The following is a Press Release supplied by:
David C. Kettle CMM, CD, DD
BGen (ret'd) / Bgén (retraité)
Commonwealth War Graves Commission - Canadian Agency Commission des
Sépultures de Guerre du Commonwealth - Agence canadienne Secretary
In the G.A.R. Cemetery, there is field of honor unlike most that you will find in the United States. This field of honor contains the remains of British aircrew that were killed in training accidents while training to become pilots during WWII. Number 3 British Flying Training School was in the Miami, Oklahoma area. During WWII, Royal Air Force personnel were a common fixture in Miami. They became a part of the community and lasting relationships were made. Their memory lives on in Miami and each year a commemoration is held at the G.A.R. Cemetery. It is a well attended event and it is followed by a gathering at the local theatre hall where there are kiosks with photos from that era. A local historian does a presentation on this unique piece of Miami history.
On a recent inspection tour conducted by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission it was decided that the headstones needed to be replaced. The plot consists of a single row of 15 Commission Headstones commemorating WWII Royal Air Force pilots. Also included in this single row of war pilots is the headstone of Mrs. F.M. Hill, a local woman, who "adopted" the plot. She voluntarily tended these fifteen war graves and kept in touch with their loved ones from 1941-82. These selfless human actions are unknown to most but her good works were deeply appreciated by next of kin and by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. There should be little wonder that she was eventually awarded the King's Medal for service in the cause of freedom by King George VI.
It is the hope of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission that the City of Miami will continue to honor the memory of these pilots. While it is the mission of the Commonwealth War Graves to keep the memory of those Commonwealth personnel who gave their lives in service to their country during the two world wars alive, it makes our duty so much easier when communities like Miami buy into what we are attempting to do. To the G.A.R. cemetery staff that do an outstanding job in keeping this site pristine and to the City of Miami who expends considerable time and resources in keeping its cemeteries to such a high standard the Commonwealth War Graves Commission extends its heartfelt appreciation.
BRAVO ZULO Miami!