Life story written by Paul Beecroft
ROYAL AIR FORCE
10TH DECEMBER 1942 AGE 34
NOT JUST TODAY
BUT EVERY DAY
IN SILENCE WE REMEMBER
Cecil Edward MAYNARD was born in Reading on 8th April 1910. His parents were Frederick and Martha Emma and they lived at 5, Soho Street, Reading. The census for 1911 confirms that Cecil was eleven months old and that he had four sibling brothers, all older than him. As time went on more siblings were known to have been born.
Nothing is known of his childhood or teenage years but in September 1931 at the age of 21 he married Violet May SOMERVILLE, a local girl from Reading. The marriage took place in Reading and resulted in the birth of five children born between the years of 1931 and 1941. In 1938 the family is known to be living at 22, Modbury Gardens. The census for 1939 shows Cecil’s occupation as General Timber Labourer – Heavy works demolition squad.
At some point following the outbreak of WWII Cecil joined the R.A.F. and reached the rank of Corporal. In September 1941 it is believed that Cecil was attached to No. 819 Defence Squadron which was an Anti-Aircraft Squadron that had been formed in 1941 and was stationed at R.A.F. Chelveston, located east of Wellingborough near the village of Chelveston. In February 1942 the Squadron number changed to 2819.
In August 1942 Cecil moved with his unit to R.A.F. Ludham in Norfolk. On 10th December 1942, Cecil, together with three other personnel, took part in a live gunnery training exercise at Holkham. They were firing what was known as a Smith Gun, named after Army Major William H. Smith, who had designed it. The gun fired a modified 3” mortar bomb. There were problems with the fuses of the gun and on this day a malfunction caused an explosion which killed Cecil and severely injured his three colleagues. Other incidents also occurred with this gun, and they were later all withdrawn from RAF Regiments.
Following Cecil’s death, a Court of Inquiry was held three days later at R.A.F. Coltishall but the outcome is not known.
Cecil was then buried a few days later in Reading Old Cemetery.
Division 59, Row O, Plot 22