The Dedication Ceremony
On Saturday 7th September 2017 a short service took place to dedicate the Godmanchester Stirling Memorial. The sun drifted out from behind cotton wool clouds and a light breeze rustled the bushes and tree's, a few drops of rain very briefly fell and then stopped as fast as they arrived. The sunshine set the scene, a day of celebration, a day of colour, a day of reflection and remembrance. Attended by many of the families whose loved ones are listed on the memorial, also attending were family members of some of those who also flew with Drummond's crew during his time at XV Squadron between October 1941 and April 1942. The Commanding Officers of both RAF Wyton and RAF Alconbury unveiled the memorial, which had been covered by a Union Jack prior to the service.
Drummond Wilson's son, Drummond Thorne, read the poem 'Night Bombers' by Owen Chave, a fellow XV Squadron pilot who also lost his life in 1942. Whilst nearby Drummond Wilson's 1930's Squire Supercharged Rally Car came to honour its owner from all those years ago.
Phillippa Kirby, granddaughter of Sergeant Edgar Gould, read his letter to his wife, written just a few days before his death, and Noelle Spalding- Mills, granddaughter of Sergeant Noel Spalding, read his letter to his wife Olive which was written in the Officers Mess at RAF Wyton in case he was killed in action.
To honour the crew, and all those who flew with XV Squadron, the Scottish lament 'Flowers of the Forest' was played by a piper.
There then followed a wreath laying, one for each of the crew, and one more to represent all those who had also served alongside Squadron Leader Drummond Wilson. This one was laid by my wife Michele and my son James.
Prayers and blessing were said by the Reverend David Busk of St Mary's Church, Godmanchester. The Honourable Mayor of Godmanchester, Sarah Conboy, was also in attendance.
An RAF Bugler played the last post as members of the Royal British Legion lowered their standards in honour of the fallen. And the Squire paid its own silent tribute to the man who once steered it through many a rally.
After the service families had time to have their photograph taken at the memorial and the chance to remember their loved ones and the service they gave their country all those years ago. Here Drummond Thorne, son of Squadron Leader Drummond Wilson and his sons Mark and Matthew pay their respects, and on the right Drummond stands alongside Philip Jeffs, son of warrant Officer Donald Jeffs, who laid a wreath in memory of his father's best friend Flying Officer Leonard Gornall.
Left: Mary Southey, wife of co-pilot Sergeant David Southey and family stand proudly by the memorial whilst Flying Officer Clifford Reeve's daughter Fiona and her daughter Elizabeth pay their respects.
ITV Anglia kindly covered the event, I got to talk to reporter Matthew Hudson, who put together a fantastic report for that evening's news.
And Chris Cannon used his considerable experience to create a memorable video record of the day, whilst Alastair Grant offered his professional photographic skills to deliver a brilliant collection of photographs (which are featured here) After the ceremony we all retired for a buffet lunch at The Comrades Club in Godmanchester, where the families had the chance to meet and talk about their airmen. I was also able to present two cheque's in thanks for support given to The Godmanchester Stirling over the past few years. Firstly £250 to The Comrades Club for helping me stage the annual Veterans Day, and secondly £500 to The Porch Museum, who have provided tremendous support since the story surfaced.
I was very moved when both Jeremy Reeve, son of Flying Officer Clifford Reeve, and our Mayor, Sarah Conboy, gave me a pat on the back for the whole project and the days event. Have to admit to feeling somewhat 'tearful' at that point. Especially as it felt that the whole project had reached a point of finality.
For one little soldier it was all a little too tiring. Asher Spalding-Mills, the great grandson of Sergeant Noel Spalding, received a model of a Short Stirling bomber so that in the years to come he can see what his great grandfather flew in. Here his father, Mike Spalding-Mills, receives the gift
The Godmanchester Stirling Family, because in many ways that's what we've become.
The following day I presented my wife Michele with a bouquet of flowers and together we moved the wreaths to the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin, Godmanchester where they remained until they faded.
Follow the links below to watch the Dedication Ceremony and the ITV Anglia evening news report.