Graves of three comrades killed in Normandy following D-Day identified

22 Sep 2023 11:33 AM

Nearly 80 years after their deaths, Trooper (Tpr) David Louis Morris, Corporal (Cpl) Allan Edwin Griffiths and Lance Corporal (LCpl) Neville Charles Skilton, who all served with 4th County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters), part of The Royal Armoured Corps, have been identified near Bayeux in Normandy.

Three rededication services were held yesterday (21 September) at their gravesides. The services, organised by the MOD’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC), also known as the ‘MOD War Detectives’, were held at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s (CWGC) Tilly-sur-Seulles War Cemetery.

The graves of Cpl Griffiths and LCpl Skilton were identified after a researcher submitted evidence to CWGC hoping to have located their final resting places. Further research was carried out by the National Army Museum and JCCC and the identification of the graves was confirmed. During the course of this further research the grave of Tpr Morris was also identified.

Rosie Barron, JCCC case lead yesterday said:

It has been a privilege to organise these rededication services and to be able to bring some closure to the families of Tpr Morris, Cpl Griffiths and LCpl Skilton. Although their family members present at the services today did not have the chance to know these men personally, memories of them are a cherished part of their family histories and their family members grew up surrounded by those who knew and loved them. It is important that the stories of these men live on and that we learn from their example and honour the sacrifice that they made for our freedom.

The services were attended by members of Cpl Griffiths and LCpl Skilton’s families as well as serving soldiers of The Royal Armoured Corps and The Coldstream Guards. The services were conducted by the Reverend Martin Robbins, Chaplain to 1st Battalion The Coldstream Guards.

Bill Whight, the nephew of LCpl Skilton who attended the services yesterday said:

It was such a surprise to receive news identifying the final resting place of Neville, my mother’s younger brother. We had accounts of Neville from my mother and from a distant cousin who knew him well, before the war. But this news suddenly brought his life into focus for us, assisted by photographs from various family albums and the circumstances of his final battle researched by the JCCC. We were unaware of the splendid compassionate casework service carried out by the JCCC. We are so grateful to them for their research and organising, what is for us, for a very moving service of rededication of Neville’s grave.

Bill Whight and his wife Jude stand at the graveside of his uncle Lance Corporal Skilton. (Crown Copyright).

Cpl Griffiths’ granddaughter, Alison Kelly, attended the rededication services along with other family members. Alison Kelly yesterday said:

Allan Griffiths’ surviving family and descendants are grateful to the JCCC and CWGC for their work in identifying and rededicating his grave almost eighty years after he was so sadly lost in action. Those of us who are able to attend the memorial service at Tilly-sur-Seulles War Cemetery will have the honour of representing all generations of the family, past and present, in particular Allan’s late widow, Millie, and his three late daughters, Shirley, Stella and Pamela, for all of whom his loss was a source of profound and lasting sorrow. The commemoration of Allan at his final resting place will help bring closure for all the family.

The rededication service for Corporal Griffiths was attended by his son-in-law and four of his grandchildren. (Crown Copyright).

The Reverend Robbins yesterday said:

This week it has been a tremendous privilege to have the opportunity to reflect upon the sacrifice and service offered by those young men and women in the Normandy campaign almost 80 years ago. This morning was no exception. Sharing with families of the service men from the Royal Armoured Corps, whose graves we rededicated, their memories and thoughts, and focusing upon the tremendous bravery of these individuals has been both humbling and enlightening in equal measure. May we never forget the cost they paid to purchase for us the liberty we enjoy today.

As Tpr Morris, Cpl Griffiths and LCpl Skilton were all listed as missing, their names were commemorated on the Bayeux Memorial to the missing in Normandy.

Xavier Puppinck, Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Director of France yesterday said:

We are deeply honoured to rededicate the graves of Trooper David Louis Morris, Corporal Allan Edwin Griffiths, and Lance Corporal Neville Charles Skilton. The memory of these servicemen will now be preserved in perpetuity, and their families can find solace in knowing that their loved ones’ final resting places have been properly recognized and will cared for by CWGC forever.