Soldiers who died 75 years ago during World War Two

Date published: 07 July 2019

Volunteers at Littleborough History Centre have been researching the service personnel from the Pennine districts of Rochdale (Littleborough, Milnrow, Newhey, Smallbridge and Wardle) who died during World War Two.

This list is of men whose 75 or 80 years anniversary occurs in July 2019

  • Littleborough and Wardle

Private Royston Hanson Hopkinson

Royston was born on 16 July 1917 (registered in Rochdale), the son of George and Lillian Hopkinson (nee Clarke), of Rochdale, Lancashire. His parents had married in St John's Church in Thornham and had two other children, Joyce in 1920 and Raymond in 1924.

During early 1939 Royston married Ellen Woodhead (Nellie) of 14 Kings Grove, Wardle.

Private Hopkinson, 3602380, served with 10th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry but died in England on 2 July 1944 aged 26 and is buried Basingstoke (Worting Road) Cemetery, Plot A. Grave 39.

The Rochdale Observer of 8 July 1944 carried sentiments for ‘our dear grandson and nephew’ from the family at 4 Grafton St whilst the 15 July 1944 edition carried more sentiments from his loving wife and in-laws at 14 Kings Grove, Wardle, his own parents living at 8 Norwich Street, Rochdale and his aunt and uncle at 8 Nicholson, Deeplish.

Royston is remembered on Wardle War Memorial.

Sergeant Stanley Holt

Stanley was born in in 1921, the second son of Rupert and Nellie Frances Holt (nee Smith), of Littleborough, Lancashire. Stanley went to Littleborough Central School but after leaving he worked for the Post Office in both Littleborough and Rochdale. He was also an active member of the Littleborough Methodist Church and Sunday School.

Stanley joined the RAF in April 1942.

The Rochdale Observer of 24 February 1945 reported that when on operations over France in July last (ie 1944) 22-year-old Sergeant Holt, 1681673, was reported as missing, believed killed. It added that the British Red Cross had discovered that Sergeant Holt died on 8 July 1944 had been buried in the military section of a cemetery outside Beauvais. Research shows that he was flying in Lancaster I ME634 KM-P on Operation ST-Leu d ‘Esseret (7th 8th July 1944) when it was shot down by night fighters and crashed near St Germaine de Fly (Oise) at La Briquetterie (Le Fontaine Cachieuse. Flight L/T) R F Carnegie was killed and Sergeant Holt died later of his injuries, three crew members evaded capture but two became Prisoners of War (POW) ‘after’ leaving aircraft.

Sergeant Holt was subsequently reburied in the Marissel French National Cemetery, Grave 298. Stanley is remembered on Littleborough Cenotaph and Central School War Memorial (now in the History Centre).

Private John Stott grave

Private John Stott

John was born in 1922, the son of Harry and Fanny Stott, of Littleborough, Lancashire.

In 1939 John’s parents lived at 5 Featherstall Road, Littleborough, his father was a Production Textile worker, together with brothers Arthur born on 18 August 1920, a plasterer and baby Harry born on 11 July 1939. John was not recorded.

It is believed that John may have been employed Frank Dearden and Littleborough UDC.

22-year-old Private Stott, 5126837, 1/7th Royal Warwickshire Regiment was killed in action in Normandy on 29 July 1944 and is buried in Fontenay-Le-Pesnel War Cemetery, Tessel, France in Grave II. C. 3 and is remembered on Littleborough Cenotaph.

The Rochdale Observer of 19 August 1944 carried many sentiments form his wide family, including his parents and brother Harry and also Arthur (MEF) and aunts, uncle and extended family living at 2 & 3 Sladen Terrace, 2 Lower Calderbrook and Clough House, Wardle.

  • Littleborough and Milnrow and Newhey servicemen

Trooper Fred Morris Barnes grave

Trooper Fred Morris Barnes

Fred was born on 25 December 1913 the son of George Horridge and Lucy Ann Barnes (nee Morris). He had two brothers, Bernard M, born 14 August 1916, and Leonard M born on 31 January 1922. There may have been another son, possibly Arthur M born early in 1920. Fred was a well-known figure in Milnrow and Newhey in football and cricketing circles. He played for Milnrow in the Central Lancashire League.  Fred also had a long term connection with Ogden Baptist Church Sunday School and Boys Brigade.

In 1939 he was registered as living at 9 Wickens Hall, Smithy Green, Milnrow with his parents, brother Bernard and maternal grandmother, Sarah (born in 1853).

Fred was employed as a Dyer, a textile process worker undertaking ‘Heavy Work’. He married Edith Grindrod at St James church, Calderbrook on 6 November 1940.

The Rochdale Observer of 5 August 1944 noted that his wife was living at 1 Sladen Terrace, Littleborough and that Fred worked for Messrs F W Greenhalgh and Co, Bleachers of Ogden Mill, Newhey. It was that edition which announced also that 30-year-old Trooper Fred M Barnes, 3716889, 107th (5th Bn. The King's Own Royal Regiment [Lancaster]), Royal Armoured Corps had died of wounds in Normandy on 18 July 1944 and was buried in Bayeux War Cemetery, France, Grave No V F 15.

Fred is remembered on Littleborough Cenotaph, Milnrow War Memorial and St Thomas’s War Memorials.

A Memorial Service was held in Ogden Chapel in July 1944. At that date, his parents lived at 5 Smithy Green, Ogden and Fred’s three brothers were serving in the forces. Unfortunately, Bernard was killed just one month later.

  • Milnrow and Newhey Servicemen

Fusilier Norman Cannon grave

Fusilier Norman Cannon

Norman was born in Bolton on 24 July 1925, the son of Richard and Lily (nee Roe) who for many years lived at Leech Street, Rochdale. He was the eldest of their four children with his sisters Enid Sarah born in 1926, Dorothy born in 1929 and Eva in 1931. Around 1939/40 the family moved to Carr Farm, Tunshill, Milnrow.

Prior to joining the services during the autumn of 1943, Norman was employed by the Newhey Spinning Co.

18 year old Fusilier Norman Cannon, 14674024, 11th Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers, was killed in action on 5 July 1944 in the region between Tilly-sur-Seulles and Caen, France and is buried in St. Manvieu War Cemetery, Cheux, France, grave No I A 9 and remembered Milnrow and St James’s War Memorials.

Personal details on Norman were included within the Rochdale Observer dated 26 July 1944.

Leading Aircraftman Eric Hambler

Eric was born on 30 March 1914, registered in Rochdale, the youngest son of Albert and Clara Hambler (nee Butterworth) of Newhey. His elder brothers were Arthur (b 1904) and Norman (b 1908) and his elder sister Dorothy (b 1911). In 1939 he was living at 138 Huddersfield, Road Newhey with his widowed father, locally well-known sportsman and conservative employed as a Cotton Carder, being employed as a Shop Assistant. Also living there was his daughter Dorothy and son-in-law Vernon Scott, electrician – contracting firm. Prior to joining the RAF in July 1940, Eric worked in the Central Branch of James Duckworth Ltd, The Walk, Rochdale and associated with St Thomas’s church and Sunday School, Newhey.

The Rochdale Observer of 29 January 1942 advised that Eric was ‘pleasantly surprised’ to receive ‘2 parcels sent to him arrived within 6 days of each other’.

Subsequently, the 14 March edition reported that a telegram had been received by his father which advised that Eric, who had gone abroad in January 1941, was missing and presumed being a POW following the fall of Singapore on 12 February 1942. 

A similar article appeared in the 28 August 1943 edition reporting on a telegram received by his sister Dorothy but that referred to Eric leaving the UK in December 1940.

30-year-old Leading Aircraftman Eric Hambler, 1010143, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve died as a POW on 12 July 1944 and is buried in Jakarta War Cemetery, Grave 3 G 18 being remembered on Milnrow and St Thomas’s Newhey War Memorials.

Eric’s death was confirmed by the Rochdale Observer of 16 June 1945 which advised that his sister had received a telegram from the Air Ministry which read “Deeply regret to advise you that, according to information received through the International Red Cross, your brother ……… is believed to have died while a POW in Japanese hands on 1h July 1944.

On the following Monday a confirmatory letter was received.

The article noted that the last message received from Eric whilst a prisoner was on 6 July 1944, just six days before he died.

Private James Melville Taylor grave

Private James Melville Taylor

James was born in Milnrow on 4 August 1913, the son of James William and Ethel Taylor (nee Rudge) of Milnrow, Lancashire. James had a younger sister Ethel who was born early in 1922. James married Elsie Saxon in St James Church, Milnrow on 8 February 1936.

Prior to enlisting, James lived with his wife at 162 Harbour Lane, Milnrow and was employed as a laundryman, van driver with Universal Laundry.

30-year-old Private James M Taylor, 3391049, 5th Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment, was killed in action on 16 July 1944 and is buried in Bayeux War Cemetery, France, Grave No XII C 6.

Private Taylor’s Regiment had fought in the battle for Caen in Northern France (part of the Normandy Campaign) but was killed in further skirmishes/battles a few days later possibly as part of the 2nd Battle of the Odon.

James is remembered on Milnrow and St James War Memorials and the Rochdale Observer of 12 August 1944 reported on a Special Reference to Private James Taylor’s death on the previous Sunday morning service at St James Church.

Warrant Officer James William Butterworth

James was born on 29 April 1916 (registered in Rochdale), the second son of William Rhodes Butterworth and Mary Butterworth (nee Pearson of Rochdale), Lancashire. He had six brothers and sisters, Vernon (b 1910), Grace (b 1912), Fred (b 1921), Harry (b 1924), Joyce (b 1926) and Mary (b 1928). In 1939 the family were living at 32 St James Street with James being employed as a cotton big piecer. Harry and Joyce were not recorded.

James joined the RAF in December 1940 and subsequently married Teresa Hogan at Millom Registry Office during early summer 1942.

On 17 June 1944, the Rochdale Observer reported that Flight Sergeant Butterworth had been promoted to the rank of Warrant Officer and that at the time, Teresa Butterworth was living in London.

28-year-old Warrant Officer James William Butterworth, 1379184, 50 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve was killed in action on 21 July1944 when his Bristol Blenheim plane was shot down flying south of Boxtel and he is buried in Eindhoven (Woensel) General Cemetery, Plot KK, Joint grave 104-105.

James is remembered on Milnrow and St James War Memorials.

Lance Corporal Alan Schofield grave

Lance Corporal Alan Schofield

Alan was born on 1 November 1915 (registered in Rochdale), the son of Frederick Charles and Alexandrina Schofield (nee Mackenzie), the brother of Olive M (b 1917), Leonard (b 5 February 1920) and Ina (b 1921). Alan attended the Parish Church School, presumably St Ann’s. In 1939 Alan, a grocer’s assistant, was living at 58 Rosefield Crescent, Rochdale with his parents and Leonard who worked in the leather industry whilst his father worked in a timber merchants. Before joining up in 1940, Alan worked for Blower Brothers, grocers on Yorkshire Street, Rochdale, a member of the West Pennine Road Club and a member of the St John Ambulance Brigade.

Initially he was a member of the 1/6th Lancashire Regiment band but that ended in 1943.  

28-year-old Lance Corporal Alan Schofield, 3455320 whilst serving with the 10th Battalion City of Glasgow Regiment, Highland Light Infantry, was killed in action on 30 July 1944 during Operation Bluecoat at Hervieux and is buried Tilly-Sur-Seulles War Cemetery, France, Grave IV E 11 and is remembered on St Ann’s war Memorial.

His younger brother Leonard also served in the forces.

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