Remembering the Telegraphist Air Gunners
Fallen Comrades Remembered 61 Years Later September 6, 2005 Article in the Yarmouth Vanguard By Tina Comeau Nearly   61   years   ago   19-year-old   Eric   Ronald   May   -   who   just   days   earlier   had   wrapped   up   his   training   at   East   Camp   in   Yarmouth   - served   as   part   of   an   honour   guard   at   the   burial   of   four   leading airmen   from   East   Camp   who   died   during   training   when   two aircraft collided on Oct. 20, 1944. Sixty-one-years   later,   at   the   age   of   80,   May   kneeled   at   their graves   in   the   Mountain   Town   Cemetery   and   placed   crosses   at their headstones. He   came   here   from   England   to   do   so.   "I   thought,   nobody   is going   to   remember   them,   so   I'll   go,"   he   says   about   why   he made the journey. So   there   he   was   on Aug.   23,   at   the   graves   of   leading   airmen Albert   Brooks,   Henry   Taylor,   John   Bennett   and   Raymond   Stanier.   It was   May's   first   trip   to   Yarmouth   since   leaving   in   the   fall   of   1944   after   he   had   completed   nine   months   of   training   during   the Second World War with the Telegraphist Air Gunners (TAGS) at East Camp. "I   came   here   in   January   1944,   God   it   was   cold,"   he   recalls.   "They   gave   us   funny   hats   with   flaps.   You   come   here   from   England and   you   think,   I'm   not   wearing   those   hats   but   when   we   got   up   in   the   morning   we   were   glad   we   had   those   and   anything   else   we could put on." May   always   toyed   with   the   idea   of   coming   back   to   visit.   But   when   his   wife   of   50   years   became   ill   the   journey   was   no   longer   a priority and after she died it took him a long time to find his own way again. Then   something   unique   happened   a   couple   of   years   ago.   May   was   invited   to   a   reunion   of   the   Telegraphist   Air   Gunners Association   in   England   where   a   group   of   young   people   from   Yarmouth   called   440   Productions,   under   the   direction   of   Yarmouth high school teacher George Egan, was to perform. "   I   thought   if   those   kids   have   gone   to   all   that   trouble   just   for   people   like   me,   even   if   I'm   half   dead   I've   got   to   get   there,"   he says. He and the other TAGS laughed and sang and cried as they watched the teenagers perform. You   can   still   hear   the   astonishment   in   May's   voice   when   he   describes   the   accuracy   of   their   wardrobes,   right   down   to   the   girls' dresses. "The adrenalin was in all of us. We were ready to get back in the aircraft again," he says. That's when his thoughts of coming to Yarmouth were revived. During   his   visit   May   stayed   with   Egan,   who   he   commends   for   the   work   he   has   done   with   the   young   people   involved   in   440 Productions. "He's   shown   them   they   can   do   things   that   they   never   thought   they   could   ever   do   or   aspire   to   do,"   says   May.   "That's   something quite great I think." Asked   about   his   recollections   of   being   in   Yarmouth   as   a   young   TAG,   May   pauses   to   find   the   right   adjective   than   says   simply,   "It was   nice."   But   it   was   also   very   different.   Before   coming   overseas   May   was   a   fire   service   messenger   boy,   a   time   he   calls   the most   dangerous   period   in   his   life.   "They   didn't   play   fair,   the   Germans,"   he   says.   "They   used   to   come   across   the   channel…straight down   our   road   and   I   would   be   standing   there   and   they   would   open   fire.   I   always   felt   it   was   my   reward   to   come   here.   "When   I came here one of the seniors said to me, Everything all right back home?" he recalls. "I thought, Oh God if you only knew." Asked more about his time at East Camp, May's words are choked with emotion. "I   was   so   shy   but   the   people   of   Yarmouth,   when   I   reflect   back,   they   were   the   most   generous   people   you   could   find,"   he   says. "Up   on   the   notice   board   there   were   names,   addresses,   telephone   numbers   of   people   inviting   you   to   contact   them   to   go   stay   for a weekend and I never did. I didn't have the courage." He says that is one of his biggest regrets. Another would have been never coming back.
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Eric Ronald May