Hidden notes from WW2 found during Torquay office move

11th June 2019

Notes which appear to have been left on a wall during the Second World War have been discovered as Bishop Fleming packs up to move its Torquay office to a new premises.

The scribbled notes discovery, which made headline news across the South West region, provide a fascinating insight into the life of World War Two pilots.

The firm, which is celebrating its centenary this year, found the markings at its current premises, The Terrace, as it packs up to move to its new location, Century House, Rivera Way.

The notes, which were written on September 10, 1940, were found as commemorations took place across the world to mark the 75th D-day anniversary.

Staff members of the top 30 firm, which has seven offices across the South West region said they had “never seen the wall markings before” despite being in the basement several times.

The scribbles found on the basement walls state the names of those who fought and lost their lives, along with what flights they were on.

One reads: “F. Ridsdale, ‘C’ Flight, ‘G’ Squadron. R.A.F”.

Another marking in pencil says, “In loving memory of N.J Wakeham, D.W Ray and W.T.C Selman.”

The notes suggest that all three men had been on ‘10A flight’ and ‘A flight’.

The wall is also marked with several signatures and a note which says: “Many happy nights.”

According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the names written on the walls were of those who were in the RAF Volunteer Reserve.

The website states that a William Thomas Charles Selman died on September 27, 1941 he was serving as a Sergeant with 37 Squadron and was buried at El Alamein, there are no family or address details given.

Donald Walter Ray who died on February 21 1946 was a married Flight Lieutenant from Darlington, he was buried at Sherwood RAF cemetery and awarded a DFC.

The third name found on the wall, according to the website was Norman John Wakeham, from Hailsham who died May 28 1944 at the age of 23. He served as a flying officer (navigator) for 166 Squadron. He was married and buried at Reichswarld Forest War Cemetery.

Will Hanbury, Partner at Bishop Fleming said: “It’s amazing what you can find when you’re moving out of an office after 40 years of occupying it, to come across this incredible piece of history in our building especially on such a poignant week of D-Day remembrance.

“From these markings we can tell that these names are those who were in the RAF at the time of the Battle of Britain. Having now researched the Commonwealth War Graves Comission it appears they all saw active duty during WW2.”

The firm despite moving wishes to contact the correct organisations who can help preserve the markings found in the basement.

To mark their centenary, Bishop Fleming have pledged to raise £100,000 for charity and the Torquay office is moving to its new premises, Century House, Riviera Way.

It will officially open in July, 100 years after the firm started in Torbay and will be named in conjunction with its centenary milestone.


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