Letter to Mrs McLaughlin from the Air Ministry



Letter to Mrs McLaughlin from the Air Ministry


Covers a report from the Royal Air Force Missing Research and Enquiry Service in Germany. Describe crash of her husbands aircraft which came down 20 miles south of Hamburg. Bodies of some crew were recovered but apart from Flt Sgt Green none were identified. Subsequent visits to the graves identified them as her husband, Sgt Bayford, Plt Off Bowden and Flt Sgt Green. However her husband and Sgt Bayford could not be identified individually and arrangements had been made for collective crosses, bearing both their names. Concludes by saying that all fallen will be transferred from isolated graves to special British War Cemeteries.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter


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[Typewritten letter]

[inserted] copy [/inserted]

Air Ministry,
73-77 Oxford Street,

14th January, 1947


Dear Mrs. McLaughlin,

I wish to refer to your letter dated 16th December, 1946, and to inform you that a report, concerning the fate of your husband Sergeant J. A. McLaughlin, Royal Air Force, has been received from the Royal Air Force Missing Research and Enquiry Service in Germany.

This states that the aircraft crashed on the top of a small hill about half a mile south of Beckdorf (approximately 20 miles south west of Hamburg). At the time there was, according to the local inhabitants, a very dense fog.

Shortly after the crash the bodies of three members of the crew were recovered from the wreckage, and several days later the body of a fourth crew member was found in a field some distance from the crash. All four were buried in the Allied Section of the cemetery at Beckdorf but except for Flight Sergeant Green none of them was identified by the German authorities.

The Royal Air Force investigation officer visited Beckdorf Cemetery where he located the four graves none of which bore a cross or any mark of identification. They were neatly kept by some prisoners of war, believed to have been British.

In order to ascertain the identities of the four airmen an exhumation of the graves was carried out and as a result it has been established that they are those of your husband, Sergeant Baytford, Pilot Officer Bowden and Flight Sergeant Green. Unfortunately however your husband and Sergeant Bayford could not be identified individually and in consequence arrangements have been made for collective crosses, hearing both their names, to be erected over their graves which will be registered accordingly.


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Great Britain. Air Ministry, “Letter to Mrs McLaughlin from the Air Ministry,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed September 28, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/26447.

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