Wednesday, 28 January 2015
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

  • Tolonews- 13 Suspects Detained over Alleged Link with IS Militants
    At least 13 suspected militants have been arrested over having alleged connections with the Islamic State (IS) fighters in central Parwan province, said a provincial security source on condition of anonymity. The suspects were detained Monday night in Bagram district when a special team of security forces were sent from the capital Kabul to conduct the raid, the source said, adding the detainees have been shifted to Kabul.
  • afghanistantimes- Explosives-laden vehicle coming from Pakistan seized in Kandahar
    The police headquarters in Kandahar said the vehicle was seized in Regi area of Dand district the other day which had arrived from Pakistan. Security officials said there were 52 different types of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), 20 kilogram of other explosive materials and six bundles of wire that is used in explosions.
  • KP- USAID suspends its largest contractor (IRD) in Afghanistan and Iraq
    The main U.S. foreign assistance agency – United States Agency for International Development (USAID) said Monday that it has suspended one of its largest nonprofit contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq.
  • BNA- Two Civilians Killed In Kabul Blast
    At least two civilians were killed in a blast in Qasaba area of Kabul City yesterday early morning. According to BNA, the blast took place after an improvised explosive device which was placed inside a car exploded in which killing two civilians, the Acting Interior Minister, Gen. Ayub Salangi said. The police have started investigation about the blast.
  • KP- Australia pledges $300 million in fresh aid to Afghanistan
    The government of Australia on Monday pledged an additional aid of $300 million to Afghanistan which would be spent on civilian projects in the next two years. The latest commitment was made during Australian Foreing Minister Julie Bishop’s visit to Kabul.
  • KP- Kandahar police chief Gen. Abdul Raziq assassination plot foiled
    The Afghan intelligence operatives foiled a plot by the anti-government armed militants to assassinate the Kandahar police chief Gen. Abdul Raziq. The National Directorate of Security (NDS) said a suicide bombe was appointed by Taliban suicide bombing cell to carry out an attack on Gen. Raziq.
  • KP- 5 people wounded in Jalalabad blast
    Hazrat Hussain Mashriqiwal, spokesman for Nangarhar police headquarters confirmed the incident. Mashriqiwal says the explosion took place in Baba Wali Hotel this afternoon at the time people were having food there.
  • KP- At least 30 Taliban killed in Kundoz operation
    Security officials in northern Kundoz province say Taliban have suffered heavy casualties in the ongoing operation in Imam Sahib District. General Abdul Saboor Nasrati, police chief of Kundoz province says at least 30 Taliban insurgents have been killed and several others wounded so far in the operation ongoing since five days.

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.