The information on this page is taken from a website made by John Talbot as part of his research into his own family history. John kindly gave permission (July 2010) for his information to be included here:
[See also the details of those commemorated on the RAF Harwell War Graves]
Each November, Remembrance Day Services are held around the country. We gather around the War Memorial or attend Memorial Services, listen to the words of Laurence Binyon, and dutifully repeat the last four words “We will remember them”.
I don’t doubt that many people will remember the sacrifice of lives, many tragically young, which occurred in the wars of the 20th century, and most will know that the names on the War Memorials are ‘locals’. And there it ends. The changing populations of modern times, coupled with the fact that the earliest set of names refer to events which occurred almost ninety years ago means that these names mean very little to the present day inhabitants of the villages and towns. They are simply names – not people.
This is my small effort to try to rectify that to some extent so far as Harwell is concerned. Information has been gleaned from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, the Parish Registers of St Matthew’s (C of E) Church at Harwell, and a Book on Battle Honours for the Regiments of the British and Commonwealth Armies. Hardly comprehensive, but it is a start.
World War I
WW I deaths are listed on the village memorial in date order:
Stephen John Belcher, Private 7599 of 1st Bn. Royal Berkshire Regiment, died on 14th November 1914 age 34.
He was son of Charles and Annie Belcher of Zulu Cottages, Harwell and was husband of Minnie Elizabeth Belcher (née Wells) of 3 Heads Lane, Harwell. He had a son, also Stephen John, born in 1913.
He has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel 45 of the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Ieper, Belgium.
The 1st Battalion R.Berks took part in the First Battle of Ypres, in which the British Expeditionary Force lost 75,000 men: it seems that Stephen was one of that number.
George Hall, Private 9065 of 2nd Bn. Royal Berkshire Regiment, died on 6th February 1915 age 28.
He was son of Robert and Alice Hall of Kings Lane, Harwell.
He is buried in Grave III.B.86 in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.
I can find no reference to George or his parents in the Registers of St Matthew’s. [JMC – lived in Steventon, enlisted 28-12-1908].
Many of the burials at Boulogne Eastern Cemetery were of men who had died in the hospital at Boulogne.
Albert Elderfield, Private 8050 of 1st Bn. Royal Berkshire Regiment, died on 19th February 1915 age 21.
[JMC – Born in Moreton, called up in 1914 as a Reservist]
He has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel 30 of Le Touret Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.
and Harry Elderfield, Rifleman 3326 of 2nd Bn, Rifle Brigade, died on 14th March 1915 age 20.
He has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel 44 of Le Touret Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.
Both of these were sons of Elizabeth Elderfield of Broadway, Harwell and the late George Elderfield.
The Regiments in which these men served were part of the first major British offensive of the war at Neuve Chapelle, where Field Marshal Haig made an advance of 1,000 yards at the cost of 12,000 casualties.
Hubert Clack, Private 21237 of 4th Bn. Grenadier Guards, died on 27th September 1915 age 23.
He was the son of Ellen Clack, of Harwell.
He has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel 5 of Loos Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.
See comments following Percy Mumford
Frank Robert Tilby, Private 7561 of 1st Bn. Royal Berkshire Regiment, died on 28th September 1915 age 35.
He had previously served in the South African Campaign (Boer War) with the Imperial Yeomanry.
[JMC – Lived at Steventon, enlisted in Royal Berks 29-1-1904]
He was son of Mary Martha Tilby (née Jefferies) of Harwell and the late James Tilby.
He has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel 95 of Loos Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.
See comments following Percy Mumford
Percy Mumford, Private 19739 of 3rd Bn. Grenadier Guards, died on 9th October 1915.
No information on age or parentage, but he is believed to be son of Charles Mumford and Elizabeth née Slade, who married at Harwell in 1878.
He has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel 6 of Loos Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.
The three men above were almost certainly among the 50,000 casualties in the Battle of Loos, the Grenadiers and the Royal Berks both being involved in that battle.
Edward Clack, Lance Corporal G/12690 in 1st Bn. The Buffs (East Kent Regiment), (War Memorial shows E.W.Clack. R.Berks. [JMC – originally in 9th Bn R.Berks as 23442]), died on 9th April 1917 age 19.
He was the son of Edward and Jane Clack, of Harwell.
He is buried in Grave I.Q.12 in the Maroc British Cemetery, Nord, France.
The date of death and the Regiment lead one to believe that he fell at Monchy le Preux, one of the three battles of Scarpe (Arras).
Edward and Jane (née Winter) were married at St Matthew’s, but there is no record there of a Baptism for Edward.
Sidney Richard Harris, Private 15826 of ‘B’ Coy, 1st Bn. Royal Berkshire Regiment, died on 24th April 1917 age 23.
He was son of the late Frederick and Mary Ann Harris of Harwell.
He has no known grave and is commemorated in Bay 7 of the Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.
The casualty count for the Battle of Arras totalled 158,660.
Albert Edward Smith, Private G/65573 of 2nd Bn. Royal Fusiliers (War Memorial shows A.E.Smith, R.A.S.C.), died on 7th August 1917 age 21.
He was the son of Albert Edward and Mary Martha Smith, of Harwell.
He has no known grave, and is commemorated on Panel 8 of the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Ieper, Belgium.
See comment under Walter Frederick Keep below
Henry James Cox, Private 15831 of 2nd/4th Bn. Royal Berkshire Regiment, died on 22nd August 1917 age 26.
He was the son of William and Sarah Cox (née Comley), of The Cleave, Harwell.
He has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel 105 of the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium.
See comment under Walter Frederick Keep below
R.W.Hall, Gunner 162984 of ‘D’ Bty. 52nd Bde. Royal Field Artillery, died on 20th September 1917.
Details of forenames, age and Next of Kin not listed.
He is buried in Grave I.O.15 in the Spoilbank Cemetery, Zillebeke, Ieper, Belgium.
See comment under Walter Frederick Keep below
Walter Frederick Keep, Private PO/1657(S) of Royal Marine Light Infantry, died on 6th November 1917 age 25.
He was son of Mrs A.Keep of 1 Mount Pleasant, Station Hill, Didcot and husband of May Evelyn Annie Keep of 2 Town Place, Eldon Terrace, Reading.
He has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel 1 of the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium.
Walter Frederick Keep and May Evelyn Annie Simpson were married at Didcot in 1913.
Walter Frederick Keep, R.W.Hall (above), Henry James Cox (above) and Albert Edward Smith (above) perished in the Third Battle of Ypres (also known as the Battle of Passchendaele) in which the British Expeditionary Force suffered 310,000 casualties. The casualty rate was swelled by Haig’s persistence in continuing the attacks long after the operation had lost any real strategic value.
Joseph Walter Dearlove, Private 43713 2nd/8th Bn. Worcestershire Regiment, died on 13th April 1918 age 18.
He was son of Matilda Dearlove of Kings Lane, Harwell.
He is buried in Grave II.D.6 in the St.Venant-Robecq Road British Cemetery, Robecq, Pas de Calais, France.
The Worcestershire Regiment was involved in several battles around this time, but the date of Joseph’s death makes the Battle of Bailleul the most likely venue.
A.Hine, Private 203243 of 2nd Bn. Royal Berkshire Regiment, died on 16th August 1918.
Details of forename, age and Next of Kin not listed, but he is possibly 34 year old Andrew, son of Alfred Hine and Sarah Ann (née Greenough) of Harwell. [JMC – forename confirmed as Andrew; lived at Steventon]
He is buried in Grave IV.A.II. in La Targette British Cemetery, Neuville-St Vaast, Pas de Calais, France. This particular burial ground is formed largely by concentration from smaller burial grounds so it is difficult to suggest the location where he fell, but immediately prior to the date of his death the Royal Berks was engaged in the Battle of Amiens.
Edward John Turner, Private 36495 ‘A’ Coy. 10th Bn. South Wales Borderers, died 2nd September 1918 age 38.
He was son of Robert and Catherine Turner of Kings Lane, Harwell.
He has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel 6 of the Vis-En-Artois Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.
The South Wales Borderers were engaged in the Battle of Drocourt-Queant on 2nd September
Information shown above in square brackets, viz: [JMC – etc etc] from John M Chapman, firstname.lastname@example.org who has an interest in The Royal Berkshire Regiment in World War I. John also lists the following man, buried in Harwell:
F.W.G.Davis, Private 15344 Royal Berkshire Regiment, transferred to 312577, 396th Agricultural Company, Labour Corps. Died 21st November 1918 at age 27 and Buried in Grave 107, Harwell Cemetery. Husband of Rose Elizabeth Davis, Pembroke Lane, Milton, Steventon.
World War II
With World War II deaths, it has not been possible in many instances to work out where a person died or even give a reasonable assumption (apart from identifying the country).
The World War II names are in alphabetical order on the village Memorial- as follows:
Valentine Baker, Pilot Officer 149084 of 97 Squadron Royal Air Force, died on 11th August 1943 age 20.
He was son of Henry Stuart and Hilda Baker of Harwell.
His Commonwealth War Grave Record shows him as R.A.F. and not R.A.F.V.R. as detailed on the War Memorial.
He is buried in Grave 7.B.2. in the Durnbach War Cemetery, Bayern, Germany.
The clock in St Matthew’s Church tower, which replaced the 1703 one, was given to commemorate Valentine Baker.
V.Butler.Royal Air Force.
Vernon Stanley Butler DFC, Wing Commander 37465, Pilot, 226 Squadron, Royal Air Force. Son of Samuel Flowers Butler and Lilian Hetty Butler; husband of Margaret Butler. Died Sunday 8th March 1942, age 26, and Buried in Grave 220, Marissel French National Cemetery, Oise, France.
U.S.Caudwell, Auxillary Territorial Service. (Memorial in St Matthew’s shows A.S.C and not A.T.S.)
Believed to be Unity Selwyn Caudwell, daughter of Farmer Selwyn Caudwell. Her burial, at age 24, of Greenbench, Harwell, is recorded in the Register of St Matthews on 8th October 1940.
The A.T.S. served in the war in a variety of ways – many of the girls were in Anti-aircraft batteries.
They suffered 751 casualties, including 335 killed.
Ronald Robert Froud, (see comment below) Private 14332887 of 5th Bn. Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, died on 26th October 1944 age 20.
He was son of Robert and Alice N.Froud of Harwell.
He is buried in Grave 5.C.5. in the Jonkerbos War Cemetery, Netherlands.
This cemetery is near Arnhem, so Ronald Froud was possibly involved in that battle, either as part of the Airborne Division or a member the Infantry trying to fight through to link up with them.
Christian names in St Matthew’s Registers differ slightly from CWGC records by the addition of an ‘s’ on Robert: He was Baptised as Ronald Roberts, son of Roberts Froud and Alice Nellie Rosetta (née Webb).
Lionel Charles Goodwin, Private 5383919 of 1st Bn. Oxford. and Bucks Light Infantry, died on 11th May 1941 age 25.
He was son of Charles A. and Edith Mary Goodwin (née Dearlove) of New Northcourt, Abingdon.
He is buried in Grave 251 in Harwell Cemetery.
His parents were married at Harwell and he was Baptised there as Lionel Charles Albert.
Walter King, Private 14378923 in Pioneer Corps, died on 16th July 1945 age 41.
He was son of Edward and Alice King of Harwell, and husband of Florence Louisa King of Harwell.
He is buried in Grave 519 in Harwell Cemetery.
His mother was née Elderfield, and his wife, Florence Louisa, was née Bilby, from Blewbury.
Charles Albert Ramster, Petty Officer C/J 96996, H.M.S.Arethusa, Royal Navy, died on 18th November 1942 age 37.
Son of Charles Henry and Elizabeth Ramster, and husband of Elsie Annie Ramster of Harwell.
He has no know grave and is commemorated on Panel 521 of the Chatham Naval Memorial, Kent.
HMS Arethusa, a Light Destroyer, was engaged in the Mediterranean on the Malta Convoys and on 18th November 1942 she was hit by a torpedo which had been dropped by an Italian aircraft. There is a detailed account of the action, plus a very moving account of the burials at sea on www.world-war.co.uk/web_arethusa.html
Geoffrey Howard Rice, Officer Cadet 7523947 Royal Corps of Signals, died on 21st November 1942 age 26.
He was son of Geoffrey Cecil and Marguerite Violet Rice of Shepherds Bush, London, and was a Member of the Pharmaceutical Society. He is buried in Grave 563 in Harwell Cemetery.
He was grandson of Dr Richard Rice, who started as G.P. at Harwell in 1882 and didn’t retire until 1945 at the age of 86.
Eric Wilfred Sherwood, Sergeant 563931 in 40 Squadron, Royal Air Force, died on 24th October 1941 age 29.
He was son of Ernest Henry and Kathleen Mary Sherwood of Salford Priors, Warwickshire and husband of Mary Joan Sherwood. Banns were read at St Matthew’s in 1937 for Mary Joan Harris of Harwell and Eric Wilfred Sherwood of the R.A.F. The Banns Book shows Eric as Roman Catholic, so the wedding took place elsewhere.
He has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel 52 of the Runnymede Memorial, Surrey.
Roy Shaw, Able Seaman P/JX 523683, H.M.S.Howe, Royal Navy, died on 15th June 1945 age 19.
He was son of Harry and Alice Shaw of Harwell.
He is buried in Grave K.C.3. in Perth War Cemetery, Western Australia.
The Battleship HMS Howe was in the Pacific Fleet in that time – one of its Battle Honours is for Okinawa in June 1945.
The Village Memorial shows T.S.Skeats, R.A.F. and the Memorial in St Matthew’s shows A/Cmdre T.S.Skeats, R.A.F. He appears to be identical to:
Thomas George Skeats CBE, Air Commodore, Royal Air Force, died on 1st December 1944 age 55.
He was son of Lt-Col Thomas George Skeats and Elizabeth Skeats; and husband of Mabel Louisa Skeats of Wantage.
He is buried in Grave 2.15. in Annan Cemetery, Dumfriesshire, Scotland.
Edward Askey Wood OBE, Lieut-Colonel 17121 Leicestershire Regiment, died on 1st November 1945 age 46.
He was son of John Askey Wood and Ann Edith Wood; and husband of Irene Jeanne Wood of Harwell.
He is buried in Plot B/1 Grave 278 in Oxford (Botley) Cemetery, Oxford.