A LONG forgotten World War I pilot and former Welsh Regiment officer has been remembered, his memorial stone renovated and family members traced, thanks to a Pembrokeshire aviation historian.

Malcolm Cullen, of Marloes, first spotted pilot’s wings on the memorial at Llanion town cemetery, Pembroke Dock, but had difficulty in deciphering the inscription.

The impressive cross, set on a Cornish granite plinth, was placed by the family of Captain Benjamin Stewart Buckingham Thomas, MC, of Gwyther Street, Pembroke Dock, who died on October 4, 1918 when two RAF Bristol Fighter biplanes collided. He was 24.

Captain Thomas served as a Welsh Regiment infantry officer on the Western Front and was awarded the Military Cross for heroism during the Battle of La Boiselle, part of the Somme offensive of 1916.

In 1917 he trained as a pilot and joined 11 Squadron RAF, flying many operational patrols in 1918. He died just weeks before the war ended and is buried at Greviller Cemetery, France.

Malcolm has restored the memorial area and arranged for a stonemason to revamp the inscription. His research locally traced the pilot’s nephew, Mr Benjamin Stewart-Thomas, who lives near Broad Haven.

Mr Stewart-Thomas and his wife, Judith, attended the service of re-dedication, conducted by Air Cadets Padre Rev’d Grayham Passmore. The memorial was unveiled by the Mayor of Pembroke Dock, Cllr George Manning, assisted by Deputy Mayor Cllr Maria Williams. Last Post and Reveille were played by Cindy Hissey and Royal British Legion and Royal Welsh Standards were carried by Reg Thomas and Harry Knight.

Wreaths were laid by Mr Stewart-Thomas, Warrant Officer Lee Halsall, representing the Royal Welsh Regiment, and Warrant Officer Greg Moodie, representing 11 Squadron, RAF.

A reception was later held at Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre where photographs and records of Captain Thomas’ wartime service have been added to the digital archive.

Pictured following the re-dedication of the Captain BSB Thomas, MC, memorial are Rev’d Grayham Passmore, Warrant Officer Lee Halsall, Warrant Officer Glen Moodie, Reg Thomas, Mr Benjamin Stewart-Thomas and Mrs Judith Stewart-Thomas, Harry Knight, Cllr George Manning, Cllr Maria Williams and Malcolm Cullen.