MICKLEHAM (ST. MICHAEL) CHURCHYARD
There is one war grave listed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission , that of Peter Odhams, in the NE corner of the churchyard. His story is told in the Mickleham War Memorial booklet.
Date of Death: 15/12/1940
Son of Ernest Lynch Odhams and Frances Odhams; husband of Jeronime Frances Odhams, of Orford, Suffolk.
Grave/Memorial Reference: N.E. Corner MICKLEHAM (ST. MICHAEL) CHURCHYARD
Killed on active service
15 Dec 1940
Aged 25 years
THERE ARE ALSO HEADSTONES COMMEMORATING THOSE WHO DIED OR GAVE SERVICE.
These have been found so far:
World War I
LOVING MEMORY OF
MY DEAR HUSBAND
WOUNDED 9TH JULY 1917
DIED 1ST NOV 1918
AGED 32 YEARS
His story is told in the Mickleham War Memorial booklet.
image: Lesley Wood (his grandaughter)
Lesley Wood at Percy's grave in 2009
WALTER DOUGLAS CULLEN
IN PROUD AND
LOVING MEMORY OF
AND SON OF
WILLIAM & ALICE CULLEN
OF MICKLEHAM DOWNS
BORN 7 NOVEMBER 1892
DIED 6 SEPTEMBER 1920
Note the RFC badge.
Local sources correctly believe that Cullen grave is the family of WH Cullens 'the high class family grocers' - they used to be at the top of the High Street in Leatherhead and they were pretty much countrywide.
According to Ronnie Shepperd's Micklam - The Story of a Parish (1991) p173 WH Cullen, founder of the grocery firm, "lived at Mickleham Downs. This house has been pulled down except for some of the outbuildings which have been converted into flats."
Walter Douglas Cullen had enlisted in the 5th East Surrey Regiment as a private soldier but was elevated to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant on 29th October 1914. By February 1917 he had become attached to the Royal Flying Corps, and transferred from FO (Observer) to be a Pilot 10/7/1917 ¹.
He had recently married as recorded at Marylebone, Middlesex (Q1 1917 1a 1150), to Gwendolen M Thompson. When she applied in person on 11th February 1917 for the License for the marriage to take place Gwendolen Margaret Thompson was aged 21, the same age as Walter.
Flight Magazine, February 15, 1917:
The marriage between WALTER DOUGLAS CULLEN, Lieutenant, East Surrey Regiment, attached RFC, son of Mr and Mrs WH Cullen, Mickleham Downs, Surrey, and GWENDOLEN MARGARET, only daughter of Mr and Mrs GEORGE W THOMPSON, 80 Harley Street, W., will take place at St Marylebone Parish Church at 2.30pm on Saturday.
On his Royal Aero Club Aviator's Certificate 4542 Walter's details are given as ²:
CULLEN, Walter Douglas
Mickleham Downs, Nr Dorking, Surrey
Born 7th Nov 1892 at London
Rank, Regiment, Profession Lieut East Surrey Regt (T)
Certificate taken on Maurice Farman Biplane
At Military School, Ruislip
Date 25th April 1917
Apparently he was forced down in action and taken POW ¹. A posting on a Forum states:
“Enthusiasts will know Udet after serving with Jasta 15 was posted to Jasta 37 on the British sector in Aug 17.
His first claim came on 12 Aug 17 (misdated as 13 Aug in Fall of an Eagle) in a combat with 5 Nieuports of 40 Sqn - in this a Lt WD Cullen was forced down on the German side and taken prisoner - his fellow pilots under Capt Keen made 3 claims in return.
Credit however was given to Uffz Helligers of Jasta 30 - indicating the 5 Nieuports flying an OP over the German side, had not only fought two Jasta's, but that Cullen had been driven down by two pilots - this was a common occurrence. In Fall of an Eagle there is a photo of Udet and his SF Obln Grasshoff standing in front of a 40 Sqn Nieuport which can only be that of Cullen.”
After hostilities ended Walter seems to have been repatriated on 14/2/1919 and returned to the East Surreys.
Having resigned his commission on 1th September 1920, he died a few weeks later on the 16th September in a nursing home after an operation. His residence was then Mayfield Forty Foot Road, Leatherhead – see http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/32185/pages/245/page.pdf ¹
Walter's death was registered in September 1920 (Marylebone, London 1a 463) ².
In 1920 Probate was granted for Cullen, Walter Douglas of Mayfield, Forty Foot-road, Leatherhead, Surrey, died 16 September 1920 at 23 Devonshire-street, Portland-place, Middlesex. Probate London 14 December to John Bury Cullen and Hugh Ellis Davies Cullen merchants. Effects £15318 10s 3d. ²
Cullen, père, was had been a sub-postmaster as well as a leading grocer – “365 Kings Road: Mr William Henry Cullen, then Mr John Bury Cullen (appointed acting sub-postmaster 5 November 1932 following the death of William Henry Cullen, then permanently appointed sub-postmaster 1 December 1932)” ¹
¹ With thanks to Brian Bouchard of Ashtead
² Via Ancestry.co.uk, Frank Haslam
World War II
Mary Thorpe Selby, wife of Alexander Prideaux Selby - and in proud memory of their two sons killed in the service of their country:
NEIL BEAUCHAMP SELBY Yugoslavia 1943
OLIVER SELBY Arnhem 1944
Royal Armoured Corps, 1st Royal Dragoons:
attd. Special Operations Executive
Date of Death: 01/10/1943
Service No: 117474
Son of Alexander Prideaux Selby and Mary Thorpe Selby.
Grave/Memorial Reference: Face 1 ATHENS MEMORIAL
10th Bn, Parachute Regiment, A.A.C.
Date of Death: 25/09/1944
Service No: 5828342
Son of Alexander Prideaux Selby and Mary Thorpe Selby, of Walberton, Sussex.
Grave/Memorial Reference: 29. B. 5. ARNHEM OOSTERBEEK WAR CEMY
WWII Enemy action death in Westhumble
Frank Haslam writes (28 Feb 2014):
According to Ronnie Shepperd's Micklam - The Story of a Parish (1991) p183, describing his own experiences of the Battle of Britain in August and September 1940 he says:
"Within days the Battle of Britain was being fought out in the skies above our heads; we watched enthralled as the planes chased each other, weaving in and out and leaving their vapour trails to scrawl fantastic patterns across the blue heavens above. The summit of Box Hill provided the ideal vantage point from which to witness this drama; and on that never to be forgotten Saturday which was to prove its climax, many residents, sensing a crisis, climbed to the top and watched it being played out. That evening after the planes had all returned to their bases, we listened to the radio, as we might have done for the result odf a test match, to learn that the score in our favour was overwhelming.
And so the battle was over; but within a week or so another and bloodier one was to follow as the bombing of London commenced. Those of us who still worked up there and commuted daily by train or road were very happy if we could get away by dusk before the bombs began to fall, home to a veritable haven of peace and safety.
It was unimaginable that any enemy plane would want to bomb Mickleham; and yet it was during this period, towards the end of October, that the first and only fatality from enemy action occurred within the parish. It was about 10pm so the alert was still in operation, and it so happened that I was on duty at the Westhumble ARP post (very conveniently situated within The Railway Arms, now the Stepping Stones). So sure were the authorities that little danger was to be expected here the post was right under a glass roof connecting the two halves of the pub.
It had been a quiet night, as usual, when the sound of a low flying plane could be heard. Within seconds came the whistle of a falling bomb and then the explosion shook the building and down came the glass roof. I had dived under the table just in time and was unhurt, but upon investigation found that the bomb had fallen in the garden of no.4 Moleford Cottages. By some quirk of fortune it had landed right on top of an Anderson shelter killing its occupant instantly."
with thanks to Carole Brough Fuller for the loan of the book
Searches on the internet and in the Civilian Deaths section of the CWGC database failed to identify this casualty. Mrs Judy Kinloch, archivist in Mickleham, was able to provide a page from an article Ronnie Shepperd had written Westhumble in 1940 about when he came to live there in May 1940, probably for the parish magazine. The lead came from the following extract:
On September 23rd  the Germans started their night bombing of London which went on through the rest of the year. Those of us who worked up there found our daily journeys very difficult both by rail and road after the nightly attacks, and as the days grew shorter it was a relief to be able to get home before dark and, after a quick meal, start playing at air raid wardens in safety; who in their right senses would want to bomb our village?
But then one night we found we were in the war after all. I was on duty at the post with George Deering when the sirens began to wail. It was his turn to go out on patrol and mine to sit by the phone. The pub was closed, but suddenly the door flew open and in rushed a young lady; she was very attractive, but wild eyed and scared, and begged for shelter. As I tried to pacify and reassure her, saying that nothing ever happened here in Westhumble, we heard the sound of an enemy plane flying low; then came the whistle of a falling bomb uncomfortably close.
I just had time to fling her under the table (our only protection) and follow myself when the bomb went off and we heard debris falling on our roof and broken glass scattering everywhere. It had hit the ground about 100 yards away in the garden of No 1 Moleford Cottages, right on top of a shelter where Sgt Kirby, overworked by his Home Guard duties and sent home to get some rest, was sleeping. He was the first fatal casualty in the parish, and Westhumble had had its first taste of war.
Research on Ancestry.co.uk for about that date and on the surname Kirby yielded the answer:
Surrey, Dorking UD
KIRBY, William, age 54; French Legion of Honour; CSM, Home Guard. Son of William Arthur Kirby of Kimbolton, Fielding, New Zealand, and of the late Sarah Kirby; husband of Anna Margaret Kirby of 1 Moleford Cottages, London Road. [Died at 1 Moleford Cottages is added on the NZ War memorial database]
This can now be seen on CWGC.
He was buried on 7th October 1940; in the Parish of Reigate, St Mary's Register his is entry 740. It is not clear whether he was buried elsewhere but recorded in that register:
740 - William Kirby - 1 Moleford Cotts Dorking - 7th October 1940 - ?? Hunt, Vicar of Dorking.
William of Moleford Cottage, London Road, Dorking Surrey died 2 October 1940 Administration Llandudno 5 December to Anna Margaret Kirby widow Effects £410 12s 7d.
1939 Electoral Roll Parish of Dorking, London Road, Reigate Constituency
William Kirby, Station Approach Garage (Abode - 1 Moleford Cottage, Westhumble), also in 1923
1939 Parish of Mickleham, with Anna Margaret Kirby, same address, also in 1935.
Further research on the Electoral Rolls may reveal when and where he first registered.
He is not on the Mickleham War Memorial.
The New Zealand Cenotaph database records him in WW1 as follows:
FULL NAME William Kirby
WAR World War I, 1914-1918
SERIAL NO. 2/1175
FIRST KNOWN RANK Driver
NEXT OF KIN Mrs Emma Kirby (wife), 87 Federal Street, Auckland, New Zealand
MARITAL STATUS Married
ENLISTMENT ADDRESS 87 Federal Street, Auckland, New Zealand
MILITARY DISTRICT Auckland
BODY ON EMBARKATION 4th Reinforcements
EMBARKATION UNIT Field Artillery
EMBARKATION DATE 17 April 1915
PLACE OF EMBARKATION Wellington, New Zealand
TRANSPORT HMNZT 21 HMNZT 22 HMNZT 23
VESSEL Willochra or Knight Templar or Waitomo
DESTINATION Suez, Egypt
PAGE ON NOMINAL ROLL 397
ARCHIVES NZ SOURCE Military personnel file
SOURCES USED Nominal Rolls of New Zealand Expeditionary Force Volume I. Wellington: Govt. Printer, 1914-1919
The New Zealand War Graves Project lists the following information about him, listing a different spouse to that on CWGC. It is possible that she had pre-deceased him if she was his spouse at the time of his enlistment in WW1. According to www.bdmhistoricalrecords.dia.govt.nz an Emma Kirby died in 1943 but she would have been aged about 72 at the time of William's death at the age of 54 in 1940
Registration number 1943/26121 Kirby, Emma [age] 75Y
First Name: William
Date of Birth: Not known
Next of Kin: Mrs Emma Kirby (wife), 87 Federal Street, Auckland, New Zealand
Marital Status: Married
Nationality of Force: United Kingdom
Unit: Civilian War Dead
Cemetery: Dorking, Urban District
Date of death: 2 October 1940
Body of Embarkation: 4th Reinforcements
Place of Embarkation: Wellington, New Zealand
Embarkation Date: 17 April 1915
Transport: HMNZT 21
Vessel: Willochra or Knight Templar or Waitomo
Destination: Suez, Egypt
The reference to Dorking UDC Cemetery prompted Carole Brough Fuller, who retired several years ago from among other things, keeping the records there, in late March 2014 to check their records for William Kirby and if possible to take a photo of the headstone. She searched in vain and concludes that the next line of enquiry should be at Reigate St Mary's.
In fact William Kirby was a native of Surrey:
Name: William Kirby
Birth Date: 21 Sep 1886
Baptism Date: 17 Oct 1886
Archive Provided Parish: Reigate, St Mary [ the same church which recorded his funeral]
Parish as it Appears: Reigate
Father: William Arthur Kirby
Mother: Sarah Henerietta Kirby
Reference Number: P49/1/12
In the 1891 Census he was living at Colley Farm in the parish of St Mark, Reigate:
William A Kirby 31 Farmer, born Reigate, Surrey
Sarah H Kirby 36 wife, born Penshurst, Kent
William Kirby 4 son, born Reigate, Surrey
Jane Dudley 23 domestic
Images this page, unless otherwise stated: Frank Haslam
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page created 4 Feb 2009: updated 11 Nov 17