World War 2

This is a copy of some of the pages of the book produced by Group Captain A. Neale, OBE, RAF (Rt’d) and with major contributions from Mr. David Allen and Mr. Nigel Burke.

(Any additional photographs or information will be gratefully received and may be included.)
Please contact the

Merrow War Memorial

1914 – 1918

1939 – 1945



has won imperishable praise.
Each has gained a glorious grave.
Not that sepulchre of earth wherein they lie,
but the living tomb of everlasting remembrance
wherein their glory is enshrined.
For the whole earth is the sepulchre of heroes;
monuments may rise and
tablets be set up to them in their own land,
but on the far-off shores is an abiding memorial
that no pen or chisel has traced.
It is graven, not on stone or brass,
but on the heart of humanity.
Take these men for your example.
Like them, remember that prosperity can
only be for the free; that freedom
is the sure possession of those alone
who have the courage to defend it.

Funeral Oration spoken by Pericles, 429BC

Index :

Names on Merrow War Memorial
1914-18 War
1939-45 War

Group Captain A. Neale, OBE, RAF (Rt’d)

An editorial in the ‘Surrey Advertiser’ for 28th December, 1918 noted that ‘in several towns and villages in Surrey steps have been taken to provide local war memorials… The dangers we have passed through have been greater than ever experienced by the British nation and Empire. The sacrifices we have been called to make have been without parallel. The heroism and endurance by those who have won the victory have never been surpassed. Whatever memorials are erected should be worthy of the events they commemorate; they should so far as may be possible be permanent in character …. and they should be really and truly commemorative, bearing upon them in some conspicuous place a simple record of the local contribution to the national effort, together with the names of the men who have made the supreme sacrifice’.

The Merrow village war memorial was unveiled by General Lord Rawlinson on Friday evening, 20th July, 1920 and dedicated by Bishop Hose, formerly of Singapore. The memorial bears the inscription ‘This cross was erected by the people of Morrow in memory of the men of the village, who, in the Great War, 1914-1918, laid down their lives for their King and country, in the cause of justice and humanity’.

In his speech at the unveiling, General Lord Rawlinson said that ‘it was a great gratification to all soldiers to see in a local churchyard like that so admirable a monument erected to the memory of those who died for their fellows’

A further plaque was added to commemorate those who died in the Second World War.

Unfortunately, the passage of 80 years caused considerable structural damage to the memorial and, following consultations with a number of stonemasons, it was realised that the memorial would have to be dismantled to carry out effective repairs. The wisdom of dismantling the memorial became evident when it revealed a meagre foundation, the interior backfilled with rubble and tree roots growing inside the memorial.

The restoration was carried out by Return to Stone (UK) with Mr Kevin Newell being the stonemason in charge of day to day work. The work was completed in January, 2002 at a cost in the order of £18,000. While a significant amount was raised by donations from individuals and local organisations, the Merrow Residents’ Association wishes to acknowledge the generous grants from:

The Heritage Lottery Fund, administered by the Countryside Agency’s Local Heritage Initiative and supported by the Nationwide Building Society.

Guildford Borough Council.

The Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment Association.

The Friends of War Memorials.

Six Continents plc.

Acknowledgement is also made of the generosity of all those in the local community who contributed to the appeal. The extent of the damage to the memorial discovered during the dismantling meant that the cost of restoration was quadrupled from the original estimate and the work could not have been completed without the fund raising and donations that came from so many areas and all age groups.

The memorial was re-dedicated on Sunday afternoon, 12th May, 2002 by The Right Reverend John Kirkham, former Bishop of Sherborne and former Bishop to the Forces. The service was attended by Mrs Sue Doughty, MP for Guildford, the Mayor of Guildford, Councillor Tony Phillips, and Mrs Phillips, representatives of the Royal British Legion and the three Services and relatives of those who died in the two world wars together with a large congregation from the local community.

As part of the restoration project local residents have researched the names inscribed on the memorial, about whom very little was known, and some of the large amount of material collected has been included in this book. A number of residents contributed to the information but specific mention must be made of the research carried out by Mr David Allen and Mr Nigel Burke. Mr Burke worked painstakingly through local newspaper archives despite his full time job. Mr Allen carried out an enormous amount of detective work into the identification of those about whom nothing was known and unearthed the details of the various campaigns in which Merrow men died. The compilation of the narratives and maps has also been the work of Mr Allen.

It is hoped that the contents of this book will remind successive generations of the impact of two world wars on the village of Merrow, the dreadful circumstances in which so many Merrow men lost their lives and the scale of the sacrifice made on behalf of future generations.

Tony Neale
May, 2002


Merrow War Memorial

1939-45 War 

NameRankUnitDate of Death
Baker, A EPO StokerH.M.S. Royal Oak14th Oct 1939
Bichard, G F H CaptainRoyal Signals6th Feb 1944
Bolster, G HLt ColSouth Lancashire Regt24th Jul 1944
Brice, R 0L / Sgt4 Fd Sqn Royal Engineers21st Dec 1941
Castle, D A C2nd Lt4th Royal Tank Regt25th Nov 1941
Gilliat, C DFlt Lt156 Squadron RAF9th Mar 1943
Hewitt, W WFlt Sgt221 Group RAF9th Feb 1945
Paddison, G MPrivate1st Royal Natal Carbineers2nd Dec 1941
Palmer, G CBandmasterRoyal Marines21st Aug 1944
Parker, DL/Air CrewmanRAF28th Jul 1947
Robinson, D JGunner208 AA Regt, RA25th Jan 1940
Surman, KFlt Sgt166 Squadron RAF1st Jan 1945
Suter, V R PrivatePioneer Corps17th Aug 1942
Woods, C LL/Air Crewman RAF5th July 1941

Petty Officer (Stoker) Alfred Eric Baker, died 14 Oct 1939, aged 23

Alfred Baker was the son of Alfred and Lily Baker, of 37 Down Road, Merrow. He was a regular sailor in the Royal Navy and had clearly progressed well to reach Petty Officer rank at his age.

On the night of 13th/14th October 1939, his ship (the battleship H.M.S. Royal Oak) was lying at anchor in the British naval base of Scapa Flow, in the Orkneys. A German submarine U 47 managed to get into the harbour that night and torpedoed the Royal Oak. The ship went down so suddenly that 786 members of its crew were lost, including Rear-Admiral H.E.C. Blagrove. This disaster was one of the first major events of the Second World War and was a great blow to British morale. The event is well recorded in Volume One of Churchill’s History of the Second World War, and copies of the relevant pages are attached.

Alfred Baker’s body must not have been recovered, but his name is inscribed on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial which commemorates almost 10,000 sailors of the First World War and almost 15,000 from the Second World War.
Picture of Royal Oak courtesy Naval
Track of German sumbarine U 47.
From Volume One of Winston Churchill’s “The Second World War”

Return Merrow War Memorial 1939-1945 Names.

Capt Geoffrey Francis Hammond Bichard, died on 6th February 1944, aged 41

He was the son of William and Emmeline Bichard, of Guildford. The Electoral Register for 1938 records Emmeline Bichard as living at ‘Two Ways’, Holford Road, Merrow (identified as No 43 in Kelly’s Directory for 1944-45). Geoffrey was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Corps of Signals on 21st January 1942. He became a Lieutenant on 15th July 1942 and on the same day was made a Temporary Captain.

At the time of his death in February 1944, Capt Bichard was attached to the HQs Signals unit in the 7th Indian Division fighting in the Fourteenth Army on the Arakan front in Burma. He was the Adjutant of that Unit. The circumstances surrounding his death are described in the obtained copy of the relevant pages of the War Diary of Capt Bichard’s unit (PRO reference WO/172/4294).

On 4th February 1941 a powerful Japanese force passed through the British lines, without being detected in the early morning mist, and encircled the 7th Indian Division, progressively overrunning its HQs from the north. Early on the morning of the 6th, the Japanese crept up on the Signals base and fierce fighting ensued , with the Japanese getting the upper hand and pursuing the retreating Signals soldiers into the surrounding jungle where many of them perished. During the afternoon, parties of men straggled into the Division’s remaining Administrative base and it was found that 7 officers, 8 British other ranks and 90 Indian other ranks were missing. Capt Bichard was among the missing and his body was never found.

He is one of almost 27,000 men of the Commonwealth land forces who died during the campaigns in Burma and who have no known graves. Their names are recorded on the Rangoon Memorial situated in Taukkyan War Cemetery, near Rangoon Airport.
Map of Burma.
Map of the Japanese HA-GO Offensive.

Return Merrow War Memorial 1939-1945 Names.

Lt Col Geoffrey Hadden Bolster OBE, died on 24 July 1944, aged 42

He was the son of Major James and Mrs Violet Bolster and the husband of Edith who, after his death, was living in Knightsbridge, London. The Electoral Register for 1938 lists Violet Mary Bolster and Geoffrey Hadden Bolster at Caragh Cottage, Epsom Road, Merrow, and Geoffrey is shown as a military voter.

Geoffrey was born in Ireland on 6 March 1902. Later he lived in Surrey, presumably at Merrow. On 1 February 1922 he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 1st Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers. He became a Lieutenant on 1 March 1925 and a Captain on 31 January 1935. By 1936 he was the Brigade Major of the Cairo
Brigade, having passed through the Staff College. He achieved the acting rank of Major on 1 July 1938 and on 1 September 1939, at the outbreak of the War, the temporary rank of Major. He was then a GSO 2 (ie General Staff Officer, Grade 2). He got the full rank of Major on 1 February 1940 and in the middle of that year, perhaps in the Birthday Honours List, he was awarded the OBE. The reason for this is unknown, but possibly it was for his work in Egypt.

The temporary rank of Lt Col was achieved on 4 April 1941 and by 1944 he was a Brigadier on the General Staff, with the acting rank of Brigadier from 22 November 1943.

After D-day there was clearly a need for more Battalion Commanding Officers, and the War Diary of the 1st Battalion of the South Lancashire Regt (PRO reference WO/171/1332) records that at 6.45pm on 29 June 1944 the new C.O., Lt Col Bolster, arrived. The Battalion was then at Le Landel, near Caen. On 19 July the Battalion relieved the 1st Suffolks at Sannerville and it was there, on the 22nd, that Lt Col Bolster was shot by a sniper and wounded in the neck and shoulder. The wound proved fatal and he died on the 24th, having been the C.O. for only 26 days.

Lt Col Bolster is buried in La Deliverande War Cemetery, at Douvres, near Caen.

Return Merrow War Memorial 1939-1945 Names.

Lance Sergeant Reginald Oliver Brice, died on 21st December 1941, aged 24

Born in Surrey (presumably at Merrow), he was the son of Clifford John and Winifred Mary Brice, who lived in Merrow, at `Westcott’ which is now 134 Epsom Road, the second along from Down Road going towards Daryngton Drive. He was living in Middlesex when he enlisted. His wife, Frances Vera, was living at Hook, near Surbiton, after his death.

He served in the 4th Field Squadron of the Royal Engineers, which was attached to the 7th Armoured Division, popularly known as the Desert Rats. The Field Squadron’s War Diary (PRO reference WO/169/1861) shows that at the time of his death in December 1941 the unit was in the Western Desert in the vicinity of Benghazi, in Libya. Its work included the construction of aircraft landing grounds, destroying enemy ammunition dumps and clearing minefields. On the day that Reginald Brice died, a party was clearing a field of “Thermos” bombs when one bomb went off, setting off two more and killing an officer and two sappers (who are named in the War Diary) as well as wounding a Lt Colonel and two other ranks. Reginald Brice was probably one of the latter two and could have died soon afterwards. His death certificate states that he was killed in action and the War Diary records no other casualties in the previous two weeks.

His name is on the Alamein Memorial , in Egypt, as one of the more than 8,500 soldiers of the Commonwealth who died in the campaigns in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia up to February 1943 and have no known grave.

Return Merrow War Memorial 1939-1945 Names.

2nd Lieutenant David Arthur Collins Castle, died on 25th Nov 1941, aged 23

He was born in Rhodesia and was the son of Edgar and Elsie Castle, of Hermanus, Cape Province, South Africa. However, the Roll of Honour at the Public Record Office gives Surrey as his place of residence and Kelly’s Directory for 1944-45 -records that Capt Edgar Castle was living at 16 The Fairway, Merrow.

David Castle was commissioned on 15th June 1940 and was in the 4th Royal Tank Regiment. It is presumed that he joined the Regiment upon being commissioned. At that time it had just been evacuated from France and was in the 1st Army Tank Brigade. The Regiment’s War Diary in the Public Record Office (PRO reference WO/169/1413) does not start until 1st February 1941 when the Unit was at sea on the way to Egypt, probably via South Africa, aboard the SS City of London. It landed at Port Tewfik, at Suez, on 16th February and went by train to El Tahag, in Egypt, for training until late April. David Castle was not, however, with the Regiment at that time. The War Diary records that on 23rd May he and five other 2nd Lieutenants, one Captain and one Major were re-absorbed into the Regiment. It is not known where they had been since some date earlier than February, but presumably they went out to Egypt later than the rest of the Regiment.

From 5th May until 27th July the Regiment (commanded by Lt Col W.C.L.O’Carroll DSO) was part of the 4th Armoured Brigade. By that stage of the Desert War the British had, with one exception, been forced out of Libya by Rommel and his Afrika Corps after the highly successful British campaign the previous year against the Italians. The exception was Tobruk which on 10th April became totally surrounded by the enemy, and thus started the longest siege in British military history. This port town and the area immediately around it was heroically defended, initially by the 9th Australian Division and then progressively from late-August onwards by the British 70th Division.

The 4th RTR was to play an increasingly important role in relation to Tobruk. As part of the 4th Armoured Brigade, it was involved in two abortive British offensives into Eastern Libya – Operation Brevity in mid-May and Operation Battleaxe in mid-June. These Operations centred on the Halfaya Pass which it was essential to get through in order to reach Tobruk. This the British failed to do and on the second attempt it was a fighting retreat by the 4th RTR’s Matilda tanks which allowed the major part of the British force to slip back over the Egyptian frontier.

The hard-pressed Tobruk garrison was entirely dependent on being kept supplied at night by extremely hazardous sailings of the Royal Navy along the coast from Mersa Matruh. In late-September it was the 4th RTR which began to be brought at night by the Royal Navy into Tobruk, where they became an essential part of the newly formed 32nd Army Tank Brigade. The Regiment’s tanks and their crews had to be taken along the coast in lighters while the rest of the Regiment were conveyed in destroyers. When the tanks of ‘C’ Squadron were being transported in this way, their crews sleeping on the deck were awakened by a U-boat on the surface firing at them from about 150 yards. They dismantled their tanks’ machine guns and used them to good effect as well as the lighter’s 2-pounder guns. By mid-October the Regiment’s passage into Tobruk, with their 52 Matilda tanks and 7 light tanks, was completed.

In the defence of Tobruk, tank patrols were sent out at night from time to time into the immediate surrounding area, and a report attached to the Regiment’s War Diary describes one such patrol carried out by ‘B’Squadron, which was the one David Castle was in.

Meanwhile, preparations were being made for breaking out from Tobruk and linking up with the advancing Eighth Army. The go-ahead for breaking-out next day was given on 20th November when it was thought that the Eighth Army was sufficiently close. The part played by the 4th RTR on 21st November is shown on the attached plan. It was in this day’s operation that David Castle was fatally wounded.

The tanks of 4 RTR crossed the start line at 6.30 am and were immediately held up by a minefield. Thereafter they attacked the enemy strong point code-named TIGER which was captured by 10.15. Other enemy strong points were being attacked by the British force and fierce fighting continued all day. Of the 50 tanks of 4 RTR that crossed the start line, only 25 were still fit at the end of the day. David Castle died of his wound(s) in hospital in Tobruk.

The link-up was not made that day as Rommel got between the converging British forces and knocked out most of the tanks of 4th and 22nd Armoured Brigades at Sidi Rezegh just to the south of Tobruk (see the attached plan). It was not until 6th December that the link-up was finally made and the siege was ended. However, the tide of war turned again and Tobruk fell in June 1942 before being re-captured for good by the British after the Battle of El Alamein. (Sketch of a Matilda II of the 32nd Army Tank Brigade.)

It is fitting that David Castle is buried in Tobruk War Cemetery, beside the seaport which he and his Regiment gave so much to defend.

Return Merrow War Memorial 1939-1945 Names.

Flight Lieutenant Christopher David Gilliat , died on 9th March 1943, aged 24

He was the son of Algernon and Eva Gilliat, who lived in Levylsdene, Merrow. He was commissioned as a Pilot Officer in the RAF on 26 September 1940 and promoted to Flight Lieutenant on 26 September 1941.

Flt Lt Gilliat was a member of 156 Squadron, which was in No.8 Group of Bomber Command. It was an original Pathfinder Squadron and by the end of the War had flown most overall sorties and most Lancaster sorties in Pathfinder heavy squadrons. The Squadron motto was : ‘We light the way’. In Flt Lt Gilliat’s time, it was based at Warboys, an airfield about 12 miles south of Peterborough. It was equipped with Avro Lancaster (Mark 1) aircraft which, with four Merlin engines, had a maximum speed of 275 mph. It had a crew of 7.

At 8.50 pm on 9th March 1943, Lancaster GT 4856 Z took off with seven other Lancasters of the Squadron on a 264 aircraft bombing raid to Munich. It was carrying one 4,000 lb HC bomb and two 500 lb GP bombs, together with two white and two green Target Indicators, three white flares and one green one. The crew comprised :

Flt Lt L.G. Goodley DFC
Sgt R.G.Riley
Squadron Leader W.A.C.Ball DFC, RNZAF
Sgt J.B.Thompson
P/O L.Jones DFC
Flt Lt C.D.Gilliat
Flt Sgt G.Percy
(Squadron Leader Ball was the Squadron’s Navigation Leader)

The aircraft failed to return. The crew had to abandon it somewhere over Germany. Five of its members perished and a sixth, P/O Jones, landed safely on the ground and became a prisoner-of-war. The seventh, Flt Lt Gilliat, fell into a tree and died from his injuries. His body, and those of the others who died, is now buried in Rheinberg War Cemetery, at Kamp Lintfort, Nordrhein-Westfal, Germany, which was chosen in 1946 for the assembly of Commonwealth graves recovered from numerous German cemeteries in the area.

This raid appears to have been the eighth one that Flt Lt Gilliat flew with the Squadron and presumably he had been posted in recently from another Squadron. His seven previous raids had been flown between 19th February and 5th March, and details of them are attached.

Raids flown by Flt Lt Goodley and his crew between 19 February and 5 March 1943

(1) 19 February – raid on Wilhelmshaven
Took off at 6 pm and returned at 11.15 pm. Ten aircraft went and one failed to return. Attacked the primary target at 8.18 pm from 11,000 ft with one 4,000 lb HC bomb and six 500 lb GP bombs. There was slight flak to the east of the town and two searchlights. A dinghy was sighted in the sea on the return journey and the aircraft circled round. Red verey lights were being fired from the dinghy and were acknowledged from the aircraft by flashing SOS by hand torch.

(2) 21 February – raid on Bremen
Took off at 6.25 pm and returned at 11.45 pm. Five aircraft went and all returned. It was very cloudy. Attacked the primary target at 8.49 pm from 18,000 ft with one 4,000 lb HC bomb and two 1,000 lb GP bombs. There was intense and accurate heavy flak and moderate light flak.

(3) 24 February – raid on Wilhelmshaven
Took off at 6.35 pm and returned at 10.55 pm. Ten aircraft went and all returned. Very cloudy. Attacked at 8.42 pm from 18,000 ft with one 4,000 lb GEL bomb and 64 x 30 incendiaries. A big glow among the Target Indicator concentration was seen through the clouds. There was slight heavy flak and a little light flak, with a few ineffective searchlights.

(4) 25 February – raid on Nuremberg
Took off at 8.15 pm and returned at 3.20 am. Eleven aircraft went and all returned. Attacked at 11.30 pm from 15,000 ft with one 4,000 lb HC bomb, one 500 lb CP bomb and one 500 lb GP screamer bomb. The bombs were not seen to explode, but several incendiary fires were seen. Moderate amount of heavy flak in the target area, which was fairly accurate.

(5) 28 February – raid on St Nazaire
Took off at 6.40 pm and returned at 11.30 pm. Nine aircraft went and all returned. Attacked at 9.04 pm from 12,000 ft with one 4,000 lb HC bomb and 8 x 90 x 4 incendiaries. There was moderate heavy but inaccurate flak. The bombs were considered to have fallen on the southern part of the basin to the rear of the submarine pens. Not many fires were seen in the target area, as F/L Goodley’s aircraft had to make a quick departure with engine trouble. The starboard inner engine had failed just before the target was reached. Five minutes later the bombsight became u/s owing to lack of pressure.

(6) 1 March – raid on Berlin
Took off at 7 pm and returned at 1.45 am. Nine aircraft went and all returned. Attacked at 10.19 pm from 19,500 ft with one 4,000 lb HC bomb. A moderate amount of heavy flak was put up in a barrage. Good fires were seen from Bremen on the return flight.

(7) 5 March- raid on Essen
Took off at 7.05 pm and returned at 10.50 pm. Eleven aircraft went and one failed to return. Attacked at 9.05 pm from 22,500 ft. The 4,000 lb bomb was seen to explode near a red Target Indicator and a green one which was dropping in the same position. Some big fires were seen around the aiming point on leaving. and two large
explosions occurred while the aircraft was over the target area. Over Essen there was moderate heavy flak with a little light flak.

Return Merrow War Memorial 1939-1945 Names.

Flight Sergeant William Walter Hewitt, died on 9th February 1945, aged 22

He was the son of Walter and Daisy Agnes Hewitt, of 45 High Path Road, Merrow. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website also states that he was the
husband of Mabel Elizabeth, who became Mrs Bourne when she later re-married.

He was in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and, at the time of his death, he was serving as a Flight Sergeant in 221 Group in the Far East. This Group was formed in April 1941 in Rangoon for the initial purpose of organising airfields in Burma for emergency use. From this small beginning it grew to be the Tactical Bombing Group in support of the Fourteenth Army in Burma, with its headquarters in Calcutta until the Group could be re-established within Burma.

By February 1945, when William Hewitt was killed, there were twenty squadrons within the Group. William was a pilot in the Group Communications Squadron and on the day of his death he was flying a Beechcraft Expeditor Mark 11 aircraft No.HB 201 from Kalemyo, Burma, to Jorhat, in Assam. The route is shown on the attached map. The plane took off at 11.30 am and went missing en route. The Met report given for the flight was “Weather conditions for route covering mountainous country -gusty wind, some cloud (but not unfavourable)”. The Committee of Inquiry reported :

“Most likely cause of all flying difficulties experienced due to unfavourable
weather conditions. Aircraft possibly flew above 10,000 ft handicapping
crew by lack of oxygen as no oxygen fitted in aircraft. Aircraft may also
have flown into uncharted high ground while flying in cloud. Met report
justified take off but conditions over mountains probably deteriorated.”

There were three RAF men in the plane (including the pilot) and four others, presumably the passengers being taken on the flight. Their bodies were not found.

William’s name is inscribed on the Singapore Memorial which stands in Kranji War
Cemetery on the north side of Singapore Island. This bears the names of 24,000 casualties of the Commonwealth land and air forces who have no known grave, including airmen who died during operations over the whole of southern and eastern Asia and the surrounding seas and oceans.

Return Merrow War Memorial 1939-1945 Names.

Private Geoffrey Michael Paddison, died in 2nd December 1941, aged 27

The following report appeared in the 20th December 1941 issue of the ‘Surrey Advertiser’ :

“Official intimation has been received that Geoffrey Michael Paddison, younger son of the late * Sir George Paddison KBE, CSI, ICS, and Lady Paddison, of Merrow, has been killed while on active service in the Middle East.

A correspondent writes : “Geoffrey Michael Paddison spent his school days at Rugby, where he held a scholarship, and later he also became a scholar at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he took a first in Mods and a second in Greats. He chose teaching for his career, and selected from rather a large field, he became a master on the staff of Hilton College, Natal. Here he spent two very happy years, happy both in work and play, enjoying opportunities for music, of which he was fond, riding and motoring, and making many friends.

In June 1940, he enlisted as a private in the 1st Natal Carabiniers, and served all through the East African Campaign. His regiment, being the senior one of the South African Army, was the first to enter Addis Adaba after its surrender. After this he spent some time in Egypt, and was employed in the Intelligence Department. Lately, he again went to the fighting front, and fell on November 30th. He was 27. For him glory, but for his lonely mother, the great sadness in which her many friends will share.”

Lady Paddison lived at ‘Ingleby’, 38 The Fairway, Merrow. Her son is buried in the Halfaya Sollum War Cemetery, in Egypt about 12 km from the Libyan border. (All the graves in the cemetery were brought in from the surrounding area.) Most of the fighting on 30th November was further west, with the Eighth Army about to achieve its linking-up with the British force which had broken out of Tobruk. Geoffrey Paddison was fatally wounded less than a week after David Castle had been fatally wounded breaking out of Tobruk.

( * Sir George Paddison had been a very senior Indian civil servant and at the time of his death in 1927 he was the Commissioner of Labour for the Madras region)

Return Merrow War Memorial 1939-1945 Names.

Royal Marines Bandmaster George C Palmer, died 21 August 1944, aged 33

Son of Charles Stephen and Alice Sophy Palmer of Merrow, Guildford.

George (also known as Cyril) – his death is recorded on “The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines” web site at

He is buried in the south-east corner of St John’s Churchyard, Merrow and has a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone. Photograph Jan 2019

His name seems to have been omitted, in error, from the Merrow War Memorial Plaque.

Return Merrow War Memorial 1939-1945 Names.

Leading Aircraftman Donald Parker, died on 28th July 1947, aged 25

He was the son of Cyril Edward and Ethel Parker, of 67 High Path Road, Merrow, and the husband of Sylvia Parker, who was a Canadian.

He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve while the War was still on and he was sent over to Canada for training.

He died of TB which he first contracted while in Canada for the RAF training. He is buried in St John’s Churchyard and has a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone. Photograph Jan 2019

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Gunner Dennis James Robinson, died on 25th January 1940, aged 21

He was the son of Albert and Leah Robinson, of 2 Wingates, Merrow Street. He served in the 208th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery, Royal Artillery, which was stationed near the Kent village of Cobham, between Gravesend and Rochester. It was in the 28th Anti-Aircraft Brigade, which was part of London’s anti-aircraft defences but up to the time of Gunner Robinson’s death it would have had little chance to fire in anger.

The Battery’s War Diary (PRO reference WO/166/2492) shows that they were in position at the start of the War and that on 6th November 1939 they travelled by train from Gravesend to Towyn, north of Aberystwyth, for gunnery practice on the coastal firing range there. They returned to Gravesend and on to their gun sites on 25th November.

Gunner Robinson died in hospital at Yeovil, through meningitis brought on by a compound depressed fracture of the skull received on 29th November 1939. He was buried in Merrow Churchyard. Photograph Jan 2019

Return Merrow War Memorial 1939-1945 Names.

Flight Sergeant Kenneth Surman, died on 1st January 1945, aged 20

Born in 1924, he was the younger son of Henry and Dorothy Surman, of the Golf Club House, Merrow. His father was the steward at Guildford Golf Club. He enlisted in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and qualified as a Wireless Operator / Air Gunner. As a Flight Sergeant he was posted to 166 Squadron on 28th September 1944 as a member of the following Lancaster bomber crew :

Flying Officer J A Sherry (Canadian) – the pilot
Sgt A Martin – flight engineer
Flying Officer D H Bennett (Canadian) – bomb aimer
Flying Officer M Berryk (Canadian) – navigator
Flt Sgt K Surman – wireless operator
Flt Sgt C Young (Canadian) – mid upper gunner
Flt Sgt J C Daze (Canadian) – rear gunner

166 Squadron was based at Kirmington, eight miles west of Grimsby, a wartime airfield which is now Grimsby Airport. The Squadron was part of No 1 Group of Bomber Command, whose HQs were at Bawtry. The Squadron had been formed in June 1918 and its motto was ‘Tenacity’.

On 5th October F/O Sherry was taken on a mission to Saarbrucken in the Lancaster piloted by F/O Brennan, who had nearly completed his operational tour of thirty missions. Two days later F/O Sherry and his crew flew their first mission in 166 Squadron and it was a daylight raid on Emmerich, a town on the Rhine upstream of Nijmegen which was an important supply base for German forces in the Arnhem / Nijmegen area. They took off at 11.50 am (with 19 other Lancasters) and landed back at 4.30 pm, having bombed at 2.25 pm from 11,000 ft. The sortie was a baptism of fire for the newcomers to the Squadron, as their aircraft sustained holes in the starboard wing and a hole in the elevator from incendiary bombs falling from another aircraft. They had seen four aircraft from other squadrons shot down in flames and one of their own aircraft failed to return.

Lancaster ‘J’, as F/O Sherry’s plane was known in the Squadron, went on to fly a total of 22 missions up to their fateful one on the night of 31st December /1st January. These are listed overleaf, but it is worth setting out in full here the Squadron report on one of the raids :

“The important coal mining town of Bochum (near Dortmund) was the target for 27 of our aircraft on the night of 4th /5th November. The route was covered by 70% cloud which cleared as the target area was approached and conditions for bombing were very favourable. Pathfinder Force ground-markers were accurately placed and well concentrated, and a highly successful attack developed. Opposition was heavy, and moderate to intense heavy flak was encountered over the target area with considerable searchlight activity. Night fighters were very much in evidence and ‘0’ flown by F/O Dale and crew was twice attacked by JU 88s and claimed strikes on both. `J’ flown by F/O Sherry and crew was also attacked twice and claimed to have shot down a jet-propelled fighter. ‘R’ flown by F/O Sisson and crew sustained numerous flak holes but none of the crew was injured. `T’ flown by F/O Wilson and crew failed to return and ‘P’ flown by F/O Falcon and crew had the misfortune to crash only just short of Base, the Mid-Upper Gunner being killed and the Pilot, Flight Engineer and Rear Gunner being injured. The remaining 25 aircraft successfully returned to base after carrying out a most concentrated attack. Despite the heavy opposition a great weight of bombs was dropped around the aiming point and fires could be seen by our crews for up to 100 miles away on the return journey.

At 3.10 pm on New Year’s Eve, F/O Sherry and his crew took off on their 23rd mission with 13 other aircraft on a raid to the railway marshalling yards at Osterfeld (south-west of Leipzig) by 149 Lancasters and 17 Mosquitos of Nos 1 and 8 Groups, and they were never heard from again. They were carrying one 4,000 lb bomb, six 1,000 lb bombs and six 500 lb bombs. They crashed in Holland, probably on the way to Osterfeld, as only 13 of the aircraft bombed the target. They were probably shot down, like a Lancaster from another squadron over Belgium. All the crew were killed and most, if not all, of them were brought to Margraten, in Holland, for burial. It is likely that they died on 31st December rather than on the recorded date of 1st January.

Their graves are now in the Nederweert War Cemetery, which is 21 km south east of Eindhoven, Holland.

Sorties flown by F/O Sherry and his crew
(the numbers of aircraft given below are just those from 166 Squadron – there were a lot more from other squadrons)

(1) 7th October – the raid on Emmerich described above.

(2) 11th October – a daylight raid by 13 aircraft on Fort Frederik Hendrik, but the the first group of aircraft, including F/O Sherry’s, had to abandon their mission on the instructions of the Master Bomber because the target could not be seen.

(3) 14th October – a night raid by 18 aircraft on Duisberg, one failing to return.

(4) 15th October – a night raid by 6 aircraft on Wilhelmshaven.

(5) 25th October – a daylight raid by 16 aircraft on Essen. With this mission F/O Brennan and his crew successfully completed their first operational tour. Their thirty raids compares with the Bomber Command overall average of seven and a half before fate intervened.

(6) 28th October – a daylight raid by 22 aircraft on Cologne.

(7) 30th October – a night raid by 25 aircraft on Cologne.

(8) 31st October – a night raid by 27 aircraft on Cologne. During this raid one plane was attacked twice by enemy fighters but sustained no damage. Strikes were observed on the enemy, one fighter being-claimed to be destroyed and the other damaged.

(9) 2nd November – a night raid by 28 aircraft on Dusseldorf. Four were engaged in combat with enemy fighters and three sustained flak damage, but all returned.

(10) 4th November – the night raid on Bochum described earlier.

(11) 9th November – a daylight raid by 20 aircraft on a synthetic oil plant at Wanne Eichel.

(12) 16th November – a daylight raid by 16 aircraft on Duren, a small town on the main road between Aachen and Cologne where it was known the enemy had concentrated his forces. The attack was designed to precede a new push by the American 1st and 9th Armies. One plane failed to return.

(13) 18th November – a night raid by 19 aircraft on Wanne Eichel. F/O Sherry’s plane was coned by searchlights over Brussels and engaged by enemy aircraft.

(14) 21st November – a night raid by 23 aircraft on railway marshalling yards at Aschaffenburg (south east of Frankfurt).

(15) 27th November – a night raid by 32 aircraft on Freiberg. This was the record number of aircraft put up by the Squadron on any raid. One failed to return.

(16) 29th November – a daylight raid by 29 aircraft on Dortmund. F/O Sherry’s plane sustained damage to its nose and starboard inner engine from heavy flak.

(17) 3rd December – a daylight raid by 15 specially selected crews on the Urft Dam. Unfortunately the attack had to be aborted as there was 10 /10ths cloud cover over the target. The Master Bomber had gone down to 4,000 ft without being able to identify the target and he then abandoned the raid.

(18) 12th December – a night raid by 27 aircraft on Essen.

(19) 15th December – a night raid by 20 aircraft on Ludwigshafen. The target was left a mass of flames and many large explosions were reported.

(20) 17th December – a night raid by 23 aircraft on Ulm. The fires were visible for 100 miles on the return journey.

(21) 24th December – a night raid by 14 aircraft on Cologne. Visibility at take-off at 3 pm was in places less than 100 yards and the last two planes could not take off because the fog became too dense. There was no cloud over the target and the attack was excellent. There was some night fighter activity and two aircraft failed to return. The rest had to be diverted to another airfield.

(22) 28th December – a night raid by 20 aircraft on Munchen Gladbach.

Please see

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Private Victor Robert Suter, died on 17th August 1942, aged 40

Born in Merrow, he was the son of Mills and Jane Suter, of 62 High Path Road, Merrow. He was for a time an assistant in the shop at the bottom of High Path Road. When he joined up, his place of residence was stated to be Middlesex.

The only thing we know about his Army service is that he was in the Pioneer Corps within the UK.

He contracted TB while in the Army and died of it.

He was buried in the south-east comer of St John’s Churchyard, at Merrow. Photograph Jan 2019

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Leading Aircraftman Charles Lewis Woods, died on 5th July 1941, aged 24

Born in Hackney in the Second Quarter of 1917, he was the son of Alfred George and Mary Woods, of 1 Merrow Siding Cottages, Merrow. His father was a brickmaker at the small brick works on Lord Onslow’s Clandon estate. Charles and his parents are recorded as living at that address in the Electoral Register for 1938, as are also his
brother Arthur Leonard and his sister Hilda May.

Charles joined the RAF and was a motor transport mechanic. As recorded on his Death Certificate, he was killed at sea on 5th July 1941 when the ship he was travelling in to West Africa, S. S. Anselm, was sunk by enemy action. The Death Certificate wrongly gives his age as 26. His name is included on the RAF Memorial at Runnymede.

The circumstances of his death have been investigated and are set out in the accompanying note which recounts the tragedy of the sinking and the heroism of one of those who died.

Charles Woods was aboard the troopship SS Anselm which was part of the Middle East Troop Convoy WS9B and was carrying over 1,200 Service personnel. The WS series convoys, all convoys from the UK to the Middle East, were nicknamed `Winston’s Specials’ and ran regularly between June 1940 and August 1943. Further information on the passage of Convoy WS9B can be found in the Public Records Office documents ADM199/402, 199/410 and 1138. The convoy was carrying RAF personnel for Takoradi (Gold Coast, now Ghana) and other Service personnel for the Middle East.

An analysis of the attack on SS Anselm, recorded in the Monthly Anti-Submarine Report for September, 1941, states that, immediately preceding the attack, HMS Challenger and the SS Anselm were in line ahead and were being screened by HMS Lavender and HMS Petunia. HMS Starwort, whose Asdic (anti-submarine detection equipment) was out of order, was stationed astern. The escorts had been keeping listening watch in thick fog, but at 0350 the weather cleared and both ships commenced transmitting. At this time, HMS Lavender and HMS Petunia took up screening positions on either bow of HMS Challenger and commenced a zigzag on a course just east of south at a speed of 11 knots. At 0426, in approximate position 44 30 N, 28 30 W, not far from the Canary Islands, the SS Anselm was struck by a torpedo on her port side amidships. The SS Anselm settled rapidly by the head and sank twenty two minutes after being hit.

All the lifeboats got away with the exception of No 6, which was damaged by the explosion. By skilful manoeuvring, HMS Challenger placed her bow alongside the SS Anselm’s port quarter, and in this manner rescued sixty men. Unfortunately 254 men, including 175 RAF personnel, lost their lives, but it is probable that many of these were killed by the explosion of the torpedo which struck the ship immediately below the accommodation space.

The War Diary of U96, which was commanded by Kapitanleutnant Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock, shows the attack in a slightly different light. U96 observed several shadows coming towards her through the morning mist and dived to make an underwater attack. At 0828 (German Summer Time, GMT + 2 hours) she fired a spread of four torpedoes at the SS Anselm, which she identified as a large merchant vessel, and then watched as one of the torpedoes struck the SS Anselm amidships. The explosion observed by the U-boat was so great that she believed she had hit a munitions room, although there is nothing in the British records to confirm this. U96 then dived deeper to evade the counter-attacks by the Royal Naval escorts.

An eyewitness aboard SS Anselm, who at the time of the attack was keeping fit by running around the deck, recounts that from the moment of impact it was a nightmare. ‘The alarm sounded. By instinct we headed for the lifeboat station. I witnessed chaos and panic beyond anything I could imagine. Despair and hopelessness was written in everybody’s face. I heard screams and howls from guys trapped down below. I watched guys fighting each other, seemingly for no reason at all. The destroyer Challenger nosed in towards the back of the ship, catching Servicemen dropping from the stern. Padre Pugh, the first padre at the RAF Bridgnorth station, was haggling with a couple of erks (airmen) to lower him down so that he could bring solace to the doomed erks trapped below. His last words were `My love of God is greater than my fear of death.”

Padre Pugh was subsequently awarded the posthumous George Cross and the citation for the award appears on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site. The citation mentions that ‘coming up on deck he seemed to be everywhere at once, doing his best to comfort the injured, helping with the boats, rafts, and visiting different lower sections where men were quartered. When he learned that a number of injured airmen were trapped in the hold which had been damaged by the torpedo, which destroyed the normal means of escape, he insisted in being lowered in by a rope. Everyone demurred. As the hold was below the waterline, the decks were already awash, and to go down was to go to certain death. He simply explained that he must be where his men were. The hold was so full of water that when he knelt to pray, the water reached his shoulders. Within a few minutes the ship plunged and Padre Pugh was never seen again’. It would be comforting to think that Charles Woods might have been one of those to whom Padre Pugh brought solace but that of course will never be known.

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Cemeteries and Memorials – World War Two 
Overseas Cemeteries

La Deliverande War Cemetery, Douvres, Normandy (G.H.Bolster)
Nederweert War Cemetery, Limburg, Netherlands (K.Surman)
Rheinberg War Cemetery, Kamp Lintfort, Nordrhein-Westfal, Germany (C.D.Gilliat)
Halfaya. Sollum War Cemetery, Egypt (G.M.Paddison)
Tobruk War Cemetery, Libya (D.A.C.Castle)

Overseas Memorials

Alamein Memorial, Egypt (R.O.Brice)
Rangoon Memorial, Burma (G.F.H.Bichard)
Singapore Memorial (W.W.Hewitt) 

U K Cemetery

St John the Evangelist Parish Church, Merrow (D.Parker, D.J.Robinson, V.R.Suter) 

U K Memorials

Portsmouth Naval Memorial (A.E.Baker)
RAF Memorial, Runnymede (C.L.Woods) 


The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website (
The Rolls of Honour of Soldiers who died in the two World Wars (on CD-ROM)
The War Diaries of Army Units (in the Public Record Office, at Kew)
The Squadron Records of RFC and RAF squadrons (at Kew)
Personal records relating to Lt Ivor Bennett, Lt Ronald Pease & 2nd /Lt John
Wyatt-Smith (in the Public Record Office)
Canadian Army papers for Charles Brooker, Leonard Lickfold and Stephen Moore Mr Richard Rudall, of Bexhill-on-Sea
Announcement of John Rudall’s death in ‘The Times’ of 24th August 1916
Papers lent by the Wyatt-Smith family
The 1901 National Census
The Electoral Registers for 1918 and 1938
The London Gazette
The Medal Rolls, at the Public Record Office
The Army Lists
The RAF Museum at Hendon (for the Aircraft Accident Card relating to Wm Hewitt)
The RAF Historical Branch at Bentley Priory
RAF Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War
The Registers of Births and Deaths kept by the General Register Office
The Register of Naval Deaths in 1914-18 (in the PRO)
The issues of the ‘Surrey Advertiser and County Times’ for 1914-18
Various local directories published during the period from 1915 to 1945
`Casualty List’scrapbook in the Guildford Institute Library
`Guildford in the Great War’ by W.H.Oakley
`British Regiments 1914-1918′, by Brigadier E.A.James (1978)
`Kitchener’s Army’, by Ray Westlake (1989)
`Your Country Needs You’, by Martin Middlebrook (2000)
`The Queen’s Royal Regiment (West Surrey)’, by Jock Haswell (1967) – in the Famous Regiments series
`British Battalions in France and Flanders 1914′, by Ray Westlake
`British Battalions on the Somme’, by Ray Westlake
`Chronology of the Great War’, edited by Lord Edward Gleichen (2000)
`A Military Atlas of the First World War’, by Arthur Banks (1975) – authorisation to reproduce some of these maps was given by Sword & Pen Books, of 47 Church Street, Barnsley, South Yorkshire
`Passchendaele – the Day-by-Day Account’, by Chris McCarthy (1995)
`The Great War Generals of the Western Front 1914-18′, by Robin Neillands (2000)
Winston Churchill’s history of the Second World War
Background reading of many books on the First and Second World Wars.

Photographs of Cemeteries and Memorials where Merrow Men are commemorated.

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