Heroes Return Blog – Stories from Second World War veterans’ trips


Veteran’s Widow Returns to Husband’s Grave by The National Lottery Community Fund
June 17, 2010, 11:33 am
Filed under: Germany, RAF | Tags: , ,

Mrs Griffiths travelled to Holland and Germany in September 2009 with her daughter Gaynor. The main purpose of the trip was to visit the grave of her first husband, Flight Sergeant William “Billy” Henry Thompson, Air Bomber with the RAF who was shot down on 12 September 1994 aged 23. Billy’s grave is in Rheinberg cemetery where he lies with the rest of his crew.

“The trip we chose gave us a wonderful tour round the region around and including Arnhem and it was tailored to visit the cemeteries requested by families,” said Gaynor. “Each cemetery we visited was beautiful with the graves and the surrounding areas lovingly tended by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Our visit coincided with the celebrations for the anniversary of the Battle of Arnhem and we were treated to the most wonderful displays of parachute drops and tributes led by the local schoolchildren.”

“I was married at age 19,” said Ivy, “and I was a widow at 21. When Billy was killed I was serving in the WAAF but I then became a telegraph operator for a while and then later in the war I was a PTI instructor in Wales. That was where I met my second husband, Gaynor’s father, and we married after the war.

“I had never been to Europe before this trip. I had travelled to other places – the USA – but this was my first trip to see Billy’s grave and I am very glad that I did so. Words cannot describe my feelings and thoughts from taking part in this trip.”