Harold Bernard Batchelor

759009, Flight Sergeant (Air Gunner), 69 Squadron. Royal Air Force.

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

Flight Sergeant Harold Bernard Batchelor

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.

Crew of MARYLAND Mk1 BJ427







John Keogh HUTT




David Alcorn McKELL RAAF




Harold Bernard BATCHELOR


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

John Fredrick Bates

1294682, 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


Frederick Bentley

3399, Private, No.4 Company, 1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment

Died of Wounds on the 9th September 1915 aged 23

Private Frederick Bentley buried at Chocques Military Cemetery, France.

Fred was the eldest son of local Bricklayer James Bentley and his wife, Amine of 35 Alleyns Road, Stevenage. After leaving school he followed in his father’s footsteps and took up the trade of bricklaying.

He enlisted in the Hertfordshire Regiment on the 15th October 1914 and, following his initial training, arrived in France on the 23rd January 1915. By the 8th February Frederick found himself in trouble and received four days field punishment for gross negligence when cleaning his rifle. Later, on the 25th May, he was deducted four day’s pay for not complying with an order. Two weeks later, on the 6th June 1915, he was wounded in the abdomen, probably as a result of shellfire. Official records show that he died at No.1 Casualty Clearing Station at Chocques on the 9th September 1915 and was buried the same day by the Reverend H.D. Allen.

Frederick is buried in the Chocques Military Cemetery, France. (Grave Reference: I.D.90.)

Medal Entitlement: 1915 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal

Charles George Massie Blomfield

Major, “A” Company. 1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

Killed in Action on the 9th June 1915 aged 36.

Charles was the son of Rear-Admiral Sir Richard Massie Blomfield and Lady Rosamund Selina Massie Blomfield (Nee Graves) and the husband of Hirrel Blomfield (Nee Clarence), of South Lodge, Boscombe, Dorset.

He was posted to Flanders on the 5th May 1915 and joined the Battalion on the 13th May where it was involved in fighting around Ypres. Some four weeks later whilst the Battalion was in Vlamertinghe he was killed by a snipers bullet.

Charles is buried in the Talana Farm Cemetery, Boesinghe, Belgium. (II.B.5)

Medal Entitlement: 1915 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal

Donald Edwin Blow

1259149, Aircraftsman, 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 Imperial Japan attacked Malaya on the 8th December 1941. It was not until the 14th February 1942 that Donald was reported as " Missing - Believed to be a POW". He was amongst the thousands of British servicemen who were caught up in the invasion of Singapore and is believed to have been 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)

William Arthur Kenneth Bott

D/JX555308, Able Seaman, Royal Navy, HMS President III (HMS Samaustral).

Drowned on the 19th October 1945 aged 20.

William was born in Frien Barnet on the 17th June 1925 the son of William & Lillian Bott. He was accidentally drowned at Maputo, Mozambique on the 19th October 1945 whilst his ship was at harbour in Delagoa Bay at the southern extremity of the country.

He is the only British serviceman to be buried in the Maputo Cemetery, Mozambique. (Special Memorial Grave. 7583.)

Reuben Bradford

26710, Private, 4th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment

Missing in Action on the 23rd April 1917 aged 36

The Arras Memorial

Reuben was born on the 30th April 1882, the son of John & Sarah Bradford of Lymington Road, Stevenage. He later lived at Hoares Cross, Braughing, near Ware with his wife, Sylvia, and their children, Florrie & George. He enlisted in the Army in the village of Buntingford, Hertfordshire.

He was killed when the Battalion was called to attack the village of Gravrelle as part of the British offensive at Arras. The battalion went straight through the village gaining its objectives and consolidating its position on the Northern outskirts. Although they were heavily shelled throughout the day, and also had to fight off a heavy German counter attack, they succeeded in holding on to their objective despite suffering some 229 casualties. Reuben was killed at some point during this action, probably from German machine gun fire which accounted for many of the Battalions casualties.

He has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Arras Memorial, Arras, France. (Bay 5)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

Michael Franklin Briden

39706, Flying Officer (Pilot), 149 Squadron. Royal Air Force.

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

The Runnymeade Memorial, Surrey.

Michael was the only son of Franklin & Marion Briden. He married Joyce Eyre Nicholson on the 19th September 1939, at Mildenhall, Suffolk, where he was stationed. Just a few weeks later he was to be 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 dispatched 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 German 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.

Michael Briden 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


Henry George Brown

20097, Lance Corporal, 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment

Missing in Action on the 1st July 1916 aged 29

Thiepval Memorial, Somme.

Henry was the son of Henry George & Jane Brown, and the husband of Ann Brown of 7 Albert Street, Stevenage. He worked in Belgium before the First World War and was one of those who was killed in the most renowned action of the war, the first day of The Battle of the Somme.

The battalion, with the 11th Royal Fusiliers on its right, led the left of the attack by the 18th Division. They advanced at 07.30 am and within 15 minutes had captured the first line system of German defences, Emden Trench. Every officer in the two leading platoons, however, had fallen but the men pressed on led by NCO's. The Germans were well protected in their dug-outs and put up a fierce resistance. The assaulting battalions carried forward their attack supported by machine-guns and trench mortars which, according to the Divisional history, provided a hurricane bombardment. Eventually, at 9.30am, after an intensely bitter fight the Battalion took their objectives, the Pommiers Trench & Redoubt which were filled with German dead. The Battalion had suffered some 321 casualties during the assault.

An interesting point was that one of the Battalion officers, Captain A.E.Percival, was awarded the Military Cross for his part in the attack. In 1942, as General Percival, he was to be responsible for the British surrender of the island of Singapore to the Japanese.

At the time of his death local newspapers recorded Henry Brown as serving in the 8th East Kent Regt.

Henry has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France. (Panel/Pier 2C.)