Gerald Harper Fynn - Second World War Hero

By Ken Porter

Gerald Harper Fynn – Second World War hero.

In November 2010 I met Steve Boreenatra wandering around St Nicholas churchyard with a clipboard and camera. He was checking out the war graves and looking for private war memorials.  I pointed one out that I had found one only a few weeks earlier when I was clearing an area at the front of the church on the bend of the disabled path.

Photo:Grave of William Fynn with the stone commemorating Gerald

Grave of William Fynn with the stone commemorating Gerald

It read: -

In Memory of Gerald

Pilot FAA

Killed in Bermuda

June 1941

He agreed to try and find out who Gerald was. It did not take him long - he was back with the information that evening. His full name was Gerald Harper Fynn, he died at the age of 25 on the 17th June 1941. He was a Petty Officer Airman attached to H.M.S. Malabar. His parents were William and Louise Fynn who owned the grocers shop in Basildon Road.

The memorial stone had been hidden under the long grass and did not appear to be attached to any particular grave, so I decided to check the death records to see if I could find any reference to him and his parents. Well luck was on my side, I found the burial record of both his mother and father and a reference to him. Luck again was on my side because I found the grave on the other side of the pathway and there was a stone slab in the middle of the grave. This I believe is where Gerald's memorial stone was originally placed. I have tidied up the grave and replaced the memorial stone.

His official War Memorial appears on the Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire, Fleet Air Arm Memorial. The memorial consists of a rectangular column of Portland stone bearing the inscription:

THESE OFFICERS AND MEN OF THE FLEET AIR ARM DIED IN THE SERVICE OF THEIR COUNTRY AND HAVE NO GRAVE BUT THE SEA . 1939-1945

HMS Malabar was not a ship but was a base on Boaz Island, Bermuda for the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm (FAA). In the early years of the Second World War the base was used for the maintenance and storage of aeroplanes.

However, air cover became an immediate requirement as the Colony resumed its Great War role as a staging area for the formation of trans-Atlantic convoys. Air patrols were vital to combating the threat of German U-boats.

For me a further interesting twist to the story is that I played cricket with possibly his nephews Geoff and Brian Fynn who both lived above the grocer’s shop in Basildon Road. We played for Laindon at the back of the Basildon Country Club in Basildon Road. This shop must have been one of the earliest in the area as Gerald’s parents were living there at the time of the 1911 census. Is there anybody who remembers the shop or the family?

This page was added by Ken Porter on 19/12/2010.
Comments about this page (Add a comment about this page)

Hi Alan/Pat I am please to see that a story is coming together with regards to J.E.C.Davies. I have just taken a photograph of his head stone at St Nicholas Church. If you would like a copy please let me know and I will arrange for the editor to let me have your email address if you are happy with this. Cheers

By Ken Porter
On 20/03/2013

Would love to hear some stories about the old days re my family.

By Sarah mabey
On 20/03/2013

Hi Alan, I am your cousin Pat and we last met around 18 years ago when I saw you in Atlanta. Yes the J.E.C,(John Edward Charles) Davies is in fact my eldest brother your cousin. He was killed on 25th March 1943, he was stationed I beleive on or near Salisbury Plain as I remember my Mother saying she had to go to Cirencester Hospital and what a terrible journey it was from Laindon to Cirencester by public transport in war time. 

He died by a tragic accident, all I know is hearsay as I was only 15 months old at the time but John was always a great part of our life, he was always spoken of and many photos around the house. As far as I know he was helping another soldier to start his lorry, with the starter handle when it seddenly started and he was crushed against a wall and the starter handle ruptered his Spleen. 

Editor could you please ask Alan if I could have his e-mail address and please pass mine onto him.

I will arrange your request shortly

By Pat White nee Davies
On 17/03/2013

Ken, thank you for the information. There is no doubt that J.E.C Davies is my cousin John. His parents were indeed Daisy and John (called Jack) of Lilacs, Beatrice Road. I did not realise that his death was as early as 1943. Since I was only nine years of age at the time perhaps I can be forgiven for that inaccuracy. The cause of death may also be inaccurate for the same reason but since John died in the March of that year it is not inconceivable that the circumstances surrounding an icy road may be plausible. I must also be wrong in stating that John was attached to the BAOR since the European invasion was still over a year away. Do you know where the accident (if it was an accident) occurred?

By Alan Davies
On 16/03/2013

Hi Alan In the main, military war graves were commissioned by the Commonwealth War Grave Commission (CWGC) and their upkeep is their responsibility. In many cases they arranged for local groups such as Scouts to look after them. At St Nicholas Church, Laindon it is the 8th Basildon Scouts group who attended to them at least once a year. Members of the church congregation also ensure the grass around them is kept short. The graves do include those that died after hostilities had ceased due to injuries or illnesses received. You also find a number of private war graves and this is what Steve was trying to find when he visited St Nicholas. There is a CWG at St Nicholas for J.E.C.Davies, Essex Regiment, 14239179 whose parents were John and Daisy Davies of Beatrice Road, Laindon (the area now Langdon Hills) who died on the 25th March 1943, age 19. The dates obviously differ from yours perhaps Bobby could enlighten us on this discrepancy. I am involved with a local group 'The Basildon Heritage' who are compiling a Roll of Honour for the Borough so any additional information would be appreciated.

By Ken Porter
On 15/03/2013

This page begins with the statement by Ken Porter that he met Steve Boreenatra who was collecting/checking for military war graves. Were war graves routinely marked by the authorities (or allowed to be marked) or was this a matter of the individual family's wishes? At the individual family's expense? What exactly constituted a war grave? Did death have to occur during a war? It would be most interesting should Steve Boreenatra see fit to contribute a page to these archives on his research. There must be a lot of contributors/readers to these archives who had relatives killed in the military and who rest in St Nicholas. I had a cousin, John Davies of Beatrice Road, who rests in St Nicholas. I am not a hundred per cent sure of the details but I believe that John met his end after the termination of the war. He was on National Service in the BAOR in 1945 to 1947 or there about. Unloading or opening up the back of his lorry the succeeding lorry in the convoy failed to stop in icy conditions. I think this is correct. If not perhaps cousin Bobby Davies (John's brother) who lives in New Zealand and contributes to these archives can correct me.

By Alan Davies
On 11/03/2013

A small point in respect of this page was that Paul Cole stated his great grandparents owned a grocers shop in Basildon Rd. It was in fact known as Laindon Park Post Office and I have a very good photograph of this should it be of interest.

Editor: William, I'm sure that this would be of value to the archive.

By W.H.Diment
On 11/03/2013

Reading through the comments, I knew and moved in the company of many of those named. Olive Humphreys (and her brother Clive who is not named), Lewis Cole, John and Bernard Mabey, Geoffrey and Brian Fynn, yet although John and Bernard together with Geofrey and Brian all played for Laindon CC, I never knew there was a family connention. Paul Cole in his comments suggested Geoffrey and Brian may still be alive, regretfully while Geoffrey is still with us, Brian, the younger brother is not. Incidentally if Paul and Sarah are interested, I had previously written some incidents I considered to to be amusing. in respect of both John and Bernard on the Laindon CC pages.

By WH.Diment
On 11/03/2013

The Trossachs was pulled down and rebuilt in a different position by the council when my grandparents Millie and Billy Humphrys sold some of the grounds to the council for the new road. This was in about 1960. My grandfather died in 1964 and then my granny lived with us until her death in 1989. The house had a few lodgers over the years and alas was frequently burgled. My granny sold the house not long before she died. My father John Mabey a very dear man sadly died at the age of 61 in 1985. Uncle Bernard lives in Southend.

By Sarah Mabey
On 11/03/2013

Further to the memories of Paul Cole and Sarah Maybey, these have revived memories and I believe Paul is descended from an old Laindon family who owned the body builders on the Arterial Road and is possibly the grandson of Lewis Cole who was at one time married to Olive Humphrys which sadly failed and that Olive possibly married John Maybe.

The house Trossachs he mentioned was one of the newer buildings in Basildon Rd. and had an extensive garden of almost a hundred yards and stood empty after Upper Mayne was built but had a long line of trees which would overhang the path causing many complaints from pedestrians until finally demolished.

By William Diment
On 04/10/2011

One thing I have noticed on the Archives pages is that so many of the different people who respond have direct and indirect connection to the Laindon CC. Sarah Maybe who commented on this page, had relatives John and Bernard who played, apart from Geoffrey and Brian Fynn as was the author Ken Porter there are others mentioned in other articles.

Bert Merrison on Laindon Park Primary School, Ray Farmer on Farmers Taxis and the Essex Country club and to some of the more remembered local families such as the Websters of Old Toms buses and the farming family of French also Charles Markham was a vice president and the Rev. Arthur Dunlop. The LCC tentacles spread far and wide.

Editor: I will collect these comments and add them to an article on the Laindon Cricket Club.

By William Diment
On 04/10/2011

Gerald Fynn was born of a Clara Fynn (the adopted daughter of William and Louisa). His father is not known. My mother Olive Humphreys was very close to Gerald and named my brother (Pauls father) after him. Although Clara was adopted by my Great Grandparents it is actually thought that she was sired by my Great Grandfather

By Sarah Mabey
On 02/06/2011

William and Louise Fynn were my Great-Great Grandparents. I am afraid I cannot give you much information about the shop as I am far too young to remember it, although I do know that it was passed to William and Louise's son Edmund. My Great Grandmother Millicent Humphreys (née Fynn) had a house "Trossachs" in Basildon Road which was compulsory purchased in the late '80s. I believe that Brian and Geoffrey are still alive, although I don't recall ever having met them. Their sister, Myrtle, is also alive and well although it is over a year since I last saw her. As I only work at Dunton Technical Centre, I'll have to make a trip out to have a look around the graveyard at St Nicholas'. I knew that I had a relation who was killed in Bermuda - family legend always had it that he was lost in the infamous triangle, although we suspected this wasn't true! Thanks for your interesting article!

By Paul Cole
On 07/05/2011
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