History group trace family of First World War pilot for memorial

This photo, which will be part of the exhibition on Eric, appears to show British soldiers at his funeral.
This photo, which will be part of the exhibition on Eric, appears to show British soldiers at his funeral.

There will an added note of poignancy in a French village for Remembrance Day this year, as residents recall the life of a young First World War pilot from Winster.

The people of Masny, near the Belgian border, will be holding an exhibition in tribute to William Eric Nixon this weekend.

Known as Eric, the Royal Flying Corps captain was just 19 when his plane was shot down over the village in 1917.

Though his life has been memorialised in Masny for many years, this will be the first time events will include Eric’s relatives, after Winster Local History Group helped trace them.

Chairman Geoff Lester said: “Little was known about Eric in Winster until Loic Coet, a resident of Masny, contacted us for information.

“Eric’s is the First World War grave in Masny, so there is a lot of interest in him there and his death is solemnly remembered there every year.”

The history group eventually enlisted the help of local genealogist Charlie Watson, who managed to track down Eric’s relatives in Hampshire.

Geoff said: “I’m very proud that our group could help. This is exactly the kind of situation for which our resources should be used.

“In the centenary year of his death, the hopes of the people of Masny have been realised, and their commemoration will be complete.”

Eric, the son of the village vicar, was one of 23 men from Winster killed in the war.

A photo from Masny appears to show his coffin carried by six British soldiers under the supervision of a German soldier.