Military AircrewA forum for the professionals who fly the non-civilian hardware, and the backroom boys and girls without whom nothing would leave the ground. Army, Navy and Airforces of the World, all equally welcome here.
Military Aircrew don't always make it back safely do they? I live in Andover, UK, and I took a short-cut home through the church yard this morning and made a note of these inscriptions:
LAC E V Morgan - Wireless Operator/Observer (RAF) - 21 years old - died 16 March 1940
Plt Off I H Acland – Air Observer (RCAF) – 26 – 18 March 1941
Sgt T Jeffries – Wireless Operator/Air Gunner – died aged 20
Flt Sgt W J Stevenson - Wireless Operator/Air Gunner – 22 – 8 April 1942
Sgt R C Hunter - Wireless Operator/Air Gunner (RNZAF) – 27 – 30 March 1942
Sgt M H Vincent - Wireless Operator/Observer – 31 – 8 May 1942
Plt Off R W Papineau – Air Bomber – 26 – 4 August 1943
Flight Cadet S H Millard – 18 years old – died 16 Oct 1918
Flight Cadet F K Foss – 18 years old – died 24 Oct 1918
Lt J F Slavik – died aged 26
2nd Lt J S V R Van der Spuy – 23 years old – died 25 November 1918
Capt M N McLoughlin – 46 years old – died 13 Oct 1943
13779 Member May Alexandra Nutley (WRAF) died 24 August 1918
These are only the ones I could positively identify as aviators or support crew. What stories do you think might lie behind these inscriptions?
How did the flight cadets buy it and what about poor May Alexandra Nutley, whose rank was listed as "Member"?
Capt McLoughlin lived to the ripe old age of 46 - was that lucky?
As far as I can make out only Slavik and Van der Spuy were pilots. Any comments?
Member Mary Alexandria Nutley Women's Royal Air Force
2nd Lt J S V R Van der Spuy 3rd Training Depot Station, RAF Son of S. J. v. d. Spuy, of Malmesbury, Cape Province, South Africa.
Capt Marshall Neal McLoughlin 1st Hampshire (Andover) Bn. Home Guard Son of William James McLoughlin and Edith McLoughlin, of Andover; husband of Kathleen McLoughlin, of Andover. Also served in the 1914-18 war.
Lt John Frederick Slavik 26/05/1918 34th Training Sqdn RAF Son of John and Anna Slavik, of II, Buckingham Avenue, Poughkeepsie, New York, U.S.A.
I took my 93 year old granny to France for the first time to visit the grave of her brother who was killed in action as a member of the Royal Scots in the Battle of Arras in 1917. In the same military cemetery were all his friends, some of whom she knew in life and she spent hours talking to them and recounting events that they all shared in their young lives. I also took an elderly friend to the Durnbach military cemetery in Bavaria to visit the graves of all his crew who were killed when their Lancaster bomber was shot down in 1944, my friend managed to bail out before the crash and and was the sole survivor. We were joined in Durnbach by an elderly Austrian man who as a young Luftwaffe nightfighter pilot was the man who shot them down. My friend took the Austrian gentleman to his crews graves and both wept quietly together. Me?, On both occasions I sat out of the way, wept, and thanked God that I have never had to experience such tragedy and pain.
I am not criticising you and in my opinion your post should have been left alone. You refer in your original posting as "just gravestones" but I would suggest that you do not understand what "gravestones" represent. In my grandmothers case the loss of her dearly loved brother affected her and her family for the whole of the 20th Century, 100 years of grief, pain, loss, thoughts of what might have been, what kind of men would he and his friends had grown up to be and to do, for example my grandmothers brother was a talented artist. In the later case that I quoted of the Second World War my friend had a long life scarred by guilt as the sole crew member to survive, after which he married, brought up a family, had a career, became a father, grandfather, and greatgrandfather and yet eaten up with grief and guilt for his lost crew and other friends who died and yet assuaged as an old man by the pilgrimage to Durnbach. It is not the gravestones that are important it is what they represent.
Last edited by DC10RealMan; 28th Jun 2010 at 19:09.
532018 LAC Edward Vincent Morgan 45 Sqn RAF Adopted son of Georgina A. Morgan, of Shepherd's Bush, London.
J/2827 Plt Off Ion Huge Acland RCAF Son of John Bevill Acland and Marjorie Acland, of Ganges, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada.
1381088 Sgt Theodore Jeffries 42 Sqn RAF Son of Barry Jeffries and Ann Jeffries, of Streatham Hill, London. 22 Sep 1941
R/74695 Flt Sgt William James Stevenson RCAF Son of Thomas and Edith Stevenson, of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
403006 Sgt Ronald Crawford Hunter RNZAF Son of James Steen Hunter and Hilda Hunter, of Bucklands Beach, Auckland New Zealand.
1181842 Sgt Maurice Howard Vincent RAFVR Son of Harry Taylor Vincent and Catherine Sarah Vincent, of Andover. His brother, George Taylor Vincent, also died on service.
151465 Roderic Winston Papineau 16 OTU, RAFVR.
WR Chorley in Vol 7 of Bomber Command Losses says:
Wellington Mk III BJ585 Took off at 2206 from RAF Upper Heyford for a night navigation exercise.Shortly before 0100 the starboard engine lost its oil and the crew requested an immediate priority landing. Whilst trying to do so, control was lost and the came down at 0106 near the airfield at Ramsbury, Wilts. Crew Sgt G Wilson – Killed Sgt PJ Charlier – Killed Flt Off RW Papineau – Killed Sgt L Philips – Injured Sgt SJ Angus - Injured
Son of Owen Frederick and Eleanor Sarah Papineau, of Hampton, Middlesex.
Flt Cdt SH Millard 3rd Training Depot Station, RAF
SOSL Just in case you have the wish or inclination, you can access the list of the 91 CWGC graves in Andover Cemetery. Enter the Name of one into the CWGC Debt of Honour database and when the details come up, click on the Andover Cemetery details highlighted at the bottom.
Then click on the little Cemetery Report bar and it will open up to reveal all those buried there. You can check each for Additional Information, or see if entire crews may be there.
I live in Accrington and am planning a visit to the Somme battlefields in October. Just want to see the place where they went over the top....I cannot imagine how they did it. I don't think I could have.
About three years ago my father gave me his medals and log books. (He was RAFVR 1940-46.)
They had been kept in a box and seldom had I even seen them worn. On the inside of the box my father had left a note, it reads.....
"To the World he was just a soldier.....to me he was the world".
You can substitute soldier with airman or sailor if you want and I have no idea who my father may have been referring to, as several friends and relations of his did not survive the war. But it I find it very moving especially as it is in my father's handwriting and it obviously was of particular signifigance to him.
This might be an appropriate thread to remind ppruners that there are similar graves in churchyards all around the UK - and someone is needed to keep an eye on them.
After contacting CWGC about an issue concerning the solitary military grave in my local churchyard, I was eventually asked if I would care to "adopt" it. I was aware that there are permanent teams maintaining the large military cemeteries, mainly abroad of course, but I learned that CWGC have a major administrative and logistical headache with the hundreds of individual graves scattered in ones and twos in churchyards throughout the UK. With the passage of the generations, these graves are being forgotten and are not visited by relatives. In the end I agreed to "adopt" four other graves in my local area, in churchyards that I regularly drove past, unaware of their presence.
It is not a particularly onerous task. You are simply required to make an annual inspection on behalf of CWGC and every two years give the Portland stone a scrub with a mild biocide solution. That's all. I choose in addition to call in every few weeks to trim back the surrounding vegetation, as two of the churchyards are not regularly mown, - the work of just minutes. In November I also present each one with his poppy cross, my own personal act of remembrance for those who made the ultimate sacrifice that we have managed to evade.
Given the sentiments expressed in this thread, ppruners - in particular the mils - spread all around the country, would be the obvious candidates to consider assisting CWGC by adopting the grave of a brother in arms that, unbeknown to them, they regularly pass by without realising. Anyone willing to do so should contact the UK Area Operations Manager at CWGC.
Thanks for that lastgasp, I did phone the commision a couple of years ago regarding a WW1 grave in the village graveyard and the chap mentioned the bi annual wash but said nothing about adopting the grave. Something I think the ATC Cadets can do.
It used to be that the care of military graves was allocated to nearby units. I know that the Chf Clerk at Spadeadam took the task on personally. I suspect that with the loss of so many units that this particular baby could have been tossed out with the bath water. Does anyone know if it still happens or are my suspicions correct?