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Soldiers who died on a sunny Sunday afternoon 70 years ago, together with service people serving in danger zones today, were remembered at events in Perranporth.

July 26, 2010

Ian Inskip with his wreath from the RBL ready to be laid at the gravesides at Perranzabuloe Church

Holywell Bay dead honoured at last parade

Soldiers who died on a sunny Sunday afternoon 70 years ago, together with service people serving in danger zones today, were remembered at events in Perranporth at the weekend.

Some relatives of the 22 men who died when a German Junkers dropped bombs on Penhale Camp, at Holywell Bay, travelled from as far afield as Australia for the final Perranporth Veterans’ Day celebration.

Some families had only found out in the past few months where their loved ones had died, because in those dark and secret days of war there was the utmost secrecy and the Army command at the time would only revealed that soldiers had been killed “somewhere in England”.

The men had been at the recently constructed Penhale Camp for rest and recuperation after surviving the hell and fury of the German attack during the evacuation of Dunkirk only a few weeks before.

They were sitting out in the sun at about 3pm when a lone German Junkers dropped four high explosive bombs. Three of them detonated and an afternoon of rare pleasure was turned to tragedy.

Most of those at the camp at that time were members of the mainly Scottish 58th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, which had been augmented by men from the North of England and Wales.

Stuart Gray, the son of one of the survivors, had contacted relatives of those who died and they travelled to Perranporth for Saturday’s parade and a wreath-laying service at Perranzabuloe Parish Church, where many of them are buried, on Sunday.

“I managed to find relatives of 19 of the 22 who were killed, and 13 of the families are represented here today,” he said. His father’s regiment had started as the 9th battalion of a Territorial Regiment in Scotland and as an anti-aircraft unit they had lost 100 men at Dunkirk.

“They were having some relaxation at Penhale to recover from their ordeal when the bombs dropped. Some say the Junkers was actually looking for the RAF airfield at St Eval. It all happened on the same day that Falmouth was bombed and lives were lost there.”

Mr Gray’s late father survived the war and returned to visit Penhale 20 years ago, but among the other relatives was a woman who had only found out last month where her brother died.

Bill Mitchell, whose father also died in the carnage, found out where his father had been killed after his mother died 16 years ago. He has been visiting Perranporth for the ceremony for the past five years.

Mr Gray read out the names of those killed at the service on The Green at Perranporth. Organised by Commander Ian Inskip after being started in the 1990s by Frank Tyrer, who served as a Spitfire mechanic at RAF Perranporth during the war, the event is the last of its kind.

The closure of Penhale Camp has meant that the financial support from the Army has come to an end, and efforts are being concentrated on the recently introduced Armed Forces Day which takes place on the last Saturday in June.

The weekend services were conducted by the Rev Jeremy Andrew, vicar of Perranzabuloe, while those attending at the parade on The Green included the Lord Lieutenant, Lady Mary Holborrow, the High Sherriff, John Williams, and the MP for Truro and Falmouth Sarah Newton, the chairman of the parish council, Doreen Lawrence, and the co-ordinator of the veterans’ committee, Frances White.

Lady Mary said it was a time to remember the part Perranporth had played in the Second World War, when pilots from many nations flew from the airfield.

“We must not forget those who fought and died for freedom then and those who are doing so today,” she said.

Lady Mary also presented a veterans badge to Bernie Porter, of Perranporth, who served in the RAF with ground crew servicing Sabre jets and Hawker Hunters from 1955-60, including a period on the Dutch-German border as the first line of defence against the Russians.

The parade through the streets of Perranporth included the RNAS Culdrose Volunteer Band and the St Agnes Silver Band and representatives from many service and civilian organisations. The parade marshall was Peter Paice, there were 13 standard bearers, led by Pat Jephcote, and the bugler was Bill Bishop.

A Battle of Britain Day is scheduled for Perranporth Airfield on Sunday, August 22.


A final, personal tribute to the soldiers who died on 7th July 1940. Many relatives were able to attend and were able at last to say their fond farewells to loved one’s lost so long ago.


One Comment leave one →
  1. March 14, 2012 3:17 pm

    This site was moved from Posterous on 13-14 March 2012. This post was viewed 1,540 times on Posterous.

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