A Family At War

Discussion in 'Searching for Someone & Military Genealogy' started by James S, Oct 18, 2008.

  1. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    My father was one of four brothers who served in the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force in WW2.

    Donald the eldest went into the bag when Hong Kong fell in December 1941 - he survived the sinking of Lisbon Maru and arrived in Japan in October 42.
    He was used as slave labour until his death from pneumonia and malnutrition in May 1944 .
    He had been attached to HMS Tamar - he was 23 when he died.

    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/searching-someone-military-genealogy/15735-centre-research-allied-pows-under-japanese.html

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    (Above shows a close up of him and the froup / intake photo at 4 ITW Bridlington , the same view today is almost unchanged - I have a photo of it somewhere. Standing on the exact same spsot , surveying the same view , about as close to him as I ever really got.)

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    Jimmy enlisted in the RAF and was accepted for aircrew training as a pilot - this was discontinued after a few months and he remustered as an air gunner - from early 1943 he progressed via Air Gunnery scholls at Dalcrosss / OTU at Lossiemouth , HUC at Riccall to 158 squadron at Lisset , part of 4 Group.
    His crew went missing on their third operational flight , shot down by the MArine Flak battery "Vlieland West" on the night of 29th September 1943 .
    Jimmy's body was cast ashore on Ameland in Oct 43 - the only trace of the aircraft or crew to be found.
    He is buried in the Commonwealth Plot in Nes on the Island of Ameland.

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    Above his grave as it was photographed post war and two photos of it taken on two visitis to Ameland - the last shows my youngest girl, then aged 13.
    ( She still views this as being one of her best trips away , she would go back in the morning).

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    The flak claim from Vlieland West the Marine Flak unit which shot them down.
    Halifax HR715 / "E" .

    The ductch police report - I have that somewhere , it describes the discovery of the poor lad , his kit right down to the contents of his escape kit and what was sewn on his collars and the name tags on his socks.
    He was buried the same day in Nes following examination by a German doctor.


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    My father is second from the left in the second row.

    May father joined the R.N> in 1941 forged his age to join and traded up as a signals man.
    He spent timeiin several areas , he did some of the early PQ runs to Russia , was on a destroyer which did one or two runs to St.Johns Newfoundland , spent time in Coastal Forces on the South Coast - he was on one of the MTBs sent out to attack the Brest Squadron when they forced the Channel in Feb. 1942 and was part of the naval force which lifted the Commando force off from Bruneval.
    He did time in the Med. Anzio was one of his "jobs".
    D-Day off Sword Beach and as a post script he was involve din the sinking of a U-Boat off the Isle of man in Spring 45 and was mustered to a boarding party which took several surrendered U-Boats from Loch Ryan to Lisahally on Lough Foyle close to his home in Londonderry.
    He spoke very little about the war - what I recall I was really only told once - at the right place at the right time - for him the war was a closed book - he saw his friendship with those he served with as being his best memories.
    One or two funny things from "Bob" - which I won't go into right now - his last leave home which he shared with Jimmy - shortly before he went on ops.
    He never quite got over his death , of all his brothers he was closest to him.

    Johnny the eldest brother served in Coastal Command , a ground crew electrician at St Enval.
    He emigrated to Canada post war.

    One of his sisters married an American officer mucha against the wishes of her mother , she retruned to the States with him and never again came home .
    Sadly her husband was killed in the landing s at Okinawa , shortly before the birth of their son.
    She stayed with her in laws in America , never returning home.

    Some of the expereicnes of one family and perhaps typical of so many.
     
  2. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique MOD

    James, I have moved this to its own thread as I think it is an excellent and well put together story, and shouldn't be swallowed up in another thread.
     
  3. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Paul , that is fine by me - I have some more info I can put on if folks are interested.
    The bulk is on Jim - I researched out what happened him in the mid-1980's and have some photos of two of his crew.
     
    Our bill likes this.
  4. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique MOD

    Yes, more photos would be great.
     
  5. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique MOD

    Just adding his CWGC details:

    <table class="datatable" width="97%" align="center" border="0" cellpadding="2" cellspacing="1"><tbody><tr id="tr_name"><th valign="top" width="30%" align="right">Name:</th> <td id="td_name">STEWART, JAMES DIXON</td> </tr> <tr id="tr_initials"> <th valign="top" width="30%" align="right"> Initials:</th> <td id="td_initials">J D</td> </tr> <tr id="tr_nationality"> <th valign="top" width="30%" align="right"> Nationality:</th> <td id="td_nationality">United Kingdom</td> </tr> <tr id="tr_rank"> <th valign="top" width="30%" align="right"> Rank:</th> <td id="td_rank">Sergeant (Air Gnr.)</td> </tr> <tr id="tr_regiment"> <th valign="top" width="30%" align="right"> Regiment/Service:</th> <td id="td_regiment">Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve</td> </tr> <tr id="tr_unittext"> <th valign="top" width="30%" align="right"> Unit Text:</th> <td id="td_unittext">158 Sqdn.</td> </tr> <!-- <tr> <td vAlign="top" align="left" width="30%">Force:</td> <td id="td_force"></td> </tr>--> <tr id="tr_age"> <th valign="top" width="30%" align="right"> Age:</th> <td id="td_age">20</td> </tr> <tr id="tr_death"> <th valign="top" width="30%" align="right"> Date of Death:</th> <td id="td_death">29/09/1943</td> </tr> <tr id="tr_service"> <th valign="top" width="30%" align="right"> Service No:</th> <td id="td_service">1537758</td> </tr> <tr id="tr_information"> <th valign="top" width="30%" align="right"> Additional information:</th> <td id="td_information">Son of John and Elisabeth Stewart, of Londonderry, Northern Ireland.</td> </tr> <tr id="tr_type"> <th valign="top" width="30%" align="right"> Casualty Type:</th> <td id="td_type">Commonwealth War Dead</td> </tr> <tr id="tr_grave"> <th valign="top" width="30%" align="right"> Grave/Memorial Reference:</th> <td id="td_grave">Plot D. Row 11. Grave 23.</td> </tr> <tr id="tr_cemetery"> <th valign="top" width="30%" align="right"> Cemetery:</th> <td id="td_cemetery">AMELAND (NES) GENERAL CEMETERY</td></tr></tbody></table>
    <table class="datatable" width="97%" align="center" border="0" cellpadding="2" cellspacing="1"><tbody><tr><th valign="top" width="30%" align="left">Cemetery:</th> <td id="td_cemetery">AMELAND (NES) GENERAL CEMETERY</td> </tr> <tr> <th valign="top" width="30%" align="left"> Country:</th> <td id="td_country">Netherlands</td> </tr> <tr> <th valign="top" width="30%" align="left"> Locality:</th> <td id="td_locality">unspecified</td> </tr> <tr id="tr_location"> <th valign="top" width="30%" align="left"> Location Information:</th> <td id="td_location">Ameland, one of the Frisian Islands off the north coast of the Netherlands, is some 15 kilometres from the mainland. Nes is the largest of the four villages on Ameland. The cemetery is about 700 metres east of Nes, on the road to Buren. The British plot is in a prominent position immediately left of the entrance.</td> </tr> <tr> <th valign="top" width="30%" align="left"> No. of Identified Casualties:</th> <td id="td_casualties">49</td></tr></tbody></table>
     
  6. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    James,

    Thats a excellent post and extremely interesting to read about your family.

    Regards

    Tom
     
  7. Mathsmal

    Mathsmal Senior Member

    Excellent post - thanks for sharing your family's wartime history
     
  8. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

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    Stanley Sheppard from the Rhonda , the Wireless Operator.

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    Phillip Du-Plat-Taylor the Bomb Aimer for their last trip. Phillip was not their "own" man , for some reason he didn't go with them that night.

    Sgt Raymond Farrelly was the crew's own bomb aimer - what he thought when they FTR is something I have often thought about.
    As fate would have it he survived his friends by only a few weeks , he was shot down near Rotterdam a few weeks later.

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    Sgt Farrelly was marriedn , his wife came from the Dover area, if by some chance anyone might have known her I would be delighted to hear from them.

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    The police report which detailed the discovery of Jimmy's body.

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    Ameland's Waddenzee beach on a cold morning in May - the same beach on which he was washed ashore.

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    Vlieland West night firing - the guns which brought Halifax HR715 down in a ball of flame.

    This was their third operation , the first had been to Montlucon - the Dunlop tyre factory in France , bombed at low altitude and badly damaged.

    Their next took them to Mannhiem , twice attacked over the target by Ju-88's the novice crew was lucky, very lucky , the gunners saw off the attackers.
     
  9. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Two small cuttings , I found these several years ago in an old wallet which belonged to my grandfather , tucked away in an inside pocket - they had not seen the light of day for some considerable time.
    One for each of the sons he had lost.

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    Although the cap tally reads HMS Thracian , Donald's is lsited as being attached to Tamar the RN base in Hong Kong.

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    Donald , who had joined the navy prior to the war on home leave , Jimmy is the youth in long trousers, John who went to coastal is behind.

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    Jimmy is the lad beside Donald , sticking out his tongue, Johnny is the man on his left , the other lad Eamon Tierney , a family friend.
    ( Eamon later went on to join the priesthood - knocks the old "N.I. sterotype on the head that "Catholics" and "Protestants" could not be friends).

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    Betsy , who as a war bride left for a new life in America , she would be a mother and widow both before the war would be over.
     
  10. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    To put this together a "lost" photo ablum had to be found.
    A number of standard agencies were approached for information.
    RAF Museum Hendon,
    Air Historical Branch of the MOD.
    Public Records Office ( National Archives),
    The Bundesarchiv.
    Personnel Management Branch RAF Innsworth.
    Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

    Apart from this information was "traded" (willingly from all concerned) with several Dutch and German researchers , co operation makes it work both ways.

    Today the internet makes this much quicker and potentially easier , a lot of pen and ink / postage stamps used :)
     
    Paul Reed likes this.
  11. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Thanks for posting all this James, fascinating stuff.

    I'm impressed by how the Dutch, amidst all the madness and chaos of war produced official documents not so very different from peacetime. It is obvious that they treated him with respect.

    If I might indulge in a bit of mutual back-slapping, this forum seems to be becoming an unmissable meeting point for family and unit history queries (certainly from a UK standpoint) - not forgetting the vehicle enthusiasts as well !

    ...and no sectarian divides either - long may it remain so.:cheers: (No teetotalers here I hope ? - I wouldn't want to cause offence !)

    Rich
     
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  12. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member Patron

    James, many thanks for posting your research notes, they are most welcome.

    The following is the entry for the night of 29-30 September 1943 Bomber Command Losses Vol.4 W R Chorley.

    158 Squadron.
    Halifax II HR715 NP-E
    Op. Bochum.

    Crew.
    Sgt. W F. MacLaren +
    Sgt. E J. Hall +
    F/S. H. Robertson +
    Sgt. P C. Du-Plat-Taylor +
    Sgt. E S. Sheppard +
    Sgt. J D. Stewart +
    Sgt. V H. Bartlett +

    Took off 1812 hrs Lissett. Shot down by the 3rd Battery Marineflakabteilung 815 on Vlieland-West and observed to turn SW before crashing 2115 hrs some 17 ti 18 km from the battery, falling vertically and on fire into the sea. Sgt Stewart id buried on Ameland in Nes General Cemetery; the others are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
     
  13. Herakles

    Herakles Senior Member

    James, I note that your father is wearing an HMS Glorious cap. Was he on-board when she was lost?

    This is a most interesting thread indeed.
     
  14. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Herakles , that is his brother who died in Japanese hands , he was on her earlier in his service.
    My late father was never attached to her.

    My father came out of the navy in 1946 and joined the RUC - he retired having done 30 years and went to work for the police authority (NI).
    He was subsequently seriously injured by the PIRA (bomb) and returned to work for NIPA again after spending five months in hospital and another year learning to walk again.
    He finally called it a day in 1983 , in recognition of his public service he was awarded a MBE in 1982.
    As far as his brother Jimmy went he never gave me any encouragement in my looking into his service in the RAF , but after a few days of knowing that "some had arrived in the post" he would always ask to see it , would read it pass comment and retreat into his own thoughts.
    Durring his life he absolutely forbid that I make any effort to look at his own time in the Navy - something which I may now give some attention to.

    Although I have never been to Japan there is a strange set of circumstances which led me to some connections there.
    If you check out the Castle Archdale thread I started - there are some photos of a funeral - one of the aircrew buried was a Sgt Guy Wilkinson .
    About 65 years ago I was put in contact with his daughter and her husband who had come to these shores to find out what had happened to him.
    An enduring friendship still exists - "Les" an ex merchant seaman (Engineer) when I mentioned my late father's brother put his contacts to use via his son who is at sea and obtained through the Seamans Mission in Osaka a series of photos of Donald's grave and put me indirect contact with a minister who works for the Mission.
    This gentleman was kind enough to place a poppy wreath at his grave on remembrance Sunday two years ago on behalf of my late father .
    All in all some effort towards bringing closure on a lad who is far from home.
     
  15. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Peter, when Bill (Chorley) was preparing for a reprint of "In Brave Company" back in the late 1980's I was happy to give Bill what I had found out about the loss of their aircraft - previously it was thought that they had been shot down by a battery based on Texel.
    Bill very kindly sent me a complete list of all HR715's operational flights and significant events in the aircrafts history.
    An extremely decent gentleman.

    ( "In Brave Company" had beenfirst published in the mid 1970's co authored with Captain Roy Benwell who passed away before the revised edition was planned)
    Amazon.co.uk: In Brave Company: 158 Squadron Operations: W.R. Chorley: Books

    An excellent history of the Squadron one which is a masterpiece of research from a well respected historian , I honestly cannot have anything but the utmost respect for Bill Chorley.
     
  16. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Some photos of A/Seaman D C Stewart's grave in Yokohama , Japan.

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    http://www.cwgc.org/plans/9-18/m001.GIF

    <TABLE class=datatable border=0 cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=2 width="97%" align=center><TBODY><TR id=tr_name><TH vAlign=top width="30%" align=right>Name:</TH><TD id=td_name>STEWART, DONALD C.</TD></TR><TR id=tr_initials><TH vAlign=top width="30%" align=right>Initials:</TH><TD id=td_initials>D C</TD></TR><TR id=tr_nationality><TH vAlign=top width="30%" align=right>Nationality:</TH><TD id=td_nationality>United Kingdom</TD></TR><TR id=tr_rank><TH vAlign=top width="30%" align=right>Rank:</TH><TD id=td_rank>Able Seaman</TD></TR><TR id=tr_regiment><TH vAlign=top width="30%" align=right>Regiment/Service:</TH><TD id=td_regiment>Royal Navy</TD></TR><TR id=tr_unittext><TH vAlign=top width="30%" align=right>Unit Text:</TH><TD id=td_unittext>H.M.S. Tamar</TD></TR><!-- <tr> <td vAlign="top" align="left" width="30%">Force:</td> <td id="td_force"></td> </tr>--><TR id=tr_age><TH vAlign=top width="30%" align=right>Age:</TH><TD id=td_age>23</TD></TR><TR id=tr_death><TH vAlign=top width="30%" align=right>Date of Death:</TH><TD id=td_death>07/05/1944</TD></TR><TR id=tr_service><TH vAlign=top width="30%" align=right>Service No:</TH><TD id=td_service>D/JX 146752</TD></TR><TR id=tr_information><TH vAlign=top width="30%" align=right>Additional information:</TH><TD id=td_information>Son of John and Elisabeth Stewart. of Londonderry, Northern Ireland.</TD></TR><TR id=tr_type><TH vAlign=top width="30%" align=right>Casualty Type:</TH><TD id=td_type>Commonwealth War Dead</TD></TR><TR id=tr_grave><TH vAlign=top width="30%" align=right>Grave/Memorial Reference:</TH><TD id=td_grave>Brit. Sec. K. C. 4.</TD></TR><TR id=tr_cemetery><TH vAlign=top width="30%" align=right>Cemetery:</TH><TD id=td_cemetery>YOKOHAMA WAR CEMETERY


    </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
     
  17. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Just to place these side by side.1943 /2001 the Leisure Centre in Bridlington 14 ITW, not much has changed.

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    The memorial stone to 158Squadron in Lisset Churchyard the focal point for 158 Squadron Asscoiation when they meet at Bridlington in September.

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    From Lisset village leading into the airfield.


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    One of the few buildings still standing on the site.

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    The premiter track remains but the runways are long gone broken up and used for motorway hardfil , the airfield has largely returned to agriculture , and some of the buildings used by local light industry.
    The watch tower is gone and little apart from the raw edge of the runways still cling to the track , the bomb dumps are intact.
     
  18. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Another from the Marine flak unit Vlieland West , a funeral for a unit member killed - the units victories are shown on the flag pole.

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  19. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    What an utterly superb thread.
    Thank you James for posting this.
    Have you researched the USMC chap?
     
  20. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Owen , the USMC officer married one of my father's sisters.
    Their mother was a woman who was very full of "Victorian / Edwardian" values - and she was against the marriage , "If you marry him don't come home was the message" and that is exactly what she did.
    He was killed on Okinawa , his son being born shortly afterwards.
    I have not to be honmest Owen , his son ( my cousin) I have never met and I feel I would be stepping on his toes by doing so.

    Thank you for your kind comments Owen - I have a few more bits which I will look out and add - unfortunately when I go looking for them they have found that "safe place" ( akin to a "black hole") which keeps things safe.

    Although I have posted this one up on the halifax thread I want to put it in here as well.
    This halifax is the one they took to Mannhiem on their second trip - they were lucky to come back having been twie attacked by JU-88's and conned over the target.
    The squadron ORB reports that the "gunners fought them off".
    (I will post this up tomorrow).

    http://i265.photobucket.com/albums/ii221/lisset158/Save-69.jpg

    ( From Ken Merrick's book "The Handley Page Halifax". Aston. 1991).
     
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