In the photograph below, taken on 4 August 1943, Raymond is in the back
row, first left.
The Flight Lieutenant, writing to Raymond's parents
on 28 June 1944, said, "I am enclosing a photo of the crew of which your
son, Flight Sergeant Raymond William Brett, was a member. This was taken
very shortly before their last trip and I feel sure you would like a
copy. I hope we shall soon hear good news of him."
On 19 October 1944, four months after Raymond's plane set off from
Dunholme Lodge, Lincolnshire, on a bombing raid, his parents received
the telegram below from the Air Ministry at 77 Oxford Street, London.
It reads: "Deeply regret to advise you that according to information
received through the International Red Cross Committee, your son GT
Raymond William Brett is believed to have lost his life as the result of
air operations on 22/6/44 The Air Council,
The memorial, above, erected at Lanklaar in 1948, was organised by Mr
and Mrs Steele, from Norwich, parents of Michael. A designer who had
already erected memorials in Norwich Cathedral and other ecclesiastical
work was chosen, and the memorial was made from Hopton Wood Stone,
quarried in Derbyshire. The size of the memorial is 3 feet 6 inches by 2
feet 6 inches.
Mrs Steele, in a letter to Raymond's parents, wrote, " I have added the
boys' birthdays and whether they were English, American, etc to allow
their identities to stand out." Five of the young men were English, one
Scottish, one American, one Australian, and one Rhodesian. Mrs Steele
added, " I chose a quotation from Arthur Bryant, the historian,. It was
from a very nice paper he wrote on our young men who were killed in
action during this war. "These are the salt and the light of the
world", and hope that you and Mrs Brett will agree with us that that is
what just what our sons were to us. ".
In the first, probably written in November 1943, Raymond mentions as
part of his training being dropped some 30 miles away from his base and
having to make his way back with no money. The archivist at 49 Squadron
Association has kindly expanded on what may have happened during an
"Airmen were transported at night in a covered lorry, quite some
distance from base and basically dumped in the middle of nowhere. They
had to get back to base by any means and within a certain time without
being captured by the police and army who had been alerted to
apprehend 'intruders'. I presume they were allowed the mini compasses
they carried in their tunic button and the other escape accessories
that all fitted into a small tin. I believe they only carried out one
Letter from Raymond to his parents, written
at No 2 Course, Aircrew Commando School, RAF Scampton, Lincoln.
"Dear Mum and Dad,
"Well I arrived safely OK, after missing two
trains, one Sunday morning and one Saturday night. I'm on a
commando course now and am getting a week's leave at Christmas.
Are you going away at Christmas or not? Don wants me to go to
London and so does his pal. If I do stay there I'd like a civvy
suit but I'll let you know about that later. Write straight away
and tell me what you are doing. I'm getting paid everything they
owe me on Friday so I'll send you some soon.
"It's not a bad place here, I'm sharing a
room with my crew and have been sawing wood this morning for a
Have not been to Lincoln yet but am thinking
of going tonight.
It's pretty good this commando course, bags
of football, PT, shooting, hikes, etc. Soon we are going to be
dropped about 30 miles from base and have to get back ourselves
with no money.
"Well I think that's all for now, shall write
to Brenda later.
"Please send my letters on.
"Your Loving Son,
Don, mentioned in Raymond's letter above, was
Donald Robert Harwood, later to be awarded the DFM. He and
Raymond were on the same Air Gunners' course at Stormy Down,
Wales, but in different Squads (K and H respectively). Don
Harwood is in the back row, second from left. This picture was
taken the day before the one of Raymond with his squad, above.
On the back of the photograph is a message
from a young lady named Dee, who lived near Stormy Down. Raymond had
arranged to call for her, and probably sent her the photograph
in the hope she would also find a girlfriend for Don so they
could all enjoy a day by the sea together.
Don and Raymond stayed in
touch after they were posted to different squadrons in April
1944. At the beginning of the month Don went to 49 Squadron at
Fiskerton, and towards the end of that month Raymond went to
44 Squadron at Dunholme Lodge.
Don's pal, in the letter
above, was George Woodhouse. Raymond often went with Don to
visit George, whose family lived in south London. George's
sister, "Girlie", remembered, "Ray had dark hair, was noticeably
shorter than Don, and had a flamboyant character. He would wear
the charms ladies gave him on the inside of his jacket or cap
Letter from Raymond to his parents, written
at Sergeants' Mess, RAF Dunholme Lodge, Lincoln
"Dearest Mum and Dad,
"I'm quite fit, a little tired of sleeping during the
daytime. Hope you are both well and happy, get rid of that tummy
"How's old Brenda getting on, glad she's coming home soon,
buck you up a bit, eh?
"Sorry to hear about poor old Colin, I heard from the Sonleys
but nothing about Colin being ill. Pity.
"What I know of D.Day I can't write so let's forget it.
"Why don't you stay in London or Salisbury for a bit,
Mum. Those B pilotless blighters don't play the game, actually
it's an admission that the Luftwaffe as a Bomber Force is a
"It's a funny thing, I'm blowed if I know what to write. I
can't tell you what I'm doing, I can't tell you what I'm
thinking, I can't tell you what I've done. I can only tell you I
should get leave in a month.
"I'll close now. Write soon. You owe me the last one for one
I sent before the leave so you still owe me one now.
"Yours always, Ray xxxxx
"PS I arrived safely thank you x x"
Extracts from letter from Raymond to his
parents, written at the Sergeants' Mess, Royal Air Force
Station, Dunholme Lodge, Lincolnshire
"Dear Mum and Dad,
"Well I arrived ok on time, though I could
not get across to Croydon, so I'll get my clothes next time I am on
leave .... I hope you are having a quiet time down there now
that Brenda is home ...don't forget to write on the backs of
these in the very near future ....Your loving son, Ray xxxx
"PS Please send socks I left and any civvy ones you can
repair. Also scissors. R xxxx"
Don's family lived in Croydon. Below is a
certificate of posting for a registered postal parcel, addressed
to 1807476 Brett, Dunholme Lodge, Lincoln. The parcel was posted
on 6 June 1944 from Thornton Heath, Surrey.
The parcel probably contained Raymond's
clothes, which were likely to have been posted back to him by
one of Don's family - perhaps his mother - as both Don and
Raymond would have been fully engaged on operations for D-Day.
Letter to Mr Brett from the Manager of the
Westminster Bank Ltd, 5 King Street, Dover, dated 10th January
"Dear Mr and Mrs Brett,
"Thank you for your last letter, enclosing
two letters, which I return.
"As you say, there now seems little doubt
that Raymond lost his life in his last flight in June last.
"Although I feel there is little I can say to
help you in your grief - I would like to say that we here
realise we have lost a friend - one who was most popular with
us, owing, I think, to his abundant cheerfulness in any
circumstances. So he must have been to his crew.
"The staff here and myself would like you to
accept our deep sympathy - but in this sadness we also feel a
pride in the sacrifice he has made. I trust in time you and Mrs
Brett will be able to feel this too.
E G Smith"
Notes from Raymond's small notebook
"In the event of anything
unfortunate happening to myself 1807476 R W Brett, there
are two small requests inside.
Send this home
The contents on the opposite page are my own
personal possessions and in the event of anything happening to
myself I should be truly grateful if they went home to my
parents, their address being
W J Brett
24 Buckland Ave
watch, cufflinks, studs, 2 coathangers, 1
swimtrunks, 1 gloves, 3 ties black, 1 shirt fixed collar, 2 Van
Heusen collars, 2 vests, 1 set darts, books, 1 shoes, 1 sweater,
cig lighter, wallet and contents, 1 pen, 1 comb, 1 pair braces,
toothbrush, 1 camera/film spool, 1 razor, 1 yellow silk scarf ,
2 pairs pyjamas ... PTO
Raymond's death was a
blow to Don and to "all of the gang who knew him", Girlie,
George Woodhouse's sister remembered. Raymond had become very
friendly with George's family, to the point that George's mother
told Raymond that he really should see his own family for a
change. Raymond had been to the cinema with George's mother and
Girlie, and although he pretended to be a sad little boy,
pleading jokingly to go home with them, he heeded the advice and
took the bus home to his parents. That was the last time the
Woodhouse family saw him; it was some consolation to them that
Raymond's mother had seen him once more before he died.
.Letter to Mrs Brett from the Manager of the
Westminster Bank Limited, 5 King Street, Dover, dated 14th
"Dear Mrs Brett,
"It will interest you to know that following
the reconstruction of this office after war damage, we have now
been able to affix a Memorial Tablet to those members of our
staff who made the supreme sacrifice during the late war.
"The only name on our Tablet is that of your
son who served at this Branch, and I feel you would like to know
that his name is recorded.
"Any time you are passing the Bank and would
like to see this Tablet, I shall be pleased for you to come in."
Letter from Buckingham Palace
The Queen and I offer you our heartfelt
sympathy in your great sorrow.
We pray that your country's gratitude for a
life so nobly given in its service may bring you some measure of
thanks to Rosie Bolton
and with great thanks to David Harwood for the further information