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.
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.