Sheffield heroes’ families answer call for memorial launch

Nicolette Williams, mum of Sheffield's first serviceman to be killed in Afghanistan, Christopher Bridge.
Nicolette Williams, mum of Sheffield's first serviceman to be killed in Afghanistan, Christopher Bridge.
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families of World War Two heroes buried in a Sheffield cemetery are to attend the launch of a new war memorial at the burial ground.

Relatives and friends of six of the 69 fallen servicemen buried at Shiregreen Cemetery have come forward after an appeal in The Star.

The war memorial is being launched at Shiregreen on September 14 after £35,000 was raised by Nicolette Williams, the mother of RAF gunner Senior Aircraftsman Christopher Bridge, who was killed in Afghanistan five years ago today.

Nicolette, who lives in Shiregreen, was helped with fundraising by Ann Fellows, the mother of Parson Cross Royal Marine Lance Corporal Jamie Fellows, who also died in Afghanistan in 2008.

The memorial will be dedicated to Christopher, Jamie and the World War Two heroes interred at Shiregreen.

One of the relatives of fallen servicemen to come forward is Gary Taylor, aged 76, from Gleadless.

His brother, RAF Sergeant Roy Taylor, was killed in January 1945 in a mid-air collision between two Lancaster bombers over an RAF base.

Mr Taylor, a retired local government worker, said: “I’m pleased with what Nicolette has been able to achieve. I was nine years old when Roy was killed.

He was 19 and was killed on just his seventh mission.

“He had joined up in 1943 when he was 18 and was based with 153 Squadron at RAF Scampton.

“He was a wireless operator and gunner with a Canadian crew. His Lancaster bomber collided with another above Scampton and presumably both burst into flames then dropped a thousand feet to the ground.”

After the tragedy Mr Taylor said his family travelled to Harrogate, where his brother’s Canadian comrades were buried, to leave flowers and ended up becoming friends with some of their relatives after the war ended.

Meanwhile, one of the other people to come forward about the Shiregreen memorial is Mary Tang, aged 89, who was the neighbour of Private John Whitley, from Grimesthorpe.

He was a member of the Royal Army Service Corps and died on April 1, 1941, aged 22.

Pte Whitley had no siblings and is not understood to have any other living family.

Nicolette Williams said: “I am very impressed with the number of people who have come forward and who will be attending the launch.”