Harry Willans DSO MC

Major-General, Artists Rifles.

Killed on the 5th February 1943 aged 50.

Major-General Harry Willans DSO MC

Harry was born in 1892 the son of James & Henrietta Willans and lived at Benington Croft with his wife Dorothy. He was later educated at Aldenham College.

In 1914 he was serving in the Artists Rifles, the forerunner to the SAS, and was one of the first fifty to be picked to serve as a Subaltern to a Regular unit.

He went on to serve with the Bedfordshire Regiment. In November 1940 he was appointed to the newly created post of Director General of Army Welfare & Education.

He was killed in a flying accident on 5th February 1943. Harry is buried in the Tobruk War Cemetery, Libya. (10.B.3)

Peter David Wood

571965, Leading Aircraftsman, 30 Maintenance Unit. Royal Air Force.

Killed 12/04/41 aged 19.

Peter was the son of William & Martha Wood. He joined the RAF and was training to be a Fitter at the Bristol Aero Works. On the last day of his fitting training at the works he was on Fire watch when a very heavy air raid took place on the plant.

Following the raid it was discovered that someone was trapped in the wreckage of a building and Peter went to their aid. As he made a rescue bid the building collapsed on him killing him instantly. His brother, William, was serving with the Australian Artillery and died whilst a Japanese prisoner of war in Burma.

Peter is buried in Benington churchyard.

Headstone Inscription: "Also In Memory Of W.J.B. Wood, Gunner A.I.F. Died In Burma 5th Oct. 1943 Both Were Valiant"

William John Belcher Wood

QX11071, Gunner, 2/10 Field Regiment. Royal Australian Artillery.

Died on the 5th October 1943 aged 31.

William was born on the 31st March 1912, the son of William & Martha Wood. His brother, Peter was killed on active service on the 12th April 1941. William was the first boy from Benington school to achieve a scholarship to Alleynes grammar school. Whilst at Alleynes he gained the captaincy of the cricket XI and had won himself a place in the football XI.  After leaving school he went to work for F Bracey a well known agricultural engineer and, at that time, a county councillor.

In 1929 William left the shores of England to become a dairy farmer in Australia. Later he was employed in the lumber trade and, on one occasion, single handed, performed the task of felling, squaring, ripping, sinking and erecting the timber for a ninety post stockade. All this was achieved in just one day, a truly amazing feat.

At the outbreak of war William tried to enlist for air crew duties but was prevented from doing so by the loss of a finger. This, in fact, he had shot off himself after being bitten by a snake. Eventually, on the 4th July 1940 he was accepted into the Artillery and served with the 2/10 Field Regiment as a Gunner. In 1941 William was posted to Malaya and served with his unit until it’s capture at Singapore in February 1942. He endured the hardships of captivity for over 20 months, then, in October 1943 he contracted dysentery and died.

William is buried in the Thanbyuzayat war cemetery, Burma. (A1.A.1.)

Headstone Inscription: "He Also Was Valiant"