Wellington R1646 - Glen Clunie

Profiles of the crew onboard

Sergeant Michael Henry John Kilburn RAFVR

Sergeant Michael Henry John Kilburn

Michael Henry John Kilburn was the only child of Frank and Gladys May Kilburn of St Michael's, Bridgefield, Farnham in Surrey.

He attended Farnham Grammar School where he was well liked and respected by his peers and staff alike. At school, Michael was a member of the Cadet Corps. He was also a member of the Home Guard in Farnham.

Michael left school in 1940, aged 18, and immediately joined the RAFVR to train as a pilot. Now Sergeant Kilburn (1380631), he was completing his last two weeks of training at 20 Operational Training Unit (20 OTU) at Lossiemouth, when he was tragically killed during a training flight on January 19th 1942.

Initially Michael was buried, in grave no. 14, alongside the other seven members of his crew at Dyce Old Churchyard near Aberdeen. However, his family in Farnham must have applied to the RAF to have his remains returned to his home town.

On Saturday 23rd January 1943, one year and four days after his death, a funeral and reinterrment took place at Green Lane Cemetery in Farnham, Surrey. Michael Henry John Kilburn was laid to rest in his home cemetery. Present at the funeral were his immediate family - parents Frank and Gladys, and his aunt, Miss V Hughes. Old friends, colleagues and teacher from his former school (Farnham Grammar) were also present.

Canon E M Girling (Rector of Farnham) met the hearse at the cemetery gate and led the coffin, draped with a Union Jack, to the graveside. At the close of the committal, the 'Last Post' and 'Reveille' were sounded on a cornet played by Lance Corporal W F Hooker of the Home Guard.

Farnham Grammar School was represented by Headmaster Mr. F A Morgan and members of his staff, Mr G H Ridout and Mr H Beeken. Mr E W Langham, a Governor of Farnham Grammar School was also present. Company Sergeant Major D A Barnes represented the Farnham Grammar School Cadet Corps.

The Home Guard were represented by Commander in Chief of 'A' Company Major H C Patrick, Captain V F Comben, Lieutenant F E Tomlyn, Lieutenant F O Townsend, Company Sergeant Major L F Barrett, Lance Corporal W F Hooker and Private H M Calcutt.

Also in attendance were Flying Officer A F W Frost RAF, Mrs S G Robins, Mr L C Wright, Mr and Mrs F C Warner, Mrs Holderness, Mr M A Hackett, Mrs Barbara Bell, Mr H Burch, Mrs Crowhurst, Mrs Crowhurst Jnr and Miss Hanks. Mrs Groves represented Major and Mrs Frost and family.

Floral tributes were placed on the grave from the CO, NCO's and Airmen, his friend, Hugh Fisher, school friend Mr Thomas B B Penney and from Langton the tribute card read "to the memory of a gentleman".

The floral tribute laid by his family indicated the enormous loss they had suffered in losing their only child and read "in proud and undying memory of our only and beloved child Michael Henry John. Resting at last near us."

Inscribed on his the gravestone are the words;

"E'en as he went
That day to God
So from his birth
In loyalty and honour sent"

Church at Green Lane Cemetery
Michael Kilburn's grave at Green Lane Cemetery, Farnham
Green Lane Cemetery Farnham

Despite extensive research and enquiries relatives of Michael Kilburn have not yet been located to inform them of the memorial unveiled in honour of the crew of Wellington R1646. If you are a relative, or you know the whereabout of any relatives of Michael Henry John Kilburn, please contact me archieraf@yahoo.co.uk

My thanks to Ann Sadler for her tireless efforts in assisting in the search for information and relatives of Michael Kilburn, and to Bob Body for his help and the images of the grave and cemetery on this page. The image of Michael Kilburn was supplied by Christine Townsend, niece of Sgt Riley. My thanks also to members of the Old Farnhamian Association and to Mr H Ellwood for helping confirm photograph as being that of Michael Kilburn.

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