The Airmen's Stories - F/Lt. R F Rimmer
Reginald Frank Rimmer was born on 6th February 1919 in Southport, the son of a First World War pilot, who later flew with Alan Cobham's Flying Circus.
In the mid-thirties Mr Rimmer began a business giving pleasure flights in an Avro 504K from beaches along the Welsh coast and from suitable fields in Cheshire. During the war he test-flew new aircraft manufactured at Speke. In the thirties the family lived at Wirral, Cheshire and in 1940 were at Meols.
Reginald Rimmer joined the RAF on a short service commission in March 1937. He was posted to 10 FTS Tern Hill on 9th May and joined 66 Squadron at Duxford on 27th November 1937.
Over Dunkirk on 2nd June 1940 Rimmer damaged a He111. He was posted to 229 Squadron at Wittering later in the month. On 15th September Rimmer claimed a Do17 destroyed and shared a He111.
Rimmer was shot down and killed in combat with Me109's on the 27th. His Hurricane, V6782, exploded over Franchise Manor Farm, Burwash. Rimmer was 21 years old. He is buried in Grange Cemetery, Hoylake, Cheshire and is remembered on a memorial plaque at the farm near the crash site.
(Above photograph courtesy of Adrian Cork)
In 2013 the owner of Franchise Manor, Stephen Fitzgerald, kindly commissioned a new, more permanent memorial and sought the advice of the Shoreham Aircraft Museum. They have considerable experience of this thanks to their programme of placing engraved stone memorials at crash sites of RAF aircraft within a 15-mile radius of the museum at Shoreham, Sevenoaks, Kent.
Such projects involve a considerable amount of preparation and it was mid-2014 before everything came together. It was decided to set the unveiling date for Saturday 27th September 2014, 74 years to the day since Reginald Rimmer's loss.
Astonishingly after such a passage of time, more than fifty members of Reginald's family were able to attend on the day and made a most generous gesture by engaging a Hawker Hurricane from Biggin Hill to perform a flypast at the close of the unveiling service.
Rev. Alan Weaver of Jarvis Brook officiates
Daniel Rimmer (nephew) reads from one of Reginald's last letters home
Mrs. Josephine Huxley (Reginald's niece, who travelled from Canada for the service) lays a wreath after unveiling the memorial.
The Guard of Honour was marshalled by F/Sgt. Mark Hobbs and consisted of cadets from 1414 (Crowborough) Squadron ATC and standard bearers from Bexhill-on-Sea and Battle branch of the RAF Association.
The memorial unveiled
Pilot of the Hurricane, Clive Denney, accepts a photo of Reginald that was carried in the cockpit during the flypast
A short video of the service can be seen at:
A portrait of Reginald by Geoff Nutkins, curator of Shoreham Aircraft Museum
After the Hurricane waggled its wings in farewell everyone made their way to Franchise Manor where a most enjoyable reception was hosted by the Fitzgerald family.