[The 1939-45 War]

The 1939-45 War – Lest we forget

Mercifully we lost fewer of our men during the 1939 - 45 war. We have photographs and more information on those who are listed here.

Stoker 1st Class Richard Charles Davies

‘Dick’ Davies, eldest son of Richard Thomas and Ida Davies, of Fovant and Yunderup, Western Australia, was a Stoker on the battleship H.M.S.Barham. He died on 25th November 1941, aged 22, when the ship was torpedoed in the Mediterranean. He is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

[Dick Davies]
Born in Sutton Row.
Family lived in Brook Street in 1922, then, probably as their family increased moved to Gerrards Farmhouse in Sutton Road.
Attended Fovant School.
On leaving school assisted his father who, as a woodman, was contracted to Chivers of Devizes
Linesman for the Nadder Valley under 18s football team.
Keen model maker – had a small workshop in the dairy at Gerrards.
Easy going , outward looking chap according to his brother.
Enlisted in the Royal Navy at the beginning of 1939 therefore pre-war
Originally assigned to H.M.S. Dunedin, but an illness caused him to miss its sailing date. He was then posted to H.M.S. Barham, an assignment which had tragic consequences for him and his family.

Click on the following link to visit the excellent website of The HMS Barham Association which is well worth visiting to examine the history of the battleship and its loss.

Sergeant William Cecil Friscourt Dodd R.A.F.

[William Dodd] William Cecil Friscourt Dodd the only son of Cecil and Edith Dodd of Redhill Surrey was a Sergeant /Air Gunner with 205 Sqdn., R.A.F. He was part of the crew of an aircraft which failed to return from a flight on 5th April 1942. Aged 26. His name appears on the Singapore Memorial.

His mother Edith was the eldest child of William and Flora Goodfellow of Fovant, and his father Cecil was a serving soldier, a boxing trainer for the army, stationed at Fovant Camp during the 1914-18 war. His parents separated early on in their marriage and Bill was brought up by his grandparents William and Flora.
He attended Bishop Wordsworth School, and after leaving school worked at Downside Garage Swallowcliffe. He joined the R.A.F. at 18 years old, invariably spent his leave in Fovant and kept up a regular correspondence with his relatives here. According to his cousin “he was a rare one for the girls”.

We are indepted to Mr Ross McNeil for the following information:

The 4th/5th April 1942 was a time of intense activity in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) . A Catalina aircraft had sent the first sighting report of an approaching Japanese fleet, but was shot down and more information was needed. Members of No.205 Sqn filled the spaces on FAA Swordfish and Fulmars when everything that was capable of flying was sent to attack the fleet.

Catalina Z2144, R for Robert was despatched late on the 4th to find out how far the Japanese had advanced. This was the remaining Catalina of No.205 Sqn which because of losses at Singapore had been disbanded a few days earlier. At 22:37 hrs Colombo received the following message from R for Robert:

&ldquo:One enemy destroyer in 01 59 N, 82 20 E course 315 degrees, speed 20 knots. A second message at 00:45 hrs read 6 destroyers in 02 54 N, 82 10 E, course 325 degrees, speed 20 knots.”

After the second message nothing more was heard from the aircraft. At 08:40 hrs while the air raid on Colombo was underway the combat air patrol of three A6Ms (Zeros) from Hiryu, Zuikaku and Shokaku chased and engaged R for Robert. Two Zeros were damaged by return fire from the Catalina before it was shot down at 08:42 hrs.

Mr Ross suspects that Sgt Dodds was onboard R for Robert.

Gunner Archibald Bertram Kendall

Bertram Kendall, son of William Hugh and Florence Kate Kendall, of Fovant, was a Gunner in 3 H.A.A. Regt., Royal Artillery, who died on 12th September1944, aged 26.

[Bertram Kendall]       The Singapore Memorial commemorates men who died in Malaya and surrounding islands and seas. Gnr Kendall was one of 400 men lost when, on 4th September 1944, convoy HI-72 sailed from Singapore. Two of these ships, Rakuyo Maru and the Kachidoki Maru carried PoWs. The Rakuyo Maru carried 1317 Pows (British and Australian) and the Kachidoki Maru a further 900 (all British).

On the 12th of September the convoy was attacked by US submarines north-east of Hainan Island, off China and both these ships were hit. The Kachidoki Maru was torpedoed by the US submarine Pampanito at 22:40 hours.

There are a number of websites describing this tragedy. One of them can be examined by clicking here.

Lance Corporal William Edward George Lee

[Billy Lee] [Billy Lee's grave] Billy Lee was born at Aldershot on 21st April 1920. As his father was in the Army he moved several times as his father was posted to different places During his childhood he lived at Tarrant Gunville, Woodfalls and Wilton before his family finally settled in Fovant. After working on various farms he enlisted in the D.C.L.I. on 5th August 1938. He became a Lance Corporal during his first year of service.

Badly wounded during the retreat from France in 1940 he was evacuated from Dunkirk but died of his wounds in hospital before his parents could get to his bedside

His sister Ann Barnard, youngest of the seven Lee children, recalls that:

“My eldest brother William was killed in June 1940. Injured at Dunkirk, he was brought back to a hospital in Chichester where he died of his wounds. His body was brought back to Fovant and is buried in the Churchyard. I can remember him saying goodbye to me wearing his dark blue uniform and carrying a rifle. I was just three years old.”

We were told by his sister in law, a child at the time, that the schoolchildren lined the path outside the school to pay their respects as Billy’s funeral cortege passed by.

Gunner Frederick Simper

Frederick Simper, son of Elizabeth Simper of Dinton, was a Gunner in 44 Lt AA Regt. Royal Artillery who died on 5th May 1945. Buried in Taukkyan War Cemetery near Rangoon, Burma (now Myanmar), he died just four days after the Japanese evacuated the city.

[Frederick Simper]

Major William Gerald Usher

Son of the Reverend Robert and Alice Mabel Usher who was Rector of Fovant 1919-42. A Major in 26. Lt.A.A.Regt, Royal Artillery he died on 31st December 1944, aged 33. Like his Brother Christopher, who was killed in the 1914 -18 war, his name is not noted on the village war memorial, but there is a memorial window to him in the church. He is buried in the Florence War Cemetery in Italy, although the grave may have been moved from the nearby Arrow Route Cemetery following fighting in the Apennines during the winter of 1944-45.

[Rev Usher and family]

“To the Glory of God and in memory of the Rev Robert Usher MA Rector of this Parish 1910 to 1942 . and of his wife Alice amd his youngest son Major W G Usher killed in Italy on 31 December 1944, aged 33, whilst serving with the 8th Army.”

J.O.H.
M.C.L.H.
5 December 2008

Content last updated
5 December 2008

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