Reginald Alfred Brown

614115, Warrant Officer, 78 Squadron. Royal Air Force.

Missing on the 22nd April 1945 aged 25.

Reg & Audrey Brown
(Courtesy of Angus Moss)

On the 26th June 1942 a Halifax bomber, W1067, was on an operational flight to attack Bremen. The rear gunner was Warrant Officer Reginald Brown and at 00.42 Hours the aircraft was attacked by a German night-fighter piloted by Unteroffizer Heinz Vinke of II/NJG2. The pilot and the mid-upper gunner of the bomber perished in the attack but the rest of the crew baled out and were taken prisoner. Reginald was held in Stalag Luft 6 at Heydekrug as prisoner No.311 and remained there for nearly three years. In the Spring of 1945 the German forces were coming under increasing pressure on both their Western and Eastern fronts. In an effort to prevent Allied prisoners of war from joining up with the Allied forces it was decided to move them further back into the German interior, where they would be out of reach. Very often, due to the limited availability of transport, prisoners were forced to march on foot for many miles without a break. These men were usually in no fit state to undertake such an exacting task and many of them perished on the way. It appears that the men of Stalag Luft 6 may have been a little more fortunate in that transport was made available to move them. However, it seems that the very presence of these vehicles may have contributed to the deaths of a number of men.

On the 22nd April 1945 the small transport column had stopped at a small farm and the prisoners were placed in a barn for the night. As they slept a number of Typhoon fighters on an Intruder mission spotted the transport around the farm and attacked it. The barn was set alight and one prisoner described how Reg Brown had been killed instantly after a cannon shell from one of the aircraft had struck him in the throat whislt he was asleep.

Reg Brown was later buried by the side of the road and subsequently has no known grave. His name is recorded on the Runnymeade Memorial. (Panel 269).

Official records show him as being a resident of Benington.


Arthur William Bryant

203268, Private, 11th Battalion, Essex Regiment

Missing in Action on the 18th September 1918 aged 24

Private Arthur William Bryant

Arthur lived in Nottingham road, Stevenage. He was his parent’s eldest son and was married. His wife, at the time of his death, was living in Breach Road, Maulden near Ampthill.

He worked at ESA and had joined the Territorial’s before the war as Private 2213, being mobilised with them when hostilities broke out. His Regimental number later changed to 265338, Hertfordshire Regiment and he then transferred to the Bedfordshire Regiment and then to the Essex Regiment. He was a Lewis gunner with his battalion and was killed in action at St.Quentin.

Although contemporary reports state that he was buried at the time of his death, Arthur has no known grave. As such his name is recorded on the Vis-En-Artois Memorial, France. (Panel.7)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

William Bryant

41297, Private, 8th Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment

Missing in Action on the 12th April 1918 aged 19

Private William Bryant

William lived in Hellards Road, Stevenage and was one of two brothers serving in the forces. He initially joined the Bedfordshire Regiment but later was transferred to the North Staffordshire’s.

On the 12th April 1918 the Battalion had moved into positions on the Lindenhoek – Wytschaete Road, near Wulverghen, Belgium. It is believed that he was shot by a sniper.

William has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium. (Panel 124/125.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

Arthur Bygrave

9374, Corporal, 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment

Missing in Action on the 30th October 1914 aged 25

Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium

Arthur was a professional soldier who was drafted to the BEF from South Africa at the outbreak of the war. The battalion arrived at Zeebrugge on the 7th October 1914. He is believed to have been killed at the First Battle of Ypres during the battalion withdrawal from Zandevoorde.

On the 30th October 1914, the battalion came under shell fire in the early morning and , as trenches had not been dug during the night, the men took shelter in ditches and became a little dispersed. At 7.30am the 7th Cavalry Brigade was driven from Zandevoorde, which left the battalion's right flank exposed. The Germans occupied Zandevoorde at 10am and an enemy artillery battery came out into the open about 900 yards away and opened fire, but was soon overcome. The battalion, along with the Royal Scots Fusiliers were ordered to retire and by dusk were located behind the Gheluveldt -Zandevoorde Road, where the Companies had become somewhat intermingled. Arthur Bryant was reported amongst the missing men that day but was not confirmed as killed until August 1915.

His body was never found and he has no known grave. Arthur's name is recorded on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium.

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

Reuben Bygrave

109991, Gunner, 22nd Reserve Battery, Royal Field Artillery

Died on the 6th August 1916 aged 30

The grave of Gunner Reuben Bygrave in St.Johns Churchyard, Sutton Veny, Wiltshire.

Reuben was the son of Reuben & Eliza Bygrave of Symonds Green, Stevenage. He later married Rosina Sarah Rockall in the Summer of 1912 and the couple lived at 12 Alleynes Road. Their Daughter, Violet, was born on the 7th September 1915.

The 22nd Reserve Battery was part of 4B Reserve Brigade which was stationed at Boyton, Wiltshire. He was admitted to the Military Hospital at Suttom Veny and his death certificate states that he died from Larcoma of the Testicle and Exhaustion. As Reuben had not served overseas he was not entitled to any of the Great War campaign medals.

He is buried in St.Johns Churchyard, Sutton Veny, Wiltshire. (Grave Reference: 237.B.2.)

Headstone Inscription: "Gone From Us But Not Forgotten"

George Sidney Carter MC

Second Lieutenant, "A" Company, 9th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment

Died of Wounds on the 28th November 1917 aged 19

Second Lieutenant George Sidney Carter MC

George Carter was born in Weston on the 16th May 1898 the youngest son of John & Clara Carter. After completing his education George became a Gardner by occupation and would have remained so if it had not been for the onset of war.

On the 8th September 1914 George Carter, who was now living at 3 Huntingdon Road, Stevenage was attested at Hitchin for service in the Bedfordshire Regiment and was immediately accepted for military service. Although he was only 16 years-old, he gave his age as 19. This small matter appears to have been of no consequence to the recruiting officer and he was whisked off for a period of basic training. Once his training was complete George was transferred, on the 31st October 1914, to the 11th East Surrey Regiment. This was a Reserve Battalion stationed at Dartmouth and it was here, a few weeks later, on the 12th December that he was promoted to Corporal. Two weeks later on Boxing Day 1914 he was promoted to Sergeant. He remained with the Battalion until the summer of 1915 when it moved to Colchester and on 25th August 1915 was transferred to the 8th Battalion of the East Surrey Rifles and the following day left for service in France. He remained in France until the 28th January 1916 when he was shipped home. George remained in England throughout the spring of 1916 until the 28th August when he was posted to the 2nd Battalion of the East Surrey Rifles. The Battalion was serving in Salonika at the time and George remained with them until January 1917 when he returned home to undertake a commission. During his service in Salonika George had completed his will which left all his estates to his mother.

After returning to England he was accepted at No.19 Officer Cadet Battalion in Purbright on the 15th March 1917 and an excited George arrived at Kingston station under Railway Warrant number 660395 to begin his new career. After the completion of his training he was posted to the 9th Battalion of the East Surrey Rifles and returned to France on the 25th August 1917. It had been some 18 months since he had been on the Western Front and by now it had become a living hell of mechanised destruction and death. On the 20th November 1917 the Battalion was situated 2000 yards West of Bellicourt, mid-way between Cambrai and St Quentin, when a trench raiding party was organised. The objective was for the raiding party to capture or kill any enemy troops in the front line and blow in any dugouts that were situated in a sunken road just beyond the front line. There were five parties and George Carter led No.1 party which contained six other ranks.

At 6.30am they set off at the Eastern end of a trench known as Fish Lane to enter the enemy front line and 90 seconds later they were at the entrance to the enemy trenches where they encountered a coil of concertina wire. George Carter cut a gap through the wire and as he did so two German’s threw several grenades towards the party which killed one of the raiders and wounded George, his senior NCO, Sergeant Bell, and a Private. At this point two other Privates, Mortimer and Bell picked up George Carter and, under enemy fire, carried him back to the British trenches. Sergeant Bell, although wounded, then attacked the German grenade throwers with his own grenades and killed them both. He then returned to the parties and reorganised them to continue the raid but was ordered to withdraw. The Battalion Commander, Major Thomas Hutchinson  Sabine Swanton, believed that the raiders may have been spotted as they assembled for the attack and commended all those involved for their efforts. Three of the raiders, Lance Corporal Henry Millard, Private Frederick Prested and Private James Hunt were all killed during the action.

George Carter was evacuated to No.13 Field Ambulance with multiple wounds and later transferred to No.8 General Hospital in Rouen. A telegram was sent to his parents and his mother was given permission to visit him in hospital. He died from the effects of his wounds at 2am on the 28th November 1917. The officer commanding the hospital handed his effects to his mother.

He was awarded the Military Cross on 25/04/18 and the citation in the London Gazette read, “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during a raid. Whilst cutting the wire on an enemy parapet he was very seriously wounded by a bomb. Although completely crippled he continued to cheer on his men till he saw that they had entered the enemy trench”.

George Carter is buried in the St.Sever Cemetery, Rouen, France. (Grave Reference: B.3.19.)

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

Albert Lewis Catlin

18957, Lance Corporal, 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment

Killed in Action on the 5th September 1916 aged 32

The grave of Lance Corporal Albert Lewis Catlin in the Delville Wood Cemetery, Longueval, France.

Albert was the son of Susan Catlin of High Street, Graveley and the husband of Mary Catlin of 47 Alleyns Road, Stevenage.

He arrived in France with his Battalion on the 13th May 1915, and was killed during the Somme offensive following an attack on Falfemont Farm, a German fortified strong-point to the South-east of an area known as Wedge Wood. The Battalion successfully captured the farm in the early hours of the 5th September 1916. However, there was no part of the farm left standing and, as result no real shelter for the assaulting battalions, who had to spend the night in the open. Early in the morning the Germans shelled the area and the battalion suffered many casualties, among which is believed to have been Albert Catlin.

He is buried in the Delville Wood Cemetery, Longueval, France. (27.D.1.)

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