Special visits in England

IBefore leaving the squadron (in Kolar) I promised some of the RAF boys that I would visit the family of one of our pilots with the surname of Denton, who had been killed in an aircrash at Kolar. I also promised Paddy Seymour that I would visit his mother. Paddy was a gunner in our crew. Paddy didn't have too many cares in this world and never wrote to his mother. Probably his conscience bothered him, so he asked me to go see her.

My only means of contact with the Denton family was with a daughter who was employed at Canadian Army Headquarters in London. When I arrived at headquarters and requested to see Miss Denton, the soldier on duty did not believe my story: that I did not know Miss Denton, that she had never heard of me, that I did not want to make a date, and that I really wanted to meet her family. I finally suggested to the soldier that he be present while I talked with Miss Denton. He agreed and I was able to make arrangements to meet her parents. The meeting went well. The family, although sad, did not cry and were very proud that their son had died for the cause of democracy and for his country.

Visiting Paddy's mother was quite another adventure. She lived in a poor section of East London. I had difficulty finding her apartment and when I arrived there at 3.00 p.m. there was no one at home. Eventually, a man came along and at first he pretended that he didn't know Mrs Seymour. When I mentioned that I had been with her son in India, he became very co-operative and told me to go to a nearby pub. At the pub the old ladies present were having their usual drinks and "didn't know" Mrs Seymour. Of course, when I told them I was bringing news from her son Paddy, I was invited to sit down, I was offered more beer than I could possibly drink, and told that Mrs Seymour was expected shortly.

She was of course pleased to hear from Paddy, and I told her what a "good boy" he was. I was invited for supper at her home, where we were joined by a male friend. Her apartment was in keeping with the area. She brought out her best table settings and cooked us a decent meal. I was invited to stay overnight, which I politely declined. Before I left, Paddy's sister arrived. I was pleased to have brought some news from Paddy.

Another family whom I visited were the parents of Cecil Cox who were living in Tiverton. Cecil was their only child. He was the pilot on the crew of the aircraft in which I left England for India in 1942. I had flown with him on many "ops" over Burma. He was a loner, a very sober type, a very good pilot, and he and I got along very well. He also was killed in an aircrash at Kolar. My visit lasted 3 days, and, for Mrs Cox especially, it was heartbreaking, to hear the details of the crash and how her son had died. Despite this, they were both very thankful and appreciative that I had gone to visit them. I corresponded with them through the years and in 1977 Jacqueline and I went to visit them in Sidmouth, where they had retired. Mr Cox died soon after our visit and Mrs Cox died in 1986. After her death I was advised by her executor that I would received 250 pounds, the equivalent to 500 dollars from her estate. It was a most thoughtful and touching gesture.

Salbani, India, 1943,
Cecil Cox, far Left,
"Paddy" Seymour, third from right.

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