Saturday, March 25, 2023

Remembering the Crew of Lancaster R5695EM-C and WINDSOR FRANCIS RICHARD WEBB

BORN MARCH 26, 1924





Windsor was born in Peterborough on 26th of March 1924, the son of Leslie William Webb and Florence Lily neé Harrison, who married in 1921 in Peterborough. The Webb family had a long tradition of working on the railways, his grandfather being a station master in Cambridgeshire and his uncle, Cecil Francis Webb born 1899, a goods clerk. However, his father, born 1898, initially went into banking and later became involved in the management of his wife’s family advertising business. Based on family photos and the private schooling provided for Windsor, the family appears to have been well off for the 1930s and 1940s. His father served as a Special Constable in the police force during WWI, which may well have influenced Windsor’s choice of career in joining the Berkshire police force on leaving school. Any significant military connection came from his uncle, Cecil Francis Webb, who joined the Norfolk Regiment of the British army in 1914 when he was underage and served on the western front for the entire conflict. After WW1, in 1920, he joined the Black & Tans and fought in the Irish war of independence. He refused to discuss any details of either conflict for the rest of his life. In WW2 Cecil was too old to serve in the army and served as a Special Constable in the police force.

Windsor was educated privately by Katherine and Constance Back at their school in Lincoln Road, Peterborough before being admitted to The King’s School in 1933. At King’s, Windsor was in the Lion Patrol of the Scouts. On Speech Day in 1936 he received a School prize for Manual Work and Drawing. He left King’s in March 1937. After continuing his education at Stamford School, he joined the Berkshire Constabulary. At that time, the minimum age for admittance as a Police officer was nineteen. Windsor was younger and probably worked as a civilian clerk.

There are memorials to Windsor at The King’s School, Stamford School, and Berkshire Constabulary, as well as at Peterborough Cathedral.

Windsor’s cousin, Norman William Webb (born 1929), recalls the occasional visit to see Windsor and remembers that Windsor played the drums and had a drum kit in his bedroom. Norman was too young to serve in WW2 but did his National Service for 2 years as an RAF flight mechanic, commencing in 1947, initially working on Rolls Royce merlin engines that powered the Lancasters and Spitfires and later early jet engines.

Norman recalls the immense grief and sadness in the family at Windsor’s unexplained loss. Looking for some form of closure, the family discussed a theory that perhaps the Lancaster had been damaged and shot down by friendly fire when returning home, mistaken for a German bomber.

Windsor’s younger sister, Pamela, born in 1931, married William Pugh in 1951 and they had 3 children. Windsor had 2 aunts - Aunt Florence Nellie on the paternal side and Aunt Dorothy Harrison on his maternal.

Windsor joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in February 1942, service number 1320645 and trained as an air gunner. He was assigned to 207 Squadron in August 1942.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Remembering the Crew of Lancaster R5695EM-C and JOHN JAMES GALLIMORE

BORN MARCH 21, 1916




John James Gallimore, “Jack,” was born on 21 March 1916 in Seymour Street, Denton, Manchester, Lancashire, England to John Henry Gallimore and Alice Walker. He was the oldest of 6 children. His only brother, Albert Edward (Ted), also served in WW2. He was always remembered by his four sisters, Elsie, Beatrice, Marian, and Enid. All the Gallimore children attended Denton Central school and the children were good scholars. They attended Christ Church in Denton where Jack joined the Boy Scouts. After Jack was lost, Beatrice Gallimore spent many hours passing memories of “Uncle Jack” to her children often recalling the special sense of humour he used with his sisters. Beatrice remembered an occasion during rationing when each person was only allowed 2 ounces of butter each week. Jack, beloved brother, keenly wanted a crumpet with butter filling the spongy holes. His loving family gave in with a wink and a smile. Everyone in the family gave up their share for Jack to fill the crumpet craters! When the war started Jack decided he wanted to join the RAF. He enrolled and was based in Lincolnshire where he met and married Dora Farmer in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire on Valentine’s Day 1942. Jack’s family remembered that when she learned she had lost Jack, Dora was grief stricken and heartbroken. When she finally remarried more than ten years later, she brought her fiancé to meet Jack’s parents to get their permission. Jack was the only crew member known to have married. The last time Jack was home on leave, Beatrice remembered she wanted to give him ‘half a crown,” her usual gift whenever Jack visited home and returned to the airbase. Beatrice had saved her money and was prepared to give it to Jack when he was ready to leave but one of her older sisters quickly asked her if she had half a crown. Beatrice told her she did, but it was for Jack. The sister convinced the younger Beatrice that she needed the money so Beatrice gave it over to her sister who promptly gave it to Jack. Poor Beatrice was upset, especially because it was the last time she ever saw her brother. 7 When Jack and the crew were reported missing, Jack’s family – just like all other families - spent endless hours writing to various government departments to learn what had happened to their son, their brother, and their husband with no resolution. Even after Jack’s mother died, the family carried on searching. Jack was christened and confirmed into the Church of England. He made a promise to his mother that wherever he was on Easter Sunday & Christmas Day, he would take communion honoring her wishes.

James Gallimore and his bride, Dora Farmer