Visiting a cemetery is part of the parcel with genealogy research; Drumachose Christ Church is one such cemetery that I have frequented on occasion. On each visit you always walk past a group of quiet, unassuming gentleman. In two neat rows they lie there, still and serene. There are 24 names in all and below is a short tale behind each of the names:
1.Captain Frederick Andrew Matson, RAF Ferry Command, d.12th April 1942 aged 27. He was the son of Andrew and Evelyn Matson (nee Harden) of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. Buried in Grave 1. Andrew Matson was a policeman originally from Denmark and Evelyn was from England. Frederick was the second of five children his siblings being Victor (1911), Robert (1919), Dorothy (1921) and Marjorie (1927).
2. Flying Officer (Bomb Aimer Instructor) James Whealdon MacDougal,63423, d. 12th April 1942 aged 22. He was the fourth son of Robert Paterson MacDougal, Civil Servant, and Lily MacDougal (nee Whealdon) of Hampton, Middlesex. Buried in Grave 2. The crew were flying a Hudson III V9112 when they crashed following a forced landing in Ballycastle. James had three older brothers called Allan (1908), Robert (1909) and George (1910).
3. Sergeant Ernest Edward Fraser, 1377013, d. 12thApril 1942 aged 29, son of John, Cabinet Maker, and Louisa Fraser (nee Tankard),husband of Helen Fraser of Kilburn, Middlesex. Prior to enlisting he worked as a Stationary Packer in a Warehouse. Buried in Grave 3. Ernest was the youngest of five children; his older siblings were John (1896), Frederick William (1897),Sidney Harold (1902) and Ethel Ada (1908).
4. Lance Bombardier Harry Jackson, 1796824, d. 6th June 1942 of 423 Battalion, 126 HAA Royal Artillery. Buried in Grave 4
5. Sergeant Vernon James Pither, 408512, b. 4thAugust 1913 - d. 20th July 1942 aged 28, RAAF, son of James Luke and Rosanna Amelia Pither (nee Fletcher) of Shepparton, Victoria, Australia. Buried in Grave 5. He had five siblings Alfred George Pither (1908), Lindsay Allen Pither (Service No. V374478, Army Citizen Military), (1911), Keith Meredith (1914)enlisted in the 2nd Battalion Australian Infantry Forces Service Number TX687, Alice Hilda (1916) and Norman Richard (1917) enlisted as an Army Citizen Military Service Number V395173. Vernon was the only one of the four brothers that didn’t make it home. He and Pilot Officer Twentyman crashed along the Giants Causeway and were killed instantly.
6. Pilot Officer Wilson Twentyman, 413913, d. 20thJuly 1942, RNZAF, son of William Ogden and Millicent Agnes Twentyman of Hukanui, Wellington, New Zealand. Buried in Grave 6
7. Sergeant Henry Lewis Baker, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, 1376934 RAF. Buried in Grave 7
8. Sergeant William Benjamin Fry, R/98031, b. 9thDecember 1919 - d. 26th September 1942 aged 22, 504 Squadron RCAF, son of William Benjamin Snr and Bessie Johnston Fry of San Antonio, Texas, husband of Mildred Harris Fry whom he married 6th January 1942.Buried in Grave 8. He was 5ft 9 inches with blue eyes, brown hair and weighed145lbs. his occupation before joining up was a collector for a loans company. William was awarded the 1939-45 Star, Atlantic Star, War Medal and the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal. . William was killed in an aircraft accident outside Dungiven, County Londonderry. The service file describes him as a “good average type, intelligent, courteous” and he enjoyed baseball, football, swimming and basketball. There was a brother Norman Wilson Fry (1924), sisters Bessie Lee Fry(1926) and Jennie Mae Fry (1930).
9. Sergeant Robert Alexander Felix Turnbull, 1384021,Wireless Operator/ Air Gunner, d. 2nd January 1943 aged 22, RAF Volunteer Reserve, son of Robert Bernard Elliot Turnbull and Muriel Downsing Turnbull of Mexico City. Buried in Grave 9
10. Sergeant Colin Bruce Berger, 408619, b. 22ndApril 1918 - d. 31st January 1943 aged 24, RAAF, son of Eugene Wallace Berger and Grace Gertrude Plaskitt Berger of Toorak, Victoria, Australia. Buried in Grave 10. Sergeant Berger was flying in a Wellington HX430on night training when it crashed in Limavady killing all crew members.
11. Sergeant Harold Joseph Byron Harrison, 1024222, d. 9thOctober 1942, RAFVR, son of Frederick Harold and Hilda Harrison, husband of Betty Harrison of Irthlingborough, Northamptonshire. Buried in Grave 11
12. Sergeant Ronald William Gutteridge, 1333994, d. 28thFebruary 1943 aged 21, RAFVR, son of Alice I Gutteridge of Huntingdon. Buried in Grave 12. The Wellington Bomber HX737 crashed at Falcaragh, County Donegal; all six crew members were killed.
13. Sergeant RW Anderson, 658356, d. 5th May1943 aged 21, RAF, son of Robert Walker Anderson and Helen Dawson Anderson ofDartford, Kent. Buried in Grave 13
14. Sergeant Frederick Dick Butland, J/20423, b. 1stJune 1922 - d. 13th July 1943 aged 21, RCAF, son of Frederick George Butland and Kate Constance Butland of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He was returning from a night time operational exercise in a Wellington HF 828 VIII when the aircraft got into difficulties on landing and crashed into the ground. He was killed instantly and is buried in Grave 14. He had initially joined the 2ndBattalion Royal Hamilton Light Infantry in July 1940 and reached the rank of Lance-Corporal. He enjoyed badminton, swimming, baseball, basketball and gymnastics. His job was a clerk for the Steel Company of Canada Ltd, Ontario. Frederick had blue eyes, brown hair, weighed147lbs and stood at 5ft 10 inches. His medal card lists the Defence Medal, General Service Medal and the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal.
15. Flying Officer John Gouinlock Anderson, 416624, d. 13thJuly 1943 aged 24, RNZAF, son of John Gouinlock Anderson and Margaret Wilhelmina Maitland Anderson of Glen Eden, Auckland, New Zealand. Buried inGrave 15.
16. Pilot Officer Kenneth Allan Norris, J/22872, d. 17thSeptember 1943 as a result of a flying accident aged 23, RCAF, son of Clyde (mechanic)and Clara Norris (Armstead) of Camp Houze, Texas, USA. Buried in Grave 16. Hestates his occupation as being a musician (saxophone), prior to that he had been an ambulance driver (September 1936 – May 1941). His hobbies included football and model airplanes. Kenneth was 6ft 1 inch, blue eyes, brown hair and weighed 188lbs. He was described as being “good, courteous, sturdy type, alert, co-operative" and "anxious to serve”
17. Squadron Leader Henry Roy Birtill, 88319, D. 20thApril 1945 aged 40, RAFVR, son of Henry Edward Birtill and Annie Ethel Birtill (nee Hesketh), husband of Helen Birtill. Buried in Grave 21
18. An Airman of the Second World War
19. Corporal John George Richardson, 576090, d. 26thMay 1945 aged 22, 281 Squadron RAF, son John Richardson and Susan Margaret Richardson (nee Deveron) of Glasgow. Buried in Grave 21A
20. Pilot Officer George Victor Weeks, 422034, d. 14thNovember 1944 aged 30, RAAF, son of Daniel Robert and Priscilla Elizabeth Weeks(nee Sole) of Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, husband of Nancy May Weeks of Manly Vale, New South Wales, Australia. Buried in Grave 23
21. Flying Officer Stanley David Gaudin, J/37642, d. 5thOctober 1944 aged 30, 172 Squadron RCAF, son of Rev. William Murray Gaudin and Margaret J Gaudin of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He had a range of different occupations before joining the RCAF which included junior statistician, auditor for Coca-Cola and a gardener. Stanley was a lover of football and model airplanes. When returning from an air operation, severe weather conditions and low fuel meant that the crew had to abandon the aircraft via parachute, they were all separated in the dark. Five of the crew were found in and around the area of Galway Town but Stanley’s body was pulled from the sea. His medal card lists the 1939-45 Star, Atlantic Star, General Service Medal and Canadian Volunteer Service Medal. Buried in Grave 24
22. Pilot Officer Ronald Hepburn Matthews, J/90023, b. 22ndOctober 1923 - d. 15th February 1944 aged 20, 407 Squadron RCAF, son of Arthur Russell Matthews and Leila May Matthews of Preston, Ontario, Canada. Buried in Grave 25. He enjoyed skating, canoeing, swimming, hunting and fishing whilst occasionally boxing. Ronald was 5ft 9.5 inches, blue eyes, brown hair and weighed 183lbs. Prior to enlisting he was an automatic machine operator. Orders were given for a Wellington aircraft to be taken out on a test flight, the aircraft stalled whilst in the air and as a result crashed into the ground. Ronald Matthew’s was killed as a result.
23. Flight Sergeant Leslie Woods, 414859, d. 28thNovember 1943 aged 29, RAAF, son of Henry and Mary Woods, husband of Elise May Woods of Mount Tamborine, Queensland, Australia. Buried in Grave 26
24. Warrant Officer Eric George Clarke, 404206, d. 18th October 1943 aged 26, RAAF, son of Eric William and Olivia Marion Clarke, husband of Vivian Myrtle Clarke of Banyo, Queensland, Australia. Buried in Grave 27
Not all of these men died on the battlefield. Someone still needed to make sure that the aircraft could fly properly. Someone still needed to learn how to fly in order to fight. These young men gave their lives in service to their country despite living thousands of miles away. It is a reminder that men of all nationalities were prepared to come together in the cause of freedom so that we could have our tomorrow.
Lest We Forget