The Log Book Journey 30th July 2020
The excellent world coverage of TNCMC in May 2020 by the BBC continues to pay dividend.
I was contacted by Mr Nicholas (Nick) Devaux from St. Lucia,after he saw the TNCMC VE DAY 75 coverage by the BBC world service in May 2020. Through me, Nick wished to contact 96 year old WWII veteran Mr Albert Jarrett, who featured in the BBC report.
Nick explained that his late father, Cyril Devaux, was a pilot in the Royal Air Force towards the end of WWII. Starting in 2016, Nick initiated a project to obtain signatures of WWII veterans in his father’s pilot logbook. With nearly 100 signatures from veterans and witnesses around the world to date, Nick hoped Mr Jarrett might agree to add his autograph to the initiative now officially referred to as “The Log Book”.
I became immediately engaged with the enormity of what this stranger was saying to me, because I readily visualised how valuable the project could be as an historical document. Nick explained that the logbook was currently in the USA, but due to arrive in the UK towards the end of 2020. He hoped Mr Jarrett might agree to sign it then. I informed him of other veterans known to me and offered to assist in obtaining their signatures. Nick happily accepted, thrilled at the prospect of increasing the number of Caribbean veterans who might sign his father’s logbook.
We discussed the health challenges, exacerbated by Covid, facing these nonagenarian veterans. Nick related his acute awareness of the dwindling time such persons have and the urgency of engaging as many as possible while still among us. Several instances of veterans agreeing to sign the book and then passing away shortly after without signing have occurred. Nick realised early on that two pages, loosened from the book’s 77 year old binding, would allow him to cover more ground – indeed, one has travelled to Kolkata India to be signed by a veteran there. It so happened that one of these pages was in the hands of Mr Ross Stewart, curator of the Wethersfield Airfield Museum in Essex. Since 2017, Ross has been instrumental in gathering signatures across Europe in the logbook and immediately expedited the page to me by post.
Mr Tony Daley is one of the veterans who is not in the best of health. Having received the page in quick time I arranged to visit him and his family in Nottingham on 30th July 2020. Planning for the visit was ably assisted by an acquaintance, the very efficient and conscientious Mrs Thereasa Kilbride. Her father, Mr Eric Constantine Morrison and Mr Daley, served in the Royal Air Force during the War and remained firm friends for many years until Mr. Morrison unfortunately passed away.
Mr Tony Daly, age 93
Mr Daley who enlisted in the Royal Air Force, age 17, in Jamaica, travelled to England where he experienced life as a Serviceman during the Second World War. He is now 93 and was expected to be housebound during our visit. Quite unexpectedly, he met us out in the sunshine under blue skies away from home, assisted by his daughter Lesley. Marvellous!!!
Left to right: Mrs Thereasa Kilbride, Mrs Lesley Bryant, Donald Campbell, Mrs Barbara Campbell & Mrs Pat Marsh
The visit turned out to be a fantastic occasion. Mr Daley was fully engaging and interacted with everyone present. He even surprised Lesley with stories that she had never heard before. There was a smile on his face when sharing some of his experiences, gaining laughter from all present.
Lesley reading a letter to her father Tony from Nicholas Devaux, St Lucia
Nick writes an introductory letter to each veteran explaining his autograph request and also incorporating a summary of the individual’s service history. These letters form an important audit trail of the logbook’s journey, which, after 4 years and 3 global circumnavigations has its own story to tell. Mr Daley was jubilant to receive Nick’s letter, which Lesley read to him.
Mr Tony Daley signing the log book page
Mr Daley was honoured and very proud to participate in this wonderful project by signing a page from the log book of fellow Caribbean veteran and comrade.
Mr Daly signing a copy of the letter written to him from Nicholas
Mr Daley bidding us all the best prior to his departure
Mr Daley further graced us by allowing us to film a short clip, to be posted later, of him reminiscing and sharing some of his many experiences of life before, during and after the War. Everyone present felt rather privileged to be in such honourable company, especially to see the smiling face of Mr Daley as he recounted the years. Excellent!!!
To learn more about The Log Book, the journey of St. Lucian WWII pilot Cyril Devaux’s logbook, visit https://www.facebook.com/lucianlogbook/
Blog by Don Campbell