Evercircular: Casualties

Cambridge District Scout Archive

The reporting of death in the Evercircular falls into four categories

  • those who were members of the 23rd Cambridge Scout Group killed by the war
  • those not known personally but killed in Cambridge
  • deaths of members of the Church, relatives of friends or neighbours
  • general observations concerning Cambridge casualties

The open Evercircular letters are not the place for condolences and we can assume individual letters to the families. The tone set is one of information and where appropriate hope but not negative emotions of anger or revenge.  Throughout there is only one such comment in which a Web…. (unclear) ‘is still hoping for a chance to settle the score with Jerry.’   This was not clearly in reference to one of the deaths reported below.

Not all the correspondents were in the forces and not all those that were expected to be at the sharp end.  Ken North in the Pay Corps was on the lowest grade of fitness and firmly settled in Kidderminster.  It would ill become these non combatants to rage from a place of relative safety.  Some of the correspondents had not yet faced action but were likely to and to promise great deeds ahead of the reality was not the Scout way.  The comment above is very much an exception.

It is interesting that there are no recollections about the individuals at camp or in the den.

Members of the 23rd

Kath Thaxter  In the first of these categories I include Kath Thaxter (Kathleen Ada Irene Thaxter) who was killed in an air raid of 24th February 1941 whilst acting as a firewatcher.  She was 24 and probably sister to Harold Thaxter.

The Rolls of Honour show five members of the 23rd Cambridge dying during the Second World War.

  • H R Culpin (Henry Richard)    RAF VR                           8/03/1940    aged 26
  • H F Gigney       Frank               RAF VR Sgt Pilot          14/06/41        aged 22  
  • R Summerfield                            RTR RAC Army            28/11/1941     aged 21
  • EW Carter                               Army later RAF           12/09/1942
  • R A Wallis                                RA        Army               26/12/1942    aged 26

The Evercircular Letters cover the period when four of these died; three are mentioned H F Gigney (Giggs or Giggo), E W (Bill) Carter and Ron Wallis.  R Summerfield does not get a mention within the letters that remain.  H R Culpin predates the existing letters.

Frank Gigney  Sgt Pilot H F Gigney was reported killed in July 1941, killed in a flying accident aged 22.  The absolute nature of the report does not invite further comment except to recognise that he was a fine friend to another member Tom Craske.

Bill Carter       Bombardier E W Carter transferred to the RAF and was sent to Port Elizabeth South Africa to train for his role as an Observer (c May 1942)  On the 18th October 1942 Fred Feary reports ‘Mr Carter received news that his son Eric (Bill) “is missing presumed drowned, by enemy action”.  He had completed his training and on his way back home to Op. Duties’   A number of entries hope that he may still be found, but such entries and hope faded.

Les adds  ‘A good friend of mine has a pal on the same vessel.  According to him they were torpedoed off the coast of the Ascension Islands returning home after training in SA’.

Ron Wallis      Ronald Arthur Wallis was a Scoutmaster and SS (Sunday school) leader and described as shy but hard working.  He was with the 332 Battery Light AA Regt RA and was reported as going abroad in August 1942.  His death on active service is reported by Arthur Sansom in January 1943 and his age given as 26.  He died on 2th December 1942

Details of all these five deaths are below

Deaths in Cambridge

These are anonymous deaths recorded as wider news from home.  They do not receive responses within the Evercirculars.

17/2/1941       ‘last Monday a Winchester crewless, destroyed three houses in Histon and killed one woman’.

‘Gerry plastered us last night and hit two   ?    and caused several casualties.’

Church, family and friends

Reports of people known to some or all of the correspondents. These deaths are in the natural order of life.

Addressed to Arthur (Sansom) ‘Arthur, Hilda has died’.

General Observations

20/4/1942       ‘I hear from home that Cambridge has suffered very heavily from the casualties in Malaya, but it is to be hoped that many of those who are missing are prisoners of war, and after this business is over will be able to get home safe and sound’. 

See also Rolls of Honour and Rolls of Honour New entries

Sergeant (Under Training) Pilot Henry Richard Culpin  741747  died 08/03/1940 aged 26 Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve Son of James and Alice Culpin, husband of Florence Ethel Culpin, Cambridge  Buried at  Cambridge City Cemetery Flying Officer J P Coveney and Sergeant

H R Culpin: killed; aircraft accident, Cirencester, 3 Service Flying Training School, 8 March 1940.  Oxford 1 P1823 crashed on approach to South Cerney  (The Oxford was a training aircraft) From Air Ministry records of flying casualties Reference:  AIR 81/1889

Sergeant (Pilot) Horace Francis Henry Gigney 742723           died 14/06/1941 aged 22 25 Squadron Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve Son of Horace Francis and Mabel Emily Gigney of Cambridge (eldest child).  Buried at Mill Road Cemetery.

Horace joined the RAF in 1939 and after pilot training was posted to 25 Squadron in November 1940.  He flew 14 operations against the enemy and was credited with destroying one enemy aircraft in combat on 5th June 1941 over Mablethorpe. (Night fighter in Blenheims). Horace died when the Bristol Blenheim aircraft L6726 he was flying solo from RAF Wittering (Cambs) crashed on 14 June 1941 (Saturday) at nearby Barnack on a training flight. From Air Ministry records of flying casualties   Reference AIR 81/6911 and Friends of Mill Road Cemetery

Trooper Herbert Reginald Summerfield      558587            died 20/11/1941 aged 21

5th Royal Tank Regiment Royal Armoured Corps

Son of Herbert Charles and Martha Summerfield, Cambridge, buried Halfaya Sollum Cemetery Egypt.  This date was at the start of Operation Crusader in which many British tanks were destroyed.

Sergeant Eric William Carter 658230                                            died 12/09/1942

RAF VR

Alamein Memorial Column 250

The ship, whilst not named, is very likely to have been RMS Laconia sunk on 12th September 1942 in which c. 1600 died; an incident that altered rescues at sea thereafter.

Gunner Ronald Arthur Wallis 6094674                                  died 26/12/1942  aged 26

332 Bty., 100 Lt AA Regt Royal Artillery

Son of Getrude Wallis, Cambridge, buried Mosul War Cemetery Iraq

100 Lt AA Regt comprised 300, 331, 332 Batteries, was sent to Iraq August 1942 and sent forward as divisional troops. 

JWR Archivist Sept 2019