Owen Walter Charles Abbiss

14631208, Private, 4th Battalion, Dorset Regiment

Killed In Action on the 2nd August 1944 aged 28.

Hottot-Les-Bagues War Cemetery, Tilly-Sur-Seuilles, France.

Owen was born on the 2nd December 1915, the son of Charles and Ellen Abbiss who lived at 105 Letchmore Road, Stevenage. Before the war he worked as an assembly hand at the ESA Educational Supplies factory and was the captain of the Stevenage Town football club. He had been a member of the Home Guard and joined the Army in June 1943. In September of that year he married local girl, Winifred Clarke.

Owen was killed in action during on the 2nd August 1944, during the Normandy campaign, when the 4th Battalion, Dorset Regiment, led the 130th Brigade in a breakout along the Caumont to Ondefontaine road. It’s objective was the capture of the villages of Jurques, La Bigne and Ondefontaine. At 0115 hours the Battalion moved off at a steady pace heading South-westwards. The summer days were blisteringly hot and many of the troops, mounted on tanks, kept dropping off to sleep. The Battalion was involved in many small actions during their advance and it was during one of these that Owen Abbiss was killed.

He is buried in the Hottot-Les-Bagues War Cemetery, Tilly-Sur-Seuilles, France.

John Perry Alcock

127192, Flying Officer (Pilot), 161 Squadron (Special Operations). Royal Air Force

Killed In Action on the 4th August 1944 aged 30.

Flying Officer John Perry Alcock

John Alcock initially served in a Guards regiment during the early stages of the Second World War. He was eager to get into action and was disappointed and somewhat frustrated when his unit was held at home. Eventually he decided to join the RAF and after completing his transfer began to train as a pilot. Ironically, after his transfer the Guards regiment he was originally serving with was sent into action in North Africa.

On the 19th January 1944, after completing his training, John was posted to 631 Squadron, which performed the rather inglorious task of target towing, and he was soon looking to move to a Squadron where he could see some action. In March 1944 John was to get his hearts desire when he joined 161 Squadron. This was a special operations unit, which had been flying secret agents and SOE operatives in and out of occupied Europe since it’s formation in February 1942.

In the months leading up to the D-Day invasion the SOE activity from the little airfield at Tempsford in Bedfordshire was intense and on 30th April 1944 John Alcock flew his first operation. This was known as a " Double" mission with John and Flight Lieutenant Bob Large both landing at the same secret airfield to recover some SOE agents. Operation " Organist" , as it was known, was detailed to send two Lysander aircraft to Chateauroux in order to drop three agents and pick up two who had been performing a reconnaissance of the Rouen area. There had been a high number of arrests in the region due to intense Gestapo activity.

The agents to be collected were Philippe Liewer and Violette Szabo, two of the SOE's most famous operators. Liewer, whose face was on many  " Wanted" posters and had left Rouen for his own safety, flew with John Alcock whilst Szabo flew with Bob Large. John was said to be absolutely delighted that he had managed to find the landing ground by his own navigation and could hardly contain his excitement.

Tragedy struck John Alcock and his wife, Dosie, on the 17th July 1944 when their four-month-old baby daughter, Carolyn, died suddenly.  In August 1944 the Lysander flight of 161 Squadron continued it’s dangerous work from Tempsford airfield. The night of the 4th/5th August was to be John Alcock's second and, tragically, last operation. He was, once again, on a " Doubles" flight, code named Operation " Pirouge" , this time with Flying Officer Peter Arkell who was on his first operation. They were destined for Vallon, south of the Loire. The flight was a long and lonely one and John may have had time to reflect on the loss of his Daughter. The mission was made even more dangerous by the fact that the Allies, now strengthening their position in Normandy, were performing Intruder flights into the area to harass the enemy and destroy any opportune targets. Peter Arkell saw his companions Lysander, V948, go down in flames ahead of him having blown up in mid-air after being attacked by what was thought to be a night fighter. The Canadian pilot of a Mosquito intruder of 410 squadron later reported the destruction of a Henschel HS126, which has similar characteristics to the Lysander, and it is now known that this was in fact John Alcock’s aircraft.

His grave, the only British serviceman to be buried in the cemetery, lays 20 miles Southwest of Rennes in Messsac, France.

Although John Alcock is not remembered on the Stevenage War Memorial his Daughter is buried in St.Nicholas Church and he is commemorated on her headstone, a double blow for a young wife and mother.

 

Jack Stanley Allen

948874, Bombardier, 499 Battery.  135th (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Died Of Wounds on the 11th February 1942 aged 22.

The grave of Bombardier Jack Stanley Allen in Kranji War Cemetery, Singapore

Before joining the Army Jack had worked at the Shelford and Crowe garage in Stevenage and was later employed at De Havillands. At the outbreak of war the men of the Territorial forces were called to arms and Jack’s 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 northwestern 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. Although no official records have survived it is believed that Jack was wounded during one of these actions and was amongst the many casualties taken to the Singapore Hospital where he later died.

He is buried in the Kranji War Cemetery although his original grave has been lost. His headstone is marked, " buried near this spot" .

Richard Avis

2560483, Trooper, 11th Battalion, The Hussars.

Died 5th November 1939 aged 32.

Richard was the son of George & Helen Avis and the husband of Olive Avis.

The exact cause of his death is not yet known.

He is buried in the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt. (H.7.)

Eric Gorden Barwick

5990020, Lance Corporal, 1st Hertfordshire Regiment.

Killed In Action on the 25th August 1944 aged 24.

Eric was the son of William & Alice Barwick and the husband of Elizabeth Barwick. He was born at Rooks Nest cottages, Walkern and was later employed at Rooks Nest farm. He joined the Territorial Army in 1938 and was well known locally as both a church chorister and as keen member of the Boy Scout movement.
The Battalion was serving in Italy at the time of his death. Eric was part of No.2 Company which was sent forward to try and occupy the castle of Vincigliato where the Germans had positioned themselves. There was to be no battalion attack or reinforcements and if the castle was too strongly held the Company was given orders to return to it's former positions. They left at first light and arrived in the area of the castle at 08.00 am. They first approached from the front but it was found that the Germans had prepared for a frontal assault by placing Spandau machine guns in the moat and walls of the castle. The Company began to reconnoitre the castle but this drew fire from the occupying Germans and it was soon determined that both Artillery and Royal Engineer assistance would be needed as the castle was too strongly held. Orders were given for the Company to withdraw but as they did so they were hit by a barrage of mortar fire which resulted in several casualties, including Eric Barwick. At the time of his death he had a 14 month old daughter, Valerie, who he had never seen.
Eric is buried in Florence War Cemetery, Italy. (5.A.10)

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

Number

Rank

Name

Age

967922

SGT

John Keogh HUTT

23

400061

SGT

David Alcorn McKELL RAAF

30

759009

SGT

Harold Bernard BATCHELOR

32

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.

Crew Of LANCASTER MK1 W4256 ZN-V

Number

Rank

Name

Age

1318824

SGT

Stephen George WHITE

20

1454684

P/O

Gerard William Board ENRIGHT

30

J/22535 25

F/O

James Edgar Donald CRAIGIE  RCAF

25

1447786

SGT

Eric Charles CROOK

21

1294682

SGT

John Frederick BATES

22

A/415456

F/SGT

Maxwell Birdwood WATT  RAAF

25

1531330

SGT

Edwin Thomas HARDING

20

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)

Alec John Bolter

184364, Flying Officer, Pilot, 49 Squadron, Royal Air Force.

Killed In Action on the 8th January 1945 aged 26.

Alec Bolter lived in Benington before the war and was educated at Alleynes School. He played cricket for the school and was a member of the 2nd XI. He also had a passion for chess and was later to become secretary of the schools chess & draughts club. On leaving school he joined Reekes & Goode of Hertford and in less than three years had become a licentiate of the Institute of Auctioneers and Estate agents, having passed his exams with honours.

In 1939 Alec was called up to the Militia and was stationed on a searchlight station in South Wales but this tedious task was not for him and in 1941 he transferred to the RAF. He trained to be a pilot in the USA and after completing a training course that lasted over a year, he proudly won his wings.  Alec was married in April 1942 and found himself posted on to an Instructional staff position, which was not to his liking as he longed for operational duties.

It was late in 1944 when he managed to get himself transferred to Bomber Command and joined 49 Squadron.

Just a few short weeks later, on the 8th January 1945, a force of 645 Lancaster’s took to the air for what was to be the last major raid on Munich, one of the Lancaster bombers was piloted by Alec Bolter. Eleven Aircraft were lost during the raid plus an additional four which crash landed in France. One of the latter was piloted by Alec Bolter, which crashed near the village of  St.Gemar.

Alec is buried at the Old Cemetery in Villeneuve St.Georges, France.

Crew of LANCASTER Mk.III  PB586 EA

Position

Number

Rank

Name

Age

Pilot:

184364

F/O

Alec John  BOLTER     DFC

26

FE:

1880701

SGT

Jack  COURT

NAV:

1623780

SGT

Thomas Ellwood  WALKER

BA:

1621826

SGT

John Thomas  SANDERSON

21

MUAG:

1881458

SGT

Alfred  BUTCHER

36

RAG:

1055862

SGT

Clarence Leslie  ATKINS

 35

Alfred Harold Boon

543626, Gunner, 7th Coastal Regiment. Royal Artillery.

Died on the 3rd March 1942 aged 37

Alfred was the son of Alfred & Annie Boon. He was presumed to have been killed in the Far East between the 2nd/3rd August 1942, whilst a prisoner of the Japanese, and has no known grave.

His name is recorded on the Singapore War Memorial. (Column 13)