Commonwealth and Allied Airmen’s Remembrance Ceremony
On Sunday, 28th April the Newcastle & Gateshead Branch of the RAF Association held their annual ceremony at Chevington Cemetery to remember the airmen of the Commonwealth and Allied nations who died in the Second World War and who are buried there.
The Royal Air Force was represented by Group Captain Cowieson and there were also officers from the Royal Australian Air Force, the Canadian Air Force and the Royal New Zealand Air Force plus civilian representatives of Artur Bildziuk from the Polish Airmen’s Association and Col. Andrew Shepherd representing the Free Czechoslovak Air Force Associates.
RAF Boulmer provided an Honour Guard plus ten personnel to act as cross layers and further cross layers were provided by the Northumbrian Universities Air Squadron and by cadets of the Air Training Corps. Seventeen standards from the RAF Association and other ex-service organisations paraded and music was provided by the Backworth Colliery Band.
Approximately 200 people including many RAF veterans and local residents attended the ceremony, along with Mrs Anne-Marie Trevelvan MP and representatives of Northumberland County Council and East Chevington Parish Council.
The event began with the playing of the Australian, Canadian and New Zealand national anthems, following which nineteen wreaths were laid at the war memorial. The Roll of Honour was then called and, as each name was read out, a poppy cross was placed on that airman’s’ grave. A total of twenty-nine airmen from thirteen different countries were thus honoured.
Amongst those twenty-nine are two Czechoslovak airmen: Sgt Ladislav Kocourek, 25, and Sgt Václav Šindelář, 24, both of whom trainee pilots, killed in training flight accidents whilst with 57 OTU.
There then followed the Act of Remembrance which included Last Post and Reveille, after which a very moving tribute to the fallen was read by Flt Lt David Bain and the ceremony then closed with the playing of the UK national anthem.
A short parade involving RAF Boulmer personnel, veterans and cadets took place at which Group Captain Cowieson took the salute and everyone then transferred to the Hadston Community Centre for refreshments.
The assistance of Sydney Graham, Chairman, Newcastle/Gateshead Branch, The RAF Association with this article is very much appreciated.
KOCOUREK Ladislav, 25, Sgt, 57 OTU, Pilot.
* 01/03/18, Brno.
† 17/03/43, Brotherick Farm, Warkworth, Northumberland.
Killed in a flying accident, his Spitfire AR222 collided with Spitfire X4266 during practising crossover turns with Free French pilot P/O J. B. Nemoz.
Grave ref: Sec. H. Grave 194.
A symbolic urn no 2, was returned to Ostrava Hrabyně 1945.
ŠINDELÁŘ Václav, 24, Sgt, 57 OTU, Pilot.
* 21/09/18, Plzeň.
† 19/04/43, South Rock Hall, Burton.
Killed during training flight when his Spitfire P7352 crashed at South Rock Hall, Burton. Cause of crash is believed to be because of a oxygen system fault.
Grave ref: Sec. H. Grave 248..
A symbolic urn was returned to Plzeň 1945.