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How the family found out what happened to gunner Antony Rutherford-Browne from Bexleyheath

PUBLISHED: 12:48 11 November 2010

Philip and Jean Curtis on their wedding day on August 19, 2007. She died on October 27, 2007. They had been a couple since 2003.

Philip and Jean Curtis on their wedding day on August 19, 2007. She died on October 27, 2007. They had been a couple since 2003.

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The family of Antony Rutherford-Browne only found out his name was omitted from the war memorial after his niece Jean Curtis, the daughter of Audrey Elsie Ireson, started researching what happened to her uncle, once she was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer.

Jean Curtis and her mother Audrey Elsie Ireson, on her wedding day on August 19, 2007.

When she died three years ago, her husband Philip Curtis, 63, from Dumfries took up the search to honour his wife’s memory.

He told the Times: “The family thought he had been shot down over Magdeburg after bombing Berlin.

“They got a letter from the King just commiserating them on the loss and the same from the father of the pilot but with nothing specific.

“I spoke to the War Graves Commission who gave me his squadron number as although he is not buried anywhere he is on the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede in Egham. As soon as I had his squadron number there was no problem. The SOS signal was sent at about 1am and they were able to take a bearing from the radio signal and they mounted an air sea rescue but they couldn’t find anything. They must have come down in the North Sea. They almost made it home.

Sergeant Antony Rutherford-Browne

“I actually found a website that showed me pictures of the Bexleyheath war memorial and I couldn’t believe that I couldn’t see his name, so I phoned Bexley council and they told me the plaques were stolen and they were ordering new plaques that very same day.

“I don’t have words to describe my disgust at the swines who stole them. It is the lowest. The people who stole those plaques were stealing more than plaques - memories.

“This is not about me or my wife or the family. This is firmly about Antony Rutherford-Browne and people like him. I don’t have the words to describe the admiration I have for those men. You can see the hell and earth these people went through. You can forget Hollywood blockbusters. These men showed real courage. He didn’t think he would make it out alive but still when he was on leave, he always returned.”


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