30 January 2017

Relatives of two WW2 Australian casualties sought for road-naming honour

The relatives of two airmen from Australia, who died in England during the Second World War, are being sought as part of plans to name new roads after the fallen.

The two men, Sergeant Gilbert McAlister and Sergeant Ronald Sankey, are among a group of five servicemen and one civilian, whose names are being considered for the new streets. Both Australians served at RAF Lichfield in Staffordshire during the war.

The five servicemen are buried in Commonwealth War Grave Commission graves at St Stephen’s churchyard, in the nearby village of Fradley, north of Birmingham.

Three Royal Air Force volunteers, Sergeant Alfred Brindle, Sergeant Howell Buckley and Sergeant Albert Ashwood, also died while serving at RAF Lichfield. Meanwhile the civilian, a tractor driver who worked at the base, Arthur Salt,was killed in an accident at the base.

The local parish council is now seeking any surviving relatives of all six men to gain consent to name streets after them at a new housing estate being built at Fradley.

The suggested street names are: McAlister Row, Sankey Grove, Brindle Lane, Buckley Croft, Ashwood Lane and Salt Way. 

Another neighbouring parish in Staffordshire has recently named new streets after First World War soldiers, as part of centenary commemorations.

Little is known about the two Australians, other than both served with the Royal Australian Air Force. Sgt Gilbert Norman McAlister was aged 23 and was the son of Gilbert Lachlan and Philomena Ellen McAlister from Ashfield, New South Wales. He died on July 9, 1942, and his headstone bears the inscription “He gave his life for his country – Australia”.

Sgt Ronald Henry Sankey was 25 and was the son of Henry and Elsie Edith Sankey, from Preston, Victoria. He died on December 3, 1942, and his headstone reads “Until we meet again. Dearly loved, sadly missed, Mother.”

In total, 24 RAAF servicemen are buried at Fradley, along with eight RAF personnel and one German airman.

More information about this story and how to contact the parish council can be found via the following links:

https://lichfielddc.gov.uk/Council/Press-office/News-releases/2017-news-releases/1-Jan-2017/More-Fradley-roads-to-be-named-after-fallen-war-heroes.aspx

http://www.lichfieldmercury.co.uk/relatives-of-raf-lichfield-servicemen-killed-in-world-war-ii-sought-for-road-naming-permission/story-30085277-detail/story.html

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