This was the eighth trip tracing Old Carthusian casualties of the Second World War, and the second in the UK. Our aim was to visit some more of the graves and memorials of OCs buried or commemorated in southern England.
Participants were Michael Bates (ex-Deputy Bursar), Simon Fielder (BH1980-10), Dom Saunders (D92), Nick Townsend (L93) and Chris Wheeler (H67 & ex-BH), later joined by Will Allen (L92), Richard Earl (L96), and Simon's friend David Peters and his Jaguar XK120.
Our first stop was the cemetery at Harwell near Abingdon. Buried here is Pilot Officer W.R.ROSS (g 1931), a pilot with 604 (County of Middlesex) Squadron. He was killed on 14th November 1939, aged 27, when Blenheim L1286 of 145 Squadron lost control in clouds and flew into the ground near Harwell. His crew were also killed.
Among those buried at Little Rissington in Oxfordshire is Pilot Officer A.M. HENDERSON (L29) who served as a Lieutenant in the London Scottish before transferring to the RAFVR to train as a pilot. Flying from 15 OTU at Harwell, he was killed on 21st August 1942, aged 30, when his Wellington T2257 collided over Chipping Norton with Airspeed Oxford T1339 from 6 AFU at Little Rissington. His grave is alongside that of another of the crew, while the pupil pilot of the Oxford is buried nearby. The crews of both aircraft are commemorated on a memorial in Chipping Norton.
A few miles away lies the extensive estate of Salperton Park, the village church standing next to the manor house. In a family vault lies Pilot Officer G.R.BEALE-BROWNE (L33) who became a civilian flying instructor before joining the RAFVR. He served on the Air Staff in Iraq and as a flying instructor in the UK. He was killed on 28th February 1941, aged 25, in Blenheim L1168 of 54 OTU which crashed during night flying at Nether Poppleton, Yorks, after control was lost in a searchlight beam.
The next day we arrived in Colerne, Wilts, passing the air station just outside the village. At the parish church we had a most interesting conversation with the gardener, who was very knowledgeable about the (mainly) RAF graves. Among them is that of Squadron Leader P.T.PARSONS (V33), who flew with 504 Squadron during the Battle of Britain. He commanded the squadron from July 1941 to February 1942, and was mentioned in despatches. Serving with 264 Squadron, he died on 2nd October 1942, aged 25, as the result of an accident when Mosquito DD639 crashed into a hangar while landing at RAF Colerne. He is also commemorated on the village war memorial in Burwash, Sussex.
Next was Canford cemetery in Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol. Pilot Officer D.E.D.MILSOM (W37) went on from Charterhouse to Cranwell, passing out at the beginning of the war. Based at Filton as a pilot with 263 Squadron, he was killed on 29th March 1940, aged 20, in a collision between two Gloster Gladiators, N5588 and N5690, near Marlwood Farm at Thornbury north of Bristol. The other pilot, P/O P.J.M.Nettleton, is buried in the adjacent grave.
At St Pancras' church, up a steep hillside on the outskirts of West Bagborough, Somerset, we found the grave of Major D.G.C.CRITCHLEY-SALMONSON, MC (H09). In the Great War, in addition to his MC, he earned two mentions in despatches, retiring as a Major in 1919. In the Second World War he served with a Searchlight Company, with the RASC, in command of an anti-aircraft battery, and as a military registrar. He died in Guildford on 20th April 1943, aged 51.
In the nearby village of Kingston St Mary, where the church is built of a lovely golden stone, seen at its best in the evening sunlight, is buried Lieutenant-Colonel R.D.GAIRDNER (H22), who held a Territorial commission in Glasgow, commanded the 80th Lowland Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, and served on the Staff. He was killed in London, aged 39, during an air raid on 14th March 1944.
In the morning we set off homewards, stopping first at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. Officer Cadet R.J.SWAIN (D42) joined the Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey), but was training for a commission in the Coldstream Guards when he was drowned in the River Conway on 8th December 1943, aged 19, during an exercise. Officer Cadet B.M.E.Gimson, an Old Wellingtonian of the same regiment and drowned on the same day, is buried in the next grave.
Our next stop was the crematorium at St John's on the outskirts of Woking. In the Columbarium next to the chapel are panels commemorating 119 service personnel cremated here, including four Carthusians.
2nd Lieutenant P.K.BAMBER (g21) joined the Royal Army Service Corps, and made three trips to Dunkirk and back as a Lewis gunner. He died on active service on 17th August 1940, aged 36, after an accident near Bagshot.
Major M.H.KING, DSO, MC (W 1901) was a Major in 4th Duke of Wellington’s Regiment in the Great War, was mentioned in despatches five times, and earned the DSO and the MC with two Bars. In 1939 he returned as a Major on the General List. He died at Hindhead while on leave from BAOR on 15th January 1946, aged 61.
Private D.F.McNEILL (S 35) became a solicitor in 1942 before joining the RASC. He died on war service on 17th June 1944, aged 26.
Lieutenant W.F.MOSS (W32), in peacetime a schoolmaster at Westminster, served with 3rd Battalion Welsh Guards and was mentioned in despatches. He was killed on 30th June 1944, aged 31, by enemy action at Esher. A grandson of William Moss, housemaster of Lockites 1890-1914, he is also commemorated on the war memorial in Godalming.
We now moved on to the extensive military cemetery at Brookwood. (22.D.9) is that of Pilot Officer C.S.WARMING, RAFVR (L 29), a navigator with 219 Squadron, killed on 10th June 1944, aged 32, in the crash of Mosquito HK358 on a defensive patrol of the Channel. His Dutch pilot, Flying Officer H.G.Holtrop, is buried in the adjacent grave, and both are commemorated on the memorial at the former RAF Bradwell Bay, Essex, as are also Pilot Officer O.L.R.Hills (L 30) and Flying Officer N.J.Stabb (R 30).
Also in Brookwood cemetery is the Memorial to the Missing, an impressive marble rotunda commemorating 3,500 men and women who have no known grave. Again, four are Carthusians.
On panel 12 is Captain J.P.GABRIEL (g 29), Royal Berkshire Regiment, presumed drowned on 24th February 1941, aged 30, in the sinking of SS Jonathan Holt, torpedoed by U-97 south-west of the Faroes.
On panel 13 is Lt-Col H.F.E.SMITH, DSO (H06). In the Great War he served in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps; he was mentioned in despatches and was awarded the DSO and the Légion d’honneur. He rejoined the Army in 1939 and commanded an OCTU. He died on active service at Dunbar on 25th June 1940, aged 52.
On panel 15 is Captain R.L.FERNAU (H25), RASC attd Royal Engineers, drowned on 17th June 1943, aged 35, on active service at sea off Derna, Libya.
On panel 18 is Lieutenant J.G.WARREN, RAMC (g22) who became a doctor before joining the Royal Army Medical Corps. He was killed on 7th December 1942, aged 37, in the sinking of SS Ceramic, torpedoed by U-515 off the Azores.
In the plot of post-war graves, Lieutenant M.L.Evison, Welsh Guards (R00), is buried, who died in May 2009 after being shot in Afghanistan.
At Touchen End near White Waltham, the former Holy Trinity church is now a private house, but its churchyard is still in use. Among the graves is that of Pilot Officer J.A.P.STUDD (R35), who served with 66 Squadron in the Battle of Britain. He was killed on 19th August 1940, aged 22, when his Spitfire N3182 crashed into the sea off Orfordness. He was rescued by the Aldeburgh lifeboat but did not survive. He is one of four Carthusian casualties of the Battle of Britain - F/O J.S.Bell (W34) is buried in Lincoln and Sgt F.J.P.Dixon (B35) at Abbeville in France, while F/O R.H.A.Lee, DSO, DFC (W35) is commemorated at Runnymede.
St Mary's churchyard at Denham contains the grave of Lieutenant A.D.BURNESS (W37), Royal Artillery, who was attached to the RAF as a pilot with 661 (Air Observation Post) Squadron. He died on 6th December 1943, aged 24, as the result of an accident. Exactly six months later his next older brother, Lt M.F.Burness (W35), was killed in the Normandy landings.
Our final destination was the Air Forces Memorial on Cooper's Hill just above Runnymede, which commemorates a staggering total of over 20,000 casualties with no known grave. Twenty-three of the names are those of Old Carthusians.
Panel 1: Pilot Officer M.RADCLIFFE (L35), 37 Squadron, killed on 18th December 1939, aged 21, in Wellington N2888 (LF-A) during a raid on Wilhelmshaven.
Panel 6: Flying Officer J.KERR WILSON (L25), 610 ‘County of Chester’ Squadron, killed in action near Dunkirk on 29th May 1940, aged 32, flying Spitfire N3289 (DW-K).
Panel 6: Flying Officer R.H.A.LEE, DSO, DFC (W35), 85 Squadron, was presumed killed on 18th August 1940, aged 23, when his Hurricane P2923 (VY-R) was lost over the North Sea during the Battle of Britain. He was mentioned in despatches in January 1941.
Panel 7: Pilot Officer D.M.BARBOUR (R38), 4 Squadron, 50 (Army Co-operation) Wing, killed on 14th May 1940, aged 19, when Lysander L4745 failed to return from reconnaissance near Brussels.
Panel 7: Pilot Officer F.C.J.BUTLER (P31), 9 Squadron, killed on 19th June 1940, aged 25, when Wellington N2897 (WS-P) crashed into the sea on a raid to Leverkusen. His father, Capt F.M.Butler RFA (P 1894), was killed in Belgium in October 1917.
Panel 30: Flying Officer J.G.R.STURROCK (V37), 59 Squadron, lost on 29th May 1941, aged 22, when Blenheim V6447 (TR-R) failed to return from convoy escort duties over the Channel.
Panel 31: Pilot Officer W.G.C.BEATSON (W40), 114 Squadron, killed on 27th October 1941, aged 19, flying Blenheim Z7309 (RT-G) in an anti-shipping raid off the Dutch coast west of Den Helder.
Panel 32: Pilot Officer W.I.DALGLIESH (W35), 7 Squadron, was presumed killed on 3rd March 1941, aged 23, when Stirling N3653 was lost over the Channel on an operation to Brest.
Panel 32: Pilot Officer W.D.C.HARDIE (L/g40), 101 Squadron, presumed killed on 7th November 1941, aged 19, when Wellington R1701 was lost off the Dutch coast during a raid to Berlin.
Panel 33: Pilot Officer J.T.LEACOCK (g34), 75 Squadron, presumed killed on 14th July 1941, aged 24, when Wellington X9634 (AA-V) crashed into the sea off Lowestoft en route to Bremen.
Panel 35: Flowers and an inscription in memory of Pilot Officer R.G.W.G.WALES (G31) had been left nearby on behalf of his family. He was a navigator with 254 Squadron, killed in action on 22nd March 1941, aged 28, when Blenheim L9406 (QY-D) was shot down by naval flak over Norway.
Panel 50: Sergeant C.E.POWELL (G39), 107 Squadron, presumed killed on 1st August 1941, aged 21, when his Blenheim Z7498 crashed into the Scheldt estuary during an operation to Ostend.
Panel 64: Wing Commander S.H.SKINNER (G29) flew with 604 Squadron until June 1942. Posted to HQ Coastal Command, he was an observer aboard HMS Berkeley during the Dieppe raid on 19th August 1942. He was killed, aged 31, when the ship was attacked by enemy aircraft.
Panel 66; Flying Officer E.J.M.ALBERT, RAFVR (B25), killed on active service through enemy action at sea on or about 7th December 1942, aged 34.
Panel 87: Sergeant G.W.KRAUS (B40) came to England from Vienna in May 1938, aged 15. Serving as a pilot with 611 (West Lancashire) Squadron, he was killed on 2nd November 1942, aged 19, when his Spitfire BS113 was shot down over the Channel.
Panel 118: Wing-Cdr A.C.RABAGLIATI, DFC & Bar (B32) won the DFC in the Battle of Britain, and a Bar in the defence of Malta. As Wing Leader of the Coltishall Wing, he was killed on 6th July 1943, aged 29, leading 56 Squadron in an anti-shipping strike. His Typhoon, EK273 (JE-DT) of 195 Squadron, landed in the sea off the Dutch coast.
Panel 119: Flight Lieutenant T.H.CARSON, DFC (H35) was awarded the DFC while serving with 217 Squadron for his part in the attacks on the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau during the "Channel Dash" in February 1942. Serving as a pilot with 254 Squadron at North Coates, he was killed on 25th January 1943, aged 25, when Beaufighter JL638 struck the sea during exercises.
Panel 200: Squadron Leader R.C.CHOPPING, DFC (B33), 7 Squadron, was presumed killed on 26th August 1944, aged 29, when Lancaster NE123 (MG-J) was lost on a raid to Brest.
Panel 200: Group Captain P.B.B.OGILVIE, DSO, DFC (g28) joined the RAF via Cranwell in 1934. He was mentioned in despatches three times, awarded the DSO in March 1941, and the DFC in January 1942. In command of 34 (Photographic Reconnaissance) Wing, he took off in a Spitfire on 11th December 1944 to report the weather over the North Sea, and was presumed killed, aged 34.
Panel 202: Flight Lieutenant G.B.ECCLES, AFC (P30), 502 Squadron, presumed killed on 30th August 1944, aged 32, when Halifax JP164 crashed into the sea near St Nazaire. His younger brother, Lt J.D.Eccles (P 1934), was killed at Dunkirk in May 1940.
Panel 205: Flying Officer J.B.COLTHURST (V28), a bomb-aimer with 115 Squadron, killed on 24th February 1944, aged 33, when Lancaster LL701 (KO-F) was lost on a raid to Schweinfurt. His father was killed in action in October 1916.
Panel 270: Flight Sergeant T.E.ANTHONY, RAFVR (D40), killed on 1st February 1945, aged 22, in the loss of an Anson off the Mull of Galloway. His brother-in-law A.D.C.Dowding (D 1935) was killed in France in May 1940.
Panel 276: Sergeant W.J.R.SEMPLE (S40), rear gunner in Halifax NA193 of 1652 Heavy Conversion Unit, was presumed killed on 5th April 1945, aged 20, when the aircraft crashed into the Moray Firth during a night navigation exercise to Scapa Flow.
In addition to a visit to our monument in Normandy to Lieutenant (A) A.H.Beane RNVR (S36), there have also been visits to the graves of the three Old Carthusians buried in southern Germany.
Pilot Officer E.FENWICKE-CLENNELL (R40), 9 Squadron, was killed on 21st December 1942, aged 19, in his Lancaster W4185 (WS-G) during a raid on Munich. He is buried with five of his crew in Oberschleissheim churchyard.
Lieutenant W.FITZ SIMON (H36), Royal Artillery, served as an instructor before being posted in October 1942 to North Africa. Serving with 72 Anti-Tank Regiment, he was captured at Tebourba, Tunisia. Transferred to Germany after the Italian armistice, he died in a prisoner-of-war camp on 24th October 1943, aged 26. He is buried in Durnbach War Cemetery, grave 3.D.24.
Sergeant R.S.PAGE (H35), a wireless operator in 97 Squadron, was killed on 17th April 1942, aged 24, in Lancaster L7573 (OF-K) on a low-level daylight raid to Augsburg. He was mentioned in despatches in January 1943. He is buried in Durnbach War Cemetery, Germany, grave 6.G.3.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them
Old Carthusians buried in Malaysia, visited in December 2012
Please note: E.D.W.Fraser's younger brother was not a Carthusian.
Flying Officer J.T.BROMFIELD RAFVR (B43) served as an air bomber with 356 Squadron. He was killed on 23rd August 1945, aged 20, in the crash of Liberator KL654 during a special duties operation. The aircraft wreckage was discovered in the jungle in 1991. In October 2012 the remains of the crew were buried in a single coffin at Cheras Road War Cemetery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. F/O Bromfield's headstone is in row 12, grave 852.
Sergeant E.D.W.FRASER (D30), 2nd (Selangor) Battalion, Federated Malay States Volunteer Force, was killed on active service on or about 10th January 1942, aged 29, near Batu Tiga, Selangor. He is buried in Cheras Road Civil Cemetery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, grave 6. His younger brother, Lt R.K.J.Fraser, Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regt attd King’s African Rifles, died in September 1942 and is buried in Madagascar. Both brothers are commemorated on the war memorial at Bentley, Ipswich, Suffolk.
Major J.W.P.SCOTT (H 33) was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1936. In command of 7 Battery, 22 Mountain Regiment, he was killed in action on 7th January 1942, aged 26. He is buried in Taiping War Cemetery, Malaysia, grave 1.J.13.
- C K Wheeler