• Treehouse Genealogy

Mystery War Dead Pictures – A Follow-up

Updated: Jul 1

You might remember my recent post regarding finding war dead photographs within my Husbands Grandfather’s belongings if you didn’t get a chance to read this article then you can access it via this link




John Lawson Richards


You will remember the Black and White photo taken in 23/10/1969.

Photograph taken in 1969

A high-resolution scan of this image revealed that this grave belonged to John Lawson Richards a Lieutenant who served with Andrew in the 240th Field Company, Royal Engineers. A search of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website reveals that his service number was 134597 and that he died on the 2nd November 1944. He is buried in Jonkerbos War Cemetery, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


The 1939 Register tells us that John Lawson Richards stayed at Dixon House School in Monmouth, Wales. Born on 6th October 1918 to Wilfred J Richards and Blodwen Davies he was noted as an undergraduate student. His Father was a Schoolmaster at the school and his brother Albert Owen Richards born in 1915 was a teacher. A couple of lines are blanked off on the register for privacy reasons which means that there was the possibility of there being a couple of younger siblings.


A probate record for Richards also exists which details that the sum of £387 13s 10d was left to both his parents.


Among Andrews belongings was a photograph taken in Camberley, Surrey in 1944 of the Platoon Officers and Serjeants of the 240th Field Company, Royal Engineers…this included John Lawson Richards!


John Lawson Richards 1918-1944

I was lucky enough to obtain an image of both Jonkerbos war Cemetery and this war grave which is not only in colour but is much clearer.



Jonkerbos Cemetery (Courtesy of the British War Graves Website)


John's Grave (Courtesy of British War Graves Website)

RAF Graves, Oosterhout


You will remember the images of Andrew and his comrades laying flowers and having their pictures taken at the grave stones of members of the RAF back in 1984.


High-resolution scans of these and another search of the Commonwealth War Graves Website revealed that these men were all buried at Oosterhout Protestant Cemetery.

Although the men commemorated there relate to crashes that happened in 1940 & 1942 having recently applied for Andrew’s Service Record, we learn that he was not serving in Holland during this time.


We can only assume that whilst Andrew & his Comrades of 240 Field Company were attending the unveiling of a monument in 1984 at Oosterhout, they decided to attend the local Cemetery and leave flowers for these men.


Crash of Handley Page Hampden at Oosterhout 15th May 1940


During the evening of 14-15 May 1940 aircraft from 44 Squadron were detailed to Bomb Breda & the Ruhr with a view to disrupting communications in Holland & Germany.


At about 0106hrs this Handley Page Hampden aircraft crashed at Oosterhout with all of the Aircrew losing their lives.


They are: -


F/O LJ Ashfield

P/O CD Crawley

Sgt FW McKinlay

Cpl F Preston

Crash of Avro Lancaster at Den Hout 20th December 1942


On the 20th December 1942 whilst on a mission to Duisberg the Aircrew of this Lancaster ED347 who were part of 9 Squadron based at Waddington were shot down by a German night fighter and crashed at 2029hrs near Den Hout (Noord Brabant) 3km NW of Oosterhout, Holland.


They are: -


Sgt JW Tyreman

Sgt J Sykes

P/O JW Lynes

Sgt HB Stokes

Sgt HG Ford

Sgt J Hill

Sgt GC Wing

Visiting Oosterhout


During a recent visit to Holland I was lucky enough to visit Oosterhout, the graves of these men and the locations of the crashes.


I was also extremely lucky to meet with a local Historian Jan Jolie who was kind enough to take me round the crash sites and cemetery and discussed the events of these with me.


I am currently working on further articles for each of these crashes and the men sadly killed in them and will post details once completed.

Tammy


I must admit that I am at a bit of a loss to report who ‘Tammy’ was! Though we did notice that his name is written in pencil on the rear of a lot of the images within Andrews collection, so perhaps some of the images belonged to Tammy and were later passed onto Andrew?


Do you know who Tammy who served with the 240 Field Company Royal Engineers was?

Andrew Johnston


From Andrews service record we discovered that he served with the 240 Field Company, Royal Engineers as a driver which involved driving all sorts of Army Vehicles and trucks.


He served the first 4 years in the UK before arriving in France with his Company on 6th June 1944 (D-Day) where they were involved in the liberation of Pegasus Bridge.


He spent 9 months in France before moving to Belgium, Holland then Germany where a lot of his Companies time was taken up working on Bridges there.



Given the location and date of Andrews friend John Richards death it is possible that the company were involved in the liberation of Bridges at Nijmegen during Operation Market Garden.


Andrew (right) with comrades during World War 2

It was during his time in Holland that he was involved in the battle of the Markkanaal which saw the liberation of Den Hout, a battle that was commemorated with a service and the unveiling of the memorial stone already mentioned in 1984 of which Andrew attended.



Whilst serving in Holland Andrew met and married Marie van der Mierden whom he would take home to Scotland to ensure she was protected from the horrors of war.


Andrew continued to serve in Europe with the Royal Engineers until January 1946 before returning to Marie and starting what would be a long and happy life together raising their family.

In Memory of Andrew Johnston 1919 to 2006


With Thanks to:-

Jan Jolie

Mick at the British War Graves Website


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