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Wilfred and Reginald Friday

Reginald Henry Friday

Able Seaman P/JX 298307 HMS Polyanthus Royal Navy
Died 20 September 1943, aged 19
Remembered on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial
Remembered on Tongham War Memorial
Remembered on Ash War Memorial
Remembered on the Memorial to the Men of Ash Vale in St Mary's Church
The first electric lighting at St Mary's Church AshVale was paid for by 1st Ash Vale Scout Group in his memory.

Reginald was the son of John and Ellen Friday of Spoil Lane, Tongham. His brother Wilfred had been killed in the Tongham munitions train bombing in 1940. Mr and Mrs Friday had no other children. Wilfred Friday was born 22 April 1921 and started attending Ash Common School 12 April 1926. Reginald Friday was born 19 October 1923 and started school 3 September 1928. The school admission register records that at that time they lived at Rose Villas in Woollards Road, Ash.

Constance Manfield and patients in West Africa

Wilfred J Friday

Died 24 August 1940, aged 19
Remembered on Ash War Memorial
Buried in Ash Cemetery (I41)
His brother is also remembered on his gravestone

Two railway men, ganger George Keen and length man George Leach won the George Medal for their heroic actions in saving a blazing ammunition train at Tongham on the night of 22 August 1940. The train was one of a number that were normally kept on the move around the south of England, standing by in case the threatened German invasion happened.

Whether by luck or judgment, a lone raider caught the train in a siding on what was to be one of the rare air raids on the Aldershot area. The first two trucks of the train were set on fire by a shower of incendiary bombs. These bombs also hit the village school and other houses in the village. The prompt action of George Keen and George Leach who organized the rescue operation in which they were aided by firemen, soldiers, policemen, fellow railway men and local people. They managed to uncouple the untouched trucks and manhandle them to safety. Had they not been successful the fire could have taken greater hold on the train and the resulting explosion and fires could have devastated the village and area for miles around. Sadly George Keen died on 25 May 1941, three days before he and George Leach were due to receive their George Medals.

Wilfred Friday lived in Spoil Lane, Tongham. As the munitions exploded on the train he opened the door of his house and was caught in a blast. He died later, on 24 August 1940, of shrapnel wounds.

This story of the Ammunition Train bombing is by Gillian Picken.

"Marjorie's memories of the train explosion" can be seen in the "Tongham Stories" folder in the Museum, and "Reginald Nash's account of the Tongham ammunition train bombing in August 1940" can be seen in the History Room. There is another account on the WW2 People's War website

Ash Second World War Roll of Honour

Tongham Second World War Roll of Honour

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