Edwin Easthope

edwin-easthope

Edwin Easthope

Edwin Easthope, born in 1920 in Rotherham, is my fourth cousin, once removed and son of Edwin Theophilus Easthope and Ida Elizabeth Childs.

THE ADVERTISER, SATURDAY, AUGUST 7th, 1943.

KILLED IN CANADA.

Information has been received by Mr. and Mrs. E. T. Easthope, of 86, Clough Street, Rotherham, that their youngest son, Leading Aircraftsman Edwin Easthope (R.A.F.V.R.), has been killed while serving in Canada. He joined the Forces in July, 1942, and was drafted to Canada in February, 1943. He was educated at the Thornhill Council and Kimberworth Central Schools, later being employed by Beatson, Clark and Co., Ltd. He was a member of the Masbro’ Independent Chapel and the Boys Brigade. He was also a keen cyclist and motor cyclist.

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George Easthope

george-easthope

George Easthope

George Easthope, born in 1917 in Rotherham, is my fourth cousin, once removed and son of Charles Emmanuel Easthope and Susannah Childs.

Edward Easthope, mentioned in the article below, survived the Second World War and died, in Rotherham in 1979, aged 58.

THE ADVERTISER, SATURDAY, MAY 1st, 1943.

new-stubbin-colliery-remains-of-rawmarsh-18-06-11-15

New Stubbin Colliery shaft marker

ST. ANN’S ROAD MAN DIES OF WOUNDS.

News has been received that Private George Easthope (York and Lancaster Regiment), aged 25, son of Mr. C. Easthope, of 231, St. Ann’s Road, Rotherham, and the late Mrs. Easthope, has died of gunshot wounds in North Africa.

Educated at the South Grove Central School, Private Easthope was employed at the New Stubbin Colliery before joining the Forces over three years ago. He served in France, taking part in the evacuation of Dunkirk. He was a keen sportsman and was also keenly interested in music. His brother, Private E. Easthope, is serving in the Middle East.

Herbert Randal Mollekin

herbert-r-mollekin-casualty-of-the-italian-campaignHerbert Randal Mollekin (known as Molly), born in 1923 in Rotherham, is my second cousin, once removed and the only child of George Herbert Mollekin.

The Italian Campaign of World War Two was the name of Allied operations in and around Italy, from 1943 to the end of the war in Europe. It is estimated that between September 1943 and April 1945, some 60,000-70,000 Allied and 60,000-150,000 German soldiers died in Italy, one of them being Herbert Randal Mollekin. Herbert served in the Medical Corps during the war and whilst serving in Italy, he was ‘holed’ up in a house when his Captain was injured in a nearby pathway. Herbert attempted to help but was shot by a sniper.

herbert-r-mollekins-military-decorations

Molly’s military decorations

In 2011, I was contacted by a lady from overseas whose mother, Margaret, had been Herbert’s girlfriend. Margaret was born in Newcastle, but during World War Two, she was stationed at Whitby in NAAFI (The Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes). Presumably, this is how Herbert and Margaret met. After Herbert had been killed, Margaret and Herbert’s parents kept in touch and Margaret was sent a number of photos and even Herbert’s military decorations. Margaret treasured these for the rest of her life and after she passed away, her daughter kindly posted them to me.

Herbert is remembered on two war memorials; on Maltby war memorial and on the Rotherham cenotaph located in Clifton Park.

mollekin-rotherham-war-memorial

Rotherham War Memorial

Herbert had been due to study at Cambridge University before being ‘called up’ to serve in World War Two.

There is sadly no mention of Herbert’s bravery in any edition of the Rotherham Advertiser.

Herbert’s first cousin, John Herbert McGlade, was also killed in World War Two.

John Herbert McGlade

John H. McGlade

John H. McGlade

John Herbert McGlade, born in 1924 in Rotherham, is my second cousin, once removed and the only child of Mabel Mollekin.

In June 1944, John flew out of R.A.F. Waddington with the Canadian 420 Squadron on board the Halifax NA-505 (coded PT-J) during an operation to Acheres in France. However, an enemy night fighter shot down John’s plane and all eight crew members on board perished.

John is remembered on two war memorials in Rotherham; on the cenotaph in Clifton Park and on the memorial in the grounds of Thomas Rotherham College (formerly Rotherham Grammar School).

Rotherham Grammar School

Rotherham Grammar School

THE ADVERTISER, SATURDAY, JUNE 9th, 1945

PRESUMED KILLED ON AIR OPERATIONS.

Sergeant Flight-Engineer John Herbert McGlade (R.A.F.V.R.), aged 19, only son of Mr. and Mrs. E. J. McGlade, of “Ngong,” Stag Lane, Rotherham, must now be presumed to have lost his life on air operations over France on June 8th last year, exactly one year after he joined up. Sergt. McGlade, who was attached to a Canadian squadron, was reported missing last year and his parents have received a communication from the Air Ministry to the effect that he must now be presumed killed.

Rotherham War Memorial (McGlade)

Rotherham War Memorial

A member of the choir of St. Cuthbert’s Church, Herringthorpe, Sergeant McGlade was also an active member of the church and a server. He attended the Rotherham Grammar School, and was later employed in the accounts department of Messrs. John Brown and Co. Ltd., at their Roundwood Colliery.

Operation Hurricane

Operation Hurricane

Operation Hurricane

In an entry on this site, I wrote about how a couple of my cousins died as civilians during the Sheffield ‘Operation Crucible’ Blitz of 1940. In contrast, in this entry, I write about how three of my German cousins died as civilians during World War II. To set the background as to how I lost English and German cousins in World War II, I’ll explain that through the paternal side of my family, my ancestry can be traced back to Rhineland in Prussia (now Germany). My second great grandfather, Johann Mölleken, came to England with his family circa 1860.

My second cousin, twice removed is called Emilie Mölleken and she was born in 1906 in Hiesfeld, Dinslaken, Rheineland, Prussia. In 1932, she married Friedrich Gerhard Van Laak. Together, they issued three children called Fritz (born 1932), Erwin (born 1934) and Heinz-Dieter (born 1937).

Friedrich Gerhard Van Laak owned a house painting and pharmacy business in Hiesfeld. With tax-payer’s money during World War II, the basement of this store was developed into an air raid shelter. This basement therefore always had to be accessible.

Hiesfeld

Hiesfeld

In the early hours of 14th October 1944, the Royal Air Force launched a massive 1000 bomber air raid, codenamed ‘Operation Hurricane’ on the German city of Duisburg in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The route of the bombers took them over Hiesfeld. At 08:46, Hiesfeld air defence made a direct hit on a four engined Avro Lancaster heavy bomber flying in at 52,000 meters altitude. Consequently, a second Avro Lancaster was also affected. The two bombers were due to hit the Hiesfeld air defence and their numbers were NF928 and JB297.

A reporter filmed this event out of another aeroplane. Because of the great quantity of bombs and the half full tanks of fuel that the bombers were carrying, the force of the explosions ripped the bombers apart and the cascading large and small debris scattered for miles in and around Hiesfeld. Several witnesses described how aeroplane and body parts fell from the smoke filled sky. Fires broke out across the entire of Hiesfeld. This was followed by sporadic bomb explosions. Several unexploded bombs also scattered around aimlessly. At several points dead Avro Lancaster crew members were found with unopened parachutes still on their backs.

Avro Lancaster

Avro Lancaster

The Van Laak store was hit by falling aircraft debris and was completely destroyed by subsequent fire. In the air raid shelter underneath the store were twenty three civilians, all of which were killed. A fire-fighter, who was recovering the bodies there, reported that the lungs of the causalities were burst due to the huge explosion and pressure wave. They were found with bloody foam at the mouth but otherwise, their bodies were unharmed. The shelter did not collapse and so all of the causalities were found, still sat down. The inputs and outputs of the air raid shelter were filled in, during the explosion. Paint buckets caught fire and exploded which hampered the rescue attempts.

Near to the Van Laak store was a greengrocer’s store and people had gone to buy cabbage that morning. Once the air raid sirens sounded, the people fled into the Van Laak air raid shelter.

Sadly, Emilie and two of her children (my third cousins), Erwin and Heinz-Dieter were killed in the blast. Their eldest child, Fritz (still alive at the time of writing) survived because he was in School.

All 14 crew members of NF928 and JB297 were recovered and buried in the cemetery of Dinslaken. In 1947, they were reburied in the Imperial Forest Cemetery of Kleve.

Special thanks are owed to my cousin, Hermann Mölleken, who provided details of this tragic account.

Van Laak grave (www.moelleken-genealogy.de)

In a twist, the granddaughter of my second great grandfather (Johann Mölleken) was killed as a result of German bombing in Liverpool in 1941. Her name is Hilda Augusta Tudball (nee Köhler) and is my first cousin, twice removed. Unfortunately, Hilda does not seem to appear in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database (yet) but thanks are owed to her granddaughter, Victoria Carr, for informing me of how she died.

Further information regarding the Mollekin/Mölleken family can be found at http://www.mollekin.net/familytree and http://www.moelleken-genealogy.de

Joseph William Loukes and the Sheffield Blitz

Blitz Garden

During the evenings of Thursday 12th and Sunday 15th December 1940, around 300 German aircraft, consisting of Junkers Ju 88’s, Dornier 17’s and Heinkel 111’s, flew to Sheffield on bombing raids.

Sheffield was targeted by the Luftwaffe due to its importance as a steel and armament centre and the campaign against Sheffield was code named Crucible.

The German aircraft were guided by an early radar style radio beam which was fixed to a target. In the case of Sheffield this beam was fixed to the eastern area of the city where steelworks and armament factories where prevalent. The English were able to intercept this beam however and bent it towards the city centre instead of the steelworks.

At the time of the bombing raids, the Vickers works (located in Brightside Lane) were the only place in the country to possess a drop hammer capable of producing crankshafts for the Rolls Royce Merlin engine which powered both the Spitfire fighter and Lancaster bomber planes. Vickers were solely responsible for manufacturing Barnes Wallace’s bouncing bombs and the heaviest ever 10 ton ‘Tallboy’ and ‘Grand Slam’ earth quake bombs. Also in 1940, Hadfields East Hecla steelworks (located in Vulcan Road and now mainly covered by the Meadowhall shopping complex) were the only steelworks in the country to produce 18 inch armour piercing shells.

Vickers, Hadfields and a multitude of other vitally important steelworks survived the bombing raids relatively unscathed but nevertheless, approximately 450 high explosive bombs were still dropped and as a result, over 660 lives were lost, 1,500 more were injured and 40,000 were made homeless. 3,000 homes were demolished with a further 3,000 badly damaged. A total of 78,000 homes received damage. Sadly, my third cousin (William Joseph Loukes) and his wife (Edith) were killed in 197 Olive Grove Road during the night of Thursday 12th December 1940. Number 197 is now the site of modern housing.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission had recorded this couple with the surname of Lonkes.

I initially found the deaths of Joseph and his wife whilst browsing the Index to the “Civilian War Dead Roll Of Honour” for Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire (http://www.genuki.org.uk:8080/big/eng/Indexes/NE_WarDead/). The surname, Lonkes, rang alarm bells and sure enough, when I checked the death indexes, I couldn’t find anything for a Joseph and Edith Lonkes but there were entries in the the January quarter of 1941 for a Joseph W. Loukes (aged 68) and an Edith Loukes (aged 67). These deaths are both recorded on the same page in the same volume in the General Records Office (volume: 9c / page: 1248). This indicates that the deaths were recorded at the same time (which is likely as the couple died together).

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission wouldn’t consider a change to their records without firm documentary evidence. I visited City Road Cemetery in Sheffield in November 2008 in the hope that the couple might be commemorated on the wall of the Sheffield Blitz Garden. They aren’t however which means that the couple aren’t buried in the communal plot and will have their own burial plot somewhere else (presumably because their bodies would have been identifiable). I decided to contact the Sheffield Indexers (www.sheffieldindexers.com) in the hope that they might have a burial record for the couple in City Road Cemetery. They haven’t but Tony Morton e-mailed to me an extract of the 1936 Kellys Directory which clearly shows Joseph William Loukes residing in 197 Olive Grove Road, Sheffield (where Joseph and Edith died). I e-mailed this extract to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission who accepted this as sufficient documentary evidence and have amended their records as a result.

Tragically, Joseph’s third cousin (William Kitson) was injured at 10 Tummon Road, Sheffield on Friday 13th December 1940 as a result of the Blitz and died in Wharncliffe Emergency Hospital in Sheffield on Saturday 21st December 1940. William Kitson was buried in City Road Cemetery, Sheffield on Friday 27th December 1940. William Kitson is my third cousin, three times removed.

This is a revised version of a post which was originally published on my WordPress Blog on 23/01/2009 and republished on Mollekin Portalite on 18/04/2011.