RAF funerals are much on my mind at the moment (October 2018) due to the booklet I am completing on the mass funerals at Cambridge on 22 December 1943 after Black Thursday.
The images in the booklet are extremely rare, and they are the only examples I have come across in 25 years of research except for two which surfaced unexpectedly last year in the photograph album of Norman McIntyre, later a member of the Pathfinders.
At the time these particular photographs in the album were taken, Norm was training in Canada, as so many other future members of Bomber Command would do. He had two good friends, Vincent Jarvis and Geoffrey Everest – Vince and Jeff. All three young men were Australian, full of the excitement of their new life in the Air Force in the New World.
It is not known exactly what happened at the beginning of July 1942. Both Vince and Jeff were killed flying in an Avro Anson, which usually had a four man-crew, but it is not clear whether they were in the same aircraft. Jeff is recorded as dying at Marchand, Manitoba, on 1 July, and Vince is recorded as dying fifty miles away at Winnipeg on 2 July. However, the IWGC recorded both dates of death as being 1 July 1942, so it is difficult to make out exactly what happened. There may possibly be anomalies in the records due, for example, to the short survival of Vincent in a hospital after a shared accident. Otherwise, it was an extreme fluke of chance that these two friends died in separate training accidents either on the same or on consecutive days.
They are both buried at Winnipeg but in different cemeteries. See WAR GRAVES AND REMEMBRANCE: Four Australian Friends
Norm’s photograph album has two poignant images recording their funerals. Both were buried on the same day according to his handwritten note, but the date he gives is 5 September 1942, so again the dates do not seem to match up.
Nonetheless, these are very moving photographs and Norm clearly mourned the loss of his friends. He himself would be killed on Black Thursday, 16 December 1943, but unlike the other 97 Squadron casualties which were due to fog, Norm died with his entire crew over Berlin when the aircraft was hit by flak and exploded.
With many thanks to John Kuss, who has devotedly preserved Norm’s memory over the years.