Navigating Cyril Project No. 3 : Continued Navigation…

The search or ‘navigating’ continue, the story continues:

  • Cyril Rowland Edmonds was born in 1921, second son of Cyril & Jessie May (née Rowland) Edmonds, of Portland House, Matlock Bath.
  • In his late teens Cyril Rowland Edmonds had a relationship with local girl Mary Allen daughter of a property developer, printer and local politician John Allen.  In  July 1939 a child Michael was born, Cyril would have been 18 years old.
  • Cyril and Mary’s relationship was ‘hushed up’ with both families eager to push the affair under the carpet and out of collective local memory. Michael was, to all intents, adopted by his maternal grandmother Emma; Mary – formerly a florist – was sent to work in the munitions factories in Derby; and Cyril joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.
  • Mary was my paternal grandmother.
  • Michael my dad.
  • On 7th February 1944 Cyril joined HMS Macaw, a Fleet Air Arm transit camp built on the land of Wellbank Farm, Eskmeals, Bootle, Cumberland. It was home to 900 people at its height and gave final training to young pilots who had previously trained in the USA or Canada. Mid-war the numbers of pilots being sent to USA/Canada for initial training had increased to such a degree that a transit camp was needed in the UK to act as a half-way house for pilots going to, and returning from North America. A few miles north of Millom in Cumberland was the Ministry of Supply workers’ camp at Wellbank, originally used by to house construction staff for the Royal Ordnance shell filling establishment at Bootle. The site was requisitioned by the Navy and, from November 1943 became HMS Macaw, often known as Bootle Station.
  • $_35
  • On the 9th February (or perhaps March?) 1944 he married Edna Minerva Rainsbury of Ednaston at Brailsford Parish Church.
  • In April 1944 he left HMS Macaw and joined 772 Squadron as a Fleet Air Arm pilot at HMS Landrail and Royal Naval Air Station, Machrihanish, Argyllshire for two months.
  • In June 1944 aged 22 yrs. he joined 759 Squadron FAA at HMS Heron the RN Air Station, Yeovilton, Somerset.
  • 759 Naval Air Squadron [NAS] was first formed on 1st November 1939 at Eastleigh, as a Fighter School and aircraft pool unit. Its original inventory included; 9 Blackburn Skuas, 5 Blackburn Rocs and 4 Gloster Sea Gladiators. On 1st December it absorbed 769 NAS and became the Fleet Fighter School. On 16th September 1940, the Squadron moved to RNAS Yeovilton, and soon began to receive examples of the Grumman Martlet, Fairey Fulmar and Miles Master, with the Sea Hurricane also arriving at Yeovilton in 1941.
  • In 1943 it became a part of the Naval Air Fighter School as the advanced flying training component, and by the middle of that year it had a fleet of over 100 aircraft.
  • Cyril was promoted to the rank of Sub-Lieutenant (A) on 24th June 1944.
  • seafire mk11c

    The Seafire F Mk IIc which was based on the Spitfire Vc. The Vc had several refinements over the Spitfire Vb. Apart from the modifications included in the main batch of Seafire Ibs this version incorporated catapult spools, and a single slinging lug on either side of the fuselage, just behind the engine bulkhead. Three subtypes were produced, the F Mk IIc and FR Mk IIc (fighter reconnaissance), powered by a Merlin 46, and the L Mk IIc powered by a low altitude Merlin 32 specifically manufactured for naval use. This version of the Merlin used a “cropped” supercharger impellor to provide greater power at low altitudes than the standard engines; delivering 1,585 hp (1,182 kW) at 2,750 ft (838 m). Both engine models drove a four bladed 10 ft 9 in (3.28 m) diameter Rotol propeller. Because this version used the “C” wing the Hispano cannon were fed from a 120-round belt magazine, otherwise the armament was the same as that of the Ib; the FR also carried two F24 cameras. After trials of Rocket Assisted Take Off Gear (RATOG) apparatus (small rocket engines which could be attached to the fuselage or wings of aircraft to help shorten the take-off run) in February 1943, this equipment became a standard fitting available for all Seafires. The IIc was the first of the Seafires to be deployed operationally in large numbers, with Supermarine building 262 and 110 being built by Westland.

  • He died one day later, on 25th June 1944 flying a Seafire on authorised low flying training. He crashed into the ground nr. Pennard Hill, Shepton Mallet.
  • His body was returned to Matlock Bath where he was buried at Holy Trinity Church.
  • Mary Allen was not allowed to attend his funeral, but watched from behind a large beech tree outside the church boundary.
  • Mary would meet a Alfred Holt, a soldier convelescing at the Royal Hotel Matlock Bath.
  • They fell in love, married, and Alfred ‘Taffy’ adopted Michael.
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