Cecil William Hughes
Royal Air Force
World War II
Medals/Honours Awarded: RAF Star; Air Crew Europe Star; World War 11 Medal. Awarded Cambrai Medal of Honour by Cambrai, France.
Flight Engineer on Short Stirling Bomber EF349, Code: WP-Y took off from Ridgewell at 23.09 on 29th May 1943. Target: Wuppertal (29th May 1943 / 30th May 1943). Shot down by night fighter (Hptm Ludwig Meister I/NJG4) and crashed Proville, 2 miles south-west of Cambrai France. The dead of the crew are buried Cambrai Route de Solesmes Communal Cemetery.
Cecil Hughes was known as "Tom" to my family. He was my father. He lived at 247 Worlds End Lane until 6th September 1941 when he married my mother and went to live with his in-laws at 137, Spies Lane. He joined the RAF on 7th December 1940 firstly at No. 2 Recruiting Centre in Cardington. He had various postings and then on 2nd December 1942 he applied to leave the ground crew and become aircrew. My mother died on 3rd September 1942 and this seems to have been the catalyst. He eventually joined 90 Squadron at Ridgewell and the crew of EF349 and on their second mission the plane was brought down.
On their return from Wuppertal we do not know exactly where the plane was picked up but they came, on fire, low over the main street of Proville at 2.00am on the morning of 30th May 1943. It was Mothers' Day in France. Two of the men parachuted out and were captured by the Germans but the others stayed with the plane and managed to get it clear of the last of the houses in the village before they crashed. We believe they saved around 800 lives. Every year since on the 30th May the people of Proville gather at the memorial to give thanks.
This picture was taken during the 60th Anniversary celebrations on 30th May 2003. It shows Commandant Bayere and the Mayor of Proville at the memorial. On our visit we were told many times that "they could have got out but we would not be here today".
Picture of my father with a baby on his knee. That was me, born on 7th July 1942. My mother died on 3rd September 1942 so I knew neither of my parents.
Mary J. Archer.