RAF photos reunited with owner

Ruth Iles with the photographs she found behind an old photo frame. Picture by FRANK REID.
Ruth Iles with the photographs she found behind an old photo frame. Picture by FRANK REID.

AN expat has been reunited with cherished photographs of his airman father who was killed in the Second World War – with help from the Mail.

John Ellyatt has reclaimed the photographs which Hartlepool woman Ruth Iles had discovered concealed in a photo frame.

They show Mr Ellyatt’s father, also John, who was a flying officer with the RAF.

Sadly, he was killed when his plane was shot down over the French town of Laval on June 9, 1944.

Ruth, 60, bought the leatherette frame from the British Heart Foundation shop, in Hartlepool’s Middleton Grange Shopping Centre, where she volunteers.

She was surprised to find two photographs of flying officer Ellyatt concealed behind backing paper in the frame and appealed in the Mail last week for the rightful owner to come forward.

In a strange twist, the late airman appeared in the Mail three weeks ago, when Canadian woman Pamela Turney asked relatives of Mr Ellyatt and fellow late Hartlepool flying officer Gilbert Daniel to get in touch.

She wanted to make them aware of a forthcoming memorial service taking place in Laval, where officers Ellyatt and Daniel, along with her great-uncle Sergeant Fred Beales, and 11 other crewmen are buried.

Hartlepool-born Mr Ellyatt junior, who now lives with his wife in Switzerland, had seen the initial article on the Mail’s website and contacted Pamela.

The Mail emailed Pamela to let her know about the photographs and in turn, Mr Ellyatt junior got in touch regarding the pictures.

He said: “What a coincidance, my mother Nancy Gowland, formerly Ellyatt, died last November and we have been clearing her house out which has since been sold.

“I remember taking a load of old picture frames down to the British Heart Foundation shop in Middleton Grange in March.

“We had removed lots of photos from the frames, but these must have been hidden.

“They are pictures of my father, and also one when he spent some time in Egypt.”

Mr Ellyatt junior said he will be going to the memorial ceremony in Laval in May.

Ruth, who lives at Hartlepool Marina and is a retired Hartlepool Borough Council education department worker, said: “I haven’t heard from Mr Ellyatt but I did hear from a relative of his in Elwick who said she would email him.

“I also heard from a ship’s captain who is interested in Hartlepool military history and he told me a bit of background information about Mr Ellyatt.

“I will send the pictures off to his son in Switzerland and I’m just pleased it puts a nice line under it all.

“At least then I haven’t thrown away possible memories of his father.”