Friday, 25 October 2013

Sergeant Edward James Cuming 1270898

A few days ago Tony contacted me re his research of a downed Wellington Bomber, and in particular the Wireless Operator, Sergeant  Edward James Cuming (1270898). (note the spelling)  As always I find things such as this interesting in so many ways.  During Tony's research he discovered the wireless operator came from this area yet was not one of those mentioned on the Braintree and Bocking WW2 War Memorial site that I created.  That indeed intrigues!  I had no details of this man and it appears like so many others he has left little imprint on the area, although by 1939 Braintree had around 7500 of a population. From the details given I looked around but nothing comes up which always annoys me.  Plenty of RAF sites and some indication regarding the operations at the time but nothing re the man's home or family.  However it is indeed amazing what arises when you search 'Cuming!'  

The Bombers story commences at the RAF base at Protville in Tunisia at six thirty in the evening of the 16th September 1943.  It must be remembered that the Italian campaign had only just begun, Italy surrendering on the 3rd of September, the war at this time was far from over and victory uncertain, and the crew knew they were flying into heavily defended territory.  Nevertheless the Wellington Bomber, FU-K, of 458 Squadron (An RAAF, Royal Australian Air Force Squadron, flown by RAF personnel) headed out into the night on a routine scouting mission along the coast of Italy beginning at Civitavecchia and heading up to the Savona Gorjona islands from where they intended to turn towards Bastia in the north of Corsica, and then run down the coast of Sardinia and home. This appears to have been a common routine for this squadron at the time with the danger being clear as several others were shot down, alone, in similar fashion. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. One man's body was however recovered, Flight Sergeant E.L.Wilson, the second pilot, who now lies buried in the Florence War Cemetery. This indicates the plane came down as it approached or passed over the islands but the wreckage has so far not been discovered.  Was there engine trouble, did enemy fire deal with them, German anti aircraft fire was very effective, or did a night fighter bring them down?  The second pilot got out and possibly the rear gunner, why not the others?   If they got out they may have landed in the sea, and during the day this was hazardous, at night such a situation would be perilous!  No message was sent, does this indicate the wireless operator or his equipment were hit and put out of action?  German pilots entered details of their hits into the squadron log, I expect German efficiency required anti-aircraft guns to report in similar manner.  One day the details may hopefully be discovered

The crew of FU-K comprised:-

RAF FO Driver, P R Captain (Pilot)
RAF Sgt E L Wilson (2nd Pilot)
RAF FO Holt, G (Navigator)
RAF Sgt E J Cuming, (Wireless Operator)
RAF Sgt G R Potter, (SE/Operator)
Sgt D A E Salt, (Rear Gunner)

Driver, Holt, Potter and our man E.J. Cuming, are commemorated on the RAF Malta memorial to those missing in the the Mediterranean area. Wilson in the Florence Cemetery and it appears no record can be found re Sgt D.A.E. Salt, possibly he survived, but like so many other war mysteries it may never be known what happened to him. He, like so many others, remains 'Known unto God.'

With so little details regarding Sgt Cuming it would be good for Tony to discover more about this man and his family. Sadly people often leave so little trace and no details of their lives are ever found. The hope is one day more information will arise. I have placed Edward James Cuming on our memorial along with two others who were not placed on the official memorial by their relatives. On occasion there are good and various reasons the names are withheld. It would be good to know why those omitted were left off the memorial also.


Lee said...

It is so sad when a person has gone leaving no trace behind, particularly when in service of his country; that no trace can be found of his family. It's as if he never existed. It mattered that he did.

One would think with the spelling of his name being unusual from the usual "Cumming" or "Cummings" the trail would be easy to find...sadly it's not, it appears.

Lee said...

Okay, Adullamite...explain yourself!

Your absence is duly noted - and noticed. I hope all is well up where you are. We're getting reports of that super storm lashing Wales, Sussex and other areas hasn't caused havoc up there where you are.

Kay G. said...

Of course, you must know that I find this very fascinating. I wonder what could have happened, we might not ever know.
I hope you might get a chance to read the book I did a post about, "Vanished", I think you would like it.

Adullamite said...

Of course you find it fascinating, I wrote it!

Amber Cuming said...

The man you are talking about (Edward James Cuming) is our Great Uncle! We came across your site because my sister was set homework to find out about a member of family who was lost at war. We are in London today to see the poppies at the Tower of London & appreciate the information you have shared! - Amber & Sienna Cuming

Adullamite said...

Amber, The info came from a man named Anthony Curtis, I wonder if you know of him? he also was searching for his lost relative.
There are problems in finding info re WW2. The MOD keeps the records and info costs £30 and only for relatives. This link gives details.

Sadly I know no more than what was printed.
I hope however you enjoyed your day out and you would have appreciated what it all stood for.
If I could help I would.

Adullamite said...

Amber, also Tony Curtis offers you his email if you wish to contact him re the family research:-

Good luck.