The work of an IWM War Memorial Register volunteer fieldworker in Cumbria – missing names on war memorials, additional names on family graves… and a plaque commemorating an American Civil War soldier.


Stuart is part of a unique group of IWM volunteers, the field workers of the War Memorials Register.

Their role is to record war memorials – large and small – in their particular area. It often involves tracking down memorials in unusual places, such as factories, schools, libraries, local and national government offices, even shops and post offices – as well as churches and cemeteries.

The memorials they find are photographed and measured as appropriate to provide a comprehensive description and the results are added to a publicly accessible database maintained by IWM which contains almost 70,000 entries (1).

The post below gives a flavour of what Ian and his fellow field workers do. As will be seen, the skills of a detective can be added to those above.


IN CUMBRIA (MY HOME COUNTY IN ENGLAND’S LAKE DISTRICT in the north west of the country) I am now concentrating on recording gravestone commemorations, as I have now effectively completed as far as I ever will, recording actual memorials.

To date I have 6,500 memorials and gravestone inscriptions under my belt.

This necessitates revisiting as many of the churches as is now possible, after massive public transport reductions in the intervening years.

Surprisingly often I am finding – five or six years on from my initial visit to a site – new memorials.

However recently I revisited Ainstable, a small village between the banks of the River Eden and the North Pennines.

The WW1 memorial there is the lychgate of St Michael and All Angels church (2) which is reportedly made of timbers from old warships. It also has a stone plaque which names 10 men, but has an eleventh name blanked out, which is quite unusual.

Ainstable Lych GateB

The stone plaque inside the lychgate lychgate of St Michael and All Angels church showing where a name was removed. Image © Stuart Nicholson, 2017.

There appears to be no record anywhere of who this man was. It has to be assumed that he was reported missing, and ultimately turned up alive several years after the end of the war.

Of the ten casualties on the plaque one man is buried in the churchyard with a private – that is to say not the usual Commonwealth War Graves Commission – grave marker.

Three others (two of whom – James Wilson Elliott and Ernest Elliott – were brothers) have gravestone commemorations (3). Both served with 3 Battalion Coldstream Guards and died within two weeks of each other, James on 26 September (4) and his brother on 9 October 1916 (5) In addition their regimental service numbers are 16213 and 16215 respectively, indicating that they probably signed up together.

The remaining man was known locally as Louis Betton and was killed 13 October 1914 (6).

Although the date matches, Army and CWGC records show him as Lewis Batton, serving with of the 1st Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers (7). He is also commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial to the Missing in northern France. There is also a five year discrepancy between his age on the gravestone in England and that held by CWGC.

However what is of real interest here is that inside the church and erected for the First World War Centenary commemorations, is a simple time line of the war on paper added to the north wall of the church beside the window.

This not only gives the dates of death and the regiments that the ten Ainstable men served with, but also similar details for the nine men from the neighbouring village of Armathwaite (two miles away) who died during the Great War.

This ephemeral memorial almost defies categorisation.  It will not last for a hundred years, so has been added to WMR 3889, the War Memorial Register database reference for the lychgate at St Michael and All Angels.

It is simply one of the most educative and poignant memorials I have yet seen.

The timeline is a very good instance of our mission to educate, as well as just being a register of memorials. That part of the Mission statement was perhaps better expressed when we were called the War Memorials Archive.

Oh, and church also has a marble tablet memorial to John Yates Beall, a Confederate soldier who was executed at New York in the American Civil War (8) (9) (10) (11).


The memorial tablet to John Yates Beall. Image © Stuart Nicholson, 2017.

It has so far proved to be impossible to trace why that memorial is at this small country church. Much has been written about Beall, but nothing which traces his family to Ainstable.

So St Michael and All Angels Ainstable is full of interest. Besides the memorials above the church site has been a place of worship for the better part of a 1,000 years and the building incorporates features from Norman and medieval predecessors as well as other significant items (12) (13).

There never has been a WW1 memorial at the nearby village of Armathwaite (although one of the casualties – Lieutenant Charles Rushton Turner, RFA who died in October 1915 aged 40 and is buried more than 300 miles away in Christchurch Cemetery (14), Hampshire in the south of England – has an individual stained glass window by A L Moore and Company in the church of Christ and Saint Mary (15) in the village).

Armathwaite Stained GlassApixlHDRred

The stained glass memorial window to Lieutenant Rushton Turner, 3rd (‘C’ Reserve) Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.  Image © Stuart Nicholson, 2017.

Arthur Louis Moore was an English stained glass producer who was in business from around 1871 until around 1955. The company supplied stained glass productions to clients mainly in London and southern England but also elsewhere in Britain and abroad (16).

I had heard of the research being undertaken to identify the Armathwaite men, but all had gone quiet.

As I had started the day at Armathwaite and there was no new memorial there I was assuming the research project had never been completed.

The church of Christ and Our Lady in the village (17) does have a Second World War Roll of Honour with four names (18), but in the churchyard there is a gravestone commemoration with a fifth name – that of Flight Sergeant Norman Warwick, RAF, an air gunner who served with No. 156 Squadron RAF.


The grave of Isaac William Warwick and his wife Ann with an inscription commemorating their son Norman. His grave in Germany bears the simply and poignant inscription ‘Loves last gift, Remembrance’, apparently from a sonnet by Dante Gabriel Rossetti which was set to music by the English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams as part of his ‘House of Life’ cycle. Image © Stuart Nicholson, 2017.

He flew more than 30 sorties with his crew and had apparently previously flown with No. 460 Squadron RAAF.

His first mission with the No 156 Squadron was in May 1943 and he was killed when on 11September 1944 when his aircraft failed to return from a mission to Geldenkirchen, in Germany.

After the war it was found that the aircraft had crashed near to the target with all the crew being killed. They now lie in Reichswald Cemetery near Kleve not far from the Dutch border, having previously been buried at Gladbeck, near Geldenkirchen (19) (20) (21) (22) (23).

In my day job I catalogue Solicitors Papers for my local Archive Service. When I open a new box I never know what I will find. But part of the cataloguing process is not just to list what is there, but to interpret, to tell the story, to educate. In most cases the original purpose of the papers, to undertake probate or to fight a court case is long gone, now the interest is genealogical.

Often teasing the story out takes time.

I undertake exactly the same process with the War Memorials which I record.




– retrieved 24 October 2017. The database has now grown to more than 72,000 entries.

(2) – retrieved 24 October 2017.

(3) – retrieved 24 October 2017.

(4),-james-wilson/ – retrieved 24 October 2017.

(5),-ernest/ – retrieved 24 October 2017.

(6) – retrieved 24 October 2017.

(7),-lewis/ – retrieved 24 October 2017.

(8) – retrieved 24 October 2017.

(9) – retrieved 24 October 2017.

(10) – retrieved 24 October 2017.

(11) – retrieved 24 October 2017.

(12) – retrieved 24 October 2017.

(13) – retrieved 24 October 2017.

(14),-charles-rushton/ – retrieved 24 October 2017.

(15) – retrieved 24 October 2017.

(16)  – retrieved 24 October 2017.

(17) – retrieved 24 October 2017.

(18) – retrieved 24 October 2017.

(19) – retrieved 24 October 2017.

(20) – retrieved 24 October 2017.

(21) – retrieved 24 October 2017.

(22),-norman/ – retrieved 24 October 2017.

(23),-norman/#&gid=null&pid=3 – retrieved 24 October 2017.


If you would like to know more about the work of the War Memorial Volunteers please contact the War Memorials Register team, Ian Hook and Catherine Long at or Karen Gurney ( ) IWM London Volunteer Programme Manager.


A disappearing wartime witness


ARRIVING EARLY to study documents in IWM’s collection recently, I spent time wandering around the local area.

This was no idle walk but a chance to hunt down something I have been looking for years.


I am on the hunt for the type of low-rise 1930s social housing once common all over Greater London.

More than that I am looking specifically for the fencing that surrounds these estates.

Just off  busy Kennington Lane I think I can see my quarry off to my right across the road.

I thread my way through traffic and walk down White Hart Street.

When I get there I meet a steady stream of people going to work approaching me, one behind the other, plugged into their music and staring straight ahead. I am the only one going against the stream.

Not for the first time.

I am invisible to them. Only an old man with a stick and a dog look at me suspiciously as I take pictures and touch the steel frames.


Former ARP stretcher converted to railings post-war at a 1930’s social housing development in Kennington, South London. Image © R Maddox 2017.


Note the bends in the tubing that served to lift the patient off the floor as wel as raising the ‘handles’ making it easy to pick up the stretcher. Image © R Maddox 2017.

Not very exciting are they?

Perhaps not. But these are genuine wartime witnesses.

According to the Museum of the St John Ambulance – a long-standing civilian first-aid (first response) organisation – the stretchers are some of the 600,000 which were produced for the Air Raid Precautions organisation in readiness for the anticipated Second World War (1).

This time everyone knew that this war was going to be different. Britain (including the capital) had been bombed sporadically but increasingly from 1915 during the First World war by airships and aircraft (2).

Often the targets of these raids had been hit more because of luck than judgement.

But this was enough to shake the authorities. Now and in the future any nation could attacked with almost absolute impunity as they crossed the skies far above defending armies and ships.

British politician Stanley Baldwin encapsulated much of the thinking at the time when he said in a speach in 1932 ‘the bomber will always get through’ (3).

Luckily London did not endure the number of casualties expected and at the end of the war there was a huge stockpile of stretchers. These could be used as replacement for the railings that had been removed from the capital’s parks and other places to make munitions.

Today the stretcher railings are a rarity.

Some were replaced when the social housing they surrounded were modernised, others were taken away because they had been unsafe.

There is even an organisation to preserve them. For more details visit .








When IWM lent some of its collection… to the Home Guard in case of German attack



An example of a First World War trench club in IWM’s collection. These and similar weapons were used by raiding parties to enter enemy trenches and capture items and personnel for intelligence purposes. Images © R Maddox 2017.


IT CAME TO LIGHT IN THE PRINTED MEDIA and online that certain aspects of the Falklands conflict were – as the Duke of Wellington may or may not have said about the Battle of Waterloo – ‘a damn close-run thing’ (1).

I’m thinking particularly about the seals in the inflight refuelling equipment fitted to the Vulcan bomber were not performing as they should and how redundant aircraft at museums and the entrances to air bases overseas had RAF technicians descend on them and ‘borrow’ items for the duration (2).

Nowhere near as dramatic is the fact that after British forces had withdrawn from Europe in June 1940 and left an enormous amount of materiel, the military actually asked the Imperial Museum to use some of its equipment for the war effort (3).

A number of artillery pieces and a quantity of optical equipment left the collection about that time, as well as items such as trench clubs that were loaned to the Home Guard, a volunteer organisation set up in 1940 that came under military control. Its purpose was to alleviate the regular army of many non-frontline duties such as guard military installations, maintaining road blocks, and to act as a first line of defence against invasion (4).




Another London Cenotaph – the Guards Division Memorial and the story of the Irish Guardsman statue modelled on two men.


THE GUARDS DIVISION MEMORIAL (literally a five minute walk from Imperial War Museum’s Churchill War Rooms) stands on the edge of St James’ Park and faces London’s Horse Guards Parade. It can often be seen in the background of the annual Trooping of the Colour ceremony and other events held there.

The design is the work of Harold Chalton Bradshaw and Gilbert Ledward – two Englishmen who had met while studying in Rome before the First World War – and an architect and sculptor respectively.

It commemorates the not just the 14,000 Guardsmen who died in France and Belgium between 1915 and 1918 but also their fellow soldiers of the Household Cavalry, Royal Regiment of Artillery, Corps of Royal Engineers, Royal Army Service Corps, Royal Army Medical Corps and other units that served with them.

A later inscription remembers the casualties in the Second World War.


The unveiling of the Guards Memorial October 1926, showing Chelsea Pensioners and Yeomen Warders from the Tower of London. Image by Mrs Albert Broom. © IWM (Q 66230)

After six years of fund raising and five years since the design had been approved  the Memorial was unveiled on 16 October 1926 by the His Royal Highness, the Duke of Connaught, Senior Colonel of the Guards.

He was accompanied by General George Higginson who served in the British Army for 45 years and was a veteran of the Crimea War, which ran from 1853 to 1856.

Gilbert Ledward (who had served in the artillery during World War 1) was briefed that his statues were to be realistic depictions of typical soldiers.

Subsequently five Guardsmen were selected, each a serving soldier with either the Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots, Irish or Welsh Divisions (1).

It is said that Guardsman Simon McCarthy became so frustrated and impatient with the whole process that he walked away when the moulding was only partly completed, leaving Lance Sergeant W. J. Kidd to act as the reference for the legs of the Irish Guardsman statue (2).

During the Second World War, the Memorial suffered bomb damage and although most has been repaired a small hole in one of the statues (measuring 7 foot 3 inches, 2.2 metres high) has been deliberately left (3).

Each of the statues and the accompanying panels are cast from captured German guns.





Why the British copied a German medallion marking the sinking of the RMS Lusitania and then sold copies


Image: A British version of the German medallion commemorating the sinking of the RMS Lusitania. The medal and its box are owned by a staff member at the UK National Archives at Kew, England and are on public display. TNA catalogue reference: FO 395/42 Image © 2017 R Maddox.

MONDAY 7 MAY 1915. A German submarine is at periscope depth off the coast of Ireland when at around 13:20 it sights a large merchant ship.

Initially the captain felt a torpedo attack wasn’t possible but the submarine continued to track the merchantman.

And then the ship changed course.

Submarine U-20 fired a single torpedo at RMS Lusitania as she was nearing the end of her voyage from New York to Liverpool.

The ship, together with almost 2,000 passengers aboard – including 128 American citizens – was doomed (1). There were less than 800 survivors (2).

Germany had renewed its declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare only a few months before on 1 February 1917. It had previously dropped the tactic in September 1915 (which had been in retaliation for the Royal Navy blockade of Germany) after protests from neutral America.

Artist Karl Goetz designed medallions for a variety of clients and he produced an initial small limited run of a medallion marking the sinking.

His intention wasn’t to praise the actions of the crew of U-20, but to draw attention to what he saw as America’s naivety in ignoring clear warnings about sailing in the waters around Britain (advertisements were published in New York newspapers on the day RMS Lusitania set sail setting pointing out the fact that Germany was at war and the risks that would-be passengers could face).

In addition he believed that passengers who chose to sail on a ship that had been taken over by the Admiralty as an armed merchant auxiliary – although her armament wasn’t fitted (3) – were displaying arrogance, that the USA was not neutral in the conflict but actively supporting Britain and that Allied eagerness for wealth through trade had contributed to the RMS Lusitania’s loss.

The face or obverse of the medal shows the sinking ship complete with an aircraft and an artillery piece on its deck – clearly intended to highlight the military connections of the ship – under the heading ‘KEINE BANNWARE’ (‘No contraband’).

The reverse of the medallion is full of symbolism. The figure of Death is shown selling tickets at a Cunard Line counter. A newspaper warns of ‘U-boat Danger’. The German Ambassador to the USA is shown raising a warning finger and the scene is entitled ‘GESCHÄFT ÜBER ALLES’ – ‘Business above all’ (4).

The medallion came to the attention of Captain Reginald ‘Blinker’ Hall (5), the first Director of Naval Intelligence. He and his colleagues noticed a mistake on its design and an opportunity for a potential propaganda coup.

It bore the wrong date for the sinking – 5 May and not the 7 May.

The depictions and the date error could be used to point to a clear German and premeditated intention to attack the ship and only some unforeseen factor had prevented it going ahead on the date planned.

And of course (in the British argument) this wasn’t an artist expressing his view through a medallion but a medal commemorating and glorifying the deaths of civilians – many from a neutral country that had clear ties with Britain.

This was in turn was seen as similar to the case when in 1914 a medal – as opposed to a medallion – was struck in anticipation of the German capture of Paris for issue to German forces. The medal was never issued as the Battle of the Marne halted the German advance on the French capital, although a few have survived. (6)

The British Lusitania Medallion’s Explanatory Leaflet. IWM catalogue reference: Art. IWM MED 861 2  © IWM. Original Source:

Around 300,000 British versions – they are not exact copies – of Goetz’s design were made, boxed and together with a leaflet (7) explaining the sinking as a pre-planned act.

They were sold in aid of the Red Cross and St. Dunstan’s, a charity set up in 1915 to care for blinded military personnel. Now called Blind Veterans UK it continues to support visually impaired ex-servicemen and women (8).

Although a second corrected version of Goetz’s medallion was issued in Germany the damage was done.
On 6 April 1917 after an overwhelming Senate majority (9) America entered the First World War.

Despite claims at the time and on occasions since it appears that the Lusitania was carrying munitions (10) (11) (12).













The ‘Welbike’ – probably the smallest vehicle in the IWM collection


At recent meeting at IWM, fellow volunteer Jackie Daly told me that she was going to write a post on a military motorcycle she had seen three days before at the National Motorcycle Museum (1) at Solihull, near Birmingham in the United Kingdom.

Coincidently at the same time, I had been researching a totally different topic at IWM’s Research Room that lead me to the mysterious-sounding Inter Service Research Bureau at Station IX and a different example of the same motorcycle on display at the Imperial War Museum in London.

So we decided to jointly write this post.

Richard Maddox

A FIRST GLANCE IT LOOKS LIKE AN EXPENSIVE TOY rather than the military vehicle it is.

Excelsior ‘Welbike’ folding motorcycle (4110.90.2) Air dropped folding motorcycle used by British airborne forces during the Second World War, powered by Villiers 98cc single-cylinder 2-stroke engine. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

The ‘Welbike’ was the idea of Major John Dolphin (2) a keen motorcyclist, engineer and designer who was in charge of Special Operations Executive  (SOE) Station IX or ‘The Frythe’ – a former country mansion and hotel set in almost 50 acres of grounds, near Welwyn, Hertfordshire about 30 miles (50 km)  north of London.

Together with many similar houses, ‘The Frythe Residential and Private Hotel’ was requisitioned by the British War Office at the beginning of the Second World War.

Here in the extensive grounds and huts that sprang up in the shadow of the main house, a range of laboratories, offices and workshops produced prototype vehicles, weapons and camouflage methods were designed and tested for primarily for use by sections of SOE – a secret British organisation that operated in Occupied Europe using male and female agents inserted into the local population to organise and conduct espionage, sabotage and resistance (3).

Most of the weapons that were designed at Station IX had the prefix ‘Wel’ in the title – these include a series of guns, ‘Welrod’(4), ‘Welpen’, and ‘Welgun’ – together with the ‘Welman’ (a one-man submarine tested in the lake at the Frythe and later used only once operationally on an SOE in Norway) the ‘Welfreighter’ and of course the subject of this post the ‘Welbike’, lightweight folding motorcycle (5).

Amongst his post-war ventures he took the ‘Welbike’ design and made a commercial version of the bike called the ‘Corgi’ (6) as well as designing an air-portable folding jeep (called the ‘Harrier’) for the Hunting Percival Aircraft Company (6) (7).

The main requirements for the ‘Welbike’ were that it had to be man- and air-portable and capable of being delivered by the various aircraft of the RAF Special Duties flights and fit into the CLE Canister Mk1 tubular containers that were dropped on supply missions to Resistance groups in Occupied Europe.

British Paratroops on exercise retrieve ‘Welbikes’ from air-dropped equipment containers, Bulford, 9 June 1943. Image: © IWM (H 30628).

The aircraft container was around 6 foot (1.8 m) long with a diameter of around 14 inches (0.35 cm). They had a collapsible nose to absorb the impact of an airdrop and a parachute was fitted to slow it down. This of course meant that the internal dimensions were much smaller and the bike appears to have been a tight fit.

Besides being issued to British paratroops, the bike was also used operationally by Royal Marine Commandoes on D-Day as the images below show.

Royal Marine Commandos of Headquarters, 4th Special Service Brigade coming ashore from landing craft onto the ‘Nan Red’ sector of Juno Beach at St Aubin-sur-Mer on the morning of 6 June 1944. Note the last Royal Marine wading with an assembled ‘Welbike’ on his shoulder. Image: © IWM (B 5217).

Another view of Royal Marine Commandos of Headquarters, 4th Special Service Brigade coming ashore at St Aubin-sur-Mer, again showing troops manhandling a ‘Welbike’. Image: © IWM (B 5218).

The ‘Welbike’ folded as it would be when packed into the air-portable container. Image: © IWM (KID 5359)

The production versions of the bike were manufactured by the Excelsior Motor Company, Birmingham, England and had 12.5 inch wheels and a 98 cc two-stroke engine. It had no lights or susension and only a single brake.

The fuel tank held about 7 pints (0.8 imperial gallons, or around 3.7 litres) of fuel. The machine was designed to travel for around 90 miles at 30 miles an hour on flat ground.

Weighing 70 pounds the motorcycle was intended to be assembled in around 10 seconds from the air-dropped canister being opened.

The ‘Welbike’ on display at the National Motorcycle Museum at Solihull near Birmingham. Note the metal air portable container, different to that shown above. Image: © Jackie Daly, 2017.

As designed for SOE a radio battery could be recharged using the ‘Welbike’.










The Wing Commander’s sugar, the Red Baron and ‘our little war in the Middle East’


Sugar cubes belonging to Wing Commander John Heagerty. © IWM SITE CWR 389

Sugar cubes belonging to Wing Commander John Heagerty RAF. © IWM SITE CWR 389

THE MAP ROOM AT CABINET WAR ROOMS was once a secret place at the heart of a very secret place.

Here the war was charted, briefings were prepared for Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and secret papers littered desks. Telephones were connected by operators instantly to both neighbouring offices and far flung units at home and abroad at any time of day or night.

And long after the war ended it still kept a secret about a key man working there.

Portrait of Wing Commander John Heagerty, Map Room Officer, Cabinet War Rooms, c 1940. © IWM HU 46096

Wing Commander John Heagerty, around 1940. © IWM HU 46096

Wing Commander John Seymour Heagerty RAF manned the Map Room Air Desk for more than five years co-ordinating information about air operations.

And he kept part of his sugar ration – a scarce commodity both during the war and after until 1953 – in an envelope marked with his name and pushed to the back of a desk drawer.

For almost four decades after the War Rooms were vacated in 1945 the sugar remained as it was left, found only when the site was surveyed by IWM staff before opening to the public in 1984.

It has been suggested that the sugar’s shape is because Heagerty shaved or broke off pieces for his beverages. (1) (2)  However, it is also possible that he had access to slab sugar – some of which was made to be sent to British prisoners of war – and simply cut his own (irregular) cubes.

At the moment we don’t know for certain.

What we do know is that these humble blocks of sugar show a very human side of the war. And perhaps a very British belief that a cup of tea will make things better – even just for a few moments.

And the Red Baron?
During the First World War Lieutenant Heagerty was a pilot with No. 43 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps (RFC).

Joining the British Army on 29 August 1914 – little more than three weeks after war was declared – he served in 25th (County of London) Cyclist (Home Service) Battalion, London Regiment, as a cyclist and transport driver.

On 11 May 1915 he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant into 9th Battalion, East Kent Regiment and in March 1917 he was attached to 2/4 Royal West Kent Regiment, joining that regiment at Fayoum (Al Fayyum) in Egypt on 16 March 1917.

Six months later on 3 September 1916 he boarded a ship from Alexandria back to England. He was to going to join the RFC (3) and after training he was sent to France. (4)

According to a post-war report, on Easter Sunday, 8 April 1917 the newly appointed Flight Lieutenant Heagerty RFC and his observer, Lieutenant Leonard Heath Cantle, RFC were patrolling near Vimy when their aircraft – a two – seater Sopwith 11/2 Strutter biplane, serial A2046 (5) – was attacked by two enemy aircraft.

In the ensuing battle Cantle was wounded. Heagerty broke away but with the aircraft’s controls shot away ‘came down out of control’. (6)

Although unscathed in the attack, Heagerty was injured when the aircraft crash at Farbus, about 1.5 miles (2.5 km) from Vimy. (7)

Cantle died as a result of the crash and his battle wounds. He is commemorated on the Arras Flying Services Memorial. (8) (9)

Heagerty was captured and while recovering after the crash was visited by the pilot who claimed the victory Manfred von Richtofen – the famous ‘Red Baron’). (10)

He was to spend the rest of the war a prisoner, being repatriated at its end and arriving back in Britain on 19 December 1918. (11)

In August 1919 an Army Council Committee of Enquiry found that ‘no blame attaches to him [Heagerty] in the matter’ of the loss of the aircraft and the death of Lieutenant Cantle. (12)

Just over a year after his downing of Heagerty and Cantle, the 25 year-old Manfred von Richtofen scored his 80th and last victory on 20 April 1918. He was killed the next day.

Heagerty and Cantle’s aircraft had been his 38th victory and the first of two that day. (13)

For each of the first 60 of his victories, Richtofen commissioned a silversmith to make a small silver ‘victory’ cup from which he could toast his foe. Each one was sequentially numbered, dated and engraved with details of the enemy aircraft he had downed.

There is some confusion regarding The Red Baron’s victory cups

ate that pewter examples were made. (15)

 Today very few are known to exist.

According to the description accompanying unedited footage made in or around 1977 by Anglia Television (a British television production company) now in the IWM collection, Heagerty attempted to acquire the victory cup relating to the shooting down of his aircraft from von Richtofen widow. (16)


This cup commemorates the Red Baron’s 12th victory, the downing of Lieutenant Benedict Philip Hunt on 11 December 1917. The one marking The Red Baron’s victory over Heagerty and Cantle would have been generally similar. Image

CWR and ‘… our little war in the Middle East’

August 15, 1945 is generally accepted as the last day the Cabinet War Rooms were in operation. However, a letter from Air Marshall William F Dickson RAF to Heagerty and held in the IWM Collection may indicate differently.

According to his private papers now in the IWM Collection, Heagerty left the Cabinet War Rooms (as CWR was known during the war) around the end of July 1945. He was to remain connected with the site for many years, organising dinners and reunions into the 1960s.

On 22 November 1956 Dickson wrote to Heagerty declining an invitation to a CWR dinner as he was ‘dining with the Queen and the Army Council!’

He would go on to say in the same letter…(17)


Extract from letter dated 22 November 1965 to Wing Commander Heagerty from Air Marshall Dickson mentioning CWR and ‘our little war in the Middle East’. Image from IWM Collection Image 7: Letter from Marshall of the Royal Air Force William F Dickson, GCB, KBE, DSO, AFC dated 22 November 1956.

A coalition of Britain, France and Israel were involved in the ‘Suez Crisis’ – a military operation to take possession of the Suez Canal which Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser had nationalised, it had been run by the Suez Canal Company. The French and British together launched ‘Operation MUSKETEER’, while the Israeli operation was known as ‘KADESH’ on 29 October 1956.

Hostile pressure from the United Nations, Soviet Union and United States caused the military action to be halted and a ceasefire was put in place on 7 November 1956.


* At least one source uses Heath-Cantle  for the name of the observer (5), however Heagerty uses ‘Cantle’ in his report of the incident (7), as does Charter House school (8) and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. (9)


– retrieved 19August 2017.

(2) – retrieved 19August 2017.

(3) Air 76/219/42 – UK National Archives.

(4) Air 76/219/42 – UK National Archives.

(5) – retrieved 19August 2017.

(6) Air 76/219/42 – UK National Archives.

(7) – retrieved 19August 2017.

(8) – retrieved 19 August 2017.

(9),%20LEONARD%20HEATH – retrieved 19 August 2017.

(10) Description after Slate 52/ Take 1: more about his combat career. Squadron leader was Sholto Douglas. Nearly all flying done over enemy lines. Easter Sunday 1917, shot down behind those lines. Pilot comes to visit him in his sickroom (von Richthofen). Moved to hospital – retrieved 20 August 2017.

(11) Air 76/219/42 – UK National Archives.

(12) Air 76/219/42 (enclosure 2A) – UK National Archives.

(13)  – retrieved 19 August 2017.

(14) – retrieved 19 August 2017.

(15) – retrieved 20 August 2017.

(16) Description after Slate 54/ Take 1: von Richthofen’s sickroom visit. After the war, Mr Heagerty tries to get a small commemorative trophy (bearing his name) from von Richthofen’s widow – retrieved 20 August 2017.

Image 7: Letter from Marshall of the Royal Air Force William F Dickson, GCB, KBE, DSO, AFC dated 22 November 1956. – retrieved 21 August 2017.