Eric George Ward

14631237, Private, 1/7th Battalion, Queens Royal West Surrey Regiment.

Died Of Wounds on the 22nd October 1944 aged 27.

Eric was the only son of George & Florence Ward of 32 Lawrence Avenue. He was known locally as a keen footballer and was employed at ESA in Stevenage. Four of his uncles were killed during the First World War. Eric did not join the Army until 1943.

On the 22nd October 1944 the Battalion was in action as part of Operation “Alan” which was an assault on the town of Middlerode in Holland. The attack commenced at 06.35am and at 07.00 “D” Company was caught by heavy enemy artillery fire.

Eric died from the effects of shrapnel wounds and is buried in the Uden War Cemetery, Holland.

 

Harry Alan Ward

Harry Alan Ward
(Source: Keith Blaxill)

10602994, Corporal, 15th Battalion, Reconnaissance Regiment.

Killed In Action on the 17th July 1944 aged 23.

Harry was born in Codicote on the 10th October 1920, the son of William & Beatrice Ward. The family later moved to Stevenage where they lived at 39 Stanmore Road. He was educated at Letchmore Boys School and after leaving school Harry was employed as an apprentice joiner at the ESA factory in the town.

Due to the nature of his job and the fact the factory was then making aircraft wings for the war effort, his attempts to join the Army were deferred until he was aged 21. During this period Harry served in the local Home Guard. He also played football for Stevenage Town and once made a guest appearance for Millwall. When Harry received his call up papers in 1942 he arranged a special marriage licence so that he could marry his fiancée, Olive Hollingsworth, on that day. After his training he served in the UK until the invasion of Normandy on the 6th June 1944.

On the 17th July 1944 his unit was withdrawn to Cheux, in Normandy, for a rest during the assault on Caen. German aircraft attacked and bombed the area and the unit suffered two men killed, one of whom was Harry Ward.

He is buried in the St.Manivieu War Cemetery, France.

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.) 

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.)

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)

 

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)

 

 

Harry Willans DSO MC

Major-General, Artists Rifles.

Killed on the 5th February 1943 aged 50.

Major-General Harry Willans DSO MC

Harry was born in 1892 the son of James & Henrietta Willans and lived at Benington Croft with his wife Dorothy. He was later educated at Aldenham College.

In 1914 he was serving in the Artists Rifles, the forerunner to the SAS, and was one of the first fifty to be picked to serve as a Subaltern to a Regular unit.

He went on to serve with the Bedfordshire Regiment. In November 1940 he was appointed to the newly created post of Director General of Army Welfare & Education.

He was killed in a flying accident on 5th February 1943. Harry is buried in the Tobruk War Cemetery, Libya. (10.B.3)

Peter David Wood

571965, Leading Aircraftsman, 30 Maintenance Unit. Royal Air Force.

Killed 12/04/41 aged 19.

Peter was the son of William & Martha Wood. He joined the RAF and was training to be a Fitter at the Bristol Aero Works. On the last day of his fitting training at the works he was on Fire watch when a very heavy air raid took place on the plant.

Following the raid it was discovered that someone was trapped in the wreckage of a building and Peter went to their aid. As he made a rescue bid the building collapsed on him killing him instantly. His brother, William, was serving with the Australian Artillery and died whilst a Japanese prisoner of war in Burma.

Peter is buried in Benington churchyard.

Headstone Inscription: "Also In Memory Of W.J.B. Wood, Gunner A.I.F. Died In Burma 5th Oct. 1943 Both Were Valiant"

William John Belcher Wood

QX11071, Gunner, 2/10 Field Regiment. Royal Australian Artillery.

Died on the 5th October 1943 aged 31.

William was born on the 31st March 1912, the son of William & Martha Wood. His brother, Peter was killed on active service on the 12th April 1941. William was the first boy from Benington school to achieve a scholarship to Alleynes grammar school. Whilst at Alleynes he gained the captaincy of the cricket XI and had won himself a place in the football XI.  After leaving school he went to work for F Bracey a well known agricultural engineer and, at that time, a county councillor.

In 1929 William left the shores of England to become a dairy farmer in Australia. Later he was employed in the lumber trade and, on one occasion, single handed, performed the task of felling, squaring, ripping, sinking and erecting the timber for a ninety post stockade. All this was achieved in just one day, a truly amazing feat.

At the outbreak of war William tried to enlist for air crew duties but was prevented from doing so by the loss of a finger. This, in fact, he had shot off himself after being bitten by a snake. Eventually, on the 4th July 1940 he was accepted into the Artillery and served with the 2/10 Field Regiment as a Gunner. In 1941 William was posted to Malaya and served with his unit until it’s capture at Singapore in February 1942. He endured the hardships of captivity for over 20 months, then, in October 1943 he contracted dysentery and died.

William is buried in the Thanbyuzayat war cemetery, Burma. (A1.A.1.)

Headstone Inscription: "He Also Was Valiant"