Sergeant Frederick Arthur Axe RAFVR
No.152 (Hyderabad) Squadron, Royal Air Force

Town Memorial World War II


Service Number 1166120
Died 24/10/1941
Aged 21
152 Sqdn.
Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Son of Mr. and Mrs. F. Axe, of Gainsborough, Lincolnshire.
Location: Surrey, United Kingdom
Cemetery/memorial reference: Panel 38.

Overlooking the River Thames on Cooper’s Hill in Runnymede, Surrey, is Runnymede Memorial, sometimes known as the Air Forces Memorial. The memorial commemorates more than 20,000 airmen and women who were lost in the Second World War during operations from bases in the United Kingdom and North and Western Europe who have no known grave.

His mother was notified within a day or so that he was missing and five months later that he had 'now been presumed killed': 

Surrey Advertiser
Saturday 01 November 1941
Mrs. S[amuel]. Hart, of Homelea, Leatherhead Bypass-road, Leatherhead, has been notified that her son, Sergt. Pilot F. Axe, R.A.F., is missing. Sergt. Axe, who is 21, joined the R.A.F. last year, and gained his wings as a fighter pilot a few months ago. His mother conducts a hairdressing business under the name of “Laura,” Kingston-road Circus, Leatherhead. 
Surrey Advertiser
Saturday 28 March 1942
Mrs. L[aura]. Hart, of Holmlea, By-pass Road, Leatherhead, received a telegram from the Air Ministry on Saturday to the effect that her son, Sergt. Pilot P. [sic] Axe, who was reported missing from an offensive patrol in November last, has now been presumed killed. Sergt. Pilot Axe, who was 21 years old, came to live at Leatherhead four years ago. He was a well-known local athlete, and excelled at cricket and swimming. He joined the R.A.F.V.R. in 1940, and obtained his wings early last summer.

His Spitfire
Spitfire IIa P7680 was built at the Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory. It had a Rolls Royce Merlin mk12 engine.
It was delivered to No.12 Maintenance Unit on 22 Nov 1940 then No.19 Sqn on 26 Mar 1941 and to 152 Sqn on 2 Jul 1941.
It was shot down on 24 Oct 1941 by Bf109s while escorting Blenheims off Belgian coast, Sgt Axe killed
[source: All Spitfire Pilots]

There is a record in The National Archive, Kew
Sergeant F A Axe: missing believed killed; shot down at sea, aerial combat, Spitfire P7680, 152 Squadron, 24 October 1941

No.152 (Hyderabad) Squadron as he would have known it
He is in a 152 Sqn group photo when they were based at RAF Portreath between 9 April and 25 August 1941 (no.18 in the listing).

On 12th July 1940 the squadron moved South to R.A.F. Warmwell in Dorset for the defense of Portland Navel Base. This now put 152 Sqn in No.10 Group, RAF Fighter Command. 152 Sqn's duties were to cover the Channel, South Coast. It was drawn into the London Battles, although it was really too far away to make a full contribution to these.

In April 1941 the squadron moved further south to Portreath Cornwall with Sqn Ldr. Derek Pierre Aumale Boitel-Gill who commanded the squadron from November 1940 - June 1941. He was awarded the D.F.C. on 22nd October 1940 but on September 18th 1941 he was killed in a flying accident at Carlisle. 152 Sqn began convoy patrols again in June, tentative night fighting sorties but the loss of two aircraft on these brought them to a halt. A month later the squadron began escorting Blenheims of No 2 Group on anti-shipping strikes of the Brittany coast with long range Spitfires fitted with 30 Gallon tanks on the port wing. In mid-August 1941 the squadron moved to various airfields - for brief spells it was at Snailwell, Swanton Morley and Coltishall.

[adapted from http://www.152hyderabad.co.uk/html/history.html]

The Squadron badge was awarded in August 1940 and is the Dastar [headdress] of HEH The Nizam of Hyderabad who in WW1 presented the Squadron's aircraft. His Exalted Highness's personal headdress was used on the badge in recognition of this.

His life

Frederick Arthur Axe's birth was registered in April 1920 at Gainsborough, Lincolnshire.

His father was Frederick Axe, born 15 February 1894 in Epworth, Lincolnshire. He died aged almost 50 on 6 February 1944 in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. In the 1911 Census his Occupation was Turner (Iron).

His mother was from one of the well known families in Leatherhead, Surrey. Laura Myrtle Chitty was born there on 26 September 1902. She died on 23 March 1962 (registered Surrey Mid eastern). Her parents were Harry "Charles" Leonard Chitty (1868– 8 May 1941) and Blanche Louise Bartholomew (1874–1944). In 1939 they were living at 7 Caen Wood Road, Ashtead, Surrey. Harry was a retired Fishmonger.

The marriage of Frederick and Laura was registered at Epsom in 1919.

In January 1934 the marriage of Laura Axe to Samuel Hawkins Hart was registered at Epsom, Surrey. He was born in 1905.

In the 1939 England & Wales National Register Frederick's father, a Club Steward, is recorded as living at 19 Bridge Street, Gainsborough with Mrs Stella Axe born 7 Oct 1908, a Club Stewardess. 

Frederick attended Lea Rd School, Gainsborough & Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Gainsborough where he is named on their 1939-45 Memorial. Good sportsman. Prior to the war he worked as Gainsborough Gas Works clerk. He trained as a fighter pilot. After escorting a British bomber he was attacked by enemy aircraft - his plane hit the water.
[adapted from source: Lincs to the past]

As the press report confirming his death stated "Sergt. Pilot Axe, who was 21 years old, came to live at Leatherhead four years ago [so about 1937]. He was a well-known local athlete, and excelled at cricket and swimming."

Frederick's mother Laura died on 23 March 1962 when she was living at 15 Albany Park Road, Leatherhead.

Her second husband, Samuel, had died aged about 35 on 23 September 1940, when they were living at Holmlea, Leatherhead by-pass. It is here that Frederick would have presumably lived when in Leatherhead. Samuel Hart is buried in the parish churchyard. It is not known where Laura is buried.

From the Electoral Registers, in 1932 they were living at 3 Oakhill Road Ashtead. In 1935, by now married, they were at 11, Kingscroft Road Leatherhead with members of Samuel's family, George Edward and Nora Hart.

Frederick Axe is remembered on these memorials
All Saints Church, Gainsborough Lincolnshire, and Gainsborough Roll of Honour
Queen Elizabeth Grammar School Gainsborough 1939-45 Memorial
Leatherhead RBL Roll of Honour, Leatherhead Parish Church
Leatherhead Town Memorial
152 Squadron Royal Air Force Roll of Honour

the website editor would like to add further information on this casualty
e.g. a photo of him, his memorial inscription, and of any recollections of him

last updated 22 Jun 20