Men of Waterlooville, Cowplain and Purbrook Killed in Two World Wars

Author John Symonds


This booklet attempts to tell the stories of the men from the three neighbouring parishes of Waterlooville, Cowplain and Purbrook who were killed in the two World Wars. My interest was stimulated whilst researching my earlier book, ‘the Old St. Georges’, when I realised for the first time that the Second World War men have no memorial in Waterlooville. Oddly, the First World War dead are commemorated twice over, once on the fine marble memorial in the church porch with the same names repeated in the Memorial Arch outside. Even worse, I discovered that Cowplain parish, until the 1930s part of Waterlooville parish, has no memorials at all. Purbrook, however, has memorials to the men of both wars carved in wood on the lych gate at the entrance to the churchyard. However, research has revealed that many names have been omitted. Hence my title, ‘Forgotten Heroes’.

Some of the First World War casualties are commemorated more than once. The War Memorial in Farlington Churchyard lists nine men listed on the Purbrook Memorial and 10 listed on the Waterlooville Memorial. Likewise, William and George Tarrant of Waterlooville are also named on the Catherington and Horndean Memorials and Daniel Phillips is named both on the Purbrook and Waterlooville Memorials.

Another point of interest is that nine, possibly ten, pairs of brothers are listed and one father and son. The Waterlooville 1914-18 Memorial lists three pairs of brothers – Ernest and Harold Martin, Ernest and Frank Rodgers and George and William Tarrant. The Purbrook 191418 Memorial lists Charles and William Butcher, Fred and Henry Moore whilst Richard and William Taylor are almost certainly half brothers. The Second World War names include four more sets of brothers – Eric and Ronald Osgood (Widley-Purbrook), Albert and Charles Ayling and Frank and Harold Gander of Cowplain and Bertie and Fred Parfoot of Waterlooville. The father and son names are Albert Edward and Albert Victor House from Cowplain.

I have also included civilian deaths which appear in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records. Most of those relate to people killed in the bombing of Portsmouth in 1940-41. Indeed, I suspect that one or two of the naval men killed also died as a result of German air raids. The Parfoot brothers of Waterlooville died in Langstone Harbour when their dredger exploded a German mine, though their names do not appear on the CWGC web site.

I suspect one or two names may still have ‘slipped through the net’ as CWGC records do not always name relatives or have addresses. So unless a newspaper report exists or relatives can supply information, some names may be lost without trace. For instance, I only discovered the existence of George Miller of Waterlooville, killed in 1940, when Mr. Eric Smith of Cornwall happened to mention on the phone that he possessed the medals of George Miller of 13 Stakes Hill Road, Waterlooville, the very road where I am living!

Local newspapers, especially for the 1914-18 period, contain virtually no information of deaths. The Hampshire Telegraph for the 1939-45 period does contain some obituaries but probably no more than 10% of the deaths are reported. I was disappointed and surprised to find such poor journalistic coverage of the whole Waterlooville area.

I have had no contact with any First World War relatives but I would like to thank the following relatives from the Second World War period who have supplied me with information and photographs.

Mr. John Ayling of Eastney spoke to me of his two R.A.F. brothers, Albert and Charles Ayling of Cowplain, Mrs. K. Watkinson of Waterlooville, told me about her father C.P.O. Fred Hellyer of Purbrook, Mrs. Sylvia Johnson of Widley gave information about her brother, Peter Fisher R.N., whilst Mrs. Joan Clark of Old Porstmouth spoke to me about her first husband, Wilfred Gitsham D.S.M. of Purbrook. Mrs. Marion Rowe, Waterlooville, gave me two ‘new’ names, her cousin, Lawrence Wells, R.A.F. and Driver Alan Hayter, Royal Signals, both Waterlooville men; Mrs. Goodchild of Cowplain told me about her husband, Francis Goodchild; Mrs. Tragheim of Poole telephoned me about her grandfather-in-law, Alexander Traghein R.N.; last but not least my thanks to Mrs. Freda Pettit of Waterlooville who told me about her father and uncle, Bertram and Fred Parfoot.

I would also like to thank Mrs. Jenny Stringer of Waterlooville who has been researching the Waterlooville 1914-18 Memorial and supplied me with some useful information, especially concerning various naval officers. Also Mr. Eric Smith of Polperro in Cornwall who has an encyclopaedic knowledge of naval records and was able to answer many of my queries. Thanks also to the CWGC and the staff of the P.R.O., Kew, who assisted my researches into Battalion War Diaries, R.A.F. Squadron records and Ships Logs, helping me to track down several obscure references.

There are almost certainly one or two names still missing whilst in a few cases I have been unable to trace the circumstances of death. Apart from this I am satisfied that the record is now mostly complete and the names of those ‘forgotten heroes’ will no longer be forgotten.

John Symonds
144 Stakes Hill Road
PO7 7BG.