February282014

Remember. Lance Corporal John CHARLTON. No.4 Company. Royal Army Medical Corps. Died of Disease on the 28th February 1919 aged 28.

John Charlton was born in Chillingham, Northumberland in 1892. He moved with his mother, Mary Jane Charlton, and his brother, George Penrose Charlton, to St.Stephens Cottage, Aston, Hertfordshire, where their mother was a local school mistress. Before joining the Army John was employed as collector by the Pearl insurance Company, although his trade was as a Journalist. He married Nellie Davidge on the 17th April 1915 and on the 21st July 1916 their son, Harold John was born. The family lived at 72 Ickelford Road, Hitchin, Hertfordshire. John was attested for service in the Army on the 15th June 1916 and was mobilised on the 6th November of the same year. He was not a healthy man, as his medical examination revealed. He was of very slight build, had poor eyesight, deformed toes on his left foot, a goitre on his upper dentures and his overall physical condition was described as poor. John was given the medical category BII and attached to No.4 Company, Royal Army Medical Corps based at Netley, a large military hospital near Southampton, Hampshire. On the 29th April 1917 John was posted to France where he served in the No.58 General Hospital at St.Omer as a Sanitary Orderly. The combination of this odorous task and his general poor health ultimately led to him contracting and infectious disease and he died from Septic Pneumonia whilst at home on leave on the 28th February 1919. John is buried in the St.Mary Churchyard, Aston, Hertfordshire and his name is recorded on the War Memorial in the church grounds.

Remember. Lance Corporal John CHARLTON. No.4 Company. Royal Army Medical Corps. Died of Disease on the 28th February 1919 aged 28.

John Charlton was born in Chillingham, Northumberland in 1892. He moved with his mother, Mary Jane Charlton, and his brother, George Penrose Charlton, to St.Stephens Cottage, Aston, Hertfordshire, where their mother was a local school mistress. Before joining the Army John was employed as collector by the Pearl insurance Company, although his trade was as a Journalist. He married Nellie Davidge on the 17th April 1915 and on the 21st July 1916 their son, Harold John was born. The family lived at 72 Ickelford Road, Hitchin, Hertfordshire. John was attested for service in the Army on the 15th June 1916 and was mobilised on the 6th November of the same year. He was not a healthy man, as his medical examination revealed. He was of very slight build, had poor eyesight, deformed toes on his left foot, a goitre on his upper dentures and his overall physical condition was described as poor. John was given the medical category BII and attached to No.4 Company, Royal Army Medical Corps based at Netley, a large military hospital near Southampton, Hampshire. On the 29th April 1917 John was posted to France where he served in the No.58 General Hospital at St.Omer as a Sanitary Orderly. The combination of this odorous task and his general poor health ultimately led to him contracting and infectious disease and he died from Septic Pneumonia whilst at home on leave on the 28th February 1919. John is buried in the St.Mary Churchyard, Aston, Hertfordshire and his name is recorded on the War Memorial in the church grounds.

February262014

Remember. Wing Commander Raymond Arthur HOLMWOOD. No.615 Squadron (R.A.F.) Royal Australian Air Force. Killed in Action on the 26th February 1941 aged 29.

Raymond Arthur Holmwood was born on 7th December 1911 at Newcastle, New South Wales, second child of native-born parents Arthur Percy Holmwood, public schoolteacher, and his wife Mabel Alice, née Burgmann. After gaining his Intermediate certificate, on 15th February 1928 Raymond entered the Royal Military College, Duntroon, Federal Capital Territory, as a staff cadet nominated by the Royal Australian Air Force. He undertook the ‘A’ course at No.1 Flying Training School, Point Cook, Victoria, graduated with his ‘wings’ in December 1931 and was commissioned in the following month. Having been posted to No.1 Squadron, Laverton, in February 1932 Holmwood joined No.3 Squadron at Richmond, New South Wales, where he quickly demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities. He earned respect for his professional competence, possessed a highly developed sense of duty and was a first-class athlete. On 21st September 1934 at St Mark’s Anglican Church, Darling Point, Sydney, he married Margaret Alice, daughter of (Sir) Thomas Gordon. Holmwood’s appointments began to reflect his potential for high command. From December 1935 to February 1936 he was adjutant of No.3 Squadron; in 1936-37 he commanded the Cadet Squadron at No.1 F.T.S.; and he performed staff duties at Air Force Headquarters, Melbourne, in 1937-39. Promoted acting squadron leader, he took over the Intermediate Training Squadron at No.1 F.T.S. in July 1939 and became the squadron’s chief flying instructor in April next year when it was expanded and transferred to No.1 Service Flying Training School. In July 1940 Holmwood was sent to England to serve on exchange with the Royal Air Force. Disembarking in October, he completed an operational conversion course on fighter aircraft, then flew with No.64 Squadron. On 18th December he was appointed commanding officer of No.615 Squadron, based at Kenley, Surrey, and was thus the first R.A.A.F. officer to lead a British squadron in World War II. His appointment was the more meritorious because No.615 had distinguished itself in earlier fighting and its honorary air commodore was Prime Minister (Sir) Winston Churchill. Holmwood was promoted temporary wing commander in January 1941. On 26 February 1941, during an engagement with enemy aircraft over Waddenhall, a rural district near Petham, Kent, Holmwood’s Hurricane was shot down. He baled out of his aircraft but his parachute caught fire. He was survived by his wife and four-year-old son, and is buried in Whyteleafe (St Luke’s) churchyard, near Caterham, Surrey.

February152014

Remember. Private George William WORSLEY. 1st Cambridgeshire Regiment. Killed in Action on the 15th February 1942 aged 28.

George was the son of George and Emma Worsley, of Hitchin, Hertfordshire.His Battalion sailed from Liverpool in the “Reina Del Pacifico” on the 27th October 1941, its original destiantion being the Middle East. On route orders were received diverting the Battalion to the Far East. After a long an arduous journey which had taken them via Halifax, Cape Town & Bombay the Battalion arrived in Ahmednagar on the 31st December 1941. After three weeks of intensive acclimatisation and training the Battalion embarked on the “USS West Point” for Singapore where they arrived at dawn on the 29th January 1942, just two weeks before the island fortress would captitulate to the forces of the Japanese Imperial Army.  George was killed in action during the invasion but, due to the confusion taking place at the time, his original grave has been lost and his grave is maked by a CWGC Special Memorial type “C” in the Kranji War Cemetery, Singapore stating “Buried near this spot”.

February142014

Remember. Leading Aircraftwoman Iris Miriam DEELEY. No.1 Balloon Centre, RAF Kidbrooke. Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. Murdered on the 14th February 1944 aged 21.

Iris was the daughter of Donald Alan and Miriam Deeley, of Wanstead, London. She was attacked and strangled by Gunner Ernest James Kemp, Royal Artillery, and her body found on allotments near the Well Hall railway station, Eltham. Ernest James Harman Kemp was born illegitimately on 4th October 1923, at Gillingham, Kent. He adopted his Mother’s name, later claiming that his Father had died when he was aged 4. He lived in New Cross, South London, and worked as a Porter at the local rail station. Kemp enlisted in the Queen’s Royal Regiment (West Surreys) on 29th December 1942, serving at Maidstone, Exeter, Illfracombe and Taunton. During 1943, Kemp transferred to the Royal Artillery and served at Aberdeen, Cromer, Watford and Woolwich. On 8th February 1944, whilst under military police escort at the dentist Kemp escaped by climbing through a toilet window. 

Miriam Deeley had joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) on 7th August 1942. She was one of a family of four and lived in Wanstead, London. During a posting in Cornwell, Miriam became engaged to one of the station’s radar mechanics, Aircraftsman William Quill. After his commission had been announced, Miriam was posted to No. 1 Balloon Centre at RAF Kidbrooke, South-East London, whilst Quill had been posted for a course at No. 7 Radio School, which was located at the Science Museum. 

On the weekend of 12-13 February 1944, Miriam obtained a weekend pass which she spent with her fiancé at her family home at Wanstead. Her fiancé escorted Miriam back to Charing Cross Rail Station, where she could catch a train to Kidbrooke and re-join her unit. However, when she arrived at Charing Cross she had missed the last direct train to Kidbrooke. She phoned her unit to notify them that she would be late, and boarded a train for Lewisham. 

On 14 February 1944, Miriam Deeley’s body was discovered in an allotment alongside the railway at Well Hall Station, the stop after Kidbrooke travelling from London. She had been raped and strangled with her own scarf. After being killed, her body had been dragged some distance to its present location. Some items were also found nearby, together with some large footprints. 

From numerous appeals, witnesses came forward who had seen Miriam with a what appeared to be a soldier. A description was circulated describing the wanted person as a talkative soldier with what might appear to be an impressive collection of medal ribbons.  

Early in the morning of 22nd February 1944, an ex-WWI soldier and now a Police Constable called Charles Memory spotted a soldier with a WAAF. The soldier was wearing a uniform with an impressive collection of medal ribbons, including medals that were issued before the soldier was born. Once the WAAF had departed, the constable arrested the soldier and took him to Albany Road Police Station. Chief Inspector Edward Greeno, who was heading the enquiry into Miriam’s murder, was notified of the arrested suspect’s description. The suspect stated that he was Gunner Ernest Kemp. 

After finding out that Kemp was a deserter, Greeno asked him to account for his actions over the period of 12-14 February 1944. He provided some evasive answers and also failed to account for some of Miriam’s possessions he had in his rucksack, to which Greeno asked Kemp to remove his boots, which were the same size as those found near Miriam’s body. Kemp was then informed that he was being detained as a suspect in the murder of Miriam Deeley. 

On 18th April 1944, Kemp’s trial for the murder of Miriam Deeley began at the Old Bailey before Mr Justice Cassels. The Prosecution case was presented by Mr L.A. Byrne and Mr Gerald Howard. Kemp was represented by Mr F.H. Lawson. Kemp pleaded not guilty and no evidence was presented by the defence. The jury found Kemp guilty of Miriam’s murder and added a recommendation to mercy. Kemp was sentenced to death by hanging.

On the morning of 6th June 1944, as Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy, Ernest Kemp was executed at Wandsworth Prison. As with all executed prisoners, he was buried within the prison grounds. Rightly, or wrongly, his name is recorded on the Brookwood Memorial in Surrey.

 

Miriam Deeley is buried in City of London Cemetery, Manor Park, London.

February122014

I am very pleased to announce that, after a very long wait, both my books will be available on pre-order from the publisher as of today. They are part of the popular War Torn Skies of Great Britain series and are the culmination of many years of research. Both books include chapters produced by aviation archaeology historian Julian Evan-Hart and are available from http://www.wingleader.co.uk/

February42014

Remember. Aircraftwoman 2nd Class Hilda Irene HARRISON. Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. Killed in a Ground Accident on the 4th February 1944 aged 25.

Hilda was the daughter of Charles Henry and Lily Harrison, of Derby. Before joining the Womens Auxiliary Air Force she worked as a clerk with the LMS Railway. She joined the WAAF in 1943 and was serving as a Wireless Operator. On the 4th February 1944 she was travelling with some others in a vehicle at an operational airfield. An aircraft was about to take off but swerved off of the runway and struck the vehicle she was travelling in, killing her and injuring several other occupants. Hilda is buried in the Nottingham Road Cemetery, Derby.

February12014
Remember. Aircraftman 1st Class Albert John BECKETT. No.153 Maintenance Unit. Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Died In Captivity on the 1st February 1943 aged 23.
Albert was the son of Albert Edwin and Florence May Beckett, of Birmingham and the husband of Joan Beckett, of Erdington, Birmingham. He was captured by the Japanese during their invasion of Java and was transported on the Singapore Maru which Left Batavia on the 17th October 1942 bound for Singapore with 3000 prisoners arriving there on the 25th October. It left Singapore for Takao/ Moji, Japan on the 30th October 1942 with 1100 prisoners aboard and arrived on the 25th November 1942. 108 died on the journey or as a direct result from the deplorable conditions the prisoners endured. Although Albert survived the journey his health was rapidly deteriorating and he was sent to The Quarantine Station which was located on Hakoshima Island, in the Enoura district of Shimonoseki, on the main Japanese Island of Honshu.  It was built in 1894, at the end of the Sino-Japanese war, as place to isolate returning soldiers to prevent them from carrying infectious diseases to Japan.  In late November 1942 the Japanese found themselves overwhelmed with the nearly simultaneous arrivals of Nagato Maru, Tofuku Maru, Dainichi Maru, and Singapore Maru, each carrying several hundred terribly ill POWs.  British officers performed triage on more than 100 POWs who lay awash in the filthy holds and bilges of Singapore Maru, sending those who they viewed as having the best chance of survival to the medical facility at Fukuoka Camp 4B in Moji.  Eighty others were left aboard the ship awaiting the arrival of a medical party sent from Zentsuji POW camp.  The medical team accompanied the patients aboard a junk across the Shimonseki straight to the Quarantine Station.  Tragically, the men were in such terrible condition that 35 died before the survivors were transferred to the Yawata and Omine Machi POW camps in February 1943.  This was the only time that Shimonoseki Quarantine Station was used as a POW “hospital”. It is here that Albert Beckett died and his body was quickly cremated by the Japanese. His name is recorded on the Yokohama Cremation Memorial, Japan.

Remember. Aircraftman 1st Class Albert John BECKETT. No.153 Maintenance Unit. Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Died In Captivity on the 1st February 1943 aged 23.

Albert was the son of Albert Edwin and Florence May Beckett, of Birmingham and the husband of Joan Beckett, of Erdington, Birmingham. He was captured by the Japanese during their invasion of Java and was transported on the Singapore Maru which Left Batavia on the 17th October 1942 bound for Singapore with 3000 prisoners arriving there on the 25th October. It left Singapore for Takao/ Moji, Japan on the 30th October 1942 with 1100 prisoners aboard and arrived on the 25th November 1942. 108 died on the journey or as a direct result from the deplorable conditions the prisoners endured. Although Albert survived the journey his health was rapidly deteriorating and he was sent to The Quarantine Station which was located on Hakoshima Island, in the Enoura district of Shimonoseki, on the main Japanese Island of Honshu.  It was built in 1894, at the end of the Sino-Japanese war, as place to isolate returning soldiers to prevent them from carrying infectious diseases to Japan.  In late November 1942 the Japanese found themselves overwhelmed with the nearly simultaneous arrivals of Nagato Maru, Tofuku Maru, Dainichi Maru, and Singapore Maru, each carrying several hundred terribly ill POWs.  British officers performed triage on more than 100 POWs who lay awash in the filthy holds and bilges of Singapore Maru, sending those who they viewed as having the best chance of survival to the medical facility at Fukuoka Camp 4B in Moji.  Eighty others were left aboard the ship awaiting the arrival of a medical party sent from Zentsuji POW camp.  The medical team accompanied the patients aboard a junk across the Shimonseki straight to the Quarantine Station.  Tragically, the men were in such terrible condition that 35 died before the survivors were transferred to the Yawata and Omine Machi POW camps in February 1943.  This was the only time that Shimonoseki Quarantine Station was used as a POW “hospital”. It is here that Albert Beckett died and his body was quickly cremated by the Japanese. His name is recorded on the Yokohama Cremation Memorial, Japan.

January312014

Remember. Aircraftwoman 1st Class Marguerite Beatrice BURGE. Women’s Auxillary Air Force. Murdered on the 31st January 1943 aged 22.

Marguerite was born on the 21st January 1921. Her mother’s name was Le Roux and it is not known at this stage why she gave up her daughter. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists Marguerite as the foster-daughter of Thomas Wellman, and of Ada Mary Ann Wellman, of Bedhampton, Hampshire. Whilst serving with the WAAF Marguerite met 24 year-old Private Charles Arthur Raymond, who was a French Canadian soldier serving with the 5th Divisonal Troop Company of the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps.  Raymond spoke no English and it has to be assumed that Marguerite spoke some French, possibly as a result of her background. 

On the afternoon of the 30th January 1943, a few days after her 22nd birthday, Marguerite was making her way to Chichester, West Sussex, to visit a girlfriend. She accepted a lift from Raymond in his Army truck and, he suggests in his statement, she borrowed money from him. He had known her for six months and, he claimed, he had asked her not to see any other servicemen. During the journey he stopped by a field near Boxgrove, West Sussex, and, it appears, the couple got out and sat by a haystack where they talked. An argument ensued and Marguerite is alleged to have slapped Raymond across the face. He punched her and knocked her to the ground and, he claimed, she struck her head on a plough. A post mortem and a subsequent investigation established that Raymond had, in fact, stabbed her in the head, face and chest with an 8” screw driver which he had taken from his vehicles tool kit. Evidence given by Sir Bernard Spilsbury indicated that Raymond had inflicted some of the injuries on the girl whilst kneeling on her when she was on the ground. Raymond then left the injured WAAF in the field, where she lay all night in a heavy thunderstorm. A Home Guard patrol found her in the early hours of the 31st January, she was still alive but had suffered terrible injuries and immense blood loss. Marguerite was taken to a hospital in Chichester but died later that day as a result of her injuries. 

An intensive police enquiry led them to Raymond, who had been seen parked in his vehicle at the spot where Marguerite had been found, with a WAAF in his cab. When questioned, Raymond tried to put the blame on another Canadian soldier, Arthur Patry, who had been in trouble with the police in Canada before he joined the Army. Raymond’s trial took place at the Old Bailey and the jury, convinced by the forensic evidence, found him guilty, despite his continued protestations that he was innocent. Raymond was condemned to Death and Hung at Wandsworth Prison on the 10th July 1943. Marguerite Burge is buried in the Havant And Waterloo Cemetery, Hampshire. Rightly or wrongly, Charles Raymond has his name recorded on the Brookwood Memorial, along with a number of other Murderers.

January302014
Remember. Flight Lieutenant Francis George KEEFE. No.14 Squadron. Royal New Zealand Air Force. Died Of Wounds on the 30th January 1945 aged 28.
On the 15th January 1945 F/Lt Keefe took off from Green Island Fighter Strip, Bismarck Archipelago, to undertake a bombing raid on Rabaul Island. His Corsair F4U-1D fighter (NZ5413) was shot down by Japanese anti-aircraft fire and crashed into Rabaul Harbour. The Pilot began swimming towards the harbour entrance, but drifted back when the tide turned. Nearby enemy batteries prevented an American Catalina landing to achieve a rescue, but throughout the day sections of Corsairs orbited overhead to fend off enemy attempts at capturing the airman. Towards dusk, at 18.30hrs, a Ventura with a Corsair escort carried out a daring low level sortie to drop two bamboo rafts close by, but by then the pilot was lying face down over what appeared to be a small log just within the harbour entrance.  Reports indicate that he was shot in the right arm by Japanese soldiers after reaching the safety of the shore. He was taken prisoner and his wound was bandaged but not treated. After being interrogated by officers of the Japanese Navy, who noted that his wounded arm was swollen and smelling badly, he was taken by the Kempei Tai to the Naga Naga POW Camp. Over the following two weeks his condition worsened as the wound became more and more infected. Eventually, he died of blood poisoning and is buried in the Bourail New Zealand War Cemetery, New Caledonia.

Remember. Flight Lieutenant Francis George KEEFE. No.14 Squadron. Royal New Zealand Air Force. Died Of Wounds on the 30th January 1945 aged 28.

On the 15th January 1945 F/Lt Keefe took off from Green Island Fighter Strip, Bismarck Archipelago, to undertake a bombing raid on Rabaul Island. His Corsair F4U-1D fighter (NZ5413) was shot down by Japanese anti-aircraft fire and crashed into Rabaul Harbour. The Pilot began swimming towards the harbour entrance, but drifted back when the tide turned. Nearby enemy batteries prevented an American Catalina landing to achieve a rescue, but throughout the day sections of Corsairs orbited overhead to fend off enemy attempts at capturing the airman. Towards dusk, at 18.30hrs, a Ventura with a Corsair escort carried out a daring low level sortie to drop two bamboo rafts close by, but by then the pilot was lying face down over what appeared to be a small log just within the harbour entrance.  Reports indicate that he was shot in the right arm by Japanese soldiers after reaching the safety of the shore. He was taken prisoner and his wound was bandaged but not treated. After being interrogated by officers of the Japanese Navy, who noted that his wounded arm was swollen and smelling badly, he was taken by the Kempei Tai to the Naga Naga POW Camp. Over the following two weeks his condition worsened as the wound became more and more infected. Eventually, he died of blood poisoning and is buried in the Bourail New Zealand War Cemetery, New Caledonia.

January262014
Remember. Flying Officer Graeme Grieve STOBIE. No.104 Operational Training Unit (RAF), Royal Australian Air Force. Killed in a Flying Accident on the 26th January 1944 aged 20.
Graeme was the son of Graeme and Evees Irene Stobie, of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. On the 26th January 1944 he was a Pupil Navigator aboard a Wellington Mk.IV aircraft of No. 104 Operational Traiining Unit, Royal Air Force, which had taken off from off from Nutts Corner, Northern Ireland on a Night Navigational Exercise. The aircraft was never seen again and its loss was described as inexplicable as the crew were deemed to be outstanding on their training course. The Pilot had 437 hours of flying experience and the weather was deemed to be excellent, despite other crews reporting significant turbulence during their flights. The body of W/O Erickson, the son of Herman and Hilja Erickson, of Montreal, Province of Quebec, Canada, was washed up on the shore of Tiree at 21.00 hrs on the 27th January and is buried in the Soroby Burial Ground. It was established that he died of exposure and not drowning or other injury. This pointed to a succesful ditching followed by some fatality in the gale which sprung up later that morning and persisted for 2 days and nights. It was found that the aircrafts dinghy had been succesfully deployed and it is presumed that F/O Stobie and F/Sgt Fletcher were either killed in the inital impact or they too died from exposure, and their bodies lost at sea. Eventually, on the 11th February 1944 the body of F/O Stobie was washed up and is buried in the Pennyfuir Cemetery, Oban, Scotland.The body of the Pilot, Flight Sergeant Matthew John Fletcher, the son of Matthew and Florence Ada Fletcher, of Ferryhill, Co. Durham, was never found and his name is recorded on the Runnymeade Memorial.                                            
 
Crew of Wellington Mk.IV Z1490
Pupil Pilot Flight Sergeant Matthew John FLETCHER. RAFVR
Pupil Navigator Flying Officer Graeme Grieve STOBIE RAAF
Pupil WOP/AG Warrant Officer Class I Leif Tapio ERICKSON RCAF

Remember. Flying Officer Graeme Grieve STOBIE. No.104 Operational Training Unit (RAF), Royal Australian Air Force. Killed in a Flying Accident on the 26th January 1944 aged 20.

Graeme was the son of Graeme and Evees Irene Stobie, of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. On the 26th January 1944 he was a Pupil Navigator aboard a Wellington Mk.IV aircraft of No. 104 Operational Traiining Unit, Royal Air Force, which had taken off from off from Nutts Corner, Northern Ireland on a Night Navigational Exercise. The aircraft was never seen again and its loss was described as inexplicable as the crew were deemed to be outstanding on their training course. The Pilot had 437 hours of flying experience and the weather was deemed to be excellent, despite other crews reporting significant turbulence during their flights. The body of W/O Erickson, the son of Herman and Hilja Erickson, of Montreal, Province of Quebec, Canada, was washed up on the shore of Tiree at 21.00 hrs on the 27th January and is buried in the Soroby Burial Ground. It was established that he died of exposure and not drowning or other injury. This pointed to a succesful ditching followed by some fatality in the gale which sprung up later that morning and persisted for 2 days and nights. It was found that the aircrafts dinghy had been succesfully deployed and it is presumed that F/O Stobie and F/Sgt Fletcher were either killed in the inital impact or they too died from exposure, and their bodies lost at sea. Eventually, on the 11th February 1944 the body of F/O Stobie was washed up and is buried in the Pennyfuir Cemetery, Oban, Scotland.The body of the Pilot, Flight Sergeant Matthew John Fletcher, the son of Matthew and Florence Ada Fletcher, of Ferryhill, Co. Durham, was never found and his name is recorded on the Runnymeade Memorial.                                           

 

Crew of Wellington Mk.IV Z1490

Pupil Pilot Flight Sergeant Matthew John FLETCHER. RAFVR

Pupil Navigator Flying Officer Graeme Grieve STOBIE RAAF

Pupil WOP/AG Warrant Officer Class I Leif Tapio ERICKSON RCAF