Sited in Hay-on-Wye Cemetery, Herefordshire, is a truly extraordinary war memorial, It commemorates Lancelot Steele Dixon, a young man training to be a fighter pilot who died in a flying accident close to his mother's house. His mother, who was a highly gifted sculptress, created a memorial to him, portraying him as Icarus who flew … Continue reading Lancelot Steele Dixon memorial
Robert Whitley was an Air gunner from Canada, flying with a Wellington crew of 419 Squadron. He and his crew were lost when their aircraft crashed at Argenteuil in France on 30 May 1942. They were buried as 'unknowns'. When the MRES sought to establish who the men were in the graves, they had only a … Continue reading Robert Whitley, RCAF, Viroflay Cemetery, France
The Air Ministry Casualty Branch moved to 73-77 Oxford Street in late 1942. The tall Art Deco building had been the showroom for Drage’s before the war, which is the era when the photograph was taken, and it appears that some shops remained in the building even in wartime. One account speaks of the Casualty … Continue reading Air Ministry Casualty Branch, Oxford Street
All officers serving in the MRES were volunteers. Importantly, they were also surviving ex-aircrew who felt a strong degree of involvement in the task. Amongst their number was Harold Wilson, who had flown with 97 Squadron of the PATH FINDER FORCE during the war.
Accurate post-war confirmation of the graves of British servicemen could be an extremely complicated and difficult task. Cemetery records were not always correct, and sometimes only an exhumation could solve difficult cases. Even then, an answer was not necessarily forthcoming. The complex story of some British graves at Enschede in Holland illustrates this point perfectly.
RAF losses in North-West Europe began on only the second day of the war. The funeral above, conducted with full military honours, took place in October 1939. It is thought to be that of Percy Edmund Boyce Sproston, from 144 Squadron, who was killed on 29 September 1939. During the war, German burial methods ran … Continue reading The German Treatment of the RAF Dead