During the Second World War, and up until the end of 1945, there were twenty marriages at St John the Baptist, Wickhamford. Of these, eight concerned brides who lived in the village and married servicemen. Service records for men who served in World War 2 are very limited in the information available at present, but some extra details are sometimes available in newspaper articles of the time.
9th November 1940: Frank Charles Vickeridge, 31, of Cleeve Prior, who was a driver in the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry married Edith May Sutton, 24. Both bride and groom were the children of market gardeners, Frank Vickeridge and George Joseph Sutton. No Army records for this serviceman have been found. In the 1939 Register, Frank was living at home with his parents, Frank and Kate, at 7 Evesham Road, Cleeve Prior. His occupation was given as a garden produce lorry driver. He was born on 10th January 1917 and he died in 1963. He was buried in Cleeve Prior. Also, in 1939, Ethel was working as a cook in domestic service and living with her parents, George and Annie Sutton at 11 Pitchers Hill, Wickhamford. She had been born on 2nd May 1916.
7th July 1941: Leslie Mervyn Kent, 22, of Bengeworth was recorded in the Marriage Register as in ‘H. M. Forces’ married Nesta Moisey. He was serving in the R.A.F. (No 701150) with an entry in the records for 1939. He was the youngest son of George Kent, an’ engineer driver’, who was already deceased by the time of his son’s marriage. Nesta was the daughter of market gardener Theodore James Moisey and she was only 17. In the 1939 Register, Leslie was listed at the home address of his parents, George and Lilian Kent, 52 Badsey Lane. He was already in the R.A.F. and had been born on 8th July 1918.
A newspaper report from Feb. 1944 gave his rank as corporal and placed him in the Far East. He had been overseas for about two years at that time. Before enlisting, he had been employed by the Midland ‘Red’ Omnibus Company. The newspaper reported that he had sent some lemons to his parents from the Far East. They had auctioned some of them at Smithfield Market, Evesham and they raised £4 for the Red Cross.
21st October 1941: Reginald Berkeley Arthur Cook, 21, of Wincanton, serving in ‘H.M. Forces’ married Constance Mary Wright, 21. The Register mis-spelled his middle name as ‘Berkly. He served as a Private (No 5673323) in the Royal Army Service Corps. He came from Wincanton, Somerset and his father, Berkeley Cook, was deceased at the time of his marriage. Constance’s father was George Wright, a ‘general motor mechanic’, but in the 1939 Register he was a market gardener of 12 Pitchers Hill. Her mother was Nellie, and when the Register was compiled, Constance was employed as an optical case maker. The Register, which was updated over a number of decades, states that her surname changed from Wright to Cook and then to Huntley and finally Prosser.
Reginald Cook died on active service in early 1944.
21st February 1942: William Arthur Cruise, 26, of Newport, Monmouthshire, serving in ‘H.M. Forces’ married Ethel Sutton, 23. He served as a Private (No 6085905) in Queen’s Royal Regiment, and is first recorded there in 1937. His father was Robert Cruise, a labourer, and Ethel’s father was George Joseph Sutton, a market gardener, and the 1939 Register recorded them as living at 11 Pitchers Hill. At this time. Ethel was employed in domestic service. She was the younger sister of Edith Sutton, who had married in 1940 (above).
After the War the couple lived in Wickhamford and in 1954 a newspaper report gave his address as 14 Sandys Avenue. He was fined for not having a dog licence.
15th July 1944: Leslie Roy Fletcher, 24, a Processing Engineer (OAS) in the R.A.F. married Violet Winifred Hopkins, 23, who was in the Women’s Land Army and billeted at Wickhamford Manor. She gave the Manor as her home address. His home address was 164 Alexander Road, Acocks Green, Birmingham. His father was Walter Aubrey Fletcher, a despatch clerk. In the 1939 Register, he was entered as a transport manager and his wife was Edith. Leslie Fletcher was process engraver, a trade that he continued with in the R.A.F. Violet’s father was Llewellyn Wycliffe Hopkins, who was retired. In 1939, she had been an insurance clerk and her family lived in the same road as her future husband, at number 49.
5th August 1944: Horace Neville Haile, 23, of ‘Badgworth, Gloucestershire’, serving in ‘H.M. Forces’, married Hilda Irene Brotherton. He was serving in the R.A.F. (No 638710) and the earliest record of his service is from 1938. His father, George Haile, had died by the time of his son’s wedding. Hilda’s father, George Harcourt Edward Brotherton had also died before the wedding. The Register entry was incorrect by locating Badgworth in Gloucestershire, as it is in Somerset.
6th October 1945: John Henry Whiting, 27, of Bristol, a driver in the Royal Army Service Corps, married Constance Mabel Taylor, 24. The wedding took place four weeks after the end of the war with Japan. The groom’s home address was given as 55 Whiteway Road, Bristol and his father, also John Henry Whiting, was a docker. In 1939, the groom was also employed as a dock’s labourer in Bristol. Constance’s father was Frederick Taylor, a builder. The Taylor family lived at 5 Council Houses, Pitchers Hill in 1939. Frederick and Louise Taylor had four children living with them, but Constance had already left the family home.
No service record has been found for John Whiting, but family sources place him in North Africa, with the 8th Army, at one time during his service. ‘Jack’ & ‘Connie’ Whiting lived for many years at 59 Pitchers Hill.
1st December 1945: Francis Raymond Watts, 20, of Broadway, who was in the Royal Navy, married Eileen May Taylor, 19. His home address was 2 Bredon View, Broadway and his father was William Edward Watts, a bricklayer. Eileen’s address was given as ‘39 Council House’, Wickhamford. Her father was Thomas Morton Taylor, an engineer. He had served in the Great War and also in the recently ended conflict, when he was in the Royal Engineers and evacuated from Dunkirk. In the 1939 Register, Francis Watts, although only 14, was working as ‘Private Gardener’.
A newspaper clip in the Evesham Standard reported on this wedding which said that over 60 guests attended the reception at The Sandys Arms.
Tom Locke, June 2020