RAPC Roll of Honour – World War Two

RAPC Roll of Honour – World War Two

There were 81 members of the Royal Army Pay Corps (RAPC) who were killed in action or by enemy action as listed in the World War 2 Roll Of Honour contained in the RAPC Journal Spring 1946 Edition plus one additional member who died after the war having survived the sinking of the Lancastria. The main source for this research article has been the ancestry website (www.ancestry.co.uk) plus links found using Google for which the key search terms have been included in “bold italics. Where relevant, other sites and documents have been linked including supplementary information for each of the dead which can be accessed by clicking on the person’s name or by accessing the "Details Tables" linked below. If you have any questions or further information about any of the entries in the Roll of Honour, please contact the WW2 Roll of Honour researcher using the enquiry form on the "Contact Us" page.

     Details Tables

Died at Sea

On June 17 1940, the Lancastria was sunk off the French port of St. Nazaire while taking part in Operation Ariel (the evacuation of British nationals and troops from France). Those on board , were mainly British civilian refugees, embassy staff, RAF personnel and soldiers. At around 4pm, the ship took three direct hits from a German Ju-88 aircraft and sank within just 20 minutes. Over 1,400 tons of fuel oil leaked into the sea and was set partially on fire. Many drowned, were choked by the oil, or were shot by strafing German aircraft. More than 6,000, some believe as many as 10,000, were on board when it was struck and just 2,447 survived. The Lancastria represented the largest loss of life from a single engagement involving British forces in World War Two and the biggest in British maritime history, with a death toll greater than the Titanic and Lusitania combined. It was also the single most costly incident of the war in respect of the loss of life of members of the RAPC as 24 did not survive the sinking. After the war, Sergeant Reginald Joseph SIMPSON (6193493) died as a result of the oil he ingested when surviving the sinking.

SS Lancastria Casualties

No Rank Name No Rank Name
7658670 LSgt   BYNE William Horace 7658213 SSgt   LOWE Charles Bowyer
5172653 LSgt   CANNON Frederick T C 7663824 Pte   MORGAN George James
7663275 Pte    CLACHER Alexander 7662453 Pte   PATERSON Eric Roy
7658735 Cpl   COX Cecil 386297 Sgt   RAPER George Chesterfield
7658221 Sgt   DORKINS Reginald 7662375 Pte   SMITH Eric Hudson
7663192 Pte   DUNPHIE Samuel 7662418 Pte   SMITH John
7258100 Cpl   DUNSTALL Cyril George 7663512 Pte   SPRIDDLE David William
7811580 Sgt   FRANKS Charles William 106147 Pte   THOMAS James Harold
7663694 Pte   GOLBY  Gerald Hubert 5998256 Pte   TREVES Frederick George
7661757 Pte   GORDON John Lessels 7667979 Pte   TREVETHAN Richard Ernest
7667695 Pte    GRIGGS Roy 74731 Pte   WILSON Francis Herbert
7662918 Pte   HEMINGWAY Robert 7659901 Pte    WINER Jack George

Seven members of the RAPC perished when the SS Ceramic was torpedoed off the Azores by U-515 when on route from Liverpool to Capetown. The Ceramic had detached from a convoy the previous day and was proceeding independently when she was hit by three torpedoes at midnight on 6/7 Dec 1942. There was very little panic among the passengers and the crew launched eight full laden lifeboats, despite the cold weather, the rough seas and the poor visibility in the darkness. The Ceramic stayed afloat and three hours later U-515 hit the ship with two more torpedoes, which broke her in two and she sank immediately. The U-515 surfaced and two men threw a rope to one of the men in the water, Sapper Eric Munday of the Royal Engineers, took him aboard and U-515 left the area. Rescue ships arrived at the scene on 9 Dec 42, but no survivors were found. In total 656 crew and passengers were lost with the only survivor being Spr Munday.

SS Ceramic Casualties No Rank Name No Rank Name
139460 Lt   LASLETT George Newman 7666958 Pte   FOX John
7665859 Pte   FRENCHHenry Richard 7671067 Pte   HINDLE Jack Vernon
7679210 Pte   PARRY Kenneth George 7680226 Pte   POLLI Simon
7678058 Pte   WOOLLEY Wilfred Morton

On the 12 Sep 1942 Pte William HIGGINS (7680866) was killed when the SS Laconia was torpedoed by U-156. The Laconia was on route from Suez to Canada with crew, passengers and POWs on board. Following the sinking the captain of the U-boat took survivors on board and life boats in tow and whist proceeding towards rescue ships under Red Cross Banners was deliberately attacked by a US bomber in what became known as the “Laconia Incident”. By a twist of fate for Captain Sharp, who went down with his ship, it was the second similar Cunard liner he lost to German attacks in just over two years as he had also been in command of the SS Lancastria. On the 2 Dec 1942 Lt Lawrence George BILLING (214636) was killed when the US merchant ship SS Coamo was torpedoed by U-604 off Bermuda while on route to New York from Gibraltar. The ship was detached from the convoy she started in and was never heard from again. A total of 186 lives were lost in what was the greatest loss aboard any US Flag merchant vessel during WW2.

In one of the strangest cases of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Pte George Herbert GRIFFIN (7680141) was killed on the 20 Sep 1941 when the IOW ferry the SS Portsdown sank in the Solent after hitting a mine. There had been disquiet for some time that no minesweeping had been carried out in the eastern Solent, despite enemy mines becoming an increasing problem. The day before the sinking a meeting of steamer captains agreed by a majority of 4 to continue the night time sailings to the island and Captain Chandler, who was Commodore of the Southern Railways fleet, decided he would take command of the next night crossing which was to be the 4 am mail boat the SS Portsdown. Captain Chandler died along with 8 crew members, 12 military personnel (going home on leave) and one civilian.

Major Incidents

On the 19 Nov 1940 German bombers arrived over Leicester at 7.40 pm and by the time they left their 150 high explosive bombs had killed 108 people, injured 284, and destroyed 255 homes and 56 industrial premises. This was the worst night of bombing that Leicester experienced during the war and became known as the “Leicester Blitz”. During the course of the raid a string of bombs demolished a row of houses in Highfield Road in which were billeted the 12 members of the RAPC who lost their lives on that night.

Highfield Road Casualties No Rank Name No Rank Name
7677985 Pte   ATTWOOD Harry 7666044 Pte   KIRKPATRICK John
7668065 Pte   BRIGGS Harold 7674422 Pte   LUESBY Albert Edgar
7675381 Pte   COHEN Lionel Henry 7674449 Pte   SAXTON Sidney Moger
7676942 Pte   GILES  William Ernest 7671224 Pte   TINDSLEY Herbert
7676958 Pte   HARVEY Frank Edward 7664667 Pte   WHEELER Frank George
7675238 Pte   JOHNSON Francis Gordon 7675439 Pte   WILLEY James Conrad

On the 2 Apr 1942 an article from the Malta War Diary website records that a formation of JU 88s carried out a heavy raid on the Dockyard and Submarine Base. The Army Pay Office at Villa Rosa, St Georges was hit, killing one Officer and six Other Ranks of the RAPC although the associated casualty list contains the name of four Other ranks. It also records that the Maltese wife of Leslie Beckett went to the Villa Rosa and was informed that her husband had been injured only to find out the next day that he had died from his wounds. The RAPC was to suffer further casualties in the same month when on the 25 Apr 1942, following a day in which 19 raids were recorded and 312 tons of bombs were dropped, five Other ranks were killed at St Andrews Bks after they had taken shelter in a trench above which an ingenious sapper had arranged long paving slabs, used in building houses.A bomb fell right in front of the entrance to this air-tight shelter and the men were killed by the blast of the explosion.

Date No Rank Name No Rank Name
2 Apr 42 183518 Lt   HARROD Frank 7674870 Pte   PULLAN Arthur Clifford
7678505 Pte   DAVIES Charles Parker 5826157 Cpl   BECKETT Leslie
7675913 Pte   GOLLEDGE Albert Arthur
25 Apr 42 7674864 LCpl   HEYWOOD Arthur 7666418 Pte   RUST Philip Gordon
7673850 Pte   DILLEY Alfred 7666431 Pte   TAPPIN Cecil Raymond
7680168 Pte   MAGUIRE Cyril Cuthbert

On 20 Sep 1942 Lt (Capt) James Herbert GOLDING (157003) is listed as a casualty. The Malta War Diaries do not record any enemy air raids on that or previous days but the diary of a fellow officer notes that he had been seriously injured in the Villa Rosa bombing six months earlier.

Victims of Air Raids

Twenty one members of the RAPC were killed in air raids across the country and one in mainland Europe over the period Sep 1940 to Nov 1944. Unless there were exceptional circumstances associated with a raid on a particular date, there is limited information available on the internet to establish the exact location and circumstances of death of all of the air raid victims. However where detail is known it is included below.

Four members of the RAPC were killed in air raids along with their spouses. Capt Ernest Charles WESTON (115774) was killed along with his wife Elsie Matilda on 23 Dec 1940 when the Springfield Hotel in Manchester was hit during the major raids which became known as the “Manchester Christmas Blitz”. Lt William Frank George WYBORN (122971) and Lt Sydney Cyril VANSTONE (102809) also died on the same day in Manchester in what could have been the same incident. Lt Francis Gresham PRICE (108330) was killed along with his wife Winifred Annie on 16 Apr 1941 in one of the heaviest raids of the Blitz on London when a 685 bomber raid caused more than 2,000 fires and killed over 1,000 people. Cpl Ernest POUGHER (7666566) was killed along with his wife Mabel following a major raid on Bournemouth on the 23 May 1943 when over 200 military and civilians were killed. On the 4 May 1941 Pte Frederick DISLEY (7669120) was killed along with his wife Lilian when a bomb made a direct hit on the Rocket Shelter at Broad Green in Liverpool. The shelter was packed with people many of whom had come out of a local dance hall looking for shelter as the sirens rang.

In the latter phases of the war conventional air raids had been replaced by the deployment of the V1 and V2 rockets which caused massive devastation often with little or no warning of their impending strike. On the 25 Nov 1944 Capt Arthur Edward BARTON (120075) was killed in Deptford. War records show that Deptford suffered a V2 rocket attack on that day which hit the local branch of Woolworths with the loss of 168 lives, injuries to 122 passers-by and only one survivor.

Pte Jack Derrick ENGLISH (7680676) died on the 27 Nov 1944 and is buried in Antwerp, Belgium. At the time the front line in the battle against the Germans was in Holland. A review of graves in the cemetery shows a significant number of deaths on this date which are linked to a V2 rocket impacting in Teniers Square as Allied military convoys were passing through. The explosion killed 157 persons including 29 Allied soldiers and it is highly likely that he was one of them.

Other air raid victims are listed in the table below.

Date Location No Rank Name
9 Sep 40 SW London 7665495 Pte   HOLLAND Eric Walker
15 Sep 40 West Ham 7671349 Pte   CHERRY Leonard Thomas Charles
24 Sep 40 West Hartlepool 7668925 Pte   LYALL James Harrison
30 Sep 40 Middlesex 7663241 Pte   HENDERSON Cyril Frank
11 Oct 40 East Grinstead 7673484 Pte   TERRY Sidney Ronald
14 Oct 40 Surrey 7670628 Pte   KAN Alexander
14 Oct 40 North London 7675454 Pte   NEVIN Frances James
16 Oct 40 Southgate 7673543 Pte   DINGLE Albert
26 Oct 40 Middlesex 7659827 Sgt   MATHER Percy
15 Jan 41 Nottingham 5434362 SSgt   LEE Patrick Michael (Paddy)
19 Mar 41 West Ham 7664261 Pte   LEVINE Harold George
5 May 41 Durham 7674348 Pte   BACKHOUSE Ronald Douglas
29 Jan 44 Buckinghamshire 14263552 Pte   LITWIN Gerald
29 Jun 44 SE London 7665582 Sgt   VINCENT Henry John

The Final Two

On 5 May 1941 LSgt Adam Tait SNOWDEN (2754776) died of his wounds in Palestine although there is no evidence to date of how his wounds were incurred. The Summer 1939 edition of the RAPC Journal notes that a Pte A Snowden had transferred into the RAPC on the 1 May 1939 from the 2nd Bn The Black Watch.

Last but not least is Lt Leslie Tom LOWE (101606) who was killed on 14 Apr 1945. He is listed as being POW No 602 held in Oflag VII-B in Eichstatt, Bavaria and had more than likely been held there following his capture in the Battle of France in May 1940. He is included in the RAPC Roll of Honour as dying as a result of enemy action where other POW's who died are not shown as such. Research shows that around this time the Germans forced marched over 80,000 POWs across Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia in extreme weather conditions with British casualties as a result of these marches estimated at 2,200. However there is a twist to the story as on the date in question, as the U.S. Army approached Oflag VII-B, the British officers were marched out of the camp just two days before it was liberated. Tragically just a short distance from the camp the column was attacked by American aircraft who mistook it for a formation of German troops. Fourteen British officers were killed and 46 were wounded and thus the last member of the RAPC to be killed in WW2 was as a result of “Friendly Fire”.