In Memoriam: The Spitfire 10k and the Roll of Honour.
If you venture to the RAF Museum Midlands on 27 August or our London site on 17 September you will witness the return of the Spitfire 10K run. This event is held to support the RAF Museum and enable us to tell the stories of those who served in the RAF. To symbolise this each entrant receives a Roll of Honour card in their pack. The Roll of Honour commemorates the pilots and aircrew who lost their lives during the Battle of Britain in 1940.
The Roll of Honour card allows the entrant to carry the name of a Battle of Britain Pilot with them on their run and someone to research also. In this blog and a subsequent one I will investigate some of those whose name the entrants may receive. Each is of course an individual who left behind a family, friends and lovers. They were part of ‘The Few’.
Roll of Honour
Pilots in the Battle of Britain had of course had a wide variety of life experiences and I examine just two below who feature on the Roll of Honour and whose card you may get to carry with you on your run.
A Father’s Discovery
James Hugh Roumeui Young did not begin his working life wishing to be a pilot. At the age of 17 he trained at Elstree Studios and worked on various films travelling to Morocco and Algiers to do so. Aged 21 in 1939, perhaps inspired by this glimpse of traveling the world, he joined the Royal Air Force.
On the 28 July 1940 while flying Spitfire P9547 Pilot Officer Young encountered Oberleutnant Muncheberg of III/JG26. His Spitfire was shot down and it was thought he crashed near the Goodwin Sands. Goodwin Sands is a 10-mile-long (16 km) sandbank at the southern end of the North Sea.
Later investigation would reveal that his body was washed ashore near Cap Blanc Nez in Normandy France on the same day and buried. This discovery was revealed in a letter to his father, Captain Young of the Royal Engineers on 27 February 1945 by Chaplain Alexander Reid who had visited his grave which was alongside two unknown British Soldiers. His grave was described as
‘well cared for, and a green shrub has been planted over it. The plot has been surrounded with white stones.’
Further information on Pilot Officer Young can be found at the Battle of Britain London Monument website (bbm.org.uk)
Remembered at home and overseas
The Canadian Alexander “Alec” Albert Gray Trueman was an experienced pilot when the Battle of Britain begun. He had joined the RAF on short service commission in 1938 after obtaining his Canadian pilot license.
By March 1939 he was a Pilot Officer and his valuable flying experience was soon to be needed. After transferring from Bomber Command to Fighter Command after piloting Hampdens he converted to Hurricanes and was part of No. 253 Squadron who transferred to RAF Kenley. This was on the front line of the Battle of Britain as it was based near Greater London.
On 2 September 1940 P/O Trueman was credited with damaging a Bf 109, for this he was promoted to Flying Officer the next day. On the 4 September eight Hurricanes, including Flying Officer Truman’s V6638 took off on an interception patrol. V6638 would plummet to the ground after being shot down.
Fling Officer Truman was buried in St. Luke’s churchyard, Whyteleafe, Surrey and is remembered in many ways. Trueman Road in Kenley is named in tribute to him and he is also remembered on the family memorial in New Brunswick, Canada. Perhaps the most poignant memorial to him however was the twin sons, Alec and Michael born on 4 November 1940, two months after the death of their father. His wife Ethel would live until the age of 89 passing away in 2002. Further information and images may be found at the Kenley’s Revival website.
A busy scene of WAAFs plotting on an operations table seen from the upper gallery, the extension of which serves as the background to the painting.