Together Again - Emotional ceremony for war heroes

Nicola and Robin Sumner (far left) next to Pamela Turney, with John and Sylvia Ellyatt (far right) with other relatives of the airmen
Nicola and Robin Sumner (far left) next to Pamela Turney, with John and Sylvia Ellyatt (far right) with other relatives of the airmen

THE families of two Hartlepool-born Second World War airmen were reunited at an emotional memorial ceremony – with help from the Mail.

Servicewoman Pamela Turney, from Northern Alberta in Canada, appeared in the Mail last month appealing for the families of Hartlepool flying officers Gilbert Daniel and John Ellyatt to get in touch.

Thanks to the article, Pamela was able to contact the men’s relatives and arrange for them to attend a memorial service in the French town of Laval together.

Flying officers Daniel and Ellyatt were among 14 crew members of two Halifax bombers which were shot down over the town on June 9, 1944, along with Pamela’s great-uncle, Fred Beales.

The families were put in touch through the Mail and they arranged to meet at the service.

Pamela, 33, who is a military photographer, said: “The nephew of Gilbert Daniel, Robin Sumner with his wife Nicola, and the son of John Ellyatt, John Ellyatt with his wife Sylvia, joined me and two other families for the VE-Day ceremony at the grave site in Laval. The ceremony was wonderful and very moving for everyone.

“In the past, where schoolchildren have laid a flower at each grave, this year we, the family members, were given the honour. It was wonderful to be able to remember the sacrifices of our families and, as importantly, to thank the people of Laval for all they have done over the years to remember our family members and all the others who gave their lives.”

After the article appeared, Nicola Sumner, the wife of flying officer Daniel’s nephew, Robin, told the Mail that the family now live in Brittany, France, and have often visited the grave.

In a strange twist, a woman called Ruth Iles had featured in a Mail article describing how she had found two photographs of a flying officer Ellyatt behind a photo frame and wanted to return them to their rightful owner.

The officer’s son, also called John, who now lives in Switzerland, reclaimed the pictures, having misplaced them while clearing out his late mum Nancy Gowland’s house out.

Mum-of-one Pamela said: “I saw the article about the photos that were found. What an amazing story.” Flying officer Daniel was 22 when he died and his parents were John Daniel and Emily Lawson Daniel (nee Mann), of Seaton Carew.

Flying officer Ellyatt was the son of George William and Ellen Ellyatt of West Hartlepool.