Quest to unlock riddle of Van's wartime keepsake

For years Welshpool's Myfanwy Morris had a cherished keepsake, a picture of a wartime bomber crew including one airman with whom she seems to have struck up a particular friendship.

Van Morris' keepsake of a wartime bomber crew.
Van Morris' keepsake of a wartime bomber crew.

After she died David Evans of Shrewsbury came across that photo, with the names written on the back, while clearing her house.

And now he would love to piece the story together and find out just who those young men from nearly 80 years ago were.

"My late mother, or step mother, was in the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service) during the war, and met a lot of people, and served at Donnington for a while," said David, of Radbrook Green.

"I found the picture in her possessions and it intrigued me. The picture has their Christian names written on the back, but also the full name of the bomb aimer, Jock Doyle, and I was thinking that as it included the surname it could be the key to identifying all of them and finding out what happened to them.

Van, right, with some colleagues.

"It looks like it is the crew of a Lancaster bomber."

The names on the back are: bomb aimer Jock Doyle, then an unknown, navigator Johnny, pilot Don, and rear gunner Sammy.

If it is a Lancaster bomber crew it is not the complete crew, as Lancasters had a normal crew of seven. A possible alternative is that it is the crew of a Wellington bomber, which typically had a crew of five.

Myfanwy, known as Van, was Miss Van Jones before she married in 1947. Although she was not related to David, he speaks of her being his mother or stepmother because her husband Clifford Morris had been a father figure to him growing up.

David was born in 1953 and his father died when he was two. Clifford Morris brought him up.

The names on the back.

"He was my cousin. His mother was my grandmother's sister.

"Van died in August 2012 and I came across the picture when clearing her house at Erw Wen in Welshpool.

"One of the people on the picture is Johnny, the navigator, and although I can't find it now she had a letter or some correspondence with somebody called Johnny, so it seems that it was him that she was friendly with.

"I remember reading it and at one point he calls her a twerp. Whether it is the same Johnny as on the picture I can't say, but if it is, she was fond of him – there was something.

As Miss Van Jones she was a wartime Corporal in the Auxiliary Territorial Service.

"Van served in signals and became a Corporal. She had volunteered for the ATS – she was not conscripted. She served in various places. When she was at Donnington she was able to come home to see her mother in Welshpool.

"There was talk of York and Blackpool, and Hamburg, Eindhoven, Brussels, and Paris.

"She used to talk all the time about her Army years. Arguably once she got away from Welshpool it was the happiest time of her life.

"I remember once we went to Ludlow, and I'm talking about 1970, and there was a lady in Ludlow Castle that we met called Audrey. She came out of the castle door and Van knew this person. They had served in the ATS together."

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News