War Memorials of Holy Trinity, Penn

Penn WW1 War Memorial

On 11th January 1919, a public meeting was held in Penn to discuss a suitable memorial to the men of the village who had died in the Great War. Penn had lost 22 of its sons out of a village population of around 1000, slightly higher than average for Britain. A war memorial was an important focus for mourning, as most of those who had died were buried overseas, in Nigeria, Salonika and Gallipoli as well as France and Belgium. A committee was formed, including at least three bereaved parents; one, Mr Busby (Penn Parish Clerk), had lost three sons, Fred, Willie and George. The memorial was to be funded by public subscription, and the substantial sum of £371 8s 8d was quickly raised, with donations ranging from 2d to £20.

At the meeting, Lord Howe promised to donate the piece of land adjacent to Holy Trinity church (formerly the site of the village stocks), on the condition that the memorial take the form of a cross. The committee engaged an architect from London, Mr Eden, and embarked on a lengthy deliberation of designs before settling on a simple cross on an octagonal plinth, with the inscription ‘1914 1918 REMEMBER’. The committee took care that ‘the wishes of Penn Village should have first consideration in the choice of the Memorial as most of the men in whose memory it was to be erected came from Penn Village itself.’ The memorial was unveiled at an opening ceremony on 10th April 1921 by Field Marshall Sir William Robertson.

The erection of the memorial is a telling indication of the village hierarchy that existed at the time. Not only was the committee led by the village gentry, but this class consciousness was preserved in the inscribed roll of names around the plinth. The Imperial (later Commonwealth) War Graves Commission had decided that names on their memorials would be inscribed alphabetically, regardless of rank, but names on the Penn memorial are listed in order of rank, from a Lieutenant-Colonel down to the Privates. What the memorial does not show, of course, is those who returned home disabled, scarred physically or mentally by their experiences of war.

Amy Lim, September 2015

Unveiling of Penn war Memorial

A photograph of the unveiling of the Penn War Memorial by Field Marshall Sir William Robertson on 10th April 1921 has recently been found in The Sphere magazine of April 23rd 1921.

The following men are remembered on the Penn WWI War Memorial

Private Albert ALLEN, TF3464, Middlesex Regiment 1/8th Battalion
Died of wounds France, 02 Jul 1916, Aged 22, Occupation; Gardener
Etretat Churchyard, Seine-Maritime, France, Memorial Reference II.E.18
Born c1894 Beaconsfield or Penn, Baptism, 10 Jun 1894, Penn HT
Parents George Arthur & Ellen Allen, Gardener, Knotty Green.

Private Norman Lionel ATKINS, Rifleman 9668
City of London Regiment (London Rifle Brigade) 1/5th Battalion
Died of wounds, received in Flanders (Ypres), 7 December 1914, Aged 19
Bailleul Communal Cemetery (Nord), A.21, France, 14.5 Km SW of Ieper, Belgium.
Born: 29 Jan 1895, Penn, Occupation: Clerk, Western Telegraph Co
Parents: Arthur Harris Atkins (dec’d 1901) & Fannie Alice Atkins, Yew Tree House, Penn 

Major Richard Spencer BRITTEN, Deputy Asst. Director Remounts
Enlisted, Royal Buckinghamshire Hussars, Remounts 5th Army HQ.
Died of Diptheria, 18 Aug 1918, in France, Aged 40.
Buried: Aire Communal Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France, IV.B.30
Born c1878, Great Billing, Northants. Served in the Boer war.
Son of Arthur Britten, farmer, & Ellen Brain Britten nee Wells
Wife: Gladys N Britten née Grove, of ‘Watercroft’, Penn.
More in ‘P&TG in the Great War & the men who did not return’
Photograph, Northampton Independent, 24-8-1918

Private Frederick (Fred) BUSBY, 16009
Wiltshire Regiment 10th Entrenching Bn.
Killed in action Salonika, 24 Apr 1917, Aged 24.
Doiran Military Cemetery, Greece, III.A.30
Occupation: Gardener; Chorister and bell-ringer at Penn;
Second son of Alfred & Emma Busby, brother of Willie and George.
His father Alfred was Penn parish clerk for over 50 years.

Private William Albert (Willie) BUSBY 38420
Gloucestershire Regiment 2/6th Battalion
Killed in an accident, 26 Sep 1917, Aged 21,
Sunken Road Cemetery, Fampoux, France, I.B.17
Worked as a gardener at Troutwells, chorister at Penn.
Third son of Alfred & Emma Busby, brother of Fred and George.

Private George Alfred BUSBY, 20720
Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry 5th Battalion
Killed in action, Battle for Langemark, 19 Aug 1917, Aged 19,
His grave was lost. Commemorated on Tyne Cot Memorial,
Panel 96 to 98, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium
The plaque in the church erroneously shows France, not Belgium
Fourth son of Alfred & Emma Busby, brother of Fred and Willie

Private William John CHANNER, S/33857
City of London Regiment (London Rifle Brigade) 4th Battalion
Died at sea, on HMMS Wandilla between Beirut and Alexandria, 17 Nov 1918, Aged 30. Born June 1888, Kennington, Pre-war occupation: Cab Proprietor.
Parents Ambrose & Harriet Eliz Channer née Johnson. Ambrose was born in Penn.
Parent’s address: 1911: 4 Wigton Place, Kennington, London. Cab Proprietor.

Captain Gordon CUTHBERT
Middlesex Regiment 1st/8th Battalion
Born 14 Aug 1876, Charlton near Sunbury, Middx.
Educated Clifton College, Bristol. Occupation – Oil & Tallow broker. Husband of Eleanor Bruce Ankertell Cuthbert, Drews, Knotty Green.
Parents – Henry Westell & Rose Isabell Douglas Cuthbert
Killed in action, 25 Apr 1915, Ypres, Aged 38.
Ypres Menin Gate Memorial, Ieper, Belgium, Panel 49 & 51.
There is a memorial plaque in Penn Church, On the South Aisle wall.
(Photograph, Ron Saunders, Western Front Association Journal, Stand To, Issue 57)

Private Jesse DENNIS, 24844 Grenadier Guards 4th Battalion
Killed in action, Ypres, 21 Jul 1917, Aged 33.
Bleuet Farm Cemetery, I.G.10, Ieper, Belgium.
Born, June 1884 Penn, Occupation: Bricklayer.
Parents Frederick & Jane Dennis, Carpenter, Old Reading Room Cottage, Penn

Private Arthur DRUCE, T/20885
Royal Warwickshire Regiment 8th Battalion.
Son of Charles Druce, Coal Merchant, and Ellen Dennis.
Died, aged 18, 29th November 1916, Chatham hospital,
of wounds received in the Somme.
Worked as cowman at Puttenham Farm, Penn.
Given a full military funeral at Penn (Holy Trinity),
Buried in Churchyard, north of chancel.

In the churchyard, near the North boundary wall, there is a headstone to:
Driver Frederick John GIBBS,
T/277540 Royal Army Service Corps, 2 Company
CWGC grave stone reads: ‘Died 7th January 1919 age 27
Death Certificate reads: ‘7th January 1920, Age 35.
Tubercular Laryngitis, Mary Gibbs present at death, Beacon Hill, Penn. Certified by the local Doctor G. Smith Wynne‘.
Son of Henry James Gibbs (Dec.d) & Mary Gibbs née Cannon, of Penn. Frederick’s wife, Ada Kate Stickland, & 3 children, were living in Southampton, 1911.
(Thanks to Ron Saunders for death certificate, and this information)

Private Harry HILL
No Information.

Major Arthur F. HENDERSON,
Indian Light Cavalry / 27th Battalion
Educated: Haileybury and sandhurst. GSO2 to Gen Gough.
He fell attempting to save a wounded officer near the Conde Bridge at the Battle of the Aisne Sept. 12th 1914. Aged 39
His grave was lost, Indian Memorial, Neuve-Chapelle, France, Panel 2
More about Major Henderson in: Western Front Association
Born: 21 Nov 1874, Shanghai, China
Son of Doctor Edward & Mrs Henderson, Lexham Gardens, London W
Husband of Muriel Henderson, née Hanbury, ‘The Knoll’, Paul’s Hill.
More in ‘P&TG in the Great War & the men who did not return’
There is a memorial plaque in Penn Church, above the pulpit.

Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Hugh HILL M.V.O. D.S.O
Royal Welch Fusiliers, General Staff. Born May 16th 1875.
Killed in action in France, Sept 10th 1916, aged 41.
Bethune Town Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France, III.K.40
Only son of the late James Eardley Hill, Barrister at law,
and Katharine Shepperson (re-married) of Penn parish.
Grand-son of the late Sir Hugh Hill, Knt, a judge of the Queen’s bench, of Graig, Doneraile, Co. Cork, formerly of Pipe Staffordshire. Educated Lockers Park, Rugby and Sandhurst, and served in the South African War, 19001-1901.
More information in ‘P&TG in the Great War’ & Buckinghamshire Remembers
There is a memorial Window in Penn Church to Lt. Col. Hugh HILL

Private William H. (Willie) JAMES, 17051,
Northamptonshire Regiment 1st Battalion
Killed in Action, Somme, No known grave, 17 Aug 1916, Aged 19
Thiepval Memorial, Pier & Face 11A & 11D, Somme, France
Born, c1897 Beaconsfield,
Parents: William Alfred & Sarah Elizabeth James, Carter, Forty Green, Beaconsfield

2nd Lieutenant Richard Bartlett MELLARD,
North Staffordshire Regiment 1/5th Battalion
Killed in action leading his bombing platoon at Gommecourt July 1st 1916 aged 22. No known grave. Memorial Gommecourt Wood New Cemetery, Foncquevillers, France
Born c1894 Newcastle under Lyme, Staffs, he emigrated to Winnipeg to farm and enlisted as private in the Fort Garry Horse in Canada, returned to UK with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Promoted Lt.  in British Army in August 1915.
Parents Richard Bartlett Mellard, (4 times Mayor of Newcastle u Lyme.)
& Annie Beatrice Mellard, née Mosley, who moved to Nottingham, and later
‘Grass Side’, Church Rd, Penn, after the death of her husband in 1907.
Richard is listed as an old boy of Newcastle & Nottingham High Schools.
More details: Nottinghamshire CC, Roll of Honour
(Photograph, The Old Boys of Nottingham High School)

Private Albert PARKER, G/8083, Middlesex Regiment 4th Battalion
Killed in action, Bellewaarde Wood, Ypres, 29 Sep 1915, Aged 31
No known grave, Menin Gate Memorial, Ieper, Belgium, Panel 49 & 51
Born, c1883 High Wycombe, Occupation: Butcher
Parents William & Jane Parker, French polisher, 55 Richardson St, High Wycombe
Wife Mary Parker, Forty Green, Beaconsfield.
Brother of Bernard Parker (High Wycombe War Memorial)

Lieut. Derek Weatherall PAWLE, Captain 2nd Batt: Border Regiment
attached to the Northern Nigeria Regiment.
killed in action 2nd April 1915, aged 27,
defending Fort Gurin Cameroons.
Buried at Yola Station Cemetery, Adamawa State, Nigeria.
Son of Lewis Shepheard Pawle and Angelina Burgess Pawle,
of Hutchins Barn, Knotty Green.
There is a memorial Window in Penn Church to Lieut. Derek PAWLE

Private Arthur Henry PERFECT, 17287, Hampshire Regiment 2nd Battalion
Killed in action Gallipoli, 06 Aug 1915, Aged 20
No known grave, Helles Memorial, Turkey, Panel 125-134.
Born: c1895 High Wycombe, Baptised Penn, 2 June 1895
Parents: Frank & Harriett Perfect, Gardener, Penn  

Private Alfred Hedley SIMMONDS, 8331,
Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry 2nd Battalion
Killed in action, Langemarck trenches, Ypres, 01 Nov 1914, Aged 22
Born c1892 Penn, One of eight children, Occupation: Farm labourer.
No known grave, Menin Gate Memorial, Ieper, Belgium, Panel 37 & 39
Parents: John & Charlotte Simmonds, Farm labourer, Beacon Hill, Penn

Private Henry John (Harry) SIMMONDS, 633438
London Regiment 20th Battalion
Killed in Action,  Somme, 01 October 1916, Aged 22
Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France,
Pier & Face 9D,9C,13C,12C
Born c1894 Penn? Occupation: ?
Younger brother of Alfred Simmonds, Penn.
Parents John Henry & Charlotte Simmonds, Farm labourer, Beacon Hill, Penn

Private Albert SMITH, CH610(S)
Royal Marine Light Infantry Chatham Bn RN Division
Killed in action Gallipoli, 6 June 1915, Aged 17
Lancashire Landing Cemetery, Turkey, B.65
Born: 24 Jan 1898, Penn, Occupation: Furniture factory apprentice.
John & Sarah Annie Smith, Wood labourer, Pennleigh, Penn
Half brother of Arthur Smith on Haddenham War Memorial.
Apprentice with Randall Bros, High Wycombe.

Lieutenant Harold WILLIAMS,
Royal Fusiliers (London Regiment) 1st Battalion
Killed in action France, 7/8 Oct 1916, Aged 30,
Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France, 9D & 16B
Born c1886 Sutton, Surrey, Pre-war occupation Standard Bank, Rhodesia
Parents: Edwin & Florence M Williams, Latimers, Beaconsfield
Volunteered for service in S Africa 1914 but rejected. Paid passage home in 1916 & enlisted.

The information above is from June and Peter Underwood’s comprehensive website Buckinghamshire Remembers, and the detailed ‘Penn & Tylers Green in the Great War and the Men Who Did Not Return‘, by Ron Saunders, published by the Penn & Tylers Green Residents Society.


Penn WW2 War Memorial

The names of the men who died in WW2 are recorded on a plaque in the Lady Chapel of Penn Church, with more details in the pages of the Book of Remembrance displayed in the cabinet under the plaque.

The war memorial, dedicated 1948, designed by Edward Maufe and carved by Darsie Rawlins

Book of Remembrance, transcript & facsimile (2MB PDF file)

Holy Trinity Penn, WW2 Book of Remembrance

Pilot Officer Harry Andrews, 1105965, Royal Air Force
William Henry Thomson Andrews (Harry),
Born 9th October 1909 Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Parents: George & Helen Andrews
Educated at Trinity College, Glen Almond, Scotland.
Pilots Licence: 9th July 1937, Burton Grange, Cheshunt, Herts.
Enlisted August 1940 – gained his commission in 1941 – was attached to 49 Squadron. On March 10th 1942 he was pilot of a Hampden Bomber in a raid over Essen and reported missing. Aged 32. Later the plane was found at the little village of Selm, 13 miles north of Dortmund, Germany. All four members of the crew were buried by the church of Selm.
Now at Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany.
Married Sybil Webb, April 1941, Amersham District.  One son born 1942.
Son-in-law of Mr Harry Lucas Webb (died 1940), and Mrs Florence Julia Webb of Hutchins Barn, Knotty Green,  Mrs. Webb lost not only her son-in-law, but also her son, Hugh Langdon Webb, (Sybil’s brother) who is also named on the Penn War Memorial (details below).

Lance Corporal Albert Henry Brooks, 5393375, 2nd. Bn.
The Hampshire Regiment
Educated at Penn Church School. Died: September 5, 1944, Age 21,
Buried: Montecchio British Cemetery, II. H. 1., Italy.
Lance Corporal Albert Brooks was a member of the regular army. He served in North Africa, Sicily and Italy, taking part in the battles of Tunis, Salerno and the Gothic Line.  On 25 August 1944 the Hampshire Brigade started its assault on the Gothic Line, a line of German defences running east – west across the Italian peninsula and after 5 days they had been so successful that they were in a position to assault the Gothic Line proper. The Gothic Line was breached on 1st September and the advance continued northwards.
Lance Corp. Brooks died on 5 September 1944 the day that the Brigade was relieved.  War Memorials Trust
Born December 1922, Employed as a gardener, Penn.
Parents: Albert Henry Brooks and Bertha Annie Brooks, née Woodwards,
1939: Widmere Cottage, Tylers Green.
Alfred Brooks is also named on the St Margaret’s, Tylers Green WW2 War Memorial.

Driver Ernest James Busby,  T/234546, Royal Army Service Corps.
Educated at Penn Church School. Aged 30 years.
Enlisted on November 28th, 1940 and went overseas in July 1941.
He served in the Middle East, attached to 22nd Armoured Brigade and was captured in the Western Desert. Officially presumed lost at sea.
On the 14th November, Ernest was a POW aboard the Italian ship SS “Scillin” sailing between Tripoli and Sicily when it was torpedoed and sunk by the British submarine HMS “Sahib” it was only when the Commander of the Sahib heard the survivors speaking English that he realised he had sunk a ship carrying British POW’s, in all 783 drowned .The truth of this tragedy only emerged in 1996, (more on Wikipedia).
Remembered on Alamein War Memorial.
Born 10th July 1912 Penn, Son of Annie Elizabeth Busby (born 1890).
Nephew of the three Penn Busby brothers killed on active service in 1917.
Married Agnes Evans, Oct-Dec 1935, Amersham District,
1939: The Lodge, Stampwell House, Penn, Gardener.

Sergeant Maurice Thomas Dilworth, 1334863, Air Gunner,
Royal Air Force V.R.
Parents: Mr. and Mrs. M.T.Dilworth of Beauchamp Cottage, Penn;
educated at Penn Church School and Tylers Green school. Aged 19 years.
Employed at Thames Valley Bus Garage Wycombe Marsh.
Enlisted in May 1941 and went overseas on March 11th 1943 and served as an air Gunner in 150 Squadron B.N.A.F.
Whilst returning from operations on April 30th 1943 in conditions of low cloud and poor visibility the aircraft crashed.
The whole crew were buried at Al Alea outside Algiers.
El Alia Cemetery grave 12. H. 28.

Second Lieutenant George Edmund Grove, 116275,
Royal Army Service Corps
Born 3rd June 1890, Brighton, to Julius Charles Grove and Edith Mary Grove; 10 Montpelier Crescent, Brighton, Sussex. educated at Harrow School.
Married Florence Mary Keen in Yorkshire, 1915.
1939 Address: StoneHouse, Church Road, Penn. Salesman & Motor Engineer.
Enlisted on September 3rd 1939 and was commissioned in April 1940.
Died 18th JUne 1940, age 50, Aberdeen Infirmary, of illness caused by extreme exposure on duties connected with the campaign in Norway, possibly Narvik.
Buried at Aberdeen, Allenvale Cemetery, Sec. 3. Grave 231.
Edmund Grove served in WW1 in 3rd Battalion Lincolnshire Rgt. 1911 Census shows him at Victoria Barracks, Portsmouth, rank of Captain, and he is listed on the Penn WW2 memorial as Captain Edmund Grove.

Sergeant Merrick Hubert Eric Hine, 745148, Pilot,
Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
born 27th October 1916, Amersham District.
Parents: Frederick John Roberts Hine and Dorothy Florence Hine.
Educated: Penn Church School and the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe.
Worked for London Midland & Scottish Railway.
1939: Ashtonville, Baring Crescent, Beaconsfield.
1940: Burkes Cottage, Forty Green, Beaconsfield.
Enlisted immediately on the outbreak of war in September 1939. Soon qualified as a fighter pilot and eventually served in 65 Squadron. He was reported missing in action in a Spitfire fighter over the English Channel, on December 12th 1940, age 24 years, having previously fought in the epic Battle of Britain. Remembered on Runnymede Air Forces Memorial, Panel 15. There is an extensive biography of Merrik Hine on the the Battle of Britain London Monument website.

Pilot Officer Basil Holland, 104337, Navigator, Royal Air Force V.R.
Basil Leonard Alfred Francis Holland
Born 20th March 1917 Brentford Middlesex.
Elder son of Sir Alfred and Lady Bertha Eleanor Holland,
1939: Nightingales, Penn;
Educated at Lancing College. Aged 24 years.
Enlisted in 1939 while a law student. Commissioned as a Pilot Officer in Coastal Command 233 Squadron. He was killed in action over the English Channel on March 15th 1942. later his body was found on the beach at St. Mawes and he was buried in the family grave at Seaford Cemetery Sec. C. Grave 2114.

Flight Officer Ian MaClean D.F.C., 125300, Navigator, Royal Air Force
Born 23 October 1908 London,
Parents: Sir Donald Charles Hugh Maclean and Lady Gwendolen Maclean.
1911 12 Park Place Cardiff. Later, Beacon Hill, Penn.
Married Marion Adeline Emma Cock, Sept 1937 Chelsea Reg.District.
1939: of Cruckton Hall, Shrewsbury.
Educated at Gresham’s School, Holt and Emmanuel College, Cambridge.
Enlisted on July 23rd 1940 and was Commissioned April 26th 1941. Distinguished Fly Cross on October 15th 1943, having lost his life as a result of air operations on the night of September 14th/15th 1943, Aged 34 years, when the aircraft in which he was Navigator crashed over Denmark.
Buried at Esbjerg (Fourfelt) Cemetery A. 8. 1. Denmark.
Married Marion Adeline Emma Cock, of Cruckton Hall, Shrewsbury.
Sept 1937 Chelsea Reg.District. One son.
1939 Solicitor & Director of Petroleum Co. 1 Chelsea Manor Square London.
1943 46 Lincolns Inns Fields London W.C. 1.
Note: Ian Maclean was the elder brother of Donald Maclean, British diplomat and member of the Cambridge Five who acted as spies for the Soviet Union.  Donald Maclean’s ashes are buried in his parents’ grave in Penn churchyard.

Captain John Hedworth McCulloch, 73180, Seaforth Highlanders
Born 5th July 1916 Amersham Reg.District.
Only son of Mr. and Mrs. J.W.McCulloch of The Crest, Church Road, Penn;
Educated at Eton College.
Entered Sandhurst in 1935 and two years later was Commissioned in the Seaforth Highlanders. In 1942, his Battalion, which formed part of the 51st Highland Division, joined the Eighth Army in Egypt, and fought at the crucial battle of Al Alamein, where he was killed in action November 2nd 1942, Aged 26 years, and buried in the British Military Cemetery there.
El Alamein War Cemetery XXVI. E. 11.

Major David Iltid Nicholl, 94242, Royal Artillery,
London Scottish, 97 Anti Aircraft Regiment,
General Staff, War Office
Only son of Lieutenant H. Iltid Nichol D.S.O. and Mrs. Nicholl
Born 22nd August 1906 Farnborough Park Hampshire.
1911: Old Kiln, Churt, Farnham, Surrey.
1939: Orchard House, Knotty Green;
Eeducated at Eton and New College, Oxford.
Enlisted May 1939 in the London Scottish Regiment and after several months gained his Commission from the ranks. Soon afterwards he served on the General Staff at the War Office as G.S.O.3 and later, as a liaison officer; he was torpedoed at sea by German U-Boat No. U-515 in the HMS “Ceramic”, a White Star liner, There was a single survivor from a total of 655 on board.
Officially reported as presumed killed in action at sea, 7th December 1942, Aged 36 years.
Remembered at Brookwood Military Cemetery Surrey 1939-1945 Memorial Panel 2. Column 1. Also commemorated on his parents’ grave stone in the new cemetery at Penn.
(Age 2½ he was the youngest ever member of the Royal Aero Club: photo here)

2nd Lieutenant Martin Sansome Preston, 90905,
Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry
Born in Egypt c1918, Son of Judge Mr. A.S.Preston of Cairo Egypt, His Majesty’s Crown Prosecutor Egypt, and Mrs. Mary  (Molly) Preston, née Graves.  Nephew of Mr. and Mrs. C.S.Preston of Knotty Green; Educated at Marlborough College.
Enlisted on July 1st 1939 and Commissioned at once. During the retreat upon Dunkirk he was killed in action on the night of May 27th 1940, aged 2, in the town of Hazebrouk, France, probably while defending Hazebrouck Orphanage from assault by 8th Panzer Division of the German Army.  While covering the withdrawal of other troops he ordered an N.C.O. to go back with the rest of the covering party and himself manned the machine gun post. When last seen he was rapidly being surrounded.
Buried: Hazebrouck Communal Cemetery, Plot 4. Row B. Grave 14.
He is also named on his mother’s grave in Penn churchyard.
24th Nov 1939, Engagement announced to Miss Nancy Clair Whelan of Blyth Cottages Beaconsfield, marriage never took place

Flying Officer Charles Gordon Richards, 119264, Pilot, Royal Air Force
Born 23rd September 1920 Hackney London, Son of Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Richards. 1939: Penbury Haven, Penn;
Educated at Marlborough College, 1939: Engineering Student.
Enlisted in December 1939 and was soon Commissioned. Served in 182 Squadron in France as a pilot. Killed in action December 15th 1943, aged 23 years, flying a single seater Typhoon. His mission was to bomb V2 sites situated in the neighbourhood of Dieppe. He did not return.
1943 Married Angela Mary Dolson Hickman in Watford.
Remembered on Runnymede Royal Air Force Memorial Egham, Panel 129.
The window above the WW2 plaque is dedicated as a memorial to F/O Charles Gordon Richards.

Sergeant, 1333459, Ronald James Roberts, Air Gunner,
Royal Air Force

Only son of Elijah James Roberts and Ethel Mary Roberts, of Stampwell Cottage, Penn. Educated at Penn School.
Worked: Penn House & The Pyes, & JT & W Connolly, HW.
Enlisted on July 17th 1942 and served with the No.10 Operational Training Unit as an Air Gunner. He was killed as a result of an aircraft accident on March 27th 1943, aged 19, near West Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire, and is buried in Penn Churchyard Plot F. Row 3. Grave 52.

Flight Lieutenant Hugh Julian Langdon Webb, 103010,
Pilot, Royal Air Force

Born July 1920, Amersham District
Son of Mr. Harry Lucas Webb (died 1940) and
Mrs Florence Julia Webb of Hutchins Barn, Knotty Green;
educated at Malvern College and Clare College, Cambridge.
Enlisted on October 2nd 1940 and was Commissioned on July 19th 1941. As pilot of a Lancaster bomber on March 31st,1944, aged 23, he was engaged in an important Pathfinding mission over Nuremberg, and on his way back was shot down near Coblenz. All seven of the crew were killed – and later buried in the British Military cemetery: Rheinberg War Cemetery 10. B. 13.
Mrs. Webb also lost her son-in-law, Harry Andrews, also named on the Penn War Memorial.

In the churchyard, there is a headstone to:
Warrant Officer 336376 Thomas Church, Royal Air Force
Born Oxfordshire, c.1898,
Parents: Frederick and Louisa Church.
Address 1911: ‘Near Penn Church’.
Married Violet May Stevens, of Louth, Lincolnshire, October 1924.
Died 18th June 1942, aged 44. Address: 662 London Road, HW.
Also his wife Violet May Church, died 29 May 1983, aged 79.

Thanks to Ron Saunders for much additional reearch and Information.


Tomahawk Warrior – B17 bomber disaster over Penn – 12 August 1944

At about 7am on Saturday, 12 August 1944, a number of High Wycombe residents became aware of an aircraft overhead that was obviously in trouble – the more knowledgeable recognised it as a B17 bomber. Heading south, one of the four engines was clearly on fire and as the Flying Fortress turned 180 degrees to the east, flames started in another one.

Along the valley, at Lude Farm, Penn, the farmer watched the unfolding horror as the B17 skimmed over his farmhouse and crashed into open farmland beyond. In the massive explosion and fire that followed, the crew of nine all died instantly. The farmer’s son Ron Setter, who was then aged 12, later recounted how the force of the blast brought the ceiling down on him as he was getting out of bed and also broke every pane of glass in the farmhouse except one.

The B17, attached to 398 Bomb Group, had been named ‘Tomahawk Warrior’ by the pilot Charles Searl after the small town in Wisconsin where he lived. On the fateful morning, they had taken off from their airbase near Royston in Hertfordshire on a mission to Versailles and Caen – their 25th assignment over France and Germany since arriving in England in March.

It is generally accepted that the pilot deliberately turned his aircraft away from High Wycombe to avoid hitting the populated area, almost certainly saving many British lives in the process. The nine men, from Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Michigan, Washington, Virginia, Arkansas, New York and Ohio, aged between 20 and 27, were buried in Cambridge American Cemetery, but after the war, in accordance with the wishes of their relatives, eight were reinterred in Arlington Military Cemetery in Washington DC. The ninth, at his parents wishes, remains in England.
Back Row (viewer’s left to right):

  1. 2nd Lt. Leo C. Walsh, Bombardier
  2. 2nd Lt. Albert L. Dion, Co-Pilot
  3. 2nd Lt. Charles J. Searl, Pilot
  4. 2nd Lt. Saul J. Kempner, Navigator

Front Row (viewer’s left to right):

  1. Sgt. Orville M Wilson, Waist Gunner
  2. S/Sgt. James A Beaty, Engineer
  3. Sgt. Alfred Bueffel, Ball Turret
  4. Sgt. Albert W. Knight, Waist Gunner
  5. Sgt.  Cecil E. Kennedy,  Radio

The short entry in official records of their air base reads ‘Take off 06.18 hours. 07.20 no return.’ Such a brief epitaph, but now they are remembered both at Penn and Tomahawk as heroes ‘who laid down their lives’. Jesus said ‘greater love has no man than this’.

Postscript

Farmer’s son, Ron Setter, said that the events made a deep impression on him and after the war he kept in touch with the airmen’s relatives and, with the help of the Revd Oscar Muspratt, entertained them on visits here including, in 1990, a visit by the 398 Bomb Group Memorial Association when Remembrance Services were held in Penn Church and on the field at Lude Farm where the men had died.

December 2011

Remembrance Sunday, 10th November, 2019

The heroic sacrifice the nine men made has this week been officially recognised, more than 75 years after the died.

At a ceremony at Penn House on Remembrance Sunday, Bucks County Council chairman Brian Roberts presented three ceremonial scrolls, one to the nieces of one of the fallen crew, one to Penn Parish Council and one to David Huntley, who personally witnessed the horrifying crash and was the inspiration behind the ceremony.

Cllr Roberts said: “We are here today to pay tribute on behalf of the residents of Buckinghamshire and to give our heartfelt thanks to the crew of the Tomahawk Warrior who all lost their lives when their B17 Flying Fortress crashed at Lude Farm in August 1944.

“Their actions, which ended so tragically for them, ensured that many more lives were not lost. As a result of their ultimate sacrifice in finding a safe place to crash, the nine young crew are remembered in the history of Penn forever.”

Bucks Free Press, 15th November 2019


Their photograph stands by the WW2 war memorial in Penn church and they are remembered every year on Remembrance Sunday.

The following are the names of those that died that morning —

Pilot. Charles Searl from Wisconsin
Co-Pilot. Albert Dion from Massachusetts
Navigator. Saul Kempner from Michigan
Bombadier. Leo Walsh from Washington DC
Radio/Gunner. Cecil Kennedy from Virginia
Engineer/Top Turret Gunner. James Beatty from Arkansas
Ball Turret Gunner. Alfred Bueffel from New York
Right Waist Gunner. Albert Knight from Ohio
Left Waist Gunner. Orville Wilson from Washington DC

The event is documented in more detail on the American Air Museum in Britain web site, and on the 389 Bomb Group Memorial Association web site.

Official Accident Report

 

Official Accident Report
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No official investigation into the causes of the crash was ever carried out. Information disclosed several years later suggests that there may have been a mid-air collision with a Liberator bomber which crashed at about the same time just 28 miles away near Cheshunt.The massive explosion on impact killed all nine crew but there were no casualties on the ground. Ironically the whole event would have been tracked from the 8th Air Force HQ at Daws Hill in High Wycombe and later that afternoon Commander-in- Chief General James Doolittle came to survey the wreckage.

None of the crew had attempted to bale out and no distress signal had been sent.

John Gurney, Bucks Free Press, 15th November 2019