‘They gave their lives for our country’

A ceremony to mark the restoration of four headstones of four Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force officers who were buried in Gainsborough general cemetery during World War One G120424-4f
A ceremony to mark the restoration of four headstones of four Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force officers who were buried in Gainsborough general cemetery during World War One G120424-4f

COMMUNITY figures gathered at Gainsborough General Cemetery to mark the restoration of four headstones belonging to Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force officers who died in flight during the First World War.

Months of hard work and research has gone into the project which has so far seen six headstones restored to their former glory.

Peter Bradshaw, a history teacher and assistant principal at Trent Valley Academy has co-ordinated much of the work.

He even tracked down officers’ relatives, some of who came all the way from Canada for the ceremony.

“We were delighted that so many local people attended who have supported the project,” he said.

“We had several other guests who travelled considerable distances and they saw how Gainsborough people are making sure that their relative’s sacrifices have not been forgotten.”

There are eight airmen buried in the Cox’s Hill cemetery, who were members of 33 Squadron.

They were based in Gainsborough and tasked with defending the Midlands from night time Zeppelin raids.

The four latest headstones to be restored belong to Argentinian Lt Frank Benitz killed in an air raid aged 25 in 1918, and three Canadians.

Lt John Brophy was killed in 1916 while flying over Kirton Lindsey aged 23, Lt Arthur Menzies died during an air raid in 1917 aged 21, and Second Lt Carey Pinnock, who was born in England, was killed while flying in 1917 aged 20.

Their headstones now stand gleaming in the cemetery thanks to the expertise of monumental masons from Lincolnshire Co-op.

Looking at them today you would not believe they are almost 100 years old.

Wednesday’s ceremony was attended by pupils from Trent Valley Academy, members of Gainsborough branch of the Royal British Legion and Friends of Gainsborough Cemetery.

Officers from the present day 33 Squadron at RAF Benson also paid their respects along with a wing commander from RAF Scampton.

TVA principal Wendy Carrick said everyone at the school was proud to have been involved with the project.

“These servicemen gave their lives for our country even though they were from abroad, and no one was really looking after the graves,” she said.

“This is something the Gainsborough community can be really proud of. It’s preserving our history for future generations.”