Maurice was born in Berkhamsted on 8th June 1914, his parents had married the previous year and lived at 75 Shrublands Avenue. His father was master builder James and his mother Emily Ada nee White.
The Great War started when Maurice was a few months old, his father signed up with the Bedfordshire regiment in November 1914 but within 30 days was discharged as unfit for service. He later joined the Royal Engineers as a sapper and was attached to the 227th Field Company serving on the Western Front.
Maurice would have been nearly 5 years old when his father returned in 1919. He had a sister, Marjorie, who was born in 1922.
When Maurice left school, he followed his father’s profession and by 1939 father and son were both listed as Master Builders, by this time the family had moved to 52 Greenway.
Sometime after the outbreak of WW2 Maurice joined the RAF, he became a Pilot Officer. In 1941 he was based at RAF Ingham in Lincolnshire. On the night of 22nd October 1941 he was giving night flight dual instruction to trainee pilot Philip Zarraga in an Oxford II, V.3632. He made one satisfactory circuit, but, after taking off for the second time, the aircraft was observed to climb hardly at all and it crashed into a belt of trees about half a mile beyond the windward boundary, becoming a total wreck. It did not catch fire, but both instructor and pupil were killed outright. An Investigation was called for, and the accident was reported by Signal T.126 from R.A.F. Station Hemswell. The incident card states that the pilot took off with flaps down and probably failed to adjust other auxiliary controls before take-off (1).
Maurice was 27 and unmarried. He is buried in Rectory Lane with his parents and his sister.
But an entry from the Parochial Church Council Minutes shows that it nearly didn’t happen due to uncertainties surrounding the impact of WWII and Rectory Lane Cemetery nearing the end of its life:
3rd December 1941. The Rector gave reasons for great care being taken in reserving further grave spaces, owing to the exhaustion of the space in the Cemetery in the near future, and the requirements which might arise if any big serious trouble was caused locally by enemy action. Eventually the council, while offering no formal objection to an application for the reservation of a grave space by Mr Bunn of Greenway, whose son, a Pilot Officer, was recently killed and buried in the Cemetery, asked the Rector to communicate with the Diocesan Chancellor and acquaint him with the position and suggest that application be deferred till the close of the War. In the meantime the Rector promising to obtain the space desired by Mr Bunn if possible.
3rd March 1942. The Rector … explained that it was a matter for the Parochial Church Council to either approve or disapprove applications for grave space as and when they were received. At present he had two applications for consideration, one for a Mr Bunn who had recently lost his son, and a further one from a Mr Foster and a Mr White jointly, who required space for 5 interments.
Resolution 1: Mr Bunns Application That this application be approved on the ground that the Petitioner’s son met his death while flying as a Pilot Officer in the Royal air Force.
Maurice’s parents and sister were eventually permitted to be buried with their son, but the second application by Mr Foster & Mr White was forwarded to the Diocesan Chancellor without the support of the Parochial Church Council.
2 The picture of Maurice is taken from the “Find a Grave” website.