Thursday, 3 February 2011


I'm interested in WW2 memorials, gravestones etc. and am always pleased when I find these forgotten tributes to fliers who were killed.

The graves in the photo are in this shady quiet corner of Westcott churchyard, in Bucks, just off the A41 between Aylesbury and Bicester. They are of men from the UK and New Zealand who died in several accidents at Westcott during 1942 and 1943. The airfield was used for training and one Wellington pilot overshot the field, stalled and crashed, catching fire; another Wellington crashed while returning from bombing practice and all members of the crew died.
The airfield was also used for leaflet dropping raids and as the war ended over 20,000 liberated POWs were brought home via Westcott.
Remembrance poppies are placed on the graves in November.
The airfield is now an industrial estate.

God’s Acre

God’s Acre, a meadow starred with flowers,
Where wind blows feathered grasses to and fro
And bees hum in the silence and owls glide
From bell-cote ledge as they did long ago,
And Westcott church still drowses past the gate.
Fat clouds float overhead; it rains or not,
It matters little to the villagers
Who sleep so soundly in their weathered plot.
But others lie beside the village folk,
They came from other places, other lands
To serve in time of peril years ago
And stayed to rest, a brave unlucky band.
The silence of the churchyard then was rent,
The roar of bomber engines clawed the sky
To fall and crash to earth, a bloom of red.
Now under white stones in a row they lie,
The English and New Zealanders alike,
The pilots, navigators and air crew.
I wonder if their ghosts on moonlit nights
Sit talking under skies where once they flew?


This post memorial in Ford, a hamlet near Haddenham, was erected a few years ago at a ceremony which was attended by members of the public, officials and the band from RAF Halton. It commemorates two airmen, one of whom was Canadian, who died here in 1944 when their Wellington crashed. A pot of heather has been left in the centre of the memorial wreath of poppies and there are two small groups of snowdrops, one on either side of the central post.

The memorial is on a small crossroads in the hamlet. I wonder if any passers-by have stopped to look or even thought about what it is?

I was in Prestwood this morning and remembered this plaque I'd seen a couple of years ago. It's had a chequered history being passed from one resting place to another and now graces an outside wall in - a garden centre! At least it's been saved from being scrapped.

Two Wellington bombers, on a night exercise in 1944, collided over Prestwood killing 11 men, both crews except for one survivor found wandering in a dazed condition. The fliers were Dutch, British and Canadian.


Micki said...

That was so interesting. We have some really neat graveyards near us that date way back. One of them is the Famine Graveyard.

Kath said...

What a nice post Silve. I know Westcott well as at one time, it was our neighbouring village.
I had never noticed the memorial tho. Lovely poem too.

Sylve said...

Hi Micki - that's very interesting about the Famine Graveyard, I'd never have thought about that but obvious when you put your mind to it. A terrible time in Ireland.
Kath - glad you like the post. The graves at Westcott are behind the church but the memorial at Ford is in full view. Poem's mine, from a writing class a couple of years ago.

Martin Callow said...

Sgt Callow RAFVR was my gandads brother. I never knew (and I doubt grandad did either) that there was a plaque to Uncle Gerald. So going to pay a visit.