World War II
DOVER CONNECTION UNKNOWN -
Occasionally we have extra information for those people for whom
the connection to Dover has been uncertain.
Butler, Vernon Stanley
Butler joined the Royal Air Force on a Short Service
Commission and was made an Acting Pilot Officer on
Probation just two days before Christmas 1935. When war
was declared in early September 1939, Vernon Butler had
reached the rank of Flying Officer.
as a bomber pilot, he steadily rose through the ranks
and by September 1941 he was an Acting Wing Commander
leading 226 Squadron that operated Bristol Blenheim
light bombers from Wattisham in Suffolk.
July 1941, he took part in a major RAF daylight attack
against German warships harboured in French ports and
many medals were later awarded to the gallant bomber
crews. A general citation for the awards appeared in
The London Gazette dated 2 September
1941, including a Distinguished Flying Cross to Acting
Wing Commander Butler of 226 Squadron.
July 1941, large scale attacks were made on German
warships at Brest and La Pallice (including the "Gneisenau",
"Scharnhorst" and "Prinz Eugen"). A smaller attack was
made on Cherbourg. The operations were carried out in
daylight and extremely heavy and accurate anti-aircraft
fire and fighter opposition were encountered by all
aircraft when approaching the targets, which at Brest
was protected by a balloon barrage. The aircrews engaged
succeeded, nevertheless, in securing direct hits on
their objectives and in inflicting very severe damage in
the target area. During the combats with enemy fighters
21 hostile aircraft were destroyed and others were
severely damaged. The precise timing of attack by the
various formations of aircraft and their correct
approach to and accurate bombing of the objectives in
the face of such powerful opposition, demanded great
skill and high courage. The great success of these
operations was largely due to the bravery, determination
and resource displayed by the following officers and
airmen, who participated in various capacities as
leaders and members of the aircraft crews"
November 1941, the squadron began to convert to a new
American built twin-engined light bomber called the
Douglas Boston and during the following month, the
squadron moved to Swanton Morley in Norfolk.
going into action with their new mounts on cross-Channel
raids during early 1942, a large operation was organised
on 8 March to attack the Ford lorry factory
at Poissy near Paris. The Bostons set off during the
mid-afternoon with a large fighter escort, but the
target was actually beyond the range of the fighter
cover, so the Bostons carried out the attack at
low-level. One Boston coded MQ-G (serial Z2209) and
piloted by Wing Commander Butler along with his Observer
Flying Officer Basil Mervyn Sayers (aged 29) and the
Wireless Operator/Air-gunner Flying Officer Weston James
Robertson (aged 33), flew into flak near the target and
were hit, but pressed on towards their objective.
Releasing their bombs at low-level, the Boston was
caught by the blast and severely damaged necessitating a
hurried emergency landing. Tragically, as the Boston
touched down it hit a tree at high speed and exploded,
killing all three crewmembers. This was the only
aircraft lost on the raid which was declared successful
and was also the first Boston aircraft the RAF lost in
service with Bomber Command. The crew are buried at Marrisel French National Cemetery near Beauvais.
Butler was aged 26 and was the son of Samuel Butler and
Lilian Butler and the husband of Margaret Butler. They
had a son, Beverley. Mrs Butler later remarried,
becoming Mrs Lessing, and the family emigrated to South
with thanks to Dean Sumner
illustration:: Boston MkIII from Wikimedia Commons
Marrs, Eric Simcox
Better known as
"Boy" Marrs in the Royal Air Force,
he was born in Dover on 9 July 1921 to
Major Robert Marrs, C.M.G., C.I.E., and Annie Marrs and
was later educated at Dauntsey's School at Devizes in
Wiltshire. He joined the RAF in April 1939 as a Flight
Cadet at the RAF College, Cranwell and was granted a
Permanent Commission in March 1940 and then later that
month joined 152 "Hyderabad" Squadron at Acklington in
Northumberland, to fly the Supermarine Spitfire MkIa.
The Squadron moved to Warmwell, Dorset in July 1940, at
the start of the Battle of Britain and on 13 August Pilot Officer Marrs claimed his first victory in
the air when he "destroyed" a Messerschmitt Me110.
Attacking Junkers Ju88s on 17 September,
his Spitfire was hit by return fire and he had to make a
forced landing with a seized engine, but he was unhurt.
Eight days later during air combat south of Bristol his
aircraft sustained damage and he returned to base
safely. Then during the morning of 27 September he shot down a Ju88 near Bristol, but not
before his fighter was again hit by return fire though
he made it back for a safe landing at his airfield.
the late afternoon of 30 September, "Boy"
Marrs was caught in the cross-fire from a formation of
Luftwaffe bombers he was attacking and bullets struck
the armoured windscreen of his Spitfire. He landed back
at Warmwell with a damaged undercarriage that only had
one wheel and fortunately was yet again unhurt.
this run of incidents at the hands of Luftwaffe
air-gunners, by the end of October P/O Marrs had claims
against at least 10 enemy aircraft. Further victories
followed in November, and at the start of 1941 reward
for his success in the air was granted by the award of a
Distinguished Flying Cross, the citation stating:-
"Pilot Officer Marrs has participated in numerous
patrols against the enemy and, on occasions, he has led
his flight, with great skill and coolness. He has
destroyed at least six enemy aircraft."
further award followed in March 1941 when he was
Mentioned in Despatches that was gazetted on 17 March 1941.
squadron moved to Portreath in Cornwall during April and
on 18 July over the Scilly Isles, 20 years
old Flight Lieutenant Marrs shared in the destruction of
a Heinkel He111 bomber.
On 24 July the squadron were detailed to provide close escort
to a force of RAF Hampden bombers that were to attack
the German warships "Scharnhorst" and
anchored at Brest Harbour. A heavy barrage of flak was
encountered over the target and "Boy" Marrs was shot
down in his Spitfire MkII P7881 and killed. His body was
recovered and today is buried at Kerfautras Cemetery at
Brest in France.
was paid to Eric Marrs in the squadron diary, which
recorded that he was loved and admired by everyone and
that his name in the squadron would live for evermore.
words with thanks to
illustrations: "Boy" Marrs, supplied by Dean Sumner, Supermarine Spitfire Mk11a by Adrian
Pingstone from Wikimedia Commons
more about "Boy" Marrs, with extracts from his diary and a
picture, on the 152 (Hyderabad) Squadron website:
D J Oakden was born in 1922, the son of John Nathaniel George
and Maud Alice Oakden (née Scott). Mr Oakden had
been born in Margate in 1890, while Mrs Oakden came from
Pembroke Dock, in Wales.
Sadly, Mr Oakden died in 1928 with
shrapnel still lodged in his head. He had enlisted in
1909 and served through the Great War. Becoming a
Sergeant in the Kings Machine Gun Corps, he received a
Silver War badge after being discharged and pensioned in
1919. In January 1915 he is recorded wounded in the head
and shoulder and recuperating at Margate, the only one
of 25 men in a machine gun section to have survived. Mrs
Oakden, whom he had probably met while in hospital in
Wales, died four years later. Their four children, who
had all been born in Wales, came to their father's
family in Kent; Alfred and his brother John were taken
in by their Aunt Constance and their sisters, Irene and
Emily, by an uncle.
John gained a scholarship to the
Dover County School, and joined the RAF in 1936. He was
one of the radio experts in the Dambusters Squadron.
Alfred, meanwhile, joined the Royal Navy, serving as C/JX158109.
He lost his life at the age of 18 when
HMS Juno was sunk off Crete after an aerial attack on 21
May 1941. He is commemorated on the Chatham Naval
Memorial, panel 43.2.
Alfred Oakden was a cousin of
William being his Aunt Constance's son.
Note: Emily married
David Baird, who had served in the parachute regiment
during the war. They emigrated to Australia. Irene lived
in Cumberland, dying in 1997.
photo courtesy of David Baird
Rembridge, Lewis Garnier
RAF 47411, was Captain (pilot) of Avro Lancaster ED917, coded OF-U, of
97 Squadron based at Bourn, Cambridgeshire. The
Lancaster took off at 22:35 hours on
3 July 1943 for a raid on Cologne and was lost without trace. All of the crew are commemorated on the RAF Runnymede Memorial, except F/O
Parry who is buried in Rheinburg War Cemetery.
The crew were:
|Flying Officer Lewis Garnier REMBRIDGE
|Sergeant Richard Charles Sydney GOLDING
|Flying Officer William John HILLS
|Flying Officer Henry Weston PARRY
|Warrant Officer Geoffrey Raymond COBBY
|Sergeant Frank Morrison LAMB
|Sergeant Arthur JONES
635 RAF bomber aircraft took part in the raid on Cologne and 30 aircraft were lost including Lancaster ED917, with almost 180 crewmen killed.
Twenty industrial premises and over 2,200 houses were destroyed in
Cologne. About 600 people were killed on the ground with another 1,000
injured and over 70,000 made homeless.
On this night the Luftwaffe
introduced a new night-fighter unit specialising in attacking aircraft
over the target area and claimed 12 bombers shot down over Cologne, of
which ED917 could have been a victim.
On 9 November 1943, at Courtlands, Courtland Drive,
Chigwell, Essex, FO Rembridge's wife, Marjorie, née
Kenton, had a baby son, Nigel Garnier. The couple
had married at St Martin's Church, Dover, on 29 July
1939, after becoming engaged in January. FO
Rembridge was the second son of the late Mr H.
Rembridge and Mrs Rembridge, formerly Dray, and
Marjorie was the second daughter of Mr and Mrs E R
Kenton, from Elms Vale Road, Dover
RAF information with thanks to Dean Sumner
illustration - panel 129 at Runnymede