Gregory, Eric Charles

I found Eric Charles when I was searching the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website adding Mancot in the “Additional Information” on the 8th November 2020.   Remembrance Sunday.

Eric Charles Gregory was born in the June quarter of 1918,(Lichfield Vol. 6b Page 725) the son of Charles & Elizabeth E. Gregory (nee Waldron), who had married in the September quarter of 1914 (Lichfield Vol. 6b Page 886).

His parents, Charles & Elizabeth E. Gregory can be seen living at 16, Lombard Street, Lichfield, on the 1939 National Register, which was taken on the 29th September 1939.   This source tells us the dates of birth and occupations of the people listed.   Charles Gregory had been born on the 24th March 1883 and was a Chauffeur –Gardener, his wife Elizabeth E. Gregory had been born on the 20th January 1892 and as most married women who did not have a job were described as doing “Unpaid Domestic Duties.”   Also on this register was Eric’s sister, Margaret E. Gregory, born on the 30th January 1920 she was single and a Laundry Office Clerk.    Also there seems to be a possible Boarder or Lodger, Stanley V. Thomas born 10th December 1910, married and a County Agent For Minimax Extinguisher.

It appears from the newspaper report below that Eric had worked at the C.W.S. (Shenstone Branch) and had enlisted in the R.A.F.V.R. in 1936.

No. 23 Squadron (RAF): Second World War  –

In 1940 Eric had met and married Freda Anne Davies in a Civil Marriage or Registrar Attended Marriage in Cheshire (Cheshire West ROC/92/189).

Freda Anne Davies is seen on the 1939 National Register living at 31 Dicksons Drive, Chester,  Cheshire.    Freda is living with her parents, Richard Davies who was born on the 22nd April 1877, he was retired and his wife Elizabeth J. Davies born on the 16th April 1873 and as most married women who did not have a job was described as doing “Unpaid Domestic Duties.”    Freda A. Davies was born on the 2nd December 1919 and was single working as a Clerk in the Coal Office.   This source tells me that she was to marry a gentleman named Gregory, so this fits in with the story.

Then on the 9th November 1940, according to the Lichfield Mercury dated the 15th November 1940, Eric Charles & Freda Anne had become parents to a son, who I believe was Bryan S. Gregory (Hawarden, Flintshire (Mold), HAW/52A/97).

I had looked at the websites below and found a little of Eric Charles’s story there :-

I can only presume, after being completely stuck to how Eric would be in this area,  that Eric had been either at Sealand or Hawarden Airfields.     With the help of my friends on the WW2talk website where I was helped by the Forum:-  “TD” sent me this:- “Sealand was obviously a major training airfield in the UK and a test airfield for Vickers – so lots of people coming and going and all needing some form of looking after.  There was also a hospital at Mancot for both civilian and military personnel, so perhaps she was a nurse and moved there to follow her vocation.”

He also sent me  , see the photograph below.

History of Hawarden Airfield – Hawarden Airfield was established on 1st September 1939 and was one of the main RAF airfields for the UK during the ‘Battle of Britain’.  RAF Hawarden was classed as of the best yet dangerous training grounds for pilots, flying Spitfires and Hurricanes. It also held the RAF’s no 48 maintenance unit and until July 1957 stored, maintained and scrapped military aircraft, including Handley Page Halifax, Vickers Wellingtons, Horsa Gliders, Avro Lancasters and de Havilland Mosquitos.

A short concrete runway was built in 1939 for test flights and a further two runways were built in spring 1941. At the end of the war, between June and September 1945 more than 1000 aircraft were brought back to Hawarden to be broken up. The RAF then ceased their operations at Hawarden on 31st March 1959.

Hangars were constructed at Hawarden airfield for the many aircraft they stored, some which still remain in operation today. Many of the hangars still show the scares of war time Britain, including various bomb damage.

So did Eric Charles come to Hawarden Airfield for training?

And thanks to TD from WW2talk this website, tells the tale of what happened:-

“Tony56” also sent me the newspaper cuttings below.

Many, many thanks to the Forum, they have helped me many times with other servicemen’s stories.

Lichfield Mercury, Friday, 5th June, 1942 – “Sergt. Air Observer Eric Charles GREGORY, only son of Mr. and Mrs. C. GREGORY, Lombard Street, Lichfield, joined the R.A.F. in 1936, prior to which he was employed by the C.W.S. (Shenstone Branch).   He volunteered for air crew duties in January, 1941, was accepted, and went through a cadet school and subsequently an R.A.F. College, passing out successfully as an observer in February of this year.   He is now serving with a Coastal Command Beaufighter Squadron.    Sergeant GREGORY, who is 24 years of age, was educated at the Lichfield Central School and was a member of St. Michael’s choir for a number of years.   He is now married and has a baby son.”

There was confusion because there was also another Eric Charles Gregory, in the R.A.F.V.R., but he was born in Margate and he died earn the D.F.C. and Bar, but this was in 1944/5.

Also thanks to “Lancaster103” for more information. 

I have the 23 Squadron Operational Records and there it states that “F/Sgt. Hawkins and Sgt. Gregory as Observer took off to patrol Eindhoven but failed to return.”  tells more about the flight and how Eric Charles died:-

The late Henk Welting wrote on the 19th September 2008 :-

“Mosquito DD677 intruding airfield Volkel was intercepted and shot down by Oblt Reinhold Knacke of I./NJG1 and crashed at “De Borkten” near Haps, 01.10 hrs (29th). Gregory’s parachute failed to open).”

Many thanks to R.A.F.Commands Forum above.

Eric’s companion was:- Flight Sergeant – Kenneth John Owen Hawkins, Service Number: 1255935, age 21 years, and they were buried next to each other.

It seems that they were intercepted  and shot down, with Eric escaping with his parachute, but sadly it didn’t open, I don’t know if Kenneth Hawkins escaped the aircraft, but they must have been found near each other.

Both Kenneth and Eric were first buried at Uden, Holland (GSGS 2541 (Map reference SHT.5 1/100.000 541430) probably as soon as they were found near Haps, and then reburied on the 2nd July 1946 at the British Cemetery, Uden.

Eric is not to be mistaken for Plt/Officer Eric Charles Gregory (170209) who earned the D.F.C. and Bar in 1944/45.

Eric Charles needs to be remembered for his sacrifice, and was sadly missed by his wife Freda Anne, who according to the Commonwealth War Graves lived at Mancot, where their son was born in the Catherine Gladstone Maternity Home in Mancot, so he should be remembered on the Hawarden Memorial.

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