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Thread: Special Memorials, introduction, & in Bilbao, Portugal

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    Default Special Memorials, introduction, & in Bilbao, Portugal

    Gentlemen,

    A total of 190 Special Memorials for Allied non-US airmen/airwomen have been found so far in cemeteries or plots in the care of the CWGC, throughout Europe. These Special Memorials come in the following categories, distinguished by the top line of text on the memorial that has the shape of a standard issue CWGC headstone:
    1. Known to be buried in this cemetery
    2. Believed to be buried in this cemetery
    3. Buried near this spot
    4. Believed to be
    5. To the memory of
    These are coded A to E in a CWGC schedule, of which the details are not yet fully clear; the CWGC has been asked to clarify.
    Furthermore, there are Special memorials with the following connotations:
    6. Grave now lost
    7. Alternative commemoration #1 - the grave is in another cemetery
    8. Alternative commemoration #2 - the grave is elsewhere in the same cemetery
    9. Alternative commemoration #3 - remains committed to the sea
    10. Unmarked - Special Memorial not marked as such
    11. Privately erected Special Memorial of custom design

    These Special Memorials were found in the following countries in Europe:
    Belgium - 13
    Bulgary - 7
    Denmark - 8
    France - 20
    Germany - 49
    Great Britain - 84
    Greece - 1
    Netherlands - 7
    Spain - 1

    Many of the casualties commemorated with Special Memorials died in aircraft accidents. Of about 30% the cause of death, and the reason for erecting a Special Memorial, are as yet unclear.

    This is the first of a series of threads, sorted by cemetery, requesting help from the forum visitors in filling in the data gaps.


    Bilbao British Cemetery, Spain
    F/Sgt. Cyril James LOWTHER, RAF VR 1452590, 172 Sqn, died 30-01-1944.
    The special memorial here is of the Alternative Commemoration type; the casualty is reported by CWGC as buried in Zumaya Cemetery.
    What caused the death of this aviator, and which circumstances led to the erection of a Special Memorial?

    Regards,

    Rob
    Last edited by Rob Philips; 18th August 2008 at 09:54. Reason: Data updated, Alt. Commem. #2 added. Title should read Spain, not Portugal

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    Rob,
    F/Sgt Cyril J. LOWTHER - 1452590 was 172 Sqn (based Chivenor, Devon, and equipped at that time with Wellingtons Mk. XIV. CWGC lists his death being between 30 and 31-1-1944.

    The sqn lost HF279 31-1-1944 (anti-sub patrol) with casualties: F/Lt G.K. FITZGERALD - DFC - 89339 * Sgt A.J.R. THOMPSON - 137315 (svcnr to be checked) * W/O R.G. ARDING - 904417 * F/O D.J. MacLENNAN - 1348991 (svcnr to be checked) * Sgt P. PEARL (fm Mexico) - 1393850, and Sgt S.J. WEIR (fm N.Ireland) - 1081810. All crew commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

    The sqn lost a second Wellington 30-1-1944, serial MP813 (missing - no further details) and may LOWTHER have been on this aircraft.

    No idea why Lowther has a Spec. Mem. at Bilbao British Cem.

    Regards,
    Henk.

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    Thanks, Henk. As only F/Sgt Lowther received a special memorial, and not the other crew members, who are all MIA, there must be something special about this case. His body may have washed ashore, be identified, and then be lost again. Washing ashore in that area is rare, but it did happen occasionally. That's speculating, of course. The Special Memorial would indicate that his remains were seen and identified.

    Regards,

    Rob

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    Agree Rob with your view. Lowther initially may have been buried at Zumaya and grave lost. All other crew on the Runnymede Memorial. W/O J. PRITCHARD - 638478 * F/Sgt L.D. RICHARDS - 1315328 * Sgt R.C.H. FISHER - 1318518 * Sgt P. HORSFIELD - 952955, and Sgt A.B. PORTER - 1287755.
    Regards,
    Henk.

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    It was F/O A.J.R. THOMPSON - 137315 and Sgt D.J. MacLENNAN - 1348991 (ranks were in error, svcnrs correct).

    Henk.

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    Rob,

    Just a small thing, but both Bilbao and Zumaya (about 50 kms distance between the two!) are in Spain - not Portugal.

    Best regards,

    Hans

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    Thanks, Hans, I stand corrected. I violated the first rule: always check what you are saying. I was in error believing that topographical memory was good enough to do without a check.

    Regards,

    Rob

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    Gentlemen,

    The CWGC has responded to my request for clarity about the Commission's allocation policy for Special Memorials: the rules are complicated and buried in CWGC handbooks, and "therefore" not available to the public.

    I fail to understand the logic that is referred to in this CWGC statement, and have repeated the request, this time detailed for the meaning of the CWGC codes A to E, that are attached to some of the records of servicemen who were given Special Memorials. As that is published information, the meaning of these codes can hardly be treated as classified.

    Meanwhile, we shall continue to unravel the allocation policy, by looking at the actual cases, but limited to the WW2 aviators. When done, results shall be presented to the CWGC, that shall thus be placed in a position to correct any errors.

    My question if the CWGC would be interested to hear of cases that deserve to receive a Special Memorial, was answered positively. The CWGC sees itself as the party to contact in such matters, but it also refers to designated service authorities, meaning the MoD, that shall be consulted if required. It is not specified when that would be required. This means that I shall submit claims for the erection of Special Memorials to the MoD.

    Regards,

    Rob

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    Gentlemen,

    The CWGC has reconsidered and graciously answered my request for clarity with full disclosure of the meanings of the code letters A to F that are attached to special memorials.

    As fashion has it that posts here should be brief, I invite those who are interested in this to express that in an email, upon which I shall respond with the code definitions. To this shall be added a few subtypes that were found in the field. Definitions are embedded in a small database in Excel, giving details of the almost 200 special memorials for WW2 aviators found so far. Included are two non-CWGC special memorials, one found in Denmark, one in The Netherlands.

    This concludes my soapboxing for the cause of the missing on this platform.

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    Rob,

    Why not post the information listing the Special Memorial code categories in the 'Useful Books and Research Section'? It would save you having to respond to emails - and would be permanently accessable.

    Brian

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