These 18 men all have some apparent connection with Winscombe either through birth, residence of themselves/next of kin or death but are not remembered on the physical war memorials at St James.
Hopefully some more information will be discovered about these men in due course.
ARNSBY, Chief Petty Officer (Ch. Gunner's Mate), FRANK, 166372, H.M.S. "Princess Irene.", Royal Navy. Killed by internal explosion of vessel off Sheerness 27 May 1915. Age 39. Son of the late William and Elizabeth Arnsby, of Winscombe, Weston-super-Mare; husband of Lydia Martha Arnsby, of 21, Lynn Rd., Buckland, Portsmouth. 7. PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL, United Kingdom
H.M.S. “Princess Irene” was a brand new ship preparing for her first mine laying sortie on the morning of the 27th of May 1915 – Her compliment of 225 Officers and crew were all busy aboard, apart from three who were ashore. In addition to this around 80 Petty Officers from Chatham were inspecting the ship and 76 dockyard workers were completing fitting out operations prior to her planned departure on the 29th May.
At about 11:15 something went wrong in the arming the 500 mines aboard and a huge explosion ripped the ship apart killing all onboard with the exception of one dockyard worker
Frank’s name is on the roll of honor at St Wilfrid’s church, Portsmouth.
CONIBERE, Private, FREDERICK JAMES, 25001, 1st Bn., South Wales Borderers, Formerly 14907, 9th Hussars. Died 02 April 1916. Age 20. Son of Frederick and Alice Conibere, of Bay-Tree House, Shipham, Winscombe, Somerset. Grave Ref III. H. 15. ST. PATRICK'S CEMETERY, LOOS
Frederick was born in Winscombe [though in the 1901 census he’s living with his family at Kilmersdon and seems to be called ‘Theodore’] he went to Winscombe School [where his name is on the memorial, now Winscombe Community Centre] . His name is on the War Memorial at Shipham
DOWSON, Sergeant, JOHN DOUGLAS, 526769, 224 Sqdn., Royal Air Force. Died 25 October 1940. Age 37. Son of Thomas and Dora Josephine Dowson; husband of Georgina Robertson Dowson, of Winscombe, Somerset. Panel 13. RUNNYMEDE MEMORIAL, United Kingdom
224 Squadron operated Lockheed Hudsons from RAF Leuchars to fly patrols over the North Sea in search of German ships.
His name is on the war memorial in the churchyard of the church of St Mary and St Lawrence, in the village of Rosedale Abbey, North Yorkshire.
DUFF, Aircraftman 1st Class, HENRY, 1067104, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Died 13 March 1947. Age 38. Son of Hugh and Janet Duff; husband of Margaret Duff (nee Armstrong), of Loxton.. Grave Ref Row S. Grave 12. WINSCOMBE (ST. JAMES THE GREAT) CHURCHYARD.
ELLIOT, Corporal, CHARLES VICTOR, 53512, "T" Bty. 14th Bde. Royal Horse Artillery. Died 23 August 1916. Age Unknown. Grave Ref B. 26. 40. ST. SEVER CEMETERY, ROUEN.
‘Soldiers Died in the Great War’ shows Charles’ birth place as Winscombe, however there is no 1901 census record that seems to confirm this : his link with Winscombe is, at best, unproven.
GRAY, Sergeant (Flt. Engr.) JOHN EDWIN, 629214, 90 Sqdn., Royal Air Force. Died 6 September 1943. Age 35. Son of James and Amy Gray; husband of Mildred Gray, of Winscombe, Somerset. Grave Ref. 20. B. 8. RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY, Germany
90 Squadron flew Short Stirling MkIII Heavy Bombers from RAF Wratting Common and John was shot down on a bombing raid over the Ruhr valley. The Sterling was a bomber of pre war design whose limited ceiling made them the first of the bomber stream to be targeted by anti aircraft fire and night fighters: They had the highest ‘ in service’ to losses ratio of all RAF bombers during WW2.
GREGORY, Trooper, JOHN EDWARD, 7904600, 1st Royal Gloucestershire Hussars, Royal Armoured Corps. Died 22 June 1941. Age 32. Son of A. E. B. Gregory and Effie Gregory, of Weston-super-Mare; husband of E. M. Gregory, of Winscombe. Grave Ref Sec. A. Row T. Grave 29. WINSCOMBE (ST. JAMES THE GREAT) CHURCHYARD.
The 1st Battalion RGH was initially a home defense and latter a training battalion providing crews for the 2nd Battalion and other RAC units. He is buried, with his wife who died in 1961, in St James’ churchyard and died in the Cambridge area, probably through illness or a training accident. He is not recorded on any known war memorial. To see his gravestone, click here.
HARLEY, Sergeant (Air Gnr.) ROBERT WILLIAM, 1578786, 103 Sqdn., Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Died 17 April 1943. Age 21. Son of William Clowes Harley and Annie Harley, of Winscombe, Somerset. Grave Ref. 7. C. 5. DURNBACH WAR CEMETERY, Germany
Robert died along with 4 other crew members when their Lancaster I serial W4848 Code PM-L from 103 Squadron took off from RAF Elsham Wolds at 2121 on the evening of 16/04/1943 on Ops to Pilsen and the aircraft crashed at 0038 local time near the site of a German Luftwaffe flak battery near Ludswighafen am Rhein
KIDNER, Private, JAMES MERSON, 754, 15th Bn., Australian Infantry, A.I.F., Died of wounds 7 May 1915. Son of Mary Elizabeth Kidner, of "Elmside," Winscombe, Weston-super-Mare, England, and the late John Kidner. Born at Cannington, nr. Bridgwater, Somerset. Grave Ref. A. 71. ALEXANDRIA (CHATBY) MILITARY AND WAR MEMORIAL CEMETERY, Egypt
OATTEN, Private, WILLIAM HENRY, 60682, 24th Bn., Welsh Regiment. Killed in action 6 November 1917. Age 19. Son of Joseph and Fannie Oatten, of 9, South Morgan St., Cardiff. Native of Winscombe, Somerset. Grave Ref. K. 48. BEERSHEBA WAR CEMETERY, Israel
Sent to liberate Palestine from Ottoman occupation, the 24th Battalion of the Welsh Regiment were pushing north west from Beersheba [which they had captured from the Turks on 31st October] towards Gaza when they went forward on 6th November to assist the Suffolk regiment who were being counterattacked at Tell Esh Sheria, a major Turkish defensive position recently taken in fierce fighting.
This Tell was identified by Archeologists in the 70’s as the site of the Biblical city of Ziklag, King David’s city defending southern Judah and ransacked by Amalekites around 1000BC.
PEARCE, Private, D, 2162, Royal Gloucestershire Hussars. 28 August 1915. Age 30. Son of Henry C. Pearce, of Max House, Winscombe, Somerset. Grave Ref. II. G. 2. GREEN HILL CEMETERY, Turkey
PERRYMAN, Trooper, DONALD LEWIS, 7936448, 3rd County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters), Royal Armoured Corps. Died 27 September 1943. Age 27. Son of Alick John and Caroline Mary Perryman; husband of Joyce Marion Perryman, of Winscombe, Somerset. Grave Ref. IX. A. 21. SANGRO RIVER WAR CEMETERY, Italy
POLE, Rifleman, CHARLES WILLIAM, S/8009, 11th Bn. Rifle Brigade. Died 30 September 1916. Age 32 Son of William and Sarah Ann Pole, of 31, Sydenham Buildings, Lower Bristol Rd., Bath. Native of Box, Wilts. Grave Ref B. 15. 29. ST. SEVER CEMETERY, ROUEN.
While his family declared he was a native of Box, Charles showed his place of birth as Winscombe when he enlisted and that is what is recorded in the 1901 Census, though certainly by that time his family had moved to Box where he worked as an ‘Under Gardener’
PROBERT, Leading Aircraftman, ROBERT WILLIAM, 1314791, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Died 11 July 1947. Age 26. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Probert; husband of Joyce May Probert, of Winscombe. BLEADON (SS. PETER AND PAUL) CHURCHYARD, United Kingdom
SAWTELL, Private, WILLIAM, 20589, 7th Bn. Somerset Light Infantry. Died 1 October 1916 Age 23. Son of John and Jessilena Sawtell, of Shipham, Winscombe, Somerset. Memorial Pier and Face 2 A. THIEPVAL MEMORIAL
The army showed William as resident in Winscombe and born in Shipham. He is remembered on the Shipham war memorial.
VENN, Private, HENRY JOHN, S/4013, 53rd Bn. Devonshire Regiment, Died 10 November 1918. Age 18. Son of Charles and Mary Venn, of Coombe Cottage, Sidcot, Winscombe. Born at Shipham. SHIPHAM (ST. LEONARD) CHURCHYARD
WADE, Private, ANTHONY PHILLIP SAMUEL, 5682980, 2nd Bn., Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry. Died 8 August 1944. Age 21. Son of Philip George Tom and Phyllis May Wade; husband of Mavis Eileen Wade, of Winscombe, Somerset. Grave Ref. V. F. 11. FLORENCE WAR CEMETERY, Italy
WHITLOCK, Gunner, LESLIE ETHELBERT, 1489035, 144 Bty., 35 Lt. A.A. Regt., Royal Artillery. Died 16 January 1943. Age 37. Son of Reginald Arthur and Jane Maria Whitlock, of Winscombe, Somerset. Grave Ref. Coll. grave Plot 26. D. 9 to Plot 26. E. 20. KRANJI WAR CEMETERY, Singapore
Captured at the “fall of Singapore” in February 1942, 100 men from 144th Battery of the 35th Light Anti Aircraft Regiment, including Leslie, and around 1,000 other captives were moved by the Japanese, by the ship Nisshu Maru, from Singapore to Saigon in French Indo-China [now Vietnam]. In Saigon they were put to work as slave labor in the docks, loading and unloading ships by hand. The men of the 144th were soon sent north to Hanoi to build and airfield, returning in November 1942. The conditions in the Singapore camp were not as bad as that of many Japanese camps, in part due to the presence in Saigon of a sizeable Vichy French population who both provided food and a ‘balancing’ influence on the extremes of treatment meted out by the Japanese. Of the 100 men from the 144th Battery, around 95% survived their captivity; unfortunately Leslie was not one of them.
The men of the 35th Light Anti Aircraft Regiment who were not sent to Saigon did not have such a high survival rate: Of the three batteries; one [78th] was sent to Borneo to work in dreadful conditions; another [89th] was sent to Japan with 25 men dying on the voyage alone.
The remainder of the 144th and the regimental headquarters, were sent to the Solomon’s, firstly to Kokopo where 517 of the strongest were selected to make an airfield on the island of Ballalae: Of the 82 who remained in Kokopo, 18 survived the war – of those that went to Ballalae, there were no survivors – those that had survived illness and Allied bombing were massacred by their Japanese captors on 5th March 1943.
After WW2 the Commonwealth War Graves Commission moved the war graves from the Saigon military cemetery to the Kranji War Cemetery, Singapore as they couldn’t maintain the graves in the original location because of the political situation and armed conflict in Vietnam.