Monday 4 January 2016

WW2 Servicemen & Women: How many?

To arrive at an estimated number of Eton Wick and Boveney villagers (130) who served in World War II, we used the total UK fatalities of 400,000 and the total who served — 4,680,000. It will be seen that one is approximately 9% of the other or one in eleven. If Eton Wick had twelve deaths and the national average applied, then 131 people served. A list was then prepared of all those people remembered and this was checked and amended by two other local citizens of that era. We have arrived at 128 — Luck? Guesswork? Or hopelessly adrift with our memories?

564(M) AA. Battery stationed on Dorney Common during 1943/4
There were probably more service people on the Dorney Common gun site throughout the war than the estimated 130 villagers who left to serve elsewhere, so the community was not exactly bereft of young men or women. The Dorney camp soldiers were housed in Nissen huts which they vacated when the war ended. Houses were in desperately short supply and several of the returning service men who were newly married, took unto themselves squatters' rights in the Nissen hits. That first winter was worse than any in the subsequent 60 years and severe floods inundated the common and the huts.

Of the twelve service fatalities from Eton Wick in World War II, all were men, nine from the Army and three from the Royal Air Force. Their places of burial or commemoration were — three in the U.K., two in France, two in Italy, one in Burma, one in Libya, one in Egypt, one in Syria and one in Luxembourg. The youngest was 21 years old and the oldest 58, being someone who had volunteered for service and died of T.B.

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