Servicemen lost 1939 1945
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Whitwell Servicemen who were lost 1939 - 1945

George was one of the founder members of the Whitwell History Group.  He enjoyed all aspects of research into the history of the village especially the photography side.  He took a lot of photos of the village and had a book printed “Old and New”, proceeds going to the History Group.

The group decided to  do a memorial to commemorate the men of the village who lost their lives in the first world war.  George went and interviewed family members of the soldiers and got photos and a frame of the photos of the men  now hangs in the Community Centre. George got the book already for printing but unfortunately he passed away before this could be done.





1939/45 WAR


Their Name Liveth For Evermore



1/        Sub-Lieut. Lawrence Beeston

2/        Gunner Herbert Berry

3/        Gunner Arthur Bird

4/        Trooper Harry Buckingham

5/        L.A.C. Francis E. Edwards

6/        Air Gunner Harold Ekin

7/        Sgt. Roland Leslie Harness

8/        Sgt. B. Higgins (Further info on Burley here)

9/        Sgt. Major James Hollingsworth

10/      Flight Sgt. C. Hunt

11/      Sgt. William Perrett

12/      Royal Marine Bert Profitt

13/      Sen. Capt. Stuart Shakespeare

14/      Flight Mechanic Harold Sugden

15/      S/Sgt. Douglas A. Thorpe

16/      Flight Sgt. Douglas Wheatley

17/      Sgt. Joe Willies




1921 - 1942.


Lawrence first saw the light of day in 1921. He was the only son of Emest and Fanny Beeston of 13 King Street, Hodthorpe, Derbyshire.

He was educated at the Hodthorpe Infant and Junior school and then at Brunts Grammar school in Mansfield, Notts.

During his life in Hodthorpe Lawrence attended St. Martins Church where he was a member of the church choir, a server and a Sunday school teacher

After completing his education at Grammar School, Lawrence Edward moved to London where he joined The Metropolitan Police Force. It was, whilst in the police that he met his wife, Elizabeth Annie of Hounslow, Middlesex.

At the outbreak of the Second World War Lawrence joined the Royal Navy and served with the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve. He gained the title of Sub. Lieutenant and was serving on the HMS Illustrious. Along with sister ships, the Illustrious played a. major role in the attacks on Italian ports. It appears that the Illustrious If suffered heavy damage and had to undergo a complete refit, probably in Malta.

Sub. Lieutenant Lawrence Edward Beeston whilst serving on HMS Illustrious, on the 25th March 1942 that he lost his life, aged 21. Having no grave but the sea his name is commemorated by name on Bay 5 of the Lee-on- Solent Memorial, Hampshire.

Ernest and Fanny Beeston continued to live at 13 King Street, Hodthorpe until their death. Ernest Beeston was a miner at Whitwell Colliery and Fanny Beeston was well known for her skill as a dressmaker.




1917 - 1942.

Herbert was born on the 7th August 1917 and was the eldest son of Mr and Mrs Herbert Berry of Hanger Hill, Whitwell. He had four brothers, John, George, Dennis and Ronald, and one sister, Alice. He attended Whitwell School until leaving at the age of 14 in 1931.

He then worked at Whitwell Colliery, first on the pit top and then down the mine.

In 1934 he gave a false age and enlisted in the Royal Artillery, for three years in the colours and for nine years on the reserve. Herbert was actively engaged in the Italian/Abyssinian war in 1935 and was demobbed in 1937 where he was placed on the reserve list. In 1938 he was recalled to work on preparing army camps for the conscripts. (Conscription was introduced into Britain on the 1st April 1939). When war broke out on 3rd September later that same year Herbert as a reservist was again called upon and was-sent to France, and was stationed at Lille with a heavy ack-ack Artillery Battery. He was injured when he was evacuated from Dunkirk on the 1st June 1940 and was in Horton emergency hospital somewhere in the south of England, with shrapnel wounds.

He returned to his .unit after being discharged from Hospital. He was then involved in defending towns and cities that were being blitzed.

Herbert came home on convalescent leave due to an accident on an army motorcycle. This was to be the last time his family would see him. After returning to war his family learned that the troopship Herbert was on had arrived in Singapore where they surrendered to the Japanese on 15th February

1942. His family heard nothing more until a letter from the army listing him missing presumed killed and his weekly allowance of 3/6 to his mother was stopped.

The next his family heard was from an army Chaplain saying some caskets of ashes had been found at a POW camp in Fukuoka, Japan, of which one had Herbert’s name on and they are now interred in a war cemetery in Sydney, Australia. It was reported that he died of bronchitis on 13th December 1942 aged 25.




1918 - 1939


Arthur Bird was born on 20th June 1918 to William Henry and Blanche-~ Elizabeth Bird and was the sixth of nine children. He had six brothers and two sisters.

He attended Whitwell School until he was 14, then in 1934 with his family moved from Whitwell common to Duchess Street. After leaving school he was employed at Reg Attwood's butchers shop before joining up.

Arthur, aged 20 years then enlisted with the militia just before war was declared. He was a batman to an officer.

After a tragic car accident he died in Bath Hospital on 8th May 1939, he was 21 and is buried in Whitwell churchyard.




1920 - 1943.

Harry was born in January 1920, to Mr Tom and Mrs Clara Buckingham of Titchfield Street. He had a twin brother, Arthur. They later moved with their family to Welbeck Street next to the old chapel.

They both attended Whitwell School, when on leaving at 14 years of age found employment at Welbeck, in the gardens. They were both members of the Church Lads Brigade (C.L.B.). In the early years they took part in boxing competitions organised by Mr R. Ellis, J.P. headmaster of Whitwell School, Mr Herbert Ward and other officers of the C.L.B. They were also servers at the Church of St. Lawrence, Whitwell.

On 31st, August Harry signed up with the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry at Welbeck Club and was billeted at the Palais De-Dance in Mansfield. He then moved to Rigsby residential headquarters at Brockelsby.

In January 1940 Harry went with his regiment to Palestine, via Dover, Dunkirk and Marseilles, arriving at Haifa on 28th January 1940, later moving to Sarafand, a large peacetime base attached to intelligence groups and signals, they then left for Tobruk.

Before reaching Mesa Matruk they were engaged in a break through at Galal, but the Italians and German tanks were waiting for them, they managed to hold their position until the enemy came straight at them and they were all destroyed at Wadi Zem, resulting in the loss of 11 tanks mostly C. squad (SRY).

Harry was killed in his tank during this battle which took place on 15th January 1943




1918 - 1942.


Francis Ernest was born on 16th July 1918 at Lordens Hill, Dinnington. He moved to Thorne as a young boy with his family when his father was seeking work in the coal mines. He went to Thorne Senior Boy's School and left at the age of 14 years.

His first job was as an errand boy for a local butchers. He then went to work for P. Platts and sons, corn merchants at Thorne until he was called up with the Militia at the age of 21, believing it to be for 6 months. As war was declared he had to stay with RAF.

He served in various places throughout England and South Wales. He was a first class fitter to the Wellington Bombers. Ernest was very happy in England, he made some very good friends, but sadly lost a few too. He was then posted abroad to Malaya, Kuala Lumpur and then to Singapore where he was later captured.

It was months before his family heard anything of Ernest, eventually they were told he was a prisoner-of-war in Java. The Red Cross were wonderful with their help.

His mother received two typed postcards from Emest while he was a prisoner, she knew they were not Ernest's words but they were signed by him as she could recognise his hand writing.

Then the sad news came that he had died of bacterial dysentery, at the tender age of 24. The year was 1942.




1922 - 1943

Harold was the eldest of four children, born to William (Bula) and Martha (Min). His brothers were Thomas and Ronald (the youngest of the four and who married Shirley Wheatley of Whitwell). His sister was called Joan and she married Geoff Beswick of Hodthorpe.

They lived at No 7 Steetley Row, Steetley and Harold was educated in the little school at Steetley until it was closed in 1933 and from then on he was educated at Whitwell School until he left aged 14 years. He found work at Steetley Colliery. Harold had only one interest and that was flying. He left the colliery and joined the RAF before the start of WWII, Harold married Miss Mabel Betteridge who worked on Major's buses.

Little is known about Harold I s time in the RAF but in the early part of the war he was flying Hampden bombers out of Syston, and later was posted to Lincoln where he was flying Lancaster bombers. It was whilst flying one of those bombers during a raid over Cologne, Germany that he was shot down. Harold is buried in Cologne and a memorial to his name can be found in Lincoln Cathedral.

Harold was married for just 2 weeks and was 21 at the time of death.

(Update on this information received from Mr Clive Smith

I was looking at your servicemen that were killed page and I noticed a few inaccuracies regarding Air Gunner Sgt Ekin.

In terms of his operational service I think Syston should be RAF Syerston, which is in Nottinghamshire. It is likely that he flew Hampdens here with 61 Squadron before they converted to Lancasters.

He was killed on 25th August  1942, not 1943, being shot down in 61 Squadron Lancaster R5662 (QR-A) which crashed at Efferen, Germany, on an operation to Frankfurt, not Cologne.

He is buried in Rheinberg cemetery not Cologne -,%20HAROLD)




1905 - 1943.


Leslie was born on 11th January 1905 in Whitwell to parents Arthur and Mary (nee Roberts'). He was the youngest of five children, he had two brothers, George and John Kenway, and two sisters, Phyllis and Ida.

He attended Whitwell School and left when he reach the age of 14 years.

He went to work at Welbeck, finding work in the motor department. Leslie was highly thought of at Welbeck and eventually became the personal chauffeur to the Duke and Duchess of Portland. Leslie met Phyllis Mary Taylor of Meltham Huddersfield, and married on 11th January 1933 in the parish church Meltham. On the day of their wedding the Duke presented them with a Rolls Royce.

He acquired the ownership of the Crossroads Garage, Oldcoates in 1933. He kept this for about 3 years before venturing into the holiday camp business at Sheerness, which wasn't very successful. In 1937 he returned with his family to Welbeck and lived at the Fish Pond Lodge on the estate where he worked again in the motor department. He later joined the Dukes Territorial Army in 1937.

At the outbreak of the Second World War on September 3rd 1939, he was called to join the S R Y. Initially he was billeted at Mansfield but from there was posted to Palestine travelling via Dover, Dunkirk and Marseille, arriving at Haifa on 28th January 1940. The regiment moved to Karku and completed their training on tracked vehicles, before moving to the battle zone. Leslie was present at the battle of Alamal before reaching Mesa Metuk. At Galal they were confronted by Italian and German tanks that were waiting for them, resulting in the loss of 11 tanks mostly of C. Squad (of the S R Y). On the 17th of January 1943 The Luftwaffe came and bombed them as they were repairing the tanks and Leslie was badly wounded. Trooper Ruddenham another fitter from Welbeck was killed. It was on 17th January 1943 whilst in the New Zealand Field Ambulance later that day that Leslie died from the wounds he had sustained from the attack. He was 38. Sergeant Harness was a grave loss, he had long been a yeoman and throughout the fighting had toiled away putting the tanks in order in the same capable manner just as if he were attending to the Dukes car.




Killed, Battle of Britain, 1940

William Burley Higgins was born in 1913.  He was a school master in civilian life.  Two of his brothers also served in the RAF.  His squadron was sent to Ackland for a well-earned rest, but Sgt Higgins as an experienced NCO was posted to 253 Hurricane Squadron at Kenley.  Sgt Higgins was on active Service till the 14th Sept.

Around 4pm that afternoon he and Sgt JA Anderson went into battle with 109’s over Sheppey.  Anderson bailed out near Faversham severely wounded.  Higgins in Hurricane P5184 went down to crash land on Swanton Farm, Bredgar.  A rescuer pulled him from the cockpit, but the young Sgt was apparently dead before his aircraft hit the ground.




1916 – 1941

James was born to Harry and Rosemary Hollingsworth on 23rd September 1916 at 83 Queens Road, Hodthorpe. He had five brothers and one sister.

James attended Hodthorpe Infant and Junior schools and at the age of 12 moved to Whitwell School. At the age of 14 he left school and went to work at Melish’s Farm Belph. He later went to work at Whitwell colliery. He enjoyed many types of sports, particularly football and boxing which he continued to do whilst in the army.

James left the colliery at the age of 18 (1934) to join the army. He reached the rank of Sergeant and was promoted to Sergeant Major on the day he was killed. He was killed whilst in action at Noverabar near Haifa in 1941, he was aged 25 years.

He is buried at the Military Cemetery, Salem Voe, Haifa.



9 Sqd Lancasters

Killed, Battle of the Ruhr, 1943


Died age 31 on 23 June 1943.

Son of Richard and Charlotte Hunt.  Husband of Nancy Maxine Hunt.

Remembered with honour Rheinberg War Cemetery.




1906 – 1943

William was born on 7th January 1906, in the parish of Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. He attended school in Mansfield and left to be a coalminer at the age of 14 years.

He volunteered for the army at Mansfield on 2nd August 1924 aged 18. He signed on with the Sherwood Forest Rangers, serving 7 years with the colours and 5 years as a reserve.

During that 7 years he was appointed to Lance SGT. (unpaid) on 21st November 1924. After serving for 7 years he was demobbed and returned to coalmining at Whitwell Colliery. He was married with three children and lived with his family at 40 New Street, Bakestone Moor.

When war was declared on 3rd September 1939 he was recalled to serve with the Sherwood Foresters. He was one of the first colliers to be called up for service. He was promoted to Sgt. on 22nd September 1940 and in 1941 he attended Northern Command Weapon Training School for seven months. He obtained the highest mark, Q.I.

The Sherwood Foresters then embarked for North Africa. It was in Algeria that William met with a tragic accident whilst teaching a group of soldiers. The training exercise involved clearing a house with hand grenades and bayonets.  One soldier threw a grenade which bounced back to where the men were taking cover; they proceeded to take cover around the corner and William ran into another soldier who was waiting to follow the assault with fixed bayonet: The bayonet pierced Sgt. Perrett's chest and he collapsed into the arms of another Sgt. He died on his way to hospital.

Sgt. Wm. Perrett 14th Bn. Sherwood Foresters is buried in Dely Ibrahim Military Cemetery, Algeria. The date of his death is November 1943. He was 37 years.




1920 – 1941

Bert was born on 21st November 1920, to Mr. and Mrs. Bert Profitt of Clowne.  He was the eldest of four children having two brothers, Phillip and Ellis, and one sister, Dorothy. He attended school in Clowne until he left at the age of 14 years at which point he moved with his family to 2 Hillside, Whitwell. Bert found work at Whitwell Colliery working underground.

He was there for about 3 years before he joined the Royal Marines. He was 18 years of age and stationed at Plymouth. He served on HMS's ‘Norfolk’ and ‘Hilda’ prior to being transferred to the battleship HMS ‘Prince of Wales’ and was on board when the Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt signed the Atlantic Charter.

When Bert was on leave in the summer of 1940 he met Kathleen Lee on a blind date, they got married at Whitwell Church on the 28th June 1941 and lived at Portland Street. After just 1 week of marriage he had to return to Plymouth on the 7th July to re-join with HMS ‘Prince of Wales’. This was to be the only time they were to spend together.

Bert lost his life aged 21 years when the Battleship HMS ‘Prince of Wales’ was patrolling off Pearl Harbour and was sunk on 10th December 1941.

He was awarded the Atlantic Star and the Pacific Star.

The sea is his grave.



B.O.A.C. Ex RAF.

???? - 1942. 

Stuart was the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Shakespeare, wholesaler of Welbeck Street, Whitwell, he had two brothers, Maurice and Stanley.

He went to Whitwell School and then to Mansfield Central, he joined the RAF straight from school.

He was married with one son living in Southampton.

After the Allied Forces had secured North Africa he was flying a ‘C’ class flying boat which had been anchored on the Nile. He had previously flown Winston Churchill to a meeting in the mid-Atlantic with Roosevelt and Stalin.

He was flying V.I.P’s from Africa to England when just after radioing his e.t.a (estimated time of arrival) his plane blew up.




1920 - 1940

Harold was born on 6th April 1920. He was the eldest of four children born to Mr and Mrs. Harold and Dora Sugden of 52 Portland Street, Whitwell.

He started school aged 5 years at Whitwell under the tuition of various teachers, to name a few, Mr. E.P. Gallagher, Mr. J.J. Jaquest and headmaster Mr Dix.

Harold left Whitwell School aged 14 years and went to work on Welbeck Estate where he was employed as an agricultural worker in the gardens. He worked on the estate for about 2 years.

He then went to work at Whitwell Colliery but owing to a short time working he and some friends decided to volunteer for the RAF, they were Gordon Gray, Jack Streets, Jim Slater and Victor Storey. On receiving their call up papers Harold along with Jim Slater had to report to Uxbridge RAF station, this was in 1937. Harold was detailed to No. 12 Squadron and after a short period was transported along with his squadron to Biggin Hill, Kent.

When the Second World War broke out, Harold was posted to the Middle East battle zone. As the battle front changed in favour of the Allies they were moved nearer home for a well-deserved rest, finally reaching Italy. It was whilst travelling through Italy along the Sansavera Highway, that Harold fell asleep with his head resting upon the canvas of the lorry, as they met a consignment of vehicles travelling to the front the turret of a passing tank struck Harold' s head. He was taken to hospital where he later died.  He was aged 20.

Harold is buried in Sansevera Cemetery. The date of his death is given as 1940.



R.E.M.E. 4805716.

1920 - 1945.

Douglas was born on 6th January in Nottingham. At the age of 2 he moved with his parents, Thomas and Martha Thorpe and his sister, Sylvia to live at the Half Moon Inn, Whitwell, which was owned by his Aunt and Uncle, William and Elizabeth Booth, who also came from Nottingham.

Sometime later Douglas and his family went to live on Welbeck Street, Whitwell. He attended Whitwell School and was further educated at the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Mansfield, until he was 18. He matriculated at London University and passed in several subjects. While waiting for his call up papers, Douglas got a temporary job at C.W.S. Glassworks which he had for a few months.

He enlisted at Lincoln in 1940, and after initial training at Shoreditch he became a radio mechanic, serving at Totten, Sidcup and at Sandringham working on RADAR. He help in the London blitz, tackling incendiaries at St. Paul's Cathedral.

He embarked for the Middle East via Capetown in June 1942 and served in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. By 1944/45 he was in Italy and saw the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

Douglas reached the rank of S/SGT. In 1943 having served mainly in Ack-Ack workshops, R.E.M.E.  He was awarded the 1939/45 Star and the Italy Star.

Douglas died in a train accident in Surrey in 1945 aged 25 years.




1918 - 1941.

Douglas was born on the 13th August 1918 and was one of five brothers.  His brothers were Stuart, Dennis Barrie and Edward (Ted). Their parents were Wilfred and Lucy Wheatley, and they lived at 59 Welbeck Street. They later moved to 26 Mill Crescent.

He attended Whitwell School, aged five and then moved to Worksop Central when he was aged 11. He left there at 16. He was a keen Tennis player and was a member of The Belph Tennis Club.

He was employed as a lorry driver at Shakespeare's Wholesalers, Welbeck Street and made deliveries all over the district.

Douglas volunteered for the RAF in 1940. He reached the rank of Sgt. Pilot. After brief training he was on operations flying Bleinheims medium bombers. He was flying daylight raids over Cologne from a station near Cambridge. During the third raid on the city in the same week his plane was hit and he could only get back as far as the North Sea where he ditched the plane and he was drowned.  His body drifted for nearly 100 miles before being washed up on the shore at Wilhelmshaven, where he was buried. His death is registered as May 1941, he was 23 years old.



RAF 1431809.

1922 - 1944.

Joe was born on 21st January 1922, at Holbeck near Cuckney, Nottinghamshire. He came to Whitwell with his parents aged 2, He was the eldest son of Mr and Mrs Wm. Willies and had two brothers, Richard and George, and one sister, Carrie and they lived on Duke Street, Whitwell. He was educated at Whitwell School, Shirebrook Central and then at Worksop Technical College. After leaving education he found employment at Whitwell colliery as a haulage hand and was there for about 5 years.

He joined the RAF in 1941 and after serving in many parts of England he was sent to The RAF Training School in Western Canada. He qualified as a Sergeant Observer and was capable of navigating and piloting in an emergency.  He returned to England and flew on over 20 operational flights.

Joe met and married Miss Florence H. Brown, a member of the WAAF in January 1944 at Aylesbury.

Joe was reported killed on active service after a tragic accident. His plane, a Stirling Bomber was completing a night training flight on 22nd April 1944 and on approach at 0358 hours his aircraft collided with another Stirling Bomber, sadly there were no survivors.

Joseph Wm. Willies is interred in Whitwell Churchyard, he was 22 years of age.



I wish to thank all those people (too many to name individually) who have helped me by supplying information about the servicemen associated with Whitwell that appear in this book.

Jack Edson and the people of Hodthorpe, many thanks for the information about Lawrence Beeston.

Also many thanks to my grandson Stephen Durr for the computing.


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