IEVERS, Eyre Osbourne. Flying Officer (81827)
15 Bomb Disposal Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 29 April 1942, aged 39.
Eyre's headstone in the St John the Baptist Churchyard Extension,
Kirkby Wharfe, Yorkshire
Photograph with thanks to www.militaryhistories.co.uk
Eyre Osbourne Ievers was born on 29 June 1903. He was reportedly the oldest son of Eyre Francis Wall Ievers and his wife Catherine Lilian (née N/K). The parents have left little trace on the readily available records. This is mainly because they spent a lot of time abroad at the family business in Buenos Aires, Argentina - but also because their unusual Irish surname was frequently mis-transcribed.
Eyre junior's birth was registered in Tonbridge Kent in Q3 1903 - interestingly, being a manuscript addition to the printed record. Tonbridge is the town to which his the Irish Grandfather, a medical doctor (and also "Eyre Ievers"), had moved from Ireland in the 1870s.
After Eyre junior's early education at Yardley Court, Somerhill, he followed his father to Tonbridge School from 1917 to 1920. He then trained as an Accountant before joining a family business in Buenos Aires, Argentina, during 1928. At about that time, his parents were resident at "Croft House", Epsom. In 1936, Eyre returned to England to take employment with Eyre Smelting Co
- of which his father, Eyre Francis Ievers, was Managing Director.
The September 1939 Register records the 66 year old Eyre Francis living at "Campana" (later 12), Lynwood Road, Epsom. No trace has yet been found of Catherine at the time - but Eyre senior is listed as "married" rather than widowed. Living with him were the also married 62 year old Ellen Strickland - listed as "Companion" - and their 42 year old cook, Mary Tout. (In Q2 1944, Eyre senior and Ellen got married, registered the local Surrey Mid Eastern District.)
The 26 year old Eyre junior was recorded in the 1939 Register living in lodgings at 15 Collingham Gardens, South Kensington. His surname is currently mis-transcribed as "Levers", but he is listed as "Sales Manager Metal Manufacturer".
Eyre junior become a member of the Royal Air force Volunteer Reserve - gazetted on 30 July 1940 with the surname "Levers" (corrected to "Ievers" on 22 October 1940). He was appointed Flying Officer in 1941 and Officer Commanding No 15 Bomb Disposal Squad, with headquarters at Ulleskelf near RAF Church Fenton and a few miles southwest of York.
On 28/29 April 1942 there was a "Baedeker Raid" on the City of York. These raids were the Luftwaffe's retaliation for the increasing effectiveness of the RAF's new campaign that had begun with the mass bombing of Lübeck on 28 March 1942. To increase the impact on civilian life, targets were chosen for their cultural and historical significance, rather than for any military value. The raids were referred to on both sides as "Baedeker raids" following the reported comment by spokesman for the German Foreign Office that, "We shall go out and bomb every building in Britain marked with three stars in the Baedeker Guide" - a reference to the popular German travel guides of that name.
The raid had left two unexploded bombs close to RAF Clifton, just over a mile northwest of York. (It is estimated that between 5% and 15% of the many, many WW2 bombs did not detonate as planned.) Eyre's unit was alerted at about 0800 hours on 29 April and, accompanied by Sergeant H Phoenix and Corporals Bonner and Williams, he travelled the few miles to the site for a reconnaissance to assess the resources needed. The reconnaissance crew found the two German 250kg unexploded bombs and had just examined the size of the holes of entry, when one bomb exploded, setting off the other. A rescue party raced to the site. Eyre was mortally injured and died on the way to hospital. (The other three eventually recovered from their injuries and trauma, and returned to duty with the Bomb Disposal Squadron.)
In a list of casualties, Eyre's address was given as his father's "Campana", Lynwood Road, Epsom. RAF Records again showed his name incorrectly as "Levers" and that he had died of wounds or injuries received on active service.
A week after the incident, Eyre was buried in the nearby St John the Baptist Churchyard Extension, Kirkby Wharfe - one of the 24 WW2 casuakties there. His father took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone on Grave B.O.
Eyre senior, retired Company Director, died at 12 Lynwood Road, Epsom, on 8 December 1958 - and his second wife, Ellen, also died there on 11 May 1951.
Original text dated March 2014
Updated by Roger Morgan © 2018
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