Portsmouth Second World War Dead – An appeal!

British battleship HMS BARHAM explodes as her ...

HMS Barham exploding in 1941 (Image via Wikipedia)

I’m currently working on a book about people from Portsmouth who were killed during the Second World War.

I would be very interested to hear from anyone who has any information at all about any relatives from Portsmouth who were killed during the Second World War, seving with the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, British Army, Royal Air Force, Merchant Navy, ATS, NAAFI, British Red Cross and the Home Guard.

Any stories, documents, photographs, memories etc would be extremely useful, and I would be very grateful to hear from anyone who may be able to help.

In particular, I am looking for information and photographs about the following:

  • Chief Petty Officer Reg Ellingworth GC, a mine disposal rating from HMS Vernon
  • Seamen who were killed serving on the Portsmouth based battleships HMS Royal Oak, HMS Hood and HMS Barham. In particular Frederick Bealing (Royal Oak),
  • Portsmouth Submariners, particularly HMS Triumph (disappeared in the Med in 1942), and especially Electrical Artificer Arthur Biggleston DSM and Bar and Petty Officer Frank Collison DSM and Bar
  • Any Boy Seamen from Portsmouth who were killed (aged 18 or under)
  • Lieutenant Commander William Hussey DSO DSC, the Commander of HMS Lively when she was sunk off Tobruk in 1942
  • Royal Marines from Portsmouth, in particular Colour Sergeant Frederick Bird, a 62 year old WW1 veteran who died in 1943
  • Major Robert Easton DSO MBE, of the Royal Armoured Corps who was killed in Italy in 1944
  • Portsmouth men who died as Prisoners of War, particularly Private William Starling who died after VE Day in Czechoslovakia, and Sapper Ernest Bailey who was murdered by the Gestapo in Norway in 1942
  • Portsmouth men who were killed fighting with the Hampshire Regiment, particularly Lance Corporal Leslie Webb MM (D-Day) and Corporal Mark Pook MM (Italy)
  • Men killed on D-Day and in Normandy, especially Sergeant Sidney Cornell DCM and Private Bobby Johns (aged 16) 
  • Portsmouth men killed fighting in the Far East – including in Singapore, Burma, and as Prisoners of the Japanese building the Burma Railway
  • Bomber aircrew from Portsmouth, especially Flight Sergeant Patrick McCarthy DFC and Sergeant Francis Compton DFM
  • Flight Lieutenant John Coghlan DFC, a Battle of Britain and Special Operations pilot
  • Wing Commander John Buchanan DSO DFC, a Bomber Squadron commander who fought in the Mediterranean and North Africa
  • Flight Lieutenants Arthur and Ernest Venables, brothers killed when their Dakota crashed in Southern France after VE Day
  • The Merchant Navy – particularly the SS Portsdown, an Isle of Wight Ferry mined in 1941
  • The NAAFI
  • Women at War – the Wrens, ATS, WAAFS, British Red Cross

Or indeed any other stories that I may have missed.

I have a database of 2,549 Portsmouth servicemen and women killed between September 1939 and December 1947; sadly it is impossible to write about all of them, but hopefully I can pay tribute to them all by telling some of their stories.

Any stories at all will be of interest, its these kind of personal stories that really bring home the impact of war on families and communities.



Filed under Army, d-day, far east, merchant navy, Navy, portsmouth heroes, Royal Air Force, Royal Marines, Uncategorized, World War Two

23 responses to “Portsmouth Second World War Dead – An appeal!

  1. John Erickson

    These are a few links that may help you, although you probably know of at least 1 or 2.
    http://www.gwpda.org – Huge amount of WW1 documentation. Excellent site!
    http://www.jacomb.com/ww1dead.htm – A long list of documents. Not sure of the quality, I bookmarked this a while back but never fully explored it.
    And one you most likely have:
    Unknown to me, I bookmarked it after I became addicted to your blog. 🙂
    Hope this helps the cause!

  2. John Erickson

    One more time, my first entry went into limbo.
    These are a few links that may help you, although you probably know of at least 1 or 2.
    http://www.gwpda.org – Huge amount of WW1 documentation. Excellent site!
    http://www.jacomb.com/ww1dead.htm – A long list of documents. Not sure of the quality, I bookmarked this a while back but never fully explored it.
    And one you most likely have:
    Unknown to me, I bookmarked it after I became addicted to your blog. 🙂
    Hope this helps the cause!

  3. James Daly

    Hi John thanks, very useful sites. I think the spam filter held them due to the number of links.

    I’ve already got some good pictures from the RN Submarine Museum, including a 4 page list of photos of HMS Triumph, including a pic of Electrical Artificer Arthur Biggleston DSM and Bar – a great find!

    • John Erickson

      This may sound like a truly daft idea, but have you checked with the MOD for whatever is the British equivalent of the US Graves Registration? They should have an online database, which you can search by home town (village, city, etc.).

      • James Daly

        Hi John, I have indeed searched the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The main database itself is pretty poor and only searchable by name, but a chap has developed a plug-in search engine whereby you can search by area, town, village, regiment, etc etc.

  4. Jada Gooding

    Have you checked this site:
    Cheers, Jada

  5. James Daly

    Hi Jada, yes I used the Portsmouth City Council list as the basis for my research, by inputing each name into an Access database and researching each on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The PCC list is not too accurate however – there are around 500 names of Portsmouth men I have found who are not on the list, there are several on the list from Portsmouth in Lancashire, and there are a handful of spelling mistakes.

  6. Pingback: Thoughts on the war in Italy « Daly History Blog

  7. Pingback: Portsmouth’s WW2 Heroes – progress report « Daly History Blog

  8. kenneth michael oram

    I am trying to establish the fate of my fathers family after the January bombing in 1941. My father’s name was Bernard Oram (he passed away in 1989) and I beliebve that his father’s first name was Raymond. Can I ask if you have any method of tracking down confirmation that my grandparents died in the dreadful German bombing of Portsmouth on 10 January 1941. My father returned from Dunkirk (unofficial way) to find that his house and relatives were no more, The house was in the Commercial Rd/Kings Rd/Elm Grove/Palmerston Rd area and I am desperate to find out their fate. Sadly, my parents both passed away some years ago and as so often they never wished to discuss the issues of war. I spent my formative years in Cosham/Havant before joining the RAF and have recently settled in Chandlers Ford on retirement. I would be very grateful if you can assist me in any way.
    K Oram

    • James Daly

      Hi Kenneth, have you tried looking on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s online debt of honour register? That lists all civilian casualties from WW2. If you have trouble finding them let me know, there are a couple more sources I might be able to suggest.

  9. kenneth maurice DOBESONbeson

    My father was Chief Petty Officer Nicholas Dobeson who was lost with HMS Hood when it was sunk by KM Bismark. He was a Torpedo Gunners Mate and was a recalled pensioner having left the service c. 1937. He and his family lived in Portsmouth pre-war although we removed to London in 1937. I was born in Southsea and served my self in the RN (FAA) ataing the rate of Petty Officer although only being a conscripted HO.

  10. Alison Richards

    My great uncle was William starling. My grandmother told me stories about him when i was a child

    • James Daly

      Hi Alison, great to hear from you. My new book is due out in a couple of weeks time, and I’m sure you will be interested to hear that it contains a section on your great uncle.


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  17. Gerald Colan-O'Leary

    I am a second cousin of John Hunter Coghlan and have posted a potted history of John on a number of websites including http://acesofww2.com/UK/aces/coghlan/ if that helps thoughyour book is probably published by now.



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