Byers, Patrick Joseph Anthony (Pat)
No. 40078, 451 (RAAF) Squadron, Royal Air Force
Killed on active service on Saturday 20 September 1941 (aged 25)
Benghazi War Cemetery, Libya (Grave 8. E. 17)
Patrick Joseph Anthony Byers was born in South Africa and he was the only son of John Alexander Byers and Elizabeth Jane (Lily) Byers (nee Boyd). In accordance with a special licence granted by the Revd John Macmillan, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, they were married on 11 December 1911 in the house of the bride’s father, Anthony Boyd, who farmed in the townland of Ballyhaskin, Carrowdore. John Alexander Byers was a commercial traveller (wholesale drapery) from East Street in Newtownards (his mother Euphemia was widowed; his father, James had been a contractor).
John Alexander Byers travelled regularly to South Africa in connection with his work and, from 1902 onwards, there are records of his voyages, mostly from and to Southampton, aboard various ships including SS Guscon, SS Briton and SS Balmoral Castle. He arrived in Southampton on 10 June 1911 and, after his marriage on 11 December 1911, he and his wife travelled to Capetown aboard SS Kenilworth Castle on 16 December 1911. They settled in Cape Town and when they came back to Britain, as they did regularly, they stayed at Hillside, Ballyhaskin. In the 1920s Patrick was with them when they travelled aboard various ships including SS Balmoral Castle, SS Kenilworth Castle, SS Windsor Castle, SS Dunbar Castle and SS Carnarvon Castle.
In the 1930s Patrick Joseph Anthony Byers joined the RAF and he was promoted to the rank of Pilot Officer on 14 August 1938. In the 22 November 1941 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle it was reported that Flight Lieutenant Patrick Joseph Anthony Byers had been wounded and was being held as a Prisoner-of-War. In 1940 he had visited his uncles and aunts in the Ards area – Joseph Byers of Newtownards, Mrs T.H. Kerr of Newtownards, Alexander Boyd of Ballyhaskin, Andrew Boyd of Ballyhaskin and Mrs William Boyle of Mountpleasant, Ganaway, Millisle. In January 1942 it was confirmed that he had been killed on active service and his family placed a Killed on Active Service notice in the 24 January 1942 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle. His effects in England amounted to some £377 and his last address was recorded as Capetown. He was 25 years old when he died.
Flight Lieutenant (Pilot) Patrick Joseph Anthony Byers (No. 40078) was buried in Benghazi War Cemetery, Libya and there is an inscription on his CWGC headstone:
AGE SHALL NOT WEARY THEM NOR THE YEARS CONDEMN