August Last Post

Today we welcomed the family of Sergeant Stanley Davis, the subject of our August Individual Remembrance. Members of the Davis family travelled from Lincoln to join us. The ceremony was particularly poignant for our Chairman as Sergeant Davis was his cousin, once removed. Former members of the Artists Rifles regiment were also with us with their Standard on parade.

Sqn Ldr Stanley Davis MBE (Retired) was named after our individual remembrance subject today and read out a comprehensive biography. Sergeant Davis from 76 Sqn was a Wireless Operator / Air Gunner in the Second World War flying on Halifax bombers. As part of a mixed Commonwealth crew, piloted by New Zealander Sqn Ldr A P Burdett, their bomber was part of an audacious raid to sink the German battleship Tirpitz which was moored in Faettenfjord, a small fjord off of Trondheimsfjord.

Over a period of many months during 1942 various raids were made to sink the Tirpitz with limited success but with the total loss of 17 aircraft and 64 crew. It was during the night of 30/31 March 1942 that bomber R9453 MP-K was lost on the way back from an unsuccessful bombing raid after thick low cloud prevented accurate targeting. R9453 MP-K was last heard of with a radio report passing over Sumburgh Head at 0210hrs and is believed to have ditched in the sea very soon after. It is not known whether this was due to battle damage, engine failure or running out of fuel. An extensive search was mounted by two Royal Navy destroyers and some twenty aircraft but no trace was found. Sqn Ldr Burdett’s body was washed up on Shetland and buried in Lerwick, New Cemetery in September 1942. The remainder of the crew are remembered on the Runnymede Memorial, Surrey. Sergeant Davis was 21 years old.

Gill Elliot sounded The Last Post. Our Standard Bearer today was Alan Lopez and Tom Milne carried the Union Flag. Standards from several Royal British Legion branches, the Woking Royal Naval Association and the Artists Rifles were on parade.

Afterwards, we retired to The Trench Experience for refreshments.

Special thanks to Nigel Longley for arranging the sound, Alan Meeks for the photographs and Sqn Ldr Stanley Davis MBE (Retired) and for the Individual Remembrance text.