Wednesday, 26 November 2014
logo
Up-to-the-minute perspectives on defence, security and peace
issues from and for policy makers and opinion leaders.
        



dv-header
     |      View our Twitter page at twitter.com/defenceredbox     |     

inmemoriam

Remembrance can take many forms. 

This is the true story of an eight year-old girl in the south of England during the Battle of Britain. She saw an RAF fighter pilot in his parachute being machine-gunned by a Messerschmitt 109 as he drifted towards the earth over Ashford in Kent. She felt that that had been a terrible price he had had to pay for protecting her. Many years later, Jean Liddicoat, as she had become, was a grandmother living in Staplehurst. Her grandson questions her about the Battle of Britain, which he is studying in school. She answers him, and he says to her that in the cemetery next door is the grave of an unknown airman which has been left neglected and forgotten. She goes to see it and, sure enough, on the headstone are the words,

"An airman of the 1939-1945 War ... Known unto God".

Jean tidies up the grave and makes it look beautiful. Then she starts making inquiries. After eight years of investigating, she discovered that on5 September 1940, during the Battle of Britain, eight RAF pilots were killed, but only six were identified. She therefore knew that the unknown airman must be one of two men. She also discovered that he had in his possession at the moment that the Spitfire plunged into the ground a half-hunter silver pocket watch. Its mechanism had stopped at the moment of impact. What was more, the unknown airman's sister, Margaret, who was approaching 92 years of age, had come forward and identified the watch as being exactly the same as the one given to her brother.

Jean Liddicoat now knew who the airman was, and she found out as much as she could about him. His name was Freddie Rushmer, and he was a flight commander of a squadron which had more confirmed victories in the Battle of Britain than any other in both the RAF and the Royal Auxiliary Air Force. On the day on which he did not return from his mission, there was absolutely no time to go searching for a fallen comrade in the war being waged for Britain's very existence.

Freddie Rushmer had never had a funeral service, so one was arranged at All Saints Church in Staplehurst. RAF officers from No. 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron and representing the present Tornado squadrons attended, but did not expect a large congregation nearly 60 years after the Battle of Britain. When they arrived, they found to their astonishment that the church was full to overflowing with local residents-some were standing outside. Whoever the unknown airman was and whatever he did, they wanted to remember the man whom they believed had died to safeguard their freedoms, who had died for them.

Told by James, Lord Selkirk of Douglas, to the House of Lords 10th November 2011

Comments 

 
0 #3 Jim Renwick 2014-07-01 17:14
Jean a dear friend who will be sadly missed by Family and Friends ,and all who served in 603 City of Edinburgh Squadron, and all

RAF Family.
May you rest in Peace, a very special Lady
Quote
 
 
0 #2 jeannette kilinc 2014-04-18 10:59
I would like to inform all those that read this story that my mother Jean Liddicoat passed away peacefully in her sleep on Wednesday 16 April 2014. We all loved the way she worked so hard to bring about such a wonderful response to her and my son's discovery of an unnamed RAF pilots grave in the graveyard at Staplehurst. She will be greatly missed she was an inspirational woman,mother and grandmother.
Quote
 
 
0 #1 Tam Rushmer Menzies 2012-12-19 02:43
Thank you for this wonderful story about my Great Uncle Freddie! I have just recently been interested in finding out about my family from Great Britain and couldn't have imagined that such a wonderful story would be discovered. I am very proud to be related to such a great man. Thanks again, Tammy from Kelowna B.C. Canada
Quote
 

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

Latest from icasualties.org

  • wired-gov.net- British personnel leave southern Afghanistan
    UK service personnel have left southern Afghanistan after completing the most challenging military redeployment operation for a generation. Servicemen and women watched as the Union flag was lowered at Kandahar airfield, where RAF personnel have operated since 2001.
  • WaPo- Two powerful explosions rock Kabul
    Two powerful explosions hit Kabul early Tuesday, one wounding six Afghan army soldiers, the latest in a series of insurgent attacks on high-profile targets. A roadside bomb targeted an Afghan National Army minibus, causing the injuries, police said. The second blast in the center of Kabul did not cause casualties, they said.
  • delmarvanow- Wicomico native killed in Afghanistan
    A U.S. Army sergeant major from Wicomico County was killed Monday serving in Afghanistan, according to his family...one of the casualties was Wardell Turner, said his mother, Wanda, and his sister, Wauleah, who both live in Nanticoke. The bomb struck a Toyota Land Cruiser and also wounded a passer-by, Afghan police told the Times.
  • KP- 2 NATO soldiers killed in militants attack in east of Afghanistan
    At least two NATO service members were killed following an attack by militants in eastern parts of Afghanistan on Monday. The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said “Two International Security Assistance Force service members died as a result of an enemy attack in eastern Afghanistan on Nov. 24, 2014.”
  • KP- Haqqani Network behind deadly suicide attack in Paktika
    The Haqqani terrorist network has been accused of the deadly suicide attack in eastern Paktika province which left at least 57 people dead. The Afghan Intelligence – National Directorate of Security (NDS) said the Haqqani Network was behind the suicide attack.
  • BNA- Explosion Targets Foreign Troops Convoy in Kabul
    An explosion in the 9th police precinct of Kabul city earlier today caused injured of at least 4 civilians. The incident took place in Qabilbai area, Kabul city. According to BNA, the explosion occurred while crossing of foreign troop’s convoy from the scene. Sediq Sediqi spokesman of interior ministry confirmed injuring of four people in the incident.
  • CBS/AP- 2 American troops among 50 killed in Afghan attacks
    Bombings across Afghanistan killed two American troops and six civilians Monday, authorities said, as the death toll in the country's deadliest insurgent attack this year rose to at least 50. The attacks, including Sunday's mass killing by a suicide bomber at a volleyball tournament, come amid a renewed Taliban offensive as foreign troops begin to withdraw from the country.
  • BBC- Bomber 'kills 45' at Afghanistan volleyball match
    A suicide bomber has killed at least 45 people at a volleyball tournament in eastern Afghanistan, officials say. A spokesman for the governor of Paktika province told the BBC that the attacker had detonated the bomb amid a crowd of people gathering for a game. About 60 people were also wounded in the bombing in Yahyakhail district.

British military casualties - Editorial policy

In the service of our country.

Eulogies for all personnel killed on UK operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere are posted as soon as they have been released by the UK Ministry of Defence. Each eulogy we publish for men down in operations brings a lump to the throat. We are losing the best of the best. Politicians must ensure that, when the newspaper cuttings have faded, their sacrifice has had some meaning, has helped bring about a good result. Anything else would be a waste for which they will be eternally condemned.

There is invariably at least a 24 hour gap between the official release of news of an event and the naming of the dead. This is to allow families to be informed and proper eulogoies to be produced. Occasionally families request no euologies or comment. We abide by guidance we receive on such sensitive matters. We regret that information on those who sacrifice almost as much through grave injury is seldom released by the MoD for operational reasons, and so we are unable to pay tribute.

 

Cookies
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the Defence Viewpoints website. However, if you would like to, you can modify your browser so that it notifies you when cookies are sent to it or you can refuse cookies altogether. You can also delete cookies that have already been set. You may wish to visit www.aboutcookies.org which contains comprehensive information on how to do this on a wide variety of desktop browsers. Please note that you will lose some features and functionality on this website if you choose to disable cookies. For example, you may not be able to link into our Twitter feed, which gives up to the minute perspectives on defence and security matters.