Alec Leonard Puttock

175906, Pilot Officer (Pilot),  No.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.

Crew of Lancaster PA997 UL-D2

Number Rank Name Age POW Details
175906 P/O Alec Leonard PUTTOCK 25  
1482478 F/SGT Thomas JEFFERSON 22  
1099268 SGT L R S TEMPLETON   POW No.194/Camp 357
1575151 SGT John BROWN 22 22
1314538 F/SGT D W G  WARR   POW No.199/Camp L7
1822774 SGT Charles PHILP 20  
1894974 SGT Herbert Edgar LILLICRAP 19  

John Robertson

10445, Private, 1st Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment.

Missing In Action on the 10th March 1917.

Thiepval Memorial, Somme.

John arrived in France on the 30th May 1915. On the 10th March 1917 the Battalion were in the forward firing line at Irles, near Albert, in the Somme sector. At 5.15 am the Battalion attacked Grevillers Trench in conjunction with the 1st Battalion, Kings Royal Rifle Corps. The trench was captured at once and a line of posts was established in front to facilitate the digging of a new assembly trench for a future attack. 100 prisoners were taken and three Machine Guns and two light trench mortars were captured. Casualties amongst the Other Ranks were; 10 Killed, 75 wounded and 9 missing. One of the missing men was John Robertson.

He has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France. (Pier/Face 11D.)

Medal Entitlement: 1914/15 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal.


Harry Rowbottom

1787272, Gunner, 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.)

William Arthur Sams

16270, Private, 11th Battalion. Essex Regiment.

Died Of Wounds on the 1st October 1915 aged 19.

William was born and raised in the village of Codicote, Hertfordshire, the son of Thomas and Hannah Sams. He was a Farm Labourer before joining the Army.

He was living in Stevenage when he joined the Army and was posted to France on the 30th August 1915.

On the 26th September his Battalion were engaged in fighting in the Vermelles area, South-West of the town of La Bassee. The unit War Diary indicates that the Battalion encountered strong German resistance and were, eventually, forced to withdraw, having suffered over 350 casualties. It is believed that William was amongst the wounded and was evacuated to No.2 Stationary Hospital, Abbeville, where he died of his wounds on the 1st October 1915.

He is buried in the Abbeville Communal Cemetery, France. (2.E.7.)

Medal Entitlement: 1914/15 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal.

Charles Edwin Sangster

14381, Sergeant, 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment.

Killed In Action on the 27th April 1918 aged 24.

Sergeant Charles Edwin Sangster

His father was the local Food Inspector and Charles was his eldest son. He had been employed at Knebworth Golf house before joining up and prior to that he was in the employ of the Grand Duke Michael when he was resident at Knebworth.

Charles joined the Army in 1914 at the outbreak of the war and was posted to France on the 12th May 1915 and also served in Italy. His wife lived at Shrub Terrace, Woodbridge, Suffolk.

At 04.30am on the 27th April 1918 the Germans attacked the positions held by the Battalion. A heavy artillery barrage fell on the postions prior to the infantry assault, resulting in 8 men being killed and a further 12 wounded. It was during this barrage that Charles was killed by shellfire.

He is buried in the Merville Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord, France. (1.F.43.)

Medal Entitlement: 1914/15 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal.


William Charles Sapsed

5368, Private, 1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment.

Missing In Action on the 13th November 1916 aged 27.

William was the son of William & Alice Sapsed of Lymington Road, Stevenage.

He was killed in one of the last actions during the Battle of the Somme. This was the Battle of The Ancre during which the Battalion were called upon to assault German trenches just in front of a heavily fortified position known as the  Schwaben Redoubt. The attack began at 5.45am whilst there was still a heavy mist on the ground. It was tough going for the troops who had to make their way through thick mud and many shell holes which covered the area. All of the officers in the leading Company had been killed or wounded and this added to the general confusion of battle. However, the Battalion managed to achieve their objectives but had suffered some losses.

William has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France. (Pier/Face 12C.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal.

Frank Saunders

G/41588, Private, 2nd Battalion, Middlesex Regiment. (Formerly 144390 Royal Field Artillery).

Missing In Action on the 30th November 1917 aged 22.

Private Frank Saunders

Frank was the youngest son of Jonas & Katherine Saunders of 28 Trinity Road, Stevenage. A hairdresser by trade he was firstly an apprentice to Buckingham’s in the High Street and was later employed as Head Hairdresser by Mrs.Hann in Royston, where he had worked for five years before joining up.

He joined the Army in May 1916 and was sent France six months later, at the completion of his training.  In March 1917 he was sent back to England suffering from Dysentery and spent several months in hospital in Bournemouth and Addington Palace, Croydon. Frank, who had two brothers also serving in the Army, was killed in the Ypres, sector. His battalion had been serving in this sector throughout the summer and autumn and had seen much action in the terrifying battles of Thrid Ypres, also know as the Battle of Passchendaele.

On the 27th November 1917 the Battalion were in positions North of Passchendaele and were sent forward to relieve the men of the 2nd West Yorkshire Regiment in the Front Line. During the following days the line was continuously shelled by German artillery in an effort to wear down the British troops and destroy their positions. The Battalion casualties as a result were, 7 men killed and a further 7 wounded. One of these was Frank Saunders.

He has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium. (Panel 113/115.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

Frederick Christopher Scarborough

28702, Lance Corporal, 6th Battalion, Duke Of Cornwalls Light Infantry. (43rd Infantry Brigade. 14th Division)

Killed In Action on the 9th April 1917 aged 25.

Lance Corporal Frederick Christopher Scarborough

Frederick was the son of Christopher & Ann Scarborough of 4 Fishers Green Road. He enlisted into the Hertfordshire Regiment but was later transferred to the 6th Battalion, Duke Of Cornwalls Light Infantry.

On the 9th April 1917 the Battalion were in positions on the outskirts of Beaurains. They were ordered to support an attack being made by the 6th Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry and had moved into trenches and shell holes in readiness for the assault. As the leading companies, they came under heavy machine gun fire from a sunken road and from  high ground to the right of Wancourt. The Battalion suffered heavily with four Officers and 96 Other Ranks becoming casualties. One of these was Frederick Scarborough.

He is buried in the Tigris Lane British Cemetery, Wancourt, France. (1.C.15.)

Headstone Inscription: "For Others"

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal.

Philip Seager-Berry

Volunteer, 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.

Charles Sell

21027, Private, 2nd Battalion, Border Regiment. (Formerly 7102 Bedfordshire Regiment)

Died Of Wounds on the 23rd April 1916 aged 21.

Charles was the son of William & Eliza Sell of Walkern Road, Stevenage.

He had served in France since the 6th October 1914 and had been wounded on at least two previous occasions.

His Battalion were in front line trenches near Mansell Copse in the Somme sector between the 13th and 20th April 1916. During this time they were very heavily shelled by German Artillery and suffered casualties every day. When they were returned to their billets at Bray on the 21st April it was recorded that 98 officers & men had become casualties. Charles Sell was wounded on the 19th April and received serious head and arm injuries. Surgeons had to eventually amputate his arm but he later died as result of his injuries.

Charles is buried in the Corbie Communal Cemetery, Somme, France. (1.F.20.)

Medal Entitlement: 1914 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal.