Floating memories

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Floating memories

Postby Robert » Wed May 02, 2007 7:52 pm

ON CANVEY POINT (Original notes made 16/3/1999) – Seagulls bobbing on water, grey, white bars across their tails, black heads, they congregate in skeins of twenty to thirty. A collection of small birds (dunlins?), wheel about, spreading and closing up, turning back and changing their minds like a living, breathing entity, a quick-change joyous cloud with a single mind, elegantly enjoying themselves on the wing, then suddenly and as of a command, they land on a spit of mud and seashells that juts out into the Thames. Ducks, white tails, black backs, black heads, ringed like wood pigeons at the neck, are too busy to notice. The concrete boat is still there, despite many attempts at demolition. Someone has christened it Kitty. There’s a crayon cross marking its weathered hulk and an inscription: ‘In Memory of the crew of the Heavenly Body II, killed near here. 379 BG, 19/6/44.’
(It was some time later, once I seriously delved into the island’s past, that I recognised the seriousness of the message and its meaning. The B17 G of 379 Bomber Group – my scrawled notes might well be to blame for the discrepancy – was an American Flying Fortress, one of two that collided in mid-air over the Thames on 19/6/1944 with fatal consequences. One of the planes had nose-dived and buried itself, burning, deep into the mud just off the Point. Out of nine crew, six survived by parachute. On the second plane only one flier survived near All Hallows, Kent coast. Eye witnesses insisted they had desperately tried to avoid falling on human habitations. I understand the Canvey Flying Fortress was nick-named ‘Heavenly Body’.)
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Re: Floating memories

Postby makingtracks » Sat Nov 24, 2007 6:05 pm

hello - I just by chance found the site and read your article - it was me that chalked the message on our barge !!
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Re: Floating memories

Postby CanveyAdministrator » Sat Nov 24, 2007 7:20 pm

Hi makingtracks - welcome to the forum!

Great to hear from you - can you expand on your message on the side of the Barge please!
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Re: Floating memories

Postby makingtracks » Sat Nov 24, 2007 10:27 pm

Hello , I was always very interested in the story of the Flying Fortress and very moved by it.
I try to go there every anniversary of the crash to take time to reflect on the sacrifice made by the 1000s lost in the conflict.

So, I thought I would chalk a memorial of my own on the Barge just to make others aware of the event that unfolded in the skys above.
Being Canvey born in Pine Close in 1960, I remember the barge, the old MTB at the old bridge, and the landing craft near the barge, plus of course lots more.

I used to work at the seafront on the Speedway and bumper cars - remember them ?

Please also remember the seven French - Canadians that were killed in a Wellington bomber that flew down the lenghth of long road,engine ablaze and crashed and burned so fiercly at the end of Northwick Road, that when the bodies were recovered the pennies in their pockets had melted and fused to the bones. These guys are buried in Sutton Rd cemetry in Southend.

I moved to France and when I returned I found the Barge had gone to my great dismay. Who was responsable for this and with whos permission ?
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Re: Floating memories

Postby Dave Bullock » Tue Nov 27, 2007 6:45 pm

Hi makingtracks - do you know Gary Foulger who has a very active interest in these matters?

As explained on http://www.ConcreteBarge.co.uk the adjacent Yacht Club demolished our Barge on May 22nd 2004 during a Bank Holiday weekend. Apparently it was an "eye sore". The only good to come out of it (directly) is two websites :lol:

She shan't be forgotten!

I have never heard the story of the Wellington Bomber? I live very near to Sutton Road Cemetry and would like to see the grave (but it's a big place!)

I remember the MTB and have a photo of it on the site.

Any elaborations on the stories you mention would be much appreciated.

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Re: Floating memories

Postby Sparrow » Tue Nov 27, 2007 7:57 pm

Hi Dave
I went aboard the M.T.B.in the 50s and it was converted into a very nice home.
It was owned by a chap callrd Tommy? Lawrence who told me he'd bought it as navy surplus after WW2.
He also told me that it was a motor gun boat,not a motor torpedo boat.
Both types look very similar and were commonly called dog boats by their crews.
Regards
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Re: Floating memories

Postby makingtracks » Tue Nov 27, 2007 11:04 pm

Hi - yes I know Gary quite well.
If you want to find the crew of the wellington bomber, go to the large white war memorial in the cemetry over towards the industrial units.
They lie in front of this.
As for the ex MTB or Gun Boat, this a some stage belonged to a nice guy named dave who owned the Marine garage.
One night he awoke to find water pouring in through the portholes !!. This was due to a mooring rope becoming snagged.
I later heard the boat had been ripped apart to be converted into a house boat, and later broken up, which is a shame.
However there are at least a dozen ex WW2 boats still in Canvey boatyards

roy.

PS I think I will declare war on the barge scuttlers !
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Re: Floating memories

Postby Robert » Wed Nov 28, 2007 12:22 pm

Hi, Roy. How unexpected to suddenly get a reply to that story. There was something serious about the graffiti on the barge that made me note it down when I saw it. Maybe the cross? It bagan to make sense when I seriously delved into Canvey’s history.
Surprisingly, on all my searches, I had not heard of the Wellington bomber and its crew, either. I wonder how I could miss such an important bit of history. The crew are not commemorated on the War Memorial on Canvey? If not, why not?
Canadians did send a consignment of blankets to Canvey after the ‘53 floods.
I heard about a boatbuilder on the Benfleet side of the creek on Ferry Road, Underwoods, who made motor fishing vessels (MFVs), between the sliding bridge and what’s now the underpass. Anyone remember anything about that?
Did anyone from Canvey or South Benfleet join the Little Ships in 1940? Robert
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Re: Floating memories

Postby Robert » Wed Dec 05, 2007 2:35 pm

I happened to be in the neighbourhood yesterday, so I went and had a look. There are five Canadians recorded in the Record Book there, that I noted down. Coming into Sutton Road Cemetery, the first turning right past the admin building leads to a special enclosure of War graves with a tall white cross, incorporating a black cross in the shape of a sword. In the second row from the back we find five graves of Sergeants in the Royal Canadian Air Force, that must be the crew of the Wellington bomber? Their place of death is given as South Benfleet on the 11th November 1942.
So there is more searching to be done. The records say South Benfleet. Perhaps David Thorndike or Gary Foulger know more? Robert

Image
Photo thanks to Karen
Last edited by CanveyAdministrator on Wed Dec 05, 2007 6:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: Photo added
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Re: Floating memories

Postby Robert » Tue Sep 16, 2008 6:59 pm

With all the recent news of War Memorials, does anyone know any more about the five Canadians and why they do not seem to be mentioned or honoured anywhere locally? If they came down on or near to either Canvey or South Benfleet, shouldn't they be mentioned somewhere? Robert
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Re: Floating memories

Postby Robert » Thu Sep 18, 2008 11:05 am

Thie following was part of a message from 'makingtracks' on Sat Nov 24, 2007.
'Please also remember the seven French - Canadians that were killed in a Wellington bomber that flew down the lenghth of Long Road, engine ablaze and crashed and burned so fiercly at the end of Northwick Road, that when the bodies were recovered the pennies in their pockets had melted and fused to the bones. These guys are buried in Sutton Rd cemetry in Southend.'
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Re: Floating memories

Postby makingtracks » Fri Nov 28, 2008 12:34 am

hello, as far as I can make out, the wellington bomber was on a routine training flight, when a german night fighter, whichwas on the prowl over the Thames area caught it. It flew along the lenght of long road all ablaze and eventually came down on the opposite bank of the creek at the end of northwick road. This is now where Pitsea tip is, I imagine. Another point that may be interesting is that the small crater which is on the right hand side of canvey way, just before the bridge, was caused by a V1 doodlebug, which failed to explode.
If anyone ever does a book of the war years, I have a picture of Ronald Vandersteen, RAF, who went off to war, again in a Wellington, never to return.
His parents had a fish and chip shop opposite the haystack, and I was honoured a few years back, when the showed me their sons RAF log book, with the last entry written Ronald the day he was killed.
I could go on for hours .... !!

cheers all.
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