WHEN historian Alan Griffin began researching for a book into wartime Southam he was very surprised to discover that a relative was killed in the Normandy landings by a Luftwaffe secret weapon.
Nineteen year-old Cyril Duckett was a crew member on the Frigate HMS Nith, one of the Brigade Headquarter ships moored off Arramanche in the English channel.
On a June night under a full moon the ship was struck by a Luftwaffe composite aircraft known as a Mistel. The Mistel had been developed in late 1943 and was essentially an unmanned bomber loaded with a ton of high explosives suspended beneath a piloted fighter aircraft.
The combination would be flown to its target by a pilot in the fighter who would then release the unmanned drone onto the target before returning to its base.
The Mistel struck the side of the HMS Nith detonating with a huge explosion. Nine seamen were killed – including Ordinary Seaman Cyril Duckett – and a further 26 were wounded.
Alan’s latest local history book, his tenth, is titled Wartime Southam 1939-1945 tells the story of the brave Southam men who lost their lives serving their country during the Second World War.
The book will be launched at Southam History Fayre on Saturday (May 20), at a special price of £5.
Alan said: “My book gives a flavour of life in Southam during the war years and also records those local men who were killed in action during the war including young Cyril Duckett who was my dad’s cousin.”
The history fayre takes place at St James Church in Park Lane and will feature displays from several local history groups.
Entry is free and refreshments will be available.
Search facebook ‘Southam history fayre’ for further details.