When someone dies who served on 207 Squadron, or was
a member of the former Association, or was on our Register

The purpose of this page is to provide answers to some questions that frequently arise when someone dies who had served on No.207 Squadron RAF, or was a Friend or Honorary Member of the former 207 Squadron Association, or was on our Register.

It also provides some internet links on dealing with the practicalities of a death in the family.

If you are printing this page for someone who is not on the internet it may be useful to also view and print pages from some of the internet links provided as these include useful postal addresses and telephone numbers.

Some frequently asked questions

In the past the Association was sometimes able to be represented at the funeral of a former member of the Squadron or of a 'Friend'. What happens now the Association has closed?

However please remember that many are now of a certain age, some no longer drive, or are nowadays reluctant to travel far.

The editor's address is Frank Haslam, 56 Windfield, Leatherhead, Surrey KT22 8UQ

Do you still do a memorial card that can be sent in time by email?

On request the editor can provide by email an A4 Memorial Card worded appropriately to reflect the person's role on 207 Squadron, their dates of service, and membership of the Association if relevant. The wartime and present day squadron badges are shown. The date of death and the date of the funeral are needed.

It has been a much appreciated memento and has also been displayed framed in the chapel or church, or with the flowers where these have been requested by the family. As an example click here for the one prepared for the website editor's late father.

Can they be remembered on-line?

Yes. In the Memorials section of the 207 Squadron Royal Air Force History website there is a page, 207 Assoc RIP, remembering those 207s who have died since leaving the Service, irrespective of whether they were a member of the former Association or how long ago they died. The passing of Friend and Honorary Members of the former Association is also recorded.

May we use the Squadron badge on the Order of Service?

Yes, contact the Editor and he will email the image to you.

It would be nice to have a flag on the coffin. How do we go about that?

It is understood that RAF Regulations do not permit the use of the RAF flag on coffins. However the Union flag (commonly known as the Union Jack) may be used. Possibly the funeral directors or the local branch of the Royal British Legion have a Union Jack.

If the person was a member of the Royal Air Forces Association, or WAAF Association, especially if they were known at the local branch, then fellow branch members may wish to attend, and if they have a Standard they may ask you if you would like them to parade it at the funeral, for example coming in with the coffin.

What music would be appropriate?

At funerals of those who have served in the Royal Air Force or Womens' Auxiliary Air Force, the RAF March Past by Walford Davies or the Dam Busters March is often heard.

Are there any verses that are particularly appropriate?

- High Flight

A verse which is often used at funerals of those who served in the RAF is High Flight, a poem composed by Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr., an American serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was born in Shanghai, China in 1922, the son of missionary parents, Reverend and Mrs John Gillespie Magee; his father was American and his mother came from Britain. He was educated at Rugby School.

He went to the United States in 1939 and earned a scholarship to Yale, but in September 1940 he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and trained as a pilot. He was sent to England in July 1941. Sometime on or before 3 September 1941 he composed High Flight, sending a copy to his parents. Several weeks later, on December 11, 1941 his Spitfire collided with another plane over England and Magee, aged 19, crashed to his death. He is buried in the churchyard cemetery at Scopwick, Lincolnshire.

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, -- and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of -- wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air ....

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark nor ever eagle flew --
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

P/O John Gillespie Magee, 412 Sqn RCAF, 1941
source: Library of Congress/University of Toronto

- A prayer for a veteran

This prayer, seen in RAFA's Air Mail some years ago, was said to have been used at the funeral of a veteran who saw service in both World Wars.

It has been used at a number of 207 funerals including that of one of our late Presidents, AVM David Dick. The wording can be changed according to sex; if unmarried or there were no children, 'children' can be changed to 'family' etc.

A prayer for a veteran

We pray that nothing of this man's life will be lost,
but that it will be of benefit to the world;
that all that he held sacred may be respected
by those who follow him and that everything
in which he was great may continue to
mean as much to us now that he is dead.

We ask you that he may go on living in his children
in their hearts and minds, their courage
and their conscience.

We ask you that we who were associated with him
may now, because of his death,
be even more closely associated with each other -
and that we may, in this togetherness
and peace and friendship here on earth,
always be deeply conscious of your promise
to be faithful to us in death. Amen

Instead of flowers?/We think an RAF Charity should benefit ....

The Royal Air Forces Benevolent Fund, or if they were a RAFA member, RAFA, or if they had been a member of the former Aircrew Association, the ACA's Archive Trust.

It's a pity the Association has closed - we'd have liked to have been a Friend

Provided you have an email address, or someone in your family or a good friend can receive/send mails on your behalf, you can register with the 207 Squadron Royal Air Force History website to be kept in touch with any events that may happen. And of course you can 'bookmark' or make this website a 'favourite'.

We really did not know much of what he or she did on 207 Squadron - what is known?

Especially if they were aircrew (records are rarer for groundcrew), given time it may be possible to answer that question.

They kept a lot of stuff to do with their time in the Air Force - what is worth keeping?

No doubt some members of the family will wish to treasure the memory of the person who has died by keeping items such as medals, log books, items of uniform and so on. The key thing is not to act hastily.

Wait until there has been time to look through it carefully. So much history has disappeared through just being binned by people less thoughtful than you, though to be fair they probably had other things on their mind.

Here are examples of what is of particular interest - do not send anything:

Citations for awards
Log books
RAF related photographs
Any accounts written of their time in the RAF
Any RAF memorabilia, such as equipment, maps etc.

For the website it may be useful to have good digital photos of interesting items.

Please contact me by email on this, or if you have any additional advice to offer about this page:
Frank Haslam Editor
207 Squadron Royal Air Force History website

Please note that the editor can only assist in respect of 207 Squadron. For other units please check the Royal Air Forces Register of Associations website to see if there is a contact point listed.

Other possibly useful websites

Before making decisions you are advised to seek professional advice. No responsibility is taken for the content or continued availability of third party websites: if you find better ones please let the editor know:

UK CofE - About funerals (Church of England website)
RC - Funerals
UK CRUSE Bereavement Care

UK What to do when someone dies (Directgov UK website)
UK Bereavement and what to do (Age UK)
What to do after a death (Citizens' Advice Bureau)
UK Financial support (RAF Benevolent Fund, go to Financial support link on their Veterans page)
UK Bereavement and young people (NHS)
UK What to do about tax and benefits after a death (HM Revenue & Customs: look for relevant steps on this HMRC page)

When your own time comes

If you are reading this and thinking of what your nearest and dearest will have to cope with when you die, perhaps give some thought to what instructions you wish to leave.

If you are ex-207 please also give serious thought to composing an account of your time on the Squadron with a note for it to be sent to the Editor so that it can appear on the website. As time goes by there will be fewer of your contemporaries around to recall you for us. So to be sure, best write your own.

To write to the author of this page, the address is:
Frank Haslam
56 Windfield, Leatherhead,
Surrey, England
KT22 8UQ

or email Frank Haslam

page last updated 19 Jan 2014: 18 Nov 17