Roland Frederick Dunsby

819666, Bomberdier, 259 Battery, 65th (Norfolk Yeomanary) Anti-Tank Regiment. Royal Artillery.

Killed In Action on the 26th May 1940 aged 39.

Roland was the son of William & Anna Dunsby and the husband of Olive Dunsby. His father was the local Policeman and they lived, not surprisingly, at Police cottage in Benington. Roland served for six years in the Royal Field Artillery and in 1939 he joined the Hertfordshire Constabulary and was stationed at Hertford where he served until re-called for service.

The Regiment, part of the 50th (Northumbrian) Brigade, served in France from January 1940 until the BEF evacuation. Following the German invasion of France & Belgium the unit was sent to Gramount where it remained for two days. On the 19th May they were attached to the 151st Infantry Brigade and sent to defend the bridges at Avelghem - Bossuyt. The following day they were attached to the 74th Field Regiment and were moved to the Bethune Line. On the 24th May they were in a position on the La Base - Bethune canal. After the bridges were blown at Berclau part of the Battery was withdrawn to Camphin. The remainder of the battery remained at the La Basse - Bethune position and the following day was in action with the enemy. During this action Bombardier Pointer was awarded the Military Medal and it is believed this is where Roland Dunsby was killed.

He is buried in the Merville Communal Cemetery Extension, France. (2.C.33)

Harold Frederick Dyke

650949, Corporal, “B” Company. 2/21st Battalion, London Regiment (First Surrey Rifles).

Killed in Action on the 31st March 1918 aged 27.

Harold was the son of Frederick Thomas & Florence Dyke of Six Hills, Stevenage. He was educated at Alleynes School,  was the secretary of the Stevenage Hockey Club and, before joining the Army, had worked as an Insurance Clerk.

He joined the Surrey Rifles on the 3rd September 1914 and served in France, Salonika, Egypt and Palestine. He arrived in France on the 26th June 1916 where the Battalion served in the Ypres sector until the 30th November when they were shipped to Salonika. Whilst serving in this theatre he was admitted to hospital on a total of six occasions suffering from a variation of stomach related disorders. On the 17th June 1917 the Battalion were posted to Egypt to help in the fight against Turkish forces in the region. It was here that Harold was to lose his life.

On the 31st March 1918 the Battalion were located in the Wadi Amman, Syria.  Here they were ordered to advance on, and capture, Turkish positions. The assault began at 2.40am and the Battalion soon came under heavy machine gun and rifle fire from Turkish positions to their right.  “B” Company, with whom Harold was serving, were ordered to attack these positions which they did so very successfully. They advanced very quickly and soon found themselves well in front of the Battalion and were able to capture two machine guns and eighty Turkish prisoners. The Company were then brought back to a Wadi on the Amman road in order that their commanding officer could determine the situation. The action had cost the Battalion 24 men killed or missing and a further 104 wounded.

Harold is buried in the Damascus Commonwealth War Cemetery, Syria. (F.27.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal.

Thomas Earle

524033, Sergeant (Flight Engineer), 426 “Thunderbird” Squadron. Royal Air Force.

Killed In Action on the 26th March 1944 aged 22.

Sergeant Thomas Earle and his crew.

Thomas was the son of Thomas & Elizabeth Earle. After joining the Royal Air Force he trained as a Flight Engineer and on completion of his training was posted to No.426 Squadron, a unit of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

He flew a total of 16 Operational flights with his crew but on 18th March 1944 misfortune struck their faithful chariot, Lancaster Mk.II DS 711, which had carried them on many missions. It was damaged in a taxiing accident whilst returning from a raid on Frankfurt. Damage sustained to the Tail, Starboard Wing and Fuselage meant that the aircraft would be out of service and they would be forced to use alternative aircraft.

On the Night of 26th March they took off in the alternative aircraft, Lancaster Mk.II DS789 OW-A, from their base at Linton to attack a target in Essen. Thomas was in his usual Flight Engineer position. The flight was relatively uneventful but, at a point some 10 miles west of Gelsenkirchen, over the town of Boltrop the aircraft received a direct hit from a flak shell and exploded in mid-air.

All the crew were instantly killed and they are buried in the Reichswald Forest Cemetery, Germany.

Crew of LANCASTER Mk.2  DS789 OW-A

Number

Rank

Name

Age

J19280

P/O

Alan Ludvig OLSSON  RCAF

25

J19263

P/O

Jack Olavi KOIVU   RCAF

22

524033

SGT

Thomas EARLE

22

R106617

W/O

Charles Garnet PHINNEY  RCAF

21

J19063

P/O

Thomas Harold PROUDLOCK  RCAF

21

2208899

SGT

Reginald Victor JONES

19

173268

F/SGT

Francis Edward FOX

22

George Hubert Eaton

Lieutenant, 6th Machine Gun Squadron, 19th Hussars.

Killed in Action on the 25th March 1918 aged 23

George was born on the 2nd September 1895, the son of Evelyn Mary Eaton. The family lived at Stevenage Lodge and George had a sister who, at the time of his death, was a renowned violinist. He applied to join the army on the 15th October 1914, at the age of 19 years, having already served three years in the Eton Officer Training Corps. His attestation papers show that he opted for a cavalry regiment, preferably the 19th Hussars. His reasons for wanting to join the cavalry were that he had hunted for several years and had ridden in several steeplechases.

George was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into his preferred regiment on the 6th July 1916 and received a temporary promotion to Lieutenant on the 29th July. This seemingly rapid promotion gives an indication to the high level of casualties being suffered amongst the officer ranks during the summer of 1916. It was on the 14th August 1916 that George joined the 6th Battalion of the Machine Gun Corps.

The exact circumstances of his death are not yet known. However, it is recorded that after he was killed his body was buried in a position 1250 yards South of Dampcourt, East of Noyon. A letter sent to his family in October 1920 explains that George was later exhumed and moved to the Chauny Communal Cemetery British Extension, France. (3. G. 16.)

His headstone Inscription reads; They Truly Live Who Yield Their Lives Fighting

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

George Henry Edwards

266902, Private, No.4 Company. 1 Hertfordshire Regiment.

Missing In Action on the 31st July 1917 aged 24.

The Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium.

George was the son of George & Emma Edwards of Froghall Lane, Walkern and was to lose his life on the first day of a major British offensive, The Third Ypres, or Battle of  Passchendaele.

The offensive was launched on 31 July 1917 and continued until the fall of Passchendaele village on 6 November.  Although it resulted in gains for the Allies it was by no means the breakthrough General Haig intended, and such gains as were made came at great cost in human terms. The village of St. Juliaan lies on the Hanebeek, one of the small streams that drains the fields in this area. On the 18th July 1917 a heavy preliminary artillery bombardment began which lasted for the ten days prior to the launch of the attack. The bombardment was made by 3,000 guns which expended four and a quarter million shells into the surrounding ground.  Given such an onslaught the German Fourth Army fully expected the attack and the element of surprise was entirely lost. Added to this was the fact that the area was suffering the heaviest rains it had seen for 30 years and this, combined with the shelling, turned the ground into a hellish morass.

The Battalion were in support of an attack on the Langemarck Line and at 03.45am the planned assault began. It had three objectives to achieve known as Blue, Black & Green and units of the 116th Brigade easily captured the first two objectives, preparing the way for the forward companies of the Hertfordshire battalion, to take the third objective.

At 05.00am they left their assembly positions to attack their objective, which lay over the crest of a ridge. As they made their way forward they came under heavy fire from both German machine guns and snipers but after eliminating a German strongpoint moved up towards St.Julian, which was only lightly held. The battalion crossed the Steenbeek with some difficulty and two of its supporting Tanks became bogged down in the mud. Things then went from bad to worse. A pre-arranged artillery barrage never materialised due to the guns being unable to move forward over the muddy terrain and the German barbed wire defences, which were fifteen feet deep in some places, were found to still be intact.

It was soon realised that ground could only be won by section " rushes" supported by the unit’s own fire. The Cheshire Regiment were on the right of the battalion but the Black Watch, who were due to cover the left flank, had been seriously delayed. This left the Hertfordshire's seriously exposed and the Germans exploited this by bringing a hurricane of fire down upon the stricken troops. This was followed by a German counter-attack and by 10.30 am it was clear that the objective could not be achieved. Casualties were very heavy with 459 men being killed or wounded.

He has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium. (Panel 54/56.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

William James Dixon Ellis

2156325, Sapper, 21st Bomb Disposal Company. Royal Engineers.

Killed on the 9th November 1945 aged 23.

William was the son of Henry & Grace Ellis and the husband of Phillis Ellis. After leaving school he had worked at ESA and was a member of the local Home Guard. He joined the army in 1940 and entered the Royal Engineers. Where he served in a Bomb Disposal Unit.

In 1943 William married Phyllis Scott and the couple lived at 46 Grove Road, Stevenage. On the 9th November 1945 he was involved in clearing mines, which had been laid behind the sea wall in Lowestoft. One of the mines exploded and instantly killed William and his comrade, Sapper Sydney Arthur Denton. It is a sad irony that after five years of war service involving the clearing of many enemy bombs that William should be killed by one of our own mines.

He is buried in the St.Nicholas churchyard, Stevenage. (Plot A. Grave 99)

Alfred John Emery

L/10015, Sergeant, 1st Battalion, Middlesex Regiment.

Killed In Action on the 23rd October 1918 aged 31.

Sergeant Alfred John Emery

Alfred was the son of John & Julia Emery of North Road, Stevenage, and the husband of Ellen Maud Emery of The Vicarage, Thorne, Doncaster, Yorkshire. A professional solider who had been serving with the Middlesex Regiment in India, he had only just settled in Doncaster prior to his death. His brother, Frederick, had been killed on the 19th April 1915 whilst serving in France with the Bedfordshire Regiment

Alfred arrived in France on the 11th August 1914, just a week after the war broke out and served continuously on the Western Front for almost the entire period of the war. Just two weeks before the Armistice the Battalion were in positions near Montay. Here they were ordered to assault German positions located in a forest. Although the Battalion was successful in its attack, and 200 German prisoners were captured, their losses were high. Alfred is believed to have been killed by Machine Gun fire.

His name is recorded on a special memorial in the Romeries Communal Cemetery Extension, France. 129 of the burials in the cemetery are unidentified but there are special memorials to 15 casualties believed to be buried among them, one of these being Alfred Emery.

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

Frederick William Emery

4/4560, Private, 2nd Battalion. Bedfordshire Regiment.

Killed In Action on the 19th April 1915 aged 28.

Frederick was the son of John & Julia Emery of 9 North Road.

He arrived in France on the 19th October 1914, some two months after his brother, Alfred. The battalion was billeted at La Gorgue, a suburb of Estaires, and it was here that Frederick is believed to have been shot by a sniper. His brother, Alfred, was later killed on the 23rd October 1918.

Frederick is buried in the Fauquissart Military Cemetery, Laventie, France. (Grave.F.4.)

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

William Harmer Eyden

22454, Private, 3rd Battalion, Grenadier Guards, (2nd Guards Brigade. Guards Division).

Died Of Wounds on the 26th September 1916 aged 30.

William was the son of William & Sarah Ann Eyden of Fishers Green. He was killed at the Battle of Morval during the Somme offensive.

On the 24th September the battalion formed up in the assembly trenches in front of Ginchy. Regimental records show the trenches were so narrow that the men could not sit or lie down in them and had to remain shoulder to shoulder until the following day when, at 12.35, they attacked Ginchy. The assault was held up by uncut wire and four officers went forward to try and cut it by hand. The battalion, led by NCOs, then charged through the gap to take the objective but the cost was high with William being amongst the wounded.

He was severely wounded in his right leg and was not found for some time before being moved to a Casualty Clearing Station, and then on to a hospital in Rouen, where his leg was amputated. Initially, it was believed that he would survive the ordeal but he sadly succumbed to his injuries.

William is buried in the St.Sever Cemetery, Rouen, Seine-Maritime, France. (B.23.59.) 

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal