Littleborough’s History

Able Seaman Philip Harwood

Philip was born in Littleborough on 29th April, 1917, the son of Joseph and Annie Harwood who in 1939 all lived at  95 Tweedale St, Rochdale with an younger male. Philip married Joan Cuerden in Rochdale during Autumn 1940 and prior to joining up was a boot repairer employed by Bert Astles -shoe repairers Yorkshire Street. 25 year old Able Seaman Harwood D/JX 304901 HMS Dorsetshire, Royal Navy was killed in action on 5th April 1942 when his ship was sunk by aircraft from a Japanese Aircraft Carrier some 300 miles west of Colombo (then Ceylon). 227 lives were lost. Philip Harwood is not remembered on any local War Memorial. At the time of his death his twin brother was in Canada.

Private Nora Caveney W/91467 148th (Mixed) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Auxiliary Territorial Service, Royal Artillery was killed in action on 17th April 1942 who also worked at Breda Visada – see separate document for her extended details.

Sergeant Pilot Harold James Bennett

Harold was born in Rochdale  early in 1921, the son of Thomas Henry and Hilda Bennett (nee Jackson). Prior to enlisting in August 1940, he lived at 1 Grove, Todmorden  Road, Littleborough and worked for Breda Visada Ltd. He was an old boy of Holy Trinity Church School and Heywood Grammar School. 21 year old Sergeant Pilot Bennett  1014694 104 Squadron. RAF on 27th April 1942 when his Wellington II bomber Z8500 "B" was hit by flak and burnt /crashed into the sea. Sgt H J Bennett was part of the crew of the Wellington bomber which took off from Landing ground No 106 to attack landing grounds at Martuba. An aircraft was seen caught by flak in searchlights, going down into the sea and bursting into flames. The full crew were Sgt H J Bennett, Sgt W J Brandon RNZAF, F/Sgt D Gilligan, Sgt D Scully, Sgt J R Martin, Sgt H M McHarg. Two crew were reported buried by the Germans but their graves were never found. All are accordingly commemorated on the Alamein Memorial.


His 80 year Anniversary in April


Sergeant Alfred Jelly

Alfred was born in Chorlton on 8th May 1912, the son of Alfred and Lilian Mary who later lived in Wardle as confirmed by the 1939 Register noting they were at 12 Birch Avenue together with sister Nina born in 1914. His father Alfred, a Commercial clerk was 53 whilst his  mother was 58. Alfred himself was a Rayon Yarn Salesman with Nina being a Rayon Yarn Winder and Reeler, both working for Breda Visada in Littleborough. Prior to joining the RAF in August 1940 he was well known in the Rochdale area from his interests in Athletics, Football and Cricket. Having been reported as missing in March 1942 it was not until August 1942 until it was officially reported that 25 year old Sergeant Jelly 1309716, 142 Squadron, RAF was killed in action (together with the remaining 5 crew members) when their Wellington Bomber IV Z1321 QT-V was attacked and downed during Operation Essen on 26th March 1942. Sergeant Jelly is buried in The Hague (Westduin) General Cemetery, Netherlands in the Allied Plot. Row 1. Grave 21. He is remembered on St Andrews and Breda Visada War Memorials.


His 80 year Anniversary in March