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..