Alex honours his Great Uncle Reginald
Alex, aged 8 and in Lower Prep, has just attended a ceremony in Northern Italy which named a local park after his great uncle - an RAF Gunner who died in 1944 in a daring attack on German positions as Allied Forces battled to liberate the country. Reginald Barton Stratton was killed by a shrapnel blast as 2721Sqn RAF Rgt and Italian partisans stormed a sugar factory held by the Germans in the small town of Classe Fuori, near Ravenna in Northern Italy.
The bravery of the young Leading Aircraftman and is colleagues in the RAF has never been forgotten. A campaign to pay tribute to Reginald has been led by amateur war historian Rossano Novelli; he was so moved by Reginald’s sacrifice to liberate his town, he visited the Gunner’s grave at the War Cemetery at Cesena and contacted his elderly sister (who is Alex’s grandmother) in the UK.
Rossano said: “Reginald was a young British man who fought and died for our freedom. I managed to contact his surviving family in England and they were astonished. They could not imagine that in a remote village in Italy someone was trying to recover the memory of a long-lost relative.”
LAC Stratton joined up in 1941 and joined the RAF Regiment following its formation in 1942. He was later posted to 2712 Sqn, serving in North Africa and winning the Africa Star – a medal his sister Mrs Betty Crouch still treasures. Mrs Crouch attended the naming ceremony in Italy, with her son Martin, grandson Alex and members of the RAF Regt.
“I felt very proud of my great uncle, and a very important man in the RAF let me wear his hat, “ said Alex, who played his violin at the ceremony in Italy.