Romford War Memorial Social Club hunt for town’s “forgotten war hero”: Sgt Frank Earnshaw

The team renovating the memorial to Romford’s Second World War dead is appealing for information about a “forgotten war hero”.

Romford-born upper gunner Sgt Frank Earnshaw was 22 when his Lancaster Bomber was shot down in the north of Holland following a raid on Leipzig, east Germany, on October 20 1943.

All seven of the plane’s crew died. Their names are recorded at a site in the Netherlands – but Frank was unknown to the Romford War Memorial committee until a Dutch historian called Jan Ridderbos got in touch asking for a photo.

“We took pictures of the plaques and wrote down all the names,” said the club’s Jai Sepple. “Frank Earnshaw’s name isn’t on the memorial even though he was a 22-year-old from Romford. He’s a forgotten war hero.

“We were a little bit distraught to see that his name wasn’t on the board. It’s a bit sad and a bit strange.”

Frank’s body is buried in Assen in the Netherlands. No photo of him has been traced, but Mr Ridderbos - who is researching war dead - believes his parents were called William Henry and Dorothy Earnshaw. No other information is known about him save his name, age and hometown.

Now the war memorial committee plans to honour Frank with a new inscription on the original memorial, which is due to be fully restored and reopened to mark its 60th anniversary in October 2013.

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Mr Sepple hopes to trace Frank’s family so they can be invited to the unveiling – along with anyone else who lost family members during the Second World War.

“We want to put a list on the website with the photos of the dead and invite family members along to the unveiling,” said Mr Sepple. “With so many names on the memorial, there have to be some with family who still live around Romford.

“The committee is desperately looking to hear from anyone who may have lost family members during the Second World War – either civilians or service personnel,” he added.

If you have any information about Frank or his family, or if a member of your family from Romford died in the war, contact the committee on (01708) 742 862 or