Some stories of the Fallen
of World War II

War memorial by Sheldon_edited.jpg
c1955 clock tower, Francis Frith.JPG

This is very much "Work in Progress" and by no means complete.  I do not have stories for everyone named on the War Memorials.  Please note: this table displays better on a big screen.

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 the Clock Tower Fox’s memorial (where he was an apprentice) and at St. Matthias church.  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, but he is commemorated on the Clock Tower and at St. Matthias Church.  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 this information]

MISS MABEL TURNER.  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 Hetty Mabel Turner CWGC at Wort

Beatrice's C.W.G.C. headstone in Wortley churchyard.  Photo credit: Sally Jowitt 2020.

FLIGHT SERGEANT NAVIGATOR ​JOHN DEREK 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.

SISTER MISS MARJORIE SMITH 260546

1911-1944

Marjory was born in March 1911 at 19 Fountain Terrace, Marske by the Sea, Middlesbrough.  Her parents were Albert Smith and Annie Gertrude Brown and she had two brothers (Gilbert Owen and Albert Howard) and one sister (Jeanne).  The family moved to the Penistone area before relocating to Stocksbridge in about 1934 where they lived at Braemoor, on McIntyre Road.  Marjorie studied to be a nurse at The Sheffield Royal Hospital [West Street area, demolished in 1981] from 1936 to 1939 and was Registered as a nurse in London on the 26th January 1940.  

 

At some point Marjorie joined Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service and was on board a troop ship in the Indian Ocean when it was sunk by a Japanese submarine in 1944. She was almost 33 years old when she died.  Her brother Albert Howard served in the Forces and survived the War; in 1946 he was living at n0. 2 McIntyre Road.  A short notice appeared in the Penistone Almanac which said that “Sister Marjorie Smith, S.R.N., S.C.M., Queen Alexandria’s I.M.N.S., of McIntyre Road, Stocksbridge, lost her life when the vessel in which she was taking passage was sunk by enemy action.  She formerly lived at Penistone, moving to Stocksbridge 10 years ago.”  This means that she was a State Registered Nurse, State Certified Midwife and in Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service.

Marjorie was on board the SS Khedive Ismail, a British troop ship which set sail from Mombassa in Kenya on the 6th February 1944 bound for Colombo in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).  The ship was part of a Convoy consisting of five troop transport ships (the other four were the City of Paris, Varsova, Ekma and Ellenga), escorted by the heavy cruiser HMS Hawkins and the destroyers HMS Petard and HMS Paladin.  The ship was carrying 1,511 personnel including 178 crew, 996 officers and men of the East African Artillery’s 301st Field Regiment, 271 Royal Navy personnel, and a detachment of 19 Wrens. Also on board were 53 nursing sisters accompanied by one matron, and 9 members of the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry.

 

In the early afternoon of Saturday 12th February 1944, the ship was attacked by a B1 type Japanese submarine, the I-27, commanded Lieutenant-Commander Toshiaki Fukumura.  The convoy was near the Maldives in the Indian Ocean at the time.  The submarine sank the Khedive Ismail with two torpedoes resulting in a huge loss of life - 1,297 souls perished, including 77 women.  It took only two minutes for the ship to sink and only 208 men and 6 women survived.

 

As survivors floundered in the sea, I-27 submerged and hid beneath them. While HMS Paladin lowered boats over her side to begin rescuing survivors, HMS Petard raced in to release depth charges.  The destruction of an enemy submarine that might sink more ships took precedence over the lives of the survivors, and I-27 under Commander Fukumura had a history of machine-gunning survivors of ships she had sunk, including the Liberty ship SS Sambridge and the Fort Mumford.  On Petard’s third run, her depth charges forced I-27 to the surface. Paladin rammed the submarine, in the process causing considerable damage to herself. Finally, a torpedo from Petard destroyed the I-27. [1] 

 

The Author of the novel The Cruel Sea, Nicholas Monsarrat, incorporated some of the aspects of the sinking of the Khedive Ismail into his book, which was later made into a film.  In one scene, the captain of an escort ship realises that an enemy submarine is lurking underneath survivors who are struggling in the water.  Faced with a terrible choice, he attacks, knowing that his depth charges will kill many of those who are looking to him for rescue.  The Japanese submarine sought refuge from the depth charges by hiding beneath the survivors of the Khedive Ismail, hence the awful decision that had to be made.

 

The sinking was the third worst Allied shipping disaster of World War II and the single worst loss of female service personnel in the history of the Commonwealth of Nations.  The Army nurses that died are commemorated on the Brookwood Memorial.  Among the dead was war correspondent Kenneth Gandar-Dower.

 

Marjorie is commemorated at the Brookwood 1939-1945 Memorial in Surrey, panel 22, column 3.  The Memorial was unveiled by the Queen in 1958.  The Commonwealth War Graves Commission hold no family details for Marjorie.  This Memorial covers around 37 acres and commemorates nearly 3,500 men and women who have no known grave, the circumstances of their deaths being such that they could not appropriately be commemorated on any of the campaign memorials in the various theatres of war.  Some of them were special agents or were working with Allied underground movements; some, like Marjorie, died at sea, in hospital ships or troop transports in waters not associated with the major campaigns.  Some were killed in flying accidents or in aerial combat.

[1] A depth charge is an anti-submarine warfare weapon. It is intended to destroy a submarine by being dropped into the water nearby and detonating, subjecting the target to a powerful and destructive hydraulic shock. Most depth charges use high explosive charges and a fuse set to detonate the charge, typically at a specific depth. Depth charges can be dropped by shipspatrol aircraft, and helicopters [Wikipedia]

 

Sources: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Electoral Rolls (Ancestry)Nursing Register (Ancestry)

1939 Register (Findmypast)

Local Newspapers (Findmypast)

https://britisharmynurses.com/ss-khedive-ismail/

https://www.medalsofengland.com/medals.php?id=74&medalid=212

http://seaclassicsnow.com/assets/scfeb18submarineunder.pdf

 

FURTHER READING: Crabb, B. J., Passage to Destiny; the Sinking of the SS Khedive Ismail in the Sea War against Japan.

ORDINARY SEAMAN THOMAS BEET (BAR MILL)

Ordinary Seaman Thomas Beet was drowned at the age of 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, the Thurgoland Memorial and Fox’s Memorial. He had worked in the Bar Mill at Stocksbridge.

Research by Ella Jones 2020

 
 
 
 
 
 

PRIVATE STANLEY ILLINGSWORTH (BILLET MILL)

Private Stanley Illingsworth [spelt Illingworth on the memorial] initially served in the K.O.Y.L.I. (King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry) but was then transferred to the 9th Battalion of the 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.  Private 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.  Stanley was only 20 when he was killed and is buried in Bayeux War Cemetery, in the 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’.

Private Illingsworth is named on Fox’s War Memorial as he worked in the Billet Mill.

Research by Ella Jones 2020

 

GUNNER ROBERT STAGG (WIRE MILL)

Gunner John Robert Stagg was not killed in action, but was none-the-less a casualty of the War.  He served in a Light Anti-aircraft Regiment of the Royal Artillery and was based in Scotland, most likely protecting the ship building yards at Grangemouth on the R. Forth.  He died aged 22 on the 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].  He had been employed in the Wire Mill at Fox’s and is on their Memorial, and he is buried in Thurgoland Cemetery; 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.

Research by Ella Jones 2020

 
Gunner J. R. Stagg 16 Nov 2020, Sally Jowitt.jpg

Gunner John Robert Stagg's C.W.G.C. headstone in Thurgoland cemetery.  Photo: Sally Jowitt 2020.

GUNNER DOUGLAS MATTHEWMAN (WIRE MILL)

Like Gunner Stagg, Gunner Douglas Matthewman was not killed in action, but was still a casualty of the War.  He 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.  Douglas had married in 1942 and at the time of his death was living in Monkseaton, Northumberland.  He became ill and was discharged from the army and died in the Royal Infirmary, George Square, Edinburgh, on the 12th August 1943 aged 23.  The cause of death was recorded as, “Multiple Polyps of Colon and Rectum. Post-operative cardiac failure.” [a modern diagnosis suggests Bowel Cancer].

Research by Ella Jones 2020

 

JOE ROGERSON, R.A.F.

After the death of The Friendship Inn's landlord Tom Batty on the 15th May 1939, the pub was bought by Truswell's Brewery.  The first landlord they installed was George Henry Rogerson.  He and his wife Florence had a son called Joseph, who had been born in 1915.  Young Joe was a fairly well-known golfer, who played at the Sitwell Park Golf Club in Rotherham and played with the County team.  He helped his father in the running of the pub, including keeping the books, and when the 1939 Register was taken at the start of WW2 it was recorded that he was also working as an ambulance driver.  At some point he joined the R.A.F. Volunteer Reserve, serving with 153 Maintenance Unit.  Sadly, Joe did not survive the war.  He was captured by the Japanese in 1942 and held in a Prisoner of War Camp in Java.  Joseph Rogerson, prisoner no. 797, died of bacillary dysentery on the 28th May 1943 (as did a great many other men, it being a highly contagious disease).  He is commemorated on the Stocksbridge Clock Tower War Memorial.  The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records Joseph Rogerson, no. 952920, as being buried in Grave 4.A.1. at Ambon War Cemetery, Indonesia.  He was a Leading Aircraftsman with the R.A.F. Volunteer Reserve although some records say he was a Private and others a Lance Corporal.  He was 28 years old.

 

One 98 page document I have seen, now declassified, has 96 pages listing all the deaths of men from the allied countries in the Java P.O.W. camp from 1942- 28th June 1945 .  Common causes of death included dysentery of various forms, beriberi, malaria and malnutrition.  A great many were listed as drowned, but it wasn't recorded where or how.  The majority of deaths were caused by dysentery.  Other causes of death were “broken neck,” “bayoneted in chest and stomach, sudden death,” “bayoneted and skull fractured,” “death by air raid,” “syphilis,” “leprosy,” “beriberi and bayonet wound through the forehead,” as well as cancer and heart failure.

 
Joe Rogerson POW.png

A record for Joe Rogerson from the Japanese Index Cards of Allied Prisoners, ref. WO 345/44

 

MISS DOROTHY MUSK, WREN 86642

Dorothy Edith Musk was born at Deepcar on the 29th September 1923 to Ernest Harry Clement Musk and Beatrice Charlesworth Steers.  Ernest had been born in Wandsworth, London, and Beatrice was born in Deepcar.  They married at Bolsterstone on 1st September 1923 and lived at Florence Buildings on Station Road, Deepcar.  Dorothy was in the Women’s Royal Naval Service (The Wrens) and stationed at H.M.S. Dryad, a land-based naval establishment also known as a “stone frigate.”  It was the home of the Royal Navy’s Maritime Warfare School from WW2 until 2004.  Dorothy died of leukaemia in Sheffield Royal Infirmary on the 10th April 1946 aged 22.  She was buried at Bolsterstone and has a Commonwealth War Grave headstone which is inscribed “You were good to young and old, so God took you to his fold.”  Dorothy’s father died in Sheffield in 1945 and her mother married again to Charles Ball in 1948.