05.02.1943 No. 2 OTU Beaufighter VI X8060 Fl/Sgt. Smith
Operation: Training flight
Date: 5th February 1943 (Friday)
Unit: No. 2 OTU (Operational Training Unit - Coastal Command)
Type: Beaufighter VI
Base: RAF Catfoss, Yorkshire
Location: Two miles East of Kilham, Yorkshire
Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Alan Rodway Smith 1388945 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Nav: Sgt. Wilfred Billingham 1233699 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Can anyone provide an update on the state of the grave in question - August 2018?
REASON FOR LOSS:
During a training flight the aircraft clipped some trees whilst attempting a forced landing resulting in the aircraft turning over - killing both of the crew.
We are placing this page on the website to not only honour this crew but also to bring attention to the sad state of the Gravestone for Sgt. Billingham at Shiregreen Cemetery in Sheffield. We thank Stephen Farnell for sending us the photographs of the graves and hope that someone somewhere maybe in a position to assist in the repair.
We contacted the CWGC but as this is a family plot, it is outside their control - see their reply below.
Above, the sad state of Sgt. Billingham's grave at Shefffield (Shiregreen) Cemetery. Can someone not do anything about this? We have contacted a local Newspaper to see if they are able to assist. (See below)
Left, the pilot's grave at Brandesburton (St Mary) Churchyard (both courtesy of Stephen Farnell)
Fl/Sgt. Alan Rodway Smith Brandesburton Churchyard. (St Mary) RAF Sec. Grave 26. Son of Walter James Smith and Bessie Smith, of Wembley, Middlesex, England. Grave inscription: "Jesus Said "Whosoever Liveth And Believeth In Me Shall Never Die".
Sgt. Wilfred Billingham. Shefffield Cemetery (Shiregreen). Sec C. Grave 2829. Son of Joseph and Eliza Billingham, of Shiregreen, Sheffield, England. Grave inscription: "Thro Hardships To The Stars".
Researched for relatives of these crews with thanks for additional information to Stephen Farnell, Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
SHEFFIELD STAR JULY 30TH 2013
We have received some great press via Ellen Beardmore reporter for the Sheffield Star. Within hours of publication we had a contact who tried to trace any surviving members of the family. No luck as yet. Jenny Morley is also going to try and contact the people who look after the cemetery to establish if they are able to assist.
The Commonwealth Graves Commission explained in a letter to us the following, but also added that they will be asking their regional inspector to look at 'both' graves:
"The family of Sergeant Billingham was offered a Commission war pattern headstone, as were all the families of the war casualties. The family, when contacted, refused a Commission headstone as they intended to mark the grave with a memorial of their own, which they then did.
As we do not own the grave in question, we do not have the authority to remove the private memorial and erect a war pattern headstone without the permission of the owner of the grave. As long as the name of the war casualty is legible on the private memorial then, for our purposes, the war casualty is adequately commemorated. Parts of the stone or kerbs on the grave may be damaged but it is not our responsibility to repair them."
July 31st Update: We have already been contacted by some great people in the area who are prepared to start to tidy the grave - we are now obtaining the relevant permissions to obtain the go-ahead.
The people who are assisting us with the research and the 'grave tidy campaign' Jenny Morley, Craig Allen.