Sergeant Eric Hopkins


Sergeant Eric Hopkins came from Newport, South Wales. He was just 20 years old when he lost his life over the skies of Godmanchester in April 1944. He had been in the RAF for 14 months. Prior to signing up he had attended Eveswell School , Hatherleigh Central School and Newport Art School and worked as a clerk for a Rogerstone company. He was the son of Mrs Hopkins and the late F. P. Hopkins of 25 Kenilworth Road, Newport.   


He also had a brother (Dennis also in the RAF) and a sister Maisie (ATS).  My search for his family goes on

Sergeant John McNeil

John McNeil came from Possilpark in Glasgow. His parents, John and Williamina, lived on Saracen Street, the main thoroughfare of the town. He was one of the young airmen on board that night who were undergoing navigational training. Despite extensive attempts to locate relatives of John I have so far been unsuccessful.


Johns grave in Lambhill Cemetery, to the north of Possilpark. The left picture was taken in 2008, the right one by myself in 2018. Clearly someone is visiting his grave to pay their respects, one can only hope that we can make contact at some point. 


Flight Sergeant Harry Bennett

Henry Thomas Leonard Bennett came from Dunedin, New Zealand, to his family and friends he would become known as 'Harry'. A young man who answered the call to arms and joined the RAF. Eventually he would be stationed at RAF Moreton Valence in Gloucestershire. This airfield was the home of No6 AOS (Air Observer School), Flight Sergeant 'Harry' Bennett's job was to take young recruits up in his unarmed Avro Anson and teach them the rudiments of navigation and stop them 'from becoming completely lost'.

Here Harry stands by the Sea and in the second photo he is proudly wearing his Pipe Band uniform


Following his death a number of personal belongings were returned to the family. For me the most moving, and staggering, after all these years, is his initialed Silver Cigarette box, complete with the cigarettes he never got to light. The family believe that this was given to Harry on his 21st Birthday, he took it everywhere with him and had it on him the night he was killed.


Harry's watch, and I guess we are all asking the same question at this point. Harry was a bit of an amateur magician and one of his favourite 'tricks' was walking his 'invisible dog' on its magic lead. 


Harry's Memorial Cross, still in the family's possession.


Harry Bennett is buried in the Cambridge City Cemetery near Fen Ditton, there is a large CWGC area which is beautifully kept. There he lies amongst rows of other British and Commonwealth Airmen. Michele and I paid his grave a visit a couple of years ago and shared the pictures and video of the cemetery so his sisters back in New Zealand could see his final resting place for the first time. The following year his niece Shelley Walker and her husband Garry came over to pay their respects.


An Avro Anson from the same Squadron as Harry's and the graves of the two German airmen who shot him and his crew down. A few nights later they lost their lives over the skies of Warwickshire when an Airspeed Oxford collided with their ME410 Hornet, it was never known if the pilot of the Oxford deliberately rammed the ME410 to stop his attack on the circling aircraft over the airfield. Delp and Wenning are buried in Cannock Chase. 





Sergeant Norman Rixson

Norman, who was known by the family as 'Danny' (after the famous song 'Danny Boy') came from Essex. His family were devastated at his loss, he was so popular, at his funeral the choir sang 'Danny Boy' in his honour. 'Danny' was the son of George Alfred and Clara Florence Rixson of Grays, Essex.  

An intake of young RAF Voluntary Reserve Airman, 'Danny' is sat front row, second from the left. Below is 'Danny's' RAF portrait photograph, Sergeant Norman Rixon Service Number 16022545.  


Danny's grave in Grays New Cemetery, he was just 20 years of age when he was killed in April 1944.