Mail unites airmen’s families

Nicola Sumner and her daughter Charoltte, who has the same red hair family trait as her grandmother Winifred.
Nicola Sumner and her daughter Charoltte, who has the same red hair family trait as her grandmother Winifred.

THE families of two Hartlepool-born Second World War airmen are set for an emotional memorial ceremony in France.

Servicewoman Pamela Turney, from Northern Alberta, Canada, appeared in the Mail two weeks ago appealing for the families of Hartlepool flying officers Gilbert Daniel and John Elyatt to get in touch.

Pamela, 33, is the great-niece of Sergeant Fred Beales, who was one of 14 crew members of two Halifax bombers which were shot down over France on June 9, 1944.

The mum-of-one, who is a military photographer, had appealed for other members’ families, including those of flying officers Daniel and Elyatt to contact her to arrange to attend a memorial ceremony in the French town of Laval, where the airmen are buried.

Now the families of the airmen have contacted Pamela after reading Pamela’s story in the Mail.

Pamela said: “I looked up your newspaper online and the story looked wonderful.

“But most importantly ... it was effective.

“I’ve had members of both the Ellyatt and Daniel families contact me.

“I’m overjoyed. It’s wonderful to have made contact.”

Flying officer Daniel was 22 when he died and his parents were John Daniel and Emily Lawson Daniel (nee Mann), of Seaton Carew.

The Mail previously said he had a sister who married a Mr Sumner and they had a daughter.

Now it has emerged his sister was called Winifred.

She was working in London in the war effort and married Londoner Robert Sumner.

The late couple had four children, John, Jacqui, Trevor and Robin.

Robin’s wife Nicola has since contacted Pamela about plans to attend the ceremony.

Retired banker Robin, 55, and Nicola, 53, live in Brittany, France, but are living temporarily in St Maden, near Dinan, 87 miles from Laval, which Nicola says is “purely coincidence”.

Nicola, a retired air hostess and ex-schools clerical officer, who is mum to Charlotte, 30, and Rebecca, 25, said: “We hope to attend the memorial service in Laval later on in May.

“We have visited the grave of Gilbert and the other brave young men who died with my daughter Rebecca and her partner Andrew last year.

“It was a very beautiful place and a very moving experience, and is a very tranquil and well-kept cemetery.

“There were fresh flowers on all the war graves, which I thought was a lovely touch.

“We are looking forward to going to the memorial service and meeting all the other relatives of the brave young men who gave up their lives so early.”

Nicola had heard about the Mail article from Robin’s cousin, Chris Daniel, and his wife Marian, who live in Somerset.