it was a couple of days before the brown stuff hit the fan. An irate civilian from Air Ministry regarded the loss of that fork to be a crime comparable to stealing the Crown Jewels. I was to report on how (my) negligence had allowed this loss to occur. A Board of Inquiry seemed likely and the way the man spoke a court martial might ensue. Next, the Command Accountants were crawling all over my back demanding to know how I had neglected to safeguard the unbelievably expensive cigars which, now they told me, were only meant to be for show. It sounded to me as though a stoppage of pay would be the least I could suffer. But then, after a couple of days with my back to the wall, it all went very quiet and I suspect the Station Commander had stepped in to sheath the Sword of Damocles poised above my head.
Ah well, I thought, there might be a hint of silver lining to this cloud. After all this trouble there is no way that I could continue as Messing Officer. Wrong. It was many months before I handed over to some poor soul from 65 Sqn. And I never did get to see, let alone meet, the Emperor.
Commonwealth War Grave In North America Peter F Rogers
I was very pleased to see Jan & Stan Dell’s piece on the Madingley Cemetery in the September Newsletter. Many years ago, I took a group of visitors from the Pentagon to see it. I thought it might be appropriate to follow the Dells’ with a few words about the largest Commonwealth War Grave in North America. It is embedded in the Municipal Cemetery of Montgomery, Alabama and, when I knew it, contained the graves of 55 RAF and 5 French servicemen killed while undergoing training at American bases in the south east of the country during the Second World War. Tragically, seven of those interred died on one night in May 1972 as a result of a disastrously incorrect weather forecast.
In 1980-83 I was on an exchange posting with the USAF and served as a member of the teaching faculty of the USAF Air University located at Montgomery. As the senior British officer on the base I was, de facto, the guardian of the Cemetery during my tenure. I alternated with the French Consul in New Orleans in arranging Remembrance Day events.
The Cemetery was, nominally, tended by a local man under contract but he was not always up to the task. The day before one Remembrance Day, two of us cut the grass and tended the graves ourselves. I played host once to a retired Canadian Army major who was the Commonwealth War Graves Commission representative from Ottawa. In addition to negotiating a new care contract he experimented with a chemical cleaner to take out the green stain running below the bronze sword on the memorial cross but it was only partially effective. I was very impressed with the work that he and his colleagues did in North America on behalf of the Commission.
The Remembrance Day service at the Cemetery was always very well attended not only by official service and civilian representatives but by many of the local people. On one occasion we were joined by a bewildered group who had come on a pilgrimage to the singer, Hank Williams, whose hideous marble memorial stood next to our plot.Now, 34 years on, I see from recent photographs on the web that the site has been enlarged to include the graves of 78 RAF servicemen and 20 Frenchmen and that a memorial plaque has been erected. This, I would imagine has been the result of consolidated smaller War Graves in North America into one site. It looks, too, as though the Hank Williams monstrosity has been moved elsewhere. I have lost contact with my Montgomery friends but the web photographs show that the graves are as well-kept as ever and I don’t doubt that the Remembrance Day service continues to be held every year. https://www.tracesofwar.com/sights/8275/Commonwealth-War-Graves-Montgomery.htm
Gone But Not Forgotten R.I.P.
Keith Appleyard Signals-Radio Section 1957-60, d. 10th Sept. 2017.
Val Hodgkinson (twin brother of Wilf) d. 26th Dec. 2017. Val was station adjutant at Duxford.
Alan Goodchild EPAS 1951-52, d. 25th January 2018 4