OC War Graves
OC War Grave Visits
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them
Please visit the Charterhouse World War I Memorial website for information on Old Carthusians and members of staff who perished in the First World War:
In recent years there have been numerous commemorative pilgrimages to the graves and memorials of Old Carthusians who perished during both the First and Second World Wars, as well as other conflicts. Their accounts make for some interesting and moving reading:
Operation Gomorrah revisited
North Germany and Denmark, September 2013
Casualties of the Second World War buried in Germany include sixteen Old Carthusians and two former members of the Science Labs staff. Together with an OC buried in Denmark, they fall geographically into four groups.
Some 40 miles to the north of Berlin lies the tiny village of Buchholz, the last resting-place of the only OC killed on the German side. An anti-aircraft officer who died in an encounter with the Red Army a week before the end of the war, he was in fact the last OC killed in action in Europe. The site of his grave in the village churchyard was visited in April 2005 by Chris & Ann Wheeler. In Berlin itself is buried one of the Science Labs staff, a Bomber Command navigator, and we hope to visit his grave in due course.
In Bavaria, an OC bomber pilot is buried with his crew in a churchyard north of Munich, while another airman and a Royal Artillery prisoner-of-war are buried in Durnbach war cemetery, closer to the Austrian border. This group was visited by Chris & Ann Wheeler in August 2012.
Two OC soldiers and four airmen (including the other former lab technician) are buried in two war cemeteries near the Dutch border, Reichswald Forest and Rheinberg. One post-war BAOR casualty is buried near Münster in Westphalia. We hope to visit these in the near future.
Further north there are six OC burials in Germany and one in Denmark. Two bomber aircrew are buried in Hanover. Two aircrew and one Naval prisoner-of-war are buried at Becklingen, not far from the site of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. One airman is buried in Kiel, and one in Esbjerg.
Our aim in 2013 was to visit this northern group of graves. Participants were Michael Bates (ex-Deputy Bursar), Simon Fielder (ex-BH), Nick Townsend (L 1993) and Chris Wheeler (H 1967 and ex-BH). Dominic Saunders (D 1992) was at the last minute unable to join us for work reasons.
On Monday 16th September we were once again at Gatwick at an absurd time in the morning. An hour's delay before take-off was fortunately absorbed by our schedule; we left Hamburg airport more or less on time, and set off through the bustling city centre, rebuilt after the devastation caused above all by Operation Gomorrah in July 1943. We passed the Nikolaikirche (St Nicholas' Church), whose spire was used by the bombers as their aiming-point. It was inevitably badly damaged, and as at Coventry Cathedral, its outer walls and spire are preserved as a memorial. The church was designed in 1844 by George Gilbert Scott, whose grandson Giles was to be the architect of Memorial Chapel.
During the first of several long stints on the motorway, lunch at a service area introduced us to Jägerschnitzel, which was to prove popular. In the middle of Lüneburg Heath, not far from where the 1945 surrender was signed, we arrived at Becklingen War Cemetery to visit three graves.
Wing Commander J.L.H.FLETCHER, RAF (L 1929) obtained a commission in the Reserve of Air Force Officers in 1930 and joined the RAF as a Pilot Officer in 1932. Serving with 218 (Gold Coast) Squadron as the pilot of Wellington Z8781, he was killed on 4th August 1941, aged 31, when the aircraft was hit by flak over Bremen on an operation to Hanover and crashed at Moordeich. Despite his service with pre-war fighter squadrons, this was apparently only his third operation with 218 Squadron; it seems he was standing in for the regular pilot, who was on leave to get married. He is buried in grave 26.F.7. Three of his crew are buried in graves 26.F.4-6; two more survived as prisoners of war.
Flight Lieutenant P.B.O.RANALOW, RAFVR (H 1930), a nephew of Captain Oates of Antarctic fame, became a schoolmaster, but joined the RAFVR two days before the outbreak of war. In February 1944 he survived being shot down over Holland and spent the next eight months making his way home. Returning to service as a bomb-aimer in 35 Squadron, he died on 10th April 1945, aged 30, of injuries sustained in the crash of Lancaster NG440 during a raid on Hamburg two days before. He is buried in grave 14.B.14. Six crew members are buried in graves 11.B.10-14. One air gunner survived and was taken to a German hospital.
Commander B.G.SCURFIELD RN, DSO, OBE, AM (S 1920) joined the Royal Navy in 1922. He was awarded the Albert Medal in 1937, while in command of HMS Hunter, for saving the lives of five of his crew. He earned the Polish Military Cross evacuating Polish troops from France in 1940, and the OBE for the part played by HMS Broke in rescuing personnel from the burning HMS Comorin. He was in command of HMS Bedouin during Operation Harpoon, for which he was awarded the DSO. When Bedouin was sunk in June 1942, he became a prisoner of war in Italy and later in Germany. On 11th April 1945 the Germans evacuated the camp, but near Zeven the prisoners were mistaken for enemy troops and strafed by British aircraft. Commander Scurfield died of wounds sustained, aged 42. He is buried in grave 3.A.12. Sick Berth Attendant E.King, RN, and Storekeeper J.S.Bogie, MN, who died on the same day (and presumably in the same incident) are buried in graves 3.A.13 and 3.A.14.
Only a mile or two away is the memorial to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. There are no rebuilt huts or barbed wire, only open heath and woodland rather like south-west Surrey. A central obelisk stands by a memorial wall, decorated with hundreds of pebbles left by visitors. Scattered across the site are various collective and individual memorials, including one to Anne and Margot Frank. Several grassed-over mounds are marked with a stone tablet giving the number of dead buried within - here 500, here 800, here 2,500. This was not an extermination camp like Auschwitz, but nevertheless some 50,000 people died here - many only days before liberation, and many more afterwards. A similar number of Russian prisoners-of-war died in the nearby PoW camps.
With some relief we resumed our journey, past Hanover and through Hameln (Hamelin of Pied Piper fame, complete with a large golden rat on one of the bridges) to Bad Pyrmont, an attractive spa town. The hotel was pleasant, though in need of some modernisation, and both supper and breakfast were excellent. Nearby stood a war memorial - not from 1939-45 nor even 1914-18, but in memory of the fallen of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71.
On Tuesday 17th we headed back the way we had come, finding Hanover War Cemetery in the countryside on the western outskirts of the city. Here lie two Old Carthusians.
Sergeant R.A.KEMP-WELCH RAFVR (H 1941) joined the RAFVR on leaving school and served as an air gunner with 103 Squadron. He was killed on 18th October 1943, aged 20, in the loss of Lancaster JB349 during a raid on Hanover. He is one of five crew members buried in collective grave 1.B.12-16. The remaining two crew are commemorated in the Air Forces Memorial above Runnymede.
Flight Lieutenant N.MARWOOD TUCKER RAFVR (G 1929) joined the Royal Artillery early in the war and later transferred to the RAFVR. A pilot with 101 Squadron, he was killed on 13th August 1944, aged 34, flying Lancaster LM598 in a so-called Airborne Cigar (ABC) raid on Brunswick, interfering with radio transmissions to enemy night fighters. He is buried in grave 8.K.3. Six of his crew are buried in graves 8.K.4-9 and one (Sgt Barss, the ABC operator) in collective grave 12.E.8-10. Fl Lt Marwood Tucker is commemorated in Magdalen College, Oxford, and on the village war memorial at Horrabridge, Devon, which we visited during our West Country trip of 2008. A bible was donated in his memory to St Giles’ church at Kilmington, Devon, which was also visited in 2008.
Navigation with two electronic systems and one map took us successfully through the edge of central Hanover to the southern suburb of Laatzen and its aircraft museum. We had (frankly) expected something rather modest and provincial, but this was excellent. Full-size aircraft and replicas were complemented by photos and dozens of models; there were contemporary toys, vehicles and even domestic equipment. The displays covered everything from the Montgolfier brothers to modern jet engines; one showcase featured local pioneer Karl Jatho who (according to some sources) launched a successful flight three months before the Wright brothers. We were of course interested in the museum's comments on Bomber Command's role in the war, and were sobered to read the captions on the relevant models. While the Flying Fortresses of the USAAF were described as attacking industrial targets by day, the Lancaster, Halifax and Stirling were said to have been used against the civilian population by night - fundamentally true, of course, but still uncomfortable to read in one of that civilian population's cities.
We now returned to Lüneburg Heath, broadly retracing Monday's route. We were struck, as then, by the unusually numerous camper vans parked just off the road - perhaps one or two every mile. The explanation dawned when someone spotted that each van had only one (female) occupant - it seems that the only thing missing was the traditional red light.
Following lunch at a café attached to a petrol station - and a better lunch, we felt, than the equivalent in the UK would have been - we headed to Munster, birthplace of German tank warfare and later the heart of postwar NATO military training. We were a little short of time to do full justice to the excellent Panzermuseum, but it was fascinating to see such a wide collection of armoured vehicles, ranging from the Great War to the present day.
Our route now took us through the small town of Bispingen to the village of Behringen and our hotel, the Niedersachsen Hof, not unlike an English country pub. With a warm welcome, an excellent supper and a comfortable room, we slept well. Following an equally excellent breakfast, we departed in good spirits, one of us blissfully unaware that he still had the room key in his pocket.
Wednesday's first objective was the submarine monument at Heikendorf near Kiel. A column surmounted by an eagle stands beside a semi-circular sunken passageway, its walls covered with plaques giving details of the 35,000 U-boat crewmen lost in both world wars - not just names, date and location but also the cause of the loss, whether sunk by Allied forces, lost through accident, or with chilling frequency simply "missing". Also commemorated is the crew of the U-boat 'Hai', scuttled in 1945 but restored to post-war service until its accidental sinking in 1966. The sole survivor of the 20 crew died in January 2013.
Just up the coast at Laboe, and also dating from the inter-war years, is the naval memorial, a tall brick-faced tower strongly (though unintentionally) reminiscent of a submarine conning tower. At its foot is a subterranean memorial hall, dimly lit and adorned with the flags of many nations, commemorating individual German ships but also those of all nations lost at sea. Across the road, high and dry at the top of the beach, is the U-boat U995, set up as a memorial in 1971 after post-war service in the Norwegian navy. As an ex-submariner himself, Michael made a most informative guide during our visit.
Once again, a simple lunch at a kiosk by the car park was judged to be superior to its equivalent back home. We now headed back through Kiel, calling at a post office to send the misappropriated key back to the hotel, and on to Kiel municipal cemetery. A single Carthusian is buried in its CWGC plot.
Sergeant K.M.G.DURRANT RAFVR (H 1941), whose uncle 2nd Lt D.G.Durrant (D 1912) was killed in France in August 1916, served as a navigator with 582 Squadron. He was killed on 16th September 1944, aged 20, when Lancaster PB378 crashed into the North Sea during an operation to Kiel. He is buried in grave 4.F.10. The aircraft's bomb-aimer is buried in grave 4.F.9. We were to visit the graves of three more crew members later; the two remaining members are commemorated at Runnymede.
Returning to the motorway, we set off north-westwards for Flensburg and the Danish border. Once in Denmark, we were almost immediately diverted off the motorway again by our sat-nav because of traffic. There followed a marvellous fast drive through the flat agricultural landscape along straight and almost deserted roads.
Arriving in Esbjerg, we checked into our hotel, then took a stroll towards the harbour area - though without actually seeing the sea. Over supper in a glorified Burger King we discussed whether we had time for a detour further north up the coast. The hotel was pleasant, catering inter alia for guests we assumed to be oil-rig personnel. While the bathrooms were reminiscent of cross-channel ferries, our breakfast was taken in a vast room which could once have been a ballroom.
On Thursday 19th, we drove out to Esbjerg cemetery, finding a memorial to Danes killed in the war, and two groups of German graves as well as the CWGC plot. Here we found the pilot and the flight engineer from Sgt Durrant's Lancaster, buried in graves A.13.13 & A.12.26, and our final Carthusian.
Flight Lieutenant A.J.M.MILNE RAFVR, DFC (g 1940) served initially as a pilot with 214 Squadron. His award of the DFC was gazetted in August 1943. Joining 138 Squadron, whose principal role was dropping SOE agents into Europe, he was killed on 14th September 1943, aged 21, in the loss of Halifax JD269 en route to Poland on Operation 'Neon 9'. He is buried in collective grave A.8.4-7 with three of his crew. The other three crew members are buried in graves A.8.1-3. Their passengers, Lt K.Lewko, Lt W.Siakiewicz and Lt R.Skowronski of the Polish Liberation Army, are also buried in the cemetery - one, we understand, in a grave marked for an unidentified RAF airman, the other two in civilian graves whose location was subsequently lost. Flt Lt Milne is also commemorated on the war memorial at Colvend parish church in Dumfries & Galloway.
Some 35 miles up the coast is Norre-Havrvig church, on an isthmus between the North Sea and a large lagoon. It is a simple but lovely building, with two model ships hanging from the ceiling in the Danish tradition. In the churchyard we spoke to a woman who turned out to be a churchwarden and caretaker. There are half a dozen RAF graves, including the final member of Sgt Durrant's crew, wireless operator Sgt A.Robson. Also buried there is Lt W.A.Yeulett DFC, a casualty of a 1918 raid on Zeppelin sheds at Tondern, now in Denmark but then in German territory. This was the first-ever operation launched from an aircraft-carrier. Two other airmen, who landed in neutral Denmark, were held for a time in the building which was later to be our hotel in Esbjerg.
After a substantial cross-country drive, passing close to Esbjerg once again, we were eventually back on the motorway for a non-stop run to the German border. The slip-road into our lunchtime service station is actually in Denmark, but the services themselves are in Germany - just as well, as we had no Danish money. After a final Jägerschnitzel or Currywurst we were under way again.
Passing Hamburg airport, we headed for Ohlsdorf cemetery. The second biggest in the world, it is some two miles long. Among all the plots of an ordinary (if vast) municipal cemetery, there are German and Commonwealth war graves from both world wars, which we visited briefly. However, our particular interest lay in four grass mounds set out like a cross, each arm about 100 yards long and perhaps ten yards wide. Together they contain the remains of some 37,000 unidentified victims of the air raids and firestorm of July 1943. At the centre is a stark stone building housing a sculpture representing the journey across the Styx.
Seeing these, considering the numbers of dead, and reading the explanatory text was troubling and thought-provoking. On the one hand, visiting the Belsen memorial, or for that matter reading a novel such as 'Alone in Berlin' by Hans Fallada, provides evidence enough of a truly vile regime. Even the German pastor dedicating this memorial in 1952 laid the blame for these far-from-inevitable deaths not on Allied airmen, but on Nazi tyranny, and ultimately on the German people's abdication of their responsibilities in the face of that tyranny. One also appreciates that from Dunkirk in 1940 to D-Day in 1944, bombing was more or less the only way to hit back at the regime in its homeland. At the same time, it is not to denigrate the courage of the Bomber Command aircrew, nor the sacrifice of the 55,000 young men who failed to return, if one questions the morality of a policy which deliberately targeted civilian areas. The Luftwaffe may have sown the wind in 1940, but in Hamburg, Dresden, Berlin and elsewhere their nation certainly reaped the most appalling whirlwind.
The bombing campaign was arguably at its most effective in attacking industry - most obviously in disrupting oil production, depriving German tanks and aircraft of fuel - rather than in burning the workers and their families in their houses. We shall never know what the effect (for example) on Hamburg's war production would have been, if its industries had been subject to the forces that instead unleashed the firestorm among the homes of thousands of ordinary people. Conversely, and at the simplest level, one can only wonder - since the people of Britain had been neither cowed into defeat nor stirred to insurrection by the Blitz of 1940 - why the powers-that-be imagined that the German population would react any differently. The resistance movement in Germany remained heroic but fragmentary, and despite the bombing the war did not end until Russian troops were at the door of Hitler's bunker in Berlin. Even in victorious Britain, post-war ambivalence towards the campaign can be measured in the fact that it took nearly 70 years before it was felt appropriate to erect a memorial to those who died flying in Bomber Command.
A visit took place on 26th November 2013 to the grave of Lieutenant(A) A.H.BEANE, RNVR (S 1936), at St Charles de Percy in Normandy, and to our memorial to him in Rauville la Place, to mark the 70th anniversary of his death, and the 20th anniversary of Motor Club's first visit to both sites. Lieut Beane served with 805 Sqn in North Africa and became an instructor at HMS Heron. Temporarily attached to 165 (Ceylon) Sqn RAF, he was shot down in Spitfire MH905, aged 26. He is buried in grave II.B.10.
We record with great sadness the death of Marcel Lepetit on 2nd July 2014 at the age of 78. He had been involved with the story of Arthur Beane from the very outset. As a schoolboy in 1943 he had heard the noise of Lieutenant Beane's stricken Spitfire overhead, moments before the crash. As a farmer nearly half a century later, he had shown French researchers where to dig for the wreckage of the aircraft. Following Motor Club's first visit, it was his suggestion that a memorial to the pilot be placed nearby. He generously donated to Charterhouse the parcel of land on which the memorial stands, and had continued to maintain and improve the site between our visits. We are delighted that a motor rally named after Arthur Beane has been inaugurated by Marcel Lepetit's son Eric, concluding at the memorial to which his father made such a crucial contribution.
The graves of the three other OCs buried at St Charles de Percy were also visited on 26th November 2013:
Major P.H.GASKELL (G 1933), a barrister in peacetime, held a Territorial commission in the
Royal Fusiliers, but later transferred to 3rd (8th Battalion Royal Northumberland Fusiliers) Regiment, Reconnaissance Corps, RAC. He was killed in action on 15th August 1944, aged 29, and is buried in grave III.A.8.
Lieutenant D.M.LESTER (D 1942) was commissioned into the Welsh Guards in February 1943. Serving with 1st Battalion, he was killed on 4th August 1944, aged 20, shot by a sniper while reconnoitring a farm. He is buried in grave VIII.C.2.
Lieutenant F.D.P.McCORKELL (V 1941), 2nd Battalion Irish Guards, was killed with his crew on 6th August 1944, aged 21, when his tank received a mortar shell in the turret during an attack on the nearby hamlet of Le Busq. He is buried in grave V.F.13.
We are grateful to J.P.Gabriel (g 1960), to the parents of N.E.G.Townsend (L 1993), and to a friend with no direct Charterhouse connection, who have carried out visits to the graves of the following:
Major J.J.M.KENRICK (W 1923) joined 1st Bn Lancashire Fusiliers in 1925. He served on the Staff of 16 Brigade in Palestine, where he was mentioned in despatches, and on that of the British Military Mission in Pretoria. He died in hospital on 27th June 1942, aged 37. He is buried in Fort Napier Cemetery, Pietermaritzburg, grave A.13.
Commander D.H.M.LEGGATT (G 1917) joined the Royal Navy in 1917 and served first in HMS Barham. He commanded the destroyers HMS Salmon and HMS Vimiera, retiring in 1934. He returned to command HMS Selkirk in 1939. He was serving in the shore establishment HMS Sphinx near Alexandria when he died of illness in Durban on 22nd September 1942, aged 43. He is buried in Stellawood Cemetery, Durban: block F, grave 278.
Sub-Lieutenant G.H.K.STRATHY, RCNVR, (S 1936) of Toronto was at Charterhouse for two years between school and university in Canada. He was commissioned into the RCNVR in May 1940 and after secret training was posted in July to HMS Ajax to operate the radio-locator. He was killed on 12th October 1940, aged 22, in an action against Italian destroyers east of Malta. He is commemorated in Nova Scotia on the Halifax Memorial, panel 7, and a street in Ajax, Ontario, is named after him
Flying Officer J.T.BROMFIELD RAFVR (B 1943) 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. F/O Bromfield's headstone is in row 12, grave 852.
Serjeant E.D.W.FRASER (D 1930), 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, 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 1933) 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, grave 1.J.13.
N.E.G.Townsend (L 1993) has visited the grave of Flying Officer L.R.DARWEN (R 1934) who served as a pilot on a short service commission in the RAF. He was killed on 9th December 1941, aged 22, when Wellington T2918 of 30 Maintenance Unit crashed at Sorn near Kilmarnock, Ayrshire. He is buried in Monkton & Prestwick Cemetery, section K.1 grave 3.
There has also been a visit to the grave of Major-General C.J.WALLACE, CB, DSO, OBE, MC (H 1907), who joined the Highland Light Infantry in 1910, was mentioned in despatches five times and was awarded the DSO, OBE, MC and Croix de guerre. Among other positions he was an ADC to HM the King from 1938 to 1940. While serving on the General Staff as Commander, East Central District, he died at Luton on 20th December 1943, aged 53. He is buried in Ayr Cemetery, Wall section, 1884 division, grave 52.
C K Wheeler
D-Day Dodgers revisited
Old Carthusian casualties of the Second World War in Northern Italy
The wartime song D-Day Dodgers, sung to the tune Lili Marlene, reminds us sarcastically that the troops in Italy were by no means having an easy time compared with those in Normandy, especially in the harsh autumn and winter of 1944-5. Our aim in 2011 was to visit the graves of nine Old Carthusians killed between July 1944 and April 1945. The group consisted of Michael Bates (Deputy Bursar 2000-06), Simon Fielder (BH 1980-10), Dominic Saunders (D92), Nick Townsend (L93) and Chris Wheeler (H 1967 and BH 1972-06).
Our circular route began chronologically and geographically in reverse. Heading east from Bologna, we stopped at the bridge over the River Senio to remember our first casualty, Major R.G.L.Saunders (S34), a distant relative of the 19th-century Headmaster after whom Saunderites is named. Aged 28 and serving with 3rd Battalion, 15th Punjab Regiment, he was killed in the assault across the river on 9th April 1945, three weeks before hostilities ceased. We went on to visit his grave in Ravenna War Cemetery, in a quiet village well outside the city. It contains the graves of over 900 servicemen, many of them Canadians, but also Indians, New Zealanders, and a group of Palestinian volunteers from the Jewish Brigade.
In the suburbs of Cesena we paid our respects to another Saunderite, Major D.W.A. Galsworthy (S27). A Regular who had joined the Royal Fusiliers in 1930, he was killed on 21st October 1944, aged 34. Many of the 775 headstones in Cesena War Cemetery again belong to Canadians and New Zealanders, including a number of Maoris.
Three OCs were killed in September 1944, as the British Eighth Army fought its way parallel to the coast over a series of mountain spurs and river valleys towards Rimini. At this stage Eighth Army was losing about 150 men killed every day, nearly 1900 of whom are buried in Coriano Ridge cemetery. Among them is Lieutenant P.A.Johnstone (R32), 10th Bn The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment). Attached to 2nd Battalion, The King's Regiment (Liverpool), he died on 17 September, aged 28. His brother, Sergeant P.D.D.Johnstone RAFVR (R32), was killed in December 1940 in a flying accident in what is now Zimbabwe, and is buried in Harare.
Lieutenant J.D.Butcher (D41), Queen's Bays (2nd Dragoon Guards), died on 5 September, aged 20, apparently hit by a stray German shell while he and two fellow-officers were standing beside their tanks smoking after the fighting had stopped. He is buried in Gradara War Cemetery. His twin brother, Leading Aircraftman D.H.Butcher RAF, had been killed just short of his twentieth birthday some months before while serving with Middle East Forces, and is buried in Tobruk. (A younger brother was Dr R.M.Butcher (D47), who was Charterhouse medical officer, 1966-94.) We also visited an adjacent grave of Trooper J.S.Peacock of the same unit, killed on the same day. We had already found at Coriano Ridge the grave of Lance-Corporal W.F.C.Jones, whom we believe to have been the CO.'s driver, and who died a few days later.
Most of the cemeteries are level or gently sloping, usually right by the roadside, and always beautifully tended. The 1200 graves at Gradara, unusually, are laid out in terraces up the side of a steep slope, which faces the hilltop castle across the valley. Even with a major road passing nearby, Gradara remains a place of great calm and great beauty.
A few miles away, among nearly 600 graves (mainly Canadian) in Montecchio War Cemetery, lies Captain I.L.Rawson (R37) of 2/5 Battalion, The Leicestershire Regiment. He was 24 when he was killed on 1 September, one of two company commanders lost during the Leicesters' attack on the nearby hill town of Mondaino and buried in adjacent graves.
Sixty miles further south, Assisi War Cemetery, with nearly 950 graves, is close to the village of Rivotorto, with a distant view of Assisi itself on the hillside. Here are buried three more Carthusians. Major P.D.Chrystal, MC & Bar (V32), 1st King's Dragoon Guards, had joined the Royal Armoured Corps in 1936. He had served in North Africa and was mentioned in despatches, awarded the MC in June 1942 and a Bar to it in March 1943. Aged 28, he was killed on 4 July 1944 in a minefield by Lake Trasimene. According to the regimental history, he was attempting to clear a path so that his men could bathe in the lake. Lieutenant K.H.Brade, Royal Engineers (L38), who had been a stockbroker before joining the Army, was killed on 27 July, aged 22. His younger brother, Leading Airman P.H.Brade RN (R40), had been killed in an accident in November 1943 while training in Trinidad and is buried in Caracas, Venezuela. Lieutenant J.M.Hicks (H39), 2nd Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery, elder brother of the designer David Hicks (H45), was killed in action on 14 October, aged 21.
The following morning we paused at Lake Trasimene to remember Major Chrystal, whose unit had been encamped nearby at Castel Rigone. A long motorway drive took us to the outskirts of Florence and its War Cemetery, beautifully situated right beside the Arno. Major J.S.MacE.Sceales (W38), Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, had been attached to 11 Commando in the Middle East. He returned to his regiment to serve in Abyssinia, North Africa and Sicily, and was wounded at Cassino. Serving as a company commander with 1st Battalion, he was killed in action on 2 September 1944, aged 24. The inscription on his headstone adapts the famous Kipling quotation to read "Who dies if Scotland live?"
Next, we stopped at the Passo del Giogo, 882 metres above sea level, to admire the scenery and to consider the difficulty of conducting a military campaign through this kind of terrain. At the Passo della Futa we paid a visit to the huge German cemetery. Unlike the Commonwealth cemeteries, the German ones in Italy are few in number, and vast. This one contains over 30,000 graves, arranged in steadily sloping terraces towards a central building at the top, eerily reminiscent of the successive lines of defence all the way up this part of Italy, each leaving its quota of dead.
The final OC casualty in Italy, Lieutenant T.E.Streatfield-Moore (S39), 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards, had been called up in 1940 and won the Sword of Honour at Sandhurst. He was killed on 5 August 1945, aged 24, in a road accident near Trieste, and is buried in Udine War Cemetery. It is hoped to arrange a visit to his grave in the near future.
Since our last report there have been three visits, in May and November 2010 and in July 2011, to our memorial to Lt (A) A.H.Beane RNVR (S36) at Rauville la Place in Normandy. At the end of the May visit, a minute's silence was held, and Tom Pinnegar (S), Head of Motor Club, played the Last Post on his bugle. This was a moving and very special moment.
There has also been a visit to the grave of P.Seager Berry (W24) of 35th County of London (Civil Service) Battalion, Home Guard. Killed by enemy action on 16 September 1940, aged 35, while on ARP duty in Berkeley Square, London, he is buried with his parents in St Nicholas’ churchyard, Stevenage, Herts, and is recorded on the municipal war memorial.
The war memorial at Colvend church, Dumfries & Galloway, commemorates among others Flight Lieutenant A.J.M.Milne, DFC, RAFVR (g40). Serving as a pilot with 138 Squadron, he was killed on 14 September 1943, aged 21, in the loss of Halifax JD269 (NF-Q) during an SOE operation to Poland. He is buried in Esbjerg (Fovrfeld) Cemetery, Denmark, together with his crew and their passengers, three lieutenants of the Polish Liberation Army.
At St Cuthbert's Church in the tiny village of Bewcastle, Cumbria, the war memorial lists just three names from 1939-45, including Trooper J.Costigan, 1st Royal Tank Regiment, whose son Danny was familiar to generations of Carthusian swimmers through his many years' work in the old Baths. Trooper Costigan was killed in Normandy on 27 August 1944, aged 27, and is buried in Bayeux War Cemetery. We have visited his grave on previous trips.
C K Wheeler
Operation HUSKY, the Sicily campaign of 1943 – revisited July 2009
Annual Visit to Rauville La Place, Normandy
The annual visit to Rauville la Place in Normandy was undertaken in 2009 to maintain our memorial to Lieutenant (A) A.H.Beane, RNVR (S 36).
The memorial was also visited in June 2009, when Julian Slade (B 88) and his girlfriend Kat took Motor Club’s Bedford MW truck to France for the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings. They met one or two veterans en route, and also revisited nearly all the graves of the OCs killed in the Normandy campaign, which we had visited on our commemorative trip in July 2004.
Charterhouse Roll of Honour
Over 1,000 Old Carthusians died in the two World Wars and are commemorated in Memorial Chapel. With the Headmaster's approval, their names are currently in the process of being entered on the national 'Roll of Honour' website.