The Sandiacre Screw Company (9)

There is a rather beautiful stained glass window to the memory of young Ivan Keith Doncaster in St Giles’ Church in Sandiacre in Derbyshire.

It has a wonderful representation of St George with his sword and shield. Notice how he is flying, totally in keeping with an RAF casualty :

Lower down, Lincoln Cathedral is included:

There is also a superb illustration of an airman kneeling in prayer under the Tree of Life. To the right is the badge of the RAF with “Per ardua ad astra” and the badge of 166 Squadron, with its bulldog and its motto of “Tenacity” :

In the Long Eaton Advertiser, in Keith’s obituary, the local newspaper said that he was “thoughtful, quiet and unassuming, with a great love of the land and the country people”.

On his gravestone, Keith’s parents had the following inscription:

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die”.

The wireless operator, Edward Ellis Jones, had slightly more direct feelings expressed:

“He gave his life that others might live. God bless him”

These sentiments are echoed by the words on the gravestone of Roy Elkington Ault, the bomb aimer:

“He died so that England might live”.

Similar feelings to these were expressed by Keith in his “Last letter”, the letter which is left behind, sealed, and may only be opened by parents or wife in the event of the writer’s death:

“These ops are what we have been training for, for many months. Now is our chance to make this earth a place for decent people to live in. I hope that the seven of us can flatten a large number of German homes as well as factories during our tour of ops. If I do have to go then I only hope that I can have a good chance to do some damage over there first. If that happens I shall die in the way that any Englishman would want to—fighting for his country.”

There are two more blog posts in the future to round off this tragic tale. And by the way, the pictures of those beautiful stained glass windows were originally put on the internet by “Berenice UK” in 2015.

Here’s Keith at the High School again:

Here he is in the RAF……..

And here he is at home as Sergeant Doncaster, mid-upper gunner…..




Filed under Aviation, Bomber Command, History, military, Nottingham, The High School

20 responses to “The Sandiacre Screw Company (9)

  1. They were just boys. They remind me of boys that I have taught but I have had in class and they’ve gone off and died. I suppose how did you get old tears come more easily.Thank you for this series, thank you very much

    • And still two more episodes to come, mainly because I discovered a number of things about Keith Doncaster after the book had been published, and so I turned them into a couple of blogposts.
      The one thing about teaching that nobody told me was that not every pupil makes it through to having his own family or being a grandparent. Killed crossing the road. Incurable terminal disease. Suicide. Another suicide. That latter category is the worst of all. If only they had both come to see me. I could have talked them out of it. I know I could. I just know.

  2. GP

    They all look so young, yet they handled responsibility like old veterans!

    • Yes they did, and it was a combination of patriotism, fighting for their families and homes, and above all, not wanting to let their mates down. Shakespeare coined the phrase “Band of Brothers” and once a bomber crew had settled down and they all knew each other (usually around five missions) they were arguably bound together tighter than most families.
      And they were young. I have taught hundreds of pupils who were the same age as Keith Doncaster when he joined the RAF, and the school soccer team I coached was almost exclusively of that age.

  3. I had the same thought as Paolsoren: They were just boys! The stained glass window is a beautiful and lasting tribute to Keith and the other young men that died in the war.

    • Yes, there is no finer tribute than stained glass! It is just so beautiful.
      Many years ago a huge circular stained glass window in Lincoln Cathedral literally fell out, perhaps during a storm, and crashed down into a million pieces. They tried for years to put it back together again, but could not do it. So, they just remade it as an abstract. Whichever random piece fitted a hole, they put it there. And that’s how it is today, and it’s absolutely beautiful. You can stand there and just marvel at all the colours. Arguably, it’s better now than when it was the original window!

  4. BBC Look North reported last night that RAF Scampton is to close soon.

  5. Thank you for that. I suppose that as weapons get more expensive, we cannot afford to keep every base open for ever. Hopefully, the council will think about using it as a tourist attraction. It would certainly attract tourists, particularly if there were other attractions in Lincolnshire to make up a weekend break, perhaps the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight or East Kirkby or even a day at Skeggy!

  6. These windows are simply beautiful and such great tributes to those young men. I just wonder what they would make of the world today and the sacrifices they made.

    • I think that most of our modern world would surprise them. No British Empire. The Germans, our friends. Russia the World Monsters, and so on.
      At the time, most of the bomber crews were unaware of the huge casualties being inflicted and I think that they would be surprised at the huge losses. My Dad went to one or two 103 Squadron reunions, but he didn’t like them. He didn’t like finding out that a certain person had been killed two weeks after my Dad was posted elsewhere, but he didn’t know and had imagined him as alive for the last thirty years. In similar fashion, whenhe found out who had been killed all those years ago, and who was still alive he felt very guilty at thinking, “Oh I wish Frank had survived rather than Jack. I didn’t like Jack as much as Frank.” I suppose that it was just human nature to think such thoughts, but he didn’t like having them.

      • I can imagine finding out who dies and when would have been a major shock to anyone. As humans, we can’t help the thoughts we have, whether pleasant or not. However, that doesn’t stop the guilt, yet another human trait.

  7. Thank you for sharing!!.. a wonderful tribute to the fallen… hopefully their sacrifice will not be in vain as they show us that wisdom and peace is a much better way to settle disagreements… 🙂

    As I write this a grand and wonderful lady, the Queen, has passed and she could serve as a role model for many, if not all… 🙂

    Until we meet again..
    May your day be touched
    by a bit of Irish luck,
    Brightened by a song
    in your heart,
    And warmed by the smiles
    of people you love.
    (Irish Saying)

    • Such a heart warming Irish saying.

    • Indeed she could.
      I think she may well be remembered as one of the last of the WW2 generation, she was so dedicated to doing her duty.
      Here in England, so many people are coming forward to say what a wonderful human being she was and how she showed a real genuine interest in their lives.
      I saw her once, being driven into Buckingham Palace in her Rolls Royce. She was wearing bright turquoise. She always wore bright colours so that people could see that she was there.

  8. Thank you for sharing.
    You may like this book.

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