REGINALD CHARLES BETTIS BOWDEN
Reginald Charles Bettis Bowden was born during the First World War and lived in Chidham with his parents Thomas and Edith. He joined the Royal Navy and at the outbreak of the Second World War was serving aboard HMS Royal Oak, a dreadnought battleship. On 13th October 1939, when the war was only 6 weeks old, HMS Royal Oak was sunk at Scapa Flow in Orkney by torpedoes from a German U boat. 833 men lost their lives including Able Seaman Bowden aged 24.
HENRY JAMES HAYES
Henry James Hayes was born in 1909. At the outbreak of the Second World War he was serving as a Leading Seaman on board HMS Exmouth. On 21st January 1940 the ship was escorting a merchant vessel to Scapa Flow. In the early hours of the morning of 21st January 1940 HMS Exmouth was hit by a torpedo from a German U boat. She was hit in the magazine and sank almost immediately with all hands. The position of the wreck was only discovered in 2001. Leading Seaman Hayes died aged 31 and is remembered on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. He lived in Hambrook with his wife Dorothy.
EUSTACE ARTHUR PETER HILLARD
Eustace Arthur Peter Hillard was born in 1910. He served in the Royal Marines and at the outbreak of the Second World War was a Second Lieutenant. He died on 26th August 1940 when the German airforce bombed Fort Cumberland at Eastney and he is buried at Funtington Churchyard.
SYDNEY WILLIAM LOCKYER
Sydney William Lockyer was born in 1892. After leaving school he served in the Royal Navy. In 1942 he was a Chief Stoker on board the Boom Defence Vessel Sparsholt. He died 13th March 1942 aged 50. He was survived by his wife Margaret, who lived in Emsworth.
WILLIAM LEONARD ELIOT REYNOLDS
William Leonard Eliot Reynolds was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Army Medical Corps. He died 17th October 1939. He is commemorated on the Brookwood Memorial in the Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey. The Brookwood memorial commemorates those who have no known grave, whose death could not be commemorated on any campaign memorial. Among them are those who died in the campaign in Norway, raids on Dieppe and as St. Nazaire and those operating as special agents who died as prisoners whilst working with allied underground movements.
An entry in St. Mary's Church Visitor's Book in May 2009 was intriguing. The comment was "a lovely surprise to see my grandfather Reynolds mentioned on the World War 2 memorial".
During our Remembrance Sunday service, short biographies of those named on both memorials are read to the congregation. All that we knew of 'Reynolds' was that he was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Army Medical Corps, that he died in 1939 and was mentioned on the Brookwood War Memorial in Surrey.
The note in the Visitor's Book was too good an opportunity to miss, so I sent a letter to our visitor giving only the name, Joanna Edwards and the town, Shaftebury. The Post Office excelled themselves! Only 24 hours after posting, an Email popped up on my computer from Joanna Edwards with some fascinating information.
William Leonard Eliot Reynolds was born 4th April 1889 at Weymouth. He was educated at King's School, Canterbury and in 1910 he started his medical training at Guy's Hospital, London taking his MRCS and LRCP in 1915. He at once entered the Royal Army Medical Corps Special Reserve, taking a regular commission on 1st January 1917. He served during the First World War sometime in France, winning the Military Cross.
In due course he married Joan Steele in London and was posted to Northern India, now Pakistan. In the mid 1930's his wife and children, Mark, Elizabeth and Christopher, returned to England to find a family home and they moved into Belfry Cottage in Chidham.
At the outbreak of the Second World War, the now Lieutenant Colonel Reynolds (Tubby to his Army friends) was returning to England as Deputy Assistant Director General, Army Medical Services, War Office, when the ship in which he was travelling, the SS Yorkshire, was torpedoed by German Submarine U37 some 200 miles west of Cape Finistere. There were 278 people on board of whom 160 were ship's complement and the remainder were passengers, chiefly servicemen and their families returning to England from the East. 58 people lost their lives.
Lt. Col. Reynolds had placed a small suitcase with his papers and medals in a lifeboat before re-entering the stricken ship for the third time. He was lost. His little water-soaked case was returned to his family and his papers and medal were given to the Royal Army Medical Corps Museum.
A fascinating letter, written by an Army Officer and printed in Time Magazine on 8th January 1940, gives a first hand account of the sinking of the SS Yorkshire. A copy of this letter, along with other copied documents, including an extract from the German Navy War Log for October 1939, is in the Parish Scrapbook in St. Mary's Church vestry.
Lt. Col. Reynolds' widow, Joan, moved from Belfry Cottage in due course. She lived to her nineties and died in Chichester. Christopher died in 2000, Mark has four children and six grandchildren - one of whom, Louisa, plans to join the RAMC - a career decision made without any knowledge of her great grandfather's profession. The source of our information, Joanna, daughter of Elizabeth (nee Reynolds), married in Funtington and has two children, one of whom is training to be a doctor.
At the end of her correspondence, Joanna Edwards writes: "Thank you very much indeed for your interest and for mentioning his (Lt. Col. Reynolds) name so regularly in Church year after year. We all find it very moving."
We, in turn, are most grateful to Joanna Edwards and all the family for sharing so much information aabout Lt. Col. William Leonard Eliot Reynolds, MC, RAMC.
Thanks to Nina Bates for the above.
LESLIE JAMES SIMPSON
Leslie James Simpson was born in 1913. He joined the Royal Horse Artillery and became a Battery Sergeant Major serving in the North Africa campaign. During this campaign Tripoli was an important Axis base until it was taken by Montgomery's forces in 1943. Warrant Office Simpson died on 22nd July 1943 aged 30. He is buried in the Tripoli War Cemetery.
EDWARD WILLIAM SWATTON
Edward William Swatton was a Pilot Officer attached to 408 Squadron Royal Canadian Air Force. He is buried in Frederikshaven Cemetery in Denmark. Denmark was occupied by the Germans during World War II and allied planes were active in Danish skies with special operations, raids on specific targets and supplying the Danish resistance. Many airmen were killed in these operations. Edward Swatton died on 19th July 1942, aged 29. He lived with his wife Catherine in West Ashling. More can be found on the Air Crew Remembered website.
Thanks to Carol Vigor for the research in this document.