THE  DOVER WAR MEMORIAL  PROJECT

 

war memorial at dusk, photographed by Michelle Cooper


Beyond the World Wars

 

SERVICE-RELATED DEATHS
1948 and after.

Ash, B. M.
Bernal Malcolm Ash was born in Dover on 3 November 1930 at the Belgrave Road Private Nursing Home, Dover. He was the son of Bernal Ash and his wife Doris, née Binnie, of 45 Clarendon Street. The couple had married in Dover early that year.

Bernal was serving as 22264804 in the Royal Leicestershire Regiment when he died in Korea on 5 November 1951. He is buried at the UN Memorial Cemetery, Busan, Korea, in Section 23, Grave 4, Number 1595, and is commemorated on the Armed Forces Memorial at Alrewas, Staffordshire.

Bartholomew, H. R.
Henry Reginald Bartholomew MBE, is recorded in the St Mary's school Book of Remembrance as having died as a result of war service on 15 September 1954, aged 58

Bryant, J
Corporal James Bryant, 22846799, was serving in the Royal Engineers, 8 Railway Squadron, when he and five others lost their lives in a railway accident at around 08.45 on 13 October 1956.

The accident occurred on the Longmoor Military Railway in Hampshire, which was used to train servicemen for railway operations. The section involved was single-track, and a steam passenger train from Liss travelling towards Longmore collided head-on in foggy weather with a special works train travelling in the opposite direction from Longmore. None in the passenger train, carrying around 20 soldiers and civil staff, were injured but on impact the rear of diesel pulling the permanent way train rose up and fell back onto the box van travelling behind it, into which the following waggon also ran.  There were 19 soldiers travelling; six were killed and eight were injured.  James survived the crash, but, without regaining consciousness, died from a fractured skill in Cambridge Hospital, Aldershot - the same hospital where he had been born on 6 March 1935.

James was the son of Mrs Hamerton, from 4 Saxon Street, left, and Sergeant D A Bryant of the West Yorkshire Regiment. His two older brothers were also serving; Sergeant Ronnie ("Ron") Bryant in the West Yorkshires, who was injured the same year, and Sergeant Peter Bryant in the Royal Engineers.

A former Duke of York's School boy, James was in sports teams at school and continued his interest afterwards, being a member of the Railway Training Squadron cross-country team and also participating in the Army Rifle Shooting Championships. He had joined the Royal Engineers in 1953, after having served for three years on the Trinity House Pilot Cutters at Dover. He gained training as a railway surveyor at Chatham and then served for seven months in Egypt with the 10th Railway Squadron before returning to the UK in the May before his death.

James was 21 when he died. His funeral service was held at the chapel of the Duke of York's School, and he is now buried at St James cemetery, Dover. James' grave is close to the World War II service burials.

The words on his headstone read, "Treasured memories of a devoted son, James Bryant, called to rest 13th Oct 1956, aged 21 years".

The soldiers who died were:

L/Corporal Victor Charles Bowers buried at Erith, Kent
Corporal James Bryant buried at St James, Dover
Sapper James Edward Coates buried at South Yardley Cemetery, Birmingham
Sergeant Brian Jones buried at St Peter's Cemetery, Warmsworth, Doncaster
Corporal William Emrys Lewis buried at Aldershot  Military Cemetery
Corporal Albert Edward Smith buried at Aldershot Military Cemetery

Sergeant Brian Jones, left, was 45, and one of five brothers in the Army. During World War II he had been evacuated from Dunkirk, and subsequently served in the Middle East. He was from Doncaster, and the family had already had one tragedy when brother Christopher was killed in action in Italy during World War II.

The soldiers are all remembered at The Wall, in the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas, Staffordshire. They were also commemorated on 1 October 2011 by a plaque erected at The Engine House, Highley Station, Shropshire at the 25th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Royal Engineers Memorial Locomotive No 48773 (see From the Front, Winter 2011)

with thanks to Brian Whitworth and Jeff Ryan

Donnelly, P.
Patrick Donnelly, C/MX855629 was an Engineering Mechanic in the Royal Navy. He and 63 others lost their lives on 12 January 1950 when their submarine, HMS Truculent, collided in the Thames Estuary with a Swedish tanker, Divina.  Seventy-nine men were on board; five were swept from the conning tower at the collision and rescued. Ten bodies were found in the submarine, and a further ten men were picked up from the water. The remainder had  escaped from the sunken submarine, but were swept away by the tides or died from exposure.

Patrick Donnelly was an electrician's mate, and on 11 January, just a week after his 27th birthday, he had reported at Chatham to join HMS Truculent. The first communication from the Admiralty received by his parents, Mr and Mrs J P Donnelly, from 86 Priory Hill, stated he was believed to have been in the after part of the submarine and to have escaped after the sinking. Later, when he could not be found, he was presumed drowned

Born in Dover, Patrick attended St Paul's RC school before he joined the navy at the age of 15.He was already a veteran of the Russian convoys but had spoken little of his war-time experiences. On 22nd October 1946 he had been presumed lost when the destroyer Saumarez was mined in the Corfu Straits; an Admiralty communication said he was amongst the casualties, having been seen disappearing in a sea of blazing oil. He was, however, very fortunately rescued by a passing French vessel.

Patrick's brothers, David and Danny, had also served in the Navy, like their father, who later became a cross-channel seaman on the Hampton Ferry.

On 19 January 1950 the bells at St Mary's church, Dover, were rung half-muffled in memory of the 64 lives lost in the sinking of HMS Truculent

Downing, A.
Anthony (Ant) Downing, aged 34, was a Squadron Leader and an Engineering Officer in the RAF. He was seriously wounded on 22 December 2011 when the vehicle in which he was travelling was blown up by a bomb close to Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.  Air-lifted back to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, he died from his wounds the next day.

Squadron Leader Downing was a former pupil of the Dover Grammar School for Boys, and a member of their Cadet Force. From a young child he had expressed a wish to join the RAF; he gained a sixth form RAF scholarship when he was 17, and when attending Bath University to study aeronautical engineering gained RAF sponsorship for his second and third years. Also when he was 17 he joined an athletic club in Deal, and from then on took part in many endurance events, including Ironman. He was planning the Enduroman Arch to Arc in 2013.  While serving at RAF Kinloss he maintained and sustained the Nimrod Force, and for three years was part of a mountain rescue team. He had raised thousands of pounds for charity and also had volunteered for the Samaritans. A veteran of Iraq, he had trained in the Dari language and was acting as an interpreter when he was fatally wounded. His funeral was held at Kingsdown on 13 January 2012.

Squadron Leader Downing is buried at St John  the Evangelist churchyard, Kingsdown, Kent

Royal Marine Captain Tom Jennings, aged 29, was killed instantly in the same incident.

information compiled from various news sources, picture via the MOD

For Remembrance 2016 St John the Evangelist church at Kingsdown was filled by over 2,500 poppies commemorating the Fallen.

 Large poppies adorned the pews and walls, while schoochildren's poppies covered the font. Hundreds of poppies, held by a camouflage net donated by the RAF, tumbled over and around the altar. The poppies were all  made by groups in and around the village, in a community tribute, organised by Squadron Leader Downing's mother,

poppy photos by courtesy of Rosie Bolton

Heather, K, E, C
Keith Ernest Charles Heather, aged 17, was found a mile and a half out to sea off Sandgate on 9 September 1949. A Folkestone fisherman spotted a lifebelt in the water, and floating some six feet beneath it was Private Heather's body, in battledress.

He lived at 12 Forge Avenue, Old Coulsdon, Surrey, and,  serving in the Queen's Royal Regiment, was billeted at Ross Barracks, Shorncliffe. In the early hours of 8 September he had taken a boat from Dover beach belonging to Alfred Charles Gatehouse, with the intention of going to France, perhaps to see a Swedish girl he had met. The verdict was that Private Heather had drowned.

He was the son of Ernest Heather and his wife Beryl, née Vigar, who married in Dover in 1930, and the grandson of Mrs Alice Susanna Vigar of 5 Cowgate Hill, Dover, and  Robert Thomas Vigar. He had spent the night before the night he took the boat at his grandmother's home.

Pun, K
Corporal Kumar Purja Pun served with the 1st Battalion, The Royal Ghurka Rifles. He was killed on 7 May 2009 alongside Sergeant Ben Ross of the Royal Military Police by a suicide bomber, while on patrol in Gereskh, Helmand province, Afghanistan. Corporal Pun's body was brought home through RAF Lyneham

He was born on 30 November 1977 in Nepal, and in 1996 followed his father into the Ghurkas. He served in exercises in Malaysia, Kenya, Oman, and Belize, and on operations in Kosovo and Bosnia before his posting to Afghanistan. He lived in Dover with his wife Parbati, and their two daughters, Klaudine, 6 when her father died, and Petrina, 18 months. Also left to mourn are his parents, Dhanbahadur and Sukmaya Pun, and his younger sister Bindu and brother Santosh.

Corporal Pun was said to have been a respected soldier, an athletic, intelligent and polite polyglot with a quiet but mischievous sense of humour.

information compiled from various news sources, inc picture

Rye, E. F. J
Edward Frederick James Rye ("Teddy") was born in Dover in 1929. Able Seaman Rye died late in the night of 17 October 1948 with 28 others while returning to aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious in Portland Harbour, Dorset. The tender in which they were sailing capsized in rough seas.

He is buried at the Royal Naval Cemetery, Portland, and named on a memorial unveiled on 17 October 2010 at Portland Marina.

"In loving memory of a dear son and brother." 1949

Stryker, A. S.
Born on 3 April 1952 at Shakespeare Halt, Dover, Staff Sergeant Alison Sybil Stryker,W437494, died in a road traffic accident on 4 June 1976, while on service with the Royal Military Police in Northern Ireland. The daughter of Mr and Mrs W J Barnes, she had three brothers, one of them her twin, Stephen.

Alison had been a pupil at Shatterlocks school and then at Astor Secondary Modern, where she excelled at her studies. She worked in Dover at Avo's and at Youden's, the estate agents, before deciding to join the services, with a view to seeing the world.

On the right is Alison directing traffic at the Soviet Army Parade during her two years service in Berlin; she later served two further years in Hong Kong. Below: Alison is in the front row, first on the left

In 1975 Alison returned to Dover to marry Philip Stryker, who was then  posted to Northern Ireland.

Alison had gone to hand in equipment and was on the way to a celebratory party. They received instead the tragic news that she had died en route.  Her driver suffered severe head injuries.

Alison was buried at Shorncliffe Military cemetery, by Folkestone. Her brother Philip stands by her grave.

Alison is commemorated on the Armed Forces Memorial at Alrewas, and in the Book of Remembrance at the Garrison Church of St Columb, Thiepval Barracks, Lisburn.

 

"Sadly missed by us all"

with thanks to Mrs Barnes

Whitaker, R. J. A
1949 - "In ever loving and affectionate memory of our dear son and brother, Staff Sgt. R. J. A. Whitaker R.E.M.E., who was accidentally killed in Trieste, on 4th May 1948. From his loving Mum, Dad, Sisters and Brother-in-law."

He was the only son of Mr and Mrs Whitaker, who lived at 72 Westbury Road.

Wilson, R.
On 7 June 2007 Rodney Wilson ("Will") became the 150th British soldier to die in Iraq during the war of 2003-2011. Serving with 4th Battalion, The Rifles, he was based at Basra Palace. He was fatally wounded while he and another man were attempting to save a colleague injured when their search patrol near Basra City had been fired upon.

Corporal Wilson had been born in Germany on 30 October 1976, and between 1990 and 1993 was a pupil at The Durk of York's Royal Military School. Said to be charismatic and an outstanding soldier - in the top 2% after gaining a distinction on the Platoon Sergeants' Battle Course - he was described by his men as "a legend". He was also a humourist, creating much amusement amongst his men, and a rugby fanatic. He was engaged to be married when he died.

Corporal Wilson's body was repatriated through RAF Lyneham.


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