Les Millgate a True Gentleman Ed
Many would love to fly, others can only wonder what it would be like to handle the controls of an aircraft. But, how many have imagined that the pilot of the aircraft that has taken them so many times to different parts of the world, to holidays abroad, to visiting far away friend and relatives or on business trips, that the captain up front whom we rarely see, could have been an ex RAF fighter pilot named Les Millgate? Holding in his hands the responsibility for the safety of his crew and hundreds of passengers during so many journeys.
Sitting next to Les at the ODA’s recruitment desk at a previous year’s air show, I asked him ‘what was his favourite aircraft that he had ever flown?’ Straight away he said, “Boeing 747, a beautiful aircraft to fly.” I quietly thought of the 1000’s of people that he had looked after to deliver them safely to their destinations.
I next met Les last December when he and I plus four others were invited by Esther to give filmed interviews at Duxford for the IWM. http://olddux.org/filmed-interviews.html Afterwards, Esther was to provide lunch in the Officers Mess café. Les, looking rather frail, politely declined, and chose to leave early to go home. Saying goodbye as he struggled to rise from his chair then unsteadily walking towards the exit, I offered to escort him to the car park, but being Les, he said that he would be alright and I was not to bother. We all watched him slowly make his way to the door. That was the last time I saw him.
In early August this year, Stan paid a visit to see how Les was getting on. Les’s request to Stan was to keep the recruitment table going, to tell the public about us, how we served at RAF Duxford and to tell our stories. Should the IWM allow us to do so, we could rename the table; ‘Veterans of Duxford,’ perhaps.
Can you imagine that after only four days in the nursing home, Les, being Les, decided this was not for him? That it was not in his nature to be a burden to anyone? That he closed his eyes, offered up a smile, climbed into his 64 Sqn. bent Mk 7 Meteor to seek the freedom of the skies once more until his fuel ran out?
Our dear friend Leslie William Millgate, passed away on the 8th of September 2017.
On Friday 22nd of September Les was cremated at Cambridge City Crematorium.
Both the Imperial War Museum and the Old Dux Association was well represented.
Following the service all were invited to The Bees in the Wall public house, Whittlesford.
Les leaves his wife Dorothy and his two sons Peter and Paul.
He also leaves all of us, who feel it was a privilege to have known him
Sometimes the words left unsaid, are the loudest in the hearts of others.
Photo credit Jan Dell
Connie Raison (Nee Campbell) 65Sqn Stores d.13th.June 2016
Mike Hocking 64Sqn Pilot 1956-58 d. early September 2017
Roy Briggs Associate Member, d. October 2017
Ray Barnett Telephonist, d. 12th. November 2017
Les Millgate 64Sqn Pilot 1952-55 & 1956-58, a true gentleman.
Remembrance Sunday 12th November
Many members of the Old Dux Association with their guests attended the Remembrance Service at IWM Duxford. The high-light for the ODA was when Kerris Denley who not only provided the wreath together with Colin, but accepted the privilege of laying the wreath on behalf of the ODA.
The Kohima Epitaph (Homage paid to many who gave their lives for us.) The Greek poet Simonides of Ceos (Kios) (586 – 468 BC) who, after the battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC, wrote as a memorial to the valiant defenders;
‘O stranger, go home and tell the Spartans that we lie here in obedience to their orders.’
The sentiment in the Kohima epitaph is certainly Spartan in tone and the writers were influenced by their classical education. The first of them was written by the Greek scholar J. M. Edmonds (1875 – 1958) for a graveyard in France, circa 1916 during the First World War, which reads;
When you go home tell them of us, and say ‘For your to-morrows these gave their to-day.’
The Kohima Epitaph is the epitaph carved on the Memorial of the 2nd British Division in the cemetery of Kohima (North-East India) and was unveiled at Kohima in November 1944.
The author was Major John Etry-Leal, the G.S.O. II of the 2nd Division. He also was a classical scholar and had almost remembered what J.M. Edmonds had written before… His version was read by Billy Bentley of the Burma Star Association.
When You Go Home Tell Them Of Us And Say,
‘For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our today.’ 4