History

When a party was invited to Plougasnou to accompany The Town Mayor Cllr Mike Thomas on a Civic Visit to Plougasnou in 2015, part of the planned schedule included a wreath laying ceremony on the graves of six British airmen of 158 Squadron whose plane had crashed at Plougasnou after being badly damaged on a bombing raid. Their mission was to bomb the submarine installations at Lorient. They had taken off from Rufforth in North Yorkshire on 29th January ‘43 and had probably received damage over the target area. As a result of this they were probably heading for Predannack, where they had landed on the 14th January 1943 after a similar raid, knowing they might not reach their home base.

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There were seven young men who died, but because there was little left of the pilot, Pilot Officer Sydney Henry John White , Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, he is commemorated at Runnymede as he was deemed to have no known grave. Local knowledge from the local resistance maintained that his remains were interred with one of the other members of the crew as after the fire there was likely to be little that could be positively identified.

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It was a moving ceremony, but the story of these young men and the fact that they were being remembered in Plougasnou’s municipal cemetery made many of the witnesses feel that Pilot Officer White should be remembered with the rest of his crew with whom he died.

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Money was raised to provide a small memorial stone which could be placed in front of the other six graves and a stone commissioned from J H Ching and Son the Granite works in Porthleven.  Arrangements were made to take it over to Plougasnou in September 2017, where it was unveiled in a ceremony attended by the mayors of Helston, Cllr. Gillian Geer and of Plougasnou, Nathalie Bernard. Also present were Cllr. Mike Thomas, representatives of the RAF 158 Squadron Association Chuck Tolley and his wife Muriel, Councillors from Plougasnou and members of both Helston Plougasnou and Plougasnou Helston Twinning Associations.

After over 70 years without a commemoration, there is now a stone which reads ‘Pilot Officer S H. J. White   Pilot Royal Airforce 29th January 1943 age 26 Forever With His Crew,’  which has been placed with the war graves of the navigator Sgt. Kenneth Charles Hammond, the bomb aimer, Pilot Officer Ronald George Woods, the wireless operator, Pilot Officer Michael Kerslake Brett, the mid upper gunner Sgt. Thomas Leslie Gray, the rear gunner Sgt. Henry Berryman Moorshead and the  flight engineer  Sgt. Nicholas Pringle.

 

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