Let us now sing the praises of famous men: our ancestors in their generations.
Some of them have left behind a name, so that others declare their praise.
But of others there is no memory; they have perished as though they have never existed.
But these also were godly men, whose righteous deeds have not been forgotten.
Their bodies are buried in peace, but their names live for evermore.
Ecclesiasticus: Chapter 44
Compiled by Christopher Tyrer
Private Harold Cecil Avery was the son of Henry Avery [born in about 1876] and Jane Avery nee Anderson, [born in about 1870]. They lived with Ann Anderson, Jane Avery’s mother in her house at The Barracks, now Moseley Cottages, Naphill. Harold was the eldest of three children and was born in Hughenden between July and September 1899. His siblings were Mable born in 1900 and Frank born in 1907. In 1901, the family was living with Ann Anderson. In the 1911 Census the family was still living there with Mrs. Anderson who was then aged 80 years. Henry Avery was employed as a traction engine driver.
Harold enlisted into the 1st Battalion of the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and was given a Service Number of 285068. He died on the 16th April 1917, at the age of 17 years, probably from injuries sustained during the 1916 offensive on the Somme. His name and details are recorded on Pier and Face 10A and 10D on the Thiepval Memorial and on the Stone of Remembrance in Naphill. He was awarded both the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.
Private Frederick Henry Bennett was a Canadian by nationality. His Service Number was 104134 and he enlisted in Canada into the 7th Battalion of the Canadian Infantry, the British Columbian Regiment. His mother was Mrs. G Bennett and lived at Pipers Corner. Frederick Bennett was born on the 20th May 1893, at Ightham in Kent and died on the 18th August 1918 aged 25 years. He is buried at the Choques Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.
Private Harry [Henry] Brooks, named Henry but always known as Harry, likewise served and died in the First World War. He was born in Bledlow Ridge in 1890 and was baptized at the local Church on the 6th April 1890. His parents were William and Sarah Brooks and they lived at Church Lane in Bledlow Ridge at the time of their son’s birth.
Harry Brooks enlisted into the 5th Battalion of the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, in Oxford and his Service Number was 16747. He was killed in action on the 21st March 1918, in Flanders and is buried in the Montescourt-Lizerolles Communal Cemetery, Aisne, France. He was 28 years of age. At the time of his death, he was married with a daughter, Evelyn. His wife died soon after her husband was killed and their child was raised by her paternal grandparents, William and Sarah Brooks.
There is a Memorial to him also in High Wycombe Hospital. He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.
Gunner John Nelson Brown also served and died in the First World War. He was born in Naphill in 1895 and his father is named as James Brown. He enlisted in High Wycombe into the 156th Heavy Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery and his Service Number was Gunner 297228.
He died of his wounds, having been hit by a shell, in Flanders on the 22nd August 1917 at the age of 22 years. He was buried at the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Poperinghe, Belgium.
He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal. His name is commemorated on the Stone of Remembrance in Naphill.
Lieutenant Colonel John Stanhope Collings-Wells VC, DSO, was born in Hongeight, Lancashire on the 19th July 1880. He was the son of Arthur and Caroline Collings-Wells. In 1901, the family lived at Caddington Hall, Markyate, in Hertfordshire. Arthur Collings-Wells was born in about 1865; his wife in about 1856. They had five children of whom John was the eldest. After him came Russell Primrose, born in about 1883, then Mabel Bertha in about 1884, Alice Madelene in about 1886 and Leonard in about 1890.
There were a number of family servants recorded in the 1901 census: Lucy Youngs aged 37 years, Alice Boulton aged 26 years, Mary Acres aged 19 years Edith Fox aged 23 years, Louisa Gentle aged 20 years and Stanley Flitners also aged 20 years. At some stage, the family came to live at Brand’s House, Hughenden.
John was commissioned into the Bedfordshire Regiment, later the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment, on the 14th March 1904, being made a Lieutenant that September and a Captain in January 1907. When the First World War broke out he travelled with his regiment to France but was injured during the winter of 1914 and invalided home. In July 1916, he returned to his regiment as Major and by October was a Lieutenant Colonel and in command. He won the DSO in April 1917, for his command of his battalion, which captured and held parts of Gravelle. He was Mentioned in Dispatches that November.
He was killed in action on the 27th March 1918, being awarded his VC posthumously. The lengthy Citation states that he was awarded the VC ‘for most conspicuous bravery, skilful leading and handling of his Battalion in very critical situations.’ He led a small group of volunteers to hold up the enemy whilst the remainder retreated, until every round of ammunition had been expended: thus saving the situation. He then led a counter attack and continued to do so despite being wounded twice. He was killed at the moment of success. His ‘undaunted courage’ resulted in that success. He was 38 years of age, was buried at Bouzincourt Ridge Cemetery, in France and is commemorated on his parents’ grave, which is situated just outside the Church Porch on the left hand side.
Rifleman Bugler John Crutchfield was born in 1899. His father was Eli Crutchfield, a wood turner, born in about 1863. His mother was Sarah Crutchfield, born in about 1865 of Snowdrop Cottage, Great Kingshill. By 1901, the family lived on Cryers Hill.
The family was a large one. There were eight children, all born in the Parish. First came Rosa, born in about 1890; then Isabella, in 1892, Clara in 1894, Irene in 1897, John in 1899, Marjorie in 1902, Robert in 1904 and Edward in 1906: five girls and three boys of whom John was the eldest boy. He joined the 5th Battalion of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, his Service Number being R13187.
He died on the 10th September 1916 at the age of 17 years at Keycol Hospital, Sittingbourne, Kent and was buried in our Churchyard adjacent to the fence that runs parallel to the road leading up to the Manor House. No other family members share his grave.
Private Leonard Dollery was born in 1892 in Botley, Hants. His parents were Charles [1864-1921] and Emily, nee Blow [1863-1939]. He was one of eight children of the family. The eldest was Alice Fanny Margret born in about 1889, Emily born in about 1890, Orlando Alfred born in about 1891, Leonard in about 1892, Florence Bertha, in about 1893: [she later married Herbert Tier and died in Winchester on the 11th September 1954], Martin Charles, born in about 1896, Violet Myra born in about 1898 and Christopher born in about 1899.
Leonard’s childhood was spent in Hampshire, in Botley and Eastleigh, until he married Amy Mundy in 1917 in High Wycombe. They had a daughter Ella, who was born in the months between July and September 1918. She married an R A F serviceman, David Roles. They had a son who is living in Ascot, Berkshire. After her death a few years ago and her funeral Service in this Church had her ashes interred alongside her father’s grave in France. The Dollery home was on Coombs Hill, Naphill.
Leonard enlisted in Gosport in Hampshire into the 1st/8th Battalion, Manchester Regiment, being given the Service Number 57459. He was killed in action the 30th August 1918, in Flanders, at the age of 26 years, therefore around about the time of his daughter’s birth. He is commemorated, alongside our own Commemoration, in the Manchester Cemetery and was buried at Riencourt - Les Bapaume. His widow remarried and had two sons, the second family living locally. He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.
Second Lieutenant Kenneth MacFarlane Gaunt is something of a mystery. Records show that he was born in Cardiff in March 1896. He was the eldest of three siblings, the younger being Jennifer born in about 1898 and the youngest Elizabeth born in about 1900. Their mother, Anita, was born in Merthyr, Glamorgan in about 1869 but her marriage to her children’s father is not shown. What is recorded is her marriage to Auckland Branwell, a man two years her junior, who was born in Camberwell, London in about 1871. By 1911, they were all living in The White House, Strawberry Vale, Twickenham and the now Mrs. Branwell’s children are shown as step children. Second Lieutenant Gaunt was then aged 15 and at school.
He enlisted into the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Warwickshire Regiment and died, in France, on the 25th September 1915 at the age of 19 years. The Battalion arrived in France in March 1915 and during 1915 fought at the Battles of Neuve Chapelle, Aubers, Festubert, the Second Battle of Givenchy and the Battle of Loos. What his connection was to Hughenden and our Memorial I have yet to trace. He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.
Rifleman Frederick Harris was born in 1893, in Downley, the son of Owen and Fanny Harris of Littleworth, Downley. Owen Harris was born in Lane End and by occupation was a chair maker. Fanny Harris was the daughter of James and Hannah Langley, also of Downley. By 1911, the family lived at Little Worth, Hughenden. There were four children of the family: Lila, born in 1890 was the eldest and became an upholsterer; then came Frederick, who had become a chair carver by 1911; next followed Frank in 1897, who was an errand boy aged 14 in 1911. The youngest child, Ivy was adopted. She was born in London in 1901 and was named Ivy Langley — obviously a relation of Fanny Harris’.
Frederick enlisted in High Wycombe into the 9th Battalion of the Kings Royal Rifle Corps. His Service Number was R/12702. He died of his wounds on the 20th September 1916, at the age of 23 years. He was buried in the Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt-L’Abbe, on the Somme, France. He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.
Private Alfred Halt was the son of John [born on the 2nd September 1874] and Elizabeth Hatt [nee Chiltern, died 1929] of North Dean His parents were married in this Church on the 30th November 1895. He was the eldest of eleven children. The family was connected, at one time with two local Public Houses, The Sportsman in North Dean and The King William IV in Speen.
Alfred was born in 1896, followed by Frederick in 1900, who died aged three years, John in 1901, William in 1902, Alice Kate in 1904, Catherine Elsie in 1906, Benjamin in 1907, Isa bell Hilda in 1909, Cissie Jane in 1910 [she married Alfred Dean, also born in 1910], Clara in 1910 [obviously a twin] and Charles Frederick born in 1918 and died soon after birth.
Alfred enlisted in High Wycombe into the 12th [Service] [Bristol] Battalion of the Gloucester Regiment, with a Service Number of 23995. He was killed in action on the 23rd August 1918 in the Pas de Calais. He was 21 years of age and is commemorated on Panel 6 of the Vis-en-Artois Memorial. He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.
Private George Keen was born in Aylesbury on the 13th January 1886, the son of William James Keen and Elizabeth Emma Isabella Keen. William James Keen was a groom/car man. George was baptized at St Mary’s Aylesbury on the 20th February 1886. He had a younger brother William, born on the 6th April 1888, also in Aylesbury and also baptized at St Mary’s Aylesbury on the 8th May 1888. The family lived at 147 Cambridge Street in Aylesbury in 1901.
George initially worked for Nestle and enlisted into the 2nd Battalion of the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, with a Service Number 9307. He was killed in action on the 16th May 1915, aged 30 years, near Pozieres on the Somme in Flanders and was buried at the Guards Cemetery, Windy Corner, Cuinchy in the Pas de Calais. He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.
His brother William also enlisted into the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry as a Private, with the Service Number 3994 and was killed in action on the 15th August 1916, aged 28 years. Thus William and Elizabeth Keen lost two sons in the First World War, within the space of 14 months. George is commemorated on the Stone of Remembrance in Naphill.
Private Frank Langley was the son of Frederick and Mary Elizabeth Langley of High Wycombe. He was born in early 1885, in Downley. His father was a Commercial Traveller. There were two other siblings: Ada, born in about 1883, who became a housemaid and Charles James who was born in about 1900.
Frank was a chair maker. He married Rachel Mary Langley, sometime after 1911 and they lived together at 4, Hillside View, Upper Hughenden Road, Hughenden. He enlisted into the 13th [Service] Battalion [Forest of Dean] [Pioneers] of the Gloucester Regiment, with the Service Number 35710.
He died of his wounds on the 24th March 1918 at the age of 32 years and was buried in the Etaples Military Cemetery, France. He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.
Corporal Alfred Montague was the son of Richard and Ann Montague. His father predeceased him. He was born in early 1882 and was married to Edith Montague. They lived together at ‘Beech View’, Cryers Hill Road, Hughenden. He enlisted into the 13th battalion [The Prince Consort’s Own] of the Rifle Brigade, with the service Number 9066.
He was killed in action on the 11th July 1916 on the Somme. He was 34 years of age and his name is entered upon the Thiepval Memorial, Pier and Face 16B and 16C. He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.
Private Stanley Walter Powell came from a large family. His parents were Francis Powell, born in 1866, in High Wycombe and Sarah Jane Powell, born in 1867, in Prestwood. They were married in 1888 and had eight children of whom seven survived infancy. The eldest was William Francis, born 1889, then Winifred Kate, born 1892, Francis John, born 1894, Frederick George, born 1896, Stanley Walter, born 1899, Reginald Wesley, born 1904 and Percy Brion, born 1909. Francis Powell was a beer bottler by trade, employed in a brewery. They lived at 3, Hill Side View, Hughenden Road, Hughenden.
Stanley enlisted, in High Wycombe, into the 2nd Battalion, the Hampshire Regiment, with a Service Number 28794. He was killed in action in Belgium on the 1st October 1918 at the age of 19 years and was buried at the Hooge Crater Cemetery. He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.
Private Ernest Walter Riches was born in Godalming, Surrey in 1892. His parents were Henry Robert Riches, born in 1861 and Harriet Riches, nee Langford, born in 1860. They lived at Clandon Cottage, Naphill. He was one of five children. The eldest was William Robert, born in 1886, followed by Louis Henry in 1888 [he subsequently married and had two children], Albert George, born in 1891 and, after Ernest Walter, there was May born in 1900.
Ernest Riches married Amy Emma Riches and they lived together at Umtata Cottage, Naphill. He enlisted into the 1st Battalion, the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, with the Service Number 265763.
He died of his wounds following a gas attack on the 16th November 1918 and was buried at the Bordighera British Cemetery, in Italy. He was 27 years of age. He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal. He is commemorated on the Stone of Remembrance in Naphill.
Private Walter John Robinson DCM, was the son of Henry Robinson and Sarah Robinson, of ‘Hutton’, Upper Hughenden Road, Hughenden. He was born in 1893, the youngest of four children. His father, Henry was a joiner - shop fitter, having been born in 1860 and his mother, Sarah Hannah or Hannet was born in 1861. The eldest child was Minnie Mathilda, born in 1889 and she became a machinist - dress maker. Next came Florence Lilian, born in 1890; she became a certified school teacher. The youngest child was Walter John and he was baptized in Tottenham on the 14th May 1893. He became a joiner - improver.
He enlisted in Croydon into the 3rd Battalion, the Coldstream Guards, with a Service Number 12196. He won the DCM [Distinguished Conduct Medal] for ‘conspicuous gallantry’ on the 25th and 26th April 1915, at Givenchy, in France, when he assisted in the rescue of officers and men from a deep mine which was full of poison gas.
He was killed in action on the 30th September 1915 at the age of 22 years. His name appears on Panel 7 and 8 of the Loos Memorial. He was also awarded the 1914/1915 Star, the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.
Private Charles Joseph John Rouse was the son of John Rouse of Bradenham, born in 1870 and Emma Rouse, born in 1876. He was born in Hughenden in 1897 and was one of six children: Emma Gertrude born in 1895 [she lived until 1981], Charles, then Albert Frank in 1900, Ethel in 1906, Maud in 1908 and Vere in 1911. When he was aged 14 years, Charles became a houseboy in Widmer End. Soon afterwards, with the family living in Coombe Lane, Naphill, he was working on local farms.
He enlisted, in Watford, into the 68th Infantry Company of the Machine Gun Corps, with the Service Number 15661.
He was killed in action on the 20th September 1917 at the age of 20 years. He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal. He is commemorated on the Stone of Remembrance in Naphill.
Private Albert James Rutland was born in Princes Risborough in 1884. He was the eldest of his parents’ six children. His father was Harry Rutland, who was born in Monks Risborough in 1856 and his mother was Leanda, who was born in Bledlow also in 1856. His younger siblings were William, born in 1887, Harold, born in 1889, Nellie, born in 1891, Frederick born in 1903 and Florence born in 1907. In 1901, the family was living in Loosley Row. Albert was the husband of Caroline Rutland, whom he married in 1906. She was born in Princes Risborough in 1884 too. They had one child, Cora, who was born in 1907 in Bradenham. By 1911, this family was living in Wardrobes Lane, Loosley Row, where Albert was working as a wagoner on a farm.
He enlisted in Aylesbury into the 7th Battalion of The Queen’s [Royal West Surrey Regiment]. His Service Number was 242920. His family’s last address together was at Park Farm, Naphill. The premises still exist, as part of RAF Naphill, where the building stands adjacent to the Officers’ Mess.
He was killed in action on the 1st October 1918 at the age of 34 years and was buried in the Unicorn Cemetery, Vendhuile, near Aisne, France. He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.
Private Ernest Frank Saunders was born in 1891, the son of Thomas Saunders [born 1853] and Lucy Saunders [born 1864] of Bryant’s Bottom, Hughenden. The parents were married in 1883 and had eight children, seven of which survived infancy. The eldest was Sidney, born 1883, then William James, born 1886, Ernest Frank born 1891, Rose born 1894, who died in infancy, Alfred born in 1896, Ethel born in 1899 and Albert born in 1901. All the children were born in Hughenden. The family were farm workers and lived on Denner Hill, in Hughenden.
Ernest enlisted into the 7th Battalion of the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, with a Service Number 22692. He died on the 9th May 1917 at the age of 26 years, in circumstances that are not recorded. His name is upon the Doiran Memorial, in Greece. He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.
Private James Shaw is someone about whom we know little about his military Service. He was born in 1881, the son of William [born 1844] and Ellen Shaw [born 1848] and the youngest of four children. The eldest was Alfred, born in 1868 and a chair maker by the 1891 census; George, born in 1871 and apprenticed to a bricklayer by 1891; Bertha Ellen, born 1877 and a bead maker by 1891 and the then schoolboy James. They were all born in Hughenden and lived, within the Parish, in Chapel Lane, Naphill. By 1901, William was an agricultural worker and James was a chair worker. They all still lived in Naphill. By 1911, all had changed. Bertha was the householder and she and James were living in Chapel Lane, Naphill. What had happened to the rest of the family I have been unable to trace. James was working as a wagoner on a farm.
On a date and location that I cannot find, James enlisted into the 1st Bucks Battalion of the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, with a Service Number 240607. He died on the 13th September 1917. He was seriously wounded in action in Belgium and was transported to a hospital In Manchester. He was aged 36 tears at the date of his death and his sister, by then Mrs. Jenkinson, was by his side when he died.
He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal. It has not been possible to trace where he is buried but he is commemorated on the Stone of Remembrance in Naphill.
Private Charles Smith has eluded a proper identification.
There are two possibilities: one is that he was Private Charles Smith, born in 1889 the son of Mrs. Harriet Smith of Tadmarton, Banbury, who enlisted into the 5th Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, with a Service Number 10439 and died on the 25th September 1915, at the age of 26 years.
The other is Private Charles Frederick Smith, born in 1878 the son of George and Elizabeth Smith of Brixworth, Northamptonshire and the husband of Nellie Smith of Totteridge Road, High Wycombe. He enlisted into the 2nd/5th Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment, with a Service Number of 203899. He died on the 29th June 1918, at the age of 40 years. Both of these men were awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.
Private Frank Smith was born in 1892, the son of George Smith and Annie Louisa Smith, nee Janes. George Smith predeceased his son. He died on the 30th November 1914 of a respiratory disease caused by the inhalation of dust from stonecutting. The family lived at St. Anne’s Cottage, Naphill which was named after Mrs. Smith. There were seven children: Edward, Albert, Frank, Leonard, Elsie, Florence, known in the family as Cissie and Frederick.
Frank enlisted into the 1st Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment, with a Service Number of 13214. He died on the 21st April 1915 at the age of 23 years. He was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the Victory Medal and the British War Medal. No other details have been found. He is commemorated on the Stone of Remembrance in Naphill.
Private Frederick Smith was born in Saunderton in 1895, the son of Mrs. J. Atkins of High Wycombe. He enlisted in High Wycombe [the records describe him as a Guardsman] into the 3rd Battalion of the Grenadier Guards, with the Service Number 23695. He was killed in action on the 14th September 1916 at the age of 21 years. He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal. There are no other details available.
Gunner Alfred George Tilbury was born in 1894, in Naphill, one of five children. His father was Arthur Tilbury, born 1864 and his mother was Mary Tilbury, born 1865. Mr. and Mrs. Tilbury were marred in 1885. Their eldest child, Cissie, was born in 1890, followed by Alfred, born in Naphill in 1894, Arthur in 1897, Albert in 1902 and Archie in 1908. At the time of Alfred Tilbury’s death, the family lived at Jubilee Cottage, Naphill.
He enlisted into the 156th Heavy Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery, with the Service Number 297122. He died of his wounds on the 27th April 1917 at the age of 23 and was buried in the Duisans British Cemetery, Etrun, France. He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal. He is commemorated on the Stone of Remembrance in Naphill.
Lance Corporal William Henry Ward has proved to be interesting. He was born locally, in Wooburn, on the 5th July 1893. He was the son of Thomas Ward [born 1855] and Agnes Matilda Ward [born 1858]. He was the second of five children: the eldest was Sidney, born in 1881, followed by William Henry born in Wooburn on the 5th July 1883. Then came Ernest in 1896, Frank in 1897 and finally Richard in 1891. At some stage, between 1891 and 1914, William emigrated. He subsequently married Edith Ward, nee Hoyt, for whom there are two addresses: Seneca Street, Ebenezer, New York, USA and Suite 9, Sylvia Block, Winnipeg, Canada. He became a gardener and later a clerk.
He enlisted into the 1st Battalion, the Canadian Mounted Rifles [Saskatchewan Regiment], with a Service Number 151325. His parents remained in Naphill. He died on the 15th September 1916, at the age of 33 years, in France and was buried at the Vimy Memorial, in the Pas de Calais. He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal, which suggests that he did not relinquish his British nationality.
Private George Samuel Wheeler is someone of whom the details are scant. Curiously, in view of the previous entry, he was born in Canada, on a date and at a place that are not shown. We do not know his age, his parentage or his circumstances, but we do know that he was married. His family lived in Naphill.
He enlisted in High Wycombe into the 5th Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, with a Service Number 27855. He was wounded near Messines and taken prisoner. He died of his wounds in a German hospital in France on the 25th June 1917. Notwithstanding his place of birth, he was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal. He is commemorated on the Stone of Remembrance in Naphill.
Lieutenant Arthur Noel Whitfeld brings these biographies poignantly closest to this, our spiritual home. He was the son of the then vicar of Hughenden, the Reverend Arthur Lewis Whitfeld, who was Vicar of Hughenden between 1903 and 1920 and his wife Mary Ellen Whitfeld, nee Curzon.
The family history is interesting. The Reverend Arthur Whitfeld was born in Lewes in September 1862. He married his wife at St Marylebone All Saints Church, in London on the 19th June 1888. She was born in Gopsal in Leicestershire on the 10th January 1866, her paternal grandfather being the 1st Earl Howe [1796-1870]. By 1891, he was Rector of Bradenham, where Arthur Noel was born in March 1891. Arthur was their eldest child. There were two younger brothers, Ernest Hamilton Whitfeld [1894-1973] and Gerald Herbert Whitfeld [1896-1975]. Both fought in and survived the First World War. Ernest joined the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and won the MC; Gerald joined the 1st Battalion the Royal Irish Rifles.
In 1891, the records show that the family lived at the Rectory in Bradenham, with three servants: Ellen Legg, born 1854, Mary Martin, a cook, born 1865 and Harry Grimshaw, a page, born 1877. By 1911, the Reverend Arthur was Vicar of Hughenden and living in the Vicarage, which was then in the Park, above Church House, and is now called the Old Vicarage. [The Vicarage was built, probably in the Victorian era, during the 19th Century, when Vicars had private incomes and could afford to employ domestic staff. It was sold, in about 1971, for £170,000]. The Whitfeld family had two different servants, Elizabeth Ann Skeith, a cook born in 1851 and Edith Mary Brewer, a domestic servant born 1888.
When the War commenced, Arthur was already a serving soldier, with the rank of Second Lieutenant. He was in the Royal Irish Rifles, with an unrecorded Service Number. At some stage he was Mentioned in Dispatches. He was also promoted since, at the time of his death he was a Temporary Captain; so he was an actual Lieutenant. He died on the 14th October 1914 at the age of 24 years. He was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.
Private James Owen Wooster was born in High Wycombe in January 1897. His father was Owen John Wooster [1876-1925], a French polisher; his mother was Rose Elizabeth, nee Green, born in 1874. It seems that there were seven children of the family, of whom six survived to maturity. They were: James, followed by Annie, born in 1899 but deceased by 1911, Rose, born 1901, Ida, born 1902, Florence, born 1903, Percy, born 1906 and Freda, born 1907. In 1911, they lived at 4, York Place, Dovehouse Road, High Wycombe.
James Wooster enlisted into the 2nd/4th Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, with a Service Number 33451. He died of his wounds on the 26th April 1918. His commemoration outside this Church is not known. He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.
Warrant Aircraft Officer Albert George Ansell was a casualty of the Second World War. He was born in 1900, in Dorking, Surrey, the son of George Ansell [born 1870] and Elizabeth Mary Ansell [born 1871]. He was the second child of the family, the elder being Ada Margaret, who was born in 1896. He was married to Emlyn Curtis Colver Ansell and they lived in Woodbarn, Boss Lane, Hughenden. Albert Ansell was in the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy and served on HMS Avenger.
HMS Avenger, during the Second World War [there have been other ships bearing the same name before and since], was a Royal Navy escort aircraft carrier, converted from an American Merchant ship [Lend Lease] to this role and commissioned on the 2nd March 1942. Her final mission was to take part in Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa. On the 15th November 1942, during her return journey from North Africa and nearing Gibraltar, she was torpedoed by U155 and sunk, with heavy loss of life, which included Albert Ansell. He was 42 years of age at the date of his death.
Probate was granted to his next of kin, who included Ada Margaret, by then Mrs. Bishop. He left an estate worth £134 16s 11d. His name is entered on Panel 2, Bay 3 of the Lee on Solent Memorial, Hampshire.
Lance Corporal Roy Biggs was born in Buckinghamshire in 1918, the son of Frederick George Biggs and Ellen Biggs, nee Janes. Frederick George Biggs was born in March 1867 and died at the age of 81 years on Christmas Day 1948. He was a bell ringer at this Church for over 60 years.
Roy Biggs enlisted into the 1st Battalion [Princess Charlotte of Wales'] of the Royal Berkshire Regiment, with a Service Number 5338768. By January 1941, the Battalion was based in Gloucestershire, getting prepared for service in the Far East. It embarked from Liverpool in April 1941, for India. In 1943, it was in Chittagong, then Teknaf and took part in the First Arakan Campaign. In March 1943 it was overrun and by May was reorganizing in Ahmednagar.
In April 1944, the Battalion advanced towards Assam and opposed a major offensive by the Japanese to invade India. It occupied a camp at Dimapur, then advanced towards Kohima, which was under siege. By the last part of April, it had replaced the garrison at Kohima. There followed five weeks of hard fighting during which, on the 11th May 1944, Roy Biggs was killed. He was 26 years of age and is buried at the Imphal War Cemetery, in India.
[See also Sergeant Raymond Ernest Leeson]
Historical Note: Imphal, Kohima, Manipur and Nagaland are names of baffles that are not well known. This is a forgotten time in the Second World War. There was a series of baffles between March and July 1944. The Allies were about to invade Burma and the Japanese attempted to head them off by attacking North East India. They advanced to the city of Imphal on three sides and then headed out to Kohima, a village to the north. Despite the pressures, in a bitterly contested campaign the Allies held out. There was much vicious close quarter fighting. The Japanese could not sustain their advance in the monsoon conditions and were repelled. The 14th Army then invaded and re conquered Burma.
Able Seaman Frederick George Blaby was born in High Wycombe in July 1911, the son of Frederick George Blaby and Mary Jane Frances Blaby, nee Gascoigne. He was married to Irene Frances Blaby and they lived at Sunnymead, Stocking Lane, Naphill. He enlisted into the Royal Navy and his Service Number was C/JX 262446. He served on HMS Heythrop.
HMS Heythrop was a Type II HUNT Class Destroyer, named after the fox hunt of the same name in Oxfordshire. She was the second Royal Naval vessel to bear that name. She was launched on the 20th August 1940. She saw action in the Mediterranean in 1941 [Operation Halberd], being an escort ship to a Malta relief convoy on passage from Gibraltar to Sicily, during which time HMS Rodney was torpedoed.
In February 1942, HMS Heythrop and other ships escorted Convoy NW9B from Alexandria to Gibraltar, merging with Convoy MM9A. None of the Merchant Ships in Convoy MM9A reached Malta.
Frederick Blaby was one of 15 crew members who died with the ship the 20th March 1942. These convoy routes were under constant U Boat attack. At 1054 hours, HMS Heythrop was struck by four torpedoes fired from U652, about 450 nautical miles NE of Bardia. She was taken in tow by another Destroyer, HMS Eridge, but foundered five hours later, because of extensive flooding and structural damage. Her port propeller gland fractured and the loss of steam from her No. 2 boiler made it impossible to pump water out. The remainder of the crew transferred to HMS Eridge before the ship sank.
Probate was granted to his widow and he left an estate worth £700. He is commemorated on Panel 53, Column 1 at the Chatham Naval Memorial, Kent. He is also commemorated on the Stone of Remembrance, in Naphill.
Corporal Kenneth John Cheshire was born in High Wycombe in about May 1922, the son of Thomas Groom Cheshire and Alice Lottie Cheshire, nee Ridgley, who lived on Cryers Hill. He enlisted into the 1st Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment, with a Service Number of 5349160. The Battalion was sent to the Far East in early 1944, to serve as an air-landing unit for the Chindits 2nd Expedition.
In March 1944, the Battalion landed behind enemy lines in Burma, with the intention and objective of delaying Japanese reinforcements to stem the British advance in Burma. He died on the 23rd June 1944, at the age of 22 years and is buried at the Taukkyan War Cemetery in Burma. He was awarded the 1939-45 War Medal and the 1939-45 Star.
Second Engineer Officer Henry Alfred Newman Collier was born in 1905 and was the son of Harry Collier [born 1879] and Maria Rose Collier [born 1878], of Cryers Hill. Henry Collier was born in Plymouth, Devon and brought up in London. In 1911, the family lived at 70, Oakhill Road, Putney. Mr. Collier worked as an engineer fitter and crane driver. There were three children of the family and Henry was the middle child: the eldest was Harriet Pearl born in 1905, followed by Henry and then Frederick Thomas Collier born in 1909. He married Gladys Edith Collier of Earl Soham, Suffolk. Although described as enlisting into the Army, he joined the Merchant Navy and served on the SS East Wales, based in Cardiff.
The SS East Wales was a Steam Merchant vessel, completed in 1925, weighing 4,358 tons and carried a complement of 45 persons.
Henry Collier died on the 16th December 1942 at the age of 37. At 2039 hours that evening, the unescorted SS East Wales, under the command of Master Rowland, was hit amidships by a torpedo from U159 and sank near St Paul Rocks off Brazil. The Master, eleven members of the crew [one of whom being Henry Collier] and five gunners were lost. The U-boat surfaced to question the 28 survivors and then left the area. They were rescued by a Swedish Motor Merchant vessel, the Gullmaren and landed at Natal, Brazil. Henry Collier is commemorated on Panel 36, The Tower Hill Memorial, Part III, in London. He was awarded the 1939-45 War Medal and the 1939-45 Star.
Probate was granted to his widow, who by then lived at 69, Hinds Road, Harrow, in the sum of £183 15s 9d.
Sergeant Eric Walter Evans was born in August 1924, in High Wycombe. He was the son of Robert Victor Evans [1896-1965] and Alice Evans, nee Standage [1896-1986] who lived in Berwyn, Upper Hughenden Road, High Wycombe. Eric Evans’ parents also shared the same birthday, on the 31st October 1896.
His family’s connection with this Church goes back quite a way. His paternal grandparents were married in the Church in 1895. His father Robert Victor [1896-1965] and his uncle John Evans were bell ringers and their names are recorded, as are his grandfather Joseph and his great uncle John, in the bell ringers’ records, maintained at this Church.
Eric Evans was the elder of two children. He was born on the 8th August 1924; his sister Jean on the 13th January 1928. At the time of writing, Miss Jean Evans still resides in the family home.
Eric Evans was baptized at this Church on the 28th September 1924. He was also confirmed in this Church on the 20th March 1939. He sang as a treble in the Church choir. He went to primary school at Priory Road School and then to Mill End School, initially, for his secondary education. He was outgoing and a keen sportsman, especially in cricket and baseball. From the age of 13 years, he attended the Wycombe Technical College on the London Road and, at some stage joined the ATC. In June 1942, he became a Police Messenger. He worked for Marconi Ecko Ltd.
He enlisted into the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, with a Service Number 1602244. He joined Bomber Command, was assigned to the 103rd Squadron and became a Sergeant and Flight Engineer. He was stationed at RAF Elsham Wolds, Lincolnshire, the base for the 103rd Squadron, part of No. 1 Group, which opened for service in the Second World War in July 1941 to be the base for that Squadron. It had three runways, 39 hangers and about 2,500 personnel.
The 103rd Squadron is credited with more operational sorties than any other Squadron in Group 1 and, consequently, it suffered the Group’s highest losses; of the 248 bombers lost on operations flying out of RAF Elsham Wolds, 198 were from the 103rd Squadron. One of the Lancasters, ED888 held the Bomber Command record for operational sorties, having completed 140 between May 1943 and December 1944.
On the night of the 7th to 8th January 1945, Eric Evans was in a Lancaster NF999, on a sortie over Germany. It was his fifteenth operational sortie. At 1821 hours, the aircraft was shot down over Munich and Eric Evans was killed. He was 20 years of age and was buried at Durnbach War Cemetery. He was awarded the 1939-45 War Medal and the 1939-45 Star.
Third Officer [Merchant Navy] Geoffrey William Harding was the son of William Harding and Laura Harding, nee Dean, of Hughenden Valley. He was born in 1914. I can find nothing about his personal details.
He served in the Merchant Navy on SS Ashantian, Liverpool. The SS Ashantian was a cargo vessel of 4917 tons, built in Glasgow, launched in June 1935 and completed that September. She was owned by the United Africa Company.
He died on the 21st April 1943, at the age of 29 years. Officially he was listed as 'missing presumed drowned.' On that date, the SS Ashantian was on route from Liverpool and Belfast Lough to New York and Philadelphia, with a crew of 61 persons. She was carrying ballast and mail. She was part of Convoy ONS-3 and positioned northeast of St Johns. She was commanded by Master Charles Taylor and was the ship of the convoy Commodore, Vice Admiral J. Elliot, CBE, RN. At 0807 hours, she was torpedoed by U415. The Master, the Commodore, 13 crew members and one gunner were lost, including Geoffrey Harding. 40 members of the crew, nine gunners, six naval staff and three passengers were rescued and landed at St Johns.
He was awarded the 1939-45 War Medal and the 1939-45 Star. He is commemorated on Panel 10, The Tower Hill Memorial Part VII, in London.
Pilot Officer James Claude Hubble is something of a mystery. His name is not on any Memorial in Church but was listed as a casualty since World War Two in an old Service of Remembrance, as 'Pilot Officer Jimmy Hubble'. Efforts to trace any such person have proved fruitless. The nearest that I have been able to find is as follows.
James Claude Hubble was born in late 1922 in Luton. He was the son of James William Hubble [1985-1964] and Rachel George Hubble, nee Buckmaster [1892-1975]. Mr. and Mrs. Hubble were married in Luton in 1919. They lived in Luton.
James Hubble joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. His Service Number was 186586. He died on the 12th October 1944 at the age of 22 years in an 'aircraft training accident', in Whitchurch, Hampshire. He was awarded the 1939-45 War Medal and the 1939-45 Star.
Leading Aircraftman Donald Arthur Janes was born in 1908, the son of Arthur Grover Janes [1876-1952], a chair manufacturer and Kathleen Ann or Annie Janes, both of High Wycombe. In 1911, the family lived at 52, Hughenden Road, High Wycombe. He was one of five children of the family, all born in High Wycombe: the eldest was Kathleen Helen Janes born in 1901; Gladys Nora, born in 1902 and died in 1989; Joan Marie born in 1905 and died in 1979, then Donald Arthur and finally Alice Annie born in 1911. Donald was the only son, with four sisters.
He was married to Olive Daisy Janes, nee Surman also of High Wycombe in 1940. There were no children.
The Janes' were bell ringers at St Michael and All Angels. Arthur Grover Janes name appears in the records in July 1898 and he continued to ring the bells into the 1930s.
Donald Janes enlisted into the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, with a Service Number of 1183493. He died on the 15th February 1942 'on war service with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.' He was 34 years of age. No other details are available. He was awarded the 1939-45 War Medal and the 1939-45 Star.
Probate was granted to his widow and to his father. The estate was £1417 0s 10d. In 1950, his widow remarried, to Herbert Gillett. She died in September 2001.
Leading Aircraftsman Donald Arthur Janes was buried in the Churchyard, where his grave remains.
Sergeant Raymond Ernest Leeson was born in Buckinghamshire in 1919, the son of Ernest Leeson and Winifred Lilian Leeson, nee Welbourne, of Hughenden Valley. He was the elder of two sons, the younger being Cyril, who went on to a career in music as a tenor.
The boys' mother was a school teacher but, under the rules that applied then, she had to cease on her marriage.
Raymond Leeson and Cyril both passed into Grammar School but their parents could not afford the cost of sending them there. Ernest Leeson was away from home at this time. However, Raymond Leeson had some academic success and won an essay prize in a competition organised by the local firm Raffety Hamlet. He also became a member of Wycombe Phoenix Harriers Cross Country Team and won many caps.
He enlisted into the 1st Battalion, the Royal Berkshire Regiment [Princess Charlotte of Wales'] with a Service Number of 5338444.
By 1941, the battalion was based in Gloucester, preparing for war in the Far East, leaving for India in April. By January 1943, they were stationed at Chittagong, before moving to Teknaf the following month. The Battalion took part in the First Arakan Campaign. By the end of 1943, it was in Ahmednagar, being trained for jungle warfare. It then moved to Belgaum, followed by Dimapur where it occupied the camp there, discovering that they were just 30 miles from the Japanese, who were engaged in a major offensive to invade India. In April 1944, they advanced towards Kohima, which was under siege and, with other units of the British Army, took over the defensive position of the 'Jotsoma Box'. It then attacked towards Kohima, with five weeks of hard fighting until the 17th May, before being relieved and returning to Dimapur.
It was during this time, on the 22nd April 1944, that Raymond Leeson was killed. He was 25 years of age and was buried in the Kohima War Cemetery. He was awarded the 1939-45 War Medal and the 1939-45 Star.
[See also Lance Corporal Roy Biggs]
Flying Officer Kenneth Gilbert Mullett was born in 1921 in England. His father was William Mullett [born 1889] and his mother Alice Kate Mullett, nee Carter [born 1891]. The family lived in Downley.
He enlisted into the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, which was used by the Air Ministry, when war broke out, as the principal means of aircrew entry into the Royal Air Force. He was assigned to 95 Squadron. His Service Number was 139714.
95 Squadron was formed in 1941 to operate the Short Sunderland 1 flying boats from bases in West Africa. This was the most successful British flying boat of the Second World War and a key component in the battle against U boats.
He was killed on the 5th January 1944, at the age of 23 years. He was buried in the Chapel Cemetery at Port Etienne, Nouadhibou, Mauritania, West Africa. He was awarded the 1939-45 War Medal and the 1939-45 Star.
Captain Alexander Grant Murray was born in 1917, the son of Sir Alexander Robertson Grant KCIE CBE and Lady Grant. They lived at Uplands, Four Ashes Road, Hughenden, now a conference centre.
He enlisted into the 5th Battalion, the Seaforth Highlanders [Ross-shire Buffs, Duke of Albany’s] with a Service Number of 105770. He was engaged to Miss Pamela Upham.
He was killed in action on the 8th August 1944, in Normandy, France, at the age of 27 years, whilst serving in the Western Europe Campaign of 1944/5. He is commemorated in France. He was awarded the 1939-45 War Medal and the 1939-45 Star.
Wing Commander Alan Robertson Oakeshott DFC, was born in Hendon in late 1917, the son of Major Harold Alan Oakeshott [1863-1964] and Mrs. Jane Cecil Gertrude Oakeshott J P, nee Robertson, [1890-1948]. He was the eldest of three children of the family, the others being: Keith Robertson Oakeshott [1920-1974] and Isobel Alison Oakeshott [1925-1998]. The family home was at Firs Cottage, Main Road, Walters Ash, which has since been demolished and replaced by three houses.
He enlisted into the Royal Air Force, with a Service Number of 33209. Before World War Two began, he was working at the RAF Headquarters in London. In the course of a conversation, at a time when it was appreciated that Germany was re-arming, the topic of conversation turned to the need for a strategic Headquarters outside London, where it could be located more securely. He suggested and then researched a bunker in the beech woods near Naphill. The idea that he came up with was pursued to fruition and Bomber Command was located and built at Naphill.
At the date of his death, he was Wing Commander of 139 Squadron, part of Bomber Command. For a time, the squadron flew Blenheims. In 1942/3 they were resupplied with Mosquitos.
In 1940 he was awarded the DFC. The medal itself was instituted by His Majesty King George V in June 1918 and is awarded to Officers and Warrant Officers for 'an act or acts of valour and courage or devotion to duty performed whilst flying in active operations against the enemy'. In the Second World War, 20, 354 were awarded.
The circumstances were as follows: On the 10th May 1940, he was flying a Fairy Battle of No 15 Squadron and conducting a routine reconnaissance patrol towards the German border. He was attacked by a hoard of German fighters. He flew towards cloud cover but delayed long enough for his crew to record German troop movements and to relay them back. His brave actions identified a shift in the battle going on below, with German troops' focus being redirected towards the Dutch lines. His intelligence enabled the Dutch to react in time.
He was killed on the 2nd July 1942, officially at the age of 25 years - although the dates suggest that he was 24 years of age. This was at a period of time when Bomber Command was operating the '1000 Bomber Raids'. These raids, the brain child of Sir Arthur Harris, lasted between the end of May [Cologne] to the middle of August 1942.
On the 2nd July 1942, he was flying against the submarine yards at Flensburg on the border between Denmark and Germany. He was flying a Mosquito of No. 405 Squadron and dropped his payload of 4000lb bombs on to the submarine slipways. Shortly after leaving the target area, he was intercepted by a Focke-Wolfe 190 and shot down. It is said that his mother never recovered from her loss.
His name is entered upon panel 64 of the Runnymede Memorial. He is also commemorated on the Stone of Remembrance in Naphill. In addition to his DFC, he was awarded the 1939-45 war Medal and the 1939-45 Star.
Steward [Royal Navy] Oswald Rees was born in 1920, the son of Arthur Rees and Margaret Ann Rees of Hughenden.
He joined the Royal Navy, with a Service Number D/LX 24189. He was a Steward on board HMS Hecla.
HMS Hecla, in the Second World War, [a subsequent ship of the same name saw action in the Falklands War] was a Destroyer depot Ship, with the pennant F 20. On the 12th November 1942, during the Allied landings in North Africa, HMS Hecla, under the command of Acting Captain G V B Faulkner, RN, was torpedoed just after midnight by U515 and sunk west of Gibraltar. An accompanying Destroyer, HMS Marne, was also torpedoed whilst attempting to rescue survivors. Another Destroyer, HMS Venomous, succeeded in rescuing more survivors and landed them safely at Casablanca.
279 of the crew went down with their ship: 568 were rescued. Oswald Rees went down with the ship. He was 22 years of age and is commemorated on Panel 72 of the Plymouth Naval Memorial.
Fusilier Frank Edward Tucker was born in 1924, in Buckinghamshire. I have been unable to locate any details of his parents or family or place of residence in the County.
He enlisted into the 8th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers [1st City of London Regiment], with a Service Number of 14621712. Records show that the Battalion was active in the Middle Eastern and Africa campaign and in Italy.
He died on the 18th February 1944, in Italy, at the age of 20 years.