Updated: Jul 1, 2020
Friday 8th May sees the 75th Anniversary of VE Day & my plans for this weekend had involved attending a 1940s event where I would have embraced the fashion of the 1940s & attended the Annual Reunion Weekend of 102 Squadron in Yorkshire. Alas, the Coronavirus Crisis has forced us all to change our plans & sees us stuck at home during lockdown!
I do ask however that in spite of our own crisis we remember those who lost their lives during WW2.
Whilst attending the 102 Squadron Reunion Weekend Last May I became interested in the War Graves at St Catherine’s Church, Barmby on the Moor in Yorkshire. There are a total of 55 Commonwealth War Graves, 1 from World War One & 54 from World War Two, most of these relating to men who served & lost their lives whilst serving with Bomber Command.
My own interest in Bomber Command came about when I was researching my Great Uncles service which had me hooked.
As a Professional Genealogist I went on to help various Organisations, Societies & Museums with Bomber Command research as well as becoming the Archivist for 102 Squadron Association.
On the final day of last year’s Reunion I got chatting to the Minister of St Catherine’s Church, The Reverend Jan Hardy & being curious about my career she told me that the local children often placed flowers on the graves of the men buried there but she felt that it was hard for the children to relate to these men as ultimately they were just names in stone & so the inspiration for this project came about!
On top of client work it has taken up most of my weekends & evenings for about 6 months & in the final stages has been made much harder due to Archives & Records Offices closing due to Coronavirus. There are still points that need clarification, but I felt that it was appropriate that it be launched on the 75th Anniversary of VE Day & that perhaps as some are stuck at home during lockdown you can think of some of these men & the sacrifice they made for freedom. As a Genealogist a lot of my work revolves around researching deaths, though the more positive events like marriages, births & other achievements in people’s lives often outweigh the sad stories. Many of these Men married just after enlistment, some had amazing job prospects ahead of them, some had achieved so much already and would have gone on to shine, many would never see their Children & Children who would never see or know their Fathers....but they chose to fight and paid the ultimate sacrifice.
All though a lot of these men are from the UK many of them left their homes in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, India, America & Rhodesia to do their bit!
At times this has been a hard project to work on so intensely, uncovering the circumstances of these accidents & how these Men reached their untimely death can at times be difficult…. especially when they come alive as you learn more about their lives & who they were.
The letter sent by Reginald Robb a Canadian who served with 158 Squadron to his parents is especially poignant: -
‘A Letter from the Front’
Dear Mom & Dad,
It is the knowledge that there are people at home who are depending on you that drives one not only to do his best, but just a little bit more, & it is this spirit that is going to bring a triumphant conclusion to this struggle in which we are presently engaged.
For if we fail then all is lost, not only for ourselves, but for the vast civilized world made up of good people like yourselves.
The sacrifice might be great, but it is dwarfed by the magnificent end to which we are pointing.
Your loving son
The amount of information uncovered relating to most of these men & their families has been astounding making it hard not to identify with them. I hope that as you read through the details of their lives you will spare a thought for each of them.
You can view the project at on our website here
It is worth remembering that 125,000 men served with Bomber Command during World War Two and about 72% were either killed, injured, captured or taken as a prisoner of war.
Even 75 years on it is important that these men are still remembered & that they did not die in vain
I will be expanding on this project as the current restrictions ease & more information becomes available, so be sure to check back.
‘Lest we forget’
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