A Canadian Memorial Group to Spitfire Pilot Downed Over Yugoslavia
A Canadian Memorial Group to Spitfire Pilot Downed Over Croatia (Yugoslavia) - Defence Medal; Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with Overseas Clasp; War Medal 1939-1945; and Memorial Cross (F.L. F.C. BREMNER J16540). Naming is officially engraved on the MC, the others are un-named. Un-mounted, the MC suspended from a 16 mm x 43.3 mm silver and enamelled RCAF wings with pinback, original ribbons, extremely fine. Accompanied by a CD containing thirty pages with copies of his Index Cards, Medals Award Computer Card, Attestation Paper, Service Records, Department of National Defence Estates Branch Document, Province of Ontario Registration of Death, letters of reference, various correspondence, along with a Photograph of his Grave Marker in Yugoslavia. Footnote: Frank Cecil Bremner was born on December 21, 1921 in Toronto, Ontario, the son of David Edward Bremner and Louis Bremner. His paternal grandfather, David Alexander Bremner, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and was an Electrical Engineer by trade, travelling the world. He was employed at Port Said, Egypt with the Suez Canal Company, before moving on to Borough of Kimberley, South Africa, working in the iron works and gold mines. It was here that he met and married Minnie Upton, an English girl living there, then moved back to England. During the First World War, he was the Head of the Aluminum Section of the Ministry of Munitions and for his service, was made a the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). He went on to become well known in British Engineering circles. While he was still in South Africa, his first son, David Alexander Bremner (same name), was born in Kimberley in 1890. The son also travelled a great deal, later coming to Winnipeg, Manitoba, supposedly to farm. He returned home, only to return to Canada, taking work with the Canadian National Railway in British Columbia. While there, he met and married Louise Corneliussen (Corneliaisjen), a native of Norway, marrying on September 5, 1915 in Kamloops, British Columbia. His first child was born in 1916 in Toronto, a daughter, Sonja. Near the end of the First World War, he served with the Royal Air Force, from January 1918 to December 31, 1919. He is not noted his records as being married and it states that he was living permanently in England, presumably at his father's house. It is believed that Louise was in Toronto, as after the war, he set sail for New York on May 21, 1919, with Toronto as his final destination. His first son, David Alexander Edward Bremner, was born in 1920 in the United Kingdom, but Orillia, Ontario has also been mentioned as his birthplace. His brother, Frank Cecil Bremner was born the following year, 1921. Frank was educated at Toronto Runnymede School, from 1928 to 1935, then at Humberside Collegiate, from 1935 to 1940, where he achieved Junior and Senior Matriculation over the five years and successfully graduating. While at Humberside, he served for one year with the Cadet Corps. Once the children had grown to adulthood, the family moved to Tillsonburg, Ontario, where their father, David, took a job working for the National Employment Service (retiring in 1958, passing away in 1965). Their mother, Louise, would live until 1990, passing away at the age of 102. Frank Bremner took a job as a Shell Packer at Ingersoll Machine and Tool in 1940, before enlisting with the Royal Canadian Air Force, signing his Attestation Paper (J/16540) on August 14, 1940, in London, Ontario, for the Duration of the War, naming his next-of-kin as his father, stating that he had no previous military service, that his occupation was that of Student and that his interests were in amateur photography, rugby, swimming, tennis, skating. He was subsequently placed in the rank of Aircraftman 2nd Class. Bremner officially enlisted at No. 1 Military District in Toronto, Ontario on December 12, 1940, then posted to No. 1 A Military District at Picton, Ontario on February 7, 1941. A little over two months later, he was posted to No. 1 Wireless School at Montreal, Quebec on April 16th, then posted one week later to No. 3 Initial Training School at Victoriaville, Quebec on April 23, 1941. In his RCAF Report on Pupil Pilot - Flying and Ground Training, he scored 385 out of 500 (77%) in total marks and finished 43rd of 147 in his class, with his instructors recommending him for training as a Pilot. Frank Bremner was described as a "Quiet, serious type, always interested in flying. Very patriotic." and noted that his brother was also with the RCAF and that his father had served with the RAF during the First World War. Five weeks later, he was posted to No. 4 Elementary Flying Training School at Windsor Mills, Quebec on May 28, 1941, where he was named Leading Aircraftman and by the summer, had advanced far enough in his training, to allow him to be posted to No. 9 Service Flying Training School at Summerside, Prince Edward Island on July 16th, where he earned his Pilot's Flying Badge and named Flight Sergeant on September 25, 1941. He was transferred to No. 1 Y Depot at Halifax, Nova Scotia on September 27, 1941 and posted to the Royal Air Force Training Pool on November 11th, for service overseas, embarking Canada the following day. His older brother, David, had previously joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (R/71701) before Frank. David trained at Uplands, just outside Ottawa, on Harvards and was sent to the United Kingdom, to train at Catterick Airfield in North Yorkshire, England. He died as the result of a flying accident aboard a Spitfire, on October 23, 1941, at the age of 21, while serving with No. 131 Squadron, Royal Air Force, three weeks before Frank left for overseas. David Bremner is buried at Atchan (St. Eata) Churchyard, Shropshire, United Kingdom, Grave Reference: Row N. Grave 9. David Bremner is commemorated on page 24 of the Second World War Book of Remembrance. After over three months in England, Frank Bremner was posted to No. 5 Personnel Despatch Centre at Padgate on March 3, 1942, then posted two weeks later to No. 4 Personnel Despatch Centre at Blackpool on March 17th. One week later, he was transferred to No. 55 Operational Training Unit on March 24th, destined for overseas action in the Middle East. He arrived at the RAF base in Takoradi, Ghana on April 20, 1942. The base incorporated various buildings, which had been commandeered and had had a large landing strip laid down. This was proved to be the secret route to get Fighter Aircraft to the Desert War in North Africa, without which that war could not have been won. Twenty-four days after arriving at Takoradi, he was in air transit to the Middle Eastern theatre on May 14th. Frank Bremner was named Temporary Flying Officer on June 11th, then posted for one week to No. 1 Multi-Engined Training Squadron on June 28, 1942, where he was named Temporary Flying Sergeant on July 1st. He was posted to No. 22 Personal Transit Centre on July 3rd, before returning to No. 1 Multi-Engined Training Squadron on August 9th. The following week he was transferred to No. 94 Squadron (RAF) on August 16th, named Temporary Warrant Officer 2nd Class on September 25th and commissioned as a Pilot Officer on December 10th. The early Summer of 1943 would see Bremner posted to No. 3 Recovery and Salvage Unit for training with 243 Wing on May 14, 1943, then eight days later, transferred to his final unit, No. 73 Squadron (RAF) onMay 22nd and named Acting Flight Lieutenant. While with No. 73 Squadron, Royal Air Force, on June 26, 1944, Frank Bremner was flying a Spitfire (ER.914) in a mission over Yugoslavia. He was soon declared "missing whilst engaged on active operations against the enemy", as he had been "engaged on strafing from a low level, an enemy aerodrome". He had "succeeded in destroying several aircraft on the ground when it is believed that he must have been hit by enemy flak." None of the other pilots knew he was missing until he failed to formulate for the homeward trip. Frank Bremner was remembered as "modest and unassuming but always cheerful and set a wonderful example of pluck, endurance and the will to fight, to the whole squadron" and as "a skillful, capable pilot and a first rate leader." A Searcher Party operating in Yugoslavia located the grave of a British Pilot in Mirogoi Cemetery, Zagreb. According to local civilians, he was the pilot of one of three Spitfires which flew very low over Zagreb in a westerly direction, on June 26, 1944. It was hit by a German missile gun (flak) and crashed near Rudes between 16.30 and 17.00 hours. The initial date of his death was stated as the July 27th, but an error occurred as a result of the fact that the body was removed from the aircraft the day after the crash. The aircraft wreckage was moved the day after the crash, and therefore, they could not accurately confirm the aircraft's number as stated by civilians (ER.129), which was likely wrong. The remains of the pilot were concentrated to Belgrade British Military Cemetery, Plot 5, Row A, Grave 9. Upon exhumation, the only means of identification found were three upper false teeth as a gold mounting, with a dental mark imposed on the metal plate behind the teeth. Strangely enough, he has a grave marker in the same cemetery in England as his brother, leading to speculation that the body might have possibly been moved there later on, or that his parents asked for a second marker to be placed in England beside his brother's. Frank Bremner died on June 26, 1944, at the age of 22, and is commemorated on page 257 of the Second World War Book of Remembrance. His father later noted in the Department of National Defence Estates Branch Document, that young Frank had intended to return to Tillsonburg after the war. The Province of Ontario Registration of Death for Frank Bremner states that he had been "Previously reported missing after air operations, now for official purposes, presumed dead" as the result of an "Accident" and "Presumed killed during air operations" overseas in Yugoslavia. His personal effects were returned to the standing Committee of Adjustment, then forwarded to his parents, as noted by D.W. Golding, Major Commanding No. 73 Squadron RAF. His father, David, was in denial, convinced that his son was not dead. In a letter addressed to the Secretary, Department of National Defence for Air, Ottawa, Ontario in 1945, he wrote: "I do not understand why your department persists in referring to my son as Flying Officer when he was given the rank of Flight Lieut. many months ago, in fact some time before he was reported as missing. My son Frank Cecil Bremner is very much alive and by no means to be considered dead, the following is an extract from a letter written by my Father in London England dated January 9th/1945. Cecil's son, Major D.C. Bremner of the 5th Batt, "The Buffs" had just come home from 23 days leave after 2 1/2 years fighting in North Africa, Sicily and Italy. He is the only survivor of the officers who went out with the battalion and he was wounded in Tunisia. As promised he made inquiries of all R.A.F. officers on the ship coming home and by a most fortunate chance he met a F/Lt. named Miller, who when asked if he knew F/Lt. Frank Bremner replied that he was one of his best friends and that he (Miller) was flying just behind him when it crashed in Jugoslavia. They were in the same squadron attacking an enemy aerodrome in Jugoslavia. (I understand) and Frank insisted on flying 3 times over their objectives and in the end was brought down by flak. He crashed but by God's mercy his plane did not catch fire, then were seen to rush to plane - presumably to save the pilot - and they were believed to be local partizans or guerrillas. I think this must have been so because his comrades heard afterwards that Frank was alive and had escaped with a broken leg. Having regard to all these circumstances it is not unreasonable to hope that dear Frank will turn up in British lines in the not too distant future. We earnestly pray for your dear sakes and our own sakes that this may be so. Miller told young Cecil that Frank was a very brave and skillful pilot and was highly regarded and loved in his squadron." Frank Bremner was posthumously awarded the 1939-1945 Star, the Africa Star with North Africa 1942-1943 Clasp, the Italy Star, the Defence Medal, the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with Overseas Clasp and the War Medal 1939-1945, the later three included here, the three Stars having been lost to time. His Memorial Cross was forwarded to his mother, Louise, on January 22, 1946.