Walter Warren

294, Sergeant, 28th Battalion, London Regiment (Artists Rifles).

Killed In Action on the 27th November 1914 aged 37.

Sergeant Walter Warren

Walter was the son of Henry & Clara Warren of Rockleaze, Stevenage. He joined the Volunteer Force on the 23rd January 1900 as a member of the 28th London Regiment. The Territorial and Reserve Forces Act  of 1907 combined the previously civilian-administered Volunteer Force, with the Militia and Yeomanry to become the Territorial Army.  Walter was re-engaged into the Regiment on the 28th April 1908 and attended the Regiments Annual Camps until he was embodied into the Army on the 5th August 1914, the day after the Great War broke out.

He was posted to Belgium on the 26th October had only been serving overseas for a month when he was killed by Shellfire whilst digging trenches by the Brewery Inn in Neuve Eglise, Belgium.

Walter is buried in the Neuve Eglise Cemetery, Belgium. (N.2.)

His headstone is heavily weathered and much of the detail has vanished.

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

Douglas Watson

Sergeant, 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.) 

Alfred John Welch

5484, Private, 1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment.

Killed In Action on the 10th September 1916 aged 28.

Alfred was born on the 16th December 1887, the son of Alfred & Annie Welch of Back Lane, Stevenage.

He enlisted in the Hertfordshire Regiment on the 16th August 1915 and, following the completion of his training, was posted to France on the 13th May 1916, where the Battalion was preparing to take part in the Somme offensive. He joined the Battalion for duty on the 10th June and was transferred to "D" Company on the 23rd June.

The Unit War Diary describes the Battalion as being in the area North of the Ancre River, a hard fought area of the Somme battlefields, on the 3rd September 1916 but gives no indication of how Alfred became a casualty. The Battalion suffered two other casualties on this day and it can be reasonably assumed that all three were probably the victims of a shellfire incident.

He is buried in the Knightsbridge Cemetery, Mesnil-Martinsart, France. (C.47.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal.

Cyril Arthur Welch

311510, Lieutenant, 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.)

Frederick Welch

4/7372, Private, 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment.

Died of Wounds on the 21st April 1915 aged 30.

Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium

Frederick was the son of Emma Welch and the nephew of William & Matilda Welch of Letchmore Road, Stevenage.

He arrived in France on the 3rd December 1914 and was severely wounded in the fighting around Hill 60, which is situated on a ridge overlooking the town of Ypres. The highest point of the hill is composed of excavated earth from the railway cutting that runs through the ridge. It allows an excellent view over the town and was a valuable artillery observation point.

On the 10th April 1915, after a few days rest in Reningheist, the Battalion moved to trenches opposite Hill 60. Here they assisted in preparations for an attack on the hill and these were completed by the 17th April, despite the fact that all necessary materials had to be carried by hand from the ruins of Zillebeke, under the cover of darkness. Much tunnelling had taken place prior to the attack and on the 17th April six British mines were detonated close to the German positions and the assault got underway. Initially, there was some success as the German troops were caught by surprise but this did not last very long. They quickly re-organised themselves and at midnight they made a concerted counter-attack. It was during this attack that Frederick Welch was apparently shot in the head and died of his wounds several days later. It is believed that his grave was lost during the intense shelling in the area and, as a result, he has no known grave.

His name is recorded on the Menin Gate memorial, Belgium. (Panel 31 and 33)

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

Stanley Henry Welch

1291444, Flight Sergeant (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner), 103 Squadron. Royal Air Force (VR).

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

Flight Sergeant Stanley Henry Welch

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 1943 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.

Headstone Inscription: "Father, In Thy Gracious Keeping Leave We Now Thy Servant Sleeping"

Crew of LANCASTER Mk.III  JA855  PM-L

Number

Rank

Name

Age

J/16328

F/LT

Harold Frederick EWER  DFC  RCAF

25

149140

P/O

Derek WILLIAMS  DFM

n/a

1291444

SGT

Stanley Henry WELCH

21

576865

SGT

Jack William George WILSON

18

1049564

SGT

Stanley ROBSON  DFM

23

R/83848

SGT

James Richard FITCH  RCAF

22

1379544

F/SGT

Francis Ernest JUGGINS

31

William Charles Welch

921149, Gunner, 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)

 

Fredrick Cyril Westwood

31896, Private, 5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment.

Died At Sea 30th December 1917 aged 20.

The Chatby Memorial, Egypt

Fred was the son of E & A Westwood of 26 High Street. He was educated at Alleynes school and his father was a local butcher who later employed Fred as a slaughterman.

On 30th December 1917 the German submarine UC-34 torpedoed the troopship Aragon off Alexandria. HMS Attack and the Armed Trawler Points Castle rescued soldiers from the sinking troopship, but HMS Attack either struck a mine or received another torpedo as she pulled men from the water. Ten sailors from HMS Attack died and 600 lives were lost on the Aragon.

Frederick has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Chatby Memorial, Egypt.

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal.

 

Horace Wheatley

G/13508 , Private, 7th Battalion, Queens Royal West Surrey Regiment.

Missing in Action on the 8th November 1916.

Thiepval Memorial, Somme.

Horace was born in St.Albans, Hertfordshire. It is uncertain when he moved to Stevenage but his son, William, was born in the town in 1907. Horace was an Estate Gamekeeper and was working the Kimpton area by 1911, and eventually moved to Godstone, Surrey,where he enlisted in the Army.

The Battalion and had moved into the trenches from Albert on the night of 3rd November 1916, in order to relieve the men of the 10th Essex Regiment. They were situated in Regina & Hessian trench where they remained through the next few days. Life in the trenches at this time was desperately uncomfortable. The cold and wet of the winter months and the continual shelling by German artillery made every day a miserable event. The Battalion provided working parties to work on trench defences but the wet conditions seriously hampered their efforts. On the 6th November the Battalion moved from the frontline trenches to the nearby support trenches. Here they prepared to be relieved by the 7th Royal Kent Regiment and on the 8th November the relief began. This movement of troops became a target for the German artillery who began to shell the area very heavily, resulting in many casualties. It was during this relief that Horace Wheatley was killed.

He has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial. Somme, France. (Pier and Face 5 D and 6 D.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal.

Kenneth Walter Wilderspin

2659833, Guardsman, 3rd Battalion, Coldstream Guards.

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

Guardsman Kenneth Walter Wilderspin

Kenneth was born on the 15th 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, his Battalion were 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)