Kidd-May, Harold Anthony (No. 81372)

Kidd-May, Harold Anthony (Tony)

Flight Lieutenant

No. 81372, 511 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Killed on active service on Tuesday 10 August 1943 (aged 22)

No known grave

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, England (Panel 119)

Bangor and District War Memorial

Bangor Parish Church of Ireland Church (St. Comgall’s)

Bangor Grammar School

Oxford High School (this Memorial Plaque is now located in Oxford University Faculty of History, George Street, Oxford)

St. Lawrence’s Church, North Hinksey, Oxford

Barclays Bank Memorial Plaque

Barclays Bank Book of Remembrance

Family grave headstone in Bangor Cemetery, Newtownards Road, Bangor

BIOGRAPHY

In some records the family surname is May and in others, Kidd-May.

Harold Anthony (Tony) Kidd May was born at 19 Fitzwilliam Avenue, Belfast on 11 October 1920 and he was the elder son of Harold Kidd May and Cicely (Cecile) Alice May (nee Ray).  On Harold Anthony Kidd May’s birth registration his father is described as a manufacturer’s agent.  In other records he is described as an apron manufacturer.  Later the May family lived at 85 High Street, Holywood.

Harold Kidd May was born on 20 March 1898 in The Crescent, Holywood and he was a son of George Alden May and Isabel May (nee Greenfield) who were married on 7 August 1882 in University Road Methodist Church, Belfast.  George Alden May, a yarn merchant from Prospect House, Dunmurry, was a son of George May, a yarn merchant.  Isabel Greenfield from 27 Dunluce Street, Belfast was a daughter of Alexander Greenfield, a draper.

Harold Kidd May and Cicely Alice Ray were married on 29 December 1919 in St. Thomas’s Church, Oxford.

Harold Kidd May had been wounded in action three times during the First World War.  He served with the 5th Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment and was awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when in command of a company in an attack on 30th November 1917. ‘He moved about fearlessly under heavy machine gun fire directing the advance. When the advance was held up, he went forward to reconnoitre and then directed his platoons to their objectives. He superintended the consolidation with great energy and set his men a splendid example throughout’.

He suffered from gas poisoning, was invalided out of front-line service, and stationed in the Discharge Centre in Dublin.  The May family moved to Belfast and then to Merton, 25 Osborne Drive, Bangor.  Tony’s two sisters and his brother were baptised in Bangor Abbey Church of Ireland Church:

Cicely Elizabeth (born 24 July 1922; baptised 9 August 1922)

Diana Isabel (born 11 March 1926; baptised 28 March 1926)

David James (born 10 September 1931; baptised 11 November 1931)

In 1931, Master Tony Kidd-May of Merton, 25 Osborne Drive was listed as number six on the Freewill Offering Register for Bangor Abbey.

Harold Kidd May worked as a civil servant for the Inland Revenue and he died of pneumonia on 6 August 1934 (aged 36).  At his father’s funeral Tony (then aged 13) wore his father’s Military Cross.  Tony’s mother died on 7 August 1979 and both of his parents were buried in Bangor Cemetery.

Tony Kidd-May attended Bangor Grammar School from 1930 until 1934 and it was the custom for the Headmaster, Maurice Wilkins, to write obituary articles for old boys of the school who were killed in action. Of the 39 old boys killed, 36 had attended the school under his headmastership and he wrote In Memoriam articles for 30 of them. Later, in relation to Tony Kidd-May, he gave as his reason for not writing an article ‘delay in news reaching Bangor where a family had gone away’.

After Harold Kidd May died, the family moved to Greenfield House, 202 Botley Road, Oxford, and Tony attended Oxford High School.  There he was renowned for his acting ability and rugby prowess.  After leaving school he worked in Barclays Bank.

Tony Kidd-May joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, gained his Wings and, after completing an Instructors’ Course, he was based at RAF Kidlington in Oxfordshire. In November 1940, while he was giving instruction to a trainee-pilot in an Airspeed Oxford aircraft (P1094), there was an air raid and the landing lights at Kidlington were extinguished.  Tony had to make an emergency landing in a field on Boar’s Hill, Oxford. The aircraft ploughed into soft earth and the propeller tip was broken off. Tony and the trainee pilot escaped without injury and the family still has the propeller tip which Tony signed.  From there, Tony went to Canada to train pilots and whilst there he played rugby for the RAF team.  In 1943 he was posted to the New Camp in Gibraltar (there were two RAF camps in Gibraltar, the first was North Front Camp built on a racecourse and the second was New Camp built on reclaimed land next to Montague Bastion).  At the end of his tour of duty and whilst waiting for home leave, he volunteered to be the second pilot aboard an Armstrong Whitworth Albermarle GT Mark I transport plane (P1433).  Shortly after take-off this aircraft crashed into the sea some 120 miles west of Gibraltar and all 12 airmen aboard the plane were killed.  Their bodies were never recovered.

In addition to Flight Lieutenant Harold Anthony (Tony) Kidd-May eleven other airmen died that day:

  • Flying Officer Philip Oscar Davis (aged 22) from Ramsey, Huntingdonshire
  • Flying Officer James Hannan Charnock (aged 20) from Leek, Staffordshire
  • Flying Officer Douglas Charles Walter Clark, Royal Canadian Air Force
  • Flying Officer Albert William Little (aged 26), Royal Canadian Air Force
  • Flying Officer Jack Collingridge Valder (aged 34), Royal Australian Air Force
  • Flight Sergeant William Robert McLellan (aged 23), Royal Canadian Air Force
  • Flight Sergeant Raymond Douglas Crowley Smith (aged 21), Royal Australian Air Force
  • Sergeant William Brownlie Clarkson (aged 20) from Glengarnock, Ayrshire
  • Sergeant Jack Oxley (aged 21) from Morecambe, Lancashire
  • Sergeant Desmond Arthur Woods
  • Corporal Keith Treffa Alexander

Flight Lieutenant Harold Anthony Kidd-May (No. 81372) was 22 when he died and he is commemorated on Bangor and District War Memorial; in Bangor Parish Church of Ireland Church (St. Comgall’s); in Bangor Grammar School; in Oxford High School (this Memorial Plaque is now located in Oxford University Faculty of History, George Street, Oxford); in St. Lawrence’s Church, North Hinksey, Oxford; on the Barclays Bank Memorial Plaque; in the Barclays Bank Book of Remembrance and on the family grave headstone in Bangor Cemetery, Newtownards Road, Bangor.

The report of his death published in the May/June 1944 edition (Volume 19, page 85) of The Spread Eagle, Barclays Bank staff magazine contained the following:  ‘Flight Lieutenant H.A. Kidd-May of Cowley Road, Oxford Branch was reported missing from air operations in August 1943 and it is now learned with deep regret that his death has been presumed.  Flight Lieutenant Kidd-May entered the Bank on leaving Oxford High School and on his 18th birthday he joined the RAFVR.  He spent two years in Canada as an Instructor but volunteered for fighter operations and returned to England in December 1942.  An enthusiastic sportsman he won school colours for swimming and also specialised in squash and rugger, playing scrum half for his schools and for the Old Citizens, as well as for the RAF in Canada where he once flew to Winnipeg through a blizzard to take part in a match.  Although of a shy nature, he made many friends and his death at the early age of 22 is deeply deplored’.