AS the season of remembrance begins, it would be remiss not to acknowledge the unheralded work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Not only are its immaculate cemeteries and memorials a lasting tribute to those who gave their lives on foreign fields in the name of freedom, but the charity continues to work tirelessly to identify the remains of the fallen.
Take Sergeant David Ashton from York. He was just 19 when his Bristol Blenheim aircraft was shot down by enemy fire over Sedan in France in May 1940. Yet, more than 75 years later and thanks painstaking research on the Commission’s part, his remains – and those of his fellow crew members – have been identified at the Choloy War Cemetery where they have lain for all these years as unknown airmen. As such, the poignancy was palpable when Sgt Ashton’s nephew, great nephew and great, great nephew attended a service of rededication this week. It’s a reminder of the enduring importance – and legacy – of the Commission’s work in making sure that Britain’s war dead, and their surviving relatives, are never forgotten.