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DECEMBER
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Private Harry Brown 14907 1st Battalion Hampshire Regiment 

The 1st Battalion was based near the Beaumont Hamel at the beginning of the battle of the Somme and continued during the fighting to the end of the battle where they were on the Transloy Ridges in very poor weather . Harry Brown was killed on December 22, 1916 in that area. He is now buried in the concentration Sailly-Saillisel Cemetery between Albert and Bapaume.

 

Harry Brown’s family lived in Gloucester Street, one of a number of children of a labourer. He left to train as a gardener at Rotherfield Park near Alton in Hampshire, sharing a cottage with the foreman and another ‘improver’ gardener on the estate.

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The Cemetery at Sailly-Saiselle

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Pilot Officer Anthony Carter 68170 106 Squadron Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Anthony Carter was the navigator/bomb aimer in a four man crew of a Hampden bomber, ZN-F/AE151 in 106 Squadron based at Coningsby. The plane took off at midday on December 21, 1941. for a raid on Oldenburg near Bremen. Tony Carter in the nose cone, was killed by a direct hit which crippled the plane. The pilot, Nick Hartgroves, could get over the Dutch border, where they crashed. Local Dutch people arrived to help, and they later buried Tony Carter at Schoonebeek. The rest of the crew were taken prisoner.

 

Tony Carter had lived with his parents at Duffryn on the Gretton Road. His father was an invalid who died during the war. Nothing more is known of them – all information came from the family of the pilot.

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Dutch helpers at Tony Carter’s grave at Schoonebeek

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Pilot Officer Samuel Cooper 42301 80 Squadron RAF

80 Squadron was one of the last to be flying the Gloster Gladiator biplanes, and were posted to the Middle East before the war, and then moved to Greece when Germany invaded in October 1940. Samuel Cooper had already ben shot down at the beginning of December, but survived and returned to flying after a break at Larissa. On December 18 he was shot down again near Tepelene and fired on as he descended in his parachute. His squadron leader found him on the ground, but he died in hospital the next day. A street in Yanina is named after him. He is buried in the Phaleron Cemetery near Athens.

 

Samuel Cooper left Cheltenham Grammar School and eventually joined the Gloucesters, then trained for the RAF in Scotland after a brief period with the police. His younger brother, Geoffrey, also joined the RAF and was killed in 1941. The Coopers owned a shop in the High Street

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Phaleron Cemetery

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Private Alfred Dyde 15877 Grenadier Guards

Alfred Dyde was among the first to arrive in France in August 1914, one of three brothers and a step-brother to do so. He would have taken part in the retreat from Mons, and fighting at the Marne before being sent to Ypres where he was taken prisoner. He spent the next four years in camps before being repatriated just after the war ended. He died on December 28 1918, a month his return home and is buried in Winchcombe Cemetery

 

Alfred Dyde’ father was a carter on a number of local farms, but the family had come to live at 4 Gretton Road. They comprised Alfred’s four brothers, a stepbrother, two stepsisters, and two more children from his father’s second marriage. Alfred worked as a labourer, probably at the George.

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Corporal Ellis Griffin MM and Bar 95896 95 Field Company Royal Engineers

Ellis Griffin volunteered for the Royal Engineers as a carpenter in the spring of 1915, and fought at the Somme and Arras before being sent to Italy in 1918. After the battle against the Austrians at Piave he became increasingly ill with an infection probably acquired in the trenches, and was admitted to hospital. He died in hospital on Christmas Day 1918, and was buried at Montecchio Precalcino.

 

Ellis was the son of a labourer who later worked as horse driver. He was born in Greet one of four children, and had worked as a carpenter before the war. He had been keen to volunteer in 1914, but was prevented by illness, and volunteered as son as he could

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MM and Bar 

Pilot Officer Robert Mason 162612 RAF Volunteer Reserve 100 Squadron

100 Squadron, based at RAF Waltham near Grimsby, took part in the ‘Battle of Berlin’ begun in November 1943 with massed bombing raids. On December 16, 498 planes took off in the sixth such raid to attack the main Anhalter Bahnhof, but in foggy weather. 28 planes, including Robert Mason’s Lancaster, were unable to land on their return from the raid in the very poor weather. He was killed in the crash landing on December 17, 1943, and is buried in Winchcombe Cemetery.

 

Robert Mason attended Cheltenham Grammar School, a keen sportsman, member of the cricket club and a member of the church choir. The family lived at Enfield. He joined the police before volunteering for the RAF in 1941. He was sent for training in America, and returned in January 1943 to join 100 Squadron, flying Lancasters on a number of raids. He had just been commissioned.

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Montetecchio Precalcino

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Private Frederick Major 240445 2/6 Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment

Fred Major was one of the men for whom prayers were said in the service at the end of August 1914, leaving early in the war because he must have had previous military service. The battalion appears to gone to France only in 1916 when they fought at the Somme and then later at Cambrai. The battalion was in the trenches in November, then withdrawn briefly before before facing a German counter-atttack at La Vaquerie on November 30. Fred Major was killed in the fighting on Decemeber 1 1917. He is commemorated at the Cambrai Memorial at Louveral.

 

Fred Major’s family lived at Coates, and he worked as a labourer in the engineering department of the Great Western Railway. 

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The Cambrai Memorial Louveral

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Private Owen Smith 21815 6th Battalion Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

Owen Smith enlisted in Winchcombe. The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry fought with the 20th Division at the Somme and the following year at Cambrai. Owen Smith died of wounds in the later part of the fighting there, on December 21, 1917 at the Casualty Clearing Station at Tincourt. He is buried in the cemetery at Tincourt.

 

Owen Smith was born in Guiting Power the youngest son of a labourer. His mother died before he was two, and when his father died when he was ten, he was admitted to Kingham Hill School. He came to Winchcombe where his older sister, Amy, and next of kin married in 1916. He enlisted in Winchcombe.

Private Thomas Blandford 202927 2/5 Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment.

Thomas Blandford volunteered for 3/5 Territorial Gloucesters in August 1915, when he may have been under age, possibly with two older brothers. He was transferred to the 2/5 Battalion in July 1917, part of the operation near the Hindenburg Line. Thomas was reported missing on March 21, 1918. the first day of the Spring Offensive and found wounded and taken prisoner on March 25. He was discharged from the army in April 1919, as 50% disabled having lost an eye, and awarded a pension. He returned to his mother in Greet, but died in December 1919. He was 21.

He is not listed on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

 

Thomas was the youngest son in a large and disparate family. At 12 he was still at school but living at Blacksheds with other family members. 

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Tincourt Cemetery