Great Uncle Victor

I knew about my Great Uncle Victor, because I have long had a photograph of my grandmother with her siblings as children. Victor is the wee boy front right.

Connie, Ethel, Bill, Joan, Victor, and Mother holding Lewis

I remember being told as a child that Victor was a pilot, and that he had been killed in the second world war.

But recently my parents got hold of some papers from my grandmother’s archive, and there were some things from Victor there that I had never seen before.

I assume this is an official RAF portrait of him, with the badge at the bottom:

Here’s a letter that Victor wrote to my grandmother, his sister, in July 1940. He mentions my grandfather, Harry; my grandparents were married 23rd March 1940:

7 July 1940
Sergts Mess
Little Rimington
Dear Ethel, Sis,
Thanks so much for your letter, am making this a letter writing Sunday afternoon which frankly isn’t very exciting is it?
This is a huge station and we fly on advance trainers here – I am on an old twin engine (the Anson) which is quite docile and objects to more than 160mph (level). She covers the countryside well though and we have been all over the place – went to Henley and Maidenhead on Sat. which only took about 10 mins. Have pretty well exhausted all the areas in England available for flying training. Tell Harry I hope to get on the Bleinheim I fighter-bomber or a new Hampden or Hereford, I know he’s interested – we should get our wings here in about 3½ weeks.
I’d love to come and see you, usually when I get any time at weekends I hop over to Stroud which is about 35 miles. The connections at to Cheltenham are so bad that it takes me nearly 3 hours to make the journey. You must excuse terribly short letter but the numbers of expectant letter receivers would probably object to any unfairness – some poor blighter’s only getting half a page tomorrow as I’m feeling fagged. Cheerio and my love to you both, & the canary if he’s any use for it. Victor

Stroud is where Victor’s parents lived. Victor got married in November 1940, to Jeanette Lilian Adams, of Cheltenham. I have not been able to find out any more information about her so far. This is my grandmother’s invitation to their wedding:

Mr. & Mrs. R. T. Adams
request the pleasure of
Mrs Chadwick’s
Company at the Marriage of their Daughter
with Sergeant Pilot Victor L. Bagley
at the Church of St. Pauls, Cheltenham,
on Saturday, November 30th, 1940, at 3.15 p.m.
Reception afterwards at the
Cadena Corner House Promenade.
75 High Street, Cheltenham.                   R.S.V.P

After the wedding, Victor wrote this letter to my grandparents:

Horse & Jockey Hotel
Nr. Didcot
Berks 17.12.40
Dear Ethel & Harry
Thank you both for your lovely generous gift & I do so wish you could have come – but then I missed yours didn’t I.
Christmas again already & the first really different one – no doubt Bagley ghosts will walk the rooms of no.17 this 25th & Descant the 3rd verse of “O Come All Ye” in a shaky treble.

I have been kept very busy flying & will only get just the day off I fear, barely time to rush off to Chelt & back. Am sending Jean home for a week as this “pub” is closing for guests over Xmas.
Unfortunately could buy no presents this xmas as we are living on half salary (or trying to). Jeans allowance has not yet come thro’ to the post office & when it does with all the arrears we are having a large beano.
Hope soon there will come a great re-union – but this xmas a fond memory must suffice.
So here’s wishing you both the best of luck of good cheer.
God bless love from Victor

My father said, that you could find Victor online, and so I looked, and found him listed at

Victor was killed in action on 13th March 1941. He was co-pilot of a Wellington bomber, captained by Alexander Graeme Elder, and they were headed for Hamburg to drop bombs on the city. A German pilot, Paul Gildner, shot at the Wellington, which burned and crashed, killing five of the six crew.

Paul Gildner and his wireless operator inspect the wreckage of Elder and Bagley’s Wellington, by the road between Vlagtwedde and Ter Apel in the Netherlands. Image via


2 thoughts on “Great Uncle Victor”

  1. My Uncle John La Bassee Tomkinson was a wireless operator on the same flight and died just a few weeks before he was due to marry my mum. My mum went on to marry his brother (my dad) after the end of the war but she never got over the loss of Jack.

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