Pemberton. Like John, she was from Northwich, and this is where both their marriage and the Q4 1935 birth of what appears to be the only child, Susan, were registered.

For some reason (perhaps a transcription error), the couple are not readily found in the 1939 Register. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission's database notes that, in 1940, they were living at 99 Sunny Bank, Woodcote Green, Epsom - and that is where John died (hence his entry in the Borough's Book of Remembrance) as a result of enemy action on 11 October, in the same raid that also killed Maude Parsons who lived next door.

If either Eva or Susan were injured in the same attack, they recovered. At some point, they moved back to Cheshire: in Q3 1962, daughter Susan married John P Duckett in Northwich District; and the widowed Eva died in the Chester and Ellesmere Port District in Q1 1978.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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WHITTY, George Oliver Samuel. Squadron Leader/Pilot (108172) DFC

620 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
Died 20 March 1945, aged 23

George's headstone in the Brookwood Military Cemetery.
George's headstone in the Brookwood Military Cemetery.
Photograph (17667133) by "wertypop" via findagrave.com

George was born Q2 1921, the first and apparently only child of George Whitty and Edith Olive (née Bagshaw). The parents had married Q2 1921 (registered in West Bromwich, Staffordshire), and George junior's birth was registered in the Banbury District. However, he grew up in Worcester - attending Worcester Royal Grammar School from 1932 to 1937 and then working for the City Council in the City Engineer & Surveyor's Department.

He was a member of the Territorial Army and, when war broke out, he served with the Worcestershire Regiment until 1940 when he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Leicestershire Regiment. He transferred to the RAF in 1941.

In Q4 1942 and registered in the Surrey Mid Eastern District, the 21 year old George married Kathleen Margaret Oliver. This seems bound to be the Kathleen M Oliver (born on 25 February 1918) recorded in the 1939 Register living with her parents (Frederick - a "jobbing Gardener - and Florence) at 3 Diceland Road, Banstead. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission's post-war records note the widowed Kathleen as "of West Ewell, Surrey". While that address has yet to be established it is consistent with Kathleen's second marriage - in Q3 1947, to Frank E Peters - being registered in the local Surrey Mid Eastern District. Before that, however, it seems George and Kathleen had a child, Ian, born Q1 1944.

By 1944, George was flying Stirling aircraft. As heavy bombers, these had been replaced by the Avro Lancaster but were used for towing gliders and for dropping and supplying paratroops. George won his Distinguished Flying Cross on the night of 5 June 1944 for his work in dropping paratroops in the earliest stage of the invasion of France. His citation for the award states:
"In the execution of this difficult task, this officer displayed great skill and accuracy and his effort contributed materially to the success of the later airborne landings. Flight Lieutenant Whitty has completed many sorties and has invariably displayed courage and devotion to duty of a high order."
The Short Stirling.
The Short Stirling.
Photograph © The Stirling Aircraft Society

Subsequently promoted to Squadron Leader, he was on 20 March 1945 flying his Stirling LK116 from RAF Great Dunmow in a supply dropping exercise at Great Sampford airfield. The aircraft was attacked by a Luftwaffe intruder, caught fire and crashed beside the River Chelmer near Ford Farm in Dunmow. While the flight engineer was able to parachute to safety, George and the other five on board were killed.

George is buried in Grave 23.E.15 of the Brookwood Military Cemetery, Surrey. This is the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's largest cemetery in the UK, containing the graves of over 3,470 WW2 casualties as well as more than 1,600 from WW1.

Roger Morgan © 2017

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WILBY, Edward John. Pilot Officer/Navigator (195683)

Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 107 Squadron
Died 10 April 1945, aged 22.

Edward's headstone in the Rheinberg War Cemetery.
Edward's headstone in the Rheinberg War Cemetery.
Photograph (18408779) by Des Philippet via findagrave.com

Edward was born in Lewes on 2 November 1922, the first child of John Reginald Wilby and Emily Ellen (née Marchant - they married in Lewes Q4 1919). His sister Grace was born in Dorking Q4 1923. The 1939 Register records the parents (with John as a "Gardener"), Edward (an "Apprentice Joiner Carpenter") and one currently closed record living at 16 West Hill, Epsom. A year after Edward's death, administration of his estate was granted to his father, who the Probate records note as then living at 20 West Hill, Epsom.

Edward's WW2 service was with 107 Squadron, operating light bombers. Apart from a brief spell in Malta from August 1941 to January 1942, the Squadron operated from the UK. In February 1944, the Squadron was re-equipped with the de Havilland Mosquito FB.VI - a variant of the so-called "wooden wonder", being of mainly timber and plywood construction. From its bases at RAF Lasham and then RAF Hartford Bridge (now Blackbushe airport), both in NE Hampshire, it began to fly night intruder missions over Germany and occupied Europe. As Allied forces continued their eastward progress after the mid-1944 Normandy landings, the Squadron was moved to Cambrai (about 30 miles south of Lille) in November 1944.

The de Havilland Mosquito
The de Havilland Mosquito
Public domain photograph

On 10 April 1945, Edward (on his 30th mission) was the navigator on Mosquito FB Mk VI RS550 which, with 23 year old William Herbert Mitton (195730) as the pilot, took off from Cambrai on a night reconnaissance mission to Soltau (between Hamburg and Hanover). However, about two-thirds of the way there (near Osnabruck), the aircraft was brought down killing both men.

Edward and William were initially buried near where they fell. They were later reinterred side by side in the Rheinberg War Cemetery, about 50 miles north of Cologne. This was established in April 1946 for the assembly of graves recovered from numerous German cemeteries in the area, and holds 3,183 Commonwealth WW2 casualties. Edward's parents took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave 11.D.22,
"We shall meet again / and our spirits / shall sorrow no more".
Roger Morgan © 2018

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WILDEY, Richard Kemp (Dick). (Distinguished Flying Cross) Wing Commander (37437)

10 Sqdn. Royal Air Force
Died 15 October 1942 Age 25

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

The marriage of Harold Woodford Wildey to Lotty Elizabeth Kemp was registered at North Witchford, Cambridgeshire, for the March Quarter of 1910. Birth of their son, Richard K Wildey came to be recorded in Wandsworth, 12/1916.

Richard ('Dick') Wildey attended Emanuel School, Battersea, between 1926 and 1935. On leaving to join the Royal Air Force, he obtained a Short Service Commission as Acting Pilot Officer with effect from 21 October 1935. He was promoted Flying Officer on 26 March 1938, Flight Lieutenant 26 March 1940, T/Squadron Leader 1 June 1941 and T/Group Captain, 1 June 1942. 'Dick' served in Bomber Command, flying operations first with 78 then 10 Squadron, his Distinguished Flying Cross had been awarded on 22 November 1940.

A union with Eileen M Hoare had been registered in Surrey Mid E, 12/1940. Richards's bride was the twin sister of Douglas 'Sammy' Hoare (a fellow pupil at Emmanuel who also entered the RAF - F/O with 74 Squadron, later Group Captain, who became a PoW from 25 June 1940 to September 1944) , daughter of William H and Edith A [nee Harris] Hoare.

Richard and Eileen Wildey
Richard and Eileen Wildey
Image courtesy of the Wildey family
via the Emanuel School at War website

Richard became the Commanding Officer of 10 Squadron after Wg. Cdr. Don Bennett vacated the position in order to form the Pathfinders unit on 14 August 1942. On his his third mission with the Squadron, R K Wildey was killed in action whilst flying a Halifax Mk ll, W1058, ZA-S, on a raid involving 8 crews from 10 Squadron to Cologne during the night of 15/16 October 1942.

W1058 appears to have become badly damaged over Germany and Wildey instructed the crew abandon the aircraft. The second pilot F/O James Wilfred Murphy was one of five who survived to become PoWs but 'Dick', the captain, and two others were killed in the crash. They were buried initially in Duisdorf Cemetery.

On 12 April 1947, Richard was re-interred at Rheinberg War Cemetery, 50 miles north of Cologne, with his deceased comrades, A Brindley and J W Du Broy (RCAF), in Collective grave 5. D. 16-17: his headstone is inscribed
'IN LOVING MEMORY. THE WOUND IS DEEP IT WILL NOT HEAL; FORGET YOU, DICK, I NEVER WILL'.
For Probate his address was stated to have been 93 St James Drive, Wandsworth Common.

CWGC record him as the son of Harold W. Wildey and Lottie Wildey; husband of Eileen Marjorie Wildey, of Ewell, Surrey. Birth of a son, Peter R Wildey, had been registered in Surrey Mid E. 6/1943. By 1945 Eileen is known to have been resident with her parents at 136 Stoneleigh Park Road, Ewell; Douglas S Hoare was back with them before 1949.

The widowed Eileen M Wildey married secondly Eric G M Pople, reg. Westminster, 3/1960.

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WILLIAMS, Herbert Charles. Warrant Officer (17003)

Royal Air Force
Died 21 April 1945, aged 63

The marriage of Thomas Williams to Priscilla Dawkins was registered at Lambeth for the December Quarter of 1873. Arrival of their son Herbert Charles, born Kennington 8 July 1881, may be found recorded in the same district, 9/1881.

On 9 August 1912, Herbert married Hilda Mary Brown in Chigwell. Essex, Their son Charles Edward Williams, born 23 August 1913, came to be baptised at Chigwell on 5 October 1913.

Aged 34, Herbert Charles Williams, in civilian life a Driver Salesman (Lorry), enlisted to serve with the Royal Flying Corps as a Motor Driver for the duration of WW1. He became a member of 40 Squadron RFC on 1 August 1916 to serve with it on the Western Front until the Armistice, and rising through the ranks:-
1 September 1916 Corporal
1 January 1918 Acting Sergeant
1 February 1918 Sergeant
He transferred on formation of the Royal Air Force, 1 April 1918, as a Sergeant Mechanic but was re-classified Sergeant on 1 January 1919. 40 Squadron disbanded and Herbert joined G Reserve, RAF [Airman released from service after WW1, liable for recall whilst on the reserve. Class disbanded and all airman in the class discharged from 30 April 1920. As an ex-regular airman, however, Herbert eventually found himself in E Reserve.]

The Williams family then turn up in Epsom, living at 57 Albert Road from no later than 1919.

Herbert re-mustered as an A/C 2 on 19 January 1939 - E Reserve, 12 PTC, at Old Sarum airfield. By 27 August 1939 he was on the complement of 9 Armament Training School at Porthcawl - RAF Newton Down otherwise known as Stormy Down - with the rank of Sergeant. Promotion to Temporary Flight Sergeant followed a posting to No 7 Air Gunnery School on 9 April 1942. He served in 57 Operational Training Unit, RAF Hawarden, from 23 November 1942 and with 58 OTU at RAF Grangemouth, 2 February 1943, latterly as Warrant Officer, Acting/Unpaid. Detached with 2 Tactical Exercise Unit to RAF Aston Down, 6 June 1944, he became a Temporary WO. A move to 3 TEU, RAF Chedworth followed from 28 July 1944.

55 Maintenance Repair Unit (MRU) had been formed at RAF Hornchurch to help clear bomb sites and repair V1 damaged properties. RAF Hornchurch personnel were also regularly deployed to aid in rescue and relief operations. Herbert joined 55 MRU on 5 December 1944: the unit had a depot at Kew [National Archives AIR 29/285] where it appears WO Williams was serving when admitted to the Royal Hospital, Richmond. He died there on 21 April 1945 (reg. Surrey N E 6/1945), presumably from natural causes, before being brought to Epsom Cemetery for interment in Plot M131 on the 27th of that month.

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

Administration of his Estate, net effects £ 350:1:9, was granted to the widowed Mrs Hilda Mary Williams. The death of Hilda M Williams, aged 73, was registered Surrey Mid E, 12/1961.

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WILLIAMS, Philip Edwin. Rifleman (6089737)

Royal Ulster Rifles 2nd Battalion, The London Irish Rifles
Died 20 January 1943, aged 28.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission's post-war records note that Philip was the "son of Montague and Florence Williams, of Epsom, Surrey". To be aged 28 when he died on 20 January 1943, Philip had to have been born in either 1914 or the very early weeks of 1915. The birth of the only such "Philip Edwin Williams" found in the records was registered in the Hackney District of London Q2 1914 and his mother's maiden name was Clarke. However, it has not yet been possible to trace the parents' wedding or to say more about his family background.

The Commission's records also note that Philip was the husband of Ellen Elizabeth Williams "of Epsom". Things are clearer here. She is recorded in the 1939 Register as a 25 year old "Shop Manageress (Wallpaper)" living with her parents - William (a "Builder's Labourer") and Ada Ratcliffe - at 96 Lower Court Road, Epsom. Ellen and Philip (both aged 26) married in Q1 1941, registered in the local Surrey Mid Eastern District.

Nor are the records clear about the early days of Philip's service with the 2nd Battalion of The London Irish Rifles. However, it is certain that he was involved in the extensive preparations for "Operation Torch" in late 1942 - the first Anglo-American operation of the War. These Allied landings in Morocco and Algeria on 8 November 1942 aimed to move along the North African coast as a pincer movement against German forces which, thanks to Allied success at El Alamein, were being pressed back from the east. Philip's Battalion landed at Algiers, the easternmost of the three landings. (Unlike the landings at Oran in Algeria and on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, the Vichy French forces in Algiers were quickly overcome.)

The Germans responded immediately by sending a force from Sicily to northern Tunisia, which checked the Allied advance east in early December. In the south, the Axis forces that had been defeated at El Alamein withdrew into Tunisia along the coast through Libya, pursued by the Allied Eighth Army. As enemy forces were increasingly hemmed into north-eastern Tunisia, the fighting became ever more intense.

By mid-January, the London Irish were advancing in extended line southeast across the Medjez el-Bab to Bou Arada road, the Irish Brigade's main supply line. The principal aim was to capture "Hill 286" (so called because of its height in metres) which was being used by the Germans to shell traffic.

At 0330 hours on 20 January 1943, The London Irish began their attach in the intermediate objective of Hill 279, and that was quickly taken. Just before dawn, they advanced under fire up Hill 286 which was briefly held. Because of the rocky ground, it was impossible to dig in any adequate defensive positions and, during the day, The London Irish were subject to incessant artillery and mortar bombardment. That evening the German launched a counterattack, supported by tanks and armoured cars, which drove The London Irish off the Hill. At some point during the day, Philip was killed in the fierce fighting.

The following day, 21 January, The London Irish attacked the Hill again. The first wave was repulsed but, in spite of machine gun fire and Stuka bombers, the second wave was successful and, by nightfall, Hill 286 had been firmly secured. Over the two days, The London Irish lost 57 men (including Philip) killed - and another 200 through wounds or capture.

Their hard-won success paved the way for the Allies' further advances which ultimately led to the surrender of the Axis forces in Tunis on 13 May 1943.

In the confusion of battle, Philip's body was never authoritatively recovered. He is one of the 1,956 Commonwealth WW2 servicemen commemorated on the memorial in the Medjez-El-Bab War Cemetery (about 35 miles west of Tunis) as having no known grave. He may, of course, be one of the 385 unidentified burials among the 2,903 in the Cemetery.

There is no record of Philip and Ellen having any children and, in Q3 1947 (registered in the local Surrey Mid Eastern District), the widowed Ellen got married again - to Robert S Hawkes.

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WILLIAMS, John Francis. Flight Lieutenant/Observer (106173) Mentioned in Despatches

107 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 6 April 1944, aged 26

John F Williams as Pilot Officer.
John F Williams as Pilot Officer (before his promotion to Flight Lieutenant).
Image and most details below courtesy of Bourne End Auction Rooms
from the catalogue for their sale of John's Rolex watch on 2 December 2015

John Francis Williams, known as "Jack" by his family and friends, was born in Clapham on 7 July 1917, the only son of John and Bertha Williams. His father held a senior position in an Engineering firm and his mother was a school-teacher.

After leaving Battersea Grammar School, Jack was employed by the Milk Marketing Board. Just before the outbreak of war in 1939, he moved jobs to his father's Engineering Company. By then, he and his family had moved to 134 Stoneleigh Park Road Ewell. Keen on theatre, he was a member of the Lyric Players in Wimbledon and later the Epsom Players.

Although he was in a reserved occupation, and against the wishes of his parents, Jack joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve. He had hoped to become a fighter pilot but had to settle for training as an Air Observer in Bomber Command. On completing his training, he was posted to 107 Squadron at Great Massingham, Norfolk, for duty in Douglas Boston light bombers which were used for daring daylight raids into occupied territories.

The Douglas Boston Bomber.
The Douglas Boston Bomber.
Image courtesy of Boeing.

At 1422 hours on 27 April 1942, Boston III, No.Z2194 took off from its base at Great Massingham as part of a formation of 12 Bostons from 107 Squadron, accompanied by a fighter escort, detailed to attack the power station at Lille Sequedon. Its Pilot was Sergeant Kenneth N Carpenter, Jack' was the Observer and Flight Sergeant Gordon Black RCAF was the Wireless Operator/Air Gunner.

The bombing went to plan but, almost immediately afterwards, the formation was attacked by enemy FW104 fighters and four of the Bostons were shot down. Although Jack's aircraft was badly damaged, the pilot was taking it down under some sort of control. Jack managed to parachute out but it was then too low for the other two to follow suit. However, they survived the crash landing, which was about 3 miles south of Dunkirk. All three were taken prisoner. After processing at the POW holding camp Dulag Luft at Frankfurt-am-Maine, Jack was sent on to the recently opened POW camp Stalag Luft III in the then eastern German province of Lower Silesia, near the town of Sagan. (Following post-war border changes this is now Zagan, Poland). The other two were sent elsewhere.

Stalag Luft III was the camp that saw (in the title of former POW Paul Brickhill's 1950 book, and the 1963 film loosely based on it) "The Great Escape". As described more fully in the separate article, a large group of POWs spent months secretly digging a 100 m tunnel from a hut to beyond the boundary fences and forging papers etc for use when on the run. Jack's role in these preparations was that of a "Penguin", secretly dispersing tons of soil that was excavated from the tunnel through special pouches under his clothing.

On the night of 24/25 March 1944, over 200 Allied POWs lined up to break out, one by one down the tunnel. The first 76 made it out, but the 77th was spotted by one of the guards as he emerged from the tunnel which was a few metres short of the intended tree cover. Only three escapees eventually made it home; the other 73 were re-captured over the next few days.

The audacity of the escape so enraged Hitler that he wanted them all shot as an example to other POWs. In the event, the number executed was reduced to 50 with the other 23 dispersed to other POW camps.

Jack was one of the 50 shot on 6 April 1944. Their bodies were burned. After the War, their ashes were interred in the Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery, Poland - and those responsible for this war crime were tried and sentenced to death.

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WILLIAMS, Laurence Mervyn. Able Seaman (P/JX 322688)

HMS Fidelity, Royal Navy
Died 30 December 1942, aged 19

Laurence was born Q3 1923, the first and only child of Laurence Henry Williams and Constance Rose (née Hayward). Both Laurence's birth and his parents' Q1 1923 marriage were both registered in the Kingston upon Thames District. At some point, the family moved to the Borough.

The 1939 Register records them living at "Yard House", Cleveland Road, Worcester Park. The 39 year old Constance is listed with the conventional "Unpaid domestic duties" - although these were lightened by the two live-in servants. 45 year old Laurence senior is listed as "Working Director of J Williams & Son - Boat Builders Timber Merchants entirely engaged on Admiralty and War Office work." Living with them were his 66 year old father Jabez - with the identical listing - and his 39 year old brother Alan listed as "Clerk To Boat Builders Timber Merchants". There is also one currently closed record at the address, probably covering 16 year old Laurence junior.

Laurence served aboard HMS Fidelity (D57), a Special Service vessel armed with four 4in guns and four torpedo tubes and equipped with two seaplanes, a motor torpedo boat (MTB), HF/DF and torpedo nets.

HMS Fidelity.
HMS Fidelity.
Image (and incident details below) courtesy of uboat.net

At the end of 1942, HMS Fidelity - with a cargo of commandos and two landing craft was part of Convoy ONS-154 from London to Colombo (in modern day Sri Lanka) via Capetown. On 28 Dec 1942, HMS Fidelity (D 57) (Cdr C.A.M. Péri) fell behind convoy ONS-154 due to engine troubles and streamed its torpedo nets, which brought down her speed to 2-3 knots. The next day, the commander decided to head for the Azores and launched her motor torpedo boat HMS MTB-105 and a Kingfisher floatplane for anti-submarine patrol. The aircraft spotted two lifeboats of Empire Shackleton )part of the same convoy that had been sunk the previous day) which were towed by the two landing craft to HMS Fidelity. 43 survivors were picked up and the aircraft and the landing craft were lifted aboard again.

From late on 29 December and over the following day, prowling U-boats made a number of unsuccessful attacks on HMS Fidelity. At 1638 hours on 30 December, the vessel was finally hit by two torpedoes from U-435 and sank immediately after heavy detonations. 274 crew members - including Laurence - 51 Royal Marines and the 43 survivors were lost. There were only 10 survivors.

Laurence is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

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WILLIAMSON, Robert Henry. Flight Lieutenant /Pilot (62691)

23 Squadron. Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 28 November 1942 Age 28

The marriage of Alwyn Williamson to Ethel A Henderson had been registered in Epsom for the June Quarter of 1913. Birth of their son, Robert H Williamson at Colwyn, Albion Road, Sutton, on 25 October 1914, came to be recorded in the same District, 12/1914. During 1927, Mr Alwyn Williamson was a director of Williamsons Ltd., Trinity Warehouse, Savage-gardens, E.C.3, 'a multiple-shop organization that handled large quantities of National Mark eggs'.

Registration of he death of Alwyn Williamson, aged 45 on 13 August 1933, appears for Epsom, 9/1933. The grant of Probate gives the deceased's address still as Colwyn, Albion Road, Sutton, and names his Executors as Ethel Agnes Williamson, widow, Charles Henry Williamson, gentleman, and Ernest Taylor Williamson, director - Effects £16789:12:3.

Robert Henry Williamson was living in Sutton when he became an articled clerk to train as an ICAEW chartered accountant.

In September 1939 he enlisted with the Royal Air Force at Cardington with a Service Number 963004.

The marriage of Robert H Williamson to Elizabeth I Vonweiler (sic) was registered in Surrey Mid E for the June Quarter of 1940. His bride had been Elizabeth Insell Nonweiler (found elsewhere as 'Weiler' ), born 14 July 1913, daughter of the late Thomas Frederick and Edith Mary Nonweiler from The Hermitage, Cleveland Road, Worcester Park.

On 23 March 1941, as a Leading Aircraftman, R H Williamson obtained his commission to the rank of P/O on probation 'for the duration of hostilities'.

At 22.45hrs on 5th June 1941 he was in command of a Blenheim aircraft, V5934,which took off from RAF Church Fenton airfield for a night training flight when it suffered an engine failure. Flying at low speed and height the pilot immediately force landed the aircraft but it caught fire and was destroyed [Cat.E2/FA Burnt damage].

All aboard sustained injuries:-
Pilot - P/O Robert Henry Williamson RAFVR (62691), minor
Air Gunner - Sgt Arthur Douglas Cross RAFVR (918022), minor
Passenger - Sgt K Williamson (527773), seriously and taken to York Military Hospital with a broken leg.
Robert quickly recovered from the injuries sustained in this incident and was promoted Flying Officer, 23 March 1942.

No. 23 Squadron operated as an intruder unit, attacking German targets in occupied Europe: its Blenheims were replaced by the Havoc and then the Boston III, before in July 1942 the first Mosquito NF.Mk II's arrived. Between 13 October and 11 December 1942 they were based at RAF Bradwell Bay.

As an Acting Flight Lieutenant, RH Williamson, 62691, flew on 28 November 1942 with an observer Norman Adin Lavers, 116968, in a Mosquito MK. II, DD712,YP-R, on a sortie apparently having re-fuelled at RAF Ford. They were part of a three aircraft formation but owing to bad weather split up to attack different targets.

Mosquito DD712 was reported missing and never returned, having crashed near Cognac, France.

Operational Record: no23squadron.wordpress.com

Robert Williamson is buried in Cognac (Crouin) Communal Cemetery, Row 1, Grave 2. His observer, Norman Lavers is in the adjacent plot, Row 1, Grave 1, with a headstone inscribed
'IL S'EST SACRIFIE POUR LA LIBERTE DE L'HUMANITE- NUL NE POUVAIT FAIRE PLUS '.
[English translation: 'He sacrificated for the freedom of humanity - No one could do more']
Robert's and Norman's graves.
Robert's and Norman's graves in the Cognac (Crouin) Communal Cemetery
(The six graves in the row behind them are of the crew of Lancaster ME300 C-AP
of 189 Squadron who were killed in a mid-air collision on 5 January 1945)
Photograph with thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

For Probate, Robert Henry Williamson's address was given as 44 The Avenue, Worcester Park. Administration of his estate was granted to his relict Elizabeth Insell Williamson, and Agnes Williamson, widow, presumed to have been his mother.

A National Archives record, ref. HS9/1600/4, reveals that during the war Elizabeth Insell Williamson worked for the Special Operations Executive, She appears to have married secondly Frederick G Hadden, Acle [Norfolk], 9/1949, and survived until 2002.

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WILSON, George. Corporal (1462439)

Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 18 July 1945, aged 23

George's headstone in Epsom Cemetery.
George's headstone in Epsom Cemetery.
Photograph (97568128) by Laurence Hennessy via findagrave.com

George - known to his family as "Tug" - was born on 21 July 1921, apparently the only child of George Wilson and Elsie (née Cain). Like his parents' Q4 1920 marriage, his birth was registered in Liverpool.

His next appearance in the records is in the 1939 Register, living with his now-widowed 41 year old mother at 55 Firswood Avenue, Ewell. She is listed with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties" and 18 year old George as a "Shipping Clerk". Also living with them was Elsie's 72 year old widowed mother, Mary Cain.

Disappointingly, there is nothing in the readily available records about George's WW2 RAF service. His death on 18 July 1945 was after the cessation of hostilities in Europe and, when he was buried in Epsom Cemetery on 23 July, the records there noted that he had died in Epsom County Hospital.

His mother took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave O475,
"He is not dead / he was so young and gay / so loving and so dear a soul / could never pass away / 'Goodnight Tug'".
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WILSON, Harold Strong. Warrant Officer Class II (6134949)

1st Battalion, East Surrey Regiment
Died 30 May 1940, aged 35

Harold's headstone in the Coxyde Military Cemetery.
Harold's headstone in the Coxyde Military Cemetery.
Photograph (12507550) by the International Wargraves Photography Project via findagrave.com

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Harold's birth was registered Q4 1904 in the Chelsea District, noted by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as the "son of Harold Strong Wilson and Elizabeth Wilson". All these people have left a negligible trace in the readily available records - probably because of what seem to be their Colonial roots. The family is not found in the 1911 Census but, when 30 year old Harold junior married 27 year old Maud Mary Bailey, this was in Fyzabad, Bengal - apparently with Harold senior in attendance.

Now, Maud's Q4 1907 birth had been registered in Portsmouth. The 1911 Census recorded this 3 year old living with her 33 year old mother, Mary, and 1 year old brother, George Frederick, living at 34 Curtis Terrace, Fratton, Portsmouth. The Census return notes that Mary and the absent George Frederick senior had been married for 12 years (but that is not found in the readily available records) and that their two other children had died.

Harold and Maud returned to the UK before WW2. The 1939 Register records the 31 year old Maud living with her parents - who, at some point had moved to the Borough - at 84 Newbury Gardens, Ewell, Surrey. Her father, 67 year old George, is listed as a "Retired Fitters Mate (Ships)". Both Maud and her 62 year old mother, Mary, are listed with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". There is one currently closed record at the address, perhaps a child of Harold and Maud.

Harold's WW2 service was in the 1st Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment. This was sent to France in October 1939 as part of the British Expeditionary Force to prepare for the expected German invasion. As is well-known, the invasion when it came was of unanticipated speed and ferocity. The BEF made a fighting retreat to Dunkirk, from which survivors were evacuated in early June 1940.

Harold was not a survivor, being killed in action on 30 May 1940, aged 35. His burial (Grave IV.O.2) in the Coxyde Military Cemetery implies that he was one of the casualties that fell in the defence of the Dunkirk-Nieuport perimeter in late May 1940. (The Cemetery - which is near the Belgian coast about 12 miles east of Dunkirk - was originally in WW1. It contains 1,507 Commonwealth burials of that War, and 155 of WW2.)

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WILSON, Ronald George. Gunner (1427428)

Royal Artillery 3rd Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment
Died 18 May 1945, aged 27.

Ronald's gravemarker and the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, Thailand.
Ronald's gravemarker and the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, Thailand.
Left: photograph (10837029) by "GulfportBob" via findagrave.com
Right: The cemetery, Wikimedia Commons

The family background here is rather more complicated than usual. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission's post-war records note that Ronald was the son of George Edward and Rose Alice Wilson, of Epsom, Surrey. The 1939 Register recorded this couple (41 year old George as a "Fish Fryer" and Rose - ten years his senior - with the conventional "Home Duties") living at 3 Westlands Court, Epsom. Living with them was the 24 year old Norman F Bray (a "Chain Store Manager") who appears to be Rose's child from her first marriage (as Rose Alice Card) in Croydon Q4 1909 to Walter Bray. Rose and George Wilson married in Croydon in Q3 1931, by when the subject of this article, Ronald George Wilson, was in his teens. It is not possible from the readily available records to clarify his parentage.

Ronald's WW2 service was with the Royal Artillery 3rd Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, stationed at Changi, Singapore. He would have been in action until the Japanese forces won the battle for Singapore in February 1942 and the British Commander ordered his forces to surrender. It seems clear that, as a prisoner of war, Ronald was forced to work on the southern end of the notorious Burma-Siam railway. This Japanese project to improve support for their large army in Burma was aptly called the "Death Railway". During its construction, approximately 13,000 prisoners of war died and were buried along the railway. An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 civilians also died in the course of the project, chiefly forced labour brought from Malaya and the Dutch East Indies, or conscripted locally.

A present-day section of the Burma-Siam railway
A present-day section of the Burma-Siam railway
Copyright acknowledged

The railway was completed in late 1943. Conditions in the PoW camps were at least as harsh - and probably even worse - than those on the railway construction. Like many others, Ronald eventually succumbed to these, dying on 18 May 1945. With 6,857 other Allied dead, he is buried in Thailand's Kanchanaburi War Cemetery. This is about 70 miles west of Bangkok and only a short distance from the site of the Kanburi PoW base camp through which most of the prisoners passed on their way to the various other camps.

His family took the option of adding a personal inscription to the marker on his Grave 2.G.62,
"He died that others might live in peace. / 'In the midst of life we are in death'."
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WINTER, John George. Corporal 1612270

Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 30 November 1945, Age 37

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

The marriage of James Winter to Sarah Jobling was registered in Durham for the September Quarter of 1907. Birth of their son, John George Winter, born 17 February 1908, came to be recorded in the same District, 3/1908.

In the 1911 Census, the family appear at 77 Newcastle Road, Brandon Colliery, Durham, where James was employed as a Coal Miner/Hewer.

A union of John G Winter with Annie M Wood, born 29 September 1907, is found to be listed in registers at Gateshead, 9/1934.

By 1935 this couple were resident in Epsom, at 31 Stones Road. They were registered there in 1939 - John G Winter, Shop Asst. & Salesman, S S Co-op, and Annie M Winter, Domestic Servant. The South Suburban Co-operative Society (Epsom Branch) shop was then situated on East Street.

South Suburban Co-Op Shop in East Street, Date not known
South Suburban Co-Op Shop in East Street, Date not known
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

During October 1940, John enlisted with the Royal Air Force at Cardington.

At 15 March 1945, John G Winter's name appears in the Service Register/Electoral Roll at 31 Stones Road, Epsom.

Post war, the death of John G Winter was noted in Surrey Mid E, 12/1945. He was, however, buried at Gateshead (Saltwell) Cemetery, Div. B, in Grave 1576. His headstone was inscribed
'A TOKEN OF LOVE TO A VERY DEAR HUSBAND WHO IS ALWAYS IN MY THOUGHTS'.
John's headstone in Gateshead (Saltwell) Cemetery
John's headstone in Gateshead (Saltwell) Cemetery
Photograph by Brian 54 via findagrave.com

CWGC describe him as the son of James and Sarah Winter; husband of Annie Maud Winter, of Epsom, Surrey.

Annie Maud Winter died on 12 January 1976, reg Surrey S E, 3/1976. For Probate her address was stated still to have been 31 Stones Road, Epsom.

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WISE, Douglas Arthur. Acting Sub-Lieutenant D S C, Mentioned in Despatches.

815 Squadron, HMS Grebe, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (Fleet Air Arm).
Died 25 July 1941, aged 22.

Douglas was born in Epsom Q1 1919, the son of Gordon Andrew Wise and May (née Stewart - they had married in Wimbledon on 12 September 1907).

The 1939 Register records the parents living at 37 The Avenue Worcester Park. Gordon is listed as having "Private means" and May as "Housewife". The original record shows that Gordon was a volunteer driver for casualties and that May served as an Air Raid Warden. Douglas was not at home. Among the other six present were two of his older sisters (Anita, born 1911 and "Examiner Postal Censors"; and Gladys, born 1914 and "Hospital Almoner"), three guests/lodgers and a domestic servant.

Douglas served with the Fleet Air Arm. Although formally serving with the Royal Naval Air station, HMS Grebe, Dekheila, Alexandria, 815 Squadron was, in mid 1941, operating from Lakatamia, Cyprus flying the Fairey Swordfish - a biplane torpedo bomber originating in the early 1930s, and nicknamed "Stringbag".

The Fairey Swordfish
The Fairey Swordfish
Photograph by Tony Hisgett, Birmingham, UK - via wikimedia

On 25 July 1941, Douglas and his fellow Acting Sub-Lieutenant Alfred Howard Cann were flying a reconnaissance flight west of Cape Kormakiti, Cyprus Their Mk 1 Swordfish Mark (P4080 from B Flight of 815 Squadron) suffered a catastrophic mid-air structural failure resulting in the engine and airframe parting company. Both were killed and their bodies lost at sea.

Douglas and Alfred are commemorated on the Fleet Air Arm Memorial at Lee-on-Solent, Hampshire, as two of the nearly 2,000 men of that service who died during WW2 and who have no known grave.

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WOOD, Harry.

Royal Navy

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

Sadly, the identity of this individual listed in the Borough's Book of Remembrance remains unclear. Normally, the Borough connection is evident in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's database of all WW2 casualties.

That is not the case here. The database contains lists 15 WW2 seamen with the surname Wood and with the (or a) Christian name Harry, Henry or Harold. The full information given by the Commission for each of these is as below. (In a couple of superficially likely cases - at nos. 1 & 4 - with further information, as italicised, which makes them unlikely.)

Of the Royal Navy/RNVR/Fleet Air Arm:
1. WOOD, Harry. Able Seaman (D/JX 208541). HMS President III, Royal Navy. Died 27 December 1940, aged 29. Commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial. [Subsequently established that he was born in Leeds on 12 April 1911, and was lost in the sinking of the SS Ardanbhan - as was Harry Stovin Wood at No 15 below.]

2. WOOD, Harry. Lieutenant. HMS Assegai, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. Died 7 December 1942, aged 33. Son of John and Margaret Ann Wood, of Winton, Lancashire. Commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial.

3. WOOD, Harry. Telegraphist (D/JX 159074). HMS Nile, Royal Navy, Died 20 June 1942, aged 20. Son of Henry and Minnie Wood, of Shotton, Flintshire. Commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial.

4. WOOD, Harry Hector. Chief Engine Room Artificer (D/M 18331). HMS Repulse, Royal Navy. Died 10 December 1941, aged 41. BEM. Son of James W and Sarah H Wood; husband of Winfred E Wood. Commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial. [Subsequently established that he was born on 10 June 1900 in Huddersfield; that his wife's maiden name was Voss; they married in Devonport on 25 May 1927; and, at the time of the 1939 Register, Elizabeth was living at 33 Renown Street, Plymouth - apparently with four children.]

5. WOOD, Harry Malcolm Sydney. Leading Seaman (P/JX 131816). HM Submarine Triad, Royal Navy Died 20 October 1940, aged 28. Son of Harry Albert and Margaret Wood, of Portsmouth; husband of Matilda Kate Wood, of Fareham, Hampshire. Commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

6. WOOD, Harold Walton. Leading Airman (FAA/FX. 80541). HMS Goshawk (SS Almeda Star), Royal Navy. Died 17 January 1941, aged 21. Son of Sam and Maud Wood, of Willington Quay, Northumberland. Commemorated on the Lee-on-Solent Memorial.

7. WOOD, Henry. Able Seaman (C/JX267420). HMS President III, Royal Navy. Died 15 January 1945, aged 25, Son of Thomas and Margaret Wood, of Rutherglen, Lanarkshire. Buried in Glasgow (St. Peter's) Roman Catholic Cemetery.

8. WOOD, Henry Albert. Able Seaman (P/JX 289422). HMS President III, Royal Navy. Died 1 October 1943, [Age N/K. Family N/K] Commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

9. WOOD, Henry James. Petty Officer Stoker (C/KX 78048). HMS Ivanhoe, Royal Navy. Died 1 June 1940, aged 36. Son of Henry James Wood and Charlotte Wood; husband of Lilian Mary Wood, of Gillingham. Buried in Gillingham (Woodlands) Cemetery, Kent.

10. WOOD, Henry Robert. Stoker 1st Class (C/K52154). HMS Encounter, Royal Navy. Died 31 January 1944, aged 43. Son of Henry Robert and Lily Wood; husband of Lily Wood, of Harrow Weald, Middlesex. Buried in the Yokohama War Cemetery.

11. WOOD, Harold William. Ordinary Seaman (D/JX 369658). HMS Gould, Royal Navy. Died 1 March 1944, aged 20. Son of Walter William and Elsie Minnie Wood, of Tetbury, Gloucestershire. Commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial.

12. WOOD, Henry Robert. Stoker 1st Class (C/K 59956). HMS Wakeful, Royal Navy. Died 29 May 1940. [Age N/K. Family N/K] Commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial.
and, just in case, of the Merchant Navy:
13. WOOD, Harry. Fireman. MV Wellfield (Newcastle-on-Tyne), Merchant Navy. Died 4 June 1941, aged 19. Son of John James Wood, and of Elizabeth Agnes Wood, of Liverpool. Commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial.

14. WOOD, Harry. Ordinary Seaman. MV Empire Comet (Greenock), Merchant Navy. Died 19 February 1942, aged 19. Son of John H and Grace D Wood, of Roe Brae, Zetland. Commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial.

15. WOOD, Harry Stovin. Able Seaman. SS Ardanbhan (Glasgow), Merchant Navy. Died 27 December 1940, aged 55. Commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial.
Another possibility is that somewhere along the way of compiling of the Borough's Book of Remembrance, there was some transcription error. If that was the case, then the intended individual will have been picked up in our trawl of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's database in which we picked up many WW2 casualties connected to the Borough who were not listed in the original Book.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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WOODGER, Elizabeth May

Civilian
Died 10 October 1940, aged 46

&

WOODGER, Horace Edgar

Civilian
Died 10 October 1940, aged 53

Horace and Elizabeth's headstone in Epsom Cemetery
Horace and Elizabeth's headstone in Epsom Cemetery
Photograph courtesy Clive Gilbert © 2018

Not mentioned in the Book of Remembrance.

Horace was born on 1 September 1887 in Malling, Kent. During WW1 he served as Private L/8821 in the East Kent Regiment. On 19 May 1918, while still in uniform, this 31 year old married 23 year old Elizabeth May Gilbert (she had been born in Sevenoaks, Kent on 29 May 1894) in St George's Church, Wrotham, Kent. The church's records note that Horace was the son of "Gardener" George Woodger and had the current occupation of "Shoeing Smith E Kt Reg"; and that Elizabeth was the daughter of "Coachman" Albert Edward Gilbert.)

There is no record of the couple having any children, and the 1939 Register records them living alone at 27 Fulwell Road, Teddington. 52 year old Horace is listed as "Undertakers Assistant and Coffin Plate Polisher" and 45 year old Elizabeth with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties".

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records are clear that (as reported by the Twickenham Municipal Authority, Horace and Elizabeth both died at 27 Fulwell Road, Teddington on 10 October 1940 - a date about a month into the Luftwaffe's "Blitz" bombing campaign.

The reason the couple were buried in Grave M631 of Epsom Cemetery on 16 October is that the plot was purchased for this purpose by "Albert Edward Gilbert of Sunny Bank, Moor Lane, Chessington". This could be either Elizabeth's 70 year old father or her 38 year old brother who shared the names: neither lived in Chessington at the time of the 1939 Register.

Incidentally, the couple's headstone, Epsom Cemetery records and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database all misstate Elizabeth's and Horace's ages as, respectively, 45 and 50. It is clear from the birth records that, as noted at the head of this article, they were 46 and 50 when they were killed.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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WOOLFENDEN, Jack. Rifleman (6912405)

1st Battalion, Rifle Brigade.
Died 26 May 1940, aged 28.

Jack was born in Oldham Q1 1912, the eighth and apparently last child (one of whom had died) of Thomas Edmund Woolfenden ("Wolfenden" in some records) and Clara Emma (née Turner - they had married in the Crompton District of Lancashire on 29 February 1896).

The year before Jack was born, the family was recorded in the 1911 Census living at No 11 West View, Grains Road, Shaw, Nr Oldham, Lancashire. 41 year old Thomas is listed as working in the "Blowing Room" of a cotton mill and 32 year old Clara as a "Charwoman". Their six children were aged from new-born Daisy to 13 year old James. The four oldest children were at school - but, for the two oldest, only part time, as they also worked in the mill as "Cotton Piecers".

Unusually, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database provides no family background for Jack. The above was pieced together after finding a forces' record noting that Jack had been born in Oldham. However, the same record notes that his "Resided Town" was Manchester, so we are no closer to discovering Jack's connection with the Borough - which there must have been, to merit his inclusion in the Borough's Book of Remembrance.

Jack's Battalion was part of the British Expeditionary Force sent to France in the early days of WW2. When the expected German invasion of Belgium and France began on 10 May, the BEF and Allies were unable to halt the advance and were driven further and further back into the coastal area of Belgium and north-east France. Jack's Battalion was part of the Allied forces that, on 22 May, were isolated in Calais. (Other parts of the BEF managed to get to Dunkirk from which, as is well known, extraordinary numbers were evacuated in the 26 May - 4 June "Operation Dynamo".)

Jack died on the third day of the fierce fighting of the 23-26 May Battle of Calais: the surviving forces surrendered on 27 May. He is one of 4,513 members of the BEF commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial as having no known grave.

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

Roger Morgan © 2018

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WRIGHT, Basil Owen. Flying Officer (51875)

166 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
Died 15 February 1944, aged 28.

Frederic William Augustine Wright (b 9 April 1877, reg. Morpeth, 6/1877) appears to have volunteered to serve in the Boer War as Private 6932 in the 44th Company, 12th Imperial Yeomanry.

On his return from South Africa he married Clara Morton, reg. Brentford 9/1903, but she died during 1908. By 1910 he seems to have entered into a relationship with Gertrude Agate and they had two childred born at Brentford - a son in 1911 and a daughter during 1913.

Frederic W A Wright may have enlisted with the Public Schools Battalion, Royal Fusiliers to start training in the Epsom area. He was, however, granted a commission as Temporary Lieutenant in 9th Battalion The Lincolnshire Regiment on 29 January 1915. A Medal Card for Frederick (sic) William Augustine Wright reveals that he served on the General List from 25 May 1915 whilst attached to the King's African Rifles. He relinquished his commission in 1916 on account of ill health and the award of a Silver War Badge indicates that he had been wounded in action.

Frederic had contracted a second marriage, which was registered in Epsom for the March Quarter of 1915, to Gertrude Agate (born 27 September 1882, reg. Kensington, 12/1882). Birth of their son Basil O Wright came to be recorded at Kingston, 12/1916.

Before 4 October 1916, the family had taken up residence at 47 Kingston Road, New Malden, Surrey.

A sale of F W A Wright's medals in 2003 comprised: -
  • King's African Rifles,
  • late Imperial Yeomanry,
  • Queen's South Africa 1899-1902, 4 clasps, Cape Colony,
  • Orange Free State, Transvaal, South Africa 1901 (6932 Pte., 44th Coy. 12th Impl. Yeo.);
  • 1914-15 Star (Lieut.);
  • British War Victory Medals (Lieut.)
With a Service Number 518852, his son Basil would have been a pre-war entrant as an aircraftman to the Royal Air Force.

For the 1939 Register Gertrude, Frederic and their daughter were living at 38 Sycamore Grove, New Malden, with his occupation stated to be 'Cafe Proprietor, Commercial Traveller (Glass)' and his wife a 'Cafe Manageress'.

Having risen to the rank of Flight Sergeant, Basil was commissioned Pilot Officer 51875, on probation, emergency, with effect from 14 May 1943 before promotion to Flying Officr (war substitute), 14 November 1943. Reportedly, records of 166 Squadron - part of Bomber Command - note that he had been posted into the Unit on 3 October 1943.

In February 1944, Basil was an Air Gunner on Lancaster ED841 AS-L which took off from RAF Kirmington, Lincolnshire. It was one of 891 aircraft on their way to bomb Berlin in the largest raid of the whole of WW2 - to drop 2,642 tons of bombs.

Berlin suffered badly that night. But so did the attacking force: 48 aircraft were lost; 266 crewmen were killed and a further 54 made prisoners of war.

In the case of Basil's aircraft, it appears that it was intercepted about 300 miles short of target and crashed at Freudenberg. Only one of the 7-strong crew survived. Unlike five of those killed, Basil's body was not recovered, and he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

As already mentioned, 166 Squadron Lancaster III ED841, AS-L, took off at 1730 hrs. from RAF Kirmington. It was shot down by a night fighter, to crash at 2030 hrs. with great force into a forest some 2 km. N of Freudenberg, 4 km SE of Ribnitz - Damgarten. F/O Wright is named on Panel 210 of the Runnymede Memorial; the rest of his comrades are buried in the Berlin 1939 - 45 War Cemetery. Crew:-
F/O R.J.Robinson
Sgt H.K.Harrison [POW]
Sgt G.F.Clark
F/S R.A.R.Smith
F/S D.J.Stokes
Sgt N.O.Jones
F/O B.O.Wright.
[Sgt, George Frederick Clark is commemorated at aircrewremembered.com.]

A German eye-witness account of the crash has been published at http://www.bomber-command.de/ed841a.html - in translation: -
"It was a foggy February evening. I sat with my parents, brothers, and sisters having dinner, when a loud engine noise was heard. It was louder than usuall, because, normally, the English and American bomber formations flew higher. The sound of a big engine was getting closer. Suddenly there was an enormous explosion. My sister was shocked obviously. We ran out and saw the fire through the fog in the Recknitz River valley….

Next day, while it was still dark, I hurried to the crash site before I went to school and before I found the SS and the armed forces already there. In the dawn I saw that a Lancaster bomber had crashed. It was terrible to see the dead crew members hanging in the trees. One was gored through by a strong branch! Others were caught in the completely destroyed wreck of the aircraft. Parachutes were partly opened.

I looked a bit closer at the Englishmen; I could see that they were wearing blue uniforms under their heated flying suits, and below that they were also wearing civilian dress. Nearer the wreckage was an inflated dinghy and provisions packages were laying around. I quickly retrieved some parachute silk, a provisions package and a flare gun with ammunition. Then I also already saw pushing the first armed troops….

I quickly went to school. Soon after, the whole crash site was blocked off and was guarded by the SS. When I came home in the afternoon, I found out that somebody had stolen the felt boots from some of the aircrew. I can still remember that some people had their houses searched.

The Lancaster came from direction of Dierhagen. Someone said that the Lancaster had been attacked by a night-fighter and that the pilot was possibly attempting to crash-land on the Bodden near Ribnitz-Damgarte but crashed in the thick fog at ground level.

Those of the crew who perished, were buried locally [at Neuer Friedhof, Rostock] but were exhumed and re-interred in the 1939 - 1945 War Cemetery at Charlottenburg, Berlin after the end of the war.

The body of Sgt B.O. Wright, the Rear Gunner, has never been found and his name is engraved on Panel 210 of the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede. The only survivor was Flight Engineer Sgt H. K. Harrison who was taken POW."
Mr. Frederic William Augustine Wright of Chiltern Lodge, 38 Sycamore Grove, New Malden, Surrey, died on 23 November 1945 in Kingston Hospital. In his Will, Malden Social Club were directed to have a drink at the bar instead of sendng a wreath.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission database notes that Basil had been the son of Frederic and Gertrude Wright, of Rottingdean, Sussex.

Brian Bouchard © 2018

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WRIGHT, Henrietta

Civilian
Died 21 November 1940, aged 79

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Henrietta was born in Aylesbury on 4 May 1861 - just missing the 1861 Census. The 1871 Census records this nearly 10 year old as the middle of three children born to 31 year old Henry Turnham (a "Hotel Servant") and his 34 year old wife, Caroline, living at 2 Laura Place, Chipping Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. By the time of the 1881 Census the nearly 20 year old was living with the affluent Ive family at The Laurels, Langley-Marish, Eton and working as their General Servant.

In Q1 1882, the 20 year old Henrietta married 22 year old Jesse Wright. The marriage was registered in the Wycombe District of Buckinghamshire. The 1891 Census records the couple - now with 6 year old son, Harry, living at 28 London Road, Chipping Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. Jesse is listed as a "General Labourer".

The family moved to South London. The 1901 Census records them living at 8 Marmont Road, Camberwell. Jesse's employment is now as a "Horse Keeper" for an Omnibus Company, and 16 year old Harry is listed as a "Card Box Maker & Packer". By the time of the 1911 Census, the couple had moved to 168 Landells Road, Camberwell. Jesse is still listed as a "Horse keeper". Young Harry had left home (and the return notes that the couple had had a second child who had died), but Henrietta's now-widowed 74 year old mother, Caroline Turnham was living with them.

The 1939 Register records the 78 year old Henrietta and 80 year old Jesse living at 86 Red Lion Lane, Shooters Hill, Woolwich. Jesse is listed as "Horse Keeper Retired" and Henrietta with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". (Living with them was the apparently unrelated 56 year old Elizabeth Terry - also with "Unpaid Domestic Duties".)

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission notes that Henrietta was injured 17 November 1940 - a date three months into the Luftwaffe's "Blitz" bombing campaign - at "37 Paidham Road East". (There must be some transcription error here, as no such road can be found.) She 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, and died there four days later, on 21 November 1940, aged 79.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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WYATT, George

Civilian
Died 4 November 1944, aged 55

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

George was born in Carshalton, Surrey, on 20 February 1889, the son of Havelock Henry Wyatt and Harriett (née Brain - they had married in Carshalton on 29 September 1878). The 1911 Census records the 22 year old George as the oldest of four children still living with their parents at 41 William Street, Carshalton. Like his 53 year old father, George is listed as a "General Labourer". (The return notes that the couple had had 10 children in all, but two had died.)

Q4 1920 Epsom District married Lilian Eliza Buckfield. She was born in Thornton Heath on 1 September 1895 but her parents, William (a "Navvy") and Eliza, moved to Sutton - in the 1901 Census living at 2 Benhill Street, Sutton. By the time of the 1911 Census, the 15 year old Lilian ("Lily") was living with Walter and Helen Elgie at "Ballater", Park Lane, Wallington, Surrey working as their "General Servant".

George and Lilian married Q4 1920. This was registered in the Epsom District which, at the time, included Sutton and Carshalton. Their only child, Kenneth was born on 21 January 1928.

The 1939 Register records the family of three living at 57 Melbourne Road, Wallington. 50 year old George is listed as "Stoker (LCC)" - probably at the LCC's Mental Hospital at Banstead where he was injured in 1944. 44 year old Lilian is listed with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties", and 11 year old Kenneth was at school.

George was injured on 2 November 1944 at Banstead Hospital (which had been taken over as a Military hospital). He was taken Horton Emergency Hospital, one of Epsom's "cluster" of mental hospitals that, as for WW1, had been taken over for dealing with wartime casualties, but died there two days later, on 4 November 1944, aged 55.

In Q1 1948, the widowed Lilian married again - to George W Steptoe. In Q3 1948, George and Lilian's son, Kenneth, married Margaret M Keal.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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WYLIE, William Jeffery Price. Captain (95276)

King's Own Scottish Borderers
Died 15 December 1943, Age 24

Captain William Wylie
Captain William Wylie
Photograph courtesy of Sherborne School

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

John Price Wylie, born 20 May 1888 in Newcastle, was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant, 8 September 1909, for service in India with the 11th Lancers. During the GreatWar he rose to the rank of Captain in the Notts. and Derby Regiment.

His marriage to Helen Jeffery Clark (born 7 November 1896) is found to have been registered at St George Hanover Square for the September Quarter of 1918. Apparently the family later lived in Ireland where the birth of William J P Wylie, 3 November 1919, was registered at Dublin, 12/1919.

Having attended Sandrock Hall School, Hastings, he entered Sherborne School (Lyon House) May 1933-December 1937 [ 6th form (Army Class); House Prefect; 1st XV rugby football (1936, 1937); 3rd XI cricket (1937); Trebles (1935, 36, 37; Silver Medal 1935); PT Instructor with Badge; Sergeant in OTC] before joining the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. As a Gentlemen Cadet from the Royal Military College, he was appointed 2nd Lt. With the King's Own Scottish Borderers 1 July 1939. Promotion to Lieutenant took effect from 1 January 1941.

His father, of Carfax Hotel, Winchester, had died 27 August 1939 at Saville Nursing Home, Clayton Road, Newcatle, and was interred at St Andrew'sMilitary Cemetery, Newcastle upon Tyne.

The marriage of William J P Wylie to Dorothy P N Davies was registered at Bury St Edmunds, 12/1940.

Captain William Jeffrey Price Wylie, formerly of the King's Own Scottish Borderers, served as Troop Commander of No. 2 Troop of No. 6 Commando from no later than 7 December 1943. He died on 15 December 1943 in Hurstwood Park Hospital, Haywards Heath fom injuries resulting from a road traffic accident on 13 December.. Lt. Bernard Skinner also died as a result of this incident. The 6 Commando War Diary for December 1943 recorded that their commando truck going to Brighton Station and was hit by a Naval truck with several injured. Lt B.G.Skinner was sent to Royal Sussex Hospital,where he expired.

William was interred on 20 December 1943 at Winchester (Magdalen Hill) Cemetery, Row C. 3. Grave 50. (St.Morris Plot).The burial record notes that J L P Wylie of The Corner, Barnes Close, Winchester, died at Haywards Heath [registered Cuckfield, 3/1944].

William's headstone in Winchester (Magdalen Hill) Cemetery
William's headstone in Winchester (Magdalen Hill) Cemetery
Photograph (45158799) by wertypop via findagrave.com

He has been commemorated at Sherborne School: War Memorial Staricase; Book of Remembrance & Lyon House War Memorial, also in VI Commando Roll of Honour.

CWGC describe him as the son of Maj. John Price Wylie, D.S.O., The Sherwood Foresters (Notts. and Derby Regt.), and Helen J. Wylie of Epsom, Surrey; husband of Noel Wylie, of Euston, Suffolk.

William's sister, Elizabeth Price Wylie, married Hugo Charles Baring on 15 June 1946 and the widowed Mrs Helen J Wylie came to live with them at 15 Downs Road, Epsom, at least between 1949 and 1955.

'Noel' Wylie, otherwise Dorothy P N Wylie, appears to have married secondly Arthur N Palmer, registered as Dorothy P P Wylie, Bury St Edmunds, 6/1945.

Helen Jeffrey Wylie of Minster Cottage, Little Minster Street, Winchester died on 24 May 1963 at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, aged 66. She was interred at Magdalen Hill Cemetery, Winchester, A Con., D3, 49, on 29 May 1963.

Brian Bouchard © 2018

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