The 1st April 2018 saw the 100th Anniversary of the Royal Air Force, formed from the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Navy Air Service. We marked the Centenary with a short service of Remembrance at the War Memorial. The Chairman read out the names of the airmen on the memorial. From the First World War;

FRANK OLIVER FREEMAN was serving as an Aircraftman 2nd Class with 47 Squadron, Royal Air Force when he died of thyphus on the 27th December 1919, whilst serving in Southern Russia. He was aged 20.

HERBERT RUTTER SIMMS was a Flight Leftenant in the predecessor to the RAF, The Royal Navy Air Service and died when the Nieuport type 12 he was piloting was shot down off Ostend on 5th May 1916 by a German torpedo boat. He was aged 24 and is buried in Chipping Norton Cemetery.

From the Second World War;

RONALD JACQUES was serving as a Flying Officer, Navigator, with 463 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force and was killed in action when his Avro Lancaster was shot down during an attack on marshalling yards at Lille on 11th May 1944. He was aged 28.

JOHN HAROLD JEFFRIES was serving a Sergeant, Flight Engineer in the Royal Air Force 10 Squadron missing in action when his Vickers Wellington was lost on 26th February 1942 during an attack on the floating dock at Kiel. He was aged 21.

LESLIE WILLIAM JOHN KING Distinguished Flying Cross was serving as a Flying Officer, Flight Engineer with 617 Squadron, The Royal Air Force when he was killed in action on when his Avro Lancaster was hit by flak during an attack on V2 rocket storage on 24th June 1944. He was aged 30.

NORMAN JOSEPH NAYLOR was serving as a Sergeant Air Gunner/Wireless Operator with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in 57 Squadron when he was killed in action when his Vickers Wellington was shot down on a raid on Hamburg on 8th April 1942. He was aged 23.

OLIVER PLUNKETT was serving as a Pilot Officer (Navigator), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve with No 3 School of General Reconnaissance when he was killed on active service on 16th August 1941 when his Blackburn Botha crashed during a training sortie. He was aged 26 and is buried in Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Churchyard, Chipping Norton.

NICHOLAS JOHN STOCKFORD was serving as a Sergeant Flight Engineer with the Royal Air Force when he died on 18th September 1944 of pleurisy only months after bailing out of his stricken Lancaster over France. He evaded capture and returned to England via the Comet Line. He was aged 22 and is buried in Heythrop Churchyard. 

 

 

 

We then walked to the Holy Trinity Catholic Church and laid a  cross on the grave of Oliver Plunkett, then onto the plaque at the 1942 Wellington crash site in Church Street to lay a wreath and then to the town cemetery to lay crosses on the graves of Flight-Sub Lieutenant Herbert Rutter Simms and Flight Sergeant Roderick George Morison.

On Saturday 28th April we visited Little Rissington Churchyard where we were joined by members of 136 Squadron ATC, the Reverend Christopher Etherton and bugler Kim Prentice from the Shires Youth Band. After the act of Remembrance crosses were laid on all the Commonwealth War Graves there and the stories of three airman told. One was Flight Lieutenant Kevin O' Sullivan:

Kevin Thomas Anthony O’ Sullivan was born in 1920 in Wandsworth, South London to parents Patrick and Theresa O’ Sullivan. He worked as a shipping clerk in the City of London before volunteering for aircrew duties. He was accepted for pilot/observer training and recommended for a commission which was gazetted in August 1942. He was posted as a night fighter pilot to 255 Squadron flying the Bristol Beaufighter twin engine fighter. The Squadron were sent to North Africa on 27th November 1942 and were based in Algeria to defend against German night bombing raids. He was a victim of a friendly fire incident when his Beaufighter was hit by gunfire from Royal Navy ships, resulting in a perspex splinter temporarily blinding him in one eye. He managed to crash-land on his airfield n a thunderstorm after being shepherded home wingtip-to-wingtip his Squadron Leader. He went on to make three confirmed kills before being posted back to England.
He then converted to the De Havilland Mosquito and spent time as a flying instructor with 63 Operational Training Unit, before being posted to 125 Squadron, another night fighter squadron. He carried out patrols guarding the Normandy Landings and claimed another kill, and went on to combat the V1 rocket assault and fly patrols against German intruders and shipping. The award of a Distinguished Flying Cross was gazetted in September 1944 by which time he had become a Flight Lieutenant. He married Lillian Hibbit in Balham in May 1945 and was demobbed from the RAF in August 1946.
Civilian life did not suit Kevin and in November 1950 he re-applied for a short term commission in the RAF. He was posted to the Canal Zone in Egypt, once again flying the Mosquito. Returning to the UK in the spring of 1954, he undertook a fast jets conversion course at 228 OCU RAF Leeming, introducing him to Gloster Meteors. His wife sadly died of cancer in January 1958 whilst Kevin was serving at the Aircrew Selection Centre at Hornchurch, causing his two young daughters to be sent to a Catholic boarding school. He re-married to Jean Hunt in January 1961.
In January 1963 Kevin was posted to 209 Squadron based at Seletar, Singapore where they flew supply runs in support of British Special Forces action in the Indonesian–Malaysian confrontation of 1963–1966. Kevin was one of the pilots involved in these covert flights into hostile jungle territory, flying the single-engine version of the Scottish Aviation Pioneer. He returned from the Far East in July 1965, to be stationed over the next two and a half years at RAF Shawbury, RAF Leconfield and RAF Little Rissington. He ceased flying duties on his 45th birthday, transferring to Ground Branch and training as an Air Traffic Controller at Little Rissington.
On 20th February 1968 he was driving his daughters and a friend back to the railway station to return to boarding school, in thick fog, when his car collided with an road works vehicle showing no lights. They all suffered minor injuries and were taken to the medical centre in RAF Little Rissington, his wife and one daughter being taken to hospital. The next day Kevin O’ Sullivan killed himself with his shotgun, a Coroner’s Court in Stow on the Wold recorded that he had committed suicide whilst the state of his mind was disturbed. He was aged 41.