Tommy Hunter’s final resting place

imageIt’s a peaceful spot, Blackhall Colliery cemetery, hidden on a gentle slope of hill side behind back-to-back houses and allotments. It’s beautifully kept, and Parks Superintendant and Cemetery Supervisor Antony Peace was already waiting for me on a bench near Tommy’s grave when I arrived.

Antony had dug out documentation relating to Tommy’s grave, that show he wa buried here in October 1941, some weeks after his death at the end of September. The documents mention Mullion Cove in Cornwall, so that may be where his body was washed ashore, and there may be archive records down there relating to that, and possibly to an inquest.

His mother, Catherine Hunter, is buried in the same plot; she died aged 48 in March 1942, only six months after Tommy was killed; so here is another tragedy. Tommy’s father, John, died aged 77 in 1968 but his cremation took place in Nottinghamshire. Five years after that, a lady from Southwell in Nottinghamshire bought extra land and extended the plot and, it seems, erected the monument as it is today; so we think John’s ashes are interred here, alongside his wife and son.  It is very sad to think that John lost his wife and son in such close succession. It is touching that in death his ashes were brought back here to be with them.

Touching also to think that Tommy’s body does not after all lie lost at the bottom of the sea but lies here in his Northumberland home: his final resting place.

There is also a stone urn for flowers on the grave with the words ‘from Mary, Connie and Irene’. What I have learned today gives me new leads to follow to try and trace some of Tommy’s relatives. Thank you, Antony, for your kindness and help here today.

Antony Peace, Parks Superintendant, at Tommy Hunter's grave, Blackhall Cemetery

Antony Peace, Parks Superintendant, at Tommy Hunter’s grave, Blackhall Cemetery


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4 responses to “Tommy Hunter’s final resting place

  1. Mary Griffin

    Hi Phil (and Elizabeth)- Neil Griffin here – I am one of Tommy’s nephews and one of the relatives Elizabeth speaks about. My mother, Mary is one of Tom’s sisters (the last of the close family). She turns 99 next month. She talks of Tom often. Thanks for the information – i will pass it onto Mary.
    If you need any more info – happy to ask Mom.


    • Dear Neil

      Thank you for the comment. Please pass on my dear regards to your mother. I can’t help thinking, if things had been different, my father would probably have visited Tommy after the war (if they could have managed to contact each other) and met his family. It’s such a great sadness, all those wonderful young men lost. I have tried contacting Henry Archbold about Tom’s teddy but so far without success. I think I’ll try the parish clerk again – which will be someone different by now from the time I visited, I guess.


  2. Read with interest your piece on Tommy Hunter. Found it as I’m writing a history of RAF Portreath & have got to the mission where he was lost. I can tell you that the Cornwall Constabulary War Diary records the fact that Tommy’s body washed up at 1500 hours on 10th October 1941 at Poldhu Cove, Mullion. He was identified by his clothing and RAF Predannack were making arrangements for his burial.
    I hope that little extra helps.


    • Hello Phil, and thank you very much for your comment. I have found out a great deal about Tommy Hunter since I wrote that post, and am now in touch with some of his relatives. He is fondly remembered at his home town of Blackhall Colliery in Northumberland, and after my visit there I was contacted by a friend of the family, then in his eighties (or nineties), who was given Tommy Hunter’s teddy bear at birth. Tommy’s mother died around six months after Tommy himself, and in her last weeks she visited a close friend, a Mrs Archbold, who had just given birth to a baby boy called Chris. She handed Tommy’s teddy to her, and the teddy stayed with Chris all his life. Chris became a teacher and he took Ted with him to many lessons and lectures, using him in the service of the Holocaust Educational Trust. You can find the story in a booklet put together in 2015 (I think it’s that year) by the local parish. I suggest you contact the parish clerk for help tracking a copy down.


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