HERO WILL BE REMEMBERED AT LAST" by Kathy Bailes
five years ago, Dover secretary Phyllis Halke, 23, broke down as
she received the news her brother was missing in action. RAF
Sergeant Donald Halke was flight engineer on a Lancaster bomber
on a raid over Schweinfurt in Germany. His plane was one of 34
that never returned from that mission in February 1944, and he
is one of the many young men laid to rest at Durnbach war
cemetery in Austria.
Now Phyllis will finally see his
name installed, with 21 others, on a new plaque on Dover's war
memorial. The plaque will be unveiled on November 11 at the
Maison Dieu site with a ceremony starting at 10.40am, dedication
at 11am, two minutes' silence, and a wreath-laying. It will be
the culmination of two years' work by the Dover War Memorial
Project, which ensures the town remembers its sons and daughters
who have lost their lives during times of conflict.
For the great-gran-of-three, from
Church Street, it is as if her little brother has finally come
home. The 88-year-old mum to Dover District Council member Nigel
Collor and his sister Hilary said: "That night, 34 planes, each
with a crew of seven, did not come back. I saw it on the news
next day and my stomach went over. We didn't know if Don was
alive or dead. He had turned 21 on February 12 and was missing
in action by February 25.
"At the end of November, we got a
letter to say he was buried in an Austrian cemetery. I fainted.
We were devastated. My mum always thought he was just going to
come through the door one day. My dad went grey overnight."
Phyllis has managed once to make
the trip to Durnbach with husband Harold, who passed away in
1997. But now she will have a place close by where her brother
will be honoured and remembered.
Maggie Stephenson-Knight, who heads
the war memorial project, said: "People will be quite emotional.
It means so much to people to have those names honoured
When I got a letter to say his name
would be on the plaque, I cried. I am so grateful the war
memorial project made this happen and Don will be remembered in
his home town. I remember when we were little and lived by the
pier. In the holidays I would hold his hand and take him down to
the clock tower until we went home for dinner. He was such a
"It will be an emotional day. There
have been so many times I have stood by the memorial and thought
about him not being on there and now he will be."
The dedication and blessing will be
led by Reverend David Ridley and attended by town mayor Sue
The inset box reads:
"Dover Express journalist Terry
Sutton is among those who will see a relative named on the
plaque. He says, "Roy John Sutton, my brother, was seven years
older than me. He was educated at Dover County School - now
Dover Grammar School - and began work with Kent County Council
at Maidstone. He left when he volunteered for the RAF.He
obtained his pilot's wings while on courses in South Africa and
the UK and was killed while piloting an aircraft in 1942.
So many of his classmates were at
school were killed during the 1939-45 war. I can not understand
why Roy's name was apparently not included on the war memorial
and I greatly appreciate his inclusion with so many other
Dovorinas who gave their lives during that terrible war that
brought so much grief"
This article first appeared in the Dover
Express, p3, 29 October 2009
reproduced with permission