Together Again - Families’ plea to join pilgrimage to war ceremony

Pamela Turney
Pamela Turney

A SERVICEWOMAN is hoping to trace the families of two Second World War airmen ahead of a memorial ceremony in France.

Pamela Turney, who lives in Northern Alberta, in Canada, is keen to hear from the families of Hartlepool flying officers Gilbert Daniel and John Ellyatt.

Sergeant Fred Beales

Sergeant Fred Beales

They are buried in the French town of Laval, in Mayenne, alongside 13 crew members of two Halifax bombers which were shot down over France on June 9, 1944, including Pamela’s great-uncle, Sergeant Fred Beales.

Flying Officer Daniel was 22 when he died and Pamela says according to her research, his parents were John Daniel and Emily Lawson Daniel (nee Mann) of Seaton Carew.

He had a sister who married a Mr Sumner and they had a daughter.

Flying )fficer Ellyatt was 27 when he died and he was the son of George William and Ellen Ellyatt of West Hartlepool.

He also had a wife named Nancy (nee Jones) and they married in autumn 1943, before his untimely death nine months later.

Pamela, 33, has made contact with a senior member of Le Souvenir Francais (France Remembers), which honours fallen servicemen from allied forces.

Pamela, who is married and has an 18-month-old daughter, said: “He shared with me that each year on VE Day, Le Souvenir Francais organises a ceremony to honour these 14 airmen by laying flowers, playing the Royal Air Force march-past and flying the RAF ensign.”

Now Pamela, who is a military photographer and has been in the Canadian Armed Forces for five years, is arranging to travel to France for the ceremony later this year.

She said it could be the last year military honours are provided for the ceremony as the regiment that provides the honours, 42e Regiment de Transmissions, is leaving Laval.

Pamela has also started the task of contacting any surviving relations of the other 11 airmen who are resting alongside her great-uncle.

She said of the 14 airmen, her great-uncle was Canadian, there was one Australian, one Dutchman and the rest were from the UK.

Pamela has had success in locating the family of Dutch flying officer Willem Van Stockum and Englishmen Sergeant Edward Charles Wicks and a Sergeant Brotherton and relations are preparing to fly to the ceremony.

She said: “Other than Gilbert’s niece, I realise no one I’ve mentioned is likely to be still living, but I would hope someone might recognise the information and might know if there are any surviving kin who may want to join the van Stockum family and myself at the ceremony this year.

“My personal military involvement probably makes me more interested in learning about the fate of the men buried in Laval, and thankful for the continued efforts of the French to honour those men.”

If the family of flying officers Daniel or John recognise themselves, they can email stillgrinning@hotmail.com