Members of the extended family of RAF Pilot Officer Anthony Barnes visited his grave for the first time on Remembrance Sunday after being found on the Internet by volunteer researchers at Carew Cheriton Control Tower Museum.
For more than 30 years Deric Brock, Chairman of the Museum, has been scouring archives endeavouring to trace relations and friends of the 15 airmen who died during the Second World War and are buried in war graves at Carew Cheriton. Until recently relations of Pilot Officer Barnes proved the hardest to find.
“Anthony’s father was killed in the First World War a few weeks before he was born and his mother died shortly after giving birth” said Deric. “As a result Anthony was brought up by his maternal grandmother, Joanna Pinson. She died in 1950 and we thought it unlikely we would ever trace living relations until we found Will Barnes, a keen genealogist, via the Internet. So we were very pleased to have the opportunity to show Will and his mother Sally around Carew Cheriton when they traveled down to Pembrokeshire from London for Remembrance Sunday. As well as taking Sally and Will to pay their respects at Anthony’s grave we took them to see the site where his Hawker Henley aircraft crashed in April 1940 shortly after take-off from RAF Carew Cheriton killing Anthony and his Navigator, Sergeant Richard Wilson.”
Pilot Officer Barnes had arrived at RAF Carew Cheriton on 29th November 1939 to serve with “B” Flight of No 1 A.A.C.U. (Anti-Aircraft Co-operation Unit) a target towing unit which towed targets for the gunnery schools situated at Manorbier, Aberporth and Towyn. On Tuesday 23rd April 1940 Anthony took-off from Carew Cheriton in his Hawker Henley aircraft with his observer/navigator, Sgt. Wilson, for a target towing sortie with the gunnery school at Manorbier. At 11.30 am the aircraft dived out of the clouds 2 ½ miles west of the airfield and crashed at Nash Villa close to the A477.
“My father was a schoolboy at the time. He was cycling along the A477 and saw the aircraft crash”, said Deric. “Dad went to Anthony’s funeral service at St Mary’s Parish Church at Carew three days later and so was pleased to have an opportunity to meet with members of Anthony’s family after all this time.”
Sally and Will Barnes privately laid wreaths on the graves of Anthony Barnes and Richard Wilson before joining the Cresselly and District Branch of the Royal British Legion for their Remembrance Day Service. The wreaths, in RAF colours, had been specially prepared by Legion member Margaret Richards.