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laughton

B20 Duhallow A.D.S. Cemetery: 2 sets of Airmen

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laughton

This is a good case for Trevor Henshaw to look at as it has some good clues. I was not looking for these, just happened to notice them when I was assisting Aurel from Ypres in the same cemetery.

 

There are two sets of airmen down, very close together, just north of Gheluwe, northwest of Menin. That is in the area that Luc has been researching, if my memory is correct, so he may have come across these already.

 

I will "ping" each of Trevor and Luc.

 

  1. FIRST SET - distinguishable due to the fact that they are reported as R.A.F., so that means they were after April 1, 1918, if we assume that the person doing the reports knew the difference between the RAF, RFC and RNAS. I would have to presume that was the case. The RAF Officer was noted for "stars and wings" and I don't know enough to say whether the "wings" made a difference in the identification (i.e. were wings only once it was RAF?)
     
  2. SECOND SET - distinguishable because the 2nd Lt. Observer was still wearing K.O.Y.L.I. buttons. I presume that is "King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry"? We Canadians are not so familiar with the many, many British Regiments. I guess that is why they only gave us two named and the rest numbered! We know these two are pre April 1918 as they are noted as being RFC.

 

I searched the Arras Flying Services Memorial and there is no mention of the K.O.Y.L.I., or any of the components. They do have that for the Canadian Airmen that were attached to the British RFC, RNAS or RAF but apparently not the British Officers.

 

Here are the maps, followed by the Concentration Reports (COG-BR):

 

q1rjsg8r5aqa3sh6g.jpg

 

tahad1j743pn8i36g.jpg

 

doc2151689.JPG

 

doc2151675.JPG

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fetubi

Hi Richard,

 

Thank you for sharing this.  The first pair, at Sheet 28, K.34.a.3.8 - I hate to say it, but I see a lot like this in my own research - for me there's sadly not enough to go on here.  Especially in this area - it was truly a concentrated "killing field" in the air.  I won't stop looking, but nothing yet.

 

The other pair...  K.34.c.2.1.  In contrast, there's quite a bit to sift through there.  And I believe I've found them already. 

 

The first thing to say is the appellation of "R.F.C." definitely does not guarantee we're looking at pre-April 1st 1918.  I've come across many killed RAF personnel in these forms noted as "R.F.C."  It's not always the case, but I think people were still of a mind to think of a flier as "RFC" - for years after.  And as well, these fliers could well have been wearing their RFC kit still.  This is relevant. because the crew I think fits this pairing were lost in early October 1918.

 

I will need more work, but here's my thinking (the more I write, the more certain I am):

 

In my records I have just three airmen who were NKG and belonged to K.O.Y.L.I.    These were FE2d pilot 2Lt R Smith, lost with Observer Lt R Hume on 6 April 1917.  He was lost quite close - up near Bellewarde lake - about 8 or 9 km away, on the edge of Ypres.  The next K.O.Y.L.I NKG airman I have is pilot Lt WA Bond of 40 Squadron, lost in his SE5a on 22 July 1917, down south, around Sallaumines.  He's a single-seater pilot, and his location means it can't be him.  

 

Both of the above men are pilots.  The K.O.Y.L.I. airman on the report is a 2Lt Observer.  And the third airman I have in my book The Sky Their Battlefield II , belonging to K.O.Y.L.I. is an Observer, AND a 2Lt..  And he and his pilot were last seen about 3 - 4 km from where these two fliers were found. 

 

This man is 21 year old Robert Percy Gundill.  2Lt Gundill was a 108 Squadron DH9 observer, on 2 October 1918, with his pilot 2Lt Alan Thompson Watt Boswell.  Boswell and Gundill left just after midday for a bombing raid towards Menin, in DH9 D1080.  They were last seen at 3000' flying west of Menin, above clouds.   Nothing more was seen.  In my book, I note that there was a DH9 claim by Ltn J Jacobs of Jasta 7 that day, but this is highly speculative (it gets the "? possible..." prefix - meaning "use with care..").   I only included it as this was the only DH9 claim that day in the 10 or so miles around there.  Jacobs made the claim towards Staden.  I think this is a distraction.

 

More work to say, with certainty, that these three men were the only K.O.Y.L.I. would be the next step.  But I remain convinced, as of now, that those two airmen are Boswell and Gundill of 108 Squadron, lost 2 October 1918.

 

Hope this is of interest.

 

Trevor

 

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LDT006

I looked at these a while ago, the first crew is not easy as Trevor also mentioned.

 

The area was in German hands and airmen were buried in their cemeteries, this changed towards the end of september during the final advance.

They were found in a field grave so It is probably a crash from september 1918 or later and we are looking for a crew with a "soldier". I have narrowed it down to 5 or 6 possibilities and D489 DH9 with 2Lt WH Cole and 61856 Sgt S Hookway looks as the best option for now, this is far from certain and will be almost impossible to prove.

 

There is an older topic here for the second crew:

 I have started a report but need to finish it.

Luc.

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Phil Evans

2nd October 1918 was not the best time to be around Gheluwe. As Luc probably has done already, I have looked through the 29th Division diaries that I have, but cannot see any accounts of a plane coming down. Following the main fighting, it was also a time of reliefs, at all levels, over the next couple of days, which does not help with the narratives.

 

The location where the remains were found is tantalisingly close to the front line. The sketch below has been extracted from the operation reports found in the diaries of 29 Div. HQ (WO 95/2285) and 1st Bn KOSB (WO 95/2304). I have freehanded it, due to lack of technology, but it shouldn't be too far out.

 

Phil

Gheluwe base map mark up 2.jpg

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laughton
15 hours ago, LDT006 said:

There is an older topic here for the second crew:

 

That raises an important point for me, thanks for pointing that out. I searched the FORUM prior to posting for such information and I got nada. For example, if I just search KOYLI I get this:

 

Search Again

Didn't find what you were looking for? Try searching for:

 

 

 


Obviously I am doing something wrong when I am searching?

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evans

Hello all

Alan Thompson Watt Boswell was my mother's uncle and my great uncle. He was in the RFC, and then the RAF after 1 April 1918.  He was a pilot in Sqdn 108 on the Western Front during 1918.   I knew that he went missing, presumed killed in action, on 2nd October 1918, but I've been fascinated by the research that you have done into whether the bodies of him and his fellow observer-aviator were recovered (from map ref K.34.c.2.1.) and then reburied at the Duhallow ADS Cemetery after the war.  Are those graves there capable of investigation as to the DNA within the bodily remains ?  If so,  I would be more than willing to undergo a parallel DNA test myself to see if one of the bodies has similar DNA to myself, but maybe this is expecting too much from this relatively new branch of the science!

All the best

R Evans

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laughton

R Evans:

 

The technology certainly is there and is used by the CWGC or MOD, as well as many other Commonwealth countries. The problem is that they can ONLY use it on NEW finds, not burials in CWGC cemeteries. Exhumation is forbidden unless it meets the specifications, such as those with the recent Polish airman. He was not Commonwealth and it was requested by the Polish Government. I am going by memory here, so I hope that is correct.

 

I have looked at less intrusive means to get the sample from the remains, much as if you were to have laparoscopic surgery - a probe on a camera with an extraction tool. So far the technology is not readily available but it can be done. Even then I do not know if the CWGC would allow the microscopic intrusion, as it would start at process they perhaps do not want to occur!

 

If it was my relative, I would have my DNA done and file it with the CWGC, as it might be in the next generation that it became important. Even if you don't get the testing done, save some hair and nail clippings for your future generations. I recall that it may be more valuable if it was DNA from a female relative. You would need to do some research on that topic.

 

Richard of Canada

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evans

Thanks Richard for your fast response.

 

I believe it's getting easier to do a DNA test now.  I'll look into that and how to file it with the CWGC.

 

All the best

RE (of the UK)

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evans

Richard Laughton

Further to mine yesterday, i had a quite negative response from CWGC.  They say that they do not hold DNA files and at present they do not disturb the remains of casualties who have been buried.  If a new find needing identification arises, they say that "military authorities" do any investigations not CWGC.

 

However, I did have a bit of luck by finding what appears to be a photo of the 2 relevant and adjacent Duhallow gravestones of the 2 airmen recovered from map ref K.34.c.2.1.  In Plot IX of the Duhallow cemetery.  One is for a Pilot in RFC (my relative?) and the other is for a 2nd Lt in KOYLI, which seems to match other research in this "thread".  I could send on the CWGC advice (rather long) and/or the photo if anyone is interested.

 

Best regards

R Evans

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LDT006

Hello,

 

I submitted a report to CWGC for these 2 airmen.

The picture could be mine that was included in the report, (see below) your relative is on the left. The one on the right is the observer from the KOYLI regiment.

I have send you a PM in case you want more information, you might not yet be able to use the PM system.

 

Regards,

Luc.

 

S6001850.thumb.JPG.97918e5de06f684f36b8f32747428268.JPG

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Becstar
On 14/11/2018 at 04:10, laughton said:

R Evans:

 

The technology certainly is there and is used by the CWGC or MOD, as well as many other Commonwealth countries. The problem is that they can ONLY use it on NEW finds, not burials in CWGC cemeteries. Exhumation is forbidden unless it meets the specifications, such as those with the recent Polish airman. He was not Commonwealth and it was requested by the Polish Government. I am going by memory here, so I hope that is correct.

 

I have looked at less intrusive means to get the sample from the remains, much as if you were to have laparoscopic surgery - a probe on a camera with an extraction tool. So far the technology is not readily available but it can be done. Even then I do not know if the CWGC would allow the microscopic intrusion, as it would start at process they perhaps do not want to occur!

 

If it was my relative, I would have my DNA done and file it with the CWGC, as it might be in the next generation that it became important. Even if you don't get the testing done, save some hair and nail clippings for your future generations. I recall that it may be more valuable if it was DNA from a female relative. You would need to do some research on that topic.

 

Richard of Canada

 

Richard, yes you’re right. Common nuclear DNA tests on really old, damaged remains don’t always yield postive results. When reading about the very recent identification of two Australian soldiers (found by a French farmer) Scientists used mitochondrial DNA testing which looks at DNA along the maternal line.

Y-chromosome testing looks at the paternal line which travels along the way from Soldier to living male relative.

Mitochondrial DNA testing is preferred due to the male blood line not always available (ie no new generation of boys).

 

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