31 GROUP’S WINDOW TO THE SKY

Text and Photographs are taken from The ROC Journal Vol.33 No.6    June 1991

(By Chief Observer P Malone Crew 2 No 31 Group ROC)

 

(continued)

 

Meanwhile outside the church the Drill Flight was inspected by the Commandant ROC Air Commodore G M Boddy, accompanied by Group Captain D G Hawkins SRAFONI, and our own Group Commandant Observer Commander J R McDonald.

After the Service the band played in the Marquee while the ladies of the Church provided refreshments and afternoon tea. One particular piece of music which captured the spirit of the occasion was of course ‘SKYWATCH’ the March of the Royal Observer Corps.

Relations of airmen buried in Eglantine travelled from far and wide for the Dedication. Three sisters of Flight Sergeant A G Gibbison RNZAF travelled from New Zealand. We were delighted to have them with us and made sure that they were introduced to as many people as possible. They had been to Northern Ireland in 1989 but were determined to return again for the Dedication Service.

Mrs Gwen Kerton, daughter of Pilot Officer S A Sulsh, was accompanied by her husband. Other former Long Kesh airmen stayed with members of the Corps throughout the Province and were delighted with Irish hospitality. Among these was Mr MacLewton who was the sole survivor of a Beaufort aircraft that crashed nearby in 1943.

Later that evening there was a reception at Lisnagarvey Hockey Club, where the facilities were freely given for the occasion. Former colleagues who served at the two local RAF Stations during the war years joined in the celebrations, and many old wartime songs were heard, accompanied by a fine band. A grand way to end a beautiful occasion which we will never forget.

June 1991

 

Photographs from The ROC Journal Vol.33 No.6

   


LINES WRITTEN NEAR EGLANTINE CHURCH in 1942

I stood in a grove of beeches sheltering from the rain,
At the top of an eight acre field newly stripped of grain.
At it’s bottom stands a sweet little Church, it’s grounds so neatly kept;
And from where I stood the trees around it seemed as if they wept.

Although I had seen it many times before, I had looked and looked away;
For I never saw it so beautiful as I saw it that Sabbath Day.
So when the rain had cleared away I took a dander down –
Opened the gate very quietly and had a look around.
There were rhododendron bushes spread out beneath the trees,
And in the neatly cut short grass stood some beautifully trimmed yews,
There’s a lovely creeper on it’s walls; it’s roof is steep and tiled;
There’s not a sweeter place on earth than this Church of Eglantine.

And here in this little Churchyard where many a heart felt sore,
There stands three crosses I had never seen before.
They mark a plot of ground where our Airmen found their rest,
The ground was red, being newly dug; their graves with flowers dressed.

And to those who have never seen it, you can take this word of mine –
There’s not a sweeter place on earth than here at Eglantine.

Thomas Finn 


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