|Rushden Echo November 1939, transcribed by Peter Brown
Higham Ferrers Airman Buried in Denmark
Washed Ashore at Fishing Village - Wreath from Danish Coastguards
One of the week’s most moving war stories has been of the homage paid to a gallant young Higham Ferrers airman at a little fishing village in Denmark.
The name of Sergeant Pilot Richard Samuel Pitts, R A F, appeared several weeks ago in an official list of airmen who were “missing” and was repeated later in a list of those “missing, believed killed”.
Sergeant Pitts was 25 and the son of Lieutenant S Pitts (Indian Army retired) and Mrs Pitts, of 46, North End, Higham Ferrers.
The parents learned that their son had been shot down over the sea, but no further details were known.
Then, last Saturday a message was published from Copenhagen stating that a body in R A F uniform had been washed ashore at Klitmoeller, in Jutland. Attached to the body was an unused parachute with an oxygen apparatus.
Further messages showed that the airman, now identified as Sergeant Pitts, was found on the beach last Friday. Klitmoeller is in the province of Thisted and between two and three hundred miles from Wilhelmshaven and other parts of the German coast.
Almost the entire population of the village attended the funeral – which followed the customary morning church service – at the Klitmoeller cemetery on Sunday morning. The British authorities were represented by Vice-Consul Keir, from Lemvig, and the Danish Naval Airforce by Commander Captain JueBrockdorf. Wreaths were sent by the British Legation, the Danish Ministry of marine, and the Klitmoeller coastguards. The coffin was draped with the Union Jack.
Mr and Mrs Pitts were informed by the Air Ministry, through the police, on Saturday, and received official details on Tuesday.
Out on the coast of Jutland, in the graveyard of a fishing village, a Higham Ferrers airman lies at rest. His life was the first to be given from this district in the Allies’ great effort to restore order in a ravaged world and safety to all peace-loving peoples.
Nearly two months ago this young man—the son of a retired Army officer—was presumed to have lost his life when serving his country as a pilot of the Royal Air Force, but the waters of the Skagerrak enclosed him until last Friday. It was then that he was found upon the shore of Denmark.
The simple village of Klitmoeller paid every possible honour to the British airman; he was wrapped in a Union Jack, and they stood at his grave in silent understanding and profound sympathy. Their coastguards placed some flowers on his resting place, and the authorities of the district were there to express the sorrow of a kindly people.
One day pilgrims from Northamptonshire will stand by that grave in Jutland, and at all times the name of Klitmoeller will bring to us the memory of a first and gallant sacrifice—a deeply moving incident in the local history of this war.