Owen Walter Charles




4th Battalion, Dorset Regiment

Killed In Action on the 2nd August 1944.


Owen lived at 105 Letchmore Road and before the war was the captain of the Stevenage Town football club. He had been a member of the Home Guard and joined the Army in June 1943. In September of that year he became married. Owen was killed in action during on the 2nd August 1944, during the Normandy campaign, when the 4th Dorset Regiment led the 130th Brigade in a breakout along the Caumont to Ondefontaine road. It’s objective was the capture of the villages of Jurques, La Bigne and Ondefontaine. At 0115 hours the Battalion moved off at a steady pace heading South-westwards. The summer days were blisteringly hot and many of the troops, mounted on tanks, kept dropping off to sleep. The Battalion was involved in many small actions during their advance and it was during one of these that Owen Abbiss was killed.

He is buried in the Hottot-Les-Bagues War Cemetery, Tilly-Sur-Seuilles, France.




Jack Stanley ALLEN 



499 Battery.  135th (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment.

Royal Artillery

Died Of Wounds on the 13th February 1942 aged 22.


Before joining the Army Jack had worked at the Shelford and Crowe garage in Stevenage and was later employed at De Havillands. At the outbreak of war the men of the Territorial forces were called to arms and Jack’s unit spent the early war years serving in various locations around the UK. The Regiment sailed from Liverpool on the 28th October 1941, it’s original destination being the Middle East. On route orders were received diverting the Regiment to the Far East. After a long, arduous, eight-week journey that had taken them via Halifax, Cape Town & Bombay the Regiment arrived in Ahmednagar on the 27th December. After three weeks of intensive acclimatisation and training the Regiment embarked on the USS West Point for Singapore where they arrived at dawn on the 29th January 1942, just two weeks before the island fortress would capitulate to the forces of the Japanese Imperial Army.  On the 9th February the Japanese landed on the northwestern side of the island and began what was to be the greatest defeat the British army had ever suffered. The Battery, with no combat experience, was called to defend the British colony and was involved in a series of bitter engagements with the enemy. Although no official records have survived it is believed that Jack was wounded during one of these actions and was amongst the many casualties taken to the Singapore Hospital where he later died.

He is buried in the Kranji War Cemetery although his original grave has been lost. His headstone is marked, " buried near this spot" .






Harold Bernard BATCHELOR


Flight Sergeant (Air Gunner)

69 Squadron. Royal Air Force

Missing In Action on the 24th November 1941 aged 32.


Dick Batchelor, as he was known, spent a short time at Alleynes School after having moved to the town from Watford. He still managed, however, to make a considerable name for himself by becoming part of the school cricket and football teams. After leaving school he joined the St. Albans police force as a cadet but this was not for very long as he soon joined W. Saunders Motors in Hemel Hempstead. In July 1939 Dick joined the RAF and was posted to Cheltenham for aircrew training. He joined 69 Squadron as a Sergeant Observer flying Sunderland Flying Boats and in 1940 the Squadron was posted to Malta. On the 24th November 1941, whilst operating from Luqa airfield, Harold Batchelor was aboard a Martin Maryland, BJ427, which was performing a reconnaissance flight southeast of Messina. It is not apparent what happened to the aircraft but it failed to return from this operation and two subsequent searches failed to find any sign of it.

Harold has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Malta Memorial. (Panel 1 Column 1.)


Crew of MARYLAND Mk1 BJ427





John Keogh HUTT
David Alcorn McKELL RAAF
Harold Bernard BATCHELOR



John Frederick BATES 


Sergeant (Wireless Operator)

106 Squadron. Royal Air Force

Killed In Action on the 26th June 1943 aged 22.



John Bates was the eldest son of Thomas and Florence Bates of " Regalwood" , Church Lane. He was educated at Stevenage Boys School and was later employed for four years at the Stevenage Printing Works.  John joined the RAF in January 1941 and after completing his training as a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner was posted to 106 Squadron.

John was the Wireless Operator on a Lancaster Mk.1, W4256, which left Syerston airfield on the 26th June 1943 as part a force of 473 aircraft sent to attack the Synthetic Oil plants in Gelsenkirchen, by this time he had been on operational duties for over six months. This was the first raid on Gelsenkirchen since 1941 and the target was obscured by cloud. The Pathfinding Mosquitoes were unable to mark the target accurately as five of them found their " OBOE" equipment to be unserviceable. The raid was not a success and thirty aircraft were lost of which thirteen were Lancaster's, one being W4256. The aircraft had crashed at Hippolytushoef some 14 Kilometres East-South-East of Den Helder in Holland, probably as the result of a night-fighter attack.

John is buried with thirteen other Airmen, including his crewmates, in the Wieringen (Hippolytushoef) General Cemetery, Holland. It was not until November 1946 that the War Graves Unit in the care of the local residents discovered his grave.



Stephen George WHITE
Gerard William Board ENRIGHT
J/22535 25
James Edgar Donald CRAIGIE  RCAF
Eric Charles CROOK
John Frederick BATES
Maxwell Birdwood WATT  RAAF
Edwin Thomas HARDING






35th County of London (Civil Service) Battalion

Home Guard

Killed In Action on the 16th September 1940 aged 35.


Phillip was the son of Thomas & Violet Seager-Berry of Crossways, Stevenage. He was educated at Charterhouse and Trinity College, Cambridge and he later became a lawyer. He left the bar on his father's death to become a solicitor in his former firm in the city of London. Phillip joined the ARP service for the Westminster area and on his mother's death he moved to Vincent Square, Westminster. At about this time he joined the Ministry of Economic Warfare. He then joined the Home Guard and was killed whilst on duty in Berkley Square, London. 

Phillip is buried in the St.Nicholas churchyard, Stevenage.



Donald Edwin BLOW 



518 Air Ministry Experimental Station (Radar).

Royal Air Force

Missing on the 14th February 1942 aged 21.

Donald was the son of George & Jessie Blow who ran a bakery in the High Street. He joined the RAF in 1940 and was engaged on Radio and Radar work. 518 AMES was set up at Koto Tinggi airfield in October 1941 to help improve the defences of the area in the event of a war.

Life at the Radar station was fairly routine until the forces of the Imperial Japan made an attack on Malaya. On the 14th February 1942 Donald was reported as " Missing - Believed to be a POW" as he was amongst the thousands of servicemen who were caught up in the invasion of Singapore by the Japanese. It is believed that he was killed in action but due to the nature of his work the invading forces may have murdered him.

Donald has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Singapore Memorial. (Column 417)




Michael Franklin BRIDEN       


Flying Officer (Pilot)

149 Squadron. Royal Air Force

Missing In Action on the 18th December 1939 aged 22.


Michael was the son of Franklin & Marion Briden and the husband of Joyce Briden. He was one of the first men from North Hertfordshire to be killed whilst serving with the RAF. On the 18th December 1939 Michael was the Pilot of a Wellington, N2961, which after taking off from Mildenhall airfield was detailed to attack German Shipping at Wilhelmshaven . Twenty-Four Wellingtons were despatched and ordered not to attack at less than 10,000ft. to enable them to avoid the worst of the flak. Twenty-Two aircraft reached the target and several German ships, that were seen off of Wilhelmshaven, were bombed. Weather conditions were cloudless and visibility was perfect. This was the first time during the war that German Fighters were directed to the Bomber force by a ground controller. Information was being relayed from an experimental " Freya" radar station situated on the nearby island of Wangerooge. The radar station had detected the Wellingtons when they were some 70 miles out on their approach flight. Flak then caused the formation to open out and this enabled the Fighters of 4/JG 2 to come in and Twelve of the bombers were shot down.

During the attack the port wing tanks on Briden's aircraft were damaged by a Fighter and he asked the leader to take the shortest route home as he was losing fuel. When they were between 40 - 60 miles off of the coast between Cromer and Sheringham the engines spluttered and the aircraft dropped back. It then glided down and landed in the sea, turning 90 degrees to Starboard as it did so with waves breaking over the fuselage, the time by now was 15.05pm. The aircraft remained afloat for five minutes with it's nose down in the water. The dinghy was inflated and was seen by the nose of the aircraft with three of the crew around it. When the aircraft went down the dinghy was seen to be on end with three of the crew hanging on to it. That, despite an extensive search by the Cromer lifeboat, H.F.Bailey, was the last anyone ever saw of them. No survivors were ever found but the bodies of P/O William Brown and AC2 Alan Foster were eventually washed ashore, William Brown is buried in Norwich cemetery. The loss of such a large part of the formation had a major effect on the policy of the British Bomber Commanders. The validity of the self-defending Bomber formation was, it seemed, placed in serious doubt. 

He has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Runnymeade memorial.


Crew of WELLINGTON N2961





Michael Franklin  BRIDEN
William Stanley Francis BROWN
Valentine Henry Garner RICHARDSON
Peter John WARREN
Alan Gordon FOSTER
Isaac Davidson LEIGHTON





George William CHAMBERS


Lance Bombardier

75th Medium (Shropshire Yeomanry) Regiment. Royal Artillery

Killed In Action on the 12th April 1945 aged 29.


George was the son of Herbert & Sarah Chambers and the husband of Doreen Chambers of Moss Side, Manchester. On the day of his death the unit was in action in the area near the Imola Bridge in Italy. No details are given in the Unit War Diary as to how many casualties were suffered by the Regiment.

George is buried in the Faenza War Cemetery, Italy. (3.C.10.)




Edwin Robert COULDREY


Lance Bombardier

No. 8 Commando & Royal Artillery

Missing In Action on the 18th August 1942 aged 27.


Ted was born into a soldiering family in 1916 the youngest son of Catherine Couldrey of Hellards Road. His father had died from his wounds whilst in action during the First World War. Ted was educated at the Stevenage Boys School and later worked at the ESA factory. He joined a local unit of the Territorial Army and later went on to serve with the Royal Artillery as a regular soldier and saw active service in both the North West Frontier of India and in the Middle East. He was preparing to join the South African Police Force when the war broke out and returned to England where he was stationed at Folkestone. Ted was one of the first to volunteer for the Commandos and, after training, was sent to Burma in 1941. In a last letter home he described how he was “going native”, an expression used to explain that he was about to embark on a jungle patrol.

He is believed to have been involved in an operation known as Mission 204. This was a top-secret mission to train Chinese guerrillas to fight the Japanese. The small team of men were located in the mountains with the Chinese guerrillas until September 1942, when the project was abandoned. The troops suffered from malaria, dysentery and typhus which may have been the cause of his death

He has No Known Grave and his name is recorded on the Rangoon Memorial, Burma. (Face 2)




Stanley CROSSE



1st Battalion, Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment

Died on the 26th April 1946 aged 19.


Stanley was the son of Jesse & Ruth Crosse. His father was the Farm Manager to the Keysall family of Trotts Hill Farm.

Young Stanley was educated at Letchmore Road Boys School and at the age of 14, became a Porter on the LNER Line at Stevenage. He later worked for Ibcol before joining the Army.

After carrying out his initial training at 53 PTW in Bury St Edmunds he spent some time with the 8th Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment before being posted to India with Beds & Herts Regiment.

Whilst in India he contracted Typhoid Fever and died at the Dehra Dun Military Hospital.

He is buried in the Delhi War Cemetery, India. (3.H.4.)




Thomas EARLE 


Sergeant (Flight Engineer)

426 “Thunderbird” Squadron. Royal Air Force

Killed In Action on the 26th March 1944 aged 22.


Thomas was the son of Thomas & Elizabeth Earle. After joining the RAF he trained as a Flight Engineer and on completion of his training was posted to 426 Squadron, a Canadian unit of the RAF.

He flew a total of 16 Operational flights with his crew but on 18th March 1944 misfortune struck their faithful chariot, Lancaster DS 711, which had carried them on many missions. It was damaged in a taxiing accident whilst returning from a raid on Frankfurt. Damage sustained to the Tail, Starboard Wing and Fuselage meant that the aircraft would be out of service and they would be forced to use alternative aircraft.

On the Night of 26th March they took off in the alternative aircraft, Lancaster Mk.2 DS789 OW-A, from their base at Linton to attack a target in Essen. Thomas was in his usual Flight Engineer position. The flight was relatively uneventful but, at a point some 10 miles west of Gelsenkirchen, over the town of Boltrop the aircraft received a direct hit from a flak shell and exploded in mid-air.

All the crew were instantly killed and they are buried in the Reichswald Forest Cemetery, Germany.


Crew of LANCASTER Mk.2  DS789 OW-A





Alan Ludvig OLSSON  RCAF
Jack Olavi KOIVU   RCAF
Thomas EARLE
Charles Garnet PHINNEY  RCAF
Reginald Victor JONES
Francis Edward FOX





William James Dixon ELLIS 



21st Bomb Disposal Company. Royal Engineers

Killed on the 9th November 1945 aged 23.


William was the son of Henry & Grace Ellis and the husband of Phillis Ellis. After leaving school he had worked at ESA and was a member of the local Home Guard. He joined the army in 1940 and entered the Royal Engineers. Where he served in a Bomb Disposal Unit.

In 1943 William married Phyllis Scott and the couple lived at 46 Grove Road, Stevenage. On the 9th November 1945 he was involved in clearing mines, which had been laid behind the sea wall in Lowestoft. One of the mines exploded and instantly killed William and his comrade. It is a sad irony that after five years of war service involving the clearing of many enemy bombs that William should be killed by one of our own mines.

He is buried in the St.Nicholas churchyard, Stevenage. (Plot A. Grave 99)






Royal Signals


Killed between 28th May & 2nd June 1940 aged 32.

The son of Francis & Grace Franklin he was born in May 1908 and was educated at Alleynes school between 1917 & 1925. Gordon was then employed by the Post Office as an electrical engineer and worked in Rugby, Cambridge and London. He was amongst the many servicemen who were killed or went missing during the BEF retreat from France. Due to the confusion of the retreat and the fact that many official records were lost the exact cause of his death is not known.

Gordon is buried in the Dunkirk Town Cemetery, France. (2.18.28).



Arthur James FROY


2nd Hertfordshire Battalion

Home Guard

Died on the 21st September 1943 aged 21.


Arthur was the son of Claude & Ada Froy and the husband of Monica Froy. He was a keen Rover Scout, and lived at 103 Haycroft Road with his wife of only 14 weeks. He was employed as a Draughtsman at Kryn & Lahy in Letchworth and was an enthusiastic member of the Home Guard. On returning from a weekend camp at Knebworth he complained of an irritating insect bite on the back of his neck. Over the following week things became increasingly worse and he was eventually admitted to Hertford Hospital where he died on the following Tuesday from blood poisoning.

He is buried in the St.Nicholas churchyard, Stevenage. (Grave 658).


George Henry GAYLOR GM



11th Bomb Disposal Company. Royal Engineers

Killed on the 7th August 1946 aged 30.

George was born in Stevenage and educated at the Letchmore Road School. After leaving school he was employed at ESA in Stevenage for four years in the firms paint-dipping workshop. When he reached 18 years of age he decided to join the Army and entered his fathers old corps, the Royal Engineers. George served in Malta for four years and left the Army just before the outbreak of war. As a reserve he was re-called to the service when the war began and again served with the Royal Engineers. He was employed on bomb disposal work and was eventually commissioned as a Lieutenant. It appears that he also helped to train saboteurs and covert operatives at the Commando training school at Tatlers Farm near Stevenage. George then married a girl named Ruth and they had two children, Anthony & Janet.  He was awarded the George Medal for Bomb Disposal underwater in the wreckage of the Railway Bridge across the Albert Canal at Hasselt, Belgium between the 6th-8th November 1944.

He acted as the company diver and went down some 30ft under the water into the wreckage after the retreating German forces had destroyed the bridge. An explosive device containing three fuses was still live and George managed to successfully defuse the bomb and allow the British forces to carry on building a new railway bridge for the advancing allied forces. After the war had ended George remained in the Army and was employed on the dangerous work of clearing British mines and bombs from the coastline. On the 7th August 1946 George was off duty when some mines were detected at Rattery Head, a beach north of Aberdeen. He volunteered to go out to the site with two young recruits, one of whom had only been with the company for three weeks. During the process of defusing the mines one of them exploded and killed all three members of the team.

His body was transferred to London and he lays buried in the Abney Park cemetery, Stoke Newington, London.



Edward Victor HEMMINGS 



2nd Battalion, Ox & Bucks Light Infantry (Airborne)

Killed on the 1st May 1945 aged 18.


Edward was the son of Albert & Bertha Hemmings of 29 Whitesmead Road. After leaving school he was employed at G W Kings in the town. On the 20th July 1944 he joined the army and was initially in the Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment but later transferred to the 2 Ox & Bucks Light Infantry, part of the Airborne forces. It was not until February 1945 that Edward was posted overseas with the Battalion and was involved in the allied advance into Germany.

On the day of his death the Unit War Diary records that the Battalion was located in the area around Norstorf in Germany and spent most of the day rounding up Prisoners Of War from the farms and woods in the locality. There appears to be no official record of Edward’s death and, initially, it appears that the circumstances were unknown. Unofficial reports, however, claim that whilst examining captured enemy arms he accidentally shot himself with a Luger pistol.

Edward is buried in the British War Cemetery in Berlin. (10.J.7)



Frederick Albert HILL



No. 14 General Transport Company. Royal Army Service Corps

Killed In Action on the 14th April 1943 aged 22.


Frederick was the son of  Frederick & Rose Hill of 12 Haycroft Road. He was educated at Walkern School. Frederick was employed for 5 years, before joining the Army, with Eastman’s butchers in the High Street. He joined up in 1941 and had been serving overseas for 20 months when he was killed.  The unit War Diary gives little indication as to how Frederick met his fate but merely states that three men were killed as the result of enemy action.

Frederick is buried in the Enfidaville War Cemetery, Tunisia. (6.E.7.). 


Oliver George JEFFS



2nd Battalion, Suffolk Regiment

Died Of Wounds on the 27th January 1944 aged 21.


Oliver was the son of Harold & Alice Jeffs of 15 Ellis Avenue. Before joining the Army he was employed by Oakmead nurseries, Stevenage. He joined the Home Guard as soon as it was formed and later volunteered for the RAF but was rejected. The battalion was positioned near Maungdaw and was heavily engaged with Japanese troops. It is uncertain at what stage Oliver was hit but he died as a result of wounds he received during the action.

Oliver is buried in the Calcutta Bhowanipore cemetery, India. (Plot L Grave 125.)



William John JENKINS



5th  Battalion, Dorset Regiment

Killed In Action on the 16th February 1945 aged 29.


William was the son of William & Bertha Jenkins and the husband of Beatrice Jenkins of 56 Ellis Avenue. He was mistakenly reported as killed in action in North Africa whilst serving with the Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment. However, he was wounded in the thigh at Caen in July 1944 when his Battalion was involved in the storming of a wood.

On the 15th February 1945 the Battalion was involved in the push across the Rhine and the taking of the town of Goch. They set off towards the town of Berghof where they were tasked with capturing several objectives. After an hours march they arrived on the outskirts of the town where they came under machine gun fire from both the enemy and troops of the 7th Hampshire Regiment. It was not until the early hours of the 16th February that the situation became clear. At the same time as the Dorset’s had approached Berghof the enemy had counter attacked the town. The 7th Hampshire’s, not realising the situation, were not only keeping the Germans at bay but also the men of the 5th Dorset’s.  William was killed during this action, possibly by British troops.

He is buried in the Reichswald Forest cemetery, Germany. (56.F.2).



Ralph William LINES



14th Battalion, Notts & Derbys Regiment

(Sherwood Foresters)

Missing In Action on the 17th March 1944.


Ralph was a pupil at Alleynes grammar school, which he left early to help run his fathers ironmongers business in the High Street. The store had to be temporarily closed in 1940 when Ralph joined the army. He was one of four brothers in the services and he served in both the Middle East and Italy.

Many of his letters home reflected the discomforts a soldier suffered whilst serving in hostile conditions but they never failed to show how extremely proud he was of his Regiment.

On the 17th March 1944 Ralph was leading a patrol against German positions located in a “wadi” in Italy. Previous heavy artillery fire had not affected the German troops who were entrenched on the reverse slope of the wadi. The patrol was held up by small arms fire from the enemy positions and was eventually forced to pull back with four men wounded and two missing. It is believed that Ralph was wounded and left behind along with a comrade. Although it is not known with any certainty what happened to him it is believed he was killed by enemy troops.

He has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Cassino Memorial, Italy. (Panel 8.) 


Leonard John MEAN



5th Battalion, Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment

Died on the 21st September 1943 aged 30.


Len lived at “Oakfields” 37 London Road, Stevenage.

The Japanese captured him, along with the rest of the Battalion, during the invasion of Singapore.

The Battalion had sailed from Liverpool in the SS “Reina Del Pacifico” on the 29th October 1941, it’s original destination being the Middle East. On route orders were received diverting the Battalion to the Far East. After a long and arduous journey that had taken them via Halifax, Cape Town & Bombay the Battalion arrived in Ahmednagar on the 29th December.

After three weeks of intensive acclimatisation and training the Battalion embarked on the USS West Point for Singapore where they arrived at dawn on the 29th January 1942, just under two weeks before the island fortress would capitulate to the forces of the Japanese Imperial Army.

He died whilst in captivity and is buried in the Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery, Burma. (B1.M.4.)


Bertie Leonard MOULES



115th Field Regiment. Royal Artillery

Drowned on the 14th July 1944 aged 35.


Jim, as he was known, was the son of Leonard & Lizzie Moules of Haycroft Road. He was employed by Stevenage UDC before the war and joined the Army in 1941. He was posted to India in 1942 whilst serving with the Royal Artillery.

On the 14th July 1944 Jim was taking part in a training exercise at Satpur that involved crossing a local river. On their return they found that the river had swollen due to the monsoon rains. It is believed that Jim became separated from his section and tried to cross the river alone. He appeared to have slipped and struck his head on rocks and was washed down stream, where he drowned.

He is buried in the Kirkee War Cemetery, India. (1.D.10.)




Barry Stuart NEWTON 



12th  Battalion, Kings Royal Rifle Corps

Killed In Action on the 2nd April 1945 aged 22.

Barry Newton was the only son of Sir Charles & Lady Newton of East Grinstead who were resident at the Cromwell Hotel in Stevenage. He left Eastbourne College and joined the Kings Royal Rifle Corps in August 1941 and was posted to the Regiment's 12th Battalion in March 1943. He was with them when they landed at the Normandy town of Courseulles - Sur - Mer on the 17th June 1944.

On the 27th June the Battalion was in support of an attack on the villages of Vendes & Rauray. His platoon cleared the church at Le Manoir and he was discussing its use as a platoon HQ with his Sergeant when suddenly the church spire fell at his feet. It had been blown there by a shell from a Tiger tank, which was discovered to be only 40 yards away from their position. The battalion was ordered to withdraw which enabled the platoon to bring in their wounded, Barry Newton amongst them. Barry rejoined the battalion on the 15th August 1944 and served with " B" company during its push through France, Belgium and  Holland.

On the 2nd April 1945 the battalion was part of the advance guard for the 43rd Division in its move to cross the Twenthe canal in the region Southwest of Hengelo. A reconnaissance by some forward elements found no sign of the enemy and it was decided to try and make a crossing at a lock where there was a bridge linking the canal banks. However, it was difficult to see the enemy layout on the opposite side of the canal so any likely enemy positions were first shelled. As soon as the first Rifleman went over the canal bank the enemy reacted with a vengeance. A deadly cross fire from heavy machine guns swept across the bridges and their approaches. The two leading platoons attempted to fight their way across but they were soon pinned down. By now shell and mortar fire had caught the third platoon in open ground near the canal bank where they were almost completely annihilated. Casualties were so high that the whole assault had to be called off. It was at a point during this action that Barry was killed.

He is buried in the Jonkerbos War Cemetery, Holland.



Charles William Roy ODDIE



17th Field Regiment. Royal Artillery

Killed In Action on the 18th January 1943 aged 28.

The son of Thomas & Frances Oddie who lived at Tower Lodge, Stevenage. Charles was educated at Alleynes Grammar School where he later became Head Boy and Captain of Boxing.

When he first left school he was employed at Halls bank in Fleet Street, London but he soon left there to join the Army. Charles was a career soldier who had trained for four years in the Honourable Artillery Company and was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1937. He had fought in France and was amongst the last troops to be evacuated from Dunkirk. He served in West Africa and was later posted to serve with the 1st Army in the Middle East.

On the 18th January 1943 his Regiment was at Bou Arada near Medjez El Bab in North Africa when an assault took place by a large force of enemy tanks. Charles was in a forward Observation Post when it was hit by shellfire from one of the tanks.

He is buried in the Massicault War Cemetery, Tunisia. (3.N.19.)



Kenneth Ivan OLIVER


Aircraftsman 2nd Class (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner)

Royal Air Force (VR).

Killed on the 14th February 1942 aged 19.


Kenneth was the son of Arthur & Queenie Oliver of 109 Walkern Road. He was educated at the Handside School in Welwyn Garden City and at the Stevenage Boys School in Letchmore Road.

After leaving school Kenneth was employed as junior draughtsman with the British Tabulating Company in Letchworth. He joined the RAF in September 1941 and was training to be a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner.

On Sunday the 15th February 1942 the Air Ministry notified Kenneth Oliver's family that he had been killed whilst training with No.2 Signal School at Yatesbury.

He is buried in the St.Nicholas churchyard. (Grave 616). 



Alan Albert POLLOCK

Sub Lieutenant (Pilot)

878 Squadron. Fleet Air Arm

HMS Landrail

Killed on the 5th January 1944 aged 23.

Alan was the son of Albert & Gwendoline Pollock. He was educated at Alleynes School in Stevenage where he became head boy. He was a pupil of amazing talent eventually becoming the chairman of the school literary & debating society as well as secretary of the scientific society. He was also interested in the dramatic arts and once played Father Christmas in the schools production of A Christmas Carol. Added to these talents was his outstanding sporting abilities being captain of the school boxing team and being part of the schools swimming, football and cricket teams. He then passed the civil service exam and, like his friend Eric Stanley, went to work at Adastral house.

In August 1941 Alan joined the Fleet Air Arm as a Leading Airman and went to both Canada and the USA to train as a pilot. After receiving his commission on the 9th June 1942 he was posted to 762 Squadron at HMS Heron (RNAS Yeovilton) for advanced flying training on Sea Hurricanes.

On the 8th May 1943 he was transferred to 893 Squadron on the aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Illustrious) and took part in patrols over Sicily and the Salerno landings. On the 5th January 1944, whilst 878 prepared for disbandment, Alan and two fellow pilots took off from RNAS Eglington in Northern Ireland in a Stinson Reliant, FK914. The aircraft crashed in bad weather on the North Eastern side of Sawel Mountain with all the occupants being killed. His body, and that of his two companions, were not found until sometime after they were reported missing.

Alan is buried in the Faughanvale (St.Canice) Church of Ireland Churchyard in Eglinton, Northern Ireland. (Grave 8)





Kenneth Albert Graham PRATER


Warrant Officer (Pilot)

1 Ferry Unit. Royal Air Force

Killed on the 31st March 1945 aged 32.


Kenneth Prater was born in 1913 the son of Mr.& Mrs A.G.Prater who lived at " Woodview" , Fishers Green. He was educated at Alleynes Grammar School between 1921 and 1930 and was a keen sportsman who favoured Tennis, Badminton and Squash. When he left school he was captain of his house, a prefect and had received his school colours in both football and cricket.

Before joining the RAF he was employed as a sales representative for the Michelin Tyre Company. Kenneth joined the RAF in 1940 and trained as a Pilot. He flew many thousands of miles in Africa and India whilst serving with Ferry Command. During this time he received considerable injuries when his aircraft caught fire and he spent some time recovering at home. Eventually he was posted to Worcester after making a full recovery.

On the 31st March 1945 he was detailed to fly a Mosquito, TA226, to Cairo but was killed instantly when his aircraft crashed shortly after take off from Portreath airfield in Cornwall on a flight to Istres.

Kenneth was cremated at Golders Green crematorium and his name is recorded on the memorial there.






31 Battery. 7 Coast Regiment. Royal Artillery.

Died on the 20th October 1942 aged 37.


Harry was the son of Harry & Elizabeth Rowbottom of 47 Longcroft Road, Stevenage. He was employed, before joining the army, at Moorhens nursery in Letchworth. In 1941 Harry joined the army and was drafted into the Royal Artillery, where he served with a Coastal Artillery Regiment. He was posted to Singapore shortly before the fall of the island to the Japanese. He died of Diphtheria whilst a Prisoner of War, probably as a result of his treatment.

Harry is buried in the Kranji War Cemetery, Singapore. (13.E.17.)




Eric Lionel Victor STANLEY


Pilot Officer (Pilot)

110 Squadron. Royal Air Force (VR)

Killed on the 6th December 1941 aged 22.


Eric Stanley was the son of the parish verger who lived at 93 Walkern Road, Stevenage. He was educated at Alleynes school in Stevenage and was described by his Headmaster, Mr H.P. Thorn, as " unassuming and reliable and who most certainly had a distinguished career ahead of him" . He was a brilliant student and a keen sportsman who liked Cricket and football. Before leaving school, in 1936, Eric had reached the position of Head Boy and was captain of the school football team as well as chairman of the literary & debating society and sub editor of the school magazine. Upon leaving school Eric, like his school friend Alan Pollock, took the entrance examination for the Civil Service and passed with flying colours.

He began his career, as did Pollock, with the Air Ministry and was later to enter the Executive section of the service, a position that was held in high esteem.

In October 1940 Eric joined the RAF and his capabilities were quickly recognised. He was selected for Pilot training under the Empire Air Training scheme and was posted to Canada for a course. Again his academic qualities brought him to the forefront and he was amongst the top three in his passing out examination. Shortly afterwards Eric received his commission and was the first North Herts man to fly the Atlantic, under the watchful eye of an American Ferry Pilot. He is also believed to be only the second British observer to navigate an aircraft across the Atlantic.

Eric was killed in a flying accident on the 6th December 1941 when the Blenheim he was flying in crashed during a training sortie just beyond the airfield at Bicester. The accident was later attributed to incorrect trim tab settings.

He is buried next to his mother at Holy Trinity church in Weston. (Row19. Grave 1)


Crew of BLENHEIM Mk.IV  Z7962  VE -





Victor Horace LANGRISH
Douglas Hickling IVENS
Allan Edward BAILEY
Eric Lionel Victor STANLEY





( Served as Alec Leonard PUTTOCK )


Pilot Officer (Pilot)

576 Squadron. Royal Air Force

Killed In Action on the 17th June 1944 aged 25.


Alec Puttock was born in Guilford in 1919. He lived at New Farm in Stevenage, known locally as “Donkeys Whim”.  He attended both Shephall school and Stevenage Boys school where he is believed to have excelled at many subjects.

The rise of Alec Puttock to Pilot Officer was a rapid one. He joined 576 Squadron in late 1943 as a Sergeant. By February 1944 he had attained the rank of Flight Sergeant and rose to Warrant Officer by May of that year.

It was only a month later that he gained his commission as a Pilot Officer. He flew on many operations with the Squadron. Alec’s prowess as a Pilot was put to the test on the 22nd April 1944.

The mighty Lancaster, LL794 UL-D2, was fully fuelled and bombed up ready for a raid on Dusseldorf. Alec released the brakes and the aircraft began to build up speed down the runway and as it did so the Port tyre burst and the aircraft swerved off of the runway with the Port engine ablaze. Luckily the flames were quickly extinguished and the crew, although shaken, were returned to their quarters unhurt. The coolness of both Pilot and crew had saved them from certain disaster.

On the night of 16th June 1944 Lancaster PA997 UL-D2 took off from Elsham Wolds airfield with Pilot Officer Alec Puttock at the controls. The aircraft headed for its target, Sterkgrad. With the invasion of Europe only ten days old the enemy night fighters were very active and there were many desperate combats to, over, and from the target. Added to this was an intense flak barrage in the target area making the chances of survival even slimmer.

As with so many losses during the war it is not known what exactly happened to the aircraft but it never returned to Elsham Wolds airfield again and it's crew now lay buried at the British War Cemetery in the Reichswald Forest.








Alec Leonard PUTTOCK
POW No.194/Camp 357
POW No.199/Camp L7
Charles PHILP
Herbert Edgar LILLICRAP





Ian Brodrick TETLEY


Royal Navy

HMS Neptune

Died At Sea on the 19th December 1941 aged 26.


Ian was the only son of Michael & Dorothy Tetley who lived at the Priory, Stevenage. He was commissioned into the Royal Navy on the 2nd April 1940 and joined the crew of HMS Neptune in June of that year. On the night of 19 December 1941, Force K, a cruiser raiding squadron consisting of HMS Neptune, HMS Aurora and HMS Penelope, set out from Malta and were steaming in line ahead some 20 miles north of Tripoli.

HMS Kandahar, HMS Lance, HMS Lively and HMS Havock were acting as a screen as the squadron headed on a southerly course. They were expecting to intercept a German and Italian convoy but, instead, ran into a minefield. HMS Neptune, in the lead, was at once disabled by the first explosion. Immediately afterwards both HMS Aurora and HMS Penelope also struck mines. HMS Aurora was holed and HMS Penelope suffered only minor damage, but they both managed to get clear of the minefield. The surprise achieved by this minefield, laid so far from the coast and in a depth of 100 fathoms of water and hitherto considered too deep for mining, was complete and devastating.

HMS Neptune, immobilised, severely damaged, and drifting helplessly in the minefield made preparations to be taken in tow by the destroyer leader, HMS Kandahar. As the little destroyer edged in towards the stricken Neptune a mine detonated her aft magazine and Kandahar lost about 100ft of her stern and 60 men perished.

HMS Neptune now ordered the other destroyers to stay clear and as the force was very close to the enemy coastline and there was a likelihood of air attacks. Despite strenuous efforts to reach her they were forced to abandon the stricken ship. HMS Neptune shortly rolled over and sank.

HMS Kandahar, after many anxious hours, drifted clear of the minefield and twenty-four hours later HMS Jaguar rescued 8 officers and 157 ratings.

There was no sign of HMS Neptune or her company but it later transpired that 16 men, including the Captain, had survived on a raft. The raft was found four days later by two Italian torpedo boats but with only one man was alive, Leading Seaman Walton. 765 officers and men perished.  Ian Tetley has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Plymouth Naval Memorial. (Panel 44. Column 3.) 




Gordon George Ronald UPTON


Lance Corporal

228th Field Company. Royal Engineers

Missing In Action on the 22nd May 1940 aged 19.

Gordon, who lived at 8 Bridge Road, was the elder son of Archibald & Dora Upton. He was known by his friends as " Curly" and was educated at Alleynes School. After leaving school Gordon was employed by the British Tabulating Machine Company, now ICL, at their Sheffield branch. He joined the Territorial Army in June 1939 when he was 18 years old.

On the 22nd May 1940 his unit was involved in mining bridges at Arcques during the BEF retreat. Whilst the bridge was being prepared for demolition a premature explosion took place, which killed three men and wounded another four. One of those killed was Gordon Upton.

His body was never found and he has no known grave. His name is recorded on the Dunkirk Memorial, France. (Column 23)



Harry Allan WARD



15th Battalion, Reconnaissance Regiment

Killed In Action on the 17th July 1944 aged 23.

Harry was born in Codicote on the 10th October 1920 the son of William & Beatrice Ward. The family later moved to Stevenage where they lived at 39 Stanmore Road. He was educated at Letchmore Boys School and after leaving school Harry was employed as an apprentice joiner at the ESA factory in the town.

Due to the nature of his job and the fact the factory was then making aircraft wings for the war effort, his attempts to join the Army were deferred until he was aged 21. During this period Harry served in the local Home Guard. He also played football for Stevenage Town and once made a guest appearance for Millwall. When Harry received his call up papers in 1942 he arranged a special marriage licence so that he could marry his fiancée, Olive, on that day. After his training he served in the UK until the invasion of Normandy on the 6th June 1944.

On the 17th July 1944 his unit was withdrawn to Cheux, in Normandy, for a rest during the assault on Caen. German aircraft attacked and bombed the area and the unit suffered two men killed, one of whom was Harry Ward.

He is buried in the St.Manivieu War Cemetery, France.




Eric George WARD



1/7th Battalion, Queens Royal West Surrey Regiment

Died Of Wounds on the 22nd October 1944 aged 27.

Eric was the only son of George & Florence Ward of 32 Lawrence Avenue. He was known locally as a keen footballer and was employed at ESA in Stevenage. Four of his uncles were killed during the First World War. Eric did not join the Army until 1943.

On the 22nd October 1944 the Battalion was in action as part of Operation “Alan” which was an assault on the town of Middlerode in Holland. The attack commenced at 06.35am and at 07.00 “D” Company was caught by heavy enemy artillery fire. 

Eric died from the effects of shrapnel wounds and is buried in the Uden War Cemetery, Holland.





Douglas WATSON



Regimental Headquarters

135th (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment. Royal Artillery.

Died on the 5th June 1946 aged 27.


Douglas was the son of Joseph Watson of 6 Weston Road and had been educated at Alleynes Grammar School.  At the outbreak of war the men of the Territorial forces were called to arms and his unit spent the early war years serving in various locations around the UK.

The Regiment sailed from Liverpool on the 28th October 1941, it’s original destination being the Middle East. On route orders were received diverting the Regiment to the Far East. After a long, arduous, eight-week journey that had taken them via Halifax, Cape Town & Bombay the Regiment arrived in Ahmednagar on the 27th December. After three weeks of intensive acclimatisation and training the Regiment embarked on the USS West Point for Singapore where they arrived at dawn on the 29th January 1942, just two weeks before the island fortress would capitulate to the forces of the Japanese Imperial Army. 

On the 9th February the Japanese landed on the North Western side of the island and began what was to be the greatest defeat the British army had ever suffered. The Battery, with no combat experience, was called to defend the British colony and was involved in a series of bitter engagements with the enemy.

Douglas was one of many thousands who passed into captivity but it was not until July 1943 that his father received a postcard from him saying he was a Prisoner of War in Japan. Although Douglas survived the terrible deprivations of a Japanese prison camp he died on the 5th June 1946 as a result of treatment received whilst a prisoner.

Douglas is buried in the Newbury Municipal Cemetery, Berkshire. (Grave 1921.) 




Stanley Henry WELCH


Flight Sergeant (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner)

103 Squadron. Royal Air Force (VR)

Killed In Action on the 26th July 1943 aged 21.

Stanley Welch was the eldest son of Bertie & Dorothy Welch of 23 Whitesmead Road, Stevenage. After leaving school he was employed by Stevenage Gas Works as a Fitter and during his spare time was a Euphonium player in the local Salvation Army band. Stanley joined the RAF in January 1940 and was trained as a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner.

On completion of his training he was posted to 103 Squadron where he was to fly a total of 29 operational missions. Stanley’s aircraft took off from Elsham Wolds on the 25th July 1944 to attack Essen. Twenty-Six aircraft were to be lost on this raid, which was observed by Brigadier-General Anderson of the 8th United States Army Air Force. Despite this the raid was deemed to be a success with the Krupps works receiving the most damaging raid of the war. It is not known what brought the aircraft down but it crashed at the town of Borbeck between Oberhausen and Essen. All the crew perished and were initially buried at the Nordfriedhof cemetery in Dusseldorf.

After the war they were moved to the Reichswald Forest Cemetery where they now lie. Stanley is buried in Plot 6. Row F. Grave 1.







Harold Frederick EWER  DFC  RCAF
Stanley Henry WELCH
Jack William George WILSON
James Richard FITCH  RCAF
Francis Ernest JUGGINS




William Charles WELCH



97th (Kent Yeomanry) Field Regiment. Royal Artillery

Died on the 13th September 1942 aged 28.


William was born on the 19th December 1913, the son of William & Dora Welch. He was the husband of Olive Welch.

He joined the Hertfordshire Yeomanry on the 28th April 1939 but after the outbreak of war was transferred to the Kent Yeomanry. William served in the UK until the 27th August 1941 when he was posted with his unit to Iraq,

On the 29th June 1942 he was taken prisoner by the Italians. He died of organic nephritis three months later in an Italian field hospital in Benghazi.

He is buried in the Benghazi War Cemetery, Libya. (7.C.7)




Kenneth Walter WILDERSPIN



3rd Battalion, Coldstream Guards

Missing In Action on the 16th March 1943 aged 21.

Kenneth was born in June 1922, the son of Edgar & Lilian Wilderspin who lived at 120 Haycroft Road. He joined the Coldstream Guards in December 1939, when he was only 17. He increased his age at the time of his recruitment and this resulted in an incorrect age being shown for him at the time of his death. Ken had been in North Africa for 12 months before being reported Missing.

On the 16th March 1943 the Battalion was involved in a disastrous night attack on German positions in the Wadi Remli in Tunisia. The assault began at 19.30pm and was immediately met by considerable enemy mortar and small arms fire. No.1 Company soon became separated from the others and after passing it’s objective became cut-off when the German troops advanced. The enemy troops then pressed home their advantage and soon reached the Battalion HQ, which was forced to make a hasty retreat back across the Mareth to Medenine road from where they had started their attack.

It is not known what happened to Kenneth during the heavy and confused fighting and as a result he has no known grave.

His name is recorded on the Medjez-El-Bab Memorial, Tunisia. (Face 13)





Humphrey Reginald WOODS   DSO MC & Bar


Lieutenant Colonel

2nd Battalion, Kings Royal Rifle Corps

Killed In Action on the 14th July 1944 aged 28.


Humphrey was born on the 15th September 1915 the only son of Lieutenant-Colonel R H Woods, DSO, MC and Mrs Ivy Woods. From his earliest days he was destined for service in the Regiment. He was educated at Winchester and Sandhurst and joined the 2nd Battalion of the Kings Royal Rifle Corps at Aldershot in January 1936. He sailed with the 1st Battalion to Burma in September 1936 and entered with zest into the life of an officer and a gentleman in a British colony.

At the outbreak of war the Regiment moved to the Middle East. In June 1940 " D" company, with whom he served the whole time he was in the Middle East, took part in the assault on Fort Capuzzo and it was here that he was wounded for the first time. As he led his carrier platoon up to the walls of the fort a mine exploded and he was injured as a result. Humphrey served with distinction in the desert helping him win his first Military Cross on 1st April 1941, whilst an Acting Captain. The London Gazette stated that the award was made for Distinguished service in the Middle East between August 1939 & November 1940. He was wounded for a second time at the Battle of Sidi Rezegh where Rifleman John Beeley won his Victoria Cross.

After attaining the rank of Major he left the battalion for short while in May 1942 to train a battalion of Sherwood Foresters in the ways of the desert.  On returning to his former unit he found in to be sadly depleted with many of his old comrades having been lost in the ill-fated Battle of Knightsbridge. However, he led his men through many sorties and between June and July 1942 when the battalion was in action at the Battle of Gazala. Humphrey was continually at the forefront of any action the Battalion were involved in and this eventually led to the award of a Bar to his Military Cross.

The 23rd of October 1942 saw the opening of the First Battle of El Alamein and it was here that Humphrey Woods was to win his DSO. On the 24th October " D" company were assisting the 44th Reconnaissance Regiment in clearing up between two minefields and consolidating their position.

It was found, although under heavy shellfire, that a number of Reconnaissance personnel had been captured by an isolated detachment of enemy troops.

Humphrey, led a dashing rush upon the enemy. With his much-depleted company he destroyed two medium guns, five anti-tank guns, four heavy machine guns, killed 15 enemy troops, captured 75 and with his Bren gun carriers rescued the men of the Reconnaissance Regiment. The whole action took just fifteen minutes and was awarded an immediate DSO.

Humphrey was given command of the 9th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry on the 26th July 1943. He joined them in Sicily where they were involved in heavy fighting. In particular his battalion lead the advance for ten days from Catania to Messina against hard fighting German rear guards. He returned home with his battalion in December 1943 to prepare his men for the invasion of France.

On the 6th June 1944 Humphrey, true to form, was leading his battalion on the assault of the Normandy beaches. All the objectives they were given were captured and then the Battalion was engaged in seven days of bitter and continuous fighting. Then on the 14th June 1944 near Tilly-Sur- Seulles Humphrey went into action for the last time. Two companies were given several objectives to capture. As " A" company moved up in two waves it was met by heavy machine gun fire that killed or wounded most of the officers and sent the men diving for cover. " B" company, who were following closely behind, found themselves in the same position. Humphrey leapt out of his carrier and was seen dashing about urging his men forward. They managed to move forward and penetrate the first objective, owed mainly to Humphrey's fine example. He repeated his efforts with “B” Company and also moved them to their first objective. He then returned to his carrier and sat down to speak to HQ on his radio set. As he did so the German defence opened up with mortar fire. As the first salvo landed a young officer, who was in the carrier, looked round to see Humphrey looking at him and smiling, he suddenly slumped over to his left, lasting only a few seconds longer. His parents had moved to Woodfield House, Rectory Lane in the spring of 1943 and Humphrey had very little opportunity to become acquainted with the town.

 He is buried in the Bayeux War Cemetery, France. (15.F.26)






Flight Sergeant (Wireless Operator)

500 Squadron. Royal Air Force (VR)

Killed In Action on the 16th April 1945 aged 20.

Dennis was the son of James & Lizzie Worsdale who lived at 57 Ellis Avenue. He was educated at the Letchmore School and volunteered for the RAF in 1943 and trained as a Wireless Operator.

He joined his Squadron in the autumn of 1943 and began performing operational flight bases in Egypt and Italy. On a day in which should have begun a weeks leave in the newly liberated city of Rome the Baltimore aircraft in which he was flying failed to return from a reconnaissance mission. In a quirk of fate his crew had replaced the one scheduled for the operation.

At the end of April 1945, a few weeks before the end of the war, his Squadron Commander wrote to his mother saying, " There is some hope that he is a POW as the flight was not unduly dangerous and was unlikely to be disastrous for any of the men" . He could not have been more wrong. The cause of the loss is unknown.

Dennis is buried in the British War Cemetery in Padua, Italy. (4.F.8)

Crew of BALTIMORE FW799 -U





Lawrence Michael MATTHEWS
Douglas Eric PALMER
Roger Henry NELSON






126 Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment. (9th Middlesex Regiment).

Royal Artillery

Died 17th December 1945 aged 28.


Ronald was the son of John & Florence Wright of 114 Letchmore Road, and the husband of Eileen Wright of Lupset, Yorkshire. The cause of his death is not yet known.

He is buried in the Munster Heath War Cemetery, Germany.





Reginald Brown and Ian Smith were residents of Shephall and lived just two doors away from each other.

In the summer of 1941 Reg Brown married Audrey Smith, Ian’s sister, and the two men became brothers-in-law. Sadly, they were also to be the only two men from the hamlet to lose their lives during the war. Shephall is now a ward of Stevenage town and their names are recorded on a memorial at St. Marys church but not on the Stevenage memorial.




Reginald Alfred BROWN


Warrant Officer

78 Squadron. Royal Air Force

Missing on the 22nd April 1945 aged 25.


On the 26th June 1942 a Halifax bomber, W1067, was on an operational flight to attack Bremen. The rear gunner was Warrant Officer Reginald Brown and at 00.42 Hours the aircraft was attacked by a German night-fighter piloted by Unteroffizer Heinz Vinke of II/NJG2. The pilot and the mid-upper gunner of the bomber perished in the attack but the rest of the crew baled out and were taken prisoner. Reginald was held in Stalag Luft 6 at Heydekrug as prisoner No.311 and remained there for nearly three years. In the Spring of 1945 the German forces were coming under increasing pressure on both their Western and Eastern fronts. In an effort to prevent Allied prisoners of war from joining up with the Allied forces it was decided to move them further back into the German interior, where they would be out of reach. Very often, due to the limited availability of transport, prisoners were forced to march on foot for many miles without a break. These men were usually in no fit state to undertake such an exacting task and many of them perished on the way. It appears that the men of Stalag Luft 6 may have been a little more fortunate in that transport was made available to move them. However, it seems that the very presence of these vehicles may have contributed to the deaths of a number of men.

On the 22nd April 1945 the small transport column had stopped at a small farm and the prisoners were placed in a barn for the night. As they slept a number of Typhoon fighters on an Intruder mission spotted the transport around the farm and attacked it. The barn was set alight and one prisoner described how Reg Brown had been killed instantly after a cannon shell from one of the aircraft had struck him in the throat whislt he was asleep.

Reg Brown was later buried by the side of the road and subsequently has no known grave. His name is recorded on the Runnymeade Memorial. (Panel 269).

Official records show him as being a resident of Benington.

(Photo Shows Reg & Audrey Brown - My Thanks To Angus Moss)




Ian Stuart Alexander SMITH


Lance Sergeant

“C” Company. 2/7th Queens Royal West Surrey Regiment

Died Of Wounds on the 18th January 1944 aged 24.

 Ian was the son of John & Madge Smith and joined the Army in 1940 at the age of 20.

 His Regiment served as part of the 35th Infantry Brigade, 56th (London) Division which fought with the 8th Army in North     Africa. Ian saw considerable service in the desert theatre and later took part in the invasion of Italy. He was wounded on 21st September 1943 during the Allied landings at Salerno.After recovering from his wounds he rejoined his unit and served almost continually on the front line.

On the 17th January 1944 Ian’s Battalion were in position near the village of Lauro and were  involved in an attempt to cross the Garigliano River. The allies were held up in Italy on the Gustav line and the 10th British Corps had the task of breaking through on the southern flank, from the mouth of the Garigliano to Cassino to pave the way for the Anzio landing. There was considerable shelling from German artillery andmany snipers were operating in the area. The Battalion had to make an assault through an orange grove and this was hampered by both the density of the trees and German heavy machine guns which were located in the area. The following day Ian was leading his platoon and had gone forward alone to rescue a wounded man. Shortly afterwards he was severely wounded and later died from the effects of his wounds. 

Ian is buried in the Minturno War Cemetery, Italy. (7.K.22.)






The following names are recorded in the registers of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as being related to residents of Stevenage.



John Perry ALCOCK


Flying Officer (Pilot)

161 Squadron (Special Operations). Royal Air Force

Killed In Action on the 4th August 1944 aged 30.


John Alcock initially served in a Guards regiment during the early stages of the Second World War. He was eager to get into action and was disappointed and somewhat frustrated when his unit was held at home. Eventually he decided to join the RAF and after completing his transfer began to train as a pilot. Ironically, after his transfer the Guards regiment he was originally serving with was sent into action in North Africa.

On the 19th January 1944, after completing his training, John was posted to 631 Squadron, which performed the rather inglorious task of target towing, and he was soon looking to move to a Squadron where he could see some action. In March 1944 John was to get his hearts desire when he joined 161 Squadron. This was a special operations unit, which had been flying secret agents and SOE operatives in and out of occupied Europe since it’s formation in February 1942.

In the months leading up to the D-Day invasion the SOE activity from the little airfield at Tempsford in Bedfordshire was intense and on 30th April 1944 John Alcock flew his first operation. This was known as a " Double" mission with John and Flight Lieutenant Bob Large both landing at the same secret airfield to recover some SOE agents. Operation " Organist" , as it was known, was detailed to send two Lysander aircraft to Chateauroux in order to drop three agents and pick up two who had been performing a reconnaissance of the Rouen area. There had been a high number of arrests in the region due to intense Gestapo activity.

The agents to be collected were Philippe Liewer and Violette Szabo, two of the SOE's most famous operators. Liewer, whose face was on many  " Wanted" posters and had left Rouen for his own safety, flew with John Alcock whilst Szabo flew with Bob Large. John was said to be absolutely delighted that he had managed to find the landing ground by his own navigation and could hardly contain his excitement. 

Tragedy struck John Alcock and his wife, Dosie, on the 17th July 1944 when their four-month-old baby daughter, Carolyn, died suddenly.  In August 1944 the Lysander flight of 161 Squadron continued it’s dangerous work from Tempsford airfield. The night of the 4th/5th August was to be John Alcock's second and, tragically, last operation. He was, once again, on a " Doubles" flight, code named Operation " Pirouge" , this time with Flying Officer Peter Arkell who was on his first operation. They were destined for Vallon, south of the Loire. The flight was a long and lonely one and John may have had time to reflect on the loss of his Daughter. The mission was made even more dangerous by the fact that the Allies, now strengthening their position in Normandy, were performing Intruder flights into the area to harass the enemy and destroy any opportune targets. Peter Arkell saw his companions Lysander, V948, go down in flames ahead of him having blown up in mid-air after being attacked by what was thought to be a night fighter. The Canadian pilot of a Mosquito intruder of 410 squadron later reported the destruction of a Henschel HS126, which has similar characteristics to the Lysander, and it is now known that this was in fact John Alcock’s aircraft.

His grave, the only British serviceman to be buried in the cemetery, lays 20 miles Southwest of Rennes in Messsac, France. 

Although John Alcock is not remembered on the Stevenage War Memorial his Daughter is buried in St.Nicholas Church and he is commemorated on her headstone, a double blow for a young wife and mother.



Richard AVIS



11th Battalion, The Hussars

Died 5th November 1939 aged 32.


Richard was the son of George & Helen Avis and the husband of Olive Avis.

The exact cause of his death is not yet known.

He is buried in the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt. (H.7.)




Robert Michael DRAKE



No.3 Company. 6th Battalion, Grenadier Guards

Killed In Action on the 10th September 1943 aged 22.


Robert was the son of Major Frederick & Betty Drake.

On the 9th September 1943 the 6th Battalion of the Grenadier Guards tool part in the Allied landings at Salerno in Italy. One the Grenadiers had formed in the assembly area they were ordered to advance and deepen the bridgehead in the direction of Battipaglia. The Grenadiers faced the might of the German 16th Panzer Division and resistance was intense.

Through the day and night No.3 Company fought it's way forward, eventually reaching a network of lanes north of Verdesca where a hail of bullets and hand-grenades brought the advance to an abrupt halt. At dawn the company again attempted to advance and became involved with a group of German tanks and infantry in half-tracks. It was at this point, whilst at the head of his platoon, that Robert Drake was killed outright.

Robert is buried in Salerno War Cemetery War Cemetery, Italy. (2.C.27)




Rupert Charles Connaught FRENCH



907 Balloon Squadron. Royal Air Force

Died on the 23rd November 1940 aged 31.

Rupert was the elder son of Rupert and Violet French who, in 1940, owned the Cromwell Hotel in Stevenage High Street.

He was serving with 907 Squadron at Cardington and his wife, Alice, lived in nearby Biddenham. It was from his mother's Hotel that he left to return to his quarters at Bromham near Bedford on the evening of Saturday 23rd November 1940.

A Removal lorry had broken down on Hammer Hill near Cardington and a passing bus stopped to assist. The bus driver, George Plester, helped to fix a minor fault on the lorry and the two vehicles set off in opposing directions. At this point George Plester saw Rupert French come over the brow of the hill, travelling at a terrific speed, and flash past him. He then heard a crash and stopped his bus. He could see that Rupert's sports car had struck the rear of the removal van and burst into flames.

At first Plester tried to pull French free but the door of his car had jammed, so he tried to put out the fire with an extinguisher. Eventually he managed to pull French free but he was terribly injured and quickly died on the roadside.

Rupert French is buried in grave 554 of the St.Nicholas churchyard and, although he died whilst in the service of his country, his name is not recorded on the Stevenage War Memorial.



Leslie Frederick LAVING



2nd Battalion, London Irish Rifles

Died 19th September 1944 aged 31


Leslie was the son of John & Ellen Laving and the husband of Janet Laving. (April –June 1941)

On the 19th September 1944 the Battalion were at Kolis where they involved in an assault crossing of the Escaut Canal. Leslie was second in command of “C” Company HQ. Initially, there had been some confusion over the arrival of boats for the assault, due mainly to the fact that they arrived in total darkness. Additionally, the Battalion had only been given a few hours notice about the attack and it was not possible to make full preparations, including a full recconisance of the area.

The assault got underway and, initially, seemed to have caught the emeny by surprise as there was little resistance. Soon, however, the German defenders began to put up a strong fight and it was during this action that Leslie Laving was killed.

He is buried in the Leopoldsburg War Cemetery, Belgium. (4.D.1.) 



Norman TEALE



60th Field Regiment.  Royal Artillery

Missing between 30th May & 2nd June 1940 aged 28.


Norman was the husband of Mary Teale of Stevenage. At the time of the German invasion of France and Belgium the unit was stationed at Lille near to the Franco-Belgian border. The official War Diary was destroyed during the retreat and the only documents available to provide any insight as to the fate of the men of the Regiment lay in several reports made by unit officers after their return from Dunkirk.

It appears that on the 13th May 1940 the Regiment was posted to Brussels to help try to stem the invasion. After several days, on the 18th May, it moved back to Den Hock and later that day to Courtrai. On the 23rd the Regiment, under constant enemy attack, moved to Armentieres near to Lille. The following day they moved again, this time to Houplines and then Wytschaete. They remained here for several days and tried to establish what the position was but this proved extremely difficult due to the speed of the German advance. A variation of troops passed through the Regiment’s position, many of them in complete disarray. Eventually on the 30th of May the Regiment was ordered to the town of Isenberghe, some 12 miles from Dunkirk. Here they had to abandon their vehicles and guns and destroyed them before walking to Dunkirk. That night they arrived on the beaches at La Panne. It is believed that at some stage during this late part of the evacuation Norman was lost on Bary Dunes, possibly killed in one of the many air attacks.

His body was never found and, as a result, his name is recorded on the Dunkirk Memorial. (Column 15)






Flying Officer

114 Squadron, Royal Air Force

Missing In Action on the 23rd November 1942.


Douglas was the son of Laurie & Flora Truscott and the husband of Marjorie Truscott of Stevenage. He joined 114 Squadron at Raynham airfield on the 7th August 1942 from 17 Operational Training Unit, along with Pilot Officer Mathias. After a period of acclimatisation with the Squadron Douglas was deemed to be ready to fly operational missions. On the 13th November the Squadron left Raynham to fly to Gibraltar and then on to Algeria.

On the 17th they arrived at Blida airfield and within a few hours they flew their first operational mission, although Douglas Truscott did not take part in this mission. He had to wait until the 19th November when his crew were part of a raid on shipping in Bizerta harbour. The following night a second raid was made on the same target and Douglas was to fly his second operational mission. Then, on the 23rd November he and his crew took part on a raid on Sidi Ahmed airfield on the outskirts of Bizerta.

Eight aircraft were despatched on the raid, one of which failed to take off. A second aircraft was forced to turn back as a result of engine failure and a third, Bisley BA799 RT-, in which Douglas was flying, was lost on route. The aircraft and its crew were never found and, as a result, Douglas has no known grave.

His name is recorded on the Malta memorial. (Panel 3. Column 1.)


Crew of BISLEY BA799 RT-






Thomas William CATCHPOLE






Leading Seaman

Royal Naval Patrol Service

HMBY Minesweeper 2051

Died on the 29th March 1947 aged 28.


The son of Levi & Harriet Vallis, and the husband of Daisy Vallis.

The exact cause of his death is not yet known.

He is buried in the Stevenage Communal Cemetery. (Section H. Grave 129)



Cyril Arthur WELCH

5th Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry

Missing In Action on the  6th October 1944 aged 23 .

Cyril was the son of Mr. and Mrs Arthur Welch; and the husband of Kathleen Anne Welch, of Herne Hill, London.

After the war was over numerous attempts were made to have Cyril’s name added to either the Stevenage memorial, where he was born or to the Herne Hill memorial, where he was living with his wife. Neither local council would allow this to take place and thus his name does not appear on any local memorial.

Groesbeek Memorial, Gelderland, Netherlands. (Panel 4.)




The following is a list of primary sources of official information and is not exhaustive.


                                                                Ø          Public Records Office (ADM / AIR /WO Series)

                                                                Ø          Commonwealth War Graves Commission

                                                                Ø          Air Historical Branch

                                                                Ø          Hertfordshire County Records Office

                                                                Ø          Hitchin Museum

                                                                Ø          Stevenage Museum

                                                                Ø          Stevenage Central Library





Brothers in arms,

Fallen on the field of honour,

Sleep in peace;

We are watching over you.





© Paul Johnson  - May 2006