West Wales War Memorial Project
West Wales War Memorial Project

Pembroke Dock Defensible Barracks Memorial

Due to its strategic importance as a sheltered waterway, and the continuation of the Napoleonic Wars, the town of Pembroke Dock grew from its humble beginnings as a small fishing village named Pater Church, following the construction of a Royal Naval Dockyard from 1814. As the Dockyard became more important, the need for defence was realised, and in 1844 work began on the construction of the Defensible Barracks.

 

The barracks proved to be a key base for troops stationed in the town over the ensuing years, and after the Haldane Reforms in 1908, became a base for local Territorial troops and the home of the Pembrokeshire Royal Garrison Artillery.

 

During the Second World War it became the headquarters of the Milford Haven defences, and saw one of the worst local wartime tragedies unfold on 28 April 1942, when a nineteen military personnel were killed during bomb disposal training, with the explosion of a naval mine. The barracks have since gone into private ownership, and work is underway to restore it.

 

Inside the barracks is a memorial plaque which commemorates the lives of the men killed in the mine explosion, seventeen of whom are buried locally, in Pembroke Dock Military Cemetery. Three of the men killed were German Jews, who had fled persecution in Nazi Germany.

Heinz Abraham, Corporal, 13801220, Pioneer Corps. Heinz was the son of Adolf and Erna Abraham, of The Bronx, New York City, USA. A German Jew, he had travelled to Britain to enlist into the British Army, and was posted to the Pioneer Corps. Many men of German origin served in the British Army, but were posted to non-combatant units such as the Pioneer Corps. Heinz was 23 years old when he was killed during the mine explosion at the defensible barracks on 28 April 1942. He is buried in Pembroke Dock Military Cemetery.

Albert Baggaley, Sapper, 2125725, Royal Engineers. Albert was the son of William and Mary Baggaley, and the Husband of Martha Ellen Baggaley of Swinton, Lancashire. Albert served with 16, Bomb Disposal Company, Royal Engineers. Albert was 31 years old when he was killed during the mine explosion at the defensible barracks on 28 April 1942. Albert is buried in Pembroke Dock Military Cemetery.

George Kitchener Crompton, Corporal, 3195146, King's Own Scottish Borderers. George was the son of Peter and Sarah Ann Crompton, and the husband of Phoebe Crompton, of Heywood, Lancashire. He served with the 9th Battalion, King’s Own Scottish Borderers, which were based at Llanion Barracks, Pembroke Dock. George was 26 years old when he was killed during the mine explosion at the defensible barracks on 28 April 1942. He is buried in Pembroke Dock Military Cemetery.

Walter Duckworth, Lance Corporal, 2126769, Royal Engineers. Walter was the son of Walter and Esther Ann Duckworth, of Bury, Lancashire, and the Husband of Edith Duckworth, of Brandlesholme, Bury. He served at Pembroke Dock with 16 Bomb Disposal Company, Royal Engineers. Walter was 32 years old when he was killed during the mine explosion at the defensible barracks on 28 April 1942. He is buried in Pembroke Dock Military Cemetery.

Geoffrey Theodore Garratt, MBE, Major, 135713, Pioneer Corps. Geoffrey was the son of the Reverend Charles Foster Garratt and Agnes Mary Garratt (nee Percival), and the Husband of Annie Beryl Garratt (Nee Benthall), of Bishopsteignton, Devon. Geoffrey was a well known man, having studied for his M.A. at Oxford, he was a Justice of the Peace, and the author of several political books, and had been awarded the MBE by King George VI. Geoffrey was the most senior man killed during the explosion at the defensible barracks on 28 April 1942. He was 53 years old, and is buried in Pembroke Dock Military Cemetery.

Robert Ebenezer Gilmour, Serjeant, 1914768, Royal Engineers. Robert was from Glasgow, and served at Pembroke Dock with 16 Bomb Disposal Company, Royal Engineers. Robert was 33 years old when he was killed during the mine explosion at the defensible barracks on 28 April 1942. He is buried in Pembroke Dock Military Cemetery.

George Jackson, Sapper, 2126209, Royal Engineers. George was the son of James and Elizabeth Jackson, of Stalybridge, Cheshire. He served with 16 Bomb Disposal Company, Royal Engineers. George was 32 years old when he was killed during the mine explosion at the defensible barracks on 28 April 1942. He is buried in Pembroke Dock Military Cemetery.

John Brenig Jones, Sapper, 2004119, Royal Engineers. John was the son of Thomas and Margaret Jones, of Nantgarw, Glamorgan. He served at Pembroke Dock with 16 Bomb Disposal Company, Royal Engineers. John was 25 years old when he was killed during the mine explosion at the defensible barracks on 28 April 1942. He is buried in Pembroke Dock Military Cemetery.

William George Marlow, Serjeant, 7895632, Pioneer Corps. William was the son of John William and Rosina Louisa Marlow, of Kettering, Northamptonshire, and the Husband of Dorothy Maud Marlow, of Kettering. He served with the Pioneer Corps. William was 28 years old when he was killed during the mine explosion at the defensible barracks on 28 April 1942. He is buried in Pembroke Dock Military Cemetery.

John James Parry, Sapper, 2126836, Royal Engineers. John was the son of John Harry and Hannah Parry, and the husband of Frances Hannah Parry, of Gorton, Manchester. John served with 16 Bomb Disposal Company, Royal Engineers at Pembroke Dock. He was 32 years old when he was killed during the mine explosion at the defensible barracks on 28 April 1942. John is buried in Pembroke Dock Military Cemetery.

William Plant, Sapper, 2127049, Royal Engineers. William was the son of William and Sarah Ann Plant, of New Mills, Derbyshire, and the Husband of Mavis Plant, of New Mills. He served with 16 Bomb Disposal Company, Royal Engineers, based at Pembroke Dock. William was 21 years old when he was killed during the mine explosion at the defensible barracks on 28 April 1942. He is buried in Pembroke Dock Military Cemetery.

James Stewart Purgavie, Captain, 158204, King's Own Scottish Borderers. James was the son of James Duncan Gilbert Purgavie and Maud Annie Purgavie, and the husband of Rhona Purgavie, of Ashbourne, Derbyshire. He served with the 9th Battalion, King’s Own Scottish Borderers. James was 29 years old when he was killed during the mine explosion at the defensible barracks on 28 April 1942. He is buried in Pembroke Dock Military Cemetery.

Heinz Schwartze, Private, 13801014, Pioneer Corps. Heinz was the son of Nanny Schlerinsky, of Camden Town, London, German Jewish evacuees. Heinz was posted to a non combatant unit, the Pioneer Corps. He was 22 years old when he was killed during the mine explosion at the defensible barracks on 28 April 1942. He is buried in Pembroke Dock Military Cemetery.

Arthur John Robert Skeet, Corporal, 2074790, Royal Engineers. Arthur was the son of John Henry Skeet and Iris Skeet, of Bath. He was serving at Pembroke Dock with 16 Bomb Disposal Company, Royal Engineers. Arthur was 23 years old when he was killed during the mine explosion at the defensible barracks on 28 April 1942. He is buried in Pembroke Dock Military Cemetery.

Richard Thompson, Lance Serjeant, 3195198, King's Own Scottish Borderers. Richard was the son of George and Clara Thompson, of Withington, Manchester. He served with the 9th Battalion, King’s Own Scottish Borderers at Pembroke Dock. Richard was 25 years old when he was killed during the mine explosion at the defensible barracks on 28 April 1942. He is buried in Pembroke Dock Military Cemetery.

Dennis Whittingham, Corporal, 1878805, Royal Engineers. Dennis was the son of Philip and Ada Florence Whittingham, of Southampton. He served at Pembroke Dock with 16 Bomb Disposal Company, Royal Engineers. Dennis was 26 years old when he was killed during the mine explosion at the defensible barracks on 28 April 1942. He is buried in Pembroke Dock Military Cemetery.

Wilfred Stanley Wilson, Lance Serjeant, 3195156, King's Own Scottish Borderers. Wilfred was the son of William and Elizabeth Wilson, of St. Helens, Lancashire, and the husband of Joan Wilson, of St. Helens. He served with the 9th Battalion, King’s Own Scottish Borderers at Pembroke Dock. Wilfred was 26 years old when he was killed during the mine explosion at the defensible barracks on 28 April 1942. He is buried in Pembroke Dock Military Cemetery.

Also killed were the following two men who are buried elsewhere, and not at Pembroke Dock:

 

Ludwig Rosenthal, Private, 13801068, Pioneer Corps. Ludwig was the son of Felix and Berta Rosenthal, of Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. The family were Jewish evacuees from Germany. Ludwig served with the Pioneer Corps, and was based at Pembroke Dock. Ludwig was 23 years old when he was killed during the mine explosion at the defensible barracks on 28 April 1942. He is buried in Willesden Jewish Cemetery, England.

 

Desmond Tate, Sapper, 2128618, Royal Engineers. Desmond was the son of William and Lilian Rose Tate, of 9, Solva Street, Everton, Liverpool. He served with 16 Bomb Disposal Company, Royal Engineers. He was based at Pembroke Dock, and was among the men on the training course when the mine exploded on 28 April 1942. Desmond was badly injured during the mine explosion, and died in Pembroke Military Hospital two days later, on 30 April 1942, aged 28. He was brought home for burial in Liverpool (West Derby) Cemetery, Lancashire.

Website News

8 March 2017. Some more good news today. Another un-commemorated Welsh sailor, Samuel Arthur Griffiths, of Tredegar, has today been accepted for commemoration by the CWGC as a result of my research. Please see the Forgotten Soldiers section of the website for further details.

8 February 2017. Some more good news today. Another un-commemorated soldier, Llewelyn Owen Roberts, of Penmaenmawr, has today been accepted for commemoration by the CWGC as a result of my research. Please see the Forgotten Soldiers section of the website for further details.

 

7 February 2017. Some more good news today. Another un-commemorated soldier, Isaac Owen, of Seven Sisters, has today been accepted for commemoration by the CWGC as a result of my research. Please see the Forgotten Soldiers section of the website for further details.

20 December 2016. Some good news today that another uncommemorated soldier, Private Thomas Owen Davies, of Machynlleth, has been accepted for commemoration by the CWGC following my research. Please see the Forgotten Soldiers section of the website for further details.

30 November 2016. At long last my latest book has been published: Welsh Yeomanry at War. Please see the Steve’s Books page of the website for details.

23 November 2016. Some good news today with the acceptance of another Welsh soldier, Percy Griffin Williams, of the Welsh Horse Yeomanry, for commemoration by the CWGC following my research. Please see the Forgotten Soldiers section of the website for details.

 

15 November 2016. I would like to thank the people of Laugharne, especially the members of the Laugharne and District Historical Society, for their welcome during their recent History Event on Saturday when I visited to make a talk about how researching the Laugharne War Memorial inspired me to create this website and to begin my writing career. It was a very interesting day and was well attended by the locals.

26 Sep 2016. After a lot of hard work I have finally managed to identify a soldier from Gwaun-cae-Gurwen, Morgan Price James, who since the early 1920’s has been commemorated by the CWGC under the wrong name, James Morgan. Please see the Forgotten Soldiers section of the website for details.

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