Eric Lionel Victor Stanley

102980, 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 -

Number

Rank

Name

Age

741461

SGT

Victor Horace LANGRISH

23

60344

F/O

Douglas Hickling IVENS

26

1375120

SGT

Allan Edward BAILEY

19

102980

P/O

Eric Lionel Victor STANLEY

22

Alec Stevens

Served as Alec Leonard PUTTOCK.

175906, 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.

Crew of LANCASTER PA997 UL-D2

Number

Rank

Name

Age

P.O.W

175906

P/O

Alec Leonard PUTTOCK

25

n/a

1482478

F/SGT

Thomas JEFFERSON

22

n/a

1099268

SGT

L R S TEMPLETON

n/a

POW No.194/Camp 357

1575151

SGT

John BROWN

22

n/a

1314538

F/SGT

D W G  WARR

n/a

POW No.199/Camp L7

1822774

SGT

Charles PHILP

20

n/a

1894974

SGT

Herbert Edgar LILLICRAP

19

n/a

Walter Street

21022, Private, 8th Battalion, Border Regiment. (Formerly 19847 Bedfordshire Regiment)

Missing in Action on the 5th July 1916 aged 29.

Thiepval Memorial, Somme.

Walter was the son of William & Emily Street of 16 High Street, Stevenage. His brother, Frederick George, died in Egypt in 1918 whilst serving with the Royal Artillery but his name has not been recorded on the Stevenage War Memorial.

Walter arrived in France on the 22nd August 1915. He served for almost a year on the Western Front when his unit became involved in the Battle of the Somme. The Battalion, part of the 75th Brigade of the 25th Division, were involved in the very heavy fighting around the village of Thiepval and Walter had survived the first day of the battle, when the British army suffered some 60,000 casualties. The conditions were ghastly and eyewitnesses recalled that that the bodies of the dead were still lying on the battlefield many days later. The fighting was both intense and chaotic, therefore, it is not known at what point he was killed.

Walter has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France. (Pier/Face 6A)

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

 

Ernest Taplin

27090, Private, 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment.

Missing in Action on the 23rd July 1916 aged 28.

Thiepval Memorial, Somme.

Ernest was born on the 12th April 1887, the son of William & Delia Taplin of 5 Southsea Road, Stevenage. He worked as a Builders Labourer before joining the Army. His younger brother, Nelson, was also killed in action in Belgium on the 12th October 1917.

His Battalion were held in reserve during the first three weeks of the Battle of the Somme and did not find themselves in Front Line positions until the 19th July, where they remained in a reserve position until the night of the 23rd July 1916. It was then that the Battalion were engaged in pushing out small-fortified posts from the trenches between High Wood and Delville Wood.  Ernest was killed in the support trenches at Ginchy during a German artillery bombardment.

Ernest has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial, France. (Pier 2. Face C.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal.

Nelson Taplin

G/24106, Private, 7th Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment.

Killed In Action on the 12th October 1917 aged 19.

Private Nelson Taplin

Nelson was the son of William & Delia Taplin of 5 Southsea Road.  Before his service in the army he was employed by Mr. F.Ashwell, a butcher, in Stevenage and in December 1916 his employer had made an application for Nelson to be exempt from military service. Sadly, this was refused and within a year Nelson was to perish on the battlefields of Flanders.

His older brother, Ernest, was also killed in action in Belgium during the war.

The battle of Poelkapelle began on the 9th October 1917 and on the night of 10th/11th October the Battalion took over front line positions from the 9th West Yorkshire Regiment and the 8th Duke of Wellingtons (West Riding) Regiment. They were ordered to attack German positions the following day with zero hour being set for 5.25am. As the assault got underway one of the leading companies reported that there being hit by shells from the British artillery barrage that were falling short. Bad weather and poor ground conditions made tough going for the attacking troops and most of the officers and NCO’s had become casualties due to very heavy German shelling. Subsequently, the attack failed and had cost the Battalion a total of  385 officers & men either killed, wounded or missing.

The grave of Private Nelson Taplin in the Cement House Cemetery, Langemarck, Belgium.

Nelson is buried in the Cement House Cemetery, Langemarck, Belgium. (6.C.27.)

Headstone Inscription: "Until The Day Break And The Shadows Flee Away"

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

Harold Reuben Tavener

425753, Private, 29th Battalion, Canadian Infantry (British Columbia) Regiment.

Harold was born in Fulham, London, on the 22nd June 1882, the son of Reuben & Jemima Tavener. The family later made their home at “Homeleigh”, Essex Road, Stevenage. Harold emigrated to Canada in 1908.

He attested for service in the Canadian Expeditionary Force at Winnipeg on the 16th February 1916. Harold stepped aboard the S.S. Lapland on the 13th March 1916 as part of the 45th Battalion, Canadian Infantry, and set sail for the shores of England, arriving in the motherland some twelve days later.

It was on the 7th May 1916,  that Harold found himself transferred from the 45th Battalion to the 29th Battalion (British Columbia) of the Canadian Infantry. On the 30th October 1916, Harold was admitted to No.23 Casualty Clearing Station suffering from a bout of Trench Fever. He remained in hospital until the 16th November, by which time he was deemed to be sufficiently fit enough to re-join his unit and returned to his Battalion.

He was reported as Missing in action at Vimy Ridge on the 17th April 1917 and was not seen again. His Battalion were in a support area east of Neuville St.Vaast and the war diary shows that there was no enemy activity. However, it does record that 1 man was killed and 2 others wounded, probably as the result of artillery shell fire.

He has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Vimy Memorial to the Canadian Forces.

Norman Teale

802636, Gunner, 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)

Ian Brodrick Tetley

Lieutenant, 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.) 

 

Ernest Reginald Titmus

M/4563, Petty Officer (2nd Class Writer), HMS Attentive, Royal Navy.

Died on the 22nd October 1918 aged 25.

Petty Officer Ernest Reginald Titmus

Ernest was born on the 3rd April 1893, the only son of Edward & Sophia Titmuss of Fishers Green Road, Stevenage.

He joined the Royal Navy on the 10th June 1912. At the time of his death he had been married to his wife, Hilda May Titmus, for 18 months and the couple had a young child. He is known to have taken part in the Battle of Jutland.

Ernest contracted influenza at Dover and died at the Royal Marine Hospital in Deal.

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