Name added to RAF Chedburgh airman’s grave after 74 years

Flt Sgt Frank Reed, left, who flew from RAF Chedburgh and his son Nigel at the rededication of Frank's grave Picture Crown Copyright
Flt Sgt Frank Reed, left, who flew from RAF Chedburgh and his son Nigel at the rededication of Frank's grave Picture Crown Copyright

The name of an RAF flight sergeant has finally been added to his grave 74 years after he took off from RAF Chedburgh.

Flt Sgt Frank Reed’s grave was rededicated in Hanover last Tuesday, watched by his son Nigel who was born after his father died. Simultaneously, three former members of the Blues and Royals, Nigel’s old regiment, laid a wreath at the RAF Chedburgh memorial.

Former members of Nigel Reed's old regiment, from the left, Mark Bridgen, Simon French and Charles Payne, represented him at the RAF Chedburgh memorial at the time of the rededication in Germany

Former members of Nigel Reed's old regiment, from the left, Mark Bridgen, Simon French and Charles Payne, represented him at the RAF Chedburgh memorial at the time of the rededication in Germany

Flt Sgt Reed, from Nottingham, enlisted in 1942 at the age of 19 and served at Chedburgh in 620 Squadron on Stirling bombers.

He married in 1943 but was shot down near Hanover on September 27 that year.

He was the only survivor of the seven-man crew and was taken to a hospital in Hanover but had no identification. The hospital was then hit by American bombs, so it is not known if he died as a result of crash injuries or the bombing, but he was buried without being identified, a month short of his 21st birthday.

Charles Payne, who went to the Chedburgh ceremony with comrades Simon French and Mark Bridgen, said: “Nigel tried to find his father for about 25 years without success – then he got a letter out of the blue from Germany.

“It was only when they found the plane and found there was a missing person, they’ve tied it all together. A lot of people have gone out of their way to honour a man they never knew.”

Nigel, who now lives in New Zealand, was able to attend the Commonwealth War Graves Commission service to rededicate his father’s grave with a new headstone.

Nigel said after the ceremony: “Today has opened up a new chapter in my relationship with my father whom I now feel a real connection and closeness to.

“I would like to thank all those who made this ceremony, and the one held in Chedburgh, possible, it has meant so very much to me.”

The Ministry of Defence’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre and Air Historical Branch researched the crash of Stirling EH945.

On Saturday Chedburgh’s village fete marked the 75th anniversary of RAF Chedburgh’s opening and included a minute’s silence for the 398 airmen from there who died.