McKAY – Gerrick Edmond

No 605711 – Gerrick Edmond McKay from Jamaica. Enlisted 18.10.1943 in Canada. Trained as Wireless Operator.

[Source: Forces War Records and National Archives, courtesy Audrey Dewjee]

GE McKay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gerrick Edmond (called Uncle Son) moved to England during WWII and joined the RAF. Brothers and sisters: Percival (Percy), Lily (married a Carby), Violet (married a Taylor). Family lived in Woodside, St. Mary, and known to have lived in Port Maria. Mother, Minnie Cristinia McKay nee Belnavis and Father, Herbert James McKay.

[Source: https://www.genealogy.com, courtesy Audrey Dewjee]

No. 21 Initial Training Wing ( I.T.W. ) Bridlington ( East Riding of Yorkshire - England ) 01

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No.21 Initial Training Wing (I.T.W.), Bridlington, East-Riding, Yorkshire, England;
[Pictures: www.rafweb.org, courtesy Mehdi Schneyders]

No. 21 Initial Training Wing ( I.T.W. ) Bridlington ( East Riding of Yorkshire - England ) 02

CHIN – Noel Jocelyn

605698 – later Pilot Officer  199984

Noel Jocelyn Chin (cropped)

Born 15 April 1925, Kingston Jamaica.  Attended Kingston College.

In WW2 Noel Jocelyn Chinn was a bomber navigator with RAF Coastal Command, stationed in Scotland.  After the war he obtained a degree as a civil engineer from Loughborough University and returned to Jamaica where he had a distinguished career as a civil engineer, becoming a partner with Hue Lyew Chin Consulting Engineers.  In 1978 he moved to the United States becoming a citizen in 1983.  He continued his career as the City Engineer for Coral Springs until his retirement in 1988.

Noel Chin died on 1 March 2002, leaving his wife Dorothy (whom he married in 1953), three children and six grandchildren.

Noel’s older brother, Arthur Chin survived service in Europe throughout the war but was killed in a flying accident in India in November 1946.  [See separate entry]

[Source: AD]

PEPITUNE – Orlando Joseph (Jose)

1396389 – Orlando Joseph Pepitune

Orlando Pepitune

 

Orlando Jose Pepitune, a retired shipping and receiving manager for Thompson Equipment Co., died Monday [October 20, 2003] at Metropolitan Hospice. He was 80. Mr. Pepitune was born in Belize City, Belize, and lived in Metairie [Louisiana] for the past 36 years. He was a graduate of St. John’s College in Belize City. He was a member of the Belize Association. During World War II, he served in the British Royal Air Force in England.

(From:  The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA) – October 22, 2003)

[Source: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/65986189/orlando-pepitune  (accessed 03/06/2020); courtesy Audrey Dewejee]

BritishHonduras

KING – Cecil Percy

Cecil King left the Colony in 1933 at the age of 13, and went to Prior Park College, Bath. He joined the Inner Temple in 1939 to study for the Bar, and entered King’s College, London University, to study for the LL.B. degree. He passed the Intermediate for the LL.B. in 1940.

On the outbreak of; war in 1939, he volunteered for service with the R.A.F. and was called up in June 1940. He received his “‘Wings” in December the same year’ and became a Sergeant Pilot in a Whirlwind Fighter Squadron, with which he has been serving since. He received a commission in 1942 as its Pilot Officer and was awarded the D.F.M. He is now a Flight Officer.

[Source: Saint Stanislaus Magazine, April 1943]

 

Cecil Percy King

De FREITAS – Celso Lima

1390726 – Celso Lima de Freitas – Warrant Officer

Celso de Freitas joined the Royal Air Force in 1940, and went into action as· a Sergeant-Observer. He took part in the now famous thousand-bomber raids on Cologne and Essen, and during a similar raid on Hamburg his plane was one of those which failed to return. On the way home both engines on one side of the giant bomber were shot away, and the pilot had to make a crash landing. The crew were badly shaken, but managed to get out of their plane and set it on fire; they were taken prisoner only a few miles from the coast.

[Source: Saint Stanislaus Magazine, april 1943] Read more

Celso de Freitas

 

 

 

 

 

 

He was one of the first to sign up from BG. His brother Arlindo de Freitas also signed up shortly afterwards.

Celso is one of the unfortunate prisoners of war who have been put in chains, and in a recent letter he speaks of the new experience of receiving Holy Communion in chains.
Mr. De Freitas was second only to South African, Billy Wade, in cricket batting averages in the POW camps and his style was later compared to Sir Colin Cowdrey. Cricket was going on in the POW camps as exercise and territorial rivalries led to informal “Tests”.  He is mentioned on pages 86/87 of this fascinating document which is a great read. https://www.lamsdorf.com/uploads/6/4/2/7/6427590/cricket.pdf

Celso was head of the British Guiana Volunteer Force (as its Lieutenant Colonel) in the run up to Guyanese independence. His small volunteer corps played a major role in quelling and preventing the political rioting which led up to the independence elections. He received an OBE (Mil) – a military OBE – for his efforts.

[Courtesy: Paul de Freitas]

short_I_15_sqn_aircrew-2

Aircrew of No.15 Squadron in front of Short Stirling I, December 1941. Celso de Freitas is last row, second from left. (Click to enlarge)

[Source: History of War]

 

 

 

 

EDWARDS – George Mercier

EDWARDS, GEORGE MERCIER; Flight Sergeant (Air Gnr.); Service No. 1259259; Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Age 24; Rear Gunner on Halifax B for Bertie (W7801).

George Edwards was born in Kingston, Jamaica, the son of George Henry Edwards & Sidona Edwards.

Military Service Sergeant Edwards was the Rear Gunner Halifax B for Bertie (W7801), one of two tug planes used during Operation Freshman. He was killed instantly when his aircraft crashed into Hæstad Mountain, Helleland, Norway, around midnight on the 19th November, 1942.

Sergeant Edwards is buried in the Commonwealth Grave plot in Helleland Churchyard, Norway.

GM Edwards grave

OPERATION FRESHMAN

On the evening of November 19th, 1942, two Halifax bombers, each towing a Horsa Glider took off from RAF Skitten, near Wick in NE Scotland. On board each glider were 15 specially trained Royal Engineers, and two pilots. Their top-secret mission, code-named Operation Freshman, was to destroy the heavy water-producing facility at the  Norsk Hydro industrial complex near Vemork, Norway. This facility was a crucial part of Nazi Germany’s efforts to develop a nuclear bomb.

Tragically, due to failures in the navigation and guidance systems and poor weather, the aircraft failed to identify the landing zones and were forced to turn back. During the return, extreme icing of the tow cables resulted in both gliders becoming detached from their tow-planes and they crashed in the mountains of SE Norway. In addition, one of the Halifax bombers also crashed, instantly killing all 7 crew members onboard, including Sergeant George Mercier Edwards from Kingston, Jamaica. The crew were initially buried in a shallow grave close to the crash site but were reinterred in the Commonwealth graves plot in Helleland Churchyard, Rogaland, Norway at the end of the war with full military honours.

helleland-01

 

Of the 34 men onboard the gliders, a number were killed on impact, while others were executed by firing squad shortly after their surrender at  Slettebø, near  Egersund. In addition, four, badly-injured soldiers were interrogated and murdered by the Gestapo in Stavanger, their bodies dumped at sea off the coast of Norway. At the end of the war, the remains of most of the soldiers were reinterred at the Commonwealth Grave section in Eiganes Cemetery in Stavanger, where a remembrance ceremony is held every year to  honour their sacrifice.

Due to the secrecy surrounding the mission, very little information was provided to the families of the servicemen at the time, other than that they were missing. A short news article was published in a Norwegian newspaper shortly after the raid saying that a number of aircraft had landed in Norway and that all of the soldiers on board had been engaged and killed to the last man. However, it was not until after the war that true horror of the story emerged!

Over the years there have been a number of publications describing the events of Operation Freshman, and also the subsequent successful sabotage of the Vemork facility by British-trained Norwegian special forces soldiers (Operation Gunnerside). This action was immortalised in the Hollywood film The Heroes of  Telemark, starring Kirk Douglas.

In 2011, Ion Drew’s excellent book, Silent Heroes, was published. In addition to the event itself, Silent Heroesalso provided a unique insight into the personal lives of the individual servicemen and their families, and contained information based on interviews, correspondence, and meetings with surviving relatives and ex-servicemen who had connections to the operation. At the time of publication, however, details of only some of the men were available. Efforts are now being made to address this gap as part of a project to update Silent Heroes. In particular, the project is looking for any additional information on Sergeant Edwards.

Ultimately the Operation Freshman Project is trying to trace surviving relatives or people who have stories or anecdotes concerning the servicemen who participated in the raid, and who may have photographs, letters or other documentary information relating to the servicemen. The idea is to tell the story of these incredibly courageous young men through their lives, and lives of their families, rather than more conventional histories which focus primarily on the events themselves.

[Source: Dr. Bruce A. Tocher]

CUMMINGS – Linton James (Bob)

Linton James (Bob) Cummings.

Gunner in RAF.

From Spanish Town, Jamaica. Born June 2nd, 1926.

[Source: Mrs. Judy Cummings, daughter]

James-Bob-Cummings

The soldier with his elbow on his mates shoulder is my dad! I don’t remember the name of the man with him. May be Percy?

[Picture courtesy Mrs. Judy Cummings]

 

PETGRAVE – Godfrey

The son of a Jamaican father and an Antiguan mother, Godfrey Petgrave enlisted in the RAF in Lagos as his father was working in Nigeria at the  time.

[Source: Audrey Dewjee, West-Indian Aircrew in East Yorkshire during WW2, the Africans in Yorkshire Project]

KNOX – Sydney

‘…had a distinguished service record as a spitfire pilot who volunteered and flew one glider mission into Holland.’

[Source: Mr. Nicholas Devaux, St. Lucia/Trinidad]

JOHNSON – Basil Lawrence Ivan

Serial Number: 1396487
RAF Trade: Flight Engineer
Date of Enlistment: 1939

Rank Achieved: Warrant Officer
Operational Sorties:  3 Ops with 115 Squadron, 47 ops with 156 Squadron

On 31st August 1941, he left New Providence for England via Miami, New York and Halifax, Nova Scotia from where he sailed to England in a convoy of ships arriving at Liverpool on September 19th 1941.  He spent several days in London and then went to Readcar to be outfitted and spent thirteen months in training and studying.  He passed out as a mechanic and later remustered to fitters course and then to aircrew as a Flight Engineer Air Gunner.   

He first served with the 115 Squadron of Bomber Command and later with Group 8 of 156 Squadron of the elite Path Finder Force, Bomber Command stationed at Warboys Airfield in South West England.

After completing thirty-six operational flights in April 1944 he was recommended and received the prestigious award of the Distinguished Flying Medal (D.F.M.). 

 His Wing Commander in the citation described him –

He is a member of an outstanding Path Finder Force crew, and his resourcefulness and unfailing efficiency have contributed to the aircraft returning to base from raids during which the safety of the aircraft depended upon his knowledge and skill.

He is cool and unruffled under fire and his consistent skill and reliability under harassing circumstances have been inspiring to other members of the crew.

His high sense of devotion to duty made him well worth of the Award of Distinguished Flying Medal.”

[Source: http://www.156squadron.com/Crew_Johnson.html]

Read more about Mr. Johnson’s remarkable life and career at the wonderful website www.156squadron.com and here: http://www.voice-online.co.uk/article/highlighting-heroes-remembrance-day

Basil Johnson 1 Basil Johonson 2

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