More notes from Edward Winter from an email sent to Eildon and Martin Letts at Hethpool house
Thank you for last week's e-mail that contained your 2014 summer newsletter.
It weas sent to my old e-mail address so please update your records with the one above.
It was good to hear from you and receive news of times at Hethpool and beyond.
Your tribute to the airmen who lost their lives on the Cheviot Hills during WW2 reminded me of my late
father. I attach a scan of a photograph of him at the Cuddystone memorial. It was taken in 1995.
Dad was a wireless operator in Bomber Command, operational from October 1944 to April 1945. He flew on
31 missions. Approximately 110,000 were in the Command and of those, some 55,000 were killed. This was
the highest proportion of casualties in our armed forces.
The mean casualty rate per mission was about 3.5% so surviving a tour of 31 missions was improbable.
Earlier this month saw the 69th anniversary of his last raid. There were many incidents and on one of those, he and
his crew were shot down and made a forced landing at Jouvincourt in Northeast France.
He was decorated with a Distinguished Flying Medal for his role in the episode.
I attach a copy of the citation along with a record of his missions.
For his role, the pilot Ross Gray, was award the Distinguished Flying Cross. Each attributed survival
to the other and they remained lifelong friends. The respective families have retained that link.
In 1948, my late mother and he spent their honeymoon at Whitehall. I suspect that Dad contrasted the
solitude of the Valley with his experiences during his times in the RAF. I know that his brother-in-law
Charlie who was married to my mother's sister, Florrie, appreciated that solitude. Florrie and Charlie lived
in the bungalow just along from Whitehall.
Charlie was from Wallasey and was an infantryman during the advance after D-Day to northeast
I think that the last time my parents visited the Valley was in 1995. They had many happy memories of
times there with my maternal grandparents. My memories are not as distinct. As I recall, the last time
I was at Whitehall was 50 years ago this summer i.e. 1954 when I was only four years old. Nevertheless, I do
have memories of those times and they are unfailingly happy.