Thornbury at War

Thornbury Grammar School WWII Memorials

WW2 – Grammar School memorial 2017-07-20T11:32:22+00:00

TGS ClockFollowing the Second World War, there were two memorials erected in the School.

Funds collected by members of the School were used to erect a memorial electric clock (with the dates 1939 and 1945 on either side) on the south wall of the main building.  This clock is still there, although it has now sadly stopped working.  The photo on the right below shows the clock in August 2015.

In 1950, the Quadrangle was converted into a second memorial using funds collected from the Old Thornburians Society and the School.  Note – in 1949 there had been a plan to convert The Gully (which is now the part of Streamside Walk that adjoins the School) into a Memorial Garden dedicated to those Old Thornburians who died in the two World Wars.  We assume that this proposal was dropped in favour of the quadrangle plan.

A memorial tablet listing the Old Thornburians who had perished in the Second World War was made and placed in the Quadrangle.  This lists the following:

Richard Henry James Brace Geoffrey Hartley
Frank Burns Paul Mercer
Mervyn Burns John Nation
Hedley Clark Hugh Powell
Brian Dennis Norman Taylor
John M Dennis Eric Williams
Douglas Garn Jack Williams
Royce Gazzard

 

The names listed above with underlined hyperlinks indicate that we have written about the person or their families on the rest of the Thornubry Roots website.  Click on the hyperlink to read what we have written.  In respect of the others, we have found:

Royce Victor Gazzard – born in 1920, the son Victor John Gazzard of Newton and his wife, Clarice Mary (nee Lashford). Royce was educated in Lewisham School, W-S-M. and later at Thornbury Grammar School.  On leaving school he worked for a time with Messrs Thurston & Co, the solicitors and then at Berkeley Estates.

Royce joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve about six months before the War and he was serving as a sergeant in 151 Squadron when he died on 14th December 1941.  His trade in the RAF was an air gunner.  He was buried in Thornbury Cemetery and his name also appears on the War Memorials in Rockhampton St Oswald’s Church.  He is not listed on the Thornbury WWII Memorial.

Hedley Clark – Hedley was listed in the Roll of Honour of Old Thornburians published in the Gazette in 1945 and this shows his rank as Captain Hedley Clark (Royal Marines).  We assume therefore he was Hedley Thomas James Clark who was serving as a Captain in the Royal Marines when he was killed on 17th September 1943.  He was serving with the 41 R. M. Commandos in Italy at the time and he is listed on the war memorial at Salerno.  We are puzzled about this Hedley’s connection with Thornbury and the Grammar School.  The Commonwealth War Graves website shows his parents as Hedley James Clark and Nellie M Clark of Liverpool and further research shows that little Hedley attended Merchant Taylors’ School in Crosby, Liverpool between 1934 and 1939.  In the FreeBMD website we found that Hedley’s father married Nella M Minors on the Isle of Wight in 1918 and little Hedley was born in the Croyden area in 1922.  We’d love to hear from anyone who can explain more about Hedley and his Thornbury connections.

Brian Dennis – we know from the Roll of Honour printed in the Gazette that Brian was a Sergeant in the RAF.  We assume that this refers to Brian Hilton Dennis who is shown on the Commonwealth War Graves website as being a Sergeant in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.  He died on 11th September 1941 aged 18. It mentions that he was the son of Gerald Norman Dennis of Bristol and his wife Nina.  Brian is listed on the RAF Memorial at Runnymede.  Another website called ‘Aircrew Remembered’ tells that Brian was flying in a Wellington bomber based at RAF Hampstead Norris, Berkshire when the bomber went missing.  It was on a delivery flight from Hampstead Norris to Gibraltar, somewhere north of the Bay of Biscay.  None of the aircrew survived and only one body was ever recovered.

John M. Dennis – this was John Mervyn Dennis who was the son of John Edward Dennis and his wife, Sarah.  His father was the minister of the Thornbury Baptist Church from 1922 to 1927.  He had left the Grammar School in 1929, joined the clerical staff of a Bristol firm but left to join the RAF.  He was commissioned in 1939 and awarded DFC in 1941.  He had spent four and a half years in the Middle East.  He gained his DSO as a Captain of a formation of aircraft detailed to attack the railway junction at Chambly one night.  He pressed home his attack with great accuracy and notable skill regardless of the enemy’s defences.  The DSO was awarded after John ‘had taken part in a very large number of sorties, and has set a rare example of skill, courage and devotion to duty’.  He was also awarded the DFC.

John was a Squadron Leader in the 7th Squadron when he was killed on 20th May 1944.  He was aged 30.  He is listed on the Le Mans Cemetery.

Geoffrey Hartley – he is listed in the Old Thornburians Roll of Honour as Flying Officer RAF.  We assume therefore that this was Geoffrey Seymour Hartley who is listed on the Commonwealth War Graves website as being a Flying Officer in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve when he died on 22nd February 1944.  He was in the 227 Squadron at the time of his death.  He is listed on the Alamein Memorial.

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