Fernyhough, John Frederick

John Frederick Fernyhough was born in the September quarter of 1912, the son of Albert John & Eliza Fernyhough (nee Ellison),    Albert John & Eliza had married on the 15th September 1900, in St. Paul’s Church, in the Parish of Stayley, in Cheshire.    Albert John was age 30, a widower and Corn Miller, his address was 62, Wakefield Road, Stalybridge, his father was Frederick Fernyhough, Farmer.    Eliza, age 23 and a Spinster and her address was, Sunny Grove, Slacks? Lane, Stalybridge, and her father Thomas ELLISON, was an Engineer.   Their witnesses were Herbert Lovekins & Ann Elizabeth Ellison.

Albert John, I believe, had previously been married to Mary Littler (nee Wright), a widow at St Peter’s Parish Church, Plemstall on the 1st November 1892, he was then age 24 years and a bachelor and Miller, his abode was Mickle Trafford and his father Frederick Ferneyhough, a Miller also.     Mary Littler, was age 38 and a widow, her abode was also Mickle Trafford and her father was Thomas Wright, deceased.

Sadly Albert John was to lose his wife Mary in September 1899 age 46 years.   She was buried on the 6th September , her abode was in the Parish of Stayley, Cheshire according to the Parish Registers.

I also believe that Mary Littler had previously married Edward Littler at St. Peter’s Parish Church, Plemstall on the 5th January 1875, Edward was 24 years old and a Farmer, abode, Mickle Trafford, and his father Samuel was also a Farmer.    Mary Wright, was of “Full age” and a spinster, her abode was Bridge Trafford and her father was as above in her other marriage  – Thomas Wright, Farmer.

I found a few children baptised in St. Peter’s Parish Registers, whose parents’ were Edward & Mary Littler, Mickle Trafford, Farmer, so are they their children?   If so what happened to them after the marriage, as they are not with Albert John & Eliza in any census.  They were Frances Mary Littler, Bapt. 21st April 1886 and Elizabeth Bapt. 16th March 1876.

There is a burial for an Edward Littler on the 8th October 1891 age 41 years in the same Church.

So Albert John was no stranger to sadness and bereavement by the time he married Eliza.  By 1917 they had suffered another death, this time of their daughter Elsie Maud who died age 12 in the March quarter of 1917 (Leek Vol.   6b Page 389).

Their son John Frederick, as stated earlier was born in 1912 and I have no information on his early life and teen years, but we do know that Albert John*, his father died, age 62 years, in the December quarter of 1933 (LancashireVolume:8b Page: 895) and we see on the 1939 National Register that John Frederick is with his mother Eliza living at Shawhurst, Ruthin, Denbighshire.   Eliza’s birthday is given as the 14th January 1879 and like most married women with no job on this register, they are described as doing “Unpaid Domestic Duties,” and this also confirms that she is a widow.   John Frederick’s birthday is given as the 16th August 1912 and he is single and a Long Distance Transport Driver.   There is a redacted or closed record, but we don’t know who it would be.

* LLanferres Parish Registers – Burials. – Page 135 o. 1075 Albert John Fernyhough, Died at – The Cot, Moosboro. Road, Rainford.   The Mill, Llanferres, 1st December 1933, age 62 years.

I don’t know how John Frederick met his bride to be, but he married Eunice Elizabeth Chilton  at the Church of the Holy Spirit at Ewloe in 1943 (Flintshire (Mold)C105/01/E26).  Again on the 1939 National Register which was taken on the 29th September 1939, Eunice Elizabeth Chilton was living with her parents at School House, Hawarden.     Her father Hugh L. Chilton’s date of birth was the 7th May 1883 and he was a “Cut Grocers Manager,” her mother Mary H. Chilton’s date of birth was the 19th November 1893 and she was doing “Unpaid Domestic Duties.”   Eunice Elizabeth’s date of birth was the 24th September 1917 and she was a Insurance Agent and Single.   There were 2 redacted records and also a John DAVIES, born on the 16th December 1960, single and with no occupation.

John Frederick enlisted or was conscripted, into the Welsh Guards, I don’t know which or when, so any information gratefully received.

Fate had him and his army comrades at the training ground on the fateful day on the 30th June 1944 when his life was ended with other Welsh Guards by a V1 bomb.  – Guards to honour bomb secret dead.  Byline: Abby Alford

(Excerpt from the above and many thanks to Abby Alford.)

Mr Richards explained the unit had planned to hold an athletics competition at the Metropolitan Police’s Sports Ground, Imber Court in East Moseley on Wednesday, June 28, 1944, but a forecast of bad weather resulted in the event being rescheduled for two days later.

The guardsmen and their instructors walked the two miles to Imber Court on June 30 where the 100-yards final kicked off the afternoon’s events at 2.15pm. But a short time later the sound of a V1 bomb filled the sunny sky and competitors and spectators began running for their lives.

It exploded in the middle of the running track, killing many soldiers instantly. Some bodies were never found. In all, 20 people died that day – 18 Welsh Guards, an army training officer and an ATS girl.

The incident, just three weeks after D-Day, was hushed up and classed as a wartime secret as Britain’s leaders felt it would badly damage the country’s morale.

“Few had heard of it until the 50th anniversary in 1994 when the Welsh Guards Association, together with the Metropolitan Police, organised the first official memorial service at Imber Court, ” said Mr Richards.

FORMER Welsh Guards are being urged to pay their last respects to 18 of their fallen comrades whose deaths were a wartime secret.

“On June 30, 2017, the Welsh Guards Association will be holding a final, official memorial service at Imber Court in London where one of Hitler’s V1 “Doodlebug” bombs wiped out 18 members of the Training Battalion Welsh Guards during an athletics meeting.”

Former Welsh Guard Doug Richards, 74, of Pencoed, told the Echo: “It was one of the worst hits the Welsh Guards have ever taken. But dwindling numbers mean this will be the last year we organise anything.

“We are looking for anyone who was there at the time or who simply wants to pay their respects to join us.”

The dead were members of the training battalion, which was stationed at Sandown Park racecourse. There, young soldiers completed their training and waited for their posting and those who had been wounded convalesced before returning to operational duties.

Last year, a memorial stone made of Welsh slate was laid in the garden of remembrance.

Hitler’s vengeance – THE V weapons were developed by the Germans as retaliation for the allied bombing of German cities.

The first of these was the Vergeltungswaffe 1V1 – which was a pilotless aircraft with a wingspan of 16ft and an overall length of 25ft.

It is estimated that around 6,000 people were killed when thousands of V1 bombs hit Britain from June 1944.

British defences soon learned to neutralise the threat. Then on September 8 1944 the first V2 bomb, a silent weapon that could not be stopped, hit London.

Roll of Honour

Those killed at Imber Court were: – Lieut G. A. M. Baker Gdsm C. W. Bristow 2nd Lieut J. A. L. Crofts Gdsm A. Fernihough Gdsm, J. F. Fernyhough Gdsm C. C. Field Gdsm I. G. Glen Gdsm G. H. Green* Sgt T. G. Griffiths Gdsm A. G. Hill Gdsm J. T. Hughes Pte J. E. Jefferies (ATS) Gdsm S. E. Jones CSM C. H. Lang Gdsm A. E. Lemon Lieut W. F. Moss L/Cpl C. Richardson Gdsm A. F. Street CSMI W. Thompson Gdsm H. Wheeler

John Frederick:-

Chester Chronicle – Saturday 8th July 1944.

ON ACTIVE SERVICE. FERNYHOUGH. —In June, by enemy action. John Frederick (Welsh Guards), aged 31 years dearly loved husoand of Eunice Wellfield, Hawarden. near Chester.

*Is this one of the Welsh Guards killed:-

Liverpool Echo – Wednesday 5th July 1944

ON ACTIVE SERVICE CHEEVERS GREEN (Nash) —July —, killed by enemy action, aged 31 years, GORDON (Welsh Guards), dearly-beloved husband of Frances Green and dear daddy Gordon. (Always remembered.) Interment Rake Lane, to-morrow (Thursday), 2.30 p.m.—2 Middle Road, GREEN (Nash) —July —, killed by enemy action, GORDON (Welsh Guards), dearly beloved son of Ethel and Jesse Green. R.I.P. (Sadly missed by all Sisters and Brothers.)— 49 Albemarle Road. Wallasey. GREEN (Nash) —GORDON, dear brother of Bert and brother-in-law of Nellie, Jack (C.M.F.), Hannah, Jim, and Amy. good comrade lost.)

Another – Surrey Advertiser – Saturday 8th July 1944

LIEUT W. F. MOSS sympathy is felt with Mrs. Moss, daughter of Mr. and M. P. Hod soil, of Stilemans. ng. in the death, by enemy her husband, Lieut. William (Bill) Moss, Welsh Guards, of Major and Mrs. T. Moss, Hill, Godalming. Lieut. Moss, 32, was educated at Charter(with which his father and l were associated) and Ox- Oxford he gained a double football and tennis, and was of the association football He ran in the Oxford relay against Cambridge. Before join- Army in 1941 he was a master at Westminster? School.

So sad that he and other young Welsh Guards were to die like this but as explained in the article below, this was quite routine in the area.  Although this article is not about John Frederick Ferneyhough, it explains what happened and how these terrible weapons were dreaded.

One of the other boys:-

Derby Daily Telegraph – Tuesday 4th July 1944

SINGER’S SON KILLED Son of George Baker, the baritone, and stepson of Olive Groves, the soprano, Second Lieut. George Alan Hill Baker (19), Welsh Guards, was killed recently by enemy action in Southern England.

Doodlebug Alley’

March 11, 2017 Chairman@ImberCourtImber Facts, Imber History

(Excerpt) – The local area was known as ‘Doodlebug Alley’ and often the German V1 ‘Doodlebug’ Flying Bombs on route to London would fly overhead.

Unfortunately on the 30th June 1944 one such bomb fell onto Imber Court and killed 20 members of the Welsh Guards Training Battalion who were enjoying the facilities at Imber and competing in their regiment’s annual sports competition.

A memorial to those soldiers is in the grounds at Imber, and every year in June a service of remembrance is held.

Including an eye witness account from the Kings School Canterbury Roll of Honour commemorating 2nd Lieutenant George Alan Hill BAKER (312981) who was one of the 20 who died and was aged only 19 years of age. (Excerpt taken from this article.)

“He was born in London on the 10th of November 1924 the only child of George Baker ARCM a baritone singer and Chairman of the Royal Philharmonic Society and his second wife Katherine Hill (formerly Convers nee Miller) (singer) who used the stage name of Kathlyn Hilliard of St John’s Wood in London.

In July 1943 he underwent officer training and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Welsh Guards on the 24th of March 1944 and visited the school a couple of days later. He was then posted to the Welsh Guards Training Battalion which was based at Sandown Racecourse at Esher in Surrey.

On the 30th of June 1944 he was competing in the regiment’s annual sports competition at Imber Court Metropolitan Police Sports Ground at Thames Ditton. A 100 yard race was in progress and a band was playing which drowned out the noise of the air raid sirens as they sounded the approach of a V1 “Doodlebug” flying bomb.

George Baker, who had just won the half mile, was walking with the other competitors to the start of the quarter mile when the bomb fell amongst the group and was blown to pieces. The only runner to survive was Lieutenant Paget who suffered very serious leg injuries but survived after a two hour operation.

An eyewitness, also from the Welsh Guards Training Battalion described the events that day as they unfolded:-

“So now it’s summer and on this day, I believe it was the 30th June, the Welsh Guards were having their annual sports and fete down in Imber Court Park. This was a large sports ground with a large single storey stand on one side. I was sitting in the front row of the stand and to the left on the edge of the sports field the Regimental Band was playing a selection of music. Imber Court, Esher and Sandown Park were in what was then called ” Doodlebug Alley.” This day was no different to any other. We heard the familiar warbling sound of one coming over and looked up. Then it’s motor stopped and it headed straight for the stand in which I and many others were seated. A mad dash out of the stand and into the middle of the sports field. The band continued playing. Then the motor of the ‘Doodlebug’ restarted. Another look skywards. Now it was heading straight for the middle of the field. Abrupt about-turn and a headlong dash back for the stand. I dived beneath the first rows, helped on my way by the blast from the explosion. When I collected my senses and crawled out from below the stand I saw an unimaginable and truly horrific scene. The Doodlebug had landed smack on top of those of the band who had not managed to get out of the way of the bomb quick enough. Dead and badly wounded soldiers and WRAC lay all over the field. I believe 18 were killed and scores wounded that day. The scenes were too frightful to describe.”

Casualties were suppressed by the government but twenty people had died, eighteen of who were from the Welsh Guards Training Battalion, with an estimated one hundred injured.

They are commemorated in the Welsh Guards Roll of Honour in the Memorial Cloister at the Guards Chapel, Birdcage Walk, London.

John Frederick’s death was registered in the September quarter of 1944 – FERNYHOUGH, John F  21 ( Surrey N.E. Vol.  2a Page 37).

He was buried in Llanferres on the 6th July 1944 – Parish Church, Llanferres – Burials.

Page 144 No. 1147 John Frederick FERNYHOUGH, Welsh Guards, Sandown Park, Esher, Surrey. 6th July 1944. (No age stated) in a separate grave to his parents, he has a CWGC Gravestone.

His father had died in 1933 as said previously so now his mother Eliza was to die in June of 1964 and was buried on the 27th June age 85 in the same grave as his father.

Llanferres Parish Church – Burials. – Page 160 No.1277 Eliza FERNEYHOUGH, Shawhurst, Llanferres, 27th June 1964 age 85 years.

John Frederick Fernyhough – Probate in the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966, 1973-1995 :- FERNYHOUGH, John Frederick of School House, Ewloe, Flintshire died 30th June 1944 on War Service.   Administration Chester, 22 February to Eunice Elizabeth FERNYHOUGH, Widow.

John Frederick’s name was not put forward in time to go on the Slate Plaques, but his name was added after and is on the Left Column next to steps (Side).   He was obviously loved by his family as they made sure he was to be remembered in perpetuity. 



Addendum:-  I recently contacted the LLanarmon & District Conservation Society, as Llanferres is within the district, to see if they would be interested in the story of John Frederick Fernyhough and his sacrifice in WW2 as he is buried in the Churchyard there.

John Hanahoe is the Chair of the society and manages the website  and he contacted me to say he was and he would publish John Frederick’s story in the October 2020 Newsletter, which he duly did.   A few months later he received an email from John Frederick’s daughter Elizabeth Reich (nee Fernyhough) and he then contacted me with the wonderful news.    Elizabeth now lives in America, in Pennsylvania  to be exact.

I am reproducing John’s message to me and Elizabeth’s email to him, as she completes the story for us.

“Feedback on LDCS article.”

“Mavis, Small world. You were concerned to ensure that John Fernyhough was not forgotten and we did the article which you have seen. The audience for LDCS newsletter it seems is further and wider than we appreciated because I received this earlier this evening from his daughter in America, who it appears is a friend of one of our members. She sent a couple of photos as well on a separate email. I will forward that to you as well.   John.”

“Hello, my name is Elizabeth Reich and I am the daughter of John Frederick Fernyhough whose story was covered by Mavis Williams in the October edition. My friend Viv Bennion forwarded the magazine to me and as I live in the USA, it took a little while to get here during these trying times.

My father and Grandfather owned a transport company which was taken over by the Government for use as war transport. As most of their employees were conscripted, my father decided to enlist in solidarity with his men. The weekend of his death was a sports competition and also a passing out parade as the men were going to be decommissioned. Sadly, it was not meant to be.

At the time of his death, my mother was pregnant with me and utterly devastated. My father was the youngest of five children and the only boy so as you could imagine, there was great hope that the baby would be a boy. Along I came on the 1st of November 1944.  They named me Jon Elizabeth after my father and my mother made sure I was as close with my fathers’ family as I was with her own.

I grew up surrounded by lots of love, but my mother never remarried or truly recovered from her loss. I attended the Queen’s School in Chester and went on to Alexandra College. Dublin, Ireland.  My future husband attended the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and we were married after his graduation. At that point, we moved to Hawaii and then on to Boston for further study at Harvard in Boston, Mass. we currently reside in Pennsylvania, USA.

We went on to have three sons and seven grandchildren and I am sorry that my father never had a chance to share in our good fortune and get to know us all. I feel sure that he would have been very proud of his legacy.

We were in the UK last year with several of our family members and made sure that the children visited the Hawarden war memorial and my Fathers grave.

Unfortunately, there are no family members living close by to give the grave the attention it once had. I have many letters written by my father to my mother and his sisters, so I have a good idea of his character and his love for his family.

Please pass on my thanks to Mavis Williams for taking the time to follow up and write the article. I already spoke with my friend Viv( one of your subscribers) and thanked her for taking the time to forward the publication to me.

I would like to add that I also enjoyed all the articles and gained some interesting insights.

I remain yours sincerely,

Elizabeth Reich ( née Fernyhough).”

Elizabeth kindly sent me a photograph of her father, which is below.   Many thanks to John Hanahoe and Elizabeth Reich and also to Serendipity.


Learn more about the other soldiers on the Hawarden Memorial

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