Tuesday, March 6, 2012

FO Martin Palmer Northmore, RCAF, Grave Vandalism

Toronto Star, 2 Nov 1943, p.2.
The sad news  of the desecration of a commonwealth war cemetery in Benghazi, Libya, is the latest shocking instalment in the unrest in Africa and the Middle East.  (Globe story, Star Story) One Canadian airman's grave was smashed, and has been identified as that of Flight Officer Martin Palmer Northmore.  Northmore was flying hurricanes with No. 94 Squadron in late 1943.  The Toronto Star reports that his final flight was escorting a convoy "over Italy" when his aircraft went into a spin.  The Star reports a touching poem composed by Northmore's aunt Leila Bishopp Martin when she learned of his death.

Your love so fond — your spirit true and gay,
Soared high to reach the stars beyond the night;
But groping still — along our dusty way —
We search the skies, above a broken flight.”


Northmore's surviving family reported their shock upon learning of the vandalism and the Star has published a few of his letters from the war.  While the tragedy of the desecration of this pilot's last resting place is not to be played down, at least the event can be used to commemorate his war service. The outrage across the nation shows that Canadians care deeply about the memory of their fallen soldiers, sailors and airmen.  By reflecting on his war service and experiences, citizens  show that they will not forget  Flight Officer Northmore and his fellow pilots.
AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: HAWKER HURRICANE.
Hurricane IICs of No. 94 Squadron, operating out of El Gamil Egypt 1942-43 © IWM (CM 3653)

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