Dambusters WWII hero, aged 96, and two bishops from the same church in Wolverhampton are amongst Britain’s latest coronavirus victims
- Kenneth Law Sumner died at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary on April 2
- Reverend Bishop Theophilus Augustus McCalla, 86, has also died with the virus
- He was a member of the Church Of God Of Prophecy based in Wolverhampton
- Reverend Bishop Horatio Fearon, 80s, of the same church died 24 hours earlier
- It comes as UK reported 47,806 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 4,934 deaths
A Second World War hero who was part of the famous Damusters squadron has died after contracting coronavirus.
Kenneth Law Sumner, 96, passed away at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary on April 2 after suffering a short illness and testing positive for Covid-19.
It comes after two bishops from the same church in Wolverhampton were also killed by the deadly pathogen with figures now reporting 47,806 confirmed cases and 4,934 deaths across the UK.
Kenneth Law Sumner, 96, (pictured) passed away at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary on April 2 after suffering a short illness and testing positive for Covid-19
Ken, as he was known by his friends and family, was born in Sackatchewan, Canada, but returned to the North East of England when he was a young man.
He joined the RAF aged just 18 in July 1941.
He won a Distinguished Flying Medal for his bravery while serving in ’44 ‘Rhodesia’ Squadron after flying a total of 27 operations in Lancaster Bomber planes.
Ken went on to join the famous ‘617 ‘Dam Buster’ Squadron, known for its strategically vital attacks on German dams using bouncing bombs, at 21 years old.
It was there that he met his future wife Phyllis ‘Rennie’ Reynolds to whom he was married from 1946 to her death in 2015.
Ken (left) had joined the famous ‘617 ‘Dam Buster’ Squadron, known for its strategically vital attacks on German dams using bouncing bombs, at 21 years old
Grandson Kenneth Shepherd said he and his family ‘could not have wished for a bigger hero to look up to’ than his ‘flawless’ grandfather.
He said: ‘He was a true gentlemen who never stopped loving his family, his wife of over 60 years Rennie and, of course, his cat Patchy.
‘As they say, they don’t make them like them anymore: there was never a truer saying.’
Kenneth said his whole family wanted to thank the NHS staff who had been treating the war hero.
He said the loss of his grandfather, who he had ‘really thought was going to walk out of hospital with his medals on’, further highlighted the need to observe vital lockdown rules intended to slow the spread of coronavirus and protect the elderly and vulnerable.
Ken’s death comes after two religious leaders from the Church Of God Of Prophecy in Wolverhampton were also among the latest coronavirus victims.
Reverend Bishop Theophilus Augustus McCalla MBE, 86, and Reverend Bishop Horatio Fearon, 80s, died just 24 hours apart after contracting Covid-19.
It is thought up to ten members from the same denomination, including senior ministers, have also died in recent weeks.
One churchgoer who knew both Reverend McCalla and Reverend Fearon told Sky News they were concerned that a significant number of other worshippers could die following the outbreak.
Reverend Bishop Theophilus Augustus McCalla MBE, 86, (pictured) was also among the latest coronavirus victims
Reverend Bishop Horatio Fearon, 80s, (pictured), from the same church had died just 24 hours earlier
They said: ‘The virus seems to have affected several in our community.
‘Some have died, others are still struggling with it.
‘Our small church community will not be the same when the outbreak ends because some of our key leaders, who meant so much to us, have gone.
‘We continue to pray, and trust God for recovery of those who are sick, and may the dead rest in eternal peace.’
Both men were religious leaders from the Church Of God Of Prophecy in Wolverhampton (pictured)
The Church Of God Of Prophecy has between 60 and 70 congregations across the UK.
It is understood that all public and private worship services have been suspended across all of its branches.
The deaths come as the deadly pathogen continues to spread across the UK with the latest figures reporting 47,806 confirmed cases and 4,934 fatalities.
The Dambusters: How bouncing bombs – and incredible flying by RAF pilots – flooded the Ruhr valley and delivered a crucial blow to the Nazi war machine
On May 16, 1943, 19 Lancaster bomber crews gathered at a remote RAF station in Lincolnshire for a mission of extraordinary daring – a night-time raid on three heavily defended dams deep in Germany’s industrial heartland.
The dams were heavily fortified and needed the innovative bomb – which bounced on the water over torpedo nets and sank before detonating.
To succeed, the raiders would have to fly across occupied Europe under heavy fire and then drop their bombs with awesome precision from a mere 60ft above the water.
19 Lancaster Bomber crews armed with Bouncing Bombs set off to attack several dams in Germany on May 16, 1943
The Mohne and Eder Dams in the industrial heart of Germany were attacked and breached by mines dropped from specially modified Lancasters of No. 617 Squadron.
The Sorpe dam was was also attacked by by two aircraft and damaged.
A fourth dam, the Ennepe was reported as being attacked by a single aircraft (O-Orange), but with no damage.
Up to 1,600 people were estimated to have been killed by floodwaters and eight of the 19 aircraft dispatched failed to return with the loss of 53 aircrew and 3 taken prisoner of war.
Wg Cdr Guy Gibson, Officer Commanding No. 617 Sqn, is awarded the VC for his part in leading the attack.
The raid, orchestrated by Guy Gibson and the RAF’s 617 ‘Dambuster’ Squadron, was seen as a major victory for the British, and Wing Commander Gibson is recognised as one of the war’s most revered heroes.
Their success was immortalised in the classic 1955 film The Dambusters, its thrilling theme tune and gung-ho script evoking the best of British derring-do.
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