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Thread: Special Memorials in Cradley Heath (St. Luke) Churchyard

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    Default Special Memorials in Cradley Heath (St. Luke) Churchyard

    Sgt. William Thomas Tromans, RAF VR 1152528, died 21-01-1942 with Hampden Mk I Nr. AE381 of 50 Sqn.
    Ac2 Harry Tranter, RAF VR 1541372, died 27-02-1942
    Both have special memorials of undefined types in Cradley Heath (St. Luke) Churchyard.
    What caused the deaths of these aviators, and where are their graves?

    Rob

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    Hi Rob
    In the case of Tromans, Chorley BCL Vol 3, has the a/c on a training flight and crashing into high ground at Cluther Rocks on Kinder Scout in the Derbyshire peaks after attempting a landing at Ringway in extremely poor weather.Of the 2 RAAF crewmen one is buried in Manchester and one in S Shields,the other RAF member is buried in W Wickham.You have clearly studied the Special Memorials, would it be a case that CWGC are only responsible for the memorials in some cases and not the graves, hence no reference to a grave location in their publically available records, only to the Memorial? It is clear that in this incident bodies were recovered and funerals held.
    Regards
    Dick

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    Thanks, Dick. Applying logics to CWGC actions is not easy, especially as the CWGC has refused to declare the rules by which it acts. The following may be the case:

    1. If there has been a serviceman's grave, which got lost for some reason, then the CWGC feels the obligation to provide a Special Memorial, usually at a war plot of a cem in the care of the CWGC.

    2. Same if the grave is known to exist somewhere nearby, but if it is not known where. This would be the case if, by logics, the remains of a certain crewmember have to be present because found at a crash site, but could not be identified. I'm trying to use this ruling when applying for more Special Memorials, to be erected for similar cases. A name on a Special Memorial is better than a headstone marked merely with "unknown".

    3. What happens to remains of a casualty of a serviceman is basically decided by the government. That's a ruling from the 1920ies, when Britain was faced with the huge number of casualties from WW1. It was decided that casualties were to be buried in the area where they fell. Morals were attached to this. However, it is clear that a full repatriation action would have been much more expensive than this arrangement, if the government would have to pay for it, and that it would lead to inequality, if the families would have to pay.
    It seems that this rule was applied mostly to servicemen lost abroad. In the UK itself, families were given more flexibility to have their wish done, such as burial in a family grave and/or in the home town. If this was done, then the CWGC may have erected a Special Memorial at a war plot in a cemetery nearby, or even in a war plot in the same cemetery. In this way, the casualty would be commemorated amongst the others who had fallen for their country.

    4. It is unclear if proceedings under 3. were followed in all cases. My guess is that we shall not find a 100% consistent pattern here.

    5. There are more situations that could lead to the erection of a Special Memorial. The full range of situations is not clearly covered by the assumed meaning of the published CWGC codes A to D or E, and the CWGC has refused to give definitions of these codes. Which is at least curious if you publish such codes.

    6. It seems to be the discretion of CWGC to select which casualty data is published in the Casualty Register. The place of burial, if other than by the CWGC, is amongst the missing items. Unit information is quite often not present, and aircraft information is never given.

    7. It is not always clear who is the designated authority in such cases. These matters used to fall under the jurisdiction of the MoD. When the MR&ES stopped its activities in 1952, then probably the CWGC has taken over some of the authority of the MoD to decide in such matters. Currently, the CWGC, in contact with the public, assumes authority that it does not have, or at least that it does not exclusively have. The result is a prolongation of confusion.

    8. Given the size of the task faced by the CWGC, we can only marvel at what has been achieved. All cems in the care of the CWGC are always very well kept. That's the main task. Look at the millions of records in the Casualty Register, and consider that we have not been able to produce more than a few names that are not present in this register.

    9. Looking for consistency in patterns that may have resulted from ad hoc decisions in reaction to new situations created by war, could be the wrong approach.

    10. However, trying to understand what has been done, and why, cannot be wrong. This would also lead to an understanding that, and why, actions were not always taken in fully consistent ways.

    11. Unfortunately, the CWGC has not been very forthcoming in helping the historian. I have to categorize this under the government attitude with which the public is kept uninformed. This fossile attitude is still widespread. We can speculate that this desire to be not accountable results from a fear that accountability leads to additional costs.

    12. These matters could do with a public debate. The bottom line would be: are the institutions still doing what the public wants and pays them to do, or are some amendments, improvements and adjustments to new times, desirable?

    Regards,

    Rob

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