Frederick Ellis Spink

Tombstone Tuesday – Thomas Frederick Spink & others

Here is another gravestone at St. Mary’s church, Conistone, in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales in England.

This is the resting place of my 1st cousin 3x removed, Thomas Frederick Spink.  Also his wife Elizabeth Ann and two of their three sons, Frederick Ellis and John Aubrey.

Thomas was born about 1881 to parents Joseph Spink and Isabella Hannah Metcalfe.  He appears on the 1881 and 1891 census returns living with his parents.

By 1901 Thomas had left home and moved to Barwick in Elmet, near Tadcaster – about 45 miles from Conistone. Thomas and two other brothers (Joseph Ellis and Robert Aubrey) are living with their oldest brother, John Metcalfe Spink and his family.  John’s occupation is a self employed butcher and Thomas is working as a butchers assistant.

In 1911 Thomas is back home with his parents living in Skipton, Yorkshire and his occupation is butcher.

The next record I have for Thomas is when he marries Elizabeth Ann Fawcett about June 1918.  Their marriage is registered in Skipton.  I haven’t done any research on Elizabeth’s line so have no further information about her.

Thomas and Elizabeth had at least three sons

• John Aubrey – born 24th December 1918

• Frederick Ellis – born about March 1921

• Jeffrey – born about December 1923

I spoke about Frederick Ellis a few weeks ago.  He died on active service in the RAF during WW2 on the 8th August 1944.  He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DCF).

Just over a year later on 24th June 1945 Elizabeth died and her death is recorded in the Skipton registration district in Yorkshire.

I haven’t been able to find any further information about Thomas.  I know from the gravestone that he died on 9th January 1959.

The other son buried here at St. Mary’s is John Aubrey.  I don’t have any confirmed information about his life.  I have found what is possibly a marriage for John but I haven’t spent any money on getting the certificate.  He died on 28th July 2000.

Frederick Ellis Spink DFC (1921-1944)

Frederick Ellis Spink is my 2nd cousin 2x removed.  I only discovered him recently on a visit to the graveyard at St. Mary’s church at Conistone in Craven, Yorkshire.

Frederick was born around 1921 to parents Thomas Frederick Spink and Elizabeth Ann Fawcett.  He was the second of three sons..

The family lived in the small village of Conistone in Craven.

From what I have been able to find out Freddie (as he was known to his pals) joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Force as a Flying Officer and his service number was 151832.  He was assigned to No. 489 Squadron RNZAF (Royal New Zealand Air Force).  This was formed as a torpedo-bomber squadron.

Early sorties were anti-submarine patrols and it was not until August 1942 that the squadron turned to its role of search and attack of enemy shipping. Operating along the Norwegian coast and in the North Sea, it then achieved notable success; crews also flew air-sea rescue searches and anti-submarine patrols and escorted naval vessels and merchant convoys.

In October 1943 No. 489 was withdrawn from operations and in April 1944 it joined forces with No. 455 Australian Squadron to form the Anzac Strike Wing which operated with great success during the last year of the war.

On the 8th April 1944 Freddie was on a mission along the Norwegian coast when he was killed in action.  He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and his citation was published in the London Gazette on 25th July 1944.


Even though I have only just discovered Freddie I feel incredibly proud of him.

Frederick Ellis Spink is commemorated on the RAF Memorial at Runnymede in Surrey.  The memorial lists the names of over 20,000 airmen who were lost in the Second World War during operations from bases in the United Kingdom and North and Western Europe.

The following poem was written by Paul H Scott and is engraved on the gallery window at the Runnymede Memorial.

The first rays of the dawning sun
Shall touch its pillars,
And as the day advances
And the light grows stronger,
You shall read the names
Engraved on the stone of those who sailed on the angry sky
And saw harbour no more.
No gravestone in yew-dark churchyard
Shall mark their resting place;
Their bones lie in the forgotten corners of earth and sea.
But, that we may not lose their memory
With fading years, their monuments stand here,
Here, where the trees troop down to Runnymede.
Meadow of Magna Carta, field of freedom,
Never saw you so fitting a memorial,
Proof that the principals established here
Are still dear to the hearts of men.
Here now they stand, contrasted and alike,
The field of freedom’s birth, and the memorial
To freedom’s winning.

And, as evening comes,
And mists, like quiet ghosts, rise from the river bed,
And climb the hill to wander through the cloisters,
We shall not forget them. Above the mist
We shall see the memorial still, and over it
The crown and single star. And we shall pray
As the mists rise up and the air grows dark
That we may wear
As brave a heart as they