Monday, 4 February 2013

Alonzo Hemsworth 1917 - 1941

This concerns my late mum's cousin ALONZO who shared the same christian name as his father and grandfather


Alonzo was a Sapper in the 278 Field Company Royal Engineers but was killed on active service on 23rd February 1941 and is buried in Whiston (St Mary Magdalene) Churchyard, Rotherham, South Yorkshire.
HEMSWORTH, ALONZO
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Sapper Regiment: Royal Engineers Unit : 278 Field Coy.
Date of Death: 23/02/1941
Service No: 1923169 - Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Sec. B. Row 6. Grave 111. Cemetery: WHISTON (ST. MARY MAGDALENE) CHURCHYARD
Rather intriguingly, his death certificate was issued in Rochford, Essex (GRO Ref Death 1941 Hemsworth Alonzo Age 20 Rochford Volume 4a Page 1545). Rochford is on the outskirts of Southend on Sea and saw much activity in the early years of WW2 as it was close to the fighter station RAF Hornchurch and was on the main route the Luftwaffe took to bomb London. Given that Alonzo was a sapper in the Royal Engineers I speculated for many years as to whether or not he was in a bomb disposal squad and a victim of a UXB

In January 2013 I eventually came across information that had eluded me. I was correct in my supposition that Alonzo was in a bomb disposal unit but incorrect about a UXB, it was a landmine. The excellent Rotherham War Memorials site gives the following information

" Alonzo Hemsworth was born in Rotherham in the second quarter of 1917 to Alonzo Hemsworth and Alice May (nee Orgill) of 79 Sandringham Avenue, Whiston.
He enlisted in the Army and was a Sapper in 278 Field Company, Royal Engineers, serial number 1923169. On 23 February 1943 Sapper Hemsworth and another sapper were working in a minefield at Wakering Stairs, when a landmine exploded killing Alonzo Hemsworth and injuring the other sapper who was taken to Shoebury Military Hospital. (Wakering Stairs is on the shoreline of Essex east of Southend-on-Sea.)
And straight after in February 2013 I received the following e-mail
" I have been researching my father's (Harry Falconer) military history - he was in the Royal Engineers 278 Field Coy.

I thought you might be interested in one of our family stories.

Harry was a week late for his marriage to my mother Betty (they eventually married on 7/3/1941) because he was involved in an incident where one of his mates was killed when they were on manoeuvres near Southend. I found a list of incidents in Essex where was based and found the reference to your relative Alonzo Hemsworth being killed on 23/2/1941 and wonder if this was the incident Dad was involved in. Harry died in 2000 but Betty is still going strong at 92 years."

It is probable that Harry was the sapper injured in the accident that cost Alonzo his life.

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