Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Never to be forgotten

John McKelvie was my mum’s fiancĂ© and her one true love …always in her thoughts till the day she died.

He had volunteered for the Air force as soon as war broke out, much to mums annoyance and after training, was given the dangerous position of rear gunner. He was soon told of his promotion to sergeant and that he was to become an instructor, reducing the chances of flying missions. This being the case both John and Mum felt more confident of their future and they dared to think of marriage plans, maybe on his next leave.

At the end of June 1940 Mum was informed that he was missing in action …. from the 17th …she was devastated but did not give up hope over the months that followed, often walking where they walked together and praying for his safe return, imagining him being a prisoner of war.

At the end of December the grave news came that he had been killed on the 17th June and buried on the 24th, at St Nazaire. Mum told me that he had been thought to have been on the troop ship ‘Lancastria’, when it was bombed and sunk, so had actually survived some conflict in the air before hand.

This was all that she knew … and I certainly had never heard of the ship and its sinking … so when I was reading and transcribing mums notes and memories, that I had persuaded her to commit to paper a few years before her death, I did some research.

He was on the list of those lost on the ship and probably was below deck in line for a direct hit. It is a tragedy that was hidden from the British public, for fear it would damage moral at a difficult time ….a Churchill cover-up. There is a book well worth reading….The Sinking of the Lancastria by Jonathan Fenby ….. if you are interested …. but facts that should be known are that if you add the number of dead from the Lusitania and those from the Titanic, together, you still have not reached the suspected total of lives lost from the sinking of Lancastria and this occurred only two weeks after the well documented, Operation Dynamo…..which every one knows as the evacuation of the troops from Normandy beaches.

John may not hold any ties to me but I do not want him or the Lancastria, forgotten …. so this LO will proudly sit within my FH album as a reminder for any that look through, in the years to come..

21 comments:

Kirsty.a said...

A beautiful story, beautifully told

Lori said...

Such a terrible tragedy. How handsome he was.

Morning's Minion said...

The stories of these young men whose lives were sacrificed, who died without children to carry on the name, need to be told and treasured. I think you do have a tie to John through your mother's love for him--and you have told his story well.

Lazylover said...

I'd just like to say that I think your blog is really well done. Keep up the good work.

TCasteel said...

A very interesting and poignant story.

Jennie said...

Love the you've combined your genealogy with scrapping. I suspect you and I might be kindred spirits. Mine's a baby blog, haven't had the time to add the scrappy bits yet. I also share your view of gardening. I look forward to taking the time to read all your entries.

Teresa Wilson Rogers said...

Very sweet and touching story - thanks for sharing. LOVE your scrapbook pages! Welcome to GeneaBloggers - looking forward to more stories from you!

Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith said...

Welcome to the Geneabloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do. I have found it most stimulating, especially some of the Daily Themes.

May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

Dr. Bill ;-)
http://drbilltellsancestorstories.blogspot.com/
Author of "Back to the Homeplace"
and "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories"
http://www.examiner.com/x-53135-Springfield-Genealogy-Examiner
http://www.examiner.com/x-58285-Ozarks-Cultural-Heritage-Examiner

Dartford Warbler said...

How strange Angie. My Mum, who was born in 1920 and was a young nurse in WW2, also had a fiance who was an RAF Sergeant. Leonard was a rear gunner on a Lancaster in Bomber Command. His plane was shot down during the Peenamunde (sp?) Raid and he and his crew mates met their end somewhere in the Kattegat Sea. She kept his photo and some telegrams, although she didn`t speak much of him. Such tragic losses of these young men.

Carmen said...

Oh I've really missed this blog Angie - I hope this is the start of many more posts :)

You've done him proud and I reckon your Mum would be beaming down at you too!

Heather Rojo said...

I just discovered your blog and I loved this post. Made me weepy. And I saw all the scrapbooking in the other posts, and it is inspiring. I'll be looking forward to more of your blog in the future.

Lisa Wallen Logsdon said...

Angie... I have chosen your blog to receive the Ancestor Approved award. Please visit my secondary blog, Genealojournal.blogspot.com, to pick it up. :-D Lisa

Bernie said...

Yes, it is amazing how many things went on during the war. Churchill and Roosevelt and Hopkins kept many things away from the people in those days. How sad that the story of this ship and its crew was never recognized.

I was just looking over some old posts of mine and saw your name and I thought I have not been in contact with her for a long time. These stories (I went ahead and read about your relatives) are fascinating. Whenever you have written about one, the person whose material you are reading was very insightful and gave you so many lovely details! I enjoyed them so much. Come visit me again!

SueH said...

Oh Angie, every time I come to your blog (which is often) I feel so guilty that I’ve not done anymore to my album. But this is the year and after my eye op next month you can expect to see more pages from me. You really do inspire me so I’ve decided to give you a well deserved ‘Stylish Blogger’ award.
You can see the details over on
My Blog

♪♫♥ Charity Crafter ♪♫♥ said...

Hi Angie x thank you for your kind comment on my blog in order to contact you I came on this blog and what a delight x I have also become a follower (couldnt resist) x You asked about my address for peel offs this would be most welcome thank you very much for contacting me, if you email me on: charitycrafter@yahoo.co.uk I will send you my address, I dont publish my address as I was advised against it x thanks again x Leigh x aka charitycrafter
on blog: charitycrafter.blogspot.com

Loraine Arderne said...

Very well presented page for the story.

Susan Allan said...

You tell the story so beautifully...it really was heart-breaking.
I might try and find that book. My dad was on a ship called the Strathallan which was sunk long after his voyage, thank God!!

LOvely layout!!!!!!!!!
Sue xx

Susan Allan said...

It is me again. Also, wasn't he handsome?
Sue xx

pat said...

WOW! What a treasure you have on your blog. I could not quit reading, even though I don't know you or the people you wrote about. These are wonderful memories to have and pass along.

Ginny said...

what a lovely way to remember him...

fairyrocks said...

Wow what a wonderful dialogue.
You make me determined to write my moms stories down.
The sooner the better. Thank you for sharing