WW2 Book of Remembrance - Surnames A

Index

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[Content]

ABBOTT, Elizabeth * (Revised 30/05/2018)
ABEL, Jack Sydney (Revised 30/05/2018)
ABSALOM, Leonard Cyril (Revised 30/05/2018)
ADAMS, Albert E (Revised 30/05/2018)
ADKINS, Henry Charles (Revised 30/05/2018)
AITKEN, Janet Stevenson Hardie * (Revised 30/05/2018)
ALDERTON, Peter Henry (Revised 30/05/2018)
ALLSOPP, Cyril George (Revised 30/05/2018)
ALWAY, Edwin John (Revised 30/05/2018)
ANGEL, John Lindsay (Revised 02/06/2018)
ANSELL, James Jack (Revised 02/06/2018)
APPLEBY, John (Revised 02/06/2018)
ARCHER, Harriet * (Revised 02/06/2018)
ARNOLD, John Turney (Revised 02/06/2018)
ASHDOWN, Michael Henry Charles (Revised 02/06/2018)
ASHLING, Oliver Charles (Revised 02/06/2018)
ATKINSON, Trevor Marsh (Revised 02/06/2018)
AUSTEN, Kate Dorothy * (Revised 02/06/2018)
AYLING, Alfred (Revised 31/05/2018)

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



Content


ABBOTT, Elizabeth

Civilian
Died 18 September 1940, aged 33

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Elizabeth was born in Shiremoor, Northumberland on 16 November 1906, the second child of George Wilson Punshon and Lydia (née Forrest - they had married in 21 February 1900 in Belmont, Durham). The 1911 Census records the mid-30s parents (with George as a "Miner Deputy Overman") - now with a third child - living at 4 North View Shiremoor, Earsdon, Northumberland. (It is not clear how the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's records come to note that Elizabeth was the "daughter of John Ponsby of New York, Northumberland".)

At some point, Elizabeth moved south. She is next found in the readily available records as a 22 year old at her Q1 1929 marriage, registered in the Croydon District to 32 year old Leonard A Abbott.

The couple - now with four children - are next found in the 1939 Register living at 17 Ross Parade, Wallington, Surrey, as (presumably) lodgers with 38 year old shopkeeper Horace W Keefe. 42 year old Leonard is listed as an "Insurance Agent" and 32 year old Elizabeth with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". The original record (not the transcript) records that both Horace Keefe and Leonard Abbott were in the Police War Reserve.

On 12 September 1940 - in the first week of the Luftwaffe's "Blitz" bombing campaign - a bomb hit 17 Ross Parade. It killed three of the children - John (5), Ronald (7) and Leonard Arthur (10) - outright, and injured Elizabeth. She was taken to Horton Emergency Hospital (one of Epsom's mental hospitals that, as for WW1, had been taken over for wartime casualties), where she died of her injuries on 18 September.

(If daughter Audrey (9), husband Leonard and Horace Keefe were injured in the bombing, they all recovered.)

Roger Morgan © 2018

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ABEL, Jack Sydney, Flying Officer (Navigator) 120353

Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR) 115 Sqdn.
Died 6 December 1942, aged 26

Jack Abel
Jack Abel
Photograph courtesy of Margaret V Thompson née Abel

The marriage of Albert Arthur Abel to Edith May Tooley was recorded at Yarmouth, 3/1916. Birth of their son, Jack Sydney Abel on 21 January 1917, subsequently came to be registered in the Mutford District of Norfolk for the March Quarter of 1917.

Having joined the Post office in 1933 as Temporary Postman/Messenger Jack was appointed to the grade of Sorting Clerk/Telegraphist by Limited Competition during 1935, apparently in Norfolk.

Following enlistment in the RAFVR, he would have been inducted at Cardington around April 1940 with a Service Number 122267. Subsequently Jack is known to have trained in South Africa at 75 Air School, Lyttleton, Pretoria. Possibly this would have been followed by a period in 45 Air School at Oudtsshoorn, about 200 miles east of Cape Town, - 'A.O.N.S & B & GS', otherwise Air Observers Navigation School, and Bombing & Gunnery School.

Although Victoria Mary McCondach had been born in the Romford area (reg. 12/1914), her brother Robert McCondach's birth was registered in Yarmouth, 9/1920 and one infers that the family could then have been living near Gorleston. Victoria McCondach and Jack Sydney Abel seem to have met in Norfolk but he is assumed to have been training in Wales when they married during 1941 (reg. Cardigan for June Quarter of that year). Their daughter's birth is registered in Surrey Mid E District, 6/1942 - Margaret V. Abel - presumably reflecting Mrs Abel's residence at that time in 27 Oakhurst Road, with two of her sisters, Josephine Charlotte and Louvine Elizabeth McCondach.

Jack was stationed with 115 Squadron at East Wretham, near Thetford, for the fateful flight of the Wellington Mk111, BJ 898, KO-C, on 6 December 1942. It took off at 17.33 hrs. from its base on a bombing mission against Mannheim, one of 272 aircraft taking part in the raid. This particular Wellington is claimed to have been shot down by Ofw. Wilhelm Engel of Nachtjagdgeschwader 4 (8/NJG 4), a Luftwaffe night-fighter wing, 15 km. north of Worms at 20.12. It crashed in a vineyard 3 kilometres west of Alsheim with the loss of the entire crew who were buried in the cemetery at Alsheim before being reverently re-interred in the Rheinberg Cemetery in accordance with the policy agreed upon by His Majesty and the Commonwealth Governments that fallen airmen in Germany should rest together in British Military Cemeteries.

The widowed Victoria took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave 8.A.21,
"At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember."
Images, courtesy of Frank East from www.luntfamilyhistory.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk (link no longer working)

Collective photograph of crew headstones
Wellington Mark 111, Serial No BJ 898, KO C. Collective photograph of crew headstones.
From Left to Right, Plot 8, Row C, Graves 18-22 inclusive
Sergeant R E Hayman. Air bomber
Flying Officer H W Larkins Pilot
Flight Sergeant E F Stammers RCAF Air Gunner
Flying Officer J S Abel Navigator
Flight Sergeant D G Williams RCAF Air Gunner

Sadly the widowed Mrs Victoria Abel survived only until 1959. Her daughter Margaret married Vere O.S(haun) Thompson during 1964: they migrated to Canada in 1970, where they now reside in Southampton, Ontario.

Brian Bouchard ©2014

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ABSALOM, Leonard Cyril. Private (6467583)

6th Battalion Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment
Died 22 November 1942, aged 25

Leonard was born on 12 June 1917, the son of Robert Cyril and Fanny Absalom. The 1939 Register records all three living at 75 Lower Court Road, Epsom. The 22 year old Leonard is listed as "Salesman & Stock-keeper - Mens". His 62 year old father is listed as "Mental Nurse (Retired)" - doubtless having worked in one of Epsom's "cluster" of metal hospitals - while his 50 year old mother was listed with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties".

In Q4 1941, Leonard married Emily Dale - the marriage being registered in the Surrey Mid-Eastern District. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission's post-war records note Emily as being "of Carshalton, Surrey".

Leonard's WW2 service was in the 6th Battalion Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment. In November 1942, the Battalion was part of Operation Torch, the joint British-US invasion of French North Africa - the first stage of the Allies' eventually successful recapture of the North African coast providing the springboard for the invasion of Italy. Specifically, Leonard's Battalion was part of the Allies' "Run for Tunis" aiming to forestall an Axis build up in Tunisia. The rapid advance was nearly successful, getting to within 20 miles of Tunis before the Axis counter-attack was launched and drove the Allies back.

Leonard was killed during this fierce fighting, and is one of the 441 Commonwealth WW2 casualties buried in Tabarka Ras Rajel War Cemetery, Tunisia. (Ras Rajel is about 7 miles east of the coastal town of Tabarka which is a similar distance from the border with Algeria.) The widowed Emily took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave 3.A.18,
"In loving memory of dear Leonard who gave his life that we might live. RIP."
The Tabarka Ras Rajel War Cemetery, Tunisia
The Tabarka Ras Rajel War Cemetery, Tunisia
Photograph with thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Roger Morgan © 2018

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ADAMS, Albert Edward. Private (6018777)

7th Battalion, Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment.
Died 21 May 1940, aged 20.

Albert was born Q3 1919, the second child of William Adams and Annie (née Terry - they married in Epsom Q4 1917), The parents (with William as a "grocer") were recorded in the 1939 Register as living at 98 East Dean Avenue, Epsom.

On 19 April 1940, Albert's Battalion was sent to France as part of the 12th Infantry Brigade which had been formed as a 2nd Line duplicate of the 132nd (Kent) Infantry Brigade. It underwent training and performed labour duties at Albert (near the Somme, about midway between Paris and Calais). It then fought in what is called the Battle of France from 10 May to 25 June 1940.

While the overall British Expeditionary Force (under the command of the highly decorated WW1 hero, Field Marshal the Viscount Gort) was preparing to resist the expected German advance into France, it did not anticipated the speed of the Blitzkrieg assault. When that came, the 12th Infantry Brigade (including Albert's Battalion) had none of its support units in place and the infantrymen had had little training. It was simply overrun by the German forces - suffering very heavy casualties, including the death of Albert. (Only about 70 of the overall Brigade managed to escape back to the UK.)

Albert was initially buried where he fell and, with 25 other Commonwealth WW2 casualties from scattered sites, later reinterred in the extension of the Albert Communal Cemetery. (This is about 18 miles north-east of Amiens, on the Somme, and was originally established for WW1 casualties, of which it holds 862.) His parents took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave II.D.10,
"His life was full of beautiful memories."
The Albert Communal Cemetery extension, France
The Albert Communal Cemetery extension, France
Photograph with thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Roger Morgan ©2018


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ADKINS, Henry Charles. Sergeant (1269014)

15 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 8 December 1942, aged 31

William Thomas Chapman Adkins (b. Battersea in1867) had married Clara Jane Henden (b. Stoke Newington during1870/1) at Christ Church, Battersea, on 25 December 1895 [reg. Wandsworth 12/1895]. Birth of their fourth child, Henry Charles, was registered in Wandsworth for the first quarter of 1911. The 1911 Census shows the family enumerated at 14 Barchard Street, Wandsworth with baby Charles described as being under two months old. William T C Adkins survived until 1 November 1929.

The wedding of Henry C Adkins to Evelyn B Joyce may be found registered in Edmonton, 6/1940. They came to reside at 18 Amberley Gardens, Stoneleigh.

Henry enlisted in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve to be inducted, probably at Uxbridge, about May 1940. Eventually he was assigned to 15 Squadron which had been equipped with Short Stirling Mk 1 aircraft from April 1941. In August 1942, the squadron moved to RAF Bourn, Cambridgeshire.

On 8 December 1942, Stirling I W7635, identification code LS-V, of 15 Sqn., Bomber Command, took off from Bourn at 16.42 on a mine laying detail in the Sweet Pea region (Rostock and Arcone Light) intent on 'Gardening' in the Baltic south east of Lolland & Falster islands.

Attacks against a Stirling were reported on 8 December 1942 by pilots of Nachtjagdgeschwader 3, a Luftwaffe night-fighter wing - Feldwebel (Sergeant) Helmut Schuppan of 2./NJG 3 [2. Staffel of Nachtjagdgeschwader 3 (2nd Squadron, Night Fighter Wing 3)] 21.48 at 3600m, and Oberleutnant(1st lieutenant) Hans Graf, 4./NJG 3, 22.03 at 400m. It seems likely that the same British aircraft was involved, after descending rapidly, and it had been W7635 which finally crashed into the North Sea west of the island of Rømø .

Messerschmitt bf 110
Messerschmitt bf 110, a twin-engine heavy fighter
(Zerstörer-German for "Destroyer") as flown by NJG3

Pilot Sgt Jochemus J. Blignaut, Flt. Engr. Sgt Eric Bance, Navigator Sgt Francis G. Crapp, W/Op Sgt Richard G. Oliver and Air Gnr. Sgt Robert Skelton have no known grave and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

Air Gnr. F/Sgt Alfred T. Kelley RCAF was found to have drifted ashore on the island of Rømø near Lakolk on 17 December and was laid to rest in Kirkeby cemetery on 18/12-42. Kelly hailed from Kansas City and had joined the Canadian Air force.

Navigator/Bomber Sgt Henry C. Adkins was apparently brought in from the island of Rømø and was laid to rest in Fourfelt cemetery, Esbjerg, on 18 December 1942. The widowed Evelyn took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave AIII.8.10,
"Death is the gateway to life / 'Until' "
Administration of Henry's will was granted to his relict, Mrs Evelyn Barbara Adkins, (Effects £1507:9:1) - she remained in Stoneleigh at least to the end of the war.

Henry's headstone in Fourfelt cemetery
Henry's headstone in Fourfelt cemetery
Image courtesy of Søren Flensted, Billund, Denmark ©2014

With acknowledgement of material derived from Airwar over Denmark with kind permission
Brian Bouchard ©2014

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AITKEN, Janet Stevenson Hardie

Civilian
Died 25 September 1941, aged 36

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission notes that Janet was the "daughter of James G Aitken, of Oakhanger, Woodcote Hurst, Epsom, Surrey". He was not at that address in the September 1939 Register: the occupants then were the apparently unrelated Douglas and May Fothergill.

There are only two people named James G Aitken listed in that 1939 Register. One is, at the age of 28, far too young to be Janet's father. The other is a 75 year old retired grain inspector living with his 69 year old wife Annie and their 33 year old son Gillon (an "unemployed tobacco traveller") living at The Firs, Glenwood Road, Wimborne, Dorset. (Also in the household were the mid-30s Tea Planter Henry Swayne and his wife Anne, but it's not clear if they are resident there or just visiting.) Now, a James Gillon Aitken and Annie Ross Blake had married in Glasgow in 1892, and there is a Scottish record of a Janet Stevenson Hardie Aitken being born at a date consistent with this Janet's age. If all that solves the family background, it throws no light on the reported link with Epsom, particularly as both James and Annie died in Dorset in 1944 and 1948 respectively.

As the family seems absent from various other censuses, there must be a suspicion that they spent time abroad. And that is consistent with the record of Janet's leaving Liverpool on 4 October 1938, sailing on the SS Adda to Lagos, Nigeria. The next record is of her death on 25 September 1941 as a passenger on SS Avoceta. The ship was part of convoy HG-73 from Lisbon to Liverpool. It was carrying 469 tons of general cargo and mail, and 88 passengers.

The SS Avoceta
The SS Avoceta
Photo courtesy of State Library of New South Wales
(via uboat.net, from which also came the details below)

At 00:31 hours on 26 September 1941, U-203 fired a spread of four torpedoes at the convoy which was a little north of the Azores. One of these hit SS Avoceta on the port side close to the engine room. She sank quickly with the loss of 43 crew members, four gunners and 76 passengers - including Janet. The master, the commodore, five naval staff members 19 crew members, two gunners and 12 passengers were picked up by ships in the escort. (SS Varanga, another ship of the convoy was sunk in the same attack, with then loss of 21 of its complement of 27.)

Roger Morgan © 2017

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ALDERTON, Peter Henry. Flight Sergeant/Pilot (1331632)

61 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 13 May 1943, aged 21

Peter's headstone in the Amsterdam New Eastern Cemetery
Photograph (12726180) by "fulhamrocks" via findagrave.com

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission database does not give the usual brief family background for Peter - nor even his age when he died. The latter is odd since, as illustrated above, it's on his headstone that they commissioned.

Peter's birth was registered in Portsmouth Q2 1922. He was apparently the only child of Henry Alderton and Mildred (née Bogusz) who had married Q3 1920 in Alverstoke , Hampshire. The 1939 Register records the parents living at 52 Court Farm Avenue, Ewell with one currently closed record - probably the 17 year old Peter's. The 48 year old Henry is listed as "Asst. Manager School Shop Epsom" (the original - rather than the transcript - also notes that he was a "Pensioner Royal Navy") and the 42 year old Mildred with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties".

The London Gazette for 10 May 1940 records that the (17/18 year old) Peter secured an appointment as an attendant at the British Museum in Bloomsbury. In due course, he was called for war duty and served as a Flight Sergeant/Pilot in 61 Squadron, part of RAF's Bomber Command. In 1943, the Squadron was based at RAF Syerston (near Newark, Nottinghamshire) flying Avro Lancasters.

On 12 May 1943, Peter was the pilot of Lancaster W4269 - one of the 572 aircraft sent to bomb Duisburg as part of the so-called "Battle of the Ruhr". Thanks to precise Pathfinder marking on this night the bombing was particularly well concentrated, and the centre of Duisburg and the port area just off the River Rhine (the largest inland port in Germany) suffered severe damage. 34 aircraft - 6% of the force - were brought down during the raid. In the case of Peter's Lancaster, this was over Holland. All seven on board were killed and are among the 278 WW2 casualties buried in the Amsterdam New Eastern Cemetery.

Peter's parents took the option of adding a personal inscription - drawn from Wilfred Owen's WW1 poem "Asleep" - to his headstone on Grave 69.C.10 (shared with his navigator, Sergeant Robert Edward Sloan),
"… Lie shaded by the shaking of great wings, and thoughts that hung the stars …"
Peter is also commemorated on the British Museum's war memorial (on the pillar to the right of main entrance when entering), one of the four WW2 names added to the original WW1 memorial.

The British Museum's war memorial.
The British Museum's war memorial.
Photograph courtesy of the War Memorials Trust

Roger Morgan © 2018

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ALLSOPP, Cyril George MM.

Civilian
Died 4 July 1944, aged 44.

Cyril was born in Worksop, Nottinghamshire on 25 August 1899. He was the second or third child born to Elijah Allsopp and Annie Bethia (née Rawson - they had married in Worksop Q4 1896). The 1911 Census records the late 30s parents (Elijah being listed as an "Architect & Surveyor") and their three surviving children (one had died) living at 38 Sherwood Road Worksop.

In 1917, at the age of 18, Cyril (by then living in Lancashire) is recorded as having joined the Royal Flying Corps. That obviously did not work out because he is later recorded as having served as a Private (634838) in the 20th Battalion of the Royal West Kent Regiment. This saw action in France during the closing stages of WW1, during which Cyril was awarded the Military Medal for "bravery in the field". (The 22 July 1919 Gazette record of this award - page 9390 - gives Cyril's home address as Rotherham.)

In Mansfield, Nottinghamshire Q3 1922, Cyril married Chryssa Morris Allison. (She had been born in Lytham, Lancashire on 17 March 1901 to railwayman Frank and Mary Allison but, by the time of the 1911 Census, her family had moved to Worksop - Cyril's home town.)

Cyril and Chryssa had three children: Margaret (whose Q2 1924 birth was registered in Staines, Middlesex); Dorothy (whose Q2 1929 birth was registered in Elham, Kent); and John (whose Q3 1931 birth was also registered in Elham).

The 1939 Register records Cyril as resident in two places. The first is as one of 12 in the Seaton household at "Woodcote End House, 5 Woodcote Road, Epsom". The head of that household, Leslie R F Seaton, is recorded as a "Builders Manager" and Cyril is shown as a "Contractors Manager).

Cyril is also recorded in the 1939 Register as living in Bracklesham Lane, Chichester with his wife, two of their children (Margaret and John), a 13 year old Allan Comer and one currently closed record - probably their middle child Dorothy. In this entry, Cyril is recorded as an Architect.

Whatever all that was about, the fact is that, on Tuesday 4 July 1944, Cyril was in Central Road, Morden when a V-1 "doodlebug" landed in front of No 169 and he was killed in the explosion.

A V-1 in flight
A V-1 in flight
Copyright acknowledged

The name V-1 comes from the German Vergeltungswaffe 1, meaning "Vengeance Weapon 1". Between June and September 1944, around 9,500 of these flying bombs were launched on London - about 100 a day. Although launched it the general direction of the London area, these weapons were not guided after launch. Their course would be affected by winds and they flew until their fuel ran out. While in flight, the pulse jet engine made a distinctive throbbing sound - and, when that sound stopped, people knew they had only a few seconds before it fell to earth and its tonne of high explosive was detonated. (The V-1 was succeeded by the rocket-powered V-2 which fell from the stratosphere at supersonic speed and thus with no forewarning at all - see the article about Walter Yeomans.)

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission's post-war records list Cyril as being "of" South Lodge (now No 6) Woodcote Road, Epsom. That is also given as his address in the 1945 Probate records granting administration of his £ 3,482 estate to his widow and Barclays Bank Ltd. Chryssa never re-married and died in Cheltenham Q4 1980.

Roger Morgan © 2017

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ALWAY, Edwin John. Flight Lieutenant (77382)

Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 5 September 1940, aged 37

Edwin John Alway
Edwin John Alway
Image courtesy of Wendy Jeffrey, a grand-daughter © 2014

Edwin was born in Epsom on 28 September 1903, and was baptised at St Barnabas' Church on 3 December 1903. He was the first child of George Edwin Alway (born 13 Jul 1875 in Pack Horse Cottage, Barton Hill Bristol, Gloucester) and Eliza Martha 'Dolly' (née Graysmark). She had been born in Holborn, London, in 1878, but their Q1 1902 marriage was registered in the Epsom District.

The 1911 Census records the family - now with a second child, new-born George Edward - living at 38 Miles Road, Epsom. George Alway's occupation is found variously stated as bricklayer/general foreman (building)/ master builder/master bricklayer. The Municipal Review, 1957, reported that Ald. G. E. Alway (Epsom & Ewell) [elected to Epsom Urban District Council in 1920] received the council's congratulations upon completing more than 36 years as a member of the Highways committee, 24 of them as chairman. Alderman Alway, the 'Father' of the council served as mayor of the borough (incorporated 1937) [1946] and as chairman of the former UDC [1930-31].

By 1921, when aged about 18, E J Alway had become Hon. Sec. of the Wireless Society of Epsom. It seems Edwin entered the Royal Air Force at an early age and during 1926 may be found serving at Ismailia, Egypt, as a Corporal. Presumably this was as a member of 208 Squadron, an army co-operation and reconnaissance squadron formed at Ismailia by the renumbering of 113 Squadron, which spent the pre-war years based in the Middle East. He became an Associate Member of the Institution of Radio Engineers - 'A.M.I.R.E'.

Photograph from E J Alway's album - possibly of a  Bristol F2C, type 22B, two seat fighter-recce biplane with a Bentley B.R.2 Rotary engine - as flown by 208 Squadron in Egypt.
Photograph from E J Alway's album - possibly of a Bristol F2C, type 22B,
two seat fighter-recce biplane with a Bentley B.R.2 Rotary engine - as flown by 208 Squadron in Egypt.
Image courtesy of Wendy Jeffrey, a grand-daughter © 2014

In Q4 1927 and registered in the Wandsworth District, the 24 year old Edwin married 23 year old Grace Lilian Innes. They lived at 50 Canford Road, SW.11, (probably with his wife's parents) where he operated as a radio 'ham', using the call sign 5AU. Also in that year he wrote from Kings Lynn about frequencies describing himself as 'Sergeant in RAF'.

Having returned to civilian life, he pops up in 1933 residing at 579 Gander Green Lane, Sutton, presumably a rented property because a year later his address had changed to number 535. E J Alway became involved with the BBC Empire Service operating from 1932 out of Chelmsford with short wave equipment rented from Marconi, call sign G5SW. Programme material was wholly derived from the Home Service but a small studio had been set up manned by two BBC engineers, one of whom was Edwin Alway - they were responsible the opening and closing announcements.

By 1936, under L W Hayes, he had been appointed Engineer in Charge, Empire Section, Overseas and Engineering Department of the British Broadcasting Corporation. During 1937 he was back at Canford Road, Clapham Common before moving to 18 Laburnum Road, Epsom for 1938. He applied for UK patents involving radio technologies in 1937 & 1939.

The 29 September 1939 Register recorded Edwin and Grace living at "The Bakery", Westmore Road, Godstone. The just 26 year old Edwin is listed as "BBC Engineer, Specialist in Shortwave Propagation Studies" and 24 year old Grace with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". Also at their address were the single 24 year old Helena Porter ("Spanish Assistant BBC Overseas Department') and single 31 year old Thomas Henn ("Editor: BBC Overseas Journal"). All four of their entries are annotated "Liable to travel". (The last person at the address was the apparently unrelated 63 year old widow Nellie Woodhouse, listed with "Unpaid Domestic Duties".)

E J Alway at BBC
E J Alway at BBC
Image courtesy of Wendy Jeffrey, a grand-daughter © 2014

Following his entry to the RAFVR, he was enlisted, for the duration of hostilities, Pilot Officer 77382, on probation from 6 January 1940. A transfer to Technical Branch in April was followed by elevation to the substantive rank of Flying Officer on 19 July of that year. Briefly, he had commanded a 'Listening Post', part of the 'Y' Service, set up in a caravan on corner of RAF Hawkinge which operated long range Hallicrafter VHF receivers listening to German transmissions. Having subsequently been attached to the Air Ministry for work on radio countermeasures, he was very shortly acting with the rank of Flight Lieutenant.

Knickebein - the German bombing beam

Prior to the War, the German aircraft industry had invested heavily in research and development of blind landing aids which allowed aircraft to approach an airport at night or in bad weather: the primary system developed for this role was called Lorenz. For bombing use the modifications to Lorenz were fairly minor but much larger antennae were needed to provide the required accuracy. This was achieved by using aerials with many more elements, but it retained the simple switching of two of the reflector elements to alter the beam directions very marginally. The beam angles were so dramatically reduced that it was only a few tens of yards wide over the target. It was the shape of the aerials that gave the new system its code name, Knickebein, which means "bent leg". For the required range, broadcast power was increased considerably. The Knickebein receivers were disguised as a standard blind landing system.

A single broadcaster would guide the bombers towards the target, but could not tell them when they were over it. To add this ranging feature, a second broadcaster similar to the first was set up so it crossed the guidance beam at the point where the bombs should be dropped. The aerials could be rotated to make the beams from two transmitters cross over the target. The bombers would fly into the beam of one and ride it until they started hearing the tones from the other (on a second receiver). When the steady "on course" sound was heard from the second beam, they dropped their bombs.

Map showing the positions of Knickebein transmitters during the battle of Britain.
Map showing the positions of Knickebein transmitters during the battle of Britain.
Map by Dahnielson and reproduced under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Early in June 1940 no signals which could be ascribed to a Knickebein beam had been detected in England. As a matter of urgency, however, arrangements were put in train to attempt interception. American VHF receivers were acquired, and modified to run on on 28 volts DC rather than 250 volts AC. Mountings and VHF aerials needed to be fitted to three elderly Anson Mk 1 aircraft (N9945, N9938 & L7983); all the work being undertaken almost single handed by Edwin J Alway, drawing on his experience with the BBC. On 19 June 1940, a test flight failed with a fault in the HT generator and nothing could be heard over the following night by detectors in N9945. Alway, who had previously been aboard was to tired to fly for a third test on 21 June. The three Ansons from Boscombe Down's Blind Flying Development Unit (under the command of Sqn. Leader R. S. Blucke) had been moved to RAF Wyton, Huntingdonshire, nearer the East Coast, and on that occasion the investigation flight proved successful.

On 5 September 1940, still working with BAT & DU (Blind Approach Training and Development Unit - otherwise Wireless Intelligence Development Unit ), Edwin was aboard another Avro Anson, R9815, engaged in a beam approach development flight whilst enemy aircraft were in area. A wing struck ground on the final approach and Fg. Off. K. Munro, Flt. Lt. E.J. Alway, Sgt. C.J. Hames, W.op/AG. Sgt. F.W.K. Wood, Obs. were casualties

Amongst other details the Flying Accident Card records:
"Crashed making Lorenz approach in fog. Flew into ground on a turn with subsequent bounce and stall from low height. Made approach down beam to left of contact lights. As boundary is in line with lights a/c (aircraft) turned or banked to avoid same, wheel hit ground."
Michael Cumming, writing Beam Bombers:The Secret War of No 109 Squadron in 1998, remarked on page 18: -
"...Anson crashed at Boscombe Down while making a blind approach landing in fog at night. Munro was the captain and pilot this time and he died in his plane, as did one of the NCOs in his crew. Two more died either in or on their way to hospital. One of the dead men was a member of an Air Ministry radio countermeasures establishment who had taken part in the very first investigations into the enemy's beams over Britain, Flight Lieutenant E J Alway. It was Alway who reported back to the Air Ministry after the initial flight on 19 June and it was Alway who flew as wireless operator the following day when Bafton made his debut investigative flight on resuming his service with BAT&DU. There was just a single survivor of this fatal crash, Sergeant A D F Allen, air gunner, who escaped with only slight injuries. Allen was awarded the George Medal for his actions during this incident."
The Air Ministry reported that Acting Flight Lieutenant E J Alway died of wounds or injuries received on active service, 5 September 1940, presumably having been extricated fron the crashed aircraft. His demise, aged 36, is recorded at Salisbury for the September quarter of 1940, with the other casualties from the crew.

Edwin was brought from Boscombe Down Aerodrome, Amesbury, back to Epsom Cemetery for burial on 9 September 1940. The widowed Grace took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave N.263 (in a group of CWGC graves),
"Rather death than false of faith".
While his headstone states his age as 37, the Cemetery records are more precise, specifying this as "36 yrs. 11 mths".

Edwin's Headstone in Epsom Cemetery
Edwin's Headstone in Epsom Cemetery
Image courtesy of Brian Bouchard © 2014

His mother, Mrs Eliza Martha (Graysmark) Alway from 38 Miles Road, Epsom,aged 64, was brought to be interred nearby, in Plot N 229, on 16 June 1942. Her huband George Edwin died 4 January 1962 in Epsom Hospital , aged 86 (reg. Surrey Mid E 3/1962) to be buried in the Cemetery on 8 Jan 1962 [Epsom & Ewell Herald, 12 Jan 1962. 'Last Tributes to Ald. G.E. Alway - Forty years of voluntary service acknowledged'].

The ashes of the widowed Mrs Grace Lilian Al(l)way of 18 Laburnum Road, who had died aged 72 in West Park Hospital, Epsom, on 8 February 1979 were scattered on Grave Space M263, 20 February 1979.

Edwin's Inscription on the BBC Roll of Honour
Edwin's Inscription on the BBC Roll of Honour
Image courtesy of Wendy Jeffery © 2014

Brian Bouchard ©2014
With additional information provided in 2016 by Martyn Rapley.
Updated 2018 by Roger Morgan.


The man who pulled Edwin Alway from the burning plane:


As you know, Edwin Alway died in a plane crash at RAF Boscombe Down on 5th September 1940.

My interest in Edwin Alway is that my wife's father was Dudley Allen who was the sole survivor of the crash and was subsequently awarded the George Medal for extricating three of the crew from the wreckage, including Edwin Alway, although sadly all three died of their injuries. Dudley only survived because he was in the turret gun position. At the time Dudley was a Sergeant and he eventually became a Squadron Gunnery Leader with the rank of Wing Commander. In the crash he suffered head injuries which caused his eyesight to steadily deteriorate and by the 1950's he was blind.

As part of my research into Dudley's life I was aware of Edwin Alway through RAF records and also from Michael Cummings' book "Beam Bombers: The Secret War of No 109 Squadron". When I came across your article during my research I was fascinated to learn about the earlier part of Edwin Alway's life. Given the crucial part he played in radio beam development during the early part of the war it does seem remarkable that his services were not recognised (as far as I am aware) by an award of some sort, albeit posthumously.

Martyn Rapley, January 2016


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ANGEL, John Lindsay. Lance Bombardier (1552212)

21 Light Anti-aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery
Died 2 August 1945, aged 29

John's gravemarker and the Yokohama War Cemetery
John's gravemarker and the Yokohama War Cemetery
Left: Photograph (12970261) by Michel Nelis via findagrave.com
Right: Photograoph with thaks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

John was born in August 1915, the third and last child of Henry Angel and Janet (née Lindsay - presumably the inspiration for John's middle name). Henry was originally from Liverpool and Janet from Leeds, but their 8 September 1909 marriage was in Meriden, Flintshire.

The April 1911 Census records the couple living at 35 Wingate Road in the Liverpool district of Garston. 30 year old Henry is listed as a "Cashier, Meat Importer". As usual, no occupation is listed for 29 year old housewife Janet who, in Q3 1910, had given birth to the third member of the household, 6 month old James.

Before long, the couple moved to London. The births of their second and third children (Elizabeth in January 1913 and John in August 1915) were both registered in Barnet, Middlesex (now the London Borough). The family then moved to Epsom and all, except for 29 year old James, are recorded in the September 1939 Register living at 27 Upper High Street. 58 year old Henry is listed as a "Commercial Clerk"; Janet, also 58, is listed with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties"; 26 year old Elizabeth is a "School Teacher"; and 24 year old John as a "Foreman" Nurseryman".

John had attested for the Royal Artillery in 1938 and his WW2 service was in its 21st Light Anti-aircraft Regiment. It seems likely that he was already providing anti-aircraft fire in the mid-1940 "Battle of Britain". When the threat of German invasion of the UK had properly receded, the Regiment was readied for deployment abroad. After what is reported as fairly cursory training in mobile warfare and with their equipment was painted in desert camouflage, the men sailed from the UK in early December 1941 on their way, so it was understood, to the Middle East via the Cape of Good Hope. (Unknown to the men, there was a secret plan for them to be part of a surprise attack on Tunisia. But that was aborted shortly after they left the UK, and they were then on the way to the Middle East.)

However, on reaching Capetown, they learned that Britain was at war with Japan, and they were instead re-routed to defend Singapore. By the time they neared Singapore, it was already under attack and they were diverted to Batavia on the jungle-covered island of Java, then part of the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). They were attacked by Japanese forces as they arrived in port.

Notwithstanding much fierce fighting - with heavy casualties on both sides - the Allies were overcome and surrendered to the Japanese in February 1942. John was among those then taken prisoner. Readily available records do not provide any information about most of John's time as a Japanese PoW but, like his fellow prisoners, he will have experienced some dreadful conditions and harsh treatment. At some point, he was taken to the Fukuoka PoW Camp on Japan's Kyushu Island - doubtless transported in the appallingly cramped and insanitary conditions of what rightly became known as "hellships".

Having endured 3½ years in captivity, John died on 2 August 1945, of acute enteritis and beriberi. This was nearly three months after hostilities ended in Europe on 8 May and less than a fortnight before Japan's surrender on 15 August.

John was first buried locally and, on 16 September 1946, reinterred as one of 1,507 WW2 casualties in the British Section of the Yokohama War Cemetery, on the west coast of Tokyo Bay, Japan. His family took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave N.D.1,
"Greatly beloved. 'Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God' "
Roger Morgan © 2018

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ANSELL, James Jack. Private (5574579)

4th Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment.
Died 10 July 1944, aged 29.

James was born in Epsom on 7 January 1915, the first of four children (all boys) born to James Edgar Ansell and Florence (née Ryan - they had married in Epsom Q2 1914). The 1939 Register records the family living at 180 Hook Road, Epsom. James Senior Is listed as a "Sewage Works Labourer"; Florence as a "Domestic Cleaner; and James junior as a "Leather Factory Colour Carrier". (His youngest brother, Edward born on 2 July 1903, also worked in a Leather Factory.)

James' WW2 service was in the 4th Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment. This was a Territorial Army unit called up to active duty in late 1939 and, for much of the war, was stationed in Great Britain. Its posting was near RAF Oakington, west of Cambridge with the task of defending the airfield in case of a German invasion. In November 1940, the Battalion was moved to Kent and undertook various defensive duties along its coast. (At some point, it was decided the Battalion would leave the division for service in "a hot climate". All men were given a short embarkation leave but, when they returned from this leave, the operation order was cancelled, much to the relief of the men.)

As the tide of the war turned, the Battalion became part of the massed forces training for the invasion of Normandy. That was launched with the D-Day landings on 6 June 1944. Many more waves of men and equipment followed after that. James' Battalion disembarked in Normandy a couple of weeks later and moved to the appointed concentration area at Sommervieu.

The Battalion was then engaged in the unexpectedly fierce and protracted fighting to capture the strategically-sited German stronghold of Caen, a few miles inland from the Normandy beaches. James was killed in this action, on 10 July 1944, shortly before the town was eventually taken. (Fighting on some of its outskirts continued until 6 August.)

James is one of the 2,038 Commonwealth burials in the Banneville-La-Campagne War Cemetery, about 5 miles east of Caen. (Almost all these men were killed in the fighting for Caen in that second week of July 1944.) His parents took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave XI.E.26,
"Gone from us but not forgotten never shall his memory fade. RIP."
The Banneville-La-Campagne War Cemetery, Caen
The Banneville-La-Campagne War Cemetery, Caen
Photograph with thanks to ww2cemeteries.com

Roger Morgan © 2018

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APPLEBY, John Francis ("Jack"), Corporal (6142115)

Royal Armoured Corps
Died 13 April 1942, aged 27

John/Jack's headstone in Birmingham (Lodge Hill) Cemetery
John/Jack's headstone in Birmingham (Lodge Hill) Cemetery
Photograph (83741652) by Myra Mason via findagrave.com

John - known as "Jack" - was born Q1 1915 in Dover, the second and last child of Thomas William Appleby and Ruth (née Beardwell - they had married in Q3 1907 in Lambeth). The parents have left a very light trace in the readily available records, probably explained by the 1939 Register recording the 68 year old Thomas as "Retired (Indian Army)". He and 67 year old Ruth (listed with the conventional "Unpaid domestic duties" were by then living at 23 Fairford Gardens, Worcester Park. Also living with them was their first child, 31 year old Dorothy Appleby, who is listed as a "shorthand typist"

24 year old John/Jack is not readily found in the 1939 Register - but his future wife, 22 year old Daisy Amelia Godbeer (a "Draper's Assistant") is listed living with her parents at 124 Brocks Drive, Sutton, only a couple of miles from Jack's parents in Fairford Gardens. Jack and Daisy married in Q4 1939, registered in the local Surrey Mid Eastern District. However, they made their home at 191 Farren Road, Northfield, Birmingham. No record has been found of their having any children.

Readily available records provide scant details of Jack's wartime service with the Royal Armoured Corps. Casualty List No. 802 reporting his death on 13 April 1942, states that he was in the RAC's 51 Training Regiment. His Death Certificate records that he died at All Saints Emergency Hospital, Bromsgrove of a prolonged epileptic attack. (This must have been late-onset epilepsy, otherwise he would surely have failed his medical on joining up.) The certificate also records that Jack had previously been a "Clerk for Electric Company".

Jack is one of 630 WW2 casualties buried in the Birmingham (Lodge Hill) Cemetery. His family took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave 2E.2890,
"At the going down / of the sun / and in the morning / we will remember you, Jack."
Roger Morgan © 2018

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ARCHER, Harriet

Civilian
Died 14 December 1940, aged 87

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission's database records that Harriet:
  • lived at 20 Pawson's Road, West Croydon;
  • was the widow of W Archer;
  • was injured 10 November 1940;
  • died on 14 December 1940, aged 87, at Horton Emergency Hospital, Epsom; and
  • is buried in Epsom Cemetery.
For someone with fairly common names, this limited information means that her family background cannot be traced with any confidence in the readily available records. And things are further complicated by the 1939 Register recording Harriet living alone at 20 Pawson's Road as a widowed pensioner, born on 15 April 1853 - but quite clearly with the surname Williams. Every other readily available record (including the General Record Office index of 1940 deaths and Epsom Cemetery's of her burial) has her surname as Archer.

Harriet's section of Pawson's Road was made up of small terraced houses. No 20 appears to have been divided into two flats: the 1939 Register records Sydney Hicks (a 41 year old plumber) and his wife Gertrude (with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties") as a separate household at the same address.

There are reports of a high explosive bomb falling in Pawson's Road in November 1940 which destroyed a number of properties included the terrace of which Harriet's No 20 was part. She was injured in the raid and taken to the Emergency Hospital at Horton - one of Epsom's cluster of mental hospitals that, as for WW1, had been taken over to deal with military and civilian wartime casualties. Just over a month after being injured, she died there on 14 December. (There is no record of Sydney and Gertrude Hicks, the other occupants of No 20 Pawson's Road in the 1939 Register, being wartime casualties.)

On 19 December 1940, Harriet was buried in Grave M438 of Epsom Cemetery, which now has no visible grave marker.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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ARNOLD, John Turney. Apprentice.

SS Lulworth Hill, Merchant Navy
Died 12 May 1943, aged 18.

John Turney Arnold in his uniform.
John Turney Arnold in his uniform.
Image source David Arnold © 2012

John Turney Arnold was born on 2 April 1925 in Camberwell to Edgar Arnold and Catherine, known as "Nina" (née Smith - their Q4 1918 marriage was registered in the Camberwell District). He was probably neither their first nor last child, but "Arnold" and Smith" are too common surnames to track others with any confidence in the readily available records. The family moved away from Camberwell. In 1931, the 6 year old John was attending Collingwood School for Boys, Wallington. The family then moved to West Ewell, and John attended Ewell Castle School.

Their address then was probably the 101 Bellfield Road, West Ewell at which they were recorded in the September 1939 Register. In that, 58 year old Edgar is listed as "LCC Clerk" and 43 year old Nina with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". 14 year old John is "at School", and his entry is followed by a currently closed record which is probably of a younger sibling. (The last entry at the address is the apparently unrelated Doris R-----ton, an unmarried 43 year old "Music Teacher". The surname is unclear as the Register entry is struck through when later overwritten with her married name of Miles.)

In 1941, the now 16 year old John joined the Merchant Navy as an apprentice, sailing with the 7,628 ton freighter, SS Lulworth Hill. He would have experienced at first hand the hazards of merchant shipping during wartime, and doubtless been in a number of convoys alongside ships that had been sunk by the enemy. (For the same reasons of denying supplies to the enemy, Allied forces also attached Axis shipping.)

Shortly before SS Lulworth Hill left Hull on Sunday 27 September 1942, John wrote a letter to his father which, prophetically, included the thought that "it may be us this trip".

After leaving Hull, SS Lulworth Hill sailed round the North of Scotland, three days later joining a convoy of 57 ships protected by a pack of frigates and corvettes, and led by a destroyer. She was carrying 7,000 tons of aircraft engines as well as 7,000 tons of high explosive 250lb bombs intended for the troops in North Africa. After only 7 hours, the convoy was attacked and at least 4 ships were sunk.

After a couple of weeks, the convoy split up and SS Lulworth Hill continued alone via Brazil, Cape Town, the Red Sea and Suez Canal, eventually arriving at Alexandria where the cargo was offloaded. On the return journey, the ship called at Mauritius to pick up 10,000 tons of sugar, some fibre and 400 tons of rum. After refuelling at the Cape, the plan had been to rendezvous with nine other ships in Walvis Bay for the convoy home. However, for some currently unknown reason, the crew were instructed to take her home alone.

While German U-boats were the major predators of Allied shipping in the Atlantic during WW2, Italy also operated a substantial fleet of submarines, although these were larger and less manoeuvrable than the German U-boats. Italian submarine commanders usually operated alone and preferred the method of torpedoing a victim from periscope depth before rising to the surface to finish of the attack with gunfire. In 1942 the Italian submarines based at Bordeaux, France, began venturing farther out to look for ships travelling alone in waters off the Caribbean, along the western coast of Africa and off north-eastern South America.

On 19 March 1943 the SS Lulworth Hill was attacked and sunk by the "Leonardo da Vinci", under Captain Gianfranco Gazzana-Priaroggia. The submarine surfaced among the struggling survivors and they hoped to be rescued but the captain shouted to them from his conning tower, "Your aircraft bomb our cities, you shall all die".

The Italian U-boat Leonardo da Vinci
The Italian U-boat Leonardo da Vinci
Image source Wikipedia

Fourteen men - including John - managed to board a life raft but, after 50 days adrift, only two remained alive. They were picked up by HMS Rapid on 7 May 1943. Both were later awarded the George Medal. One of them, Kenneth Cooke, described their ordeal in his book "What Cares The Sea?"

The two survivors of the SS Lulworth Hill after 50 days adrift.
The two survivors of the SS Lulworth Hill after 50 days adrift.
Image source not known

John Turney Arnold, having spent his eighteenth birthday on the raft, died on 12 April 1943. In addition to his entry in the Borough's Book Of Remembrance at Epsom's Town Hall, his name can also be seen in Panel 66 of the Merchant Navy Memorial at Tower Hill, London; the Book of Remembrance at Ewell Castle School; the Urban Saints Memorial at Westbrook House, Isle of Wight; and a memorial plaque at the National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas, Staffordshire.

Information supplied by John's brother David Arnold.


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ASHDOWN, Michael Henry Charles. Sergeant/Pilot (1320551)

75 Squadron (NZ), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
Died 26 July 1943, aged 20.

Michael Ashdown and his headstone in Cuddington Cemetery
Michael Ashdown and his headstone in Cuddington Cemetery
Pictures from findagrave.com

Michael was born Q1 1923. The birth was registered in Eastry, Kent, where his parents - Charles Robert Ashdown and Ivy Ann (née Hopper) had married in Q3 1920. The couple had at least one other child: Robert was born on 27 March 1927, also registered in Eastry (near Kent's east coast).

At some point, the family move to 22 Kinross Avenue Worcester Park. The 1939 Register records them there with Charles listed as "Staff Superintendent, Pullman Car Co (Railway Restaurant Carriages)" and Ivy with the conventional ""Unpaid Domestic Duties". (On the original register, but not the transcript, it is noted that Ivy was also involved with the Civil Nursing Auxiliary Service - and also that Charles was a Special Constable.) There are two currently closed records at the address, one of which is likely to be the 16 year old Michael's.

Michael's WW2 service was as a pilot with 75 Squadron (NZ), part of the RAF's Bomber Command. (The "NZ" in the Squadron's name is because, in 1940, a Flight from New Zealand Flight had been redesignated No 75 (New Zealand) Squadron. It was the only Commonwealth Squadron to include its country name in its official title, and the only one to operate as a standard RAF squadron - the others served "on attachment" to the RAF.)

In 1943, 75 Squadron, flying Short Stirling heavy bombers, was based at RAF Mepal (Near Ely) Thanks to the detailed history of 75 Squadron at https://75nzsquadron.wordpress.com, we know that Michael's first mission was on 4 July 1943 when he flew one of four Stirlings from the Squadron to drop mines off Ile de Re, an island off the west coast of France near La Rochelle. His second mission was on 8 July, dropping mines in the Gironde estuary. On 13 July, he was 2nd pilot on his first bombing raid - on Aachen. On 24 July, he piloted his aircraft during a bombing raid on Hamburg.

The Short Stirling
The Short Stirling
Image courtesy of www.flying-tigers.co.uk

Late on the next day, 25 July, he and his crew of six took off in Stirling Mk.III EE892 AA-F with nineteen other aircraft for a bombing raid on Essen. The mission was successfully completed but Michael's aircraft came down in the sea off Southwold, Suffolk, while returning to base. Eyewitness reports indicated that the Stirling was on fire before it struck the water. All on board perished. Four bodies, including Michael's, were picked up by the Aldeburgh lifeboat crew.

Michael is buried in Worcester Park (Cuddington) Cemetery. His parents took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave L.1273,
"ONE OF THE FEW."
For reasons yet to be discovered, he is also remembered on the WW2 Memorial Panel in St Mary's Church, Sunbury-on-Thames.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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ASHLING, Oliver Charles. Private (6289356)

5th Bn. The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment
Died 3 July 1940 Age 20

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Oliver was born in Kent in Q3 1919, the first of eight children born to Alfred O Ashling and Dorothy (née Veasey - they married Q3 1918, registered in the Elham District of Kent, between Folkestone and Canterbury).

The 1939 Register records the family living at 5 Morrison Road, Folkestone. 46 year old Arthur is listed as "Hardware Stores Manager" and 44 year old Dorothy with "Household Duties". There are eight other records at the address, seven of which are currently closed. But these are doubtless their eight children - including the 18/19 year old Oliver, since the open record is their third child (13 year old Gladys - who died in 1991), third in sequence of the records after the parents. At some point during WW2, the family moved to 11 Ewell Bypass - hence the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's post-war records noting that the parents were "of Ewell, Surrey".

Oliver's WW2 service was in the 5th Battalion of Royal East Kent Regiment, known as "The Buffs". The Battalion was sent to France in 1940 in a support role to the British Expeditionary Force. Following the unexpectedly rapid German invasion in mid-May 1940, the Battalion was quickly pressed into front-line action - not least in the fighting retreat to Dunkirk and the 27 May to 4 June evacuation.

There were many losses during the retreat. These included Oliver who was injured and taken prisoner. He died - presumably of his injuries - as a PoW on 3 July 1940, and buried locally. In 1946, he was one of 165 WW2 casualties brought in from various sites for reburial in the London Cemetery and Extension, Longueval, in NE France. This is the third largest cemetery on the Somme with 3,873 WW1 burials (3,114 of them unidentified). The 165 WW2 burials are in one central plot at the extreme end of the cemetery, behind the Cross of Sacrifice.

The London Cemetery and Extension, Longueva
The London Cemetery and Extension, Longueva
Photograph via Wikimedia Commons

Oliver's parents took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave 13.E.20,
"Parting is bitter pain but courage bids us struggle on until we meet again."

Roger Morgan © 2018

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ATKINSON, Trevor Marsh. Apprentice

SS Berwickshire (Glasgow), Merchant Navy
Died 20 August 1944, aged 20

Unusually, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database gives no family background for Trevor - nor even his age when he died.

Other searches find that Trevor was born in Croydon Q2 1924 and was thus 20 when he died. He was the second child of Richard Atkinson and Bessie (née Russell - they had married in Croydon Q3 1920). Richard was a builder and seems to have moved around: the couple had a number of other children in various locations, including Theresa, born Q3 1929 in Epsom. That appears to be the link with the Borough, as the family subsequently moved to Port Gaverne on the north Cornish coast.

The SS Berwickshire
The SS Berwickshire
Photo courtesy of the Allen Collection
(via uboat.net, from which also came the details below)

Trevor served as an apprentice on the cargo ship SS Berwickshire. In August 1944, the ship was part of Convoy DN-68 en route from Liverpool to Tamatave (in Madagascar) via Durban. She was carrying 6,000 tons of general cargo and a deck cargo of 70 tons of high octane motor spirit in drums.

About midway between Durban and Tamatave, the SS Berwickshire was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-861. Eight crew members - including Trevor - were lost. The master, 82 crew members and eleven gunners were picked up by the escort ship HMS Norwich City and landed at Durban.

Trevor is commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial as one of nearly 24,000 merchant seamen who were WW2 casualties and have no known grave.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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AUSTEN, Kate Dorothy. State Registered Nurse

Civilian
Died 21 March 1946, aged 55

Not listed in the Book of Remembrance

Dorothy was born on 24 February 1891, apparently the fifth of six children born to William George Austen and Emma Elizabeth (née Elmore - they had married in Walmer, Kent, on 22 May 1882). She was baptised on 28 June 1891 at St Luke's, Ramsgate. The 1911 Census records the six children living at 5 Dane Road, Ramsgate with their widowed 40 year old father, listed as a domestic gardener.

Kate (who never married) qualified as a nurse. The 1939 Register records her as 2nd Assistant Matron at the Orpington Hospital. This had been built in 1915/16 as a military hospital and, after WW1, was taken over by the then Ministry of Pensions to provide treatment and care for a thousand disabled ex-servicemen. It later became the Orpington Hospital, a municipal general hospital for the local population but, during WW2, became an Emergency Medical Service Hospital: it received many evacuees from Dunkirk at the end of May, 1940.

The readily available records do not show when Kate moved from Orpington to the Queen's Road Homes in Croydon. These had been a workhouse which, when taken over by Croydon Borough Council in 1930, were renamed the "Queen's Road Homes" after their location. They continued in use as a home for the destitute in which workhouse conditions prevailed until WW2. Under the Emergency Medical Scheme, they then became a Class 2 hospital for war casualties.

The cause of Kate's injuries on 19 February 1944 may well have been the high explosive bomb that, late in WW2, destroyed part of the southern wing of the Homes. Kate was taken to the Emergency Hospital at Horton - one of Epsom's cluster of mental hospitals that, as for WW1, had been taken over to deal with military and civilian wartime casualties. Over a year later, she died there on 21 March 1946.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission notes Kate as being "of 30 Dane Road, Ramsgate, Kent". However, the 27 September 1946 record of Probate on her £670 estate being awarded to her brother (Edgar Ernest Austen, a trawler skipper) lists her as being "of 9 Dane Road, Ramsgate." Both addresses are only a few doors away from her childhood home at No 5.

Roger Morgan © 2018

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AYLING, Alfred


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

Alfred's entry in the Borough's Book of Remembrance is one of only two among its 342 names to give no indication of the person's service (or, in the case of civilian casualties, to note the cause of death as "Enemy Action"). The other instance is Eric Hutchins, but material in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's database has enabled at least some of his story to be told.

Sadly, that is not the case here. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission's database lists two Alfred Aylings, neither of whom has yet been found as having any connection with the Borough. They are:
  • Alfred Charles Ayling, the 10 year old son of Alfred Ayling, of Flathurst, Petworth who died at Petworth Boys' School on 29 September 1942; and
  • Alfred Douglas Charles Ayling, Stoker 1st Class (P/KX 121007) on HMS Cornwall, Royal Navy, who died on 5 April 1942, aged 24. He was the son of Frederick and Beatrice Ayling; and husband of Ada Ayling, of Peckham, London.)
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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