A Visit to Ayrshire

Grave Stone
Originally uploaded by Dancers.

I have spent the last couple of days at my parents home in Dalrymple. It was a brief visit because of the amount of work I have on.

I was talking to my Mum about my grandfather on Wednesday night. I realised as we were talking how little I knew about him. I knew he was killed in WWII while flying a Spitfire. I had assumed that this had happened in England somewhere during the Battle of Britain and that he was buried there. However, Mum told me that he had been buried in Ayr Cemetery. This came as a bit of a surprise, so we decided next day to go and visit.

We went assuming that the war graves would have been in a separate area in the Cemetery. But we discovered, that they were scattered all over. After spending an hour searching, we went home for lunch. Mum phoned the local authority and the gentleman at the other end of the phone very kindly agreed to meet us there and show us where it was. Ironically we walked past it, completely missing it, during our first visit. So here it is:

566178 Sergeant
E. A. Dancer
Royal Air Force
3rd October 1940 Age 25

It was quite moving.

I later discovered that he was killed while flying out of RAF Kinloss in what seems like a training exercise. Evidently the pressure on the RAF to train pilots was enormous, resulting in casualties:

The war seemed a long way off from Kinloss but as the months went by the Station flag appeared to be almost permanently at half mast as aircraft frequently crashed on training sorties. Unfortunately the inexperience of the pilots being pushed through training to supply front line squadrons, the worn-out aircraft and poor weather caused many accidents, over 68 in the first year of 19 OTU’s operations. Sadly, many of those arriving at Kinloss for the first time saw the remains of aircraft around the airfield and at one time, even on Tolbooth Street, Forres.(from RAF Kinloss website)

Perhaps most poignant moment was the discovery, later that afternoon, amongst some documents in a little brown case under one of the beds in my parents’ home, a letter to my grandmother written the night before he died. They had only been married earlier in the year. In it he expressed his love for his young wife. There was no sense of alarm or urgency. It was just an expression of everyday affection. He was shortly about to fly on routine night training. I can only assume that this was the flight that killed him.

A Visit to Ayrshire

2 thoughts on “A Visit to Ayrshire

  1. Stephen says:

    Hi Rob,
    Thanks for the link. I didn’t know about it.

    BTW Hope all goes well on Sunday at Belper. Wish I could be there!

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