Saturday, 29 October 2011

The Woods-Scawen brothers

Growing up in Farnborough, Hampshire, I often passed 55 York Road, a red-bricked semi-detached house, on my way to playschool or when visiting an old friend’s house along that same narrow road. Back then I would not have even noticed number 55, because it looked like any other ordinary house at the time, just like it does today. It was not until recently, when I discovered who used to live in that house that it became of interest to me and now whenever I find myself on York Road I am reminded of the sacrifice of two brave young men. During the 1930’s, 55 York Road was the home of two brothers, Patrick and Tony Wood-Scawen. The two boys were educated at Salesian College on Reading Road, which is located just around the corner from their old home. Patrick was the eldest of the two brothers, born in Karachi, India on 29 June 1916. Tony was also born in Karachi, on 18 February 1918. The Wood-Scawen’s returned to England in 1924, after Patrick's and Tony’s mother fell ill. To begin with the two brothers boarded at the Salesian College but when their mother passed away they moved into 55 York Road to live with their Aunt Nellie. When their education was completed Patrick was employed as a storekeeper and Tony as a clerk. The jobs were steady enough but dissatisfactory for the adventurous spirits of the Wood-Scawen brothers. Living close to the Royal Aircraft Establishment in Farnborough it was almost impossible for the two boys to avoid falling in love with the idea of a flying career. Both Patrick and Tony were already known for their interest in fast machines. My Grand-Mother, Edna Roberts, lived near the Wood-Scawens at this time and recalled many occasions when the two brothers were seen racing around the town on motor-bikes. The two of them were very playful characters and very popular amongst their peers. Their wit and charm soon won the affections of one local young woman in particular, a pretty blonde called Una Lawrence, also known as 'Bunny' or 'Bun-Bun' to Patrick and Tony. It was almost impossible for the two boys to avoid falling in love with her. Patrick was the first to join the RAF in October 1937. After training was completed he was posted to No.85 Squadron at Debden. Tony soon followed his brother's footsteps and joined up in March 1938 before joining No.43 Squadron at Tangmere. In May 1940 Patrick served in France with his squadron flying Hurricanes where he succeeded in shooting down a variety of enemy aircraft. On 22nd the squadron was withdrawn and returned to England to reform. In the meantime Tony flew Hurricanes with No.43 Squadron over Dunkirk where he saw action against the Luftwaffe. On 7 June 1940 Tony shot down a Bf 109 but was also shot down himself over enemy territory. He walked twenty miles before falling in with a retreating British column and returned to Tangmere eight days later. Both Patrick and Tony were actively involved in the Battle of Britain, flying many patrols and scrapping with the enemy despite unfavourable odds. They succeeded in destroying and sharing in the destruction of enemy aircraft as well as damaging additional others. Patrick was awarded a DFC on 25/6/1940 and Tony was awarded a DFC on 6/9/1940. On 1 September 1940, Patrick was shot down in combat with enemy fighters near Kenley. He baled out of his Hurricane but his parachute failed to open and he was killed on impact. The following day, Tony was also shot down by Bf 109s and was forced to bale out, but he was far too low and was subsequently killed at Fryland, near Ivychurch. Patrick is buried in St Mary's Churchyard, Caterham-on-the-Hill, Surrey and Tony is buried in Folkestone New Cemetery, Kent. The tragic loss of both Patrick and Tony was devastating for the Woods-Scawen family, and of course Una Lawrence, whom they both loved dearly.

Patrick & Tony Woods-Scawen

No.85 Squadron Hurricane

Right - The love of both Patick & Tony's life, Una 'Bunny' Lawrence.
Left - Cousin Gerald (KIA with 92 Sqn in Oct 1941), Bunny and Pop Woods-Scawen
collecting Pat & Tony's DFCs in June 1941


  1. an excellent tribute...always found this story a moving one especially as they followed tragically in each others footsteps. Our family looks after PO Michael Mudies grave in Molesy cemetry in Surrey & I am surrounded by amazing memorials and tributes to 'the few'here in kent. If you know the history of the white hart pub in Brasted you can easily imagine the pilots drinking there even tho' it's now an 'eatery'

    1. Hello,

      I am trying to contact Michael Arthur Mudie in Cheltenham,Gloucestershire.He was a nephew of PO Michael Mudie in Molesey.I have a lots information about Norman David Mudie in Malaya.Do you have any contact no of him?.

      Best regards,
      Winson Saw

  2. Thank you kindly, I appreciate you taking the time to read it Fraxinus. I have written a more detailed tribute to the Woods-Scawen's in a book I am currently working on, but the story is so moving that I really wanted to include it on here too. I'll have to look into P/O Mudies, as I have not heard of him before. Sounds like it's a great thing that you do. I was at the White Hart not long ago, nice place.

  3. Already got in touch with him.He kindly sent me some pictures of Michael Mudie and his brother.Included some pictures of their father,Norman David Mudie.

    Are you interested to see them?.