I found Allan Desmond through finding his grave in Hawarden Churchyard. I then realised that he hadn’t been remembered on the War Memorial for WW2 at Hawarden.
Allan Desmond Weigh’s birth was registered in the December quarter of 1921 at Chester (Chester Vol. 8a Page 648). He was the son of Edwin MacRobie & Nellie Weigh (nee Williams), who had married on the 30th March 1918 at St. Deniol’s Church, Hawarden.
Edwin McRobie Weigh, 22 and a bachelor was a Railway Clerk and his address was 3, Dundas Street, Queensferry, his father was Joseph Weigh and he was a Fitter. Edwin’s bride, Nellie Williams, was 18 years old, a spinster and a Munitions Worker. Her address was 27, Queen Street, Queensferry and her father John Williams was also a Munitions Worker.
Munition Workers in WW1 worked in terrible conditions, please click on the links to see how they worked and the risks that they took. https://www.flintshire.gov.uk/en/PDFFiles/Records-and-Archives/Hourglass-Spring-2014-ENGLISH.pdf – Flintshire’s First World War Effort – H.M. Munitions Factory, Queensferry
Also https://www.peoplescollection.wales/items/31016 – Female munitions workers at Queensferry, c.1915
And https://armingallsides.org.uk/case_studies/queensferry-explosives-factory/ – QUEENSFERRY EXPLOSIVES FACTORY
Allan’s father, Edwin had been in WW1 previously, enlisting in Colwyn Bay on the 12th November 1914, posted on the 13th November 1914. He gave his age as 19 years 6 months and he was a Clerk. He had not resided out of his father’s house for 3 years.
His description was Height 5 ft 7 and ½ inches, Weight – 130 lbs. Chester measurement – 36 and ½ inches, Range of expansion – 3 and ½ inches. His complexion was Fresh, Eyes- Blue, and he had dark brown hair. He was Church of England.
His Military History Sheet tells us that he was in the Expeditionary Force in France from the 1st December 1915 to the 16th August 1916. Effects of Wounds – Shell Shock on July 25th 1915 (sic*) on the Somme. His injuries were – “General weakness caused by shell shock.”
*This was a clerical error on the part of the Army Clerk as the Battle of the Somme didn’t start until the 1st July 1916 – see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PcPanwHzZ8
The name and address of next of kin shows two names and addresses: – (Mother) Maria Weigh, 64, Westminster Street, Crewe, Alternative :- (Sister) Hilda M. Weigh of the same address.
In fact this is only the start of Allan’s father’s story. On a Casualty Form, there are 4 episodes of Shell Shock starting 25th July 1916, 2 on the 28th July 1916 and 1 on the 1st August.
His embarkation in Southampton was on the 1st December 1915, on the 17th August 1916 he was sent home to England on the H.M.Hospital Ship “St.Denis.” https://anzac-22nd-battalion.com/hospital-ships/ – Scroll to the bottom.
On the Admissions to Hospital Form it states:-Medically Unfit. Shell Shock – “He suffers from General weakness with considerable tremor and giving of the legs, attacks of giddiness & severe headache. He will not be fit for service within 6 months.”
On the Discharge and Pension sheet it tell us what happened to Edwin – Medical Board. Dated the 10th November 1916: –
“On the 25th July 1916 on the Somme buried by explosion of shell for ¼ hours.“ The rest echoes the statement above, but then adds that it was “Result of Active Service.” “Not permanent, 12 months to fully prevents (sic).” It ends with Special Medical Board award final gratuity of £20.
Bless him Edwin was 20 years old when this happened, he was 22 years old when he married Nellie by Licence in Hawarden in 1918. They were to have another two children, I believe, Joyce in the December quarter of 1927 and another daughter, Reta (sic) who was born in the June quarter of 1930.
I then have no knowledge of Allan Desmond Weigh’s early or teen age years nor when he was to enlist, but Nellie and, I think, her 3 children are seen on the 1939 National Register which was taken on the 29th September 1939, when Allan would have just been 18 years old (remember 21 years was the coming of age in those days). The family were living at 12 Bachelor’s Lane, Chester, Cheshire, this source tells us the date of birth and Nellie’s is given as the 31st July 1899, and on this register, if a married woman was not in a job, she is described as doing “Domestic Duties Unpaid.” There are 3 closed or redacted records* , which I believe to the children. There is another person in the household, Charles Houldon, who was born on the 11th April 1915 and was unmarried and a Joiner (Heavy Worker).
*For individual people, records remain closed for a century after their birth (the 100-year rule), unless it can be proven that they passed away before this milestone.
I find Nellie’s husband, Edwin McRobie Weigh in Hospital in Chester on the 1939 National Register National Register, possibly suffering the effects of WW1 and his shell shock. Sadly Edwin was to die in the 2nd quarter of 1940, age 44 years. On the St. Deniol’s Parish Registers, his burial was on the 17th April 1940 and his age is given on that as 46 years.
So when Allan enlisted, I do not know, but probably shortly after the National Register to become a Sergeant (Wireless Op./Air Gunner) by 1943, but he was to find himself bombing Germany on the night of the 3rd/4th November 1943 with the 428 (Royal Canadian Air Force) Squadron. He was one of 3 Royal Air Force Officers on that flight LK954, making up a crew of 8, the rest were Royal Canadian Air Force Officers.
I found his Operations Record Book (Page 1) on the National Archives and it shows that on the 3rd/4th November 1943 Allen was on a Halifax V “E” LK.954 to DUSSELDORF with :-
P/O R.G. EATON –C28879
F/O L.L.WHITHAM (J22499)
P/O B.A.ELMORE (j20855)
SGT. A.E. MOSS (807289)
SGT. A.E. WEIGH (1481511)
SGT. C. SHINWELL (2204168)
P/O A.E. McKENZIE (J18334)
P/O A.K. HODGKINSON (J22156)
They took off from Middleton-St.-George, County Durham at 16.47 – “This aircraft is believed to have crashed five miles South West of Coningsby at 21.33 hours. Entire Crew killed.”
Just to give an idea of the losses and the risks these young men took, here are more of the casualties for November for 428 (Royal Canadian Air Force) Squadron: –
This squadron lost another aircraft LK.956 on the night of the 19th/20th November took off at 16.06 to LEVERKUSEN – “Nothing has been heard of from this aircraft since take off.”
Another one on the 22nd/23rd November 1943 – LK.908 – to BERLIN, taking off at 16.38 again, “Nothing has been heard of from this aircraft since take off.”
Then again on the 25th/26th November 1943 LK.969 to FRANKFURT, taking off at 23.33 and ¼ – again “Nothing has been heard of from this aircraft since take off.”
On the 26th/27th November 1943 JN966 took off at 16.51 to STUTTGART and returned to the aerodrome (most of the other aircraft returned between 00.00 and 01.45. – “On return to the aerodrome this aircraft collided with a Lancaster and as far as is known Interrogation can possibly be made. It has been presumed that the Primary target was attacked. All members of the crew were Killed.”
According to the newspaper cuttings, of Nellie’s death and funeral, Nellie went to work for the Crosville Motor Services and was there 23 years, she died on the 29th April 1966 and was buried at Hawarden on the 3rd May 1966. Her 2 remaining daughters, Joyce & Reta for many years, posted Birthday memorial’s in the newspapers for her, she was well loved by them and her family as well as work mates. Joyce was married and living in Connecticut, USA. Nellie had suffered the worry of Edwin and his death and brought up 3 children, then lost Allan.
Allan Desmond Weigh was laid to rest in Hawarden (St. Deniol’s) Churchyard on the, I think, the 10th or the 17th November 1943, see the Parish Register below. This source gave the clue about another memorial, his address on the Register was South Kyme, Lincs.
As well as Allan Desmond being remembered on the Hawarden WW2 War Memorial where his name had been put forward by his family, he is also remembered in South Kyme where the Aircraft cashed. That family had suffered the loss of a loved one in two world wars.
Please click on this link to see the Memorial to the Crew. I believe on the 20th May 2011.
This memorial is dedicated to the crew of Halifax Bomber LK954 NA/E of 428 (Ghost) Squadron Royal Air Force which crashed close to this point on 3rd November 1943 as a result of enemy action. The 8 crew, who took off from Royal Air Force Middleton-St-George on a bombing mission over Dusseldorf, were all killed. At 18 years of age, Pilot Officer A.E.McKENZIE was one of the youngest Canadians to be killed on Bomber Operations during World War ll. The three Non-Commissioned Officers on board were all Royal Air Force.
On the Memorial is this poem written by Pilot Officer John Gillespie McGee:-
“Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds –
and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of –
wheeled and soared and swung high in the sunlit silence.
Hovering there I’ve chased the shouting wind along
and flung my eager craft through footless halls of air.
“Up, up the long delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,
where never lark, or even eagle, flew;
and, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
the high untrespassed sanctity of space,
put out my hand and touched the face of God.
“High Flight was composed by Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr., an American serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was born in Shanghai, China in 1922, the son of missionary parents, Reverend and Mrs. John Gillespie Magee; his father was an American and his mother was originally a British citizen.
He went to the U.S. in 1939 and earned a scholarship to Yale, but in September 1940 he enlisted in the RCAF and was graduated as a pilot. He was sent to England for combat duty in July 1941.
In August or September 1941, Pilot Officer Magee composed High Flight and sent a copy to his parents. Several months later, on December 11, 1941 his Spitfire collided with another plane over England and Magee, only 19 years of age, crashed to his death.
His remains are buried in the churchyard cemetery at Scopwick, Lincolnshire.
Taken from his Commonwealth War Graves Commission Citation:- Son of John Gillespie Magee and Faith Backhouse Magee, of Washington, D.C., U.S.A. Magee’s poem “High Flight” found particular fame when the President of U.S.A., Ronald Reagen, used lines from the poem as part of his address to the American people, after the “Challenger” space-ship blew up, killing seven of the crew.
IN LIFE, ONE OF THE FINEST; IN DEATH, ONE OF THE BRAVE; HE FAILED NOT IN HIS DUTY HIMSELF HE GLADLY GAVE