Discovering more about my great-uncle

A meeting of the Churches Homesless Action group in St Mary's Church. Picture: Keith Woodland

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My father recently asked me to find out a little more about his father’s brother, uncle Scott Cameron, who had been killed serving with the RAF during the Second World War.

My father’s father, my namesake and grandfather John Cameron, was serving with the 2nd Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, was captured at the fall of Singapore and spent 3 ½ years as a Japanese POW.

On his return he was understandably silent about his ordeal and, having learnt of his younger brother Scott’s death, refused to talk about things.

A third brother, Ewan Cameron, my father’s uncle and namesake, had served with the 8th Army group in North Africa but he too spoke little of his time in the field.

Having always been aware of my paternal family’s war contribution, and in honour of my great-uncle Scott, who never had chance of a family having been killed aged just 21, I named my only son Scott after him.

With the wonders of the internet and armed with little more than his name and service number I was, in a very short time, able to gather information about his fateful mission.

He had joined 51 Squadron as an RAF Volunteer Reserve, serving as a rear gunner and part of a seven-man crew flying Halifax bombers out of Snaith Airfield in Yorkshire.

At 00.30 hours, on January 29, 1944, he and his crew left the airfield on only their sixth mission as part of a 600-strong bomber group taking part in the Battle of Berlin.

LW466, their call sign, was shot down over the village of Sommerfeld, 5km northwest of Berlin, with the loss of all seven crew. Their bodies were respectfully buried the next day but exhumed after the war and reburied in the Berlin Commonwealth War Graves.

I discovered all this in a few hours, but then hit upon a webpage that sent me cold. The page was written in German, but I was able to translate certain words and find other words, such as ‘LW466’ and ‘Halifax’.

A group of wild mushroom foragers had discovered some wreckage in a forest clearing and decided to investigate. The rusting metal was the remains of the Halifax and further investigation had confirmed the mission date and crew names.