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Griffith, Arthur

I found Arthur Griffith when I added “Saltney” to the search field on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, and the additional information came up – Son of Henry R. and Elizabeth Griffith, of Saltney, Chester.  Personal Inscription AFFECTIONATELY REMEMBERED BY HIS FAMILY. QUEEN OF THE HOLY ROSARY, PRAY FOR HIM.   I do not think he is on any memorial and he must be remembered.

Arthur Griffith was born in the December quarter of 1920 (Hawarden Vol. 11b Page 365), the fourth son of  Henry & Elizabeth Griffith (nee McHugh) who had married in the St Francis of Assissi Catholic Church, Chester on the 24th December 1907.

Henry R. Griffith is seen on the 1911 census with Elizabeth, living at 41, Chainmaker’s Row, Saltney (3 Rooms).   Henry, 25, is the head of the household and is a Metal Turner (Iron Works) born Chester, Cheshire.   Elizabeth, 21 was born in Saltney, Flintshire, as were their 2 children, Bessie, 2 and Henry 1 month.    They tell us that they had been married 3 years and 2 children had been born to them, and were still living.

The family are seen again on the 1939 National Register which was taken on the 29th September 1939 and Arthur’s birthday is given as the 11th September 1920, but his birth must not have been registered till after the end of September, as he is shown in the December quarter.

This source gives us dates of birth and occupations of the residents of 48 Park Avenue, Chester, Hawarden R.D., Flintshire.   Henry R. Griffith was born on the 5th September 1885 and was an Engineering Lathe Turner, Elizabeth had been born on the 28th December 1889 and as most married women on this register are described a s doing “Unpaid Domestic Duties.”   Bessie Griffith had been born on the 25th April 1909, she was single and a Spinner in a Tobacco Works.   James P. Griffith had been born on the 29th February 1916, was single and worked as a Metal Frame Hanger.   Arthur was single and a Press Stamp Operator.   Edward Griffith’s birth date was the 16th May 1927 and was “At School.”   There is a redacted or closed record*, so I am unable to tell who it may have been but presumably he or she was a young person.

*The National Register tells us :- ”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.”

According to the newspaper cutting of the Chester Chronicle and the Cheshire Observer of the 29th July 1944, Arthur had been a pupil of St. Anthony’s R.C. School, Saltney and began work with the Rustproof Metal Window Company Ltd., in Saltney and he left when he enlisted on the 23rd  June 1939 – https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Rustproof_Metal_Window_and_Engineering_Co

I don’t normally comment, but did wonder if Arthur saw the Allan-Williams Turret being made at his factory (Rustproof Window Co. Ltd), and influenced his decision to join the R.A.F.     This was an Airfield Defence Turret to enable 2 men to defend airfields with machine guns – Please read – https://www.tenby-today.co.uk/article.cfm?id=120964&headline=Rare%20airfield%20defence%20turret%20goes%20on%20display&sectionIs=news&searchyear=2018

So although Arthur is seen on the 1939 National Register which was taken on the 29th September, he is recorded as still working at the Factory, but he could just have been waiting to be called up for his training, even though he had enlisted on the 23rd June 1939.

I do not know where he was trained, but Arthur was to find himself in 37 Squardon, flying Wellington Bombers.   37 Squadron was moved to Tortorella in Italy where they could attack targets in Italy, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Albania, as well as dropping supplies to the Yugoslav partisans.  Please see:-

http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/37_wwII.html

His crew consisted of Squadron Leader Heathcote Huia Butler Beale, Service Number: 41465, from New Zealand and who was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (Second Supplement of the London Gazette 23rd January, 1943) and the Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross (London Gazette 7th January 1944.)   He is remembered on the Malta Memorial, but I believe that he bailed out and landed in the River Danube and was taken to German Military Hospital in Zemun (Belgrade ) The following day he was taken to a German Military Hospital in Zemun (Belgrade)but unfortunately he succumbed to his injuries on the 8th April.   He was buried in an unmarked grave in the local civilian cemetery.   Many thanks to David Griffiths and others on the website http://www.rafcommands.com/archive/06263.php

Flying Officer Harry Galloway DEAN (52930) Navigator, died in the crash and is buried with Arthur in Budapest War Cemetery.

Flying Officer Felix Aloysius Sullivan (128403) also died in the crash and is also buried in the Budapest War Cemetery.

I believe that A.K NEWMAN was taken prisoner – I found a note of a prisoner of was named Ft/Sgt Arthur Keva NEWMAN (1267317), who I believe may be one and the same.  He was imprisoned at Stalag 357 Kopermikus, POW No. 3552.

Also W/O (2nd Pilot) Charles W.I. JEFFREY –(656342), also was taken prisoner. The 2nd Pilot W/O C.W.I.Jeffrey was P.O.W. until the end of the war but I believe he passed away in 1991 from T.B.  It seems he was recruited from the Army around May 1941, his date of birth was the 12th June 1919. (All this I managed to glean from letters to http://www.rafcommands.com/database/serials/details.php?uniq=LN853

Operational Record Book:- 3rd April 1944

LN853 took off at 20.43 – Detailed to attack the MANFRED WEISS WORKS.   No news has been heard from this aircraft since the time it took off.

Also lost that night was the crew of LN976, who took off at 20.49 and were never heard of since, but they are buried in Belgrade, Serbia.

They were bombing the  Manfred Weiss Steelworks, please read https://www.totallylost.eu/space/manfred-weiss-steel-metal-works/

As said earlier, I believe that S/Ldr(Pilot) H.H. BEALE became a prisoner of war but died 4 days after the crash. (See communication on R.A.F.Commands below from David Griffith:-

RE: F/O Harry Dean, 37 Sqdn (Navigator-Bomber)

Author: DavyGco (Guest)

Time Stamp:11:56:54 Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Post:Hello Henk,

 Thanks for that reply. I’m sorry to say that both the gentlemen you mention are no longer alive. The Sqdn/Ldr was injured when bailing out of LN 853 and sustained a broken back. He was taken P.O.W. and was then mysteriously transferred all the way to a German Military Hospital at Belgrade where he died 4 days later. I have been in contact with his sister for the last few months and recently I have received his service records. The details of Sqdn/Ldr Harry Beale’s last mission are detailed in Errol Martyn’s ‘For Your Tomorrow’

 The 2nd Pilot W/O C.W.I. Jeffrey was P.O.W. until the end of the war (I don’t have any details about his P.O.W. number or which prison) but I believe he passed away in 1991 from T.B. I am currently trying to locate his family, but to date with no success.

 My Uncle incidentally was Airgunner and was K.I.A. on this, the first RAF aircraft to be lost over Hungary.

 As before any info appreciated!

 David Griffith

 I believe that both Henry R. & Elizabeth Griffith were alive to bear the grief of his death, Henry dying in the March quarter of 1967, age 82 years (Hawarden Vol. 8a Page 505) and Elizabeth in the October quarter of 1969 age 79 years. (Hawarden Vol. 8a Page:      2405)

Arthur must be remembered for his sacrifice so if anyone knows anything about his life and if there is perhaps a Saltney WW2 War Memorial, please contact the website.


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