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U.K. man who tends graveyard looks for family of N.L. soldier

The letter found by Murray Davies on the gravestone of Newfoundland Second World War soldier James Gladstone Crummey — the gravestone spells his surname as “Crummy,” but Veterans Affairs Canada identifies him as Crummey.
The letter found by Murray Davies on the gravestone of Newfoundland Second World War soldier James Gladstone Crummey — the gravestone spells his surname as “Crummy,” but Veterans Affairs Canada identifies him as Crummey.

While cutting grass in his local churchyard in Wales several years ago, Murray Davies stumbled upon a letter and photograph, left by someone whom he can only assume was family, on the headstone of a Newfoundland soldier buried there.

Davies managed to find out that James Gladstone Crummey was the son of Enoch and Minnie Crummey of Western Bay. He was killed in action on Jan. 11, 1943.

Murray told The Telegram during a Facetime interview he couldn’t track down the cause of death, but he believes James was a pilot and was involved in a plane crash.

While the gravestone and the note Davies found on the grave — in the cemetery at St. Hilary of Poitiers churchyard in Killay — identifies him as “Crummy,” Veterans Affairs Canada lists his surname as Crummey and notes he died at age 29 while serving in the Royal Air Force, 125 Squadron.

Killay is a suburb of Swansea, Wales.

War graves outside of the church in Wales where the grave of James Gladstone Crummey is located.

“I’m simply curious to know more about this man’s life, how he came to be this far from home, who he was, how he died. … I want to connect with his family,” Davies said, explaining that every year on Remembrance Sunday, the church holds a memorial service for the fallen soldiers buried in the graveyard — James Crummey being one of six Canadians buried there.

The note reads, “Newfoundland 2010 James Gladstone Crummy. Still Missed: Mother. Fiance. RAF KIA. Buried 11 Jan 1943, Killay, St. Hilary of Poitiers.”

Davies said he has been in contact with the family of another Canadian soldier from Nova Scotia, but finds it extremely interesting that he found the letter and picture left on the gravestone of Crummey.

“It means that he has living relatives who did come and visit him at some point, and I want to find them and learn more about his life. He’s missed — the note even says so. He has family out there somewhere, and I feel like I have to find them,” said Crummey, who was a child during the war.

This photo accompanied a letter from those who remember James Gladstone Crummey. The letter and picture were found by Murray Davies several years ago while he was caring for his church’s graveyard in Wales.

In 1941, the Germans bombed Swansea for three days and nights — an attack known as the Swansea Blitz.

“They were after the docks, but with the town so close it was inevitable that the town was decimated,” he said via email.

“It was because of the docks that the RAF established a base just out of town. In fact it’s about two miles from where I live. It’s only used now for small aircraft.”

The churchyard where Crummey is buried is between Davies’ home and that airport.

There are 24 airmen buried there, including the six Canadians. Others are Americans, Czechoslovakians, New Zealanders and Australians.

victoria.plowman@thetelegram.com

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