‘It is important that we remember each and every one’: Ely air cadet meets brother of fallen teenager from the Second World War
- Credit: Archant
An Ely air cadet has met the brother of a 15-year-old cadet killed in enemy action during the Second World War.
Over the past year, Cadet Sergeant Luca Chadwick has been researching fellow air cadet Pelham Rolfe who is buried in a Commonwealth War Grave at St Peters Church, West Row.
Cadet Rolfe was an air cadet of 1124 (Mildenhall) Squadron, Air Training Corps who died through enemy action on March 19, 1945.
He was a passenger in a lorry on his way home from an ATC activity at RAF Bircham Newton, Norfolk, on March 17, 1945, when the lorry was attacked by a German ME109 fighter aircraft.
He was caught by the enemy aircraft’s machine gun fire as it strafed the lorry and he died from his wounds two days later aged just 15.
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During the remembrance period last year, Cadet Luca Chadwick, from the 1094 (City of Ely) Squadron, researched and visited the grave of Cadet Pelham Rolfe.
As a result of the publicity that this received, Cadet Chadwick was contacted by Cadet Rolfe’s brother, Ivor, to say thank you.
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Earlier this year, they met and shared pictures and spoke about Cadet Rolfe’s life.
In a newspaper clipping from the time of the funeral, it states how his “cheerfulness was maintained to the end: indeed, he told his mother, at his bedside in hospital: “It had to be someone, mum.”
It adds his “zeal and interest in aviation were most promising”.
Cadet Chadwick said: “It was an honour to meet Ivor, and I am glad he appreciated the gesture. It was a privilege to be shown a selection of original artefacts from the time, including the official photographs from the military funeral cadet Rolfe received and the original newspaper cuttings.”
“I was shocked to hear how low-key it was kept at the time, and I am proud to have been able to bring Pelham’s story out in the open a bit more than it was.
“There are not many cadets who have received war graves and it is extremely important that we remember each and every one of them.
“I returned to the grave this year, and placed a poppy cross on behalf of 1094 Squadron and the RAF air cadets as a whole.”
Cadet Rolfe was given the honour of a full military funeral and cadets from his own squadron carried his coffin as well as providing a guard of honour.
Across the country many young men who were Air Cadets went on to join the RAF during the war as soon as they could when they were 18.
Cadet Rolfe was one of 55 Air Cadets known to have been killed through enemy action and who were given the honour of being buried in a Commonwealth War Grave in the UK.