Lest We Forget


Their son, PJ060698 Able Seaman Brian Anthony LANE, joined the Royal Navy straight from school as a boy sailor. It had been his ambition to join the navy when he was old enough. After being enrolled he did most of his training on HMS Ganges, a shore-base at Shortley near Ipswich. After passing out he was then posted to Portsmouth. During his time in the navy Brian served on several ships including HMS Striker and HMS Blackpool and served in the Mediterranean and the Far East.
Some of the countries he visited were Hong Kong, Singapore, Malta and Gibraltar. On one occasion after a spell of home leave he was drafted to Scotland to serve on HMS Wasperton, patrolling the coastal waters on Fisheries protection duty. It was while he was at Bahrain in the Persian Gulf that he became ill and was flown home to Princess Alexandra's Hospital at Wroughton. He was then taken to a naval hospital in London and after a short time there he came home on leave to Highworth. He was then admitted to Princess Margaret Hospital, Swindon where he died on 8th December 1965, age 21. Brian enjoyed life to the full and was well liked by his mates in the navy.
Able Seaman Brian Anthony Lane, is buried in Highworth Town Cemetery. He was buried with full Military Honours, having an escort of six Naval ratings, and a Royal Marine bugler sounding the Last Post at his funeral.

Coleshill Second World War casualties who are commemorated by name on the Coleshill village war memorial.

14610175 Gunner Frederick Stanley BALDWIN, 57th Royal Artillery attached to (115th Battalion East Surrey Regiment,) died 21st July 1944, age 19.
Buried Arezzo War Cemetery, Italy, Plot 3. Row D. Grave 25. Son of William Herbert and Lucy Baldwin, of Wroughton, Wiltshire. The war cemetery lies on the main road from Rome to Florence (Route No 69) in the rural locality of Indicatore in the Commune Province of Arezzo. Gunner Baldwin is also commemorated; along with his brother; on a memorial seat which was placed in Coleshill village cemetery by members of his family.

3005766 Flight Engineer Harold William Fleetwood JORDAN. 189 Sqdn. Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Died 4th December 1944, Age 19.
Buried in Choloy War Cemetery, France. Plot 1. Row C. Grave 4. Son of Reginald and Edith Annie Jordan, of Coleshill, Berkshire.
Choloy is a village and commune in the Department of the Meurthe-et-Mosell, 28 kilometres west of Nancy and some 5 kilometres west of Toul, a town on the N4 road from Paris to Nancy.
No 189 Squadron was part of 5 Group, Bomber Command. The squadron became operational in November 1944, and flew Lancasters from Fulbeck airfield in Lincolnshire, some eight miles east of Newark off the A17.
The raid of 4/5th December 1944 was almost certainly on Heilbronn, a town north of Stuttgart. Performed only by 5 Group, 282 Lancasters and 12 Mosquitoes took part and 12 Lancasters were lost.
One Saturday morning in November 1939 while returning from Cowley Works, Oxford, Ted Stranks called at a Recruiting office to enquire about joining the RAF. "Come back on Monday, we are closed for the weekend" they said. During the weekend he talked to Percy Willis and Herbie Woolford, on the Monday all three went to Oxford to join up. Ted had his motor trade Indentures with him, and because of this he was asked to report to Uxbridge on Tuesday. As he had not informed his firm or his family he was given an extra day and reported to Uxbridge on Wednesday and by that evening was fixed up with inoculations and uniform.
After a spell of military training (Square bashing), he was posted to Locking Camp, Weston Super Mare for a course in aero engines.
In 1940 the winter was very severe and lasted several weeks, the overhead cables over the roads had icicles on them about twelve feet long. Ted spent some weeks at home with pleurisy. When the course was completed he was posted to Silloth on the Solway Firth, and then on to Prestwick to be billeted in a church hall. To phone home a call had to be booked and when a line was clear a call back came. Ted had arranged this at a local pub and often by the time the call came back several pints of ale had been supped, his mother was quite concerned on one or two occasions.
Following a course at Innsworth Lane, Gloucestershire he was posted to a night fighter squadron near Stamford, Lincolnshire. This airfield was attacked on several occasions, on one such raid a bomb exploded in the hanger roof and another passed through the wing of an aircraft, and stuck in the concrete without going off, he was working on the next machine at the time. While with this squadron he went on detachment to Acklington on the north east coast, to Colerne, and to Wroughton. In the winter of 1941 the squadron moved to Northern Ireland, and then to Church Fenton near Tadcaster (home of the two famous brewers " John Smith and Sam Smith ") from where he was posted overseas in the summer of 1942.

A draft of RAF personnel from all parts of the country was assembled at a transit camp near Liverpool, and after a weeks leave, embarked on a troopship for destinations unknown. On the first day out the ship developed engine trouble, and returned to the Mersey. This let the whole draft have another two weeks leave, and more fond farewells. Having missed a convoy because of the delay the ship sailed with only a Destroyer escort. Life on board a troopship was a very monotonous existence, but Ted made many friends and seemed to be playing cards for hours and days on end, the only excitement being the occasional dropping of depth charges, and the call to boat drill.
There was great excitement on board, when the ship sailed into Gibraltar, but it was only a brief visit, and off again to sea, next stop was Freetown where fresh vegetables were taken onboard. This was not the time of year to be there as the heat and humidity was quite uncomfortable with heavy electric storms. After a few days they were on their way again, and rumours as to the war zone they were heading for was the main topic.
Ships crew organised some fun and games as they crossed the Equator with a special ceremony. Soon they were in the heavy seas around the Cape of Good Hope and on their way into the Indian Ocean. More discussions as to the next port of call, and to everyone's delight it was Durban where they disembarked.
All troopships arriving and leaving Durban were greeted by the famous Lady in White singing patriotic songs, Land of Hope and Glory, and the like. Ted and a pal were detailed to go with a service policeman to Johannesburg to escort a deserter who had been arrested there.

This made an interesting journey by train through some lovely countryside, and 'The Valley of a Thousand Hills'. On arrival they were met by local police and taken to a large building in the town which had been the club of the German community. This was being used as a hostel, and after ships and tents, was a real luxury with fine food and the service from the lady volunteers was great.

Highworth Historical Society

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Our Next Monthly Guest Speaker

26th March 2018
The The Archaeology and Early History of Highworth.
by Mike Stone.
With the new building work in the town finds of the early settlers are being made all the time. Areas include
the Cricklade Road area, The Willows and Priory Green.

Prices for Lectures:
Members: Free of charge
Visitors: £3.00.

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