World War Two

Inside the church on the north wall of the nave is a plaque which was dedicated on 19 February 1950 by the then Bishop of Chester. Unlike the war memorial at the time, names were inscribed on it: J Burgess; Hugh AC Cameron-Rose; Cecil Cliffe; Humfrey Fairclough; Ann Lawson; Norman Podmore; Geoffrey Paul Rylands; Harry Glazebrook Rylands; Frank Norman Simpson and William Henry Woods. The money was raised through donations, but as with the war memorial, there was little interest in the project from the parish.

Thanks to the work of Margaret and David Hart we already know the background to the men who fell during the Second World War. As more records are being released the lives of those who fought are slowly being told. This includes the additions of three soldiers who had connection with St. Matthews whose names are not inscribed on the plaque but are included on war memorial.

John Burgess
John Burgess was the son of Mr. and Mrs. T. Burgess and husband of Freda Kathleen Jones of Stockton Heath. He was born in 1920. He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and died on 05 December 1943 aged 23. John Burgess is buried at St. Thomas in Stockton Heath and is commemorated on the war memorial in the village.

Hugh Adam Campbell Cameron-Rose
Pilot officer Hugh Adam Campbell Cameron-Rose of the RAF was the son of David George and Mary Henrietta Cameron-Rose. He was born in 1909 and in 1937 married Stella Roberts at St Matthews. Stella was the daughter of Colonel Henry Gordon and Jane Roberts of Appleton who was christened at St. Matthews in 1914. Henry Gordon Roberts died at Kingsley, Windmill Lane, Appleton in 1948, a JP and having been awarded an OBE. He is buried at St. Matthews.

Hugh Cameron-Rose died on 8 October 1942 aged 33 when his plane developed engine trouble during a mission to search for a missing aircraft near Penzance in Cornwall. He is buried in the cemetery at Chivenor, Devon, a mile from the RAF station where he was stationed.

Cecil Cliffe
Cecil was born in December  1919 in Warrington, the son of William Henry Cliffe and Georgina Whyte. William was a bricklayer’s labourer and the family moved around at regular intervals seeking work. Cecil enlisted into the Royal Navy as a telegraphist and was killed on HMS Bredon on 8 February 1943 aged 23. He is buried at Chatham, Kent.

Humfrey Fairclough
Humfrey was born in Dec 1914 in Windmill Lane, Appleton, the son of Lionel and Ruth Fairclough. Lionel was director of a flour milling company and related to Richard Fairclough of Latchford. Lionel died on 19 November 1918 aged 38 and Ruth on 1 July 1973 aged 91. They are both buried in the church yard.

Humfrey married Ruth Helen Manson in June 1938, and they had a daughter, Gillian, shortly afterwards. Humfrey enlisted with the South Lancashire Regiment 4th Battalion and died at Dunkirk on 31 May 1940 aged 25. He is commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial.

William Eric Hand
The son of Thomas Hand and Annie Whitfield, William was born in June 1916. In December 1937 he married Agnes Wilkinson and they lived at Hatton. Leading seaman, Hand died 11 Jan 1945 aged 29 off the Normandy coast, France. He is remembered at Chatham Naval Memorial, Kent. It was a coincidence that William Eric Hand was related to Eric Hand who supplied the bronze plaques.

Frank Norman Simpson
Sgt Norman Simpson, RAFVR, flight engineerFrank Norman Simpson was the son of  Frank and Ethel Simpson; known as Norman to his family. He was born in 1923 at Pill Moss Lane, Whitley and baptised on 28 October 1923 at St Luke’s, Whitley. Not long afterwards the family moved to Walls Green Cottage, Stretton next to Walls Pit House. At the age of 21 he was killed on 26 March 1944 when his parachute harness was not properly fastened and he slipped through the straps and fell to his death, landing in pasture at the hamlet of Rudge, near Frome, Somerset. Norman is buried in the church yard with the inscription: He died not as some men, by degrees, but swift and sure beneath Somerset’s trees.’

His parents moved to Bower Crescent when the houses were built in the 1950s. He also left a sister, Ethel Doris who was two years older than Frank, and a younger brother Brian who would have been eleven at the time of his death.

Thanks to Norman’s niece Judith for the photograph above, and for Jonathan Falconer who worked with Judith to produce a short biography of Norman. It was through Jonathan’s interest in a wartime bomber crash in his home town of Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire which claimed the lives of six men out of a crew of eight, that he started to research their history. The story of the Men Who Fell to Earth has been kindly produced here and is also included in: Names in Stone: Forgotten Warriors of Bradford-on-Avon and District, 1939-45 (Bed & Bolster Publishing, 2009)

Annie Lawson
Annie was only two and a half when she was killed. Annie was the daughter of John Walter Lawson and Mary (née Woods) of Primrose Hill cottages, and born in 1938. She was with her family attending a fête at the Thames Board Mill recreation ground on 14 September 1940 when a lone returning German bomber released two bombs. One bomb fell on the canteen and 150 people were buried in the wreckage. Of those 16 were killed and 43 injured – some seriously. It was the worst war time atrocity in Warrington.

Norman Podmore
Norman Podmore was born to George and Mary Podmore in 1909. The family lived at Alfred Street, Stockton Heath in 1911. There are no records of his marriage available but we know that he married Betty Hewitt who was born in 1914.

Sergeant Podmore was a member of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and died on 21 August 1942 age 33. At the time of his death his wife was living at 144 London Road, Stockton Heath. He is buried at the Kiel War Cemetery in Germany. His widow remarried five years later and moved to Wales, passing away at Bangor in 2004.

Geoffrey Paul Rylands
When Geoffrey Paul Rylands was born in March 1920 in Cheshire, his father, Geoffrey, was 34 and his mother, Nora Lee Williams, was 30. He had two brothers: Harry Glazebrook Rylands who was killed in 1945 and a younger one, George, who lived along Tarporley Road, outliving all the family.  Geoffrey attended Bromsgrove School and was employed at the District Bank in Altrincham. A Wireless Operator and Air Gunner, he joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve 14 Squadron in May 1940 and was posted to the Middle East in April 1941.

Geoffrey died on March 30, 1942, in Egypt, at the age of 22, and was buried in Matruh, Egypt. He is commemorated at the Alamein Memorial. At that time his parents lived at Danehurst, Windmill Lane, Appleton and also Howton, Westmorland. His father G.G. Rylands was the Company Secretary for Rylands Bros. Warrington.

Harry Glazebrook Rylands
Harry Glazebrook Rylands was born in December 1918 in Birkenhead, His father, Geoffrey, was 33 and his mother, Nora Lee Williams, was 29. He was the eldest of two brothers, one of whom predeceased him in 1942 and is also commemorated on the war memorial. Major Rylands of the 2nd Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment died on April 18, 1945, in Myanmar, at the age of 26, and was buried in Yangon, Myanmar.

William Henry Woods

William Henry Woods

Born 28 April 1921 at Burtonwood, Warrington, and baptised the following month, William Henry Woods was the son of James Woods and Ann Blackhurst. He married Very Mary Jones of Warrington in December 1942. Able Seaman Woods RN  was killed along with 18 other crew in action aboard the destroyer HMS Quail when it struck a mine laid by U-453. He died on the 15 November 1943 aged 23 and is remembered on the Plymouth Naval Memorial.  His family has kindly allowed the use of this photo of William, and it is believed that the family lived at Quarry Lane, Appleton.


One thought on “World War Two”

  1. I met Mary Lawson at Stretton walking day can’t remember the year. She was a relative of my mothers. On meeting me she asked to put her hands on my face, then said I looked like my Mum very emotional.

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