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Archive for the ‘Naval’ Category

A few days ago I called in on the Aviation Preservation Society (APSS) workshops down at East Fortune in East Lothian, naturally enough people were a little bit down regarding the death of their Patron Captain Eric (Winkle) Brown, one of our finest ever aviators.

I spoke to APSS members about the Sopwith Strutter project and the news is very encouraging, the work is picking up pace rapidly and they’re waiting the arrival of the special wing tension wires from the Wiremill in Musselburgh. Once these arrive and a suitable work space is found the aircraft will be assembled for inspection. Once it has been passed the aircraft can then be covered with fabric, not the original Irish linen, but a modern more durable alternative.

 

APSS replica MGs

Replica Machine Guns

The apprentices at McTaggart Scott Engineering are currently hard at work manufacturing a Scarfe ring  for the rear cockpit onto which will be mounted the magnificent Lewis Gun replica made by APSS member John Guy, who also made the magnificent Vickers gun which will sit up front in front of the lucky pilot.

The beating heart of the aircraft, the Rotec radial engine, all the way from ‘Down Under’ is ready to be installed and looks very impressive indeed. I filmed a short video with Ken Sharp and Mike Harper who gave me a run down of the progress.

So keep your eyes on the East Lothian sky later this year, you never know what you might see.

 

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I’m delighted that James Mattocks from the Aircraft Preservation Society of Scotland has taken  time out to answer a few of our questions about the exciting Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter Project.

Q. What is APSS ?
APSS is the Aircraft Preservation Society of Scotland, we are a group of aviation enthusiasts helping preserve the history of aviation and associated skills. Over 30 working members are actively involved in various projects.

We are based at the National Museum of Flight at East Fortune, part of the National Museums Scotland and recently celebrated our 40th Anniversary.

Q. So James, when did the project begin and who’s idea was it?

“It started back in 2001, Evan Pole and I approached Adam Smith, the Museum curator at the time, about building a replica Bleriot. He came back and said he already had an idea to build a Sopwith 1 ½ Strutter, an aircraft which represented an important stage in the development of military aircraft, which saw widespread action in fighter and bomber versions and which was

Q. How many people are involved in the project?

“Initially there were 12 people in the team, this has varied over the years and sadly two have passed away since the inception of the project. Six of the original team are still involved in the build and we now have 14 members working at least one day a week on the Sopwith.”

Can you describe a typical team member, if there is such a thing?

Ted Tootell working on a bracket - Photo APSS

Ted Tootell working on a bracket – Photo APSS

“We have a wide cross section of people with exceptional skills in their field. We have 9 who are, or who have been pilots, Bernard McGinty and Evan Pole who are both retired professional engineers. Tim Rayner of LAA is our inspector, checking every piece of work. I still work on as an ordinary member, mainly due to the growing complexity of the project.

Any welding has to be done by a CAA certificated welder. Fortunately we obtained the services of “Stoorie”Muir who travelled up frequently from Prestwick, and still does when required, to do the necessary work.

The early work was mainly woodwork and proceeded rapidly because the group is graced by members with good woodworking skills.”

Q.  What’s the most difficult job to date?

“The wing rigging wires are very precise indeed, and are a time consuming job. They have to be extremely accurate in length or the wing will warp.

Also we have outgrown our current workshop and accommodation in building 32; we cannot keep putting the Strutter  together then dismantling and putting her back on the bench. When the engine and propeller, fuel and oil pipes and  electrics are fitted the fuselage will have to remain on its undercarriage with the only  items removable being the wings.”

Beautiful craftsmanship, seems almost a shame to hide it under fabric. Photo APSS

Beautiful craftsmanship, seems almost a shame to hide it under fabric. Photo APSS

Q.  Will the Sopwith have any modern equipment or will it have WW1 style gear?

“As far as is possible the Sopwith will be built using the same techniques and materials as it’s WW1 predecessor, we have used modern aviation glues etc for safety reasons and we are using a brand new engine. This has arrived and it was an exciting day when it was fitted into the airframe.”

Q  The Lewis gun looks very real, is real or a replica?

“It’s a replica, but it looks very real, it a lovely piece of work by Joy Guy.”

Fantastic replica Lewis gun for rear mount - Photo APSS

Fantastic replica Lewis gun for rear mount – Photo APSS

Q How is the project funded?

“ The original budget estimate was £34,000, in money of the day, but not including the engine. £4000 per annum for the airframe was to be supplied by the Museum of Flight, the rest to be found by APSS.  It was to be powered by an original rotary engine which was to be supplied and paid for separately from the airframe budget, by the Museum of Flight.

Sadly after the initial funding the Museum withdrew from the project and we as APSS have continued with the project since then. Total spending so far is around £34,000 and we estimate the project will cost around £43,500 when it’s completed.

We have funded this by selling valuable assets such as the Brantley helicopter, the Taylorcraft Auster AOP5, and the Miles M17 Monarch, and the De Haviland Chipmunk.

The engine purchase was looked after by our Chairman, a retired business man of much experience, it was obtained at a good price but nevertheless was a major item of expenditure.”

Q When do you anticipate the aircraft being ready?

“In the light of my one time prediction of completion by 2006, I have to be careful here.  The airframe is largely complete but there is much work to be done still in making and fitting tanks, piping, instruments, flying wires and then covering and painting.

Instinct tells me that this will be complete in two years time but since my instinct has in the past proved to be somewhat optimistic, I am going to double that and say June 2017.”

Q Can the public see the Sopwith at the Museum at all?

The Sopwith has been on public display in the Concorde Hangar, it’s been an enormously popular exhibit and we have had people come back time and time again to get updates on our work. We estimate we have had over 2000 people visit the Sopwith this year and thank everyone for their interest and support.

Taking shape - The 1 1/2 Strutter in the Concorde hangar Photo Alex Duncan

Taking shape – The 1 1/2 Strutter in the Concorde hangar Photo Alex Duncan

Q Will the 1 1/2 Strutter be used at air displays or based at East Fortune?

As to where it will fly, there are no fixed plans at present, but fly it will.  Over the years, various ideas have been suggested, such as a local Lothian syndicate, a Perth Airport syndicate, or Shuttleworth. In the meantime we press on to ensure that our late production Sopwith 1 ½ Strutter takes to the skies.”

Q Will the aircraft take part in WW1 commemorative events?

It would be lovely if it was to be involved, a lot is dependent on the timescale for completion. Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutters were based at East Fortune, which was a Royal Naval Air Service Station during WW1 and involved in the protection of shipping in the Firth of Forth.

Q  What’s your overall impression about the project?

“One thing comes to mind here and it is that throughout all these years, although this has been a absorbing and at times technically demanding project,the great friendship and companionship and cohesion of the team has never faltered.

The skills and dedication of the team have increased and refined over the period of build. We have all been involved in an important educational exercise designed to show to new generations the skill and dedication of our early aircraft designers and manufacturers, and we have thoroughly enjoyed it. “

A replica Strutter in it's element.

A replica Strutter in it’s element.

Looking fantastic the Sopwith begins to evolve - Photo Alex Duncan

Looking fantastic the Sopwith begins to evolve – Photo Alex Duncan

Thanks James, I for one am looking forward to the day the Sopwith takes to the air again. It’s a fantastic project and I take my hat off to those involved. It’s fantastic to see craftsmanship like this still exists.

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First blood to the RAF.

Monday 16th October, 1939 2.30pm it’s a quiet Autumn afternoon over the Lothians, the Second World War was in it’s infancy, Scotland was still untouched by the carnage that had already seen Poland fall to Nazi Germany.

This was about to change, a flight of 9 German Junkers 88 bombers flew out from their base at Sylt on the northern most tip of German and headed over the North Sea and towards their target, the Royal Navy on the Firth of Forth.

The bombers somehow managed to evade detection, and they were only spotted as they flew up the river. An anti-aircraft battery was drilling with practice rounds and hastily reloaded with live ammunition. Their firing alerted other units and ships along the estuary.

The Luftwaffe were to sink HMS Hood if she was at anchor in the river. As it turns out she was not, several ships were in dock but the bombers were under strict instructions not to bomb them at anchor in dock to avoid civilian casualties.

Jock Kerr from Dalkeith

Jock Kerr from Dalkeith

Instead they turned their attention to the ships lying at anchor including the Cruiser HMS Southampton and the Tribal class destroyer HMS Mohawk, who’s crew included Dalkeith man ,Able Seamen Jock Kerr.  I had the pleasure of meeting Jock in the late 70’s when we worked at Rowntree’s in Edinburgh.

They were totally unprepared and the first warning of attack came as lookouts sounded the ‘Action Stations’ alarm. All hands scrambled to their positions, Jock made his way to B gun deck, the upper deck and to his horror saw a Ju88 bearing down on the ship, bomb doors open, ready to attack.

The German aircraft dropped two bombs, Jock recalled in later life that he could still see them “clear as day” , big and black,falling through the air and striking the water either side of the ship.  Although they did not hit the ship they showered her with huge chunks of shrapnel and caused terrible casualties, 16 men were killed and 44 wounded. Jock looked down from his position and described is as “horrible, there was blood and guts everywhere.” He remained very critical of the lack of warning about the attack to his dying day and felt they could have fought off the attack with adequate warning.

HMS-Mohawk-crew-at-funeral

Their job done and now under heavy fire the Germans turned for home but got separated, 602 City of Glasgow Squadron was already in the air, and 603 City of Edinburgh Squadron were scrambled to intercept them. Both Squadrons were Auxiliaries (Reservists) and equipped with brand new Spitfires, they were desperate to engage the enemy and put them to the test.

Pilot Officer Pat Gifford 603 Squadron

Pilot Officer Pat Gifford 603 Squadron

Barely in the air 603’s Spitfires bounced three Ju88s at 4000 feet scattering them in all directions, the Spitfires latched on to one of the aircraft and chased it inland, reports from the Dalkeith Advertiser of the time describe how they arrived over Bonnyrigg without warning, (no sirens had sounded) the peace was shattered by the roar of engines and a blast of machine gun fire from the pursuing Spitfires sending spent cartridges down on to Bonnyrigg High Street.

The Ju88 weaved and turned it’s way back towards the coastline in an attempt to shake off the Spitfires, but to no avail. Taking it in turns to attack they poured hundreds of .303 rounds into her unit Pilot Officer Pat Gifford administered the ‘coup de grace’. The German bomber plunged towards the sea about 4 miles from Port Seton, a local fishing boat saw it go in and picked up the survivors. Pat Gifford is officially credited with shooting down the first enemy aircraft in WW2 in UK airspace but it was a close run thing.

602 City of Glasgow Squadron engaged the Germans at much the same time and attacked them over Fife. Flt Lt George Pinkerton and Archie McKellar pounced on the Ju88 piloted by Hauptmann Helmut Pohle, he was at a grave disadvantage, during his diving attack on the ships at anchor, he had lost his canopy, leaving the crew exposed to the elements.

Attack after attack came in until Pohle lost control, crashing into the sea off Crail, almost hitting a small ship. Pohle was the only survivor, the other three crew were killed.

602 Squadron (City of Glasgow)

602 Squadron (City of Glasgow)

To this day 602 and 603 Squadrons maintain a healthy rivalry as to who shot down the first German. Pat Gifford was shot down and killed during the Battle of France in 1940.

The surviving Germans were taken to Edinburgh Castle until they recovered from their wounds, then sent to a POW camp. Their crewmates were buried with full military honours in Joppa Cemetery, Edinburgh, they were re-interned post war in the German Military Cemetery at Cannock Chase, England.

Luftwaffe crew members funeral at Joppa

Luftwaffe crew members funeral at Joppa

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HMS Viknor

Commander Ernest Orford Ballantyne stayed at Ashbank in Eskbank, Midlothian. He was in the Royal Naval Reserve and at the outbreak of war was given command of the Armed Merchant Cruiser HMS Viknor.

She had been requisitioned by the Admiralty and assigned to 10th Cruiser Squadron blockading the seas between the North of Scotland and Iceland.

On January 13th 1915 Vicknor set sail from Londonderry in Ireland, and headed out into the Irish Sea to make for her patrol area. On board her were 22 Officers and 273 Ratings mostly from the Royal Navy Reserve. The weather was bad and the sea was very choppy indeed.

HMS Viknor never reached her patrol zone, a search of the area was made and scattered wreckage was found in the sea. There were no survivors. Mystery surrounds her sinking, it was thought at first that a U Boat had sunk her, however German records showed that no such craft were in the area until the end of January.

It was officially recorded that HMS Viknor has been destroyed by an enemy mine, somewhere of Tory Island and that no one had survived.  Over the next few days men from the ship were washed ashore and buried locally. In Bonamargie Friary there are  four unknown graves of seamen from H.M.S.’Viknor’ .

Seaman John Bowen Mercer, who is buried in Colonsay Military Cemetery, was one of 25 men from Newfoundland on board Viknor. The other 24 men are commemorated on the Newfoundland Memorial at Beaumont Hamel, the famous Caribou statue. It must perplex a few people when they see that they are Navy men so far inland, but this is Newfoundland’s monument to all it’s citizens who have no known grave.

Ernest Ballantyne’s body was not recovered amongst his men, his folks back in Eskbank gave up hope of finding him, and a memorial service was held at St Mary’s Chapel on 5th February.

Questions were put to Winston Churchill in the Houses of Parliament regarding the sea worthiness of Viknor and there were calls for a board of enquiry, all of which were dismissed.

On the morning of the 12th of February, 1915 Sgt Angus McDonald the local Policeman on the island came across the body of a naval officer in Castlebay. It was dragged from the water and from his insignia and other effects the body was identified as Commander Ballantyne.

He was taken home and buried in Dalkeith Cemetery with full military honours. Indeed it was one of the biggest funerals seen in decades in Dalkeith and a reporter from The Dalkeith Advertiser was there to record events, unusually a local photographer was also present and captured this image of the funeral.

Military Funeral at Dalkeith of Commander Ernest Orfod Ballantyne 1915

Here is the report of the funeral itself from the Dalkeith Advertiser.

EOB-Funeral-01EOB-Funeral-02

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June 6th , 1944 A date that most people will be aware of. Operation Overlord, the Allied campaign to liberate Nazi occupied Europe commenced.

D Day saw hundreds of thousands of young men from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and France fight their way ashore on 5 beaches.

The Americans on Utah and Omaha, The Canadians on Juno and the British on Gold and along with the French on Sword Beach.

One of the units landing on Sword Beach was the 1st Special Service Brigade, famously their Commander, Brigadier Lord Simon Lovat and his piper Bill Millin came ashore wearing Tam O’Shanters with Millin playing his pipes.

This scene was immortalised in the film The Longest Day

'Lord Lovat' meets up with British Airborne at Pegasus Beach - The Longest Day

‘Lord Lovat’ meets up with British Airborne at Pegasus Beach – The Longest Day

A number of Free French Commandos also went ashore with Lovat, the beach was taken at great cost and many fine young men lost their lives that day.

One of these men was 28-year-old Able Seaman Drummond Stewart, from Polton in Midlothian.

He was aboard the LCI(S) 524 Landing Craft Infantry (Small) very similar to this one seen at Juno on D Day

LCI (S) on Juno Beach IWM Collections IWM Photo No.: B 5218

LCI (S) on Juno Beach IWM Collections IWM Photo No.: B 5218

She had beached under heavy fire and took a number of casualties after landing her Commandos. As she withdrew from the beach she received a direct hit in her petrol tanks from a German artillery round.

The thinly skinned wooden boat disintegrated instantly and became a huge fireball, her high octane fuel tanks spewed burning petrol into the sea setting it alight.

Most of the crew made it into the water  where they were picked up by a US Navy coastguard vessel.

Drummond Stewart and 7 of his shipmates were not so lucky  and perished in the cold waters of the English Channel. His body was lost at sea and he is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial,

So why am I raising this subject now, rather than on the Anniversary of D Day?

A fair question, and one I will answer here.

Six of the Normandy Tourist boards recently launched a campaign promoting a festival to commemorate the 70th anniversary next year. They created an area called the “secteur mythique” (mythical sector). This stretches from Utah in the west,
across all the other beaches where troops came ashore but stops short of Sword, at the eastern end. As well as missing out Sword completely it cuts off part of the Canadian landing beaches at Juno.

Map of the 'Mythical Sector'

Map of the ‘Mythical Sector’

It also,bizarrely, omits Pegasus Bridge, the first piece of French soil to be liberated by British Airborne troops.

The reason the French Tourist boards give for this is that 85% of tourists go to the other beaches, in a statement Loïc Jamin, president of the tourist office in Bayeux defended the campaign and said he “did not understand” the controversy.

He may well not understand the controversy but a great many veterans and local people in the landing area have been disgusted by the action of the tourist board.

The Bayeaux tourist board is wrong in my opinion to opt out of the D Day Zone, some of the fiercest fighting of the war took place around Caen where SS Divisions stubbornly held off the Allies and huge damage was done to the city. Hopefully it will reflect on it’s decision and take into account the views of the remaining veterans and those of it’s own citizens.

If your relatives went ashore on D Day I would love to hear to hear from you.

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Newtongrange war memorial in the snowIf you follow my blog on a regular basis you will be aware of the ongoing campaign to have men added to Newtongrange War memorial. A few weeks ago I sent in a request under the Freedom of Information Act, which you may have already read.

I received answers to the questions I posed today and here is what was said,along with my views on the answers given.

First off the Council have confined the answer to WW2 apparently which is not what I asked, my questions were regarding the war memorial not merely WW2.

1. Does the Council actually own the memorial or is it the Royal British Legion?

Midlothian Council         The Memorial to those who fell during the Second World War is sited on land owned by the Council.  Whether ownership transferred is not known but more than likely the local authority will have adopted it and this Council continues in that role, undertaking maintenance (as with all similar Memorials of its type in Midlothian) in terms of the Local Government (Scotland ) Act 1992. By extension, that includes consideration of any alterations to the Memorial.

John Duncan There is no separate memorial to WW2, there is a memorial erected by the British Legion and two stone tablets, one for WW1 and one for WW2 and other relevant conflicts.  I don’t dispute the ownership of the land, clearly that it owned by the council. However it seems vague whether it was previously adopted.

2. Who is responsible for repairs to the memorial?

Midlothian Council    Midlothian Council.

John Duncan   Good to know some of the lettering starting to fade a bit.

3. What criteria do the Council use for deciding who’s names appear on the memorial?

Midlothian Council     Whether the individual was killed in action or died of wounds in a theatre of war and the connection with the village eg place of domicile / residence where native, at the time of death

John Duncan    This is an interesting answer. Have the Council purposely referred to WW2 in the answer and applied these criteria to this war only, and not to WW1. If so it’s very strange and contradictory as the lists for both tablets were drawn up at the same time around 1999 / 2000.

There are men on the WW1 tablet who do not fit the above criteria, ie one that died of an accident and a number of men who died of illness on active service. Just to clarify I have always stated that these men should be on the memorial, I do not feel however that there should be a different set of rules for WW2. Why would you want to do this?

4. Who is responsible for the nomination / decision process?

Midlothian Council   Nominations are received from interested parties who may be the family of the individual or
others.  The decision process involves endeavouring to ascertain / corroborate the factors at 3 above.

John Duncan    Okay, so who is responsible for making the decision?  This does not answer the question. Is it Midlothian Council or is it the Community Council?

5. In the event of a dispute regarding a decision made regarding a nominee, what right of appeal is there?

Midlothian Council   There is no record of a dispute ever having arisen but, ultimately, it would be for the local authority to decide.

John Duncan   If the Council are making the initial decision then, clearly, it is undemocratic and unfair that they them make an appeal decision on their own decision.

Are they going to say on the one hand – “No this man can’t go on a memorial” and then on appeal say – “You know what we were wrong” and change their mind.

No chance, there should be an independent body, or the Community Council should make the initial decision and any dispute is resolved by Midlothian Council.

6. What procedures are in place for potential victims of current / future conflicts.

Midlothian Council   Currently, there is no provision for this locally, although it is known that in some instances, one or two names of those who fell during conflicts since the Second World War have been added to Memorials in other towns and villages.

The National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire records (a) those who have given their lives in the service of their country, (b) all who have served and those who have suffered as a result of conflict, and (c) others who for specific or appropriate reasons are commemorated on the site.

John Duncan  I will reserve judgement on this one, I would like to think that anyone that dies, through what ever means, in a conflict is remembered on our war memorial.

7. Does the council accept Commonwealth War Graves Commission data as evidence of eligibility?

Midlothian Council The question has never arisen but any information will be considered

John Duncan  Interesting, because it has arisen twice at least in the case of George Noble, once in 1999 and again this year by myself. You may recall the answer from Midlothian Council.

“As regards Pte Noble, I have a  record that states that he appears to have  died as the result of an accident aged 21 years on Salisbury Plains (parachute  failed to open) post the Palestine conflict. In the circumstances, a previous  request to have his name added to the Memorial was declined; and that  regrettably is the conclusion that must be reached on this occasion. I have  raised the question here about  additions in respect of post 1939 – 1945  war but have yet to obtain an outcome. Theoretically at least, the names of  those who were killed / died of wounds after WW2 in other conflicts are recorded  at the National Memorial / Arboretum.”

The Council also provided a potted history of the war memorial which I am a little bit confused by.

“In January 1934, the Memorial was unveiled in the Welfare Park – a rough silver granite pillar, to their memory – provided by the Women’s Section of the British Legion.” (This is correct)

“(In most cases, the decisions to erect or provide World War 1 memorials in public spaces were taken by the Council’s predecessor authorities; and the cost was met through public subscription; and adapted after World War 2. Unusually, in this case, the Memorial in respect of  World War 1 was in the Church and the complete rationale for the erection of the World War 2 Memorial in a public space is not currently available but it is thought likely that there would have been some form of public subscription albeit one organised by the British Legion.)”

The public war memorial was not held in the church. The memorial referred to bears the names of members of the United Free Church, including my Great Uncle Charles Gibson. This memorial was originally housed in the church at the foot of the village which is now the Masonic Hall. When the Church ceased to function as a church, the plaque was given to the Church of Scotland in the Main Street, Newtongrange for safe keeping, it remains there to this day.

When the memorial in the park was erected  in 1934, in the Welfare Park, it was intended as a place of Remembrance for all the village, not just the member of the United Free Church.

Given it was erected in 1934 it was clearly not intended as a WW2 memorial ,unless our forefathers predicted a second global conflict. The dates 1939 to 1946 were added at a later date post WW2, the memorial was designed pure and simple as a WW1 memorial which has been adapted twice as the years go by.

The tablets were added in 2000 as it was annoying most people that the inscription on the memorial read;

“To the memory of the lads from this Parish who fell in the Great War 1914 – 1918 & World War II 1939. Their name liveth for evermore.”

Finally lest it be thought I am being over critical, I think their gardeners do a magnificent job year in, year out making our memorial a fitting place to remember ‘our lads’.

Anyway we shall see what the Community Council make of this.

Newtongrange War Memorial

Newtongrange War Memorial

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Barrie-Jones-and-family-lat

Engine Articifer 4th Class Barrie Jones and his family

This is a sad tale, a story of a man that two neighbouring villages, Gorebridge and Newtongrange, apparently do not want on their war memorials. Their reasons are different but the effect is same.

His daughter Elizabeth (pictured) now approaching her 70th birthday has no place locally to commemorate her father’s memory.

Barrie was born in the village of Cockpen which lies between the much larger villages of Newtongrange and Bonnyrigg, Midlothian. The family subsequently move to Newtongrange and live at 1 then 5 the Main Street. In 1943 Barry (aged 20) marries Elizabeth Mary Paterson from Gowkshill, a stones throw from the village, in Stobhill Church, as is normal for the era, Barry and Elzabeth move in with her parents.

In 1944 they are blessed with a child Elizabeth. Barry is away from home, he in serving in the Far East with Royal Navy, when the war ends he is stationed at HMS Landswell in Singapore, his duties bring him into contact with Japanese POWS who are being held in Singapore.

On the 14th of January, 1946 he is returning to the base in an open transport lorry, the lorry hits a bump and Barrie is thrown from the vehicle onto the road, he suffers massive head injuries and quickly succumbs to them. Barrie was buried with full military honours on the 16th of January, 1946 at 11am in Bardurdari Cemetery, Singapore and a cross erected on his grave. The sad news is conveyed to his widow, his daughter is a toddler and does not understand her daddy is dead.

Barrie-Jones-1st-Grave

Barrie Jones first grave, snapped by a shipmate

In 1955 the Imperial War Graves Commission inform Elizabeth Jones that Barrie’s grave is to be relocated to Kranji War Cemetery, which subsequently occurs in 1957.

When the time came to add names to Gorebridge WW2 Memorial Barrie’s name was put forward as his wife was from the Gorebridge District, however he was declined as the panel deciding who went on the memorial, decided that Barrie was a resident of Newtongrange, not Gorebridge so should go on their memorial.

When his name was put forward to go on Newtongrange War Memorial, they decided that as he died by accident, and after the war, he was not eligible for a place on their memorial. Of the two decisions Newtongrange’s is the most shameful, their reasoning does not stand up to scrutiny,ie “Barrie died of an accident after the war was finished”.

On the WW1 memorial they already have a man who killed by a train whilst on leave, two who died from influenza, one who died from heart failure. Why is Barrie Jones so different from these men?

I do not disagree that these men should be on the memorial, on the contrary I believe that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission standards of eligibility should be applied fairly and consistently to each man, not randomly.

To finish I will repeat the criteria laid down by the CWGC for eligibility, Midlothian Council,Newtongrange please get your act together, do the right thing, you are beginning to make me ashamed of my village, something I thought I would never say as a proud Nitten man.

Second World War – 3rd September 1939 to 31st December 1947

The location of their death and the cause of death are immaterial to their qualification. They could have been killed in action, died of wounds, died of illness or by accident, died due to suicide or homicide or suffered judicial execution. CWGC treats all casualties equally and all must be commemorated under the terms of their Royal Charter.

Edited 18th April

I have now received official documentary evidence that Barrie Jones resided at 1 Main Street, Newtongrange at the time of his marriage, and that he was ‘currently on active service’. This vindicates the decision of the Gorebridge Committee,in that he resided in Newtongrange, hopefully now this and the other facts listed above, will convince Midlothian Council and the Community Council that their decision was wrong, and they change their minds.

I will keep you posted.

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