The Story

The Forgotten Airman

Stories like this is why I love photography. I stopped off at a local cemetery that I had visited many times to take photos of the Celtic Crosses. Having taken a shot inside the ruin of the old church, I came across a tombstone for a J.D. Butterly, Royal Air Force. I was intrigued...

I thought it unusual for an RAF man to be buried in a cemetery in Ireland in a grave that appears has been unattended and overgrown for a number of years. With the help of the internet and R.A.F. association in Ireland, I found out more about this man. This is his story. Some blanks need to be filled in which I hope will happen over time.

Born to parents, Joseph and Teresa Butterly (formerly Craven) who lived in Main Street, Howth (circa 1911). John Desmond was one of 4 children. His brothers worked in the harbour as fishermen, while John went off to join the Royal Air Force in England. John was a member of the RAF 12th Squadron, which was a Lancaster Bomber group and following a night raid on Berlin, their aircraft had been shot down and crashed into the sea at the Firth of Forth, near Edinburgh, Scotland.

His older brother, Lewis, travelled to Scotland from Dublin via Belfast and brought his body back home. For some reason he is not buried in Howth, but in Kilbarrack Cemetery. However he is not in the usual graves around the church but in the church grounds itself showing that either his family had money, or he was a very well respected member of the community and maybe he was honoured this way for his sacrifice. But this part is just speculation on my part.

If you know more about this person, please get in touch via this site.