Tag Archives: Sgt. Bertram Elwell RAFVR 519416

McCaskill crew – Florennes Cemetery, Belgium

full crew comp for post144

The McCaskill crew, lost 15th April 1943. Now resting as a crew in Florennes Cemetery, Belgium

Many thanks to Guy for responding to my original request a couple of weeks ago for pictures of the gravestones of the individuals listed on the Roll of Honour. Regular readers to the blog will be well aware of Guy’s amazing efforts to contact the relatives of the McCaskill crew, who were lost on the 15th April 1943, their Stirling crashing in Nismes Forest, near Regniessart. All crew were killed and now rest in  the municipal cemetery of Florennes.

Guy is working in conjunction with the Municipality of Viroinval, in Belgium to gather information to add to the Municipalities commemorations in 2014 of the 100th anniversary of the 1st World War and the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. To this end, anything that we might still be able to provide him with would be fantastic and add to the story of the McCaskill boys for these celebrations and on the 8th May 2015 when they will be commemorated.

Read previous posts on the McCaskill crew and Guy’s efforts;
McCaskill crew – killed 15th April 1943. Crashed Forest of Nismes, Belgiumhere
Donald Gordon McCaskill RNZAF NZ413573 – Pilot. 1943 (logbook) here.
The McCaskill crew – more informationhere.
More information on the McCaskill crew – Reginald Greenhere.
More information on the McCaskill crew, courtesy of Guy here.
More information on the McCaskill crew, courtesy of Guy – Ron Smithhere.

These gravestone images have been added to the Roll of Honour (Alphabetical) section of the blog.

 

More information on the McCaskill crew, courtesy of Guy – Ron Smith

Ron Smith NZ.cropped and cont

Sgt Ronald Alexander Smith RNZAF NZ415378, Rear Gunner with the McCaskill crew. Died on the 15th April 1943, on the Stuttgart Op, age 21. Picture taken during training.

As always, many thanks to Guy for passing on more of his research into Donald McCaskill’s crew who were all lost on the 15th April 1943, their Stirling crashing in Nismes Forest, near Regniessart, whilst returning from a raid on Stuttgart.

Guy  has been continuing to search for information on the crew and is turning up some wonderful connections with relatives of the boys. He is working in conjunction with the Municipality of Viroinval, in Belgium to gather information to add to the Municipalities commemorations in 2014 of the 100th anniversary of the 1st World War and the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

As I always say regarding this subject and Guy’s efforts, anything that can still discovered about the crew would add to the story of the McCaskill boys within these commemorations.

Guy’s latest offering relates to Sgt Ronald Alexander Smith, Rear Gunner in the crew.

Ron Smith ex UK Crew cropped and cont

Ron with 4 other members of the McCaskill crew I believe. From left to right: Unknown, Ronald Smith – Rear Gunner, Donald McCaskill – Pilot, unknown, Reginald Green – Wireless Operator

Ronald Alexander Smith was born at Lauriston on the 29th October, 1921 and received his secondary education at the Ashburton High School, were he gained the University Entrance examination and School Certificate.

The sports in which he was interested included cricket, rugby, swimming, boxing and athletics. He played for his School first fifteen and first eleven.

After leaving School, he was employed by the Atlantic Union Oil Company Ltd., Ashburton, and at the time of his making application for aircrew training on the 30th January, 1941, he was employed as a clerical cadet by the New Zealand Government Wellington. He served for ten months in the Territorials.

Ronald Smith was enlisted at the Initial Training Wing Levin on the 30th September, 1941 and on completion of his initial training he embarked on the 8th January, 1942 for Canada under the Empire Air Training Scheme. Ronald Smith arrived at N° 1 “N” Depot, Debert, Nova Scotia on the 5 February, and he was posted on the 15th of the same month to the N° 14 Service Flying training School, Aylmer, Ontario, where his flying training was terminated and he was posted to the Composite Training School Trenton and remustered to an Air Gunner and posted on the 21st June, to N° 4 Bombing and Gunnery School Fingal, Ontario, where on the 14th August, he was awarded the Air Gunner badge and promoted to the rank of Sergeant.

On the 15th September, he was posted to N° 1 “Y” Depot Halifax, Novia Scotia, to await embarkation to the United Kingdom.

Ron Smith and two matescropped and cont

Ron, stood in the center, flanked by two unknown individuals at some point in his training.

Sergeant Smith arrived at N° 3 Personnel Reception Centre, Bournemouth on the 9th October 1942, and was posted on the 28th of the same month to N° 11 Operational Training Unit. With this Unit at Westcott, Buckinghamshire, and the Satellite Airfield at Oakley, he crewed up and completed his training on Wellington bomber aircraft.

Early in February, 1943, he converted to Stirling aircraft at N° 1657 Conversion Unit, Stradishall, Suffolk, before posting on the 13th March, to N° 75 New Zealand Squadron, Newmarket, Suffolk.

With this Squadron as the Air Gunner of Stirling aircraft he took part in four operational flights the targets including Frankfurt in Germany and minelaying to St Nazaire on the French Coast.

On the 14/15th April, 1943, Sergeant Smith was the Air Gunner of a Stirling aircraft which took off on an operational flight over enemy territory and failed to return to his base. All the members of the crew including Sergeant Smith were classified as missing.

Information received from the International Red Cross Committee stated that he had lost his life, and in consequence he was reclassified to Missing, Killed in Action.

Additional information received from the International Red Cross Committee revealed that he was buried in the Florennes local Cemetery, Belgium. In due course his death was officially presumed to have occured on the 15th April, 1943.

Sergeant Ronald Smith had a total of 168 hours flying time as an Air Gunner.

More information on the McCaskill crew, courtesy of Guy

Regular blog visitors will be aware that I have made a number of posts about Donald McCaskill’s crew who were all lost on the 15th April 1943, their Stirling crashing in Nismes Forest, near Regniessart, whilst returning from a raid on Stuttgart.

Guy  has been continuing to search for information on the crew and is working in conjunction with the Municipality of Viroinval, in Belgium to gather information to add to the Municipalities commemorations in 2014 of the 100th anniversary of the 1st World War and the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. As I always say regarding this subject and Guy’s efforts, anything that can still discovered about the crew would add to the story of the McCaskill boys within these commemorations.

Guy has recently contacted me with some new information and also a request, regarding his research – Over to Guy;

Sergeant Ernest Desmond COOK (19 years old) was a crew member of the Bomber Short Stirling BF513 of R.A.F. Sqn 75 which was shot down on April 15th, 1943 over Belgium and fell near the hamlet of Regniessart in the Municipality of Viroinval.

The authorities of the Municipality of Viroinval intend to organize in the year 2015 a remembrance of this event to pay tribute to these young men who gave their life to defend our freedom.
So, I would need help to get in touch with members of his family.

You will find below all the elements which I have concerning Ernest COOK.

  • His Parents Ernest and Esther Cook lived in Station road, Kintbury.
  • They had another son Gerald Cook who used to live at Mant Close, Wickham Newbury which is about 5km from Kintbury. He  passed away on 11th January 2005 but his widow, Hilda COOK, may still live there.
  • Gerald and Hilda had a son, Gary, who was born around December 1969. He, I believe to be a landscape gardener and still lives in the area.

I hope that somebody among the blog readers can help me to get in touch with one or several members of Ernest COOK’s family that possibly still survive. I think mainly of the members of the group of contacts in the UK.

Guy has also discovered some new information on Reginald Green, who featured in a previous post about the crew;

Reginald Green was native of Great Easton ( Leicestershire). Born in 1916, he was the oldest member (27 years old) of the crew of the Stirling BF513 and the only one to be married.
 
Thanks to Margaret Stamp, the reference person of the local history of Reginald’s home Village, which has invested in the researches and is a part of our group of contact.
 
Thanks also to Keith Sandars living in Medbourne  (Leicestershire).
Keith was the first contact on site  which allowed in particular to find Carol Anholm, the daughter  of Edna Searcy who had married in first marriage Reginald Green on April 26th, 1941.
 
Carol Anholm provided us with photos and documents which present a big value for us. Furthermore, the close relations, the family but also the inhabitants of Medbourne showed a lot of interest for the current researches as well as for the commemorative ceremony which will be organized to Viroinval on May 8th, 2015.
 
Edna, who had married Reginald Green in 1941, wrote a very moving poem  after the tragic death of Reginald in operations on April 15th, 1943. In fact, Edna and Reginald were separated from the day after their marriage and have gotten together only during a permission of 15 days before his departure for Newmarket.

“It was one cold November day
That my sweetheart went away.
To join the RAF had gone
To knock the bottom out of the huns.
 
No wedding for me while the war is on
He’d said to me before he was gone.
But only two weeks has passed away
Before he wrote and named the day.
 
April 26th had come
Now we meant to have some fun.
There I stood in snowy white
Loving the bridegroom as well I might.
 
One heavenly day with my husband I had
But it ended all too sad.
The very next day he had to go
Back to barracks full of woe.
 
The time had come for him to be a gunner
And he also was a runner.
Every day I spent in fear
Often shedding a silent tear.
His sergeant’s stripes he now obtained
A wireless op and gunner named.
Over to Frankfurt he had to go
But Smithy’s guns they failed to show.
 
My husband’s leave had come at last
But I guess it went too fast.
Fourteen days of love and laughter
Which I remember ever after.
 
Back to his crew he had to go
Back to the lads that he did know.
There was Jim, Ken, Don and Smut.
I sure did wish them the best of luck.
 
The fatal day it had to come.
I was riddling potatoes in the sun.
A telegram – an awful sight.
My husband had failed to return last night.
 
We all did cry, yes even Dad.
I really thought I should go mad.
I knew in my heart he wasn’t dead.
He seemed to tell me whilst in my bed.
 
I cried and cried but all in vain
It didn’t bring him back again.
The parson came to preach and pray.
I shall never forget that dreadful day.
 
Every day a letter came
And every one did bear his name.
But they didn’t make me any better.
All I wanted was his love letter.
 
Well my story now must end.
My broken heart I’ll never mend.
Unless one day I hear the news
That my husband’s alive with other crew’s”
 
Twenty years after her first poem, Edna wrote another one putting in perspective her life which continued. Indeed, in 1946, Edna remarried with Kenneth Burton and had two children; a son, Nigel and a daughter, Carol.  
 
“Its twenty years since last I wrote.
My broken heart has gone amok.
Five long years went slowely by.
But then I didnt stop to cry.
 
Another man had come my way.
Marry me darling he did say.
We married in July in the sun.
And we had lots and lots of fun.
 
Our darling son came very soon.
On easter day he sang his tune.
The lord had given me back my life.
And I mean to be a real good wife.
 
Our married life wasnt quiet complete.
We wanted something with 4 feet.
My brother gave me a lovely puppy.
He looked so cute fat and fluffy.
 
The years went by Nigel went to school.
I feltso lost without his tune.
A little girl came to live in our fold.
She had big blue eyes but never a curl.
Life was one sweet happy whirl.
We loved them both as we should.
They were so happy kind and good.
 
And my life is now complete.
We can hold the golden seat.
We live and laugh and love each day.
That is all I have to say.
 
So when you feel you cant go on.
And everything you do goes wrong.
Just kneel and pray to the lord and see.
That he will help you as he helped me.”
 
Edna died in 2010 at the age of 90 and is buried in Medbourne.

Reginald GREEN mariage cont

Edna and Reginald on their wedding day, April 26th, 1941.© Carol Anholm 

The first post about the McCaskill crew can be read here.
The second post including pictures of Donald McCaskill and his logbook can be seen here.
The third post containing information about Reginald Green, Wireless Operator witht e McCaskill crew can be read here.

More information on the McCaskill crew – Reginald Green

Reginald GREEN en équipement de volcorrected

Sgt. Reginald Green NZ415378, Wireless Operator with the McCaskill crew

Promotion de Reginald GREEN Identificationcorrected

Training group photograph – date and location unknown. The picture contains Donald McCaskill and Reginald Green (both labelled), so I think this image must also contain the rest of the crew – if at 11 OTU, minus a gunner and Flight Engineer, though if taken at 1657 HCU, then the entire crew might be present.
Guy and the relatives of the boys are interested to get a definitive place and date for the photograph and are also keen to identify anybody else in the photograph.

Many thanks to Guy for passing onto me these extra 2 images of Reginald Green, Wireless Operator with the McCaskill crew who were lost on the 15th April 1943, their Stirling crashing in Nismes Forest, near Regniessart. All crew were killed and now rest in  the municipal cemetery of Florennes.

Guy  has been working in conjunction with the Municipality of Viroinval, in Belgium to gather information to add to the Municipalities commemorations in 2014 of the 100th anniversary of the 1st World War and the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. To this end, anything that could be discovered about the crew would add to the story of the McCaskill boys within these commemorations.

As I note in the caption to the large group photograph – there is a high probability that the other members of the McCaskill crew are in this photograph – as always viewers, if you see anybody you recognise, please contact me and I will pass your information onto Guy.

The McCaskill crew – more information

MCCASKILL groupe

Donald McCaskill, far left middle row during flight training.

Ronald  groupe

Ron Smith, Rear Gunner with the McCaskill crew, far right back row, during training

201310280959reduced

Record card for BF513

I was contacted by Guy a couple of months ago regarding his research into the McCaskill crew, who  were lost on the 15th April 1943, their Stirling crashing in Nismes Forest, near Regniessart. All crew were killed and now rest in  the municipal cemetery of Florennes.

Guy  is working in conjunction with the Municipality of Viroinval, in Belgium to gather information to add to the Municipalities commemorations in 2014 of the 100th anniversary of the 1st World War and the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. To this end, anything that could be discovered about the crew would add to the story of the McCaskill boys within these commemorations.

Guy got back to me a few weeks ago with some more information that he had found with help of Jared at Archives New Zealand. He has also made contact with the sister of Ron Smith and hopes to find some more information from her.

The first interesting thing to note is that originally, Ronald was lasted as Reginald……

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the strange coincidences that seem to regularly occur within this blog, a few days later I was contacted by Russell, cousin of Douglas McCaskill – who, thanks to Russell, we now know actually to be Donald McCaskill. Russell had come across the post and was struck by the information contained within it – he had been bought up on tales that Donald had managed to keep his plane aloft long enough for the crew to bail out – when reading a 75(NZ) Squadron history several years ago was quite stunned to find that the whole crew had in fact perished.

Russell came back very quickly with the pages of Donald’s logbook that covered his stay with the Squadron and ended so tragically on the night 15th April 1943.

McCaskill_19430317-0328

He also supplied me with information that he had gathered from Errol Martyn’s excellent published research.

Excerpt from Errol Martyn’s trilogy For Your Tomorrow – A record of New Zealanders who have died while serving with the RNZAF and Allied Air Services since 1915 (Volume Two: Fates 1943-1998):

Wed 14/Thu 15 Apr 1943
BOMBER COMMAND
Raid on Stuttgart, Germany (by 462 aircraft – 25 lost) . . .
75 (NZ) Squadron, RAF (Newmarket, Suffolk – 3 Group)
Stirling III BF513/E – took off at 2132 and shot down by a night-fighter over Belgium at 0225, crashing near Regniéssart, 27km south of Florennes, where the seven crew are buried.
Captain: NZ413573 Plt Off Donald Gordon McCASKILL, RNZAF – Age 19. 444hrs. 7th op.
Navigator: NZ42295 Plt Off James Kennedy GRAINGER, RNZAF – Age 21. 249hrs. 4th op.
Rear Gunner: NZ415378 Sgt Ronald Alexander SMITH, RNZAF – Age 21. 168hrs. 4th op.

And from Vol Three (Biographies & Appendices):

Pilot Officer Donald Gordon McCaskill
NZ413573; b Wgtn 11 Oct 23; Nelson Coll; student. RNZAF Ohakea as Aircrafthand (AMD) 23 Jun 41, ITW 6 Nov 41, remust as Airman Pilot u/t 11 Nov 41, 2EFTS 20 Dec 41, 3SFTS 7 Feb 42, 1SFTS 8 Mar 42, Pilots Badge [wef 4.4.42] & Sgt 13 Jun 42, att RAF & emb for UK 22 Jun 42, 3PRC 30 Jul 42, 3(P)AFU 18 Aug 42 [att 1519BATF for c.1 wk in Sep], 11OTU (Wellington) 27 Oct 42, 1657HCU (Stirling) 29 Jan 43 [att 90 Sqn (Stirling – 1 op) c.18-25 Feb, att 214 Sqn (Stirling – 1 op) c.26-27 Feb], Comm 21 Feb 43, 75(NZ)Sqn (Stirling – 5 ops) 14 Mar 43, kao 15 Apr 43. Florennes Communal Cemetery – 2.27, Namur, Belgium. Son of Lt Col Gordon Milton McCaskill & Mrs Gwendolyn Lillian McCaskill (née Rogers), Palm Nth. [OHT2 & phot. TWN 7.7.43].

Note: ‘TWN’ refers to the New Zealand publication The Weekly News. There is a small photo of McCaskill featured in its illustrated pages of 7 Jul 43. A scan of the photo can be obtained from the Air Force Museum of New Zealand for a small fee – info@airforcemuseum.co.nz

Pilot Officer James Kennedy Grainger
NZ42295; b Shannon 1 Jan 22; Napier BHS; clerk – NZ Police, Wgtn. NZ Army/TF (NZ Scottish Regt) 9 mths; RNZAF Levin/ITW as Air Observer u/t 24 Jan 42, emb for Canada 5 Apr 42, att RCAF 30 Apr 42, 5 M Depôt 1 May 42, 1AOS 10 May 42, remust as Air Navigator u/t 7 Jun 42, Air Observers Badge [in lieu Air Navigators Badge] & Sgt 11 Sep 42, 1 Y Depôt 22 Sep 42, att RAF & emb for UK 25 Sep 42, 3PRC 9 Oct 42, 11OTU (Wellington) 28 Oct 42, 1657HCU (Stirling) 31 Jan 43, Comm 21 Feb 43, 75(NZ)Sqn (Stirling – 4 ops) 14 Mar 43, kao 15 Apr 43. Florennes Communal Cemetery – 2. coll. grave 22-26, Namur, Belgium. Son of William Kennedy & Ida Grainger Thomasina (née Main), Napier.

Sergeant Ronald Alexander Smith
NZ415378; b Lauriston 29 Oct 21; Ashburton HS (1st XI/XV); clerical cadet – ‘NZ Govt’, Wgtn. NZ Army/TF 10 mths; RNZAF Levin/ITW as Airman Pilot u/t 30 Sep 41, 1EFTS 8 Nov 41, emb for Canada 8 Jan 42, att RCAF 3 Feb 42, 1 M Depôt 5 Feb 42, 14SFTS 15 Feb 42, pilot trg terminated, KTS, remust as Air Observer u/t 29 May 42, remust as Air Gunner u/t 10 Jun 42, 4BGS 21 Jun 42, Air Gunners Badge & Sgt 14 Aug 42, 34OTU (Ventura) 11 Sep 42 [cancelled?], 1 Y Depôt 15 Sep 42, att RAF & emb for UK 25 Sep 42, 3PRC 9 Oct 42, 11OTU (Wellington) 28 Oct 42, 1657HCU (Stirling) 1 Feb 43, 75(NZ)Sqn (Stirling – 4 ops) 14 Mar 43, kao 15 Apr 43. Florennes Communal Cemetery – 2. coll. grave 22-26, Namur, Belgium. Son of David Watson & Agnes Adelaide Smith (née Doyle), Ashburton.

The crew were buried at 1900hrs on the 16th.

View Donald’s logbook here.

McCaskill crew – killed 15th April 1943. Crashed Forest of Nismes, Belgium.

McCaskill-Donald-Gordon-World-War-II-1939-1945-29243-649195

Douglas McCaskil, Pilot. Died with the rest of his crew on the 15th April 1943. Age 19

I have been contacted by Guy, with what could potentially be a very interesting request for information – and hopefully contact from relatives – about the McCaskill crew who were lost on the 15th April 1943, their Stirling crashing in Nismes Forest, near Regniessart. All crew were killed and now rest in  the municipal cemetery of Florennes.

Guy has contacted me as he is working in conjunction with the Municipality of Viroinval, in Belgium to gather information to add to the Municipalities commemorations in 2014 of the 100th anniversary of the 1st World War and the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. To this end, anything that we might be able to provide him with would be fantastic and add to the story of the McCaskill boys within these commemorations.

Guy has provided me with some information that he has gathered, I have added a little more regarding a search through the Squadron ORB’s. Kevin has been in touch, but says he knows nothing more about the boys – so this is a real ask to everybody – can we find anything more about the McCaskill boys………??

Douglas McCaskill arrived on Station at Newmarket on the 14th March 1943. The Squadron Form 540 lists Douglas and a set of other airmen (who by trade represent a full crew), James Grainger (Nav.), Bertram Elwell (AB), Reginald Green (W/Op), Angus McVicar (FE), Reginald Smith (AG) and Ernest Cook (AG).

28.3.43. Gardening – St. Nazaire.
Stirling Mk.III BK664 AA-M
Douglas  McCaskill – Pilot.
James  Grainger – Navigator.
Frederick  Bandy – Air Bomber.
Reginald Green – Wireless Operator.
D.J. McIver – Flight Engineer.
Ernest  Cook – Mid Upper Gunner.
Ronald Smith Rear – Gunner

The composition of the crew for its first Op appears a little confusing – based on the implied crew list on arrival at the Newmarket, Sgt. Elwell and McVicar are absent. Fred Bandy the replacement Air Bomber, was already on station (1/3 – 8/3 (3 Ops) with Ray Bennett’s crew, (22/3 1 Op) with Kevin Debenhams crew (he would fly another 3 Ops with the Bennett crew before being lost with them on 29/3/45 on the Wuppertal Raid). F/S D. McIver is a little more puzzling –  D.J. McIver was actually a Wireless Operator, flying with Ken Bettles crew for a single op and a total of  6 Ops with Dick Broadbent’s crew between the 27/4 and 11/6. This leads me to think that in fact F/S McIver’s listing in the crew is incorrect and it should in fact be Angus McVicar.

8.4.43. Gardening – Mining in the Gironde Estuary.
Stirling Mk.III BF513 AA-E
Angus McVicar replaces D.J. McIver as Flight Engineer (possibly, based on the comments on the previous raid).

10.4.43. War Ops – Frankfurt
Stirling Mk.III BF465 JN-K
Bertram Elwell replaces Fred Bandy as Air Bomber.

14.4.43. War Ops – Stuttgart
Stirling Mk.III BF513 AA-E
AIRCRAFT MISSING
ALL CREW LOST.
It is reported that the aircraft crashed after an air combat with Lt. Fritz Graef, I. NJG4 and crashed at 02:25 at Regniessart, 7 km South East of Couvin.

P/O Douglas Gordon McCaskill RNZAF NZ413573. Pilot. Age 19.
Buried Florennes Communal Cemetery Belgium.

P/O James Kennedy Grainger RNZAF NZ42295. Navigator. Age 21.
Buried Florennes Communal Cemetery, Belgium.

Sgt. Bertram Elwell RAFVR 519416. Air Bomber. Age 26.
Buried Florennes Communal Cemetery, Belgium.

Sgt. Reginald Thomas Charles Green RAFVR 1211032. Wireless Operator. Age 21.
Buried Florennes Communal Cemetery, Belgium.

Sgt Angus McVicar RAFVR 1371651. Flight Engineer. Age 20.
Buried Florennes Communal Cemetery, Belgium

Sgt. Ernest Desmond Cook RAFVR 1609864. Mid Upper Gunner. Age 19.
Buried Florennes Communal Cemetery, Belgium

Sgt Ronald Alexander Smith RNZAF NZ415378. Rear Gunner. Age 21.
Buried Florennes Communal Cemetery, Belgium

CRASH MAP

Location of the crash site of the McCaskill crew and BF513 AA-E
image courtesy of GoogleMaps

Guy has also provided a live link to Google maps where you can view the above map – you can view and explore it here.

After the war, James Grainger’s family sought information on fate and resting place of their son. The following is a letter is from the Belgian Consul-General in Wellington to the Mayor of Florennes, who had forwarded them a letter from Jame’s parents asking if they could establish where he had been buried and gather any official information or eyewitness accounts of his plane being shot down. A very big thank you to Angela for providing the English translation of the letter that is underneath the original letter……..

430415 Stirling SN5604

KINGDOM OF BELGIUM
Ministry of the Interior

Brussels, 12 March 1945

MILITARY ADMINISTRATION.
Identification and interment ofwar dead.
No. S.M.40/FLORENNES.
Please quote the above date and reference number in your reply.
1 enclosure

Mr. Mayor,
In a letter dated 26 September 1944, the Belgian Consul-General in WELLINGTON (New Zealand) has advised me of the following:

Pilot Officer James GRAINGER of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, according to information received from the International Red Cross, is interred at FLORENNES cemetery.

Pilot Officer J. GRAINGER was a crew member on a heavy bomber that was shot down during a raid on Germany about 16 months ago, i.e. in or around April 1943.

This airman’s father, who himself fought in the 1914-18 war, would like to know if his son is indeed interred at FLORENNES, and if possible would like to find out more about the circumstances in which the aircraft was shot down. It seems that none of the crew members survived, though some of them did attempt to bail out on their parachutes.

Mr. GRAINGER senior would like to hear from the parish priest of FLORENNES, from the local authorities and/or from local people who might have witnessed the destruction of the aircraft piloted by Pilot Officer GRAINGER.

The father of this valiant officer writes:
“After receiving the news of our son’s death – he was our only son – it was an immense comfort to us to learn that he had been interred in Belgium. I got to know your country well during the last war and I am glad that he has been laid to rest there.”

I kindly ask you to let me know whether the remains of Pilot Officer James GRAINGER are indeed interred at FLORENNES cemetery, and, if so, to provide me with all information you are able to gather regarding his death and burial (grave number, coffin number, number in register of burials) and (… sentence cuts off abruptly at this point …)

To the Mayor of FLORENNES,
(Province of NAMUR).