Dear Mr Robert Charman
Around four years ago, I received a sealed envelope containing a copy of the Paranormal Magazine together with a copy of the above journal. This was placed with my other papers and gravitated around my study for the next four years. However, having finally opened this package and traversed its contents, I am writing to with reference to your above article.
Having been engaged in research regarding the War Records of two different British individuals who fought in WWII, I feel compelled to share my experience. I have found that MOD War Records can be notoriously incomplete, suppressed and deliberately falsified. This is all done in the name of National Security. Furthermore, what is in the public domain is not always reliable. The two individuals I have been researching are my maternal and paternal grandfathers. I have had their stories of what they experienced in wartime (supported by their fellow comrades in arms), only to see that their War Records (accessed for a considerable fee usually through the Imperial War Museum) either omit many of these experiences, or fabricate entirely different scenarios! Furthermore, as money has changed hands, the MOD Staff appear trained to expect an initial flurry of complaints from those who have enquired. Eventually, people just ‘give-up’.
Although in the case of your research, it seems that much of the RAF activity (surprisingly) is already within the public domain (‘surprising’ as often the British government limits the threat of any potential litigation arising from war-time actions by simply withholding the data from the general public), and that you have been able to prove your point with what is available. My maternal grandfather – Arthur Gibson – fought aboard the HMS Beaumaris Castle (FY 993) in the North Atlantic. Fellow Veterans state that the details contained in his War Record are incomplete and also wrong. The MOD agreed with this when I complained, but justified it on the grounds that data from WWII is ‘collected in a different manner’ to how data is collected today! And that was that!
A clear example of MOD fabrication and/or omission can be found in my maternal grandfather’s War Record. It states that the HMS Beaumaris Castle (FY 993) was stationed at Lochalsh for repair between 12th-19th of March, 1944. There is then a five-week ‘void’ in the War Record where the HMS Beaumaris Castle (FY 993) seems to ‘disappear’. The next entry in the War Record states that the HMS Beaumaris was then stationed at Stornoway between 26th-30th of April, 1944! What happened in-between? The MOD said ‘nothing happened’ – whilst the Veterans remembered heading ‘South’ for a covert mission. These Veterans were vilified and attacked online around ten-years ago for sharing their memories. Indeed, they were hounded off the net and spent the last few yeas of their lives in a sad obscurity. As a member of a younger generation related to a Veteran that they trusted – they selected me to compile their biographies behind the scenes. Then, in recent months the Imperial War Museum (IWM) released photographs of the HMS Beaumaris Castle (FY 993) that the MOD previously denied existed. One photograph taken by the Admiralty, clearly shows the HMS Beaumaris Castle (FY 993) sailing off the cost of Plymouth in South Devon dated the March 23rd, 1944! The Veterans who were hounded off the net were correct after-all!
I hope that a similar situation of the MOD withholding or misrepresenting WWII data – has not infringed upon your research with regard to the story as relayed by Evan (Wilbur) Wright. I say this as I was struck by the ‘dissonance’ between what Wilbur Wright said and how this appeared to differ from the official record. Indeed, it reminded me of the appalling treatment meted-out to the Veterans of the HMS Beaumaris Castle (FY 993) simply because they were honest enough to express the truth. Of course, in reality the two situations are different, but there does appear to be a common-thread running through the middle!
All Best Wishes