Commemorating the fallen from World War II (1939-1945) who had worked at Fox's and did not come home again
World War Two Memorial
UNVEILING OF COMPANY’S WAR MEMORIAL
On the 11th November 1950, a memorial to employees of the local steel works who gave their lives in the 1939-45 war was unveiled during a simple but dignified ceremony at Fox’s General Offices.
The memorial plaque was made of stainless steel, and it was mounted on a mahogany base. The whole memorial, from its initial idea through to its completion, was the work of Fox’s employees.
The memorial was designed by George Birks, who worked in the Test House. In his own time he did the drawing and modelling for the memorial, and made the plaster cast. Along with two other employees, Mr. W. Simpson and Mr. G. Mosley, he spent a lot of time in the reproduction in stainless steel.
Work in the toolroom was supervised by Mr. A. Stenton and the memorial was encased by joiners B. D. Middleton and D. Beever, under the supervision of Ted Holdsworth. The Blacksmiths - H. Smith and C. Fletcher - also had a contribution, making the hooks upon which the emblems were hung. Overall, the memorial measured an impressive 6ft. by 5ft.
Common sights in the Works are depicted in an arc at the top, symbolising the departments in which the 39 men and women who were killed in the war had worked. Two figures symbolising the male and female sections of the Works kneel opposite each other, about to place the torch of freedom on the altar of sacrifice. In either corner there is a round silver medallion enamelled in different colours, representing the Navy, Army, Air Force and Merchant Navy. The names of the fallen are listed on the panels.
The Vicar of Stocksbridge, the Rev. D. V. Hewitt, dedicated the memorial. He said that the memorial would serve to remind everyone, as they went in and out of the works, of those who never came back. “Let it not be a mere empty remembrance” he said, “but each time we see this memorial let us remember that they died that we might live. They did not make that great sacrifice so that we could sit back and enjoy ourselves, live selfishly and live for ourselves alone. Let us resolve that we will bring into our lives that spirit of unselfish love and service which was brought out during the war in so many different ways and among so many different people.” The plaque was unveiled by Tom Mate, a Fox’s employee who lived at Haywoods Lane, Deepcar. Mr. Mate had lost two sons in the war, Thomas and Victor.
Wreaths were laid by Mr. S. R. Howes, the General Manager, Mr. S. R. Howes, with others from the British Legion and the wife and family of the late Sgt.-Nav. J. D. Shaw. Councillor Oliver Inman (Chief Engineer and Senior Resident Director) read the names of the fallen.
From an article printed in the Fox Magazine, Winter 1950, pp8-9
Click on a photograph to enlarge it
A NOTE ON SERGEANT NAVIGATOR J. D. SHAW
Sergeant Navigator John (Jack) Derek Shaw was born locally in 1924 and died in 1947 when the Lancaster plane he was on crashed into the sea.
John (known as Jack) was the son of Rowland Shaw and May Baker. He married Wendy Madeline Greenup at West Didsbury, Manchester, in 1946. They had only been married six months before he was killed. Wendy was from Manchester, but was living in Cornwall at the time of Jack's death.
On the 20th March 1947, Shaw was aboard an R.A.F. Avro Lancaster ASR Mk III which set off on a training exercise from R.A.F. Ballykelly, Northern Ireland. It crashed into the Atlantic Ocean just before midnight, and was destroyed when a wingtip hit the water surface, some sixty miles NNE of Malin Head on the Inishowen Peninsular. There were nine aboard and seven were killed.
The Times, Saturday 22nd March 1947, page 4, reported that eight naval ships, including two destroyers and a submarine, had been searching throughout the day for any survivors. Three of the Lancaster’s missing crew of nine were picked up, but two of them later died. The search was eventually called off when it was decided that there was no hope of finding any more survivors. The crash was reported by the aircraft carrier H.M.S. Vengeance.
The Hampshire Telegraph 28 March 1947, page 8, reported that seven of the occupants of the Lancaster which crashed on Thursday, were on Saturday listed as “killed” or “missing, believed killed.” The remaining two occupants were seriously injured. Two of the plane's passenger were from the Royal Navy.
The Lancaster was one of six on naval cooperation exercises operating from Ballykelly, 13 miles north-east of Londonderry.” RAF Ballykelly was a maritime “Coastal Command” airfield. The Avro Shackleton was introduced to Ballykelly in 1947, at the joint Anti-Aircraft Submarine Training School RAF.
Flight Sergeant John Derek Shaw, 1675594, R.A.F. (Volunteer Reserve), 224 Sqdn. 20th March 1947 is commemorated at the Runnymede Memorial, panel number 286.
With thanks to John Brunton, Louise Hall, Mark Hodkinson, Sally Jowitt and Jane Lachs.
Click on a photograph to enlarge it.
THE MATE BROTHERS
The boys’ father, Tom Mate, unveiled the Fox Memorial in 1950. He was a Fox’s employee and lived at Haywoods Lane, Deepcar. Sergeant THOMAS HENRY MATE (1921-1942) lost his life in WWII and is commemorated on both the Clock Tower and the Fox’s memorial. He was an apprentice at Fox's. Thomas was a wireless operator / air gunner on board a Hampden 1 which had set off at 13.37 hours on 12th February 1942 to take part in “Operation Fuller,” also known as the “Channel Dash”. Pilot Officer John Robert Topping D.F.M. was the 24-year-old pilot. Thomas’s role would have been to send and receive wireless signals, assist with navigation and use the defensive machine gun to fight off enemy aircraft. The plane was lost without trace in the English Channel. He is also commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
Sergeant VICTOR HUGO MATE (1925-1944) did not work at Fox’s and so his name does not appear on the memorial there; his name appears on the Clock Tower. Along with six other crew members, he was killed on the 15th February 1944 when the Lancaster he was in crashed during a raid on Berlin, having been shot down after crossing the Baltic coast. They had taken off from North Killingholme in the early evening, one of 891 aircraft despatched by Bomber Command that day. He was originally buried in Tribohm but later reburied in the Berlin War Cemetery in 1949.
[thank you to Sally Jowitt for the information]
MISS M. TURNER is listed on the memorial. Leading Aircraftwoman Beatrice Hetty Mabel Turner 2054945 W.A.A.F. was 27 years old when she died in August 1943. She was the daughter of Joseph and Annie Turner, of Wortley, and there is a Commonwealth War Grave headstone in Wortley churchyard commemorating her. Beatrice and some companions had got off a Shrewsbury train and were crossing the railway line behind a passenger train at Rednal, Birmingham. She was on her way back to her R.A.F. 61 OTU, and walked into the path of an express goods train. She was killed along with L.A.C./W Barbara Robertson. Two other women were injured.
61 OTU (Operational Training Unit) was formed at Hendon in June 1941 to train single-seat fighter pilots.
Beatrice's C.W.G.C. headstone in Wortley churchyard. Photo: Sally Jowitt 2020.
The following article was written by Ella Jones.
THURGOLAND MEN FROM WW2 COMMEMORATED ON FOX’S WAR MEMORIAL
A few years ago, when checking on the condition of the WW2 memorial attached to the Victorian building in what is now Liberty Steels yard, I noticed that some of the names were the same as those on Thurgoland’s War Memorial. This is not really surprising since men from a wide area went to work at Fox’s.
There are four men listed as casualties who are on both memorials.
ORDINARY SEAMAN THOMAS BEET (BAR MILL)
The youngest was Ordinary Seaman Thomas Beet who was drowned, aged 19, when the Landing Gun Craft he was on, sailing from Harland and Woolf’s shipbuilding yard in Belfast to Cornwall sank on Easter Sunday, 25 April 1943.
HMLCG (L) 16 along with its sister craft LCG 15 were badly designed for sailing in rough seas and this they met when off the Pembrokeshire coast. For some unexplained reason, the boats were refused entry to Fishguard Harbour so went on hoping to reach the safety of Milford Haven. Unfortunately, conditions worsened and the vessels began taking on water. They radioed for help but the nearest lifeboat, at Angle, was out of commission and the St. David’s lifeboat was not called out till six hours later. It took them 2 ½ hours to reach the crafts - by then it was dark, and nothing could be done.
LCS16 sank with a loss of all hands. Some of the bodies were washed up in Freshwater Bay and were buried in various cemeteries, many at Milford. Several bodies were never found, including OS Beet’s and the site is now a war grave.
Thomas Beet is remembered on the Plymouth Naval Memorial as well as Thurgoland’s and Fox’s Memorials. He had worked in the Bar Mill at Stocksbridge.
PRIVATE STANLEY ILLINGSWORTH (BILLET MILL)
Pvte: Stanley Illingsworth initially served in the KOYLI (King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry) but was then transferred to the 9th Btn: Durham Light Infantry to make up strength of numbers when this battalion was deployed in the D-Day landings on 6th June 1944. The men landed on Gold Beach (King sector) and fought their way inland towards Bayeux and Caen.
Pvte: Illingsworth was killed on D Day+8 when the battalion was involved in heavy fighting against crack Panzer Lehr troops defending a village, Lingevres, in Normandy. The Normandy Bocage was very difficult terrain as it consisted of small fields surrounded by deep, sunken lanes and high, impenetrable hedges.
He was only 20 when killed and is buried in Bayeux War Cemetery, Calvados Region. This was created post-war when bodies from the surrounding area were brought there.
His headstone inscription reads: "In Loving Memory of my dear son killed in action. Always in our thoughts."
Pvte: Illingsworth is named on Fox’s War Memorial as he worked in the Billet Mill.
The final pair of men were not killed in action but none-the-less were casualties of the war.
GUNNER ROBERT STAGG (WIRE MILL)
Gunner John Robert Stagg served in a Light Anti-aircraft Regiment of the Royal Artillery. He was based in Scotland most likely protecting the ship building yards at Grangemouth on the R. Forth.
He died aged 22, on 21st January 1943 at Base Hospital, Larbert near Falkirk. His death certificate states his cause of death was: “Traumatic pneumonia (motorcycle accident), Ruptured spleen and Splenotomy” [an operation on the spleen]
Gunner Stagg had been employed in the Wire Mill at Fox’s.
He is buried in Thurgoland Cemetery and the inscription on his headstone reads, “In Memory of my Dearest Husband. Beloved, Yours the Beginning not the End.”
He had married Freda (Roberts) of Deepcar in 1940 and they had a daughter in 1942.
Gunner John Robert Stagg's C.W.G.C. headstone in Thurgoland cemetery. Photo: Sally Jowitt 2020.
GUNNER DOUGLAS MATTHEWMAN (WIRE MILL)
Gunner Douglas Matthewman enlisted in the Royal Artillery in 1939 having previously worked as a clerk in Fox’s Wire Mill. He is remembered on Fox’s War Memorial.
He had married in 1942 and at the time of his death was living in Monkseaton, Northumberland.
Gunner Matthewman became ill and was discharged from the army. He died in the Royal Infirmary, George Square, Edinburgh on 12 August 1943 aged 23. The cause of death is given as, “Multiple Polyps of Colon and Rectum. Post-operative cardiac failure.” [a modern diagnosis suggests Bowel Cancer]