This page has been compiled partly from a great book called "Chippy World War 2" by Peter Tyrrell and the Chipping Norton Family History Group published in 2006. It tells the stories of those who served and survived, those who died are remembered on "The Fallen of WW2" page. It is part of our project to create an online record of the men who served in both World Wars and is a work in progress. It is by no means a complete list of the men and women who served their country and we would like to add to the stories below with more details or record new names. If anyone has further information please contact me at stevekingsford@gmail.com or on 01295 780716.

LAWRENCE DANIEL ABBOTT

He was born in Chipping Norton in November 1923 to parents Horace and Albert Abbott, and brother of Ronald (below). His father Horace had served in the Navy in World War One. He served as a Sick Bay Attendant in the Royal Navy. He spent time in Iceland and Sierra Leone as a crew member of a corvette carrying out convoy duty in the South Atlantic. He later served on a minesweeper operating in the English Channel and along the East Coast. He died in Perth, Australia, in August 2007 aged 83.

RONALD THOMAS ABBOTT

He was born in Chipping Norton in 1922 to parents Horace and Ida Abbott, and brother of Lawrence (above). Before enlisting he had worked as a lorry driver for a haulage contractor. He served in the Royal Engineers in bomb disposal based in London during the height of the blitz, and was later posted to the Far East and served in Burma. In 1957 he married Margaret Lodge in Chipping Norton. He died in December 1997 aged 75.

 

GUNNER  GEORGE ARIES

He was born in Chipping Norton in 1926. He was called up for service in 1944 into the Royal Artillery as a Gunner, did his basic 6 weeks training at Gosforth Park in Newcastle before being posted to the Royal Artillery Training Centre in Rhyl. There he qualified as a driver and a wireless operator, which included the use of Morse code. As he achieved a high grade in driving he went on to the Mechanical Traction School at Colwyn Bay for a further driving course and looking after a 20 ton American tank. After D-Day George embarked at Liverpool docks bound for India. After various transit camps he joined the 178th Field Regiment of the Royal Artillery. As he had training on tracked vehicles, George became a bren gun carrier driver. When news of the victory in Europe came the Regiment were preparing for operations in the Far East. This was an amphibious landing at Port Swettenham in Malaya and went ahead on 9th September 1945, even though the Japanese had surrendered on 15th August. He was then involved in rounding up the Japanese for repatriation until the Regiment was sent to Java, where they undertook dockyard security duties and escorted Japanese prisoners to Glodok prison for war crime trials. The climate in Java caused George heath problems and he suffered from foot rot, jungle sores and continual mosquito bites. The Regiment returned to Malaya via Singapore and were disbanded. George then joined the 25th Field Regiment in Hong Kong, carrying out Regimental Police duties. Three months later he went into a coma for two weeks having contracted malaria. These attacks continued after his demobilisation in 1948. He married Joan Mittel in the town in 1950.


SERGEANT  GODFREY BALFOUR

He was born in Chipping Norton in July 1920. He served as Sergeant in the East African Pioneer Corps. He had volunteered for the Royal Engineers at the outbreak of war in 1939, but was not accepted until October 1940, and then posted into the Pioneers. Following spells in the Midlands and North Wales he was posted to the Middle East and joined a company of East Africans. As few of the soldiers under his command could speak English, he learnt Swahili. They were engaged in building aerodromes in Palestine. Later in the war he served with another corps in Egypt on guard duties. After the war he joined the Royal Observer Corps, based at Rollright Stones.

He married Barbara Duffy in Wrexham in 1947 anddied in 2000 aged 80.


LEADING AIRCRAFTMAN WILFRED CHARLIE BARNES

He served as a Leading Aircraftman in the Royal Air Force, joining in August 1940 aged 26. Trained as a cook he served at RAF Waddington in Linolnshire until mid 1945. From June 1945 until February 1946 he served in India.


SUB-LIEUTENANT  VICTOR LIONEL BATTS

He was born in Chipping Norton in June 1925. He had joined the Air Training Corps before the outbreak of war, rising to Corporal, and as soon as he was old enough enlisted into the Royal Air Force. He trained as a pilot and attained the rank of Flight Sergeant before transferring to the Fleet Air Arm. He was commissioned as a temporary acting Sub-Lieutenant on 21st November 1944. He served as a personal pilot to an Admiral and once flew a Fairey Barracuda into Chipping Norton relief airfield but unfortunately due to ignition problems it had to be taken away by a transporter.

Victor Batts died in Honiton, Devon in 2010 aged 85.


SERGEANT  EDWIN  RICHARD HARRY BEALE

Known as Ted, he was born in Chipping Norton in 1916. He married Nancy Packer in 1938, they lived at 66, West Street, where he worked as a bricklayer. He joined the Royal Artillery in 1941 and served in the 6th Field Regiment equipped with 24 x 25 pounder guns. The regiment embarked on a Liberty Ship at Tilbury Docks and arrived off the coast of Normandy on D-Day, 6th June 1944. On 8th June they landed on Juno Beach and moved up to Ranville in support of the 6th Airborne Division who had taken Pegasus Bridge. On 11th June they supported the Canadian Division moving onto the Falaise Gap. They fought their way through Belgium, Holland and then Germany until the enemy surrendered. They then began training for an invasion of mainland Japan, but fortunately Japan surrendered and they were sent to Egypt and Palestine instead. He finished the war as a Sergeant and was demobilised in 1946, returning to Chipping Norton. He died in the town in August 2010 aged 94.


JOHN BECK

He served as a Corporal physical training instructor with the Royal Air Force. He was born in Chipping Norton in 1922. He travelled to Blackpool with a friend Bertie Tipping on 18th March 1941 to enlist in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. He was demobilised on 16th July 1946 and married Florence Goodman in Chipping Norton 1948. He died in the town in 1986.


LANCE SERGEANT  JAMES BECK

He was born in Chipping Norton in 1923. He served as a Lance Sergeant in 35 Platoon, 8th Electrical and Mechanical section of the Royal Engineers. He landed on the Normandy beaches with his unit in June 1944. He suffered severe burns whilst trying to remove an obstruction in September 1944, being invalided back home for treatment in a hospital in the West Country. He married Muriel Coleman in the town in 1949, living at 36, Rock Hill and died in 2009. He was the brother of John Beck (below).

JOSEPH WILLIAM BENFIELD 

He was born in 1910 to parents Howard and Annie Benfield of Rock Hill, his father was a baker and served with the Army Service Corps in that role in the First World War. He married Elsie Chamberlain in the town in 1931 and lived in Over Norton where he worked as an insurance agent. He served in the Royal Air Force driving Queen Mary road transporters used for the delivery and recovery of aircraft. He left the RAF in 1944 on health grounds. He died in 1992 aged 82.


SIGNALMAN  JOHN ARTHUR BENFIELD

He was born in Chipping Norton in 1920 to parents Arthur and Charlotte Benfield. His father had been a professional soldier and served in France from 1915 during the First World War as a Sapper with the Royal Engineers. Before the war he had worked as a GPO engineer. He served as a Signalman in the Royal Signals Regiment between 17th September 1942 and 16th March 1947. Whilst serving under Lieutenant General Arthur Smith GOC Persia and Iraq Command he was awarded a special certificate for outstanding services. He married Nadine Huckey in the town in 1950 and died in September 2002 aged 82. 

ACTING SERGEANT MAJOR DENNIS CHARLES ROBERT BRAIN

He was born in Chipping Norton in July 1914 and lived at 35, Horesefair, working as a lorry driver. His brother Albert had died of his wounds in 1916. He joined the Royal Army Service Corps on 1st April 1940 and spent time at Aldershot and in parts of Devon. He rose from Private to Sergeant Major in his 5 years of service. He died in 2003 aged 89.

CORPORAL  MAURICE DONALD BRAIN

Known as Don, he was born in September 1925  He was called up in 1943 aged 18 and served as an acting Corporal in the Royal Engineers andserved in Egypt, Belgium, France and Germany. He married Alice Knapp in Chipping Norton in September 1945, living at 54, Walterbush Road. He died in 2002 aged 76.


MAJOR  DENIS ANDERTON BRIGG 

He had been born in Luton in 1901 and had trained as a doctor in St Barts Hospital in London. In 1930 he married Eva Jackson in Abingdon before moving to Yew Dell in Church Street, Chipping Norton. He practised as a GP in the partnership Russell and Brigg as well as working as a Medical Officer in Chipping Norton Memorial Hospital. He served as a Major in the Royal Army Medical Corps, having entered the service as a Lieutenant.He also served as MO in the Territorials attached to the 4th Battalion The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. He went on to Great Barr near Birmingham, the Shetland Islands and in 1944 commanded the Military Hospital in the Isle of Man. In 1945 he arrived in India to command a hospital there but the war ended shortly after. He returned to being a GP in Chipping Norton before retiring to Broadstone in Dorset where he died in 1988 aged 82.


PRIVATE  JACK BROOKS

He joined the 4th Territorial Battalion of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry as a Private in 1939. He was fortunate to be on leave when the Battalion was sent to France in January 1940 (only 4 soldiers from the unit made it back To Britain). He was then posted to Singapore but the colony had surrendered to the Japanese before his ship set sail. He was sent to Northern Ireland for training and stayed there until 1944. He was then attached to the 11th Battalion, The Royal Scots Fusiliers. On 7th June 1944 he landed on the Normandy beaches and half an hour after landing he and his colleagues where pinned down in a trench by heavy German mortar fire. The fought in the Battle for Caen and then  worked along the Normandy ports clearing out the Germans. After Normandy he fought through the Low Countries and was involved in the Battle of the Bulge, a last gasp German offensive in the Ardennes. He was demobbed in 1946.

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JOSEPHINE  BUNTING

Known as Madge, she was born in December 1918 to parents Lionel and Bessie Bunting of Churchill Road Chipping Norton. Her father had served in France with the 1/4th Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in the First World War. Madge also served in the Ox and Bucks and in 1939 was with an Anti- Aircraft Battery. She was the first girl from the town to serve abroad when in January 1945 she was part of an AA battery in Brussels. After VE Day she volunteered for service with the Red Cross in Germany atBelsen concentration camp. In 1954 she married Alfred Byford in Chipping Norton. In the early 1990s she researched and created the Chipping Norton Book of Remembrance, now in the museum which forms the basis for a lot of the information on this site regarding the town's war dead. Her brother Thomas also served in the Army in World war Two.


THOMAS BUNTING

He was born in 1915 in Chipping Norton and married Winifred Collins in 1938. He served in the Army during the war. He died in 1986.


LEADING AIRCRAFTMAN  FREDERICK NORMAN BURBIDGE

He was born in Chipping Norton in 1908. In 1938 he married Sylvia Craft in the town, living at 39, New Street where he worked as a house decorator and builder. He joined the Royal Air Force in 1941 and trained as a flight mechanic with the rank of Leading Aircraftman. He was posted to 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron which flew the Supermarine Spitfire V, in February 1942. At this time they were based at RAF Redhill and Kenley, flying offensive missions over France. The squadron returned to Scotland in September 1942. In February 1943 he was transferred to 115 Squadron based at RAF East Wretham in Norfolk. The squadron had just converted from the Vickers Wellington to the Avro Lancaster Mk II. The squadron moved to East Snoring then Witchford in Cambridgeshire receiving the Merlin engined Mk111 Lancaster. He remained with Bomber Command until released on 10th December 1945.

Frederick Burbidge died in Wotton Bassett in March 1991 aged 83.


AUBREY BURDEN

He was born in 1927 and served with the Royal Navy. After the war he married Peggy George in Chipping Norton in the summer of 1948.


LAURENCE EDGAR BURDEN

He was born in Chipping Norton in February 1921. He lived at 20, Middle Row and had worked as a weaver at Bliss Mill.He served in the Royal Air Force as a fitter and had worked on the Vickers Wellington bomber. He married Stella Gardner in the town in early 1942 and died in August 2006 aged 85.


GUNNER  RAYMOND GEORGE BURDEN

He was born in Chipping Norton in the summer of 1918 an was the elder brother of Laurence, above. He served as a Gunner with the Royal Artillery and served on anti-aircraft guns and searchlight units on coastal defence. He married Ivy Slatter in Chipping Norton in 1943 and died July 1972, aged 54.


CORPORAL  ALBERT BURMAN

He was born in Chipping Norton in December 1920. He served with the 8th King's Royal Irish Hussars, rising to Corporal. As part of the 7th Armoured Brigade Royal Armoured Corps they took part in the British offensive in late 1940 which re-captured Sidi Barrani and Bardia from the Italians and then in February 1941 the decisive Battle of Beda Fomm, which lead to the capture of most of the Italian forces in North Africa at the time.

In March 1941, 8th Hussars saw brief service in Greece before returning to North Africa as part of 1st Armoured Division. July 1941 found 8th Hussars back as part of 4th Armoured Brigade with which they then fought during Operation Crusader, suffering heavy casualties when attacked in the rear by 15th Panzer Division, which left them with just eight Stuart Tanks fit for battle, with 35 having been captured in this engagement. 

After a re-fit 8th Hussars were once again part of 4th Armoured Brigade with which it served during the Gazala battles of May and June 1942, suffering heavy losses at Bir Hacheim, where once again they were almost annihilated showing amazing bravery, before withdrawing with the rest of the 8th Army to El Alamein. In June one squadron reorganised they were temporary amalgamated with 4th Hussars as the 4th/8th Hussars, and faced the massive enemy onslaught at Alam Haifa. During the battle of El Alamein, the combined regiment forced their way through the German minefields. 

On 10th August 1942 he was reported missing, believed to be a Prisoner of War and this was confirmed in December that year, having been captured in Benghazi. He was held in POW camps in Italy and Germany, being liberated by American troops on 18th May 1945. 

He married Eileen Harris in Chipping Norton in the summer of 1946 and died in Banbury in 1995 aged 74.

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VICTOR BUTLER

He was born in Banbury in December 1918 and worked as fishmonger's assistant before the war. He served with the Royal Signals, repairing and laying telephone cables to the battlefront. He was married to Dorothy Robbins and died in 1986 aged 67.


OWEN JOHN CALCUTT

He was born in Chipping Norton in January 1919, older brother of Percy, below. He lived at 62, The Leys and worked as a painter and decorator before the war.He served in the Royal Navy and died in Yeovil in December 1991 aged 72.

PERCY JAMES CALCUTT

He was born in Chipping Norton in February 1922, younger brother of Owen, above. He served as an Able Seaman in the Royal Navy. He died in September 1989 whist living at 62, The Leys aged 67.


PRIVATE  NORMAN STANLEY CASWELL

He was born in Chipping Norton in 1923 and joined the army as a Private aged 18. He saw action in Italy and at El Alamein. After the war he married Rosemary Drinkwater in the town in 1949 and died in Swindon aged 79 in 2003.


PRIVATE  SIDNEY CHARLES CASWELL

He was born in Swindon in 1914. His parents moved to Chipping Norton where they ran the Brewers Arms in Albion Street and then the Ship & Anchor in Spring Street. Sidney Caswell married Louise Burden in the town in 1939. They lived at 3, Goddards Lane and he worked as a lorry driver. He enlisted as a Private into the 4th (Territorial) Battalion, The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry serving as a driver. However he developed health problems after 2 years and was classed as unfit for duty and returned home. He died in 1984 aged 70.


SERGEANT WALTER PERCIVAL CASWELL

He was born in March 1917 in Swindon later moving in Chipping Norton. He was a professional soldier with the Royal Berkshire Regiment serving in Egypt, India and Palestine. He joined the Parachute Regiment on its formation in June 1940. In the summer of 1944 he married Frances Keen in the town, On 17th September 1944 as part of the 1st Airborne Division he parachuted in to the Arnhem area as part of Operation Market Garden. The 1st Airborne Division landed at 13:30 without serious incident but problems associated with the poor plan began soon after. Only half of the Division arrived with the first lift and only half of these (1st Parachute Brigade) could advance on the bridge. The remaining troops had to defend the drop zones overnight for the arrival of the second lift on the following day. Thus the Division's primary objective had to be tackled by less than half a brigade. While the paratroopers marched eastwards to Arnhem, the Reconnaissance Squadron was to race to the bridge in their jeeps and hold it until the rest of the Brigade arrived. The unit set off to the bridge late and having travelled only a short distance the vanguard was halted by a strong German defensive position; the squadron could make no further progress. The delay allowed the 9th German Panzer Division to cross the Rhine and along with SS troops engage the Allied Forces. The 1st Airborne withdrew across the Rhine on the night of 25th September. Of approximately 10,600 men of the 1st Airborne Division and other units who fought north of the Rhine, 1,485 had died and 6,414 were taken prisoner of whom one third were wounded. Sergeant Caswell was granted 2 weeks leave after Arnhem. He died in 1992 aged 75.

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JACK CLAPTON

He served as a radar operator aboard the battleship HMS Nelson, which was launched in 1925. In June 1941 Nelson, then in Gibraltar, was assigned to Force H operating in the Mediterranean as an escort. On 27th September 1941 she was severely damaged by a Regia Aeronautica torpedo strike and was under repair in Britain until May 1942. She returned to Force H as the flagship in August 1942, performing escort duties for supply convoys running to Malta. She supported Operation Torch around Algeria in November 1942, the invasion of Sicily in July 1943 and the Salerno operation, by coastal bombardment,  in September 1943. The Italian long armistice was signed between General Dwight Eisenhower and Marshal Pietro Badoglio aboard HMS Nelson on 29th September. HMS Nelson returned to England in November 1943 for a refit, including extensive additions to her anti-aircraft defences. Returning to action she supported the Normandy landings, arriving off of Gold Beach on 11th June. She commenced a 7 day bombardment of German positions around Caen. At 1630 on 18th June she set sail fof Portsmouth to re-ammunition but hit two sea mines  there wo no casualties. She limped back to Portsmouth and after an underwater inspection and emergency repairs was sent to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in Pennsylvania for repairs.

She returned to Portsmouth on 28th January 1945 for further refitting. On 29th April she sailed for Gibraltar then Malta, working up to go into action against the Japanese. She then sailed via Alexandria and the Suez Canal to Ceylon, where she joined the East India Fleet. She took part in Operation Livery bombarding Japanese positions in Kra Isthmus in Thailand before the surrender of the Japanese. 

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ABLE SEAMAN  ROY WILLIAM CLAPTON DSM & BAR

He was born in Chipping Norton in 1906 to parents William and Alice Clapton of 20, Middle Row. He was working as a farm boy when he enlisted into the Royal Navy as a Boy 2nd Class on 8th September 1922. He trained on HMS Impregnable at Devonport and on HMS Calliope. He joined the crew of the light cruiser HMS Dunedin on 31st August 1923 and was made an Ordinary Seaman when he turned 18 and served aboard her until May 1924. Spells aboard the cruisers Chatham and Southampton was followed by training at the shore base Pembroke, where he was made up to an Able Seaman. Between November 1924 and December 1925 he served on the destroyer HMS Whitley in reserve at Rosyth. On 7th April 1926 he joined the crew of HMS Enterprise, below, a newly commissioned Emerald Classs light cruiser. After several months in home waters, Enterprise served with the British 4th Cruiser Squadron in the East Indies her first commission ending in December 1928.

He left the ship in January 1929 and spent time serving ashore and on depot ships. In April 1932 he joined the crew of the destroyer HMS Keith, serving with her in the 4th Destroyer Flotilla in the Mediterranean, until the ship returned to Chatham for a re-fit in September 1933. His next ship was the patrol sloop HMS Kingfisher which had been commissioned in 1934 and was with her to July 1935. Home on leave in December 1934 he had married Ruby Roberts, from Moreton-in-Marsh, in Portland. He joined the flotilla leader HMS Campbell and then the C class destroyer HMS Kempenfelt in 1936 and 1937. At the outbreak of war in September 1939 he was serving aboard HMS Pelican an Egret class sloop.

She was involved in convoy defence duties in the North Sea. In April 1940 Pelican took part in the Norwegian Campaign and was badly damaged in an air raid off Narvik. After repairs Pelican returned to local escort work but spent much of 1941 under repair following enemy action and accidental damage. 

In January 1942 Pelican was assigned to 45 Escort Group escorting OS/SL convoys to and from West Africa. In July 1942 she took part in the destruction of U-136 while escorting convoy OS 33. In October she was part of the escort force for Operation Torch. After repairs and a refit Pelican was appointed senior officers ship to 1st Support Group, tasked with reinforcing convoys under attack. In May 1943 the group joined the battle around convoy ONS 5, sinking U-438. In June with ONS 10, Pelican sank U-334. In the autumn of 1943 1SG worked on the Gibraltar route, but saw little action. Roy Clapton was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal on 19th October 1943 for bravery and resourcefulness on active service at sea.

In March 1944 after a further refit Pelican was assigned to 7 EG patrolling outside the Bay of Biscay; there she took part in the destruction of U-448. In June 1944 Pelican was part of Operation Neptune, escorting troops and supplies to and from Normandy until withdrawn for refit prior to joining the British Pacific Fleet. On 24th October 1944 he was awarded a bar to his DSM for actions at sea. HMS Pelican was accidentally damaged at Aden en-route to Australia and spent the remainder of the war in various dockyards under repair.

Able Seaman Clapton finished the war at HMS Golden Hind a shore base near Sydney. After returning home towards the end of the war he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and Bar at an Investiture held by King George VI at Holyrood House in Edinburgh. He died in 1979 aged 73.

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PRIVATE  CYRIL THOMAS CLIFTON

He was born in Chipping Norton in November 1922 to parents Walter and Esther Clifton. Before the war he had worked as a cemetery assistant. He served as a Private in the Royal Corps of Signals. He died in 1998 aged 75.

SIGNALMAN  DONALD GEORGE COLEMAN

He was born in Chipping Norton in March 1917 and before the war had worked as a General Post Office Engineer. He married Kitty Tasker in the town in the Spring of 1942. On 15th October that year he enlisted into the Royal Corps of Signals as a Signalman. He attended a number of courses up and down the country until being sent to France on 8th June 1944, two days after D-Day. In September that year he received an urgent phone call from HQ telling him that his mother, Mrs Janet Hands of 15, Distons Lane, had been rushed to the Radcliffe Infirmary burns unit. A candle had set her clothes alight whilst home alone. She had a fear of German parachutist entering her home so all doors and windows were securely locked, hampering the rescue effort. A special flight was arranged to take Signalman Coleman home and within a few hours he was at his mother's bedside. Sadly her burns were severe and she died a few days later.

Donald Coleman returned to his duties until 1946, joining the Territorial Reserve until 1951 and living at 52, Walterbush Road. He died in June 1988 aged 72.


WARRANT OFFICER  VICTOR HAROLD COOPER

He born in Chipping Norton in June 1922 to parents Frederick and Hilda Cooper of Chapel Lane. Before the war he had worked as a butcher's assistant. He joined the Royal Army Ordnance Corps on 16th July 1942 and in 1943 became part Ordnance Beach Group. He took part in the Normandy Landings and fought through France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Holland before entering Germany. He crossed the Rhine with the 15th Scottish Division, having been promoted to Warrant Officer, and was in Lubeck when the war in Europe ended.

He was then posted to Burma and sent to Karachi and Poona, where he was attached to the Indian Army. He then spent time in Calcutta before returning to Burma. After the Japanese surrender he want back to India with the Indian Army and was posted to Kuala Lumpur and the Singapore ammunition depot before returning home. He had met his future wife Madge, a Corporal in the Auxiliary Territorial Service based at Donnington and they married after the war. Victor Cooper died in March 1996, aged 73.


SAPPER  FREDERICK CHARLES COOPER-HARRIS

He was born in Chipping Norton in March 1908 and married Dora Frances Tucker in the town in 1932. They lived at 53, Spring Street and before enlisting worked as a labourer for Oxfordshire County Council. He joined the Royal Engineers as a Sapper in Oxford on 2nd February 1940 and trained in Scotland. He worked on the beach defences at Dover before serving in North Africawith the 1st Army. He returned home and was demobilised in October 1945. He returned to his job with OCC until retiring in 1973 and died in December 1974 aged 66.

RIFLEMAN  CHARLES WILLIAM COZIER

Known as Bill, he was born in Swerford in December 1909 and married Eileen Clapton in the summer of 1939 and they lived at the Blue Anchor Public House, he worked as a bricklayer later moving to 2, Belmont Cottages. He enlisted in Oxford into the Kings Regiment as a Private in January 1943. In December 1943 he landed in North Africa as part of reinforcements for the 1st Battalion, The London Irish . With his Battalion he landed on the Anzio beachead to bolster the efforts to hold on to the salient there in February 1944. They took part in the action at Garagliano crossing during the first Battle of Monte Cassino. He was captured in the fierce fighting on 8th February 1944 and spent time in both Italian and German POW camps. In December 1944 he ended up at Stalag XI-A, a few miles from Hanover. He was put to work at an oil refinery, his main task being to fill bomb craters. The camp was near a railway line but such was the accuracy of the RAF bombers the camp was never hit. On 7th April 1945 the camp was dismantled and the prisoners marched towards Hamburg. After 7 days marching, during which time he managed  to swap his undervest for food, the POWs were liberated by a column of British tanks of the Scottish 1st divisionon 14th April 1945. Five days later he was back in England and was the first POW to arrive back home in Chipping Norton on 19th April. He moved to 10, Hailey Road and died in January 1991 aged 81.

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REGINALD COZIER

He was born in Chipping Norton on October 1920. He joined the Royal Air Force Regiment serving with 2874 Squadron which  was formed at the RAF Depot in May 1943, equipped with vehicle mounted Browning machine guns, it was deployed to Tangmere to combat the Luftwaffe's 'tip and run' raids.  The squadron converted to the Light Anti-Aircraft role within 2nd Tactical Air Force in April 1944 and moved to the continent in August.  It was initially deployed to Martragny in Normandy and was based at Volkel by the time Operation 'Bodenplatte' was launched (the Luftwaffe attack on Allied airfields on 1st January 1945). Its final move was to Dedelsdorf, where it was disbanded in December 1945. He married Muriel Smart in the town in 1947 and died in November 1994, aged 74.

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SIDNEY CRAGG

He was born in Chipping Norton in April 1921 and had worked as a general labourer before joining the Royal Navy.


 

GUNNER  RONALD GEORGE DANIELLS

He was born in Newport Pagnell in January 1909, to parents William and Georgina Daniells, his father had served with the Royal Field Artillery in France in World War One. He married Florence Edgington in Chipping Norton in 1936, living in Bicester where he worked as a under  manager at a grocers. He enlisted into the Royal Artillery at the outbreak of war as a Gunner. He was posted to Egypt with the 3rd Field Regiment and as was garrisoned at Tobruk after its capture by the Allies on 22nd January 1941. From 26th May 1942 they faced a determined assault by the Axis troops of the Panzerarmee Afrika (Generaloberst Erwin Rommel) consisting of German and Italian units. Aided by the interception of secret messages detailing the Allied strength and positions from a US military attache in Cairo the Axis made an assault on the Libyan town of Gazala and succeeded in pushing the Allies back to Egypt and capturing the port of Tobruk. The 3rd Field Regiment were defending El Adem some 15 miles south of Tobruk and despite putting up fierce resistance were overwhelmed on 17th June. Tobruk and it was finally captured on 21st June 1942 and Gunner Daniells was reported missing.

He was confirmed as a  prisoner of war on 15th September 1942. He was held initially at POW Camp 98, San Giuseppe Jato in Sicily. He was transferred to Stalag 357 in Oerbke, Lower Saxony, Germany after the surrender of Italy in September 1943. He returned home in 1945 and died in Chipping Norton in June 1970 aged 61.

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LESLIE MARY DOUTHWAITE

Known as Mary, she was born in Chipping Norton in 1919 to parents Albert and Grace Douthwaite who were farmers. Before the war they owned Salterswell Farm in Shipston-on-Stour. During the war Mary joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service and became an Officer's driver. She settled in Chipping Norton after the war and live at 22, Dunstan Avenue. She died in October 1995 aged 76, in her will she left a large sum of money to be used for the care of ex-servicemen and women in the town which still exists today.



REGIMENTAL QUARTERMASTER SERGEANT  ALBERT WILLIAM EDGINGTON

He was born in Bampton in May 1910 to parents Albert William and Selina Edgington. His father served with the Royal Army Veterinary Corps and died in France of sickness in 1917. After his enlistment his wife and young son, Albert moved to 19 Middle Row, Chipping Norton. After Albert's death Ann married Joseph Barrett of the town in 1919. He had been working as a builder's labourer when he enlisted into the Royal Artillery on 19th January 1928 in Reading. He  served in Malta and Singapore. On leave in 1933 he married Maltese born Catherine Calleja in Chipping Norton. He left the Army in 1935, transferring to the reserves. He rejoined the regular Army in August 1937 and was posted back to Malta and promoted to Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant. His wife and young daughter followed him out in 1938. He had 3 sons whilst in Malta and served on the island through the siege,  witnessing first hand the terrible hardships and suffering of both the military and civilian population. His half brother Cyril Barrett had been killed in action during the Dieppe Raid in August 1942.

Albert retired from the Army in January 1956 and died in Tower Hamlets in March 1991 aged 80.

PRIVATE  ALBERT ARTHUR EDGINGTON

He was born in April 1921 in Ascott-under-Wychwood where he worked on the family farm. He enlisted when he was 18, joining the Royal Army Service Corps as a driver. He was posted to Singapore arriving on 12th January 1942 and he was attached the 35th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment. They were based at Port Canning but with the Japanese in the ascendancy, Albert Edgington was ordered to deliver cease-fire documents to the Japanese on Sunday 15th February 1942. The British Empire troops surrendered on 15th February in what Churchill described as "The worst disaster in British Military history". He was marched to the Malai 1 camp on the Changi Peninsula before being shipped to Thailand to work on the infamous Thai-Burma Railway, known as the "Death Railway". He endured harsh conditions with long hours and little food and his weight went down to about 7 stone. He was liberated on 2nd September 1945 and discharged from the Army in April 1946.

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SERGEANT  JOHN ROBERT EDGINGTON MM

He was born in October 1915 in Witney. His father Albert had served with the Royal Veterinary Corps in the Fist World War and died of sickness in 1917. He had joined the Grenadier Guards at the age of 18 in October 1934. He married Betty Davies in 1939, who he met whilst serving at Buckingham Palace. She went to live with his mother and step-father at 19, Middle Row in Chipping Norton, He then joined the 8th Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, a Territorial motorcycle Battalion which was sent to France with the British Expeditionary Force on 22nd April 1940. He saw action in the Battle of France before being evacuated from Dunkirk in May 1940. The unit was converted into the 3rd  Reconnaissance Regiment in April 1941. They landed on Sword Beach on D-Day, 6th June 1944 and fought through the Battle of Normandy at Caen, Bourguébus Ridge and Mont Pinçon. He then fought through Belgium and the Netherlands and later the invasion of Germany in the Rhineland and the ending the war in Bremen. Whilst serving in Holland, John Edgington now a Sergeant was awarded the Military Medal, gazetted on 1st March 1945. Another Chipping Norton man served with the 3rd Recce Corps from D-Day, Lieutenant Peter Callahan who was killed in action on 20th September 1944 on his 20th birthday.

John Edgington went on to be mace bearer for the town and died in May 1984 aged 68.

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HARRY EPTON

He was born in September 1916 and married Dorothy Mullis in Chipping Norton in 1936. Before the war he lived at 66A West Street, he worked as an electrician. He served in the Royal Navy on battleships but no more is as yet known. He died in the town in November 1991 aged 75.


STOKER MECHANIC  MALCOLM FIDDLER

He was born in Chipping Norton in April 1926 the son of James and Jessie Fiddler of 7, Distons Lane. He joined the Royal Navy in May 1943 as a Stoker Mechanic. He served aboard the battleship HMS Valiant, which had seen action in the Battle of Jutland in the First World War. She supported the landings in Sicily (Operation Husky in July 1943) and at Salerno (Operation Avalanche in September 1943). In 1944, she was sent to the Far East to join the Eastern Fleet. There she took part in raids against Japanese bases in Indonesia. On 8th August 1944, she was severely damaged in an accident with the floating drydock at Trincomalee, Ceylon.

He then joined the newly commissioned V class destroyer HMS Volage which had arrived in Trincomalee in February 1945 for service with the Eastern Fleet. Here she took part in anti-shipping patrols, escort duties and bombarding Japanese shore positions in the Indian Ocean. On 19th March she was hit by shore fire whilst towing the stricken HMS Rapid out of Port Blair, 3 ratings were killed and 8 injured. Malcolm Fiddler returned home on leave at Christmas 1945.

He remained in the Navy after the war serving on HMS Vanguard, the last battleship launched in the world in 1946. Vanguard's first task after completing her sea trial at the end of 1946 was, early the next year, to convey King George VI and his family on the first Royal Tour of South Africa by a reigning monarch. Malcolm Fiddler married Lilian Everard in in Portsmouth in the summer of 1947 and left the Royal Navy in 1950. After the war he worked as a technician for the Post Office.

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WILLIAM ALBERT FIDDLER

He was born in Chipping Norton in January 1921 to parents Albert and Rose Fiddler of 59, Rock Hill and before the war worked as an apprentice butcher at the Co-op. He served with the Royal Air Force. He died in January 2006 aged 85.


FLIGHT SERGEANT  PETER FLICK

He was born in 1924 and in 1939 became on of the first 12 members of 136 Squadron Air Training Corps in Chipping Norton. He volunteered for Air Crew with the Royal Air Force in 1942 and was accepted as a Radio Operator. He began his  training at RAF Yatesbury in Wiltshire using Havilland 86B,and the Proctor Prentice, below.

Having passed out at Yatesbury he was sent to the Advance Flying Unit at RAF Halfpenny Green in Staffordshire. Next he was posted to 17th Operational Training Unit at RAF Silverstone, training for night bombing raids on the Vickers Wellington Mk III  and was made a Flight Sergeant.

He was part of a crew that carried out a diversionary sortie along the Dutch coast and a flight along the River Loire in France to drop leaflets. He next spent time at Leicester East where he was with 190 Squadron flying Short Stirlings stripped of all armaments and used to tow gliders or make parachute drops. During his time there he elected to take a parachute course at RAF Ringway, Manchester. He was then posted to RAF Chaklala, near Rawalpindi. There he and his crew were trained to tow gliders and drop parachutists and supplies. He also undertook a further parachute course with  No3 Parachute Training School which was based on the airfield. They then took part in many operations to supply troops in Burma, dropping supplies and parachutists into cleared areas of the jungle. Peter then contracted an ear infection which stopped him flying. He returned to England on the liner SS Reina del Pacfico. After recovery he was sent to RAF West Freugh in Wigtownshire, Scotland, joining a bombing trials unit. He was crewing Avro Lancasters flying at 25,000 feet and dropping experimental bombs on a target out at sea.

He left the RAF in 1946 having flown some 3,500 miles. He became an instructor in the ATC and in the autumn of 1950 married Frances Kitching in Chipping Norton. He became the Commanding Officer of 136 Squadron, a position he held until 1988.



WARRANT OFFICER  STANLEY ELLIS FRANKLIN

He was born in Chipping Norton in September 1912 to parents Frederick and Astazhara Franklin. He had enlisted into the Royal Air Force in 1931, serving at Manston, Cranwell and Old Sarum, rising to the rank of Corporal. He also married Doris Walker in Highworth, near Swindon that year. He left the service in 1935 but remained in the reserves, living in Highworth with his wife and working as manager of a paint and wallpaper merchants. He was recalled to service on the outbreak of war on 28th August 1939 and joined 18 Squadron based at RAF Upper Heyford where he was involved in radio navigation equipment on the squadron's Bristol Blenhiem light bombers. On 1st September 1939 he set out on a journey to Beauvraignes near Amiens in readiness for the arrival of the squadron who were taking up a strategic reconnaissance role as part of the Air Component of the BEF. They commencing operations in October and re-equipped with Blenheim IVs in February 1940. 

When Germany invaded France and the Low Countries, 18 Squadron took part in bombing missions against German troops as well as their envisioned reconnaissance missions. After the squadron was forced to change airfields three times in three days, it was ordered to evacuate back to England on 19th May. Stanley Franklin was evacuated from the beaches of Dunkirk on 22nd May 1940 and re-joined the squadron, based at RAF Watton then RAF Gatwick, from where they carried out attacks on the Channel Ports, France and the Low Countries. He left 18 Squadron in June 1940 and was posted to RAF Lossiemouth. In Autumn 1940 he married Margaret Shadbolt in Chipping Norton. In 1941 Stanley was one of the first train in the use of radar at Malvern College. He stayed there for some time and was made up to Warrant Officer before being posted to RAF Brize Norton in August 1943. A year later and he was back in France, making his way through the Low Countries into Germany. He was demobbed in September 1945 and afterwards he was a television engineer with a shop in the town. He died in April 1996 aged 83. 

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CORPORAL  WILLIAM DAVID FROUDE

He was born in January 1920 and joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and trained at RAF Moreton-in-Marsh as a fireman. He was posted to Canada as a fireman before returning to Moreton. He was promoted to Corporal and on 1st January 1945 mentioned in despatches for distinguished service.



SERGEANT RAYMOND ARTHUR GIBBS MM

He was born in May 1918 and had been a pupil at the county School in Burford Road. He joined the 7th Battalion, The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, a hostilities only battalion formed in February 1941. They left the United Kingdom in late August 1942. The division was sent to Persia and Iraq Command and the battalion later fought in the final battle in the Tunisia Campaign in April 1943. The battalion made a successful attack at Enfidaville following a 3,000-mile road move from Iraq. In the Italian Campaign, 7th Ox and Bucks took part in the landings at Salerno on 3rd September 1943 and then the Garagliano crossing during the first Battle of Monte Cassino. They then took part in Anzio landings in February 1944 and sustained heavy casualties in both landings. 

Raymond Gibbs, now a Sergeant, recalled that he had fired over 5,000 rounds over 6 days and on the 2nd day on the beachhead a sniper's bullet passed through his steel helmet. The sniper was located that night and disposed of. After the fighting at Anzio the 7th Ox and Bucks were reduced to a mere 60 men, out a strength of 1,000, testimony to the severe fighting in the beachhead. 

Sergeant Gibbs was awarded the Military Medal gazetted on 20th July 1944, He died in February 1984 aged 65.


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LEADING WREN JOAN GLADWIN

Joan Baldwin joined the Woman's Royal Navy Service after a six week selection process at Mill Hill and the Naval Meteorological Branch in Queensgate, London. Further meteorological training in Padstow, where she was attached to the Fleet Air Arm. She was then posted to HMS Blackcap, a Naval Air Station in Cheshire, home to 41 Squadrons of the FAA, where her work in meteorology was very important with Squadrons flying in and out to carriers in the Irish Sea.

Joan married Peter Baldwin in June 1945 in Chipping Norton and was active in the Chipping Norton Local History Society.


JACK GOODWIN

He was born in Chipping Norton in December 1919, the twin brother of Harold Goodway, below. He worked as a plumber before serving in the Royal Air Force. He died in the town in June 2006 aged 85.


HAROLD GOODWAY

He was born in the town in December 1919, the twin brother of Jack, above, Before the war he worked as a haulage driver, He enlisted into the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry on 9th May 1940 and married Peggy Matthews in the town that year. He was then transferred to the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, as a mechanic, and served in Northern Ireland, India and Singapore. Whilst in Singapore he was captured by the Japanese and became a prisoner of war for two months just before the end of the conflict. He returned home in August 1946 and died in May 1991 aged 71.


GEORGE ALFRED GRANT

He was born in Chipping Norton in April 1922 the eldest son of Alfred and Olive Grant of 60, The Leys. He had worked as a barber and confectioner before the war  during which he served with the Royal Navy. He died in 2003 aged 81.


LEADING AIRCRAFTMAN ALFRED GRANTHAM

He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in 1942 and was posted to the Royal Air Force Regiment. He was a member of a Bofors anti-aircraft gun crew and was engaged in shooting down the V1 flying bomb based around the south coast from Southend to Tangmere.

Later he was posted to the Isle of Man where he was defending a Spitfire Squadron based there. He returned home in 1946.



PRIVATE AUBREY GREEN

He served with the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and the Somerset Light Infantry.


GUARDSMAN HORACE GRIFFIN

He was born in July 1921 and enlisted into the Grenadier Guards at the age of 19. He trained at Windsor Castle and served as a castle guard there. He was then posted to the Rhine in Germany as part of the Guards Armoured Division and once marched 3o miles with 300 prisoners under his sole control. He died in February 2004 aged 82.


CHARLES THOMAS GUY 

He was born in Chipping Norton in February 1923 and served in the Royal Air Force. He died in April 2004 aged 81.


GLYNN HANNIS

He served in the Army.


CORPORAL JOHN HANNIS

He was born in Chipping Norton in 1925. He had hoped to join the Royal Army Service Corps but due to his height of over 6 foot he was accepted into the Coldstream Guards as a Guardsman. He underwent four months training in Surrey before being posted to London. Here he carried out various civic duties including standing guard at Buckingham Palace.

He then joined No 3 Company of the 5th Battalion, The Coldstream Guards and underwent extensive training for the Normandy Landings. On April 30th 1944 the Battalion moved to Eastbourne where they had an operational role protecting various vantage points in the area. On June 16th at 0300 the Battalion moved to their marshalling area at Wanstead, Essex and on the 18th June embarked on the M.T.S. No. S111, Empire Gladstone at London's Royal Victoria Dock.

At 1900 the Empire Gladstone was towed out of the dock and steamed to join a convoy being assembled off Southend. High winds and rough seas prevented the convoy from setting sail and they were held until 23rd June, departing at 2000. They sailed through the Straits of Dover at 0100 on 24th and weighed anchor 5 miles off of Gold Beach at 2200 that day, with orders to disembark at dawn. Two American Landing Craft came alongside and the first troops and vehicles landed on the beach at 1030. By 1100 on 26th the Battalion was settled in the Concentration Area. At 1330 the Battalion left the Concentration and relieved the 4th Wiltshire Battalion during the Battle of Oden. They were engaged in intelligence gathering patrols and handling prisoners of war. Their positions  came under artillery, mortar and sniper fire and 15 men were killed and 24 wounded.

On 11th July they moved back to Bretteville to train for fighting in the Bocage, terrain of mixed woodland and pasture, with fields and winding country lanes sunken between narrow low ridges and banks surmounted by tall thick hedgerows that break the wind but also limit visibility which is found in Normandy. Guardsman Hannis and his company along with a Squadron of tanks from 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards took part in a display of Tank and Infantry co-operation in close country fighting on 13th July. On 18th July Operation Goodwood commenced a British Offensive in the Battle for Caen. Aircraft from RAF Bomber Command blasted a corridor along the route to Caen. 8 Corps of which the 5th Battalion was part of, broke out to the East of Caen and advanced with the object of destroying the enemy armour and enlarging the bridgehead. Caen was liberated on 9th July 1944 but pockets of resistance remained. The Germans were pushed back and on 16th August the 5th Battalion moved out of the Battle to a rest camp.

On 3oth August the Battalion crossed the Seine River and moved up to capture the crossings on the Somme and establish a firm bridgehead. On 3rd September the Battalion as part of The Guards Armoured Division liberated Arras with John Hannis's No 3 Company capturing the railway station. The company then went on to capture the village of Douai on the way to Brussels. They entered the west of Brussels on 3rd September and moved to the northern suburbs the following day. They then moved up to the Albert Canal where they found all the bridges blown up. In the fighting that ensued John Hannis was hit in the head by shrapnel. 

He was not able to return to his Battalion until Christmas 1944 and fought into Germany with them, being promoted to Corporal. He was in Germany when hostilities ceased on 8th May 1945. He returned to this country in 1946 and was demobbed in September 1947 and returned to Chipping Norton. He married Margaret Ward in the town in 1954 and worked for the City of Oxford Bus Company as a driver for 40 years. He was also a County and District Councillor and Town Mayor and a stalwart member of the Royal British Legion. He was Chipping Norton's first Honourary Citizen in 2006 and died in 2008 aged 83. His is pictured below on his last Remembrance parade in 2007.

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PRIVATE  FRANK HARRIS

At the outbreak of war Frank Harris was a part-time soldier in 4th Territorial Battalion of The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. They were sent to France in January 1940 as part of the 145th Infantry Brigade, part of 48th (South Midland) Infantry Division. 

The German Army launched their invasion of the Low Countries on 10th May 1940, shattering a period of the conflict that was known as the Phoney War. The German invasion of northern Belgium—where the BEF was located—was a diversion with the main attack being through the poorly-defended Ardennes forest. The BEF withdrew west towards the Dendre river after the Dutch Army had surrendered during the Battle of the Netherlands, and then withdrew further towards the Scheldt river by 19th May. The 4th Ox and Bucks were involved in action along the line of the River Scheldt (Escaut), south of Tournai. The British force, having given a good account of themselves in the defence of the Scheldt, eventually withdrew into France, moving towards the area around Dunkirk. The evacuation of British forces back to Britain began on 26th May 1940, known as Operation Dynamo. The 4th Battalion took part in the defence of Cassel, Nord until 29th May when they were eventually encircled by German forces near Watou and forced to surrender. The battalion had split into two groups with the aim of reaching Dunkirk by going through the surrounding enemy forces. The battalion sustained many casualties and had to surrender, becoming prisoners of war for the next five years. Only four soldiers from the two groups of 4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry that had left Cassel returned to the UK. Private Harris was interned in Stalag VIII-B in Cieszyn, Poland. He was involved in the long march to Germany as the Russians advanced into Poland.

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SERGEANT FREDERICK HARRIS

He served with the Army.


ABLE SEAMAN GEORGE HENRY HARRIS

George Henry Harris was born on the 30th July 1925 in Chipping Norton. He was the younger brother of Leslie Robert Harris and Alfred Edward Smith. At the outbreak of war George was still too young to enlist, and despite his best efforts was turned away several times. Desperate to make his contribution George joined the Chipping Norton Home Guard. His service however was short-lived, after his father found the uniform hidden in the garden shed and was adamant that he return it immediately.

Finally on the 2nd April 1942 when George was a few months short of his 17th birthday he was accepted as a volunteer in the Royal Navy by falsifying his birthdate to show he was approaching 19 years of age. Shortly afterwards he began his training in Portsmouth. On completion of his training in Portsmouth he was posted his first ship, HMS Panther (G41) P Class Destroyer. George’s time on HMS Panther was short lived spending only a month between July 1942 and August 1942 as an Ordinary Seaman. However he saw little action as the ship was being refitted after a tour of duty in early May 1942 when she had taken part in Operation Ironclad, the Allied invasion of Vichy French-held Madagascar. She had supported the troop landing on the 5th, then bombarded enemy positions the following day. On the 8th May, in conjunction with the destroyer HMS Active (H14) she had sunk the Vichy French submarine Monge, which was attempting to attack British ships. In March 1943 she was assigned to the 40th Escort Group and escorted the Atlantic Convoy HX 233.

His next ship was to be the newly converted submarine destroyer depot ship HMS Wolfe (F37) shown below.

At this time she was used to support operations in the Western Approaches, and North Atlantic, support the passage of Arctic convoys in view of threat of attacks by German surface ships and submarines as well as interception of enemy supply ships in Bay of Biscay. George stayed with the ship until February 1944 and after showing continued levels of good service, reached the rank of Able Seaman.

His third ship was to be HMS Dacres (K472) shown below. A Captain-class frigate, built in the United States as an Evarts-class destroyer escort, and transferred to the Royal Navy on August 28th 1943 under the terms of Lend-Lease contract.

Dacres was initially attached to the B4 Escort Group based at Belfast, which comprised three destroyers and two Captain-class frigates (Foley and Bayntun), and carried out escort duties in the Atlantic.

Dacres was one of three Captain class ships (along with Kingsmill and Lawford) selected for conversion to headquarters ships for use during "Operation Neptune" the invasion of France. Her aft three-inch gun and all the depth charge gear was removed and the superstructure extended to provide accommodation for extra Staff Officers; two deck houses were built for communications equipment and a small main mast added to support more aerials. Four more 20 mm Oerlikons were fitted, and a number of radar sets installed. For the invasion Dacres sailed from Portsmouth, even though her forward motor room had flooded, which compelled her to sail on only one engine. However she could still make about 16 knots, which was enough for her to lead in her convoy of assault ships to her group position off Sword Beach on schedule at daybreak on D-Day, 6th June 1944.

As the Allied forces moved inland the staff officers were transferred ashore, and Dacres joined Kingsmill in patrolling the Normandy anchorage until August, when she sailed for Portsmouth, salvaging an abandoned Liberty ship on the way. At Portsmouth dockyard she was stripped of the additional superstructure and guns, and restored to working order, before returning to Belfast in early 1945 to join the 10th Escort Group.

Whilst off the Normandy coast in August 1944 George received notification via his mother and brother Alf that his eldest brother Leslie had been wounded in action. He was granted leave by his ship’s Captain to go ashore in order to visit Leslie in hospital. Unfortunately by the time George managed to reach Leslie he had died of his wounds and had been buried in a small orchard in the village of Hermanville.

George left Dacres in May 1945 and went on to complete a short tour of the Mediterranean, firstly serving at HMS Fabius, the Royal Navy’s base in Taranto, Italy.

He then moved on to Malta spending his time between the naval base at HMS St. Angelo and on board HMS Wolfe George left the Royal Navy on the 8th of June 1946. After returning home George married Winifred Buzzard from Banbury and later had two children Patricia and Michael. George worked for the Midlands Electricity Board as a cable jointer (electrical plumber) and was involved in much of the underground cabling works for Banbury as the town expanded.

George and his family moved to Hook Norton in 1963 where he and Winifred ran the Red Lion Pub until 1990. He spent the latter years of his working life at the vets in Hook Norton as a general handyman. George died at his home in Hook Norton on the 25th February 2013 aged 87.

Thanks go to Luke Harris and his family for the information and photos

 

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PRIVATE REGINALD HARRIS

He served in the Army.


SERGEANT WILLIAM HARRIS

He served with the Army.


CORPORAL ALBERT HARRISON

He served with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.


SIGNALMAN GEORGE HARRISON

He served with the Royal Navy.


LANCE CORPORAL ALISTAIR FRANCIS GREGORY HARWOOD

Known as Greg, he was born in July 1917 in Chipping Norton and before the war lived in Victoria Road, Oxford where he worked for the Midland Bank. He enlisted into the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry early in the war and was posted to the 1st Battalion which was being brought back to strength after Dunkirk and promoted Lance Corporal.  He served with them on the home front and in Northern Ireland then as part of the 71st Infantry Brigade began training for the invasion of North West Europein October 1943. The Battalion landed on the Normandy Beaches on 24th June 1944 as part of the 53rd (Welsh) Division. The 1st Ox and Bucks moved to positions around the Odon bridgehead where it suffered from heavy German artillery fire.  After holding the line the 1st Battalion's first major engagement with the enemy during the battle for Caen was the successful attack to capture the village of Cahier and a nearby mill. Fighting around Caen continued for much of the month, with the battalion sustaining significant casualties. The battalion later fought in the Second Battle of the Odon. In August it took part in an advance towards Falaise, known as Operation Totalize. The Allies reached and captured it. The battalion also captured Pierrefitte during the operation to close the Falaise pocket, encircling two German field armies, the Fifth and 7th, the latter of which was effectively destroyed by the Allies. 

On 13th August 1944 Corporal Harwood was shot in the head and thought to be dead, however he did survive but with the loss of one eye. After returning home he married Barbara Barton in Oxford in Spring 1945. He died in March 1981, aged 63.

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LIEUTENANT FRANK EDWIN HARWOOD DCM

He was born in 1908 and was working as a butcher when he enlisted into the Royal Artillery on 26th November 1924. Initially he signed on as a Gunner for 6 years in the colours and 6 years in the reserve. He was based at Bordon Camp in Hampshire when in November 1931 he married Dorothy Lovegrove  in Headley, Surrey. He was then posted to India and did not return to the UK until 1937.

He was then posted t0 the 149th Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery and promoted to Battery Sergeant Major. The Regiment was sent to Egypt on 1st June 1941 arriving on 20th June. It was converted to 149th Anti-Tank Regiment on 1st July 1941 at Mena Camp equipped with 36 2-pounders. As part of the 4th Indian Division in the Eight Army  it entered Tobruk in November 1941 and fought at El Duda during the breakout through 9th December. 

BSM Harwood was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, gazetted on 24th February 1942, the citation read:

"For gallantry and devotion to duty during operations at Tobruk between 26th November and 8th December 1941 during the occupation of Wolf when the Battery entered the position at the same time as the infantry, his courage and coolness were largely instrumental in the capture of one third of the perimeter. During the El Duda operation he manned a damaged gun alone, and with it destroyed 3 enemy carriers and throughout the days on El Duda his total disregard for to danger, his energy and initiative were of a very high order."

He was presented with his award by King George VI, pictured above. He remained with 149th Regiment serving in in North Africa until 8th September 1943, in Palestine until 16th October 1943, in Syria until 9th November 1943, in Egypt until 2th December 1943, at sea until 9th December 1943, in Italy until 10th December 1944 and then Greece. He was promoted to Regimental Sergeant Major and Mentioned in Despatches on 6th April 1944. He was commissioned as a Lieutenant Quartermaster on 31st March 1944.

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GUNNER ROY HAROLD HAWTIN

He was born in Chipping Norton in June 1917 and before the war worked as a heavy worker with the Oxfordshire County Council. He enlisted into the Royal Artillery in 1939 and served throughout the war with them, being demobbed to the Reserves in July 1946.

LEADING AIRCRAFTWOMAN ELSIE MAY HEATH

She was born in Chipping Norton in April 1922 to parents Thomas and Jessie Heath of 38, New Street. Before the war she worked as a check clerk. She signed on for the Women's Auxilliary Air Force on 17th March 1943 and was trained at RAF Innesworth in Gloucestershire and RAF Shobdon in Herefordshire. She was posted to No 4 School of  Technical Training at RAF St Athan in Wales on 21st July 1943, becoming a Flight Mechanic. She was posted to RAF Bicester on 30th December then to RAF Harwell in Berkshire in October 1944 home to Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle Glider Tug.

She was then posted to RAF Middleton St George in County Durham on 22nd July 1945 home to Avro Lancaster and Handley Page Halifax Squadrons of Bomber Command. She was demobbed on 1st October 1946 and returned to Chipping Norton on the following day.

She married Denis Bartlett in the town in 1949 and after his death remarried Stanley Douglas in 1973. She died in September 1992 aged 70.

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LANCE CORPORAL CYRIL HOARE

He was born in Chipping Norton in 1900 and lived at 3, Coneygree Terrace and worked as a labourer. He was also a reservist and at the outbreak of the war was called up into the served in the Auxiliary  Pioneer Corps and joined the British Expeditionary Force in France in 1940, He was reported as missing in May 1940 and later found to be a prisoner of war. He spent time in Stalag XX1-D in Poznan, Poland before being liberated in September 1945. On his return to the UK he spent time in a hospital in Shropshire recovering from his ordeal


PRIVATE PERCY HUNT

He served with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and spent time at an anti-aircraft battery in Norwich before being posted to North Africa.



CORPORAL FRANK JARVIS

He served with the Royal Air Force.



RONALD JARVIS

He served with the Royal Air Force.


LEADING HAND JOHN KEELY

He was born in Chipping Norton in 1925 and joined the Royal Navy in 1943 as a ship's carpenter. He joined the Flower class corvette and anti-submarine trader HMS Hydrangea.

His first tour of duty took him to West Africa where the ship's prime task was to escort convoys from Freetown to Takoradi and Lagos. The ship then served in Gibraltar, Malta and around the Mediterranean, Ireland the West Indies and Bermuda. As  a skilled craftsman and a ship's joiner his eventual demobilisation was delayed. 


NORMAN KEEN

He had worked in the men's outfitting department of the Chipping Norton Co-op before joining the Royal Air Force. After training as an equipment assistant he was posted to the Aircraft and Engine Experimental Establishment at RAF Boscombe Down. His next posting was to RAF Bicester and from there he served in France, Holland and Germany. After demobilisation he returned to Chipping Norton and his wife, Joan and resumed working at the Co-op until retirement.


LEADING AIRCRAFTMAN CHARLES MONTAGUE KITCHEN

Known as Chas he was born in Chadlington in November 1915 and he married Agnes Miles in 1935. He enlisted into the Royal Air Force and after training he was posted to RAF Mount Farm, Dorchester, Oxfordshire joining 140 Squadron Photo Reconnaissance Unit. He was promoted to Leading Aircraftman and was responsible for maintaining and cleaning the cameras used on the Squadron's aircraft. At the time they were operating the Supermarine Spitfire Mk I, below, and Mk IV and also the Bristol Blenheim Mk IV. 

The Squadron moved to RAF Hartford Bridge in Hampshire where they took delivery of de Havilland Mosquito IX and XVI and the Spitfire Mk X. They moved to RAF Northolt in April 1944. The Squadron was posted to Belgium in September 1944 but LAC Kitchen remained in the UK, being posted to RAF Tangmere then RAF Squires Gate, Blackpool then at Bridlington and Arbroath.

He died in April 1995 aged 89.


SAPPER HARRY PERCIVAL KITE

He was born in Heythrop in February 1909 and married Kathleen Hill in 1936. Before the war he worked as a gamekeeper on the Blenheim Palace Estate, living in Bladon Heath. He served in the Royal Engineers as a driver delivering ammunition to Salisbury Plain. He died in October 1991 aged 82.

MANSELL LAINCHBURY

He was born in Chipping Norton in September 1912 and before the war lived with his parents in Chapel Row and worked as a butcher's assistant. In 1942 he married Ada Smart in the town. He served in the Royal Engineers during the war. He died in December 1977 aged 55.

CORPORAL LESLIE HAROLD LANGTON

He was born in Chipping Norton in February 1911 to parents Herbert and Florence Langton who ran the Blue Lion pub in New Street. Later they ran a general store at 10 New Street and Leslie Langton worked in the family business. He was also a member of the Special Constabulary in the town. He married Florence Coleman in the town in 1939. He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in 1941 and trained as an RAF police officer at RAF Police Headquarters in Uxbridge. He was posted to RAF Benson and promoted to Corporal, serving there until 1944. He was then posted overseas first to Egypt then to Palestine where he took sole charge of a local police station in 1945. He died in April 1994 aged 83.


LANCE CORPORAL LESLIE FRANCIS LEE

He was born in Cowley in December 1912 and married Chipping Norton girl Hilda Smart in 1935. They lived in Oxford before the war where he worked as a coach trimmer. He joined the Royal Ordnance Corps rising to Lance Corporal and on 21st May 1946 was mentioned in despatches. After the war he ran the Wagon & Horses public house in London Road, Chipping Norton. He died in February 2004 aged 91.


COLOUR SERGEANT DENNIS LEWIS

He was born in July 1913 in Chipping Norton and before the war worked as a solictor's clerk, living at 62, Dunstan House. He joined the 1st Battalion, The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. After Dunkirk the 1st Ox and Bucks was brought up to strength with large numbers of conscripts In October 1943 the brigade became part of the 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division and started training for the invasion of North-Western Europe. The 1st Ox and Bucks landed in Normandy on 24th June 1944 with the rest of the Division. On 25th June  Operation Epsom began what was intended to take the town of Caen, it was unsuccessful but did divert significant numbers of Germans away from the American troops. The Germans counter-attacked, the 1st Ox and Bucks moved to positions around the Odon bridgehead where it suffered from heavy German artillery fire. The Allies launched further attempts to capture Caen, the first Allied troops entered the city during  on 9th July, by then, much of it had been destroyed. After holding the line the 1st Battalion's first major engagement with the enemy during the battle for Caen was the successful attack to capture the village of Cahier and a nearby mill. Fighting around Caen continued for much of the month, with the battalion sustaining significant casualties. The battalion later fought in the Second Battle of the Odon. In August it took part in an advance towards  Falaise, known as Operation Totalize, during the operation to close the Falaise pocket, two German field armies were effectively destroyed. The victory at Falaise signified the end of the Battle for Normandy.

The 1st Battalion then took part in the advance east, eventually entering Belgium in early September. The invasion of the Netherlands began on 17th September, known as Operation Market Garden. The 1st Ox and Bucks took part in the ground operation in support of the airborne corridor to Arnhem and led the advance of 71st Infantry Brigade to the Wilhelmina canal where it encountered strong enemy resistance. On 16th December 1944 the Germans launched their last-gasp major offensive of the war in the Ardennes forest that became known as the Battle of the Bulge. The battalion, along with the rest of 53rd (Welsh) Division, was rushed to Belgium shortly afterwards to assist in the defence where the battalion endured terrible weather conditions, some of the worst Belgium had seen in years. rising to Colour Sergeant.

In February 1945 the Battalion was involved in the Allied invasion of the German Rhineland, including taking part in the Battle of the Reichswald, where the battalion was involved in heavy fighting against German paratroopers and armour at the village of Asperberg. The battalion crossed the River Rhine in late March and, attached to 7th Armoured Division, continued its eastwards advance. They liberated the German concentration camp at Belsen-Bergen on 11th April 1945. The battalion met fierce enemy resistance before eventually reached the city of Hamburg, captured on 3rd May, where they remained until the end of the war in Europe on 8th May 1945, Dennis Lewis finishing the war as a Colour Sergeant, he was one of the first to enter the Belsen-Bergen on its liberation on 15th April 1945.

He died in November 1996 aged 83.

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PRIVATE NORMAN PERCIVAL LYNE

He was born in Chipping Norton in November 1919 and lived at the Kennels working as a solicitor's clerk. He married Nora Candy in early 1942 and enlisted into the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. He transferred to the Hampshire Regiment and as part of  the 128th Hampshire Brigade in the 46th Infantry Division and in January 1943 left Britain for North Africa, as part of Operation Torch. They bore the brunt of the German offensive in Northern Tunisia during Operation Ochsenkopf in the Spring of 1943. After the Axis surrender in May 1943 it then went on to fight in the Italian Campaign from September 1943 until late 1944, when it was sent to Greece to help calm the Greek Civil War. The 128th Infantry Brigade fought in many battles in Italy including the Salerno landings in September 1943, Naples and at the Gothic Line. It ended the war in Austria. With the 46th Division, it came under command of both the armies fighting in Italy, the U.S. Fifth Army and the British Eighth Army.

After the war Norman Lyne moved to Winslow in Buckinghamshire and died there in December 2005 aged 86.

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MAJOR ROBERT AUGUSTUS HART MAJOR

He was born in Shepton Mallet in Somerset in December 1892 and moved to Chipping Norton where he ran Central Garages in London Road. He married Ruth Harley in the town in the Autumn of 1927. He served as a Major in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps at Eastern Command in Colchester. After the war he returned to running his garage in Chipping Norton and served as an Alderman and Mayor of the town. He died in June 1961 aged 68.


CORPORAL ALEC MARGETTS

He was born in September in 1921 and joined the Army in 1941 going into the Royal Army Service Corps. He was a despatch rider and served in the 44th Infantry Brigade in Egypt and Greece, returning home in 1946.


PETTY OFFICER JOHN ALBERT MARGETTS

He was born in September 1922 in Chipping Norton and before the war worked as a lorry driver's living with his parents at 9, London Road. He joined the Fleet Air Arm in August 1944, stationed in the Lowlands of Scotland and later serving at RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset. He died in June 1984 aged 62.



CAPTAIN STANLEY MASON

He was born in February 1925 and lived at 25, Sunnybank, West End, Chipping Norton. He was commissioned into the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers as a 2nd Lieutenant and attained a war time rank of Captain.

MARINE GEORGE ERNEST MORRIS

He was born in Chipping Norton in 1921 and brought up by his grandparents Albert and Ellen Morris of Rock Hill. He left Chipping Norton in 1938 to join the Royal Marines in Portsmouth. He joined the 9th Royal Marine Battalion and was selected  went through the six-week intensive commando course at Achnacarry. The course in the Scottish Highlands concentrated on fitness, speed marches, weapons training, map reading, climbing, small boat operations and demolitions both by day and by night. Following training it was allocated to the 4th Special Service Brigade. The 46th RM commandos took part in the Normandy landings, arriving on Juno Beach at 0900 on 7th June 1944, D-Day +1. They advanced on to Petit Enfer and faced stiff German resistance, but were able to force their way through the German positions and on to Luc-sur-Mer. There they met up with 41 Commando, linking Juno and Sword. There would follow actions in the next few days at Douvres, La Deliverande and Rots and Le Hamel. 

Men of No. 46 (Royal Marine) Commando entering the village of Douvres-la-Delivrande, France, 8 June 1944

They then served on the Orne River bridgehead  alongside the British 6th Airborne Division. They suffered heavy casualties in Normandy and at the end of September 1944 was returned to the United Kingdom to refit. Returning to mainland Europe in January 1945 it was the Antwerp guard force. The commando then participated in a number of assault river crossings during the advance into Germany. At the end of the war the commando took part in the occupation of Germany before being disbanded in February 1946. After returning to Chipping Norton George Morris served with the town's Fire Brigade until his retirement.

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PAMELA E MORRIS

She served with the Auxilliary Territorial Service attached to the Royal Berkshire Regiment. She was the sister of Peter Morris, below. 


ABLE SEAMAN PETER LEONARD MORRIS

He was born in Chipping Norton in May 1924 to parents Leonard and Annie Morris of 17, London Road and before the war had worked as mineral water assistant. He enlisted into the Royal Navy and served on HMS Matchless, an M class destroyer. She was commissioned in February 1942 and Peter Morris joined the crew then as a torpedo man.

Matchless undertook sea trials in the Firth of Clyde and then joined the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow for crew training in gunnery and torpedo attacks. Her first active service was on an Arctic convoy to Murmansk and the Kola Inlet. On 13th May 1942 she was one of four destroyers that sailed from Murmansk escorting the light cruiser Trinidad, which had been damaged during a previous convoy and partially repaired for her homeward voyage. On 15th May 20 Junkers 88 bombers attacked the flotilla and one bomb set Trinidad on fire and crippled her. Matchless rescued over 200 survivors and then scuttled Trinidad by torpedoing her.

In June 1942 Matchless took part in Operation Harpoon, a heavily armed convoy to relieve the besieged island of Malta. The convoy sailed from Gibraltar on 12th June and Matchless was damaged by a mine off Malta on 15th June. This forced her to remain in Malta for repairs, where she survived 265 air raids. In August she sailed from Malta disguised as an Italian warship. She reached Gibraltar just in time to join Operation Pedestal, which was the next convoy to relieve Malta.

After Operation Pedestal, Matchless escorted two successful Arctic convoys from Loch Ewe to the Kola Inlet. In May and June 1943 Matchless escorted the ocean liner RMS Queen Mary part-way across the North Atlantic while the liner was carrying Winston Churchill to the United States. She then escorted further Arctic convoys in November and December 1943. On 24th–25th December 1943 Matchless was returning from the Kola Inlet escorting Convoy RA 55A when she and three other destroyers were ordered to detach from that convoy and join a JW convoy heading for Russia. It was believed the German battleship  Scharnhorst  might be on the point of leaving her Norwegian fjord base to attack the convoys. The Scharnhorst, which had been weakened by shellfire from HMS Duke of York and torpedoes from HMS Jamaica was sunk by a destroyer detachment from Convoy JW 55A, including Matchless. They closed in and at 1915 on 25th December sank Scharnhorst with a further 19 torpedoes. Only 36 survivors were recovered with Matchless picking up six of them.

After the battle, Matchless returned to Scapa Flow, resumed duties with the Home Fleet and performed escort duties including further Arctic convoys until August 1944. She was then paid off in Hull.

Able Seaman Morris then joined the crew of HMS Barfleur a Battle class destroyer commissioned in September 1944.

She joined the British Pacific Fleet upon commission, seeing action during the campaign against Japan. She was present in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese signed the official surrender on the deck of the US battleship USS Missouri on 2nd September 1945.

He served aboard her until 1946 and on his return to Chipping Norton was a founder member of the Salvation Army Band followed by a lifetime in the town's Silver band. He died in September 2005 aged 81.

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SERGEANT WILLIAM NICKS

Known as Bill he was born in August 1921 and lived in Heythrop. He enlisted into the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry on the outbreak of war. He volunteered for airborne forces in 1943 whilst serving as a Corporal. He was enrolled into parachutist course 78 which ran at RAF Ringway near Manchester in August 1943. The course instructors' notes record 'Initially nervous but keen and determined.’ He was awarded his parachute wings and maroon beret on 25th August 1943. He was posted to the Holding Company and then to the 4th Parachute Battalion. In September 1943 they took part in Operation Avalanche (Invasion of Italy) was launched and the Battalion was in action at Taranto and Cassino. In August 1944, the battalion was part of Operation Rugby in Southern France. In October 1944 the Battalion seized by airborne assault (Operation Manna) the airfield at Megara near Athens in Greece as part of the 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade. The battalion spent the rest of the war supporting the 2nd New Zealand Division. 

The 4th Parachute Battalion amalgamated with the 6th Parachute Battalion in December 1947, becoming the 4/6th Parachute Battalion. William Nicks served with the 4th/6th Para Battalion until May 1948 and  transferred back to the Ox & Bucks having reached the rank of Sergeant. After being demobbed at Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire, he went to see his cousin who was in hospital in Chesterfield and he met Margaret Dolby who worked there and they married in 1951. He lived in Chesterfield for the rest of his life and died there in March 2003 aged 81.

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STAFF SERGEANT KENNETH LAWSON PADLEY

He was born In Chipping Norton in July 1913 and worked as a radio repairman at Central Motors in London Road. In 1935 he moved to Hayes in Middlesex where he worked as a television and radio foreman engineer at Marconi. He returned to Chipping Norton in January 1937 to marry Rhona Sandles. At the outbreak of war he joined the Royal Artillery and initially joined an anti-aircraft unit. Due to his technical knowledge he was promoted to Staff Sergeant and was later posted to Egypt. He returned home for demobilisation in February 1945 but remained with the Reserves until 1958. He returned to Middlesex and to Marconi where he worked on systems for the new generation of V bombers. He died in March 1980 aged 66.

SERGEANT RAYMOND JOHN PADLEY

He was born In October 1923 and was the younger brother of Kenneth, above and lived at 67, New Street. He enlisted into the Royal Corps of Signals in September 1942. He landed on the Normandy Landings a few days after D-Day in June 1944.  The Royal Corps of Signals had its own engineers, logistics experts and systems operators to run radio and area networks in the field. It was responsible for installing, maintaining and operating all types of telecommunications equipment. Promoted to Sergeant, Raymond Padley fought through the Low Countries and into Germany before being demobbed in March 1947. He died in May 2014 aged 91.

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GEORGE WULSTAN PAGE

He was born in Chipping Norton in January 1896 and lived at 19, Middle Row, Chipping Norton and worked as a telegraph boy. In the First World War he served in the Royal Engineers and whilst on leave in November 1917 married Bessie Lardener in Chipping Norton. In the Second World War he served with the Royal Corps of Signals. He died in December 1959 aged 55.

FLYING OFFICER JOHN GILBERT PASCOE DFM

He was born in January 1917 to parents Stanley and Winifred Pascoe, farmers of Home Farm, Sarsden. They then moved to Colastone Farm in Shipton-under-Wychwood, John worked as an instructor in engineering metalwork and was also a Sergeant Pilot in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, enlisting in 1938. At the outbreak of war he was posted to 148 Squadron operating the Vickers Wellington Mk IC twin engined bomber, below.

They were operating out of RAF Luqa in Malta carrying out bombing missions in support of the 8th Army in North Africa. During this time Sergeant Pascoe was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal, gazetted in November 1941, his citation reads:

"This NCO has completed 52 operations and 274 operational flying hours to his credit out of a flying time of 600 hours as a pilot. He commenced operations in early September 1940 and carried out operations over Germany and German occupied territory. In November 1940 he was posted to Malta flying his own Wellington out from England to RAF Luqa. During the ensuing 9 months, he was continuously engaged in operational flying in the Mediterranean and Middle East Commands. During this period from 25th June 1941 to 21st July 1941, this airman completed no fewer than 13 missions from Malta against Naples, Messina, Palermo and Tripoli. All these raids were carried out with determination and success, many of them in the face of most intense and accurate opposition. In spite of the extremely concentrated nature of these operations, Sergeant Pascoe's enthusiasm never flagged. He has at all times shown an outstanding example of operational keenness  and enthusiasm. Sergeant Pascoe is fortunate in combining with his real skill as a pilot with a technical knowledge of his aircraft which has at may times been of great assistance to his ground crew. It is considered that this  airman is the most outstanding NCO pilot of 148 Squadron and has shown at all times a rare example of courage, skill, determination and devotion to duty."

After his time with 148 Squadron he was seconded to BOAC and sent to Durban to re-train as a flying boat pilot, now promoted to Flying Officer. He then flew the Short Sunderland on trips down the east close of Africa, through Cairo and the Gulf States to Bombay and back.

He remained with BOAC after the war becoming a Captain and flying on the transatlantic routes. At this time he was living at Peartree Cottage, Albion Street. After retiring from BOAC he emigrated to New Zealand in 1978.

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NURSING SISTER NORA F PASCOE

Known as Nonie she was born in Sarsden in 1918 and was the younger sister of John, above. She joined the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service in February 1944. At first she worked in Oxford but then had postings in Mombasa, Southeast Kenya, Mandera in Northeast Kenya, British Somaliland and Nyeri in Central Kenya. She returned home in February 1946.


DAVID H PEARMAN

He was born in Chipping Norton in 1922 and joined the Royal Navy and underwent training at HMS Collingwood shore base in Fareham. He was then transferred to the Fleet Air Arm and posted to HMS Nabberley, a Royal Naval Mobile Operating Airbase also known as MONAB II. 

Assembled at RNAS Ludham and Royal Navy Air Establishment  Risley,  Warrington, in October 1944. HMS Nabberley commissioned as an independent command on 18th November 1944.

The stores, equipment and vehicles sailed from Gladstone Dock, Liverpool on 20th November upon SS Perthshire (LS 1974) and the personnel of MONAB II sailed from Liverpool upon RMS Athlone Castle on 22nd December 1944 for passage to Australia. The base was set up at RAAF Bankstown in New South Wales which was officially transferred on a loan basis to Royal Navy on 27th January 1945 and stores and equipment began to arrive at the station. The personnel began assembling crated aircraft and carrying out pre-issue test flights as a Receipt and Dispatch Unit. A total of 2,500 test flights were undertaken during the operation of HMS Nabberley.

David Pearman remained there until November 1945 and was demobbed in August 1946. He married Phyllis Pinfold in Chipping Norton in the summer of 1947.

 

GUNNER JOHN WILLIAM H PETLEY

Known as Jack he was born in Chipping Norton in 1918 and enlisted into the Territorial Reserve of the Royal Artillery as a gunner in Yeovil in 1938. He served in the UK at the outbreak of war. In the summer of 1941 he married Phyllis Claridge in Banbury. He was then posted overseas serving North Africa, Sicily and mainland Italy. He was demobbed into the reserves in April 1946. After the war both he and his wife served in the Royal Observer Corps based in Enstone, where he was Chief Observer for many years.

GEORGE ERNEST PICK

He was born in Chipping Norton in October 1912 and married Olive Balfour in the town in 1938. He served in the Army during the war. He died in June 1983 aged 70.

GUNNER JAMES LEONARD PICK

He was born in Chipping Norton in 1919 and before the war lived at 11, Paradise Terrace, working as an assistant engine driver at a power station. He enlisted as a Gunner into the Territorial Reserves of the Royal Artillery in September 1939.

ALFRED PICKETT

He joined the Royal Navy and passed through HMS Ganges training centre.

HARRY PICKETT

He served in the Army.

JACK PICKETT

He served in the Army.

JIM PICKETT

He served in the Army.

LESLIE NORMAN PICKETT

He was born in Chipping Norton in May 1919 and before the war lived at 33, Hailey Road and worked as a clerk. In early 1941 he married Eileen Clarke in the town and in May that year he enlisted into the No 1 Recruit Centre in Penarth. He trained as a wireless operator in Lancashire. In late 1942 he was posted to RAF Pomigliano in Naples as part of the Italian campaign later being stationed in Sicily.

He died in November 1999 aged 78.

THOMAS PICKETT

He served in the Army.

WALTER ARNOLD PICKETT

He was born in Chipping Norton in September 1912 and before the war worked as a general labourer. He lived at 33, Hailey Road and was the brother of Leslie, above. He served in the Army.

He died in April 1994 aged 81.

ABLE SEAMAN ALFRED HENRY PRATLEY

He was born in Chipping Norton in September 1922 and joined the Royal Navy in Chatham on 12th January 1942. He passed through the shore based training establishment HMS Ganges in Fareham. In 1943 he passed his gunnery examinations on the training ship HMS Drake and was made an Able Seaman Gunner. He then went on to serve at HMS Hornet at Gosport a Coastal Forces Base operating Motor Torpedo Boats and was involved in the sinking of three German midget submarines. He went on to serve in on convoy protection duties to Malta and Russia, the North Africa campaign and on the Normandy Landings. He was on a long boat that plucked fellow Chipping Norton RN man, Bill Wright, from the sea after his ship had been torpedoed. 

He died in April 2004 aged 81.

ABLE SEAMAN EDWARD THOMAS PRATLEY

He was born in Chipping Norton in 1925 and joined the Royal Navy  on 17th May 1943, serving in the Portsmouth Division. He was released from active service in May 1946. He died in January 2001 aged 75.

LEADING AIR MECHANIC FRANCIS GEORGE PRATLEY

Known as Frank, he was born In Chipping Norton in November 1921, the older brother of Alfred and Edward, above. He worked as a carpenter and joiner by trade and enlisted into the Royal Navy in August 1941. In the Summer of 1942 he married Joan Plass in Uxbridge, Middlesex. He was transferred to the Fleet Air Arm and served with 881 Naval Air Squadron, looking after their Grumman Martlet fighters, below.

They served aboard the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious and from RNAS McKinnion Road in East Africa amongst other locations.

Frank Pratley returned home to his wife in Middlesex in mid 1946. He died in Hillingdon in July 1998, aged 77.

LANCE CORPORAL  EDWIN PRIESTLAND 

He was born in Chipping Norton in 1914 to parents Edwin and Clara Priestland who ran a tobacconist's shop in 4, Middle Row. He married Edith Williams in the town in the summer of 1940. He enlisted into the 1st Battalion, The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. 

In October 1943 they started training for the Normandy Landings. The 1st Ox and Bucks landed  on the Normandy beaches on 24th June 1944 as part of the 71st Infantry Brigade in the 53rd Welsh Division. On 25th June Operation Epsom began, it's intention to take the town of Caen, a vital objective for the British. This proved to be a formidable town to capture and the operation was unsuccessful. However, it did divert significant numbers of Germans away from the Americans. The Germans counter-attacked and the 1st Ox and Bucks moved to positions around the Odon bridgehead where it suffered from heavy German artillery fire. The Allies launched further attempts to capture Caen, the first Allied troops entered the city on 9th July, by then much of it had been destroyed. After holding the line the 1st Battalion's first major engagement with the enemy during the battle for Caen was the successful attack to capture the village of Cahier and a nearby mill. Chippy man Albert Newman was killed during this action. Fighting around Caen continued for much of the month, with the battalion sustaining significant casualties. The battalion later fought in the Second Battle of the Odon and Edwin Priestland who was an acting Lance Corporal was wounded in action on 17th July 1944.

He died in the town in March 1967 aged 53.

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SYDNEY SEAWARD PULKER

He was born in Banbury in April 1920, his father later ran a boot and shoe repair shop at 19, Horsefair in Chipping Norton. Sydney joined the Royal Marines as a boy in 1935 and joined the Band of the Royal Marines as a drummer, playing the snare drum when on parade. When not required as a musician he worked on a transmission station.

Shortly after the outbreak of war he joined the Town class light cruiser HMS Manchester, below.

She served with the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow, on Northern Patrol duties, capturing the German merchantman Wahehe on 21st February 1940. She first saw action during the ill-fated Norwegian campaign in 1940, where she won her first battle honour. She was then based in the Humber for anti-invasion duties, but on 15th September sailed to the Mediterranean for Operation Collar. In 1940, Manchester, along with other Royal Navy warships, engaged an Italian cruiser squadron, in a naval action that became known as the battle of Cape Spartivento. During the engagement, Manchester was straddled by the main guns of the Italian battleship Vittorio Veneto and hit by shell splinters.

Manchester returned to Britain on 13th December 1940 and spent the first four months of 1941 under refit, then patrolled the Iceland-Faroes passage during the Bismarck sortie. In July she returned to the Mediterranean for an important Malta convoy, but on 23rd July she was hit on the port quarter by an Italian aerial torpedo and badly damaged. Temporary repairs were made at Gibraltar, and the ship then sailed for Philadelphia for complete repair. On her return to service she joined the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow during the first week of May, then carried out Russian convoy cover duties and the reinforcement of Spitzbergen.

In August 1942 she returned to the Mediterranean and took part in Operation Pedestal. The operation, designed to supply the besieged island of Malta, cost several warships including the aircraft carrier Eagle. In the early hours of 13th August during the operation Manchester was torpedoed and severely damaged by two Italian motor torpedo boats and subsequently scuttled with explosive charges. She was the largest warship sunk by motor torpedo boats during the Second World War.

In July 1943 he joined the crew of the newly commissioned Dido class light cruiser HMS Spartan, below.

On 17th October 1943 she left Plymouth Sound for the Mediterranean, sailing by way of Gibraltar and Algiers, she arrived at Malta on 28th October 1943 to be temporarily attached to the Mediterranean Fleet. She went on to Taranto to join the 15th Cruiser Squadron on 8th November. On the night of 18th/19th January 1944 Spartan carried out a diversionary bombardment in the Terracina area, with the cruiser Orion and four destroyers and provided useful supporting fire during the Garigliano River Operations. There was only minor opposition from shore batteries, and during the bombardment Spartan alone fired 900 rounds.

Operation Shingle, the landing of troops at Anzio, began on 22nd January 1944, and Orion and Spartan were detailed to provide gun support. There was little opposition, and Spartan returned to Naples to remain available at short notice. On 27th January she was ordered to report for anti-aircraft protection duties off Anzio. At sunset on 29th January the Luftwaffe began a glide bomb attack on the ships in Anzio Bay. At the time of the attack Spartan was anchored. Smoke had been ordered in the anchorage but was not fully effective owing to the short time it was in operation and the strong breeze. Spartan was making smoke from stem to stern but was not herself covered. 

About 18 aircraft approached from the north and circling over land, delivered a beam attack against the ships that were silhouetted against the afterglow. Due to the timing of the attack the aircraft were seen only by very few, and radar was ineffective owing to land echoes. By the time the warning had been received and the ships had opened fire in the general direction of the attack, six bombs were already approaching the anchorage, most of them falling into the water.

But at about 1800 a radio-controlled Henschel HS 293 glide bomb hit Spartan just aft of the after funnel and detonated high up in the compartments abreast the port side of the after boiler room, blowing a large hole in the upper deck. The main mast collapsed and boiler rooms were flooded. Steam and electrical power failed, a serious fire developed and the ship heeled over to port. About an hour after being hit, Spartan had to be abandoned, and 10 minutes later she settled on her beam ends in about 25–30 ft of water. Five officers and 41 enlisted men were posted killed or missing presumed killed, and 42 enlisted men were wounded.

After surviving his second sinking Bandsman Pulker was given leave home and then went on to serve on the light cruisers HMS Aurora and HMS Glasgow, serving with the latter on the East Indies station.

After leaving the Marines he worked as a technician for the Post Office and in 1954 married Rhonda Abbott, sister of Lawrence and Ronald Abbott (see above), in Chipping Norton. He died in April 2001 aged 81.

 

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MAJOR WILLIAM HARRY PURCHASE-RATHBONE MC

He was born William Rathbone in Churchill in September 1911 and enlisted into the Royal Artillery as Gunner on 26th June 1929. He married Kate Purchase in 1934 and after changed his name to Purchase-Rathbone. He was commissioned as a Lieutenant on 2nd December 1939. He went to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force at the beginning of the war, taking part in the defence of Arras, and was evacuated from the Dunkirk Beaches in May1940. He was made a war substantive Captain on 3rd February 1943 and then a temporary Major, taking command of the 67th Anti-Tank Battery in the 20th Anti-Tank Regiment of the Royal Artillery.

As part of the 3rd Infantry Division they were among the first British units to land on Sword Beach on D-Day 6th June, following the infantry ashore at La Breche, Hermansville. They were equipped with eight 6 pounders  and four M-10 Wolverine 3” self propelled guns, one of which is pictured below on a Normandy beach on 6th June.

For his actions on the 6th June, Major Purchase-Rathbone was awarded the Military Cross, gazetted on 31st August 1944. His citation reads:

"This officer commanded an anti-tank battery during the assault on the Coast of France, at La Breche on 6th June 1944. He landed with the first anti-tank guns close up behind the leading infantry and immediately set about the task of getting these guns into action. The beach was under heavy fire from all types of enemy weapons and the task was made hazardous owing to the guns being spread over a number of craft, which entailed moving from one craft to another under direct enemy fire. This officer personally organised the anti-tank defences of the beach showing complete disregard for the heavy fire coming down around him.

After this he proceeded forward and carried out a reconnaissance through ground still held by the enemy as far as the Benouville Bridge, a distance of 6 miles, gained touch with the Airbourne Division and came back with valuable information.

Throughout these operations he was fearless under fire and set a fine example of courage and initiative to those under his command." 

Below, an M10 Wolverine 3-inch self-propelled gun of 20th Anti-Tank Regiment provides cover for infantry of 3rd Division as they advance inland from Queen beach, Sword area, 6th June 1944.

After D-Day they supported the 3rd Infantry Division fighting through the Battle for Caen, in Operation Charnwood and Operation Goodwood. With the fighting in Normandy over after the Battle of the Falaise Gap, the Regiment also participated in the Allied advance from Paris to the Rhine and fought in the Netherlands and   Belgium and later the Allied invasion of Germany.

William Purchase-Rathbone stayed in the army after with the war, being made a full Major in December 1952 and retiring from the Royal Artillery on 29th November 1961, after 50 years service. He died on 5th June 1974 aged 62 and was buried with full military honours in Churchill.


RONALD GEORGE PUTMAN

He was born in Chipping Norton in October 1920 to parents Frederick and Hester Putman, his father ran a tent and rope making business from 20,High Street, Chipping Norton. His father died shortly after he was born and the family moved to Oxford. Before the war Ronald was working as a textile warehouse labourer, lodging in the City of London. He joined the Royal Air Force on 13th November 1940 and was posted to RAF Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, home to several squadrons from Coastal Command. While posted there he ran scout groups when off duty. He was then posted overseas serving at the RAF station at Jui, Sierre Leone, below.

His duties included here included going out in the seaplane tender to guide in the Coastal Command's Short Sunderland flying boats to their berths, both at night and during the day. He served abroad for 13 months before returning home in 1943 and working at the war office.

He married Ruth Hoare in Watford in 1948 and later moved to Wandsworth. He died in Torbay, Devon in March 2003 aged 82.

ABLE SEAMAN JOHN A QUARTERMAIN

Known as Jack, he was born in 1926, later moving to Chipping Norton. He worked as a postman in Oxford before he enlisted into the Royal Navy in 1943 and became a torpedo man. He joined the crew of the minesweeper HMS Sylvia, below, based in Malta.

After this was attached to HMS Blenheim, a destroyer depot ship based in Malta. After returning to the UK he worked on the new C class destroyer HMS Cossack before her commissioning. He was demobbed in Portsmouth in 1947 and returned to his job as a postman.

PHILLIP JAMES QUARTERMAIN

He was born in Chipping Norton in 1922, the older brother of Jack, above, and lived at 36, West Street, Chipping Norton. He worked for the General Post Office in Oxford as a technician. He enlisted into the Royal Corps of Signals in 1943 and during 1944 was attached to the American forces in St Lo in Normandy. He fought with them through Germany, entering Berlin in 1945.

He returned home and was demobbed in 1947, returning to his job with the Post Office. Later he lived at 50, Walterbush Road and died in the Churchill hospital in February 1966 aged 43.

CORPORAL PHYLLIS ROSE RICHARDS

She was born in Chipping Norton in March 1921 and lived at 8, Portland Place. She joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service and attained the rank of Corporal. In March 1943 she married Peter Hutchinson in the town. She died in September 1969 aged 48.


LIEUTENANT PETER JAMES ROBINSON

He was born in Chipping Norton in June 1926, living at 43, Rock Hill. He joined the Tank Regiment in 1945 and was then given an emergency commission in the 2nd Battalion, The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry as a 2nd Lieutenant. In October 1945, he was with the 2nd Battalion, as part of 6th Airborne Division, when it arrived in Palestine as Britain's Imperial Strategic Reserve in the Middle East. Palestine was in a highly volatile political state and the battalion was extensively deployed on internal security duties and in assisting the civil authorities to keep the peace between the different communities. The 2nd Ox and Bucks were initially based at Mughazi camp, near Gaza, then at Ras-El-Fin, near Tel Aviv and at Nathanya, near Haifa. In March 1946 the battalion moved to Alamein camp in Jerusalem. On 15th April 1946, 6th Airlanding Brigade, which the battalion was still part of, was renumbered the 31st Independent Infantry Brigade. On 26th April 1946 the battalion wore their red berets for the final time, at a farewell to the division parade. The battalion was stationed in Jerusalem when the King David Hotel bombing took place on 22nd July 1946. The 2nd Ox and Bucks moved to Athlit, near Haifa, in November 1946, then to Zerca in  Transjordan  before returning to Jerusalem in January 1947. The battalion formed part of 8th Infantry Brigade in May 1947 and moved to Khassa, near Gaza, in July 1947 and left Palestine in September 1947.

He returned home and remained in the Army marrying Elfreda Epton in Chipping Norton in early 1949 and in July that year was promoted to full Lieutenant. He died in August 1992 aged 66.

PRIVATE FRANK ROPER

Frank Roper was born in Chipping Norton in January 1913 and before the war worked at Lacy & Co in Oxford. He enlisted into the Royal Army Medical Corps and in October 1939 and landed in France. He was posted to the 12th Field Ambulance attached to the 4th Division and took care of the wounded from the British Expeditionary Force until evacuated from Dunkirk in June 1940. He married Daisy Fletcher in the same year in Chipping Norton. In 1943 he was sent overseas to join the campaign in North Africa and was for several months based at Cape Bon in Tunis. He then moved to Egypt and onto Italy spending nine months in the Cassino area, during the fierce fighting in 1944 in the Battle of Monte Cassino. His unit then moved to Greece and he stayed there until returning home for demob on 10th February 1946. He went on to work as an iron moulder at the Hub Iron Works for many years and died in March 1996 aged 83.

DOROTHY RYMAN

Known as Dot, she was born in Chipping Norton in 1921 and served with the Auxiliary Territorial Service for three years, firstly at Bicester then Cirencester. At Cirencester she was involved in catering and was involved in feeding members of the Eighth Army who had returned from North Africa. After the war she married William Perry in Shipston in 1949 and worked in the kitchens of Chipping Norton's schools. 

RIFLEMAN ERIC ROBERT SALE

Known as Robert, he was born in Chipping Norton in April 1921 and was the elder brother of John, below. He lived at 15, West End and worked as a construction engineer's labourer before the war. He enlisted into the 2nd Battalion, (The London Irish Rifles), The Royal Ulster Rifles as a Rifleman. As part of the 38th (Irish) Brigade the Battalion landed in North Africa on 22nd November 1942 and fought with distinction in the Tunisian campaign In late April 1943, the 38th (Irish) Brigade played a lead role in the capture of the German defensive positions in the mountains north of Medjez-el-Bab and the campaign ended in mid-May, with almost 250,000 Axis soldiers surrendering. The brigade were the first marching troops to enter Tunis on 8th May 1943.

After a short rest, the brigade again saw action in the Allied invasion of Sicily (in particular the capture of Centuripe), and in the Italian Campaign, spearheading the British Eighth Army's advance to the Volturno Line, and later at the Battle of Monte Cassino between January and May 1944. He was wounded in action on 21st June 1944.

After the war he married Margaret Bennett in Chipping Norton in 1948 and died in October 2001 aged 80.

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FLIGHT SERGEANT FREDERICK SALE

He was born in Chipping Norton in 1923 and joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and becoming a pilot. He married Eva Margetts in the town in 1944.

JOHN EDWARD SALE

He was born in January 1927 and lived at 15, West End. He served in the Parachute Regiment towards the end of the war. He married Edna Berry in the town in 1949 and died in October 1992 aged 65.

MICHAEL SALE

He served with the Parachute Regiment.

DENNIS FREDERICK WILLIAM SCARSBROOK

He was born in Chipping Norton in 1919 and in 1939 he married Mary Cranmer in the town. He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and was involved in working on the Short Sunderland flying boats that operated from RAF Wig Bay Loch Ryan near Stranraer, below.

Denis and Mary emigrated to New Zealand and he died there in May 1976 aged 57.

ABLE SEAMAN LAWRENCE SCARSBROOK

Known as Lol, he was born in October 1924, one of eight children to parents William and Hilda Scarsbrook of 38, Rock Hill, Chipping Norton. He had worked as a mill hand at Bliss Mill before joining the Royal Navy in 1942. He trained at HMS Collingwood at Fareham and HMS Victory at Portsmouth. After training he was posted to Belfast to join the newly built HMS Boxer, a Landing Ship Tank built by Harland & Wolff, she was launched in December 1942 and commissioned in April 1943.  The requirement was for the ship was carry 13 Churchill tanks, 27 other vehicles and 193 men. 

He served as a gunner aboard her and saw action in the Italian Campaign being involved in the landings on Sicily between 10th July and 17th August 1943, at Salerno between 9th September and 6th October 1943 and at Anzio between 22nd and  31st January 1944. He saw further action in the Mediterranean Theatre in Libya, Malta and Oran. HMS Boxer returned to Portsmouth in June 1944 after being converted to a Fighter Direction Ship, as pictured above, for use in the Normandy Campaign.

Home on leave he married Mary McHugh in Chipping Norton in the summer of 1944. Mary had come over from Ireland at the age of 14 to work in service. At the outbreak of war she went to work at the Handley Page factory in Cricklewood helping to build the Handley Page Hampden twin engined light bomber. She also worked at Park Royal Coachworks where the outer wings and engine cowlings for the four engined heavy bomber the Halifax were produced. After living through the blitz she moved to Chipping Norton where she worked at a munitions factory in Over Norton. She then worked at the Northern Aluminium Company in Banbury until the end of the war.

Lol Scarsbrook went on to serve on the aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable in the Far East, in Burma, Ceylon and Malaya. He then served as a despatch rider for Lord Louis Mountbatten who was Supreme Commander of the Southeast Asia theatre and was in Singapore at the time of the Japanese surrender. He returned to the UK in November 1945 aboard HMS Indomitable.

He died in December 1997 aged 73.

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NORMAN ERNEST SCARSBROOK

Born in August 1920, he was the older brother of Lawrence, above, and had worked as a builder's labourer before the war. He enlisted into the Royal Army Service Corps and was in France with the British Expeditionary force, being evacuated from Dunkirk in May 1940. He then served with the Eight Army in North Africa, Sicily and Italy. He arrived on the Normandy beaches on 12th June 1944 and assisted in unloading the vehicles of the 11th Armoured Division the following day.  Attached to the 11th he took part in Operation Epsom on 26th June and then Operation Goodwood and Operation Bluecoat, going on to cross the Seine on 28th August 1944. He fought through the Low Countries into Germany and was present at the liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp on 15th April 1945. He returned home in 1946. He died in Banbury in July 2000 aged 79.

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LANCE CORPORAL PETER SCARSBROOK

He served in the 1st Battalion, The King's Own Light Infantry.

SYDNEY SCARSBROOK

He was born in Chipping Norton in 1926, the younger brother of Norman and Lawrence above. He served in the 2nd Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment and arrived in Germany on 8th May 1945, shortly after VE Day. The Battalion were sent to Friederichstadt on the River Elder. Part of their orders were to disarm the local populations of all guns including sporting rifles and shotguns.

VICTOR SCARSBROOK

He was born in Chipping Norton in 1922, the fourth son of William and Hilda Scarsbrook to serve in the Second World War. He joined the RAF as an aircraft serving in Blackpool and South Africa. After the war he married Mary Droney in Chipping Norton in 1951.

LEADING AIRCRAFTMAN JAMES SHADBOLT

He joined the Royal Air Force through the No 1 Recruitment Centre in Penarth on 24th July 1942. After training he served at Eastbourne, Market Rasen, Chivenor, The Isle of Man, Chipping Norton and Bicester. He was demobbed on 22nd February 1946

WILLIAM JOHN SHADBOLT

He served with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

RONALD SHEPHARD

He served in the Army.


LANCE BOMBARDIER MARION EILEEN SIMMS

She was born in Chipping Norton in 1924 and joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service aged 18 in 1942. She trained as a gunner and was based in Shoeburyness in Essex and was promoted to Lance Bombardier there in 1943. She served in the role throughout the war. Returning to Chipping Norton she married Reginald Ackerman in 1954 and died in 1981 aged 57.

REGIMENTAL SERGEANT MAJOR RONALD EDWIN SIMMS

He was born in Chipping Norton in 1920 and in 1936 he joined the Royal Artillery as a Gunner. Posted to the 3rd Field Regiment they were in Trimulgherry, India at the outbreak of war in 1939. As part of the newly formed 10th Indian Division  they landed in Basra in April, moving up the Euphrates and capturing Baghdad and the oilfields of Mosul as part of the Anglo-Iraqi War. When Iraq's ally Nazi Germany relocated its aircraft to Vichy French Syria, the 10th invaded Syria from Iraq in June. Following the French surrender on 11th July, the division returned to guard duty in Mosul. In August, the division took part in the joint Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran. At the conclusion of the Iranian operation it returned to Iraq where it underwent additional training and conducted security duties until May 1942.

The 3rd Field Regiment were then sent to North Africa where they were part of the 7th Armoured Division, "The Desert Rats" and Ronald Simms was promoted to Lance Bombardier. From 26th May 1942 they faced a determined assault by the Axis troops of the Panzerarmee Afrika (Generaloberst Erwin Rommel) consisting of German and Italian units. Aided by the interception of secret messages detailing the Allied strength and positions from a US military attache in Cairo the Axis made an assault on the Libyan town of Gazala and suceeded in pushing the Allies back to Egypt and capturing the port of Tobruk.

On 17th June 1942 Lance Bombardier Simms was reported missing in action. On 31st July it was reported that he had been wounded in the legs by shrapnel and was a Prisoner of War at Italian camp No 70 in Parma, his wounds being treated by nuns from a nearby convent. After the surrender of Italy in October 1943 he was transported by rail on Germany being sent to Stalag IV-G at Oschatz, Saxony. He was liberated by American troops in 1945.

He remained in the Royal Artillery after the war and married Joan Stayt in Chipping Norton in 1950. He served in the Korean War between 1951 and 1953. As a Sergeant he received the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal in June 1957 and ended his Army service as a Regimental Sergeant Major, retiring in 1968.

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ABLE SEAMAN ERNEST JACK SMART

He was born in February 1924. After joining the Royal Navy he was attached to the South East Asia Command where he manned landing craft transferring troops from larger vessels onto beaches in the Far East. He served in Singapore, Java and Burma and took part in Operation Zipper, amphibious landings on Malaya as a staging point for an invasion of Singapore. These were not fully carried out due to the surrender of the Japanese in September 1945. He spent 6 months in a military hospital in South Africa due to illness. On return to Chipping Norton he worked as a window cleaner and married Connie White in the town in 1949. He died in 1987 aged 63.

CAPTAIN GEORGE SMART

He was born in Chipping Norton in April 1911 and in 1937 married Dorothy Howland in the town. Before the war they lived in Surbiton where he managed a restaurant and his wife was the cook. He was given an emergency wartime commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Catering Corps on 6th March 1943. He served in India being made a full Lieutenant in September 1943 and a temporary Captain on 8th March 1944.


WILLIAM SMART


He served with the Eighth Army in North Africa.

CORPORAL ALFRED EDWARD SMITH

Alfred Edward Smith was born on the 24 September 1923 in Chipping Norton. In his teenage years Alfred also worked for the Co-operative alongside his brother Leslie tending the horses that were used for delivering goods in and around the village.

Alf worked at the Co-op up until the 16th July 1942 when he was called up joining the Royal Armoured Corps where he began his training as a driver. He first joined the 51st Training Regiment RAC at Catterick where he soon became familiar with the controls of the Churchill and Valentine tanks. He later described these tanks as ‘slow, and under-gunned’.

On the 19th Jan 1943 he completed his training and was assigned to his new regiment 15th/19th Kings Royal Hussars ‘C’ Squadron as part of the 9th Armoured Division. The 9th Armoured Division was dissolved before the invasion but many men within the regiment held on to the iconic ‘panda’s head’ divisional flash. 

Major G Courage (of the Courage brewing house) assumed command of C squadron in February 1943 and led the squadron during Operation Spartan which lasted until the 14th of March. This exercise was intended to provide an excellent initiation into a more active and realistic form of soldiering for the many young soldiers and reinforcements who had joined in the last six months. Soon after the operation the regiment moved to Yorkshire where it received some Centaur tanks and what was to be the first of the new Cromwell series of which so much had been heard; and had been eagerly expected for some time. The regiment spent the next few months engaging in training exercises and mock skirmishes.

In January 1944 Alf, along with his regiment were moved to Northumberland and with this move there came another stage in the development of Recce Troop, which was now called Recce Squadron. This new role involved gathering vital tactical information in battle for infantry divisions, probing ahead of the main attacking force and screening the flanks of main advance.

On the 23rd June 1944 - the regiment was moved to Great Yarmouth. It was there Alf learnt that the regiment would be trained as a Water Assault Regiment in amphibious Sherman tanks, below, known as DD tanks (duplex drive) and that all tank crews would be trained in submarine escape apparatus.

 On the evening of the 12th August news reached the Commanding Officer on the wireless that the regiment was likely to move overseas immediately. The training exercise was abandoned and C Squadron was tasked with returning all tanks to camp nearly 30 miles away – several of them on the end of tow rope.

Alf landed in France on 16th August 1944 following a very rough crossing and a delay outside the mulberry harbour while minesweepers cleared a safe entry point. Once ashore the regiment received new Cromwell tanks and a proportion of Challenger tanks. The 15th/19th Hussars then spent the next few months fighting their way through France, acting as a reconnaissance squadron attached to the 11th Armoured Division. They assisted in the liberation of occupied Holland and continued to press on, slowly pushing the Axis forces back into Germany. Alf has described his time in Holland as ‘peaceful and always with plenty to eat, the locals looked after us’.

By April 1945 the 15th/19th Hussars and large numbers of Allied forces had reached Germany. They were among the first to discover the concentration camp Bergen Belsen after intercepting a staff car carrying several German officers seeking ‘a temporary local armistice’. The camp was said to have contained “sixty thousand political and criminal prisoners of many nationalities” but it soon became clear that this was not the case.

In May 1945 the regiment took up residence in the small fishing town of Kappeln. They spent the long, hot summer months in lovely surroundings with plenty of things with which to amuse themselves disturbed only by routine occupation duties.

In late 1945 Alf was granted leave and intended to return to England, unfortunately the lorry carrying him and a host of others back from the frontline was involved in an accident. Alf suffered a broken arm and some soft tissue bruising. He returned to England by means of a Dakota for treatment of his injuries and after several months in recovery was declared unfit for front line service and did not return to his regiment.

He then spent the next few months working on camp as a driver for the War Office selection board at Midhurst. As a result of his service the commanding officer of the base offered Alf the opportunity of promotion to sergeant if he signed on for another 12 months. However, Alf declined, choosing instead to return home to his Mother and move on with his life.

Alf was demobilised on the 2nd April 1947 and left the army holding the rank of W/Cpl (war corporal – rank awarded during hostilities) he returned to Chipping Norton and resumed his employment with the Co-op as a delivery driver where he worked for the next 39 years. He spent many happy weekends playing baseball for the Chipping Norton team as well as cricket and football. Finally retiring in 1986 he remained in Chipping Norton where he still lives today.

Thanks to Luke Harris and his family for the information and pictures

 

PETTY OFFICER DARRELL SMITH

He served with the Fleet Air Arm.

DOUGLAS SMITH

He served with the Royal Air Force.

CORPORAL GORDON SMITH

He was born in July 1916 in Chipping Norton and before the war lived at 56, West Street and worked for the Automobile Association as a motorcycle patrolman, He father Lionel was an ARP ambulance driver. He married Olive Moulder in the town in 1940. He served as a Corporal with the Royal Air Force.

FRANCIS SOLE

He served in the Army and served in the Italian Campaign.

TOM STANLEY

He was born in Chipping Norton in July 1907, his father running the family business, blacksmiths, hauliers, carriers and coal and wood merchants. On the outbreak of the First World War they had to give up their horses for army service and were unable to carry on with most of the business apart from the wood side. Tom's father, Thomas Edward Stanley, was enlisted into the Royal Air Force in June 1918, serving as an acting sergeant until March 1919.

On his 17th birthday Tom got his driving licence and was told he could drive a lorry, converted from a second hand car. This he used in the family business, driving the lorry, sawing wood on a circular saw and bagging and delivering the fire wood. Unfortunately he managed loose parts of two fingers and a thumb, which after the outbreak of the Second World War, precluded him from military service. He had married Chrissie Parker in 1933 and they lived in Albion Street.

However he did his bit working for the war effort at the aircraft manucturer De Havilland's factory at Witney Airfield, near Minster Lovell.

He worked in the heavy gang for the whole of the war, removing engines and other parts from Avro Lancaster bombers that came to the factory for repair. The plant also repaired Hawker Hurricanes, Supermarine Spitfires and De Havilland Mosquitos. His father carried on the wood business whilst Tom used the lorry to travel to work and delivered the fire wood in his spare time. After the war De Havillands offered him  a permanent job but he had to return to the family business. Many people from Chipping Norton carried out war work at De Havillands and at Follands in Over Norton.

SERGEANT MOWBRAY NORMAN STOKES

 

He was born in Chipping Norton in April 1918 and before the war lived at 1, Coneygree Terrace, where he worked as a wool blender at Bliss Mill. He enlisted into the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves at RAF Cardington in 1940 and trained as a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner. He was posted to 455 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force after it arrived in England on 1st June 1941, based at RAF Swinderby in Lincolnshire. They operated the Handley Page Hampden B Mk I, a twin engined medium bomber and carried out missions over France and Germany.

On Friday 7th November 1941 he was a member of the 4 man crew of Hampden P1201 UB-P that took off from RAF Swinderby at 1840 with three other aircraft from the squadron. Their mission was to carry out a low level attack to bomb and machine gun the searchlight belt at Aachen-Maastricht area. Having successfully completed the task they turned to return home, still at low level. Unfortunately the weather suddenly changed and they were driven some miles off course, into the foothills of the Ardennes. Flying at around 350 feet the aircraft collided with a chimney stack, hitting the lower fuselage and severing the fuel lines. The engines subsequently cut out and the pilot, Pilot Officer Gordon was forced to make a crash landing at Onoz, near Namur, Belgium. Sergeant Stokes along with  pilot and observer escaped the wreck with minor burns but the other Air Gunner Sergeant Holt was seriously injured, later recovering in hospital. The crew were taken prisoner by the Germans the following morning. Sergeant Stokes was imprisoned in Stalag Luft 6, Heydekurg, Northern Germany. After returning home in 1945 he married Ida Clifton in Chipping Norton and set up a greengrocery business in the town. He died in November 1909 aged 72.

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LANCE CORPORAL TOM STROUD

He was born in Headington, Oxfordshire in 1924 and before the war had worked as a hospital clerk, living at 7, Morris Crescent in Oxford. He joined the 9th Battalion of the Parachute Regiment on its formation in November 1942. 

All members of the battalion had to undergo a twelve-day parachute training course carried out at No. 1 Parachute Training School, RAF Ringway. Initial parachute jumps were from a converted barrage balloon and finished with five parachute jumps from an aircraft. Those men who successfully completed the parachute course, were presented with their maroon beret and parachute wings. Airborne soldiers were expected to fight against superior numbers of the enemy, armed with heavy weapons, including artillery and tanks. Hence, training was designed to encourage a spirit of self-discipline, self-reliance and aggressiveness. Emphasis was given to physical fitness, marksmanship and fieldcraft. A large part of the training regime consisted of assault courses and route marching. Military exercises included capturing and holding airborne bridgeheads, road or rail bridges and coastal fortifications. At the end of most exercises, the battalion would march back to their barracks. The ability to cover long distances at speed was expected, covering a distance of 50 miles in 24 hours.

The 9th Battalion where assigned the task of capturing Merville Battery in advance of the D-Day landings. Training was carried out on a full scale replica of the battery built by the Royal Engineers. 

The Merville Battery was composed of four 6-foot-thick steel-reinforced concrete gun casematesOther buildings on the site included a command bunker, a building to accommodate the men, and ammunition magazines. The battery was defended by a 20 mm anti-aircraft gun and several machine guns in 15 gun positions, all enclosed in an area 700 by 500 yards surrounded by two barbed wire obstacles 15 feet thick by 5 feet high, which also acted as the exterior border for a 100-yard-deep minefield. Another obstacle was an anti-tank ditch covering any approach from the nearby coast. It was believed that the battery would be a serious threat to the landings on Sword beach.

Just after midnight on 6th June, the 9th Parachute Battalion's advance party landed with the brigade's pathfinders, and reached the battalion assembly area without any problems.  At the same time, Royal Air Force Lancaster bombers  started their bombing run, which completely missed the battery, their bombs landing further to the south. The pathfinders in the meantime were having problems. Those who had arrived at the correct drop zone found their beacons had been damaged when they landed, and in the smoke and debris left over from the bombing, their marker lights could not be seen by the pilots of the transport aircraft. The main body of the 9th Parachute Battalion and their gliders were to land at drop zone 'V', located between the battery and Varaville from 0100. However, the battalion was scattered, with a number of paratroopers landing a considerable distance from the designated drop zone.

Tom Stroud with “C” Company had taken off from Brize Norton in a Douglas C47 Dakota which over the target area had to zig-zag violently to avoid flak. He jumped at about 1250 and observed the ack-sack fire drifting up and past him. He landed in a flooded area and made his way to the Rendevous point. By 0250, only 150 men including Private Stroud, had arrived at the battalion's assembly point with 20 Bangalore torpedoes  and a machine gun. The mortars, anti-tank gun, mine detectors, jeeps, sappers and field ambulance section were all missing. Lieutenant-Colonel Terence Ottaway leading the operation knew he could not wait any longer and launched the assault with a much depleted battalion.

As soon as the paras approached the battery, they were attacked by machine gun fire from either side, one from outside the perimeter and two on the inside,. Private Stroud, who was carrying the only Bren gun, was part of a small party ordered to silence the guns.

Assisted by the Germans firing tracer bullets he was able to silence the first gun with two short bursts. His section then created a diversion to allow the his comrades to get into the battery and destroy the guns with what little explosives they had. Tom Stroud then took out another machine gun post with his Bren. He then moved position and silenced the third machine gun. On looking round for his section he found himself completely alone. He reverted to the training on the dummy battery and made his way to No 1 casement. As he advanced towards the casement he was knocked flat on his back by a bullet in his left upper arm. He moved into the relative safety of the casement door opening and handed the Bren gun to a fellow para as his left arm was paralysed. He eventually along with other wounded men made his way to the Regimental Aid Post and then onto Brigade HQ where he was operated on. The medics had lost most of their equipment and surgery was carried out with razor blades.

Just 75 men of the 150 who had set out, left the battery, After the British had withdrawn, the Germans reoccupied the battery position. Two of the guns were put back in action, but they were was unable to direct accurate fire onto the landings. 

In March 1945 the battalion took part in Operation Varsity the last airborne assault of the war, landing on the east bank of the river Rhine, by evening all of the battalion's first objectives had been taken. Heading towards its second objective, it come upon a strong German defensive position. The battalion, despite heavy fire, assaulted and captured the position, capturing 500 prisoners of war. The battalion was next ordered to capture a nearby village. They crossed 500 yards of open land and secured the village capturing 200 prisoners. The battalion continued the advance into Germany, reaching the Baltic sea by the end of the war.

Tom Stroud finished the war as a Corporal and then served in Palestine with the 9th Parachute Regiment. He married Josephine Ward in 1945 and died in 1996 aged 72. He is pictured below on Remembrance Sunday 1995.


WARRANT SERGEANT CYRIL WILLIAM TANNER

Known as Sid, he was born In Chipping Norton in August 1913 and in 1938 enlisted as a Gunner in the Territorial Reserves of the Royal Artillery. Just before the war he was lodging in Chatham, working as a shop assistant. He was called up for service on the outbreak of war and posted to the Royal Artillery Maritime Regiment responsible for the operation of armaments on Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships. Old naval guns had been stored since 1918 in ports for possible use. In the Second World War the objective was to equip each ship with a low-angle gun mounted aft as defence against surfaced submarines and a high-angle gun and rifle-calibre machine guns for defence against air attack. 3,400 ships had been armed by the end of 1940 and all ships were armed by 1943.

He was demobilised back to the Reserves in March 1946 keeping his links to the sea by joining the Cunard Shipping Line. He served aboard the liner "Queen Elizabeth" on the transatlantic route to New York as radio mess steward and on the Caronia as a 2nd storekeeper. He returned to Chipping Norton to marry Joyce Mitchell in 1956 and retired from the Territorial RA in 1958. He died in April 1996 aged 82.

SAPPER WILLIAM REGINALD TANNER

He served with the Royal Engineers, Bomb Disposal Section.

CHRISTOPHER THORNTON

He was born in Chipping Norton in November 1920 and lived at 3, Brasenose Villas, The Green. He worked as a motor mechanic at Central Garages and along with his father served in the St John's Ambulance Brigade. He joined the Royal Air Force as an aircraft mechanic and served in Egypt. He died in September 2004 aged 83.

GERALD THORNTON

He served in the Royal Navy.

ABLE SEAMAN FREDERICK THRESHER

He was born in Chipping Norton in March 1925 and before the war lived at 2, College Place, working as an apprentice gas fitter. He joined the Royal Navy in late1943 and underwent training at the shore base HMS Calliope. He was then based at HMS Europa, depot for the Royal Navy Patrol Service in Lowestoft. After this he was at HMS Lynx in Dover, depot for minesweepers and small patrol vessels before serving at HMS Angelo, the fort in the Grand Harbour in Malta. He left the Navy at the beginning of 1947 and married Frances Beckett in 1952.

CORPORAL GEORGE THRESHER

He was born in Chipping Norton in March 1922, elder brother of Frederick, above. He worked as a fish frier's assistant before joining the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in 1943 as an armourer. He was demobbed in 1947.

PRIVATE THOMAS THRESHER

He was born in September 1917, older brother of Frederick and George above. He worked as a fish frier before the war. He served with the 1st/4th Battalion, The Royal Hampshire Regiment. As part of the 128th Hampshire Brigade they left Britain in January 1943 to support Operation Torch, the invasion of French North Africa, which had begun in November 1943. They landed at Algiers on 17th January 1943 and moved to the coastal town of Bone. At the end of January they moved up to Hunt's Gap, a narrow pass to the north-east of the Tunisian town of Beja. On 28th February the Germans launched an offensive to capture the pass but the Hampshires held on, inflicting heavy losses on the enemy. During March the Brigade was employed on defensive patrols under heavy German shell fire. The 1/4 Battalion suffered over 100 casualties, including Private Thresher who was wounded by a shell on 12th March and kept him out of any further fighting.

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LEADING SEAMAN RAYMOND CHARLES TIMMS

He was born in Chipping Norton in September 1924 and enlisted into the Royal Navy. He underwent training at HMS Ganges, the hostlities only new entrants shore establishment in Gloucester. He served in destroyers and took part in Operation Overlord covering the Normandy landings and bringing wounded home. He then joined the crew of the C class destroyer HMS Charity.

He married Madge Timms in 1947 and died on the Isle of Wight in March 2005 aged 80.

SIDNEY CHARLES TIMMS

He was born in 1907 in Kingham and in 1938 married Kathleen Havelock. They lived at 30, Spring Street and he worked as a labourer. He enlisted into the Royal Air Force Regiment at RAF Cardington in April 1941. He died in June 1960 aged 53.

WARRANT OFFICER BERTIE TIPPING

He was born in Chipping Norton in January 1923 and enlisted into the Royal Air Volunteer Reserve Force in Oxford in January 1941. He was called up for service on 17th March 1941 at Squires Gate, Blackpool and posted for training at RAF Yatesbury in Wiltshire. Before the war he had been a leading light in the baseball in Chipping Norton and whilst at Yatesbury formed a team and brought them to play in the town on many Sundays. Further training followed at South Kensington, Cosford and Weeton. He was then posted to No 3 Air Gunnery School at RAF Mona on Anglesey. There he honed his trade on Blackburn Botha torpedo bombers, below and obsolete Fairey Battles and was promoted to Flight Sergeant.

He was then posted to 3 Operational Training Unit of Coastal Command at RAF Haverford West to complete his training on Vickers Wellington bombers. He was then posted as a Wireless Operator, Air Gunner to 612 Squadron, a general reconnaissance squadron of Coastal Command. Here he flew in the reconnaissance version of the Wellington bomber, the GR Mk VIII, below, from RAF Chivenor in Devon.

In the Autumn of 1943 he was posted to the Middle East returning to Britain in 1944. He was then posted to 271 Squadron of Transport Command, flying the Douglas C47 Dakota, below, from RAF Down Ampney in Glousetershire.

Whilst serving here he was promoted to Warrant Officer and married Iris Heath in Chipping Norton in the summer of 1944. He then flew in Operation Market Garden, the plan to capture nine bridges across the Rhine and provide the Allies with an invasion route into Germany, from 17th September 1944. On one sortie his aircraft was hit by flak and caught fire. W/O Tipping baled out and was rescued by the Dutch Resistance and passed down the line to the Hampshire Regiment at Nijmegen. He was evacuated home where the burns he received to his face and hands were treated in hospital in Kensington. After recovery he was back on Dakotas being attached to 233 Squadron at RAF Blakehill before returning to Down Ampney and then RAF Broadwell. He was demobbed in May 1946. He died in the town in December 2008 aged 85.

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JOHN TOLLETT

He served as a carpenter in the Royal Air Force spending time in Kenya and staying on after the war to complete 22 years of service.

LANCE SERGEANT GEORGE WILLIAM TOWNLEY

He was born in Chipping Norton in July 1911 and married Gladys Luckett in the summer of 1935. They moved to Oddington and ran the Horse and Groom public house and they are seen in front of their pub in the photo above. He enlisted into the 10th Battalion, The Royal Gloucestershire Regiment, a hostilities only battalion raised in 1940 and served initially in South Wales. On 15th July 1942 the Battalion was converted to armour and became the 159th Regiment of the Royal Armoured Corps. They were sent to India on 26th October 1942 arriving on 20th December and moved to Nira camp near Poona, coming under command of the 255th Indian Tank Brigade. On 1st April 1943 the unit converted back to infantry and once again became the 10th Glosters. Serving with the 72nd Indian Infantry Brigade they fought in the campaign to push the Japanese out of Burma advancing through the country until the Fall of Mandalay in March 1945.

After demobilisation he returned to running the Horse and Groom then moving on to the White Horse in Ettington where he died in March 1973 aged 61.

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PRIVATE JOSEPH TOWNLEY

He was born in Chipping Norton in April 1912, and lived at 9, Spring Street, where he worked as a bricklayer. He married into Marjorie Warr in Oxford in 1939 and joined the Army in 1942. He served as a Private with the 1st/7th Battalion, The Middlesex Regiment, which before the war had converted to a machine gun battalion, and trained in Chichester as a Signalman. As part of the 51st (Highland) Division he landed with his Battalion on Sword Beach on 7th June 1944 as part of Operation Overlord. After spending a brief period supporting the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, they were sent across the River Orne, and spent two months supporting the 6th Airborne Division in its bridgehead. During this period it fought a difficult action at Breville on 11th and 12th June. On 16th June he was driving a truck across a Normandy beach when he was caught in a shell blast. He suffered shrapnel wounds to his hands and feet but was saved from more serious injuries by his steel helmet. He was invalided back to England and spent a year in hospital in Chester. After this he spent a while as a clerk but was invalided out of the Army shortly after VJ Day. He died  in August 2001 aged 88.

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FLIGHT SERGEANT ERNEST TRACEY

He was born in Chipping Norton in 1923, his parents ran the Parrot public house in Middle Row. He joined the Royal Air Force in 1942 and trained as a pilot in Southern Rhodesia. He was then posted to 76 Operational Training Unit at RAF Aqir in Palestine, used to train aircrew for night bombing in the Middle East, flying the Vickers Wellington twin engined bomber. He was then posted to 216 Squadron of Transport Command based at RAF Cairo West, flying the Douglas Dakota C47, below.

 The squadron undertook scheduled flights although some paratroop and re-supply missions were carried out, dropping Greek troops onto the Aegean Islands. He ended the war with 76 Squadron, again flying Dakotas in the transport and air-sea rescue role from Cairo from May 1945 until returning home in 1947. He returned to the Parrot and married Mary Slater in Chipping Norton in the summer of 1947. 

CYRIL JOHN WALMAN

He was born in Chipping Norton in September 1907 and lived at 34, Spring Street and was employed in an aluminium factory. He served in the 4th Reserve Battalion of The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry on the home front. 

GERALD DENNIS WALMAN

He was born in Chipping Norton in January 1923, younger brother of Cyril above. He enlisted into the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in 1941 and was sent to Canada for pilot training. He was then transferred to the Fleet Air Arm being commissioned as an a acting Sub-Lieutenant on 21st November 1944. He was posted to 771 Squadron based at Lee-on-Solent. The squadron flew a variety of fixed wing aircraft including the Supermarine Seafire, Hawker Sea Hurricane, Vought Corsair and Grumann Wildcat. He extended his service after the war and was made a Lieutenant in May 1947. He married Anita Royds in Hampstead in March 1947 and lived in Lee-on-Solent.

He left the Fleet Air Arm in the 1960's and became a commercial pilot with Caledonia Airways. On 4th March 1962 he was First Officer on board a Douglas DC-7C G-ARUD named the "Star of Robbie Burns", below.

The aircraft on a charter flight had arrived at Douala Airport in Cameroon in Central West Africa after an 8 hour 45 minute flight from  from Lourenco Marquesin South East Africa. It had landed at 1645 on the second but last planned stop operating  the northbound Caledonian Airways flight CA153 which was scheduled to continue to Lisbon in Portugal before terminating in Luxembourg on 5th March 1962. After refuelling it took off at 1820 with Caledonian's Chief pilot Captain Arthur Williams supervising Captain Allen Frost for route proving flight and Captain Walman as co-pilot. As would have been expected with the very experienced flight crew all pre-flight checks were carried out efficiently and professional and the aircraft engines were heard to be at full power as it began its take off. However an air traffic controller in the tower noticed that the aircraft  took longer than usual to get airborne and its initial lift off was slow and flat. He also noticed its landing lights were off. The aircraft was observed from its anti collision beacon to drift to the left and not to have climbed as expected. At 1822 the port wing smashed into a tree one and a quarter miles from the runway and 70 feet above the elevation of the runway. The aircraft crashed into a swamp on the edge of the jungle some quarter of a mile on, all 11 crew and 101 passengers were killed instantly. It took rescuers some 6 hours to reach the wreck, having to swim the creek to get there. The 111 victims of the crash were  buried in a 150 foot grave in a cemetery near the airport and an imposing memorial installed in their memory.

The Board of Inquiry published its report on 26th July 1963 in Paris, and they were unable to determine with "absolute certainty" what had caused the accident. They found that there was evidence to support the theory that an elevator spring tab mechanism may have jammed and that this would have resulted in abnormal elevator control forces being required during take-off. Their investigation showed that this would be consistent with a long take off run and the risk of losing height when the flaps were retracted.

There were a number of factors that the inquiry could not rule out including instrumentation failure, improper operation of the flaps, electrical failure, or an unforeseen incident in the cockpit. The inquiry was also unable to explain why the aircraft deviated from its flight path, or why the landing lights were off.

for the full story of the loss of G-ARUD see http://www.british-caledonian.com/G-ARUD1.html

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GILBERT LESLIE WALMAN

He was born in Chipping Norton in September 1925, younger brother of Gerald, above. He served with the Parachute Regiment during the war and returning home married Edith Horwood in 1947. He was living in Over Norton when he died in June 2011 aged 85.

SERGEANT PHILIP REGINALD WALMAN

He was born in Chipping Norton in 1920 the elder brother of Gilbert above, and had served in the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, rising to Sergeant. He died in September 1965 aged 45.

ACTING CORPORAL WILLIAM DESMOND WALMAN

Known as Des, he was born in Chipping Norton in February 1916, the elder brother of Philip, above. He joined the 4th Territorial Battalion of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry on 20th July 1937. On the outbreak of war he was embodied into the regular Ox & Bucks and commenced guard duty at RAF Little Rissingtonon 3rd September 1939. However he was then discharged from the Army on health grounds in December that year. He married Lillian Kitchen in Chipping Norton in autumn 1940. He was then serving as a fireman in the Auxiliary Fire Service in the town. He attended and his crew from Chipping Norton were dispatched to Coventry after the heavy bombing of the city on several occasions during the war. Des Walman died in February 1988 aged 72. 

TROOPER  CHARLES GEORGE WATKINS 

Always known as George, he was the son of Mr and Mrs Watkins of Portland Place, Chipping Norton, born in April 1924. He was employed at Bliss Mill and from the outbreak of war served in the local company of the Home Guard before joining up on 15th October 1942. He was trained as a motor cycle despatch rider in the 49th Regiment, theReconnaissance Corp. The following comes from a British Legion report of February 1945 in the Chipping Norton Advertiser:

Welcome home to Trooper George Watkins of Portland Place Chipping Norton, whom we believe is the first local Prisoner of War to be repatriated.  He was first reported missing on 23rd October 1944 and afterwards as a prisoner of war.  He was wounded in the foot and hand whilst despatch-riding and after being taken prisoner had to have his foot amputated. 

On 18th June 1944, he landed on the beaches of Normandy and was soon in the thick of it.  The Corps was engaged in all the operations through France, Belgium and Holland, and whilst in the region of Nijmegen, George was sent with a despatch to a forward troop.  After proceeding some distance he found the road barred with wire. Dismounting, he was about to try to clear the obstacle, but was prevented from doing so by a burst of machine-gun fire from a party of Germans who were dug in nearby. Although wounded in the hand, he flung himself into the ditch for cover, but was again fired upon by another enemy post and this time severely wounded in the foot.  Seeing parties of Germans advancing towards him he managed to bury his despatches in the mud before being captured. He was carried by the Germans to a nearby house and after removing his boot they carried on with the fighting and for the next ten hours he was left to his own resources.  During this time he lost a lot of blood through lack of attention, but was eventually removed to a German military hospital about 20 miles away.  His feelings may well be imagined as he lay in the house helpless, with British and American shells falling all around, and his relief on being moved to a supposed place of safety.

Soon after his arrival at the military hospital George collapsed and knew no more until he awoke to find that the Germans had amputated his foot and were preparing to evacuate, owing to the fact that Allied bombs were falling in the near vicinity.  Following a four day journey he found himself in a prisoner of war camp, Stalag 9C, near Frankfurt-on-Oder.  He was placed in the camp hospital, which was staffed entirely by British medical orderlies and doctors, some of whom had been airborne and dropped at Arnhem, where they were captured.  Very little meat was supplied by the Germans in this camp and George pays tribute to the Red Cross parcels etc., without which they would have had a very thin time.  On 18th January 1945 he was put on an International Red Cross hospital train en route for Switzerland and home, crossing the Channel on the ‘Arundel Castle’. 

During his four days return journey across Germany he saw much bomb damage and speaks of the dislocation of rail traffic owing to the same cause.

Now he is home again, weak in body and minus a foot – a lasting testimonial to the horrors of war.  Like many thousands of others he has given of his best for the country and we trust the public will not forget.  They must not be left to compete in the labour market with able-bodies men and we of the Legion are determined to see they receive the consideration they so richly deserve.

George Watkins returned to Chipping Norton and married Esme Townley in the summer of 1950. He died in April 1991 aged 67.

JEAN WEST

She joined the Women's Royal Naval Service in 1942. She was stationed at HMS Dolphin, the shore base at Gosport, home to the Royal Navy Submarine Service. Her trade was that of a writer in accounting and administration. She served there until the end of the war, returning home in 1945.



FLIGHT LIEUTENANT HORACE WILLIAM JAMES WESTON

He was born in Chipping Norton in 1922 and joined the Royal Air Force at the Officer Cadet Training Unit in North Wales when he was 17 1/2. After this he was sent for pilot training in Canada and then to Pensacola in Florida for maritime flying training. On return to Britain he was promoted to Pilot Officer in June 1943 and was posted to RAF Coastal Command at Sullom Voe in the Shetlands. There he flew the Short Sunderland and the American built Consolidated Catalina, below, on convoy protection and anti-submarine sorties.

Promoted to Flight Lieutenant, he was then seconded to British Overseas Airways Corporation to fly Sunderlands on the long haul from Poole to India. He went on to become the youngest Captain for BOAC, flying a variety of aircraft including the De Havilland Comet, one of the first commercial jet airliners and the Vickers VC10. He died in August 2018 aged 95.

LEADING SEAMAN HARRY WHITE

He was born in Chipping Norton in April 1914 and before the war had worked as a gardener living at The Bothy. He was also a member of the town's Auxiliary Fire Service. He enlisted into the Royal Navy in 1941 and served with Combined Operations during the Normandy Landings on Landing Craft Tank.

After returning to Chipping Norton he ran a popular fish and chip shop in New Street and continued his service in the Fire Brigade, below.He died in 1965 aged 51.

FLIGHT SERGEANT PETER WILLERS

He was born in Chipping Norton in 1925 and volunteered for the Royal Air Force on 15th November 1943, aged 17 1/2. He did basic and air gunnery training at RAF Bridgnorth and then passed out as an Air Gunner at RAF Dalcross in Scotland. He was then sent to Canada for flying experience and further training and promoted to Flight Sergeant. On his return to Britain he was posted to join "C" Flight of 159 Squadron at RAF Digri in Bengal, India. The squadron operated the Consolidated B24 Liberator Mk VI, below, built in America.

The squadron flew mine-laying, bombing, and reconnaissance missions over Burma, Siam, Malaya, Indo-China and the Dutch East Indies. In October 1944, the Squadron mounted an audacious minelaying raid on the Japanese held port of Penang. The mission entailed a round trip of over 3,000 miles, which at the time was the longest distance bombing raid in history.  The raid was led by Wing Commander James Blackburn and was a complete success, with the port of Penang completely blocked by mines and all of the aircraft and crews returning safely. Peter remained with the Squadron until the end of the war. After returning home he married Joan Berry in 1947. He served as a Leading Observer in the Royal Observer Corps based at the post near Rollright Stones. He is still an active member of the Legion in Chippy and in 2015 laid a wreath at the war memorial to mark the 75th Anniversary of VJ Day.

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LIEUTENANT DENYS JAMES WILLETTS

He was born in Aston, Warwickshire in January 1909 and married Hilda Searles in Chipping Norton in the winter of 1933. He served with the Royal Army Service Corps and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on 28th April 1945. He served until 7th November 1946. He died in Abingdon in September 1989 aged 80.

JOHN WILLETTS

He served in the Royal Air Force.

BERYL JOAN WITHERS

She was born in Chipping Norton in May 1916 and before the war had was in domestic service with Dr John Russell at 9, Market Street. She served in the Auxiliary Territorial Service and after the war married Thomas Owen in Chipping Norton. They moved to Nottingham in 1949.

HAROLD LESLIE WITHERS

Known as Charlie he was born in Chipping Norton in October 1913 and before the war lived at 2, Albion Street working as a shop assistant at the Co-op. He wanted to serve but not kill so enlisted as a medic, also passing a parachute course. He married Dorothy Coleman in the town in 1942. After the war he returned to the Chipping Norton Co-op and became a manager. He died in July 1991 aged 77.

STOKER MECHANIC RAYMOND CYRIL WITHERS

 

He was born in Chipping Norton in February 1917 and married Sybil Calcutt in the town in 1937. They lived at 12, Albion Street and he worked at a steel press making respirators before joining the Royal Navy. He served for 4 years as a Stoker Mechanic and took part in transporting troops to France during the Normandy Landings in 1944. He died in June 1993 aged 76.

GERALD BARTLETT WITTS

He was born in Chipping Norton in October 1913 and Married Kathleen Bridges in the Town in 1938. Before the war they lived at 4, Burford Terrace and he worked as a hairdresser. He enlisted into the Royal Army Medical Corps. He served with the 3rd Field Ambulance, attached to the British 8th Army. He served in North Africa during Operation Torch and in the Tunisian Campaign until May 1943. He then took part in the campaign in mainland Italy and was at the Battle of Monte Cassino. He died in June 1971 aged 57.

MICHAEL WOOD

He served in the Royal Air Force and after worked at Chapel House Garage. His brother Peter Wood died on active service in the RAF.

RONALD THOMAS WOODWARD

He was born in Chipping Norton in May 1916, he lived at 4, Kings Head Yard and worked as a grocer's assistant. 

He enlisted into the 6th Battalion, The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, a hostilities-only unit created in early July 1940. In mid 1942 the battalion was sent to India where they became part of the 74th Indian Infantry Brigade attached to 25th Indian Infantry Division. The 6th Ox and Bucks served on the Arakan Front during the advance down the west coast of Burma in 1944/45. The battalion fought at Akyab in 1944 and at the main Japanese Base at Tamandu in 1945.

After the war he married Lily Eden in the town in 1948, working in Mr Frederick Scarsbrook's shop in New Street. He died in October 2000 aged 84.


LIEUTENANT DONALD WOOTTON

He was born in Chipping Norton in 1920 and attended the County School in the town. He was commissioned into the Royal Armoured Corps as a 2nd Lieutenant in November 1941. He served with the The Royal Tank Corps with the 8th Army in North Africa. He was a liaison officer for Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery in the Western Desert. He married Janet Sandels in 1944 and died in 1958 aged 38.


ROY BERNARD WORVILL

He was born in Chipping Norton in May 1914 and married Ethel Kyte in the summer of 1937. They lived in Sheep Street and he worked as a schoolteacher. He joined the Royal Navy and in April 1943 joined the crew of the newly commissioned River class Frigate HMS Nene, below. 

Designed for anti-submarine operations she joined the Western Approaches Command at Derry, Northern Ireland, and crossed the Atlantic on convoy duty to St. John's. The ship was involved in operations of the Royal Navy Support Group, then attached to the 5th and later 6th Escort Group, Western Approaches Command. He then joined her sister ship HMS Chelmer. On 1st November 1944 he came ashore and was commissioned as a Schoolmaster and served at HMS Glendower a shore training base at Pwllheli in North Wales, once a Butlin's holiday camp. He served there until 1946 and during this year the future HRH Prince Philip was also stationed there.

Roy Worville died in November 2003 aged 89.

PETTY OFFICER WILLIAM WRIGHT

He was born in Chipping Norton in May 1920 and before the war lived at 32, New Street, working as a builder's labourer. He joined the Royal Navy in 1939 aged 19. He was unlucky enough to have been torpedoed twice, the second time being plucked from the sea by Chipping Norton man Alf Pratley. After the war he was discharged to the reserves and joined the Chipping Norton Fire Service. He was recalled to the Royal Navy for service in the Korean War and then decided to make the Navy a career. He finished his service as a Petty Officer. He died in September 2000 aged 80.