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REEDER, Robert Charles
Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve
Fleet Air Arm H.M.S. Godwit Royal Naval Air Station, Hinstock.
Died 2-January-1944 aged 22
Son of Charles Edward and Clara Reeder, of 4 Wilmot Way Banstead.
Robert attended Sutton County School in 1937 and 1938.
During the Second World War, HMS Godwit was a training school for the Fleet Air Arm - one of many around the country, often inland and close to RAF airfields.
The main resident unit was 758 Squadron, the Naval Advanced Instrument Flying School. Detachments were sent to the main specialist flying schools at Crail, East Haven Fearn, Hinstock and Yeovilton to provide a short instrument flying course for pupils. By 1944 it had over 100 Oxfords, and other types were also in use.
A key skill which pilots learned at HMS Godwit was to fly "blind" using the Lorenz Beam Approach. This was done by training them to follow the sound of a radio beam transmitted from the airfield. As the plane followed the beam, the crew would hear a steady note, and if they strayed to left or right they would hear either dots or dashes depending on which side they had strayed. There were also other tones to help pilots approach the runway. This was the beginnings of the blind-flying system still in use today.
Watson was a brilliant flyer and had taken part in the 1938 air race from Cardiff to London. On that occasion, he also took his young son, David, and they were only just beaten into second place by none other than Geoffrey De Haviland.
Lt Commander Watson's role at the flying school was to instruct pilots to use the new Beam Approach which was so much more critical to Navy pilots who had to land on a moving aircraft carrier, probably many miles away from the location it was at when they took off. Many of the trainees had seen active service and were not impressed by having to return to school, hence instructors often took them to an area around the Wrekin, a high hill in Shropshire, as this was often shrouded by cloud. The trainees quickly realised they had to pay attention.
Robert was a copious letter writer and regularly wrote to the girl he loved, Valerie Sleep. He missed her very much and counted the hours till he could see her again. Whenever he could, he would apply for leave just to be with her for a few hours. Valerie kept every single letter written by her 'Bobby' and the family still have them.
His experience was not gained without incident and he was injured in one accident while flying with 781 Sqn. There were other 'minor' incidents reported as follows:-
Proctor P6071 - ...781 Sqn...taxying too fast, ran into van parked on peritrack, Cat X 29.4.43 (S/L RC Reeder).
Vega Gull P5986 - ...781 Sqn Lee 11.3.43 ('L9H'); collided with banking in dispersal bay, Cat Z 14.8.43 (S/L RC Reeder OK).
Seafire NX963 - ...Lee Storage Section, stalled landing, breaking u/c, Cat Y 25.7.43 (S/L Reeder of 781 Sqn);
Despite these incidents, Robert was clearly a very competent pilot, as he was accepted for training as a flying instructor. Lt Commander Watson was to be his senior instructor. Another instructor, Reg Howard, who started at Hinstock in Spring 1944, recalls that such incidents were "not uncommon".
Watson, always called Jimmy, was a keen photographer and his many photos are still with the family. Photos of HMS Godwit are rare, but Jimmy did take one for his album.
In relation to using the beams as a means of navigation, Reg Howard recalls,"The beam system was fairly simple to master. The most difficult thing for trainees was getting them to abandon their instincts and trust the beams. This is the way it worked - A transmitter based at the upwind end of the runway sent out a beam of sound in both directions along the line of the runway. It broadcasted a steady note in the centre with dots on one side and dashes on the other. When entering the beam in cloud you had no idea on which side of the airfield you were. The further from the transmitter the wider the beam became, so by flying across it and noting the time it took, then making a controlled turn back through it and comparing the two times, the position of the field was known.
So far so good, but it was still unknown from which direction one was approaching the runway. When flying directly over the transmitter there was a moment of silence. At the approach end were two markers sending out signals vertically. One, the Inner Marker, was situated fairly close to the end of the runway. Further out was the Outer Marker. Each gave a distinct signal. Having established in which direction one was flying, there was a set system to follow aimed to bring one back over the Outer Marker at about 400 feet, then to the Inner Marker at 100 feet at which point one hoped to see the runway. It was a simple but effective system.The worst scenario occurred when the beams went off for one reason or another, and in that situation you could find yourself in real trouble if you where flying in cloud, as I can tell you from personal experience."
The photo on the left, another from Jimmy's collection shows a group of instructors at Hinstock. He records his own name as Jimmy however amongst this group he was known as "Watty".
There were at that time 18 airfields in Shropshire, all in the north of the county and many were training establishments so it is easy to see why there were many accidents. Hinstock had a clean record until the 2nd of January 1944. Watson and Reeder had taken off to do an hour's routine instruction. When they became overdue and could not be contacted on the R/T the alarm was raised. The aircraft was found crashed, and both occupants had been killed.
Air-Britain's 'Fleet Air Arm Aircraft, 1939-1945' records their fate as follows:
Airspeed Oxford MP299
Leonard William Osborne was a local fireman serving with the National Fire Service. His diary entry for 2 January 1944 says " Went out to plane crash Lime Kiln Wood. 2 killed,
no fire ".
There are no official records of any investigation into the crash however David Watson, Lt Commander Watson's son has always known the cause, probably because Base Commander John Pugh was a friend of the family and often visited the Watsons.
David was only 13 years old but his mother explained the cause of the crash. David recalls that planes were left dispersed on the field, as opposed to being put in hangers, so that in case of bombing, only one or two would be hit. This however left them susceptible to the weather and of course the Oxfords were of largely wooden construction. The rudder in particular had some steering arrangement which made use of wooden pins. The weather caused them to swell, such that when the pilot turned hard one way or the other, the rudder could jam, causing the pilot to lose full control of the aircraft resulting in loss of height and probably circling or spiraling into the ground. David has always understood that at least one, possibly two instructors had already been killed in Shropshire as a result of this fault. Reeder and Watson were next and it was not until the same thing happened to a yet another instructor who somehow managed to free the rudder, that the reason for the crashes was fully understood. This probably explains why the reports say "spun out of cloud".
Tom Thorne, an enthusiast who has researched over 900 crashes in Shropshire, eventually identified that the aircraft, Air Speed Oxford MP 299 came down on a farm at Steeraway just at the end of the Wrekin, however the letter sent to Robert's family suggests something slightly different.
Base Commander John Pugh wrote to Robert's father with the tragic news. This is his letter in full;-
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Market Drayton
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx January 8th 1944
My dear Mr Reeder,
It was with deep regret that I had to inform you by telegram of your son's death.
He was at the time receiving flying instruction in order to qualify as a flying
instructor and was accompanied by my senior instructor Lt. Commander Watson.
The aircraft was observed to come out of the clouds and almost immediately hit
The Wrekin - a high hill in the district. Death could not have been other than
instantaneous for both occupants of the aircraft.
Your son was a boy of great promise and his loss to the service will be keenly felt.
I wish to express for myself; Officers and ship's Company our deepest sympathy
to you and your wife in your great loss.
If there is any service I can render - I am yours to command.
I remain sir
Yours very sincerely
John Pugh Cmdr.
Captain HMS Godwit
Robert's father was a master at a school in Banstead and he read the letter to his pupils. Over 60 years later, Ted Bond, one of those pupils, still remembers that letter being read to the class. He says " I will always remember that day as if it were yesterday."
Tim Owen, a naval cadet at the time also has reason to remember the tragic accident. He says " I was on leave when the crash happened and I
did not know either of the two men killed, but I was assigned to guard the
body of Lt Commander Watson at Childs Ercall Hall. This was in use as the
sick bay at the time and I well remember the two hour on and two hour off
shifts we did guarding the body of this officer. I was also part of the
firing party at his funeral at Hinstock cemetery. It's an experience you
don't forget, and last year (2007) I went back to visit his
The casualty lists of the Royal Navy and Dominion Navies show the following entry:
On the 20th of October 2008 Lt Commander Watson was remembered at a reunion dinner for West Downs, a school in Winchester. Secretary Nick Hodson wrote a short biography of James Watson which was circulated to those present.
Probably REES, Maurice Owen
This man has not been definitively identified however there are no likely canidates other than this one, although to date no link to Banstead has been identified.
Born in Portsmouth district of Hampshire in the summer of 1922, son of Bartlett John and Marjorie Rees (nee Owen). Maurice was the only child, his father born in Wales, mother in Portsmouth born and bred, father in Portsmouth by 1911, married in Portsmouth in 1917 and lived there together, both died there shortly after the war.
An Owen family lived in Higher Drive Banstead but no link has yet been established.
The following is an extract from the Hampshire Telegraph dated Nov 1944
Flying Officer Maurice Owen Rees, R.A.F.V.R., only son of Mr. and Mrs. B.J. Rees, of 2 Jasmond Road, Cosham, and nephew of Councillor and Mrs H.T. Clifton, was killed on air operations in January and is buried in Germany. He joined the R.A.F.V.R. in 1940 and received his observer wings in Canada in 1942. Aged 21, Flying Officer Rees was an old Nortonian and played cricket for the school, receiving his cap.
The first operational sortie took place on the 4th of March 1943, with a mine laying (gardening) operation to St. Nazaire. Both of the squadrons reserve aircraft were quickly called upon when the squadron lost its first two aircraft on this raid.
The night of January 30th/ 31st 1944
Last update : 9 April 2019 added portrait photo and family details
100 Squadron Lancaster Bomber
Berlin 1935-1945 War Cemetery
The following aircrew from 100 Squadron were all
Killed In Action on the night of Jan 30th/31st 1944.
All are buried at this cemetery.
AIRCREW OF ND398 HW-B
W/O J.A.Crabtree KIA
Sgt R.T.Davies KIA.
F/O M.O.Rees KIA
Sgt F.Helm KIA.
Sgt J.J.Whelan KIA.
F/s G.W.Box DFM KIA.
F/O R.M.Parker KIA
Sgt G.S.Ellis KIA
F/S K.R.Bradbury RAAF KIA
Sgt G.Silverwood KIA
Sgt T.Campbell KIA
Sgt E.Starkie KIA
F/S G.A.Orchard KIA.
|Remani C. C. (See C.C. Remané immediately below)|
REMANE, Charles Clifford
( Insription on the Banstead War Memorial is C C REMANI).
Royal Armoured Corps 3rd Royal Tank Regt.
Died 29-August-1944 aged 31
Son of Karl and Emily Remané
Husband of Betty Lilian Remané, of Bracklesham, Surrey.
Clifford Remané was born on the 24th January 1913 in the district of Mengo, Kampala, Uganda. The actual place of birth is shown as Namirembe. His parents, Karl and Emily Remané were the first missionaries to go to Uganda and at that time Karl was a doctor. Clifford and his sister Nora both lived out there for a while. Emily died and is buried in Kampala and Nora and Clifford were sent to England. Karl followed sometime later and subsequently married again. Clifford left the family home and went to live with his 'Uncle Harry', Karl's brother Henry.
In the 1901 census is Charles Remané aged 35 a Gold jeweller born in France living in Islington. He was Clifford's grandfather. Following on in the family business Clifford's father Karl and his brother Henry began the Remane Brothers jewellery business in Hatton Garden in the mid 1920's, although Karl didn't stay in the business for very long.
At the age of eighteen Clifford first enlisted into the Royal Artillery Territorial Army where he was posted to the 98th Field Brigade. Official records show that he attended the annual camp with his unit every year between 1931 and 1937, and completed his engagement after serving exactly seven years.
Clifford married Betty Lilian Rees on the 2nd of July 1938 at St James Church in Purley. They later moved to Banstead where they lived at Trenarren in Holly Hill Drive. This was a brand new property and, as an estate agent based in Banstead, Clifford Remané was well placed to secure it.
Clifford re-enlisted, in December 1940, this time with the Royal Armoured Corps. The photograph on the right shows Clifford standing in the centre in front of a 1940 Lloyd Personnel carrier No. T26529.
He was immediately posted to the 24th Lancers where he was appointed Acting Lance Corporal, promoted to Acting Corporal and eventually granted the rank of War Substantive Corporal in April of 1943.
It was during this period that Clifford acquired his nickname, and the events that led to this happening are recorded in a book called 'None Had Lances - The Story of the 24th Lancers' by Leonard Willis.
W.A.C. Anderson Lt.Col 22 Dragoons, previously with the 24th Lancers, later wrote "I have never in my life met a better man or had a better friend. Cliff arrived in 1940 with the 24th Lancers and came to my Squadron. For the first years of his soldiering, he was my tank driver; we had some good moments together and some bad ones. When I was promoted to command the Regiment, I wanted to keep him as my driver but he was far too good a man for that and we had a long discussion about it. I finally persuaded him to take his promotion, and as a Serjeant he served under Major Bourne, one of the finest Squadron Commanders I have ever come across."
On the 1st of June 1944, Clifford embarked from the United kingdom heading for France. It was three weeks later when he was promoted to Serjeant, and on the 3rd August he was posted to the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment (3RTR).
Another soldier, ex-trooper Eric Clayton remembers Clifford Remané. "Cliff Remané was not the stereotyped, raucous, beer swilling serjeant; rather he was a quiet thinking person with a courteous manner. Although he and I served in the same squadron, conversations were rare and casual, however, through working and moving in the same area, there were many friendly nods or greetings. The decade difference in age between him and an eighteen year old made him more of a father figure."
Cliff Remané was a father and during his time away he never forgot his family. In one letter addressed to the eldest of his two young daughters, he says that the rabbit that he and his crew had been keeping had got too big, so he now had a puppy which was not as well behaved as the family pet back home. Cliff Remané loved animals and was a keen horse rider, a hobby now enjoyed by his youngest daughter, Faith.
On the same day that Serjeant Remané was posted to 3 RTR, he was given command of a Mark V Sherman tank, and the Royal Armoured Corps Roll Book records this event. This tank was handed back and a second tank, a Sherman 17 pounder was issued to the Serjeant on the 7th August. The Roll book also records the names of the other three members of his crew as Lance Corporal Oliver, Trooper Butler and Trooper Bernstein. This particular Sherman tank may have been a Firefly which normally carried a crew of four instead of the usual five, as the hull gunner's position was disposed of to make way for extra ammunition. The hull machine gun was consequently removed and the hole plated over.
Strangely, the roll book shows a Mark 7 Sherman however Shermans in British service were designated I – V although the III was uncommon and the IV exceptional so Marks I, II and V would be the most likely. The maker is shown as Wright, and a Sherman I or II would have the Wright-Continental 9 cylinder radial engine. The Sherman Firefly was armed with a 17 pounder gun, and the machine gun would have been a Browning rather than the Besa which was pre-printed in the log.
The roll book was retained by its original writer, Troop Sergeant Harry Dews, long after the war ended. Harry, was responsible for keeping the troop Roll Book and it was started with the 24th Lancers (3rd Troop 'A' Squadron). When the 24th Lancers were disbanded in late July 1944, Harry continued to keep the Roll Book up to date although the complete Troop had by then been transferred to 3RTR where it formed 3rd Troop 'C' Squadron which Serjeant Clifford Remané belonged to.
The very last column of the log records the fate of the tank - Destroyed by enemy action 29/8/44. By this stage of the War, the Sherman was completely outclassed by the German tanks and it was a no contest in a one-to-one situation. The British forces called it the Ronson after an advert for a lighter which included the slogan Lights up first time every time. This description was based on a design weakness of the Shermans wherby the ammunition store was immediately behind the weakest part of the tank. The tank however had the capability of being mass produced and in the end sheer numbers won the day.
Serjeant Clifford Remané never experienced the victory as along with one of his crew, he was killed in action only 26 days after his posting to the regiment, at the village of Mainneville in Normandy.
Locals recollect that the Germans had been working feverishly and had dug individual holes and trenches on the road from Sancourt to Feularde. At about 4.00pm, two Panther tanks, part of the Leibstandarte S.S.Adolph Hitler, an elite German unit originally set up to be Hitler's bodyguards, took up positions; one at the exit of the village, and the other at the side of a small chapel where it had a clear view of the road and the side of the hill up to the wood where the German infantry was in position.
The War Diary for the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment at Mainneville for the 29th August 1944 records that having crossed the Seine at Vernon, 3 RTR, in 11 Armoured Division, headed north east towards Gournay on the River Epte. Mainneville is one of a group of villages on the Gournay road which was the centre line of the Divisional advance.
The tank regiment ran into a fair amount of opposition around Mainneville and tried to find routes around it. At approximately 19.30 hours, according to the War Diary, RHQ, A and B Squadrons are across (they don't say across what) and B, turning north west to rejoin the centre line, comes under fire and loses three tanks; meanwhile C Squadron, south of Mainneville "push on and lose three tanks". No casualties are listed but clearly Serjeant Remané was in command of one of the three tanks of C Squadron.
L/S Don Harding of C Sqn 3rd RTR also wrote to Mrs Remané on the 5th Sept 1944. He says" ..My friends and I found the bodies of your husband and two comrades and we buried them in the cemetery at Mainneville. They were given the best of burials. The French people of the village provided coffins and a Union Jack, and a Priest conducted the service. A woman there promised to take photographs for us and if we receive them I will post them on to you."
They also hold a small ceremony on Remembrance day. Unlike many WWII casualties buried in large Military cemeteries, these three men are the only soldiers buried in this small village; they could so easily have been forgotten however the local villagers have ensured that this will never ever happen.
Clifford Remané's great grandson Alfie has taken a great interest in his great grandfather's history and in November 2007 Alfie, who attends Moor Park School in Ludlow, contributed to a Year Two, World War school project run by Mrs Owen.
|RICHES, The Rev. Leslie Philip
Chaplain 4th Class 101549
Royal Army Chaplains' Department
Died 1 June 1940 aged 30
Son of Philip Tom and Rosetta Jane Riches nee Sturgess.
Husband of Dorothy Evelyn Frances Riches, of Banstead, Surrey.
Leslie Philip Riches was born on the 27 June 1909 at Northumberland Heath, Erith. He was the eldest of the three children and their mother died in November 1918 when Leslie was just nine years old. Their maternal grandparents, James and Sarah Alice Sturgess raised the children.
Eventually, Leslie became a minister in the Church of England.
He married Dorothy Evelyn Frances Brown, born in Hertford and just a few months younger than Leslie, at Christ Church, Erith, on 7 August 1937. At the time of his marriage Leslie was living in Highfield Road, Luton, and was probably curate at St Mary's Luton.
The couple moved to Banstead where Leslie became curate at All Saints Church. He soon became an active member of the Church Institute committee.
On 25 October 1939 Leslie volunteered to join the
Royal Army Chaplains Department as a Captain 4th Class. He died on 1 June
1940 at Dunkirk during Operation Dynamo.
During World War II, Operation Dynamo was the name given to the mass evacuation of British and French soldiers from Dunkirk where they had become cornered. It started on 26 May 1940 and continued through to 4 June. In just this short period, nearly 340,000 French and British soldiers were rescued from the beaches of Dunkirk, France, by a fleet of hundereds of vessels of every size and shape.
Despite the overall success of the operation, many of the personnel
waiting on the beaches, or even in the sea, were killed by low flying
German aircraft strafing the remnants of the British Expeditionary
Four years after Leslie's death, Dorothy married Stephen E Trinder.
Personal details and photos from Peter Little, nephew of Reverend Riches.
Updated 25 October 2008 with photos and personal information.
Go to : Banstead War Memorial panel
To be confirmed - No known grave and registered as a death at sea.
ROBERTS Henry William
Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 21/03/1944 aged 35
Son of William and Sarah Roberts.
Husband of Eleanor of Cheltenham Gloustershire.
The couple lived at 24 Glenfield Road in Banstead.
Henry was employed as a Staff Records & Salaries Clerk with the Electrical Lighting Company.
Prior to joining the RAFVR and qualifying as a Navigator Henry had volunteered with the Auxiliary Fire Service, whilst his wife Eleanor worked with the Ambulance Service in the Bansted Urban District Council.
Sergeant Roberts was killed whilst flying in a Handley-Page Halifax bomber. Of the seven-man crew, only two, including Henry were over thrty years of age.
JP137 was a new heavy bomber, en route from RAF Hurn to Morocco in North Africa. Research by the Moordown History Society indicates that this crew had been selected for special duties, serving SOE (the Special Operations Executive). That work might have included dropping agents, and/or supplies over enemy territory, possibly Yugoslavia.
RAF Handley-Page Halifax heavy bomber, serial number JP137, crashed into four cottages in the suburb of Moordown, Bournemouth, in the very early hours of 21st March 1944 killing all on board as well as two residents.
This image, one of several from the Moordown Halifax Committee collection, shows the inverted wreckage
There wasn't much left intact, after the devastating fire that followed the crash.
The Bournemouth Echo reported on the civilian casualties. The local fire brigade had been warned the aircraft was likely to crash in the vicinity and so they were able to turn out immediately; they were unfortunately delayed in getting to the scene by a convoy of American lorries. The aircraft had flown for less than ten miles when it hit the ground and fortunately was not carrying its usual bomb load. The cause of the crash was some kind of engine failure and the young pilot, Denis Evans, could have done no more to save the aircraft and crew.
There is much more detail on this crash and other members of the crew on the Moordown Halifax Memorial website.
The Moordown 2010 Committee was responsible for erecting this memorial very close to the crash site location.
Cemetery 20.C. 13. BROOKWOOD MILITARY CEMETERY
His headstone reads "You answered duty's call that we might live".
Moordown memorial website (Roger Shore)
Ancestry.co.uk 1939 Register.uk.