A register - still incomplete though always enlarging - of people whose death was attributable to the Second World War and who have some kind of connection with the English county of Essex.
It includes British, Commonwealth, other allied and even axis servicemen and women, merchant marine and civilian air raid victims and internees.
For a detailed explanation of scope and coverage, including definitions of 'Essex' and 'Related', please read the Introduction
You view a simple index of surnames. In almost every case there will also be one or more forenames or initials. There may also be a service rank or other categorisation and a death date. Note that, because the underlying database is in two parts, one of which contains numerous unverified entries, the same person may be listed two or more times.
If you find an entry that is of interest, send an e-mail containing the name and any rank, date, etc. to: esx at goring1941 dot freeserve dot co dot uk ('tweak' the foregoing to turn it into a real e-mail address). You may ask for up to five names at one time. You will be e-mailed the full database entry, normally within a day or two.
If you do not have regular access to e-mail, post your enquiry accompanied by a self-addressed envelope. If you live in the UK, enclose two unused Second Class stamps (to offset paper and ink costs in printing-out). If you live elsewhere, enclose one IRC or one US$bill. Send your enquiry to ROERDOWW2, 5 Craven Close, Hawkwell, Rochford, Essex SS4 3DD, United Kingdom.
There is no charge for this service, but compiling the database involves no little expense and a donation for a search will be well received. Make cheques, money orders, etc. (Sterling only) payable to 'R J Goring'. US dollar bills are also very welcome.
The Register is updated constantly, including deletion of false and duplicated entries from the unverified database and transfer/merging of verified data. The surname index is updated periodically (the latest update is as shown below).
Information about Essex people for input to the database, and additions and amendments to records, are always welcome. E-mail to: esx at goring1941 dot freeserve dot co dot uk ('tweak' the foregoing to turn it into a real e-mail address) or snail-mail to ROERDOWW2, 5 Craven Close, Hawkwell, Rochford, Essex SS4 3DD, United Kingdom.
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The Register records details of 'Essex-related' people whose death was definitely or reasonably certainly due to war circumstances. For British and Commonwealth military personnel, the records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission have been a prime source and the CWGC policy of including all deaths up to 31 Dec 1947 has been followed here. Some civilians, such as merchant navy and fishing fleet, fire brigades (but not police and ambulance) and Home Guard personnel, are treated as and included in the CWGC military war death records. The commission also prepared a separate record of other civilian war dead and that alone has some 4,500 killed within the county.
This CWGC core has been supplemented by extracts from contemporary and post-war newspapers, magazine articles, books, personal accounts, war memorials and rolls of honour, gravestones, parish registers and other sources.
For the purposes of ROERDOWW2, Essex is the 'old' county, including those metropolitan areas east of the River Lea which were officially part of the London County Council by 1939. A full list of wartime local authority districts which make up 'old' Essex is in Essex Places (below) and it is hoped that a full list of ancient Anglican parishes will appear later in this web page. Where a town straddled the old border, as at Bures, I have sought to include anyone from that place.
My Essex also includes the rivers and coastal waters (and skies above). I have been quite generous in extending the notional boudaries out into the North Sea and Thames Estuary and approaching the Kent side of the river, likewise the Suffolk side of waters adjacent to 'HMS Badger', the Harwich naval base.
Essex-related includes anyone who died 'in' the county area just defined, or who is buried in or commemorated in Essex, as well as those who were born in, lived in, educated in or employed in the county. It also includes all personnel of the Essex Regiment (including those battalions and Essex Yeomanry forces which 'converted' to anti-aircraft or artillery units prior to or during the war) and those whose unit (including vessels) was based in/operating from Essex at the time of death. This broad approach will explain the presence of Germans (mostly airmen, of course), other Europeans, Americans, etc as well as British and Commonwealth citizens. Civilian entries are largely air raid victims, but also include munitions workers killed in plant accidents, those who died while interned overseas or who were lost at sea, etc.
In short, anyone whose death is officially recognised as or which I can accept as a 'war death' and who appears to have a connection with Essex, however tenuous, is liable to be included.
The details recorded for each entry vary considerably at this stage. There may be just a name and the war memorial that bears it. A 'complete' entry might have full name, rank, service number, unit, date and circumstances of death, place of burial or commemoration, a record of the gravestone inscription, plus details of birth, education, previous employment, parents, siblings, spouse, children, other places of commemoration, etc. Additions/amendments to records are always welcome and may be e-mailed to: esx at goring1941 dot freeserve dot co dot uk ('tweak' the foregoing to turn it into a real e-mail address) or snail-mailed to 5 Craven Close, Hawkwell, Rochford, Essex SS4 3DD, United Kingdom.
A recording project related to ROERDOWW2, in that many war memorials and rolls of honour bear the names of men and women who died in the Second World War, is covered by a separate page on this site. To view this page, please click here.
For a complete list of Essex place names, the best source is The Place Names of Essex, P H Reaney, The English Place-Name Society, vol XII, Cambridge University Press, 1969. Although out of print, copies are held by The British Library and other major reference libraries. Essex Public Library Service also has copies at many of its branch libraries in the county, and these may be borrowed elsewhere in the UK via the Interloan scheme.
The Local Authority districts which made up the entire 'old' county in 1939 and throughout the war were as follows (CB = County Borough, MB = Municipal Borough, RD = Rural District, UD = Urban Distric):
Barking MB Benfleet UD Billericay UD Braintree RD Braintree & Bocking UD Brentwood UD Brightlingsea UD Burnham-on-Crouch UD Canvey Island UD Chelmsford MB Chelmsford RD Chigwell UD Chingford MB Clacton UD Colchester MB Dagenham MB Dunmow RD East Ham CB Epping RD Epping UD Frinton & Walton UD Halstead RD Harwich MB Hornchurch UD Ilford MB Lexden & Winstree RD Leyton MB Maldon MB Maldon RD Ongar RD Rayleigh UD Rochford RD Romford MB Saffron Walden MB Saffron Walden RD Southend-on-Sea CB Tendring RD Thurrock UD Waltham Holy Cross UD Walthamstow MB Wanstead & Woodford MB West Ham CB West Mersea UD Witham UD
Army and RAF bases and camps generally took their name from the town in which they were situated or from a nearby village. Long before the war, there was a large army barracks at Colchester, the Essex Regiment had its main barracks at Warley, near Brentwood, and the Royal Artillery had a significant presence at Shoeburyness, just east of Southend-on-Sea. From early wartime days there were anti-aircraft and coastal defence gunsites in operation, as well as invasion defence lines. The army presence, always significant, increased especially during the invasion scare period of 1940/41 and again during the build-up to 'Overlord', the D-Day invasion of June 1944. There were numerous manned army installations (not only British, but those of our allies) all over the county at one time or another. The personnel were sometime housed in hutted or even tented accomodation on site, sometimes in requisitioned homes or commercial premises nearby, sometimes billeted with local civilian households. The units were diverse as to size, function and length of stay and included training schools, drafting depots, maintenance depots and stores as well as gun and searchlight sites. I have nothing even approaching a full list, and those I am aware of are too numerous to record here.
Not all RAF places were airfields - RAF Canewdon was a chain home radar station, for example. Essex airfields of World War II were (those existing pre-war are marked by **):
Andrews Field Originally intended to be Great Saling, it was the first US-built base in the UK, and the only one named after a person rather than a place. Operational 1943 - 8th USAAF (B-17s, B-26s), RAF Oct 44 as long-range fighter escort base (Mustangs) Birch Operational 1944 for USAAF. Not used until Mar 45, when briefly by by RAF Dakotas on Operation 'Varsity', the Rhine crossing Boreham Operational 1944 - 9th USAAF (B-26s) Boxted Operational 1943 - 8th USAAF (B-26s), 9th USAAF (P-51s) Bradwell Bay Operational 1941 - RAF day and night fighters, night intruders and fighter-bombers (Havocs, Typhoons and, most notably, Mosquitoes) Chipping Ongar Widely known as Willingale, operational 1943 - 8th USAAF (B-26s) Debden** RAF fighters, including Battle of Britain, then USAAF fighters 1942 Earls Colne Operational 1942, the first USAAF heavy bomber base in UK, but not used until 1943 - 8th USAAF (B-17s, B-26s), RAF from 1945 for 'Special Duties' (Halifaxes) Fairlop Developed former World War I Hainault Farm airfield, operational 1942. RAF fighters until 1944, then used by barrage balloon units Gosfield Operational 1943 - 9th USAAF (A-20s), RAF 1945 for bombers, then troop-carrying glider-tugs Great Dunmow Also known as Great Easton, operational 1943 - 8th USAAF (B-26s), 9th USAAF (B-26s, A-26s), RAF late 1944 for 'Special Duties' (Stirlings) Great Saling see Andrews Field Great Sampford Built as a Debden satellite, operational 1942. Ops ceased same year, then used by RAF Regiment and for glider landing training and parachute drop training Hadstock see Little Walden Hornchurch** Developed World War I Sutton's Farm airfield, RAF fighters including Battle of Britain Little Walden Originally named Hadstock, operational 1944 - 9th USAAF (A-20s), 8th USAAF (P-51s, B-17s) Matching Operational 1944 - 9th USAAF (B-26s), RAF 1945 (Stirlings/ Horsas Operational & Refresher Training Unit) North Weald** RAF fighters, including Battle of Britain Ridgewell Operational 1942 - RAF (Stirlings), 8th USAAF 1943 (B-17s) Rivenhall Operational 1944 - 8th USAAF (P-51s), 9th USAAF (B-26s), RAF (Stirlings/Horsas) Rochford** Requisitioned municipal civil airfield - RAF fighters, including Battle of Britain. Renamed Southend 1940 Southend see Rochford Stansted Properly Stansted Mountfitchet, operational 1943 - 9th USAAF (B-26s) Stapleford Requisitioned private airfield, from 1940 - RAF fighters, Tawney** incl. Battle of Britain, also SOE base 1940 (Whitleys), Army Air Corps 1943 (Austers) Wethersfield Operational 1944 - 9th USAAF (A-20s), RAF same year (Stirling troop carriers), also 9th USAAF C-47 troop carriers during Operation 'Varsity' (the Rhine crossing) Willingale see Chipping Ongar Wormingford Operational 1943 - 9th USAAF (P-47s, P-38s, P-51s)
The Royal Navy has a long tradition of naming its shore bases as if they were ships, a tradition that was continued through World War II. Combined Operations bases which included a significant RN presence were similarly named. Below is a list of such 'ships', known within the Service as 'stone frigates' or 'concrete corvettes'.
An effect of the practise is that both sea-going and shore-based RN dead may be recorded as belonging to a specific 'vessel'. Some naval ships were based at a particular port for remarkably long periods, while others stayed only briefly. Amongst the Harwich ships were vessels of the Dutch, French and Polish navies which, having fled to Britain after the capitulation of their respective countries, operated under Royal Navy control. Huge numbers of civilian craft were 'impressed' during the war, including cabin cruisers, motor boats, yachts of all sizes and fishing vessels. Some were merely left anchored as part of the anti-invasion blockade, others were used as 'runabouts', on river and inshore patrols, harbour defence work, as tenders, etc. Many larger fishing craft were involved in aspects of minesweeping work.
Badger Harwich (Parkeston Quay). Major Royal Navy port, home to North Sea destroyer patrol flotilla and coastal convoy escorts, also Naval Control Service and harbour defence Beehive Actually at Felixstowe, Suffolk (opposite Harwich) from 1940, as a semi-autonomous Coastal Forces base under Badger Bunting Actually at Ipswich, Suffolk, from 1940, as an overspill for part of the Harwich Auxiliary Patrol Epping Harwich (Parkeston Quay). Harwich minesweeping force under separate name from 1941 but still under Badger control Ganges Actually at Shotley, Suffolk (opposite Parkeston), training base since 1899, also a naval hospital - many seamen from Harwich-based vessels lie in war graves at Shotley Cemetery Helder St Osyth. Combined Operations landing craft training base housed in a requisitioned holiday camp from 1942 Leigh Southend-on-Sea pier and part of foreshore, occupied by Thames Naval Control. Originally part of Pembroke IV, separated out in 1941 Nemo Brightlingsea. Base for Essex coast and Thames Estuary minesweeping operations, later also for repair and fitting -out of Coastal Forces and Air-Sea Rescue fast craft Pembroke IV Actually in London, housing Naval Control Service, Thames Auxiliary Patrol and fitting defensive guns to merchant ships, all along the River Thames. Renamed Yeoman 1941. (Not to be confused with HMS Pembroke (Chatham, Kent) or HMS Pembroke III (WRNS drafting unit in London) St Clement Tilbury. Combined Operations base from 1943 St Matthew Burnham-on-Crouch. Combined Operations training base from 1943 Tower Actually in London, and originally part of Pembroke IV, separated out in 1941. Base for the Thames Auxiliary Patrol, with craft berthed at various points between Tower Bridge and Holehaven Westcliff Westcliff-on-Sea. Combined Operations base in requisitioned dwellings mostly south of A13 road at Westcliff and Chalkwell Yeoman Re-named from Pembroke IV (see above)
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South-East Essex War Memorials & Monumental Inscriptions Project
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Last updated: 16 Jul 2005
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