Graveside promise to Scots pilot

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During a holiday to Northern France, Ayrshire man Robert Taylor came across the grave of an Edinburgh pilot who died during a wartime mission in February 1944. Catherine Lyst recounts his two-and-a-half-year quest to trace the young airman's relatives.

Flt Sgt Archibald Blyth Kirkwood's headstone read: "Treasured memories of Archie our beloved elder son and brother."

Robert and his wife Elizabeth, from Dalmellington, Ayrshire, also noted the next grave, that of Flying Officer James Arthur MacDonald, from Vancouver.

Concerned that 23-year-old Archie had been buried so far from his home, Robert Taylor later make a pledge to track down his relatives.

Returning to the cemetery a year later they noticed a framed photograph of Mr MacDonald had disappeared and learned the cemetery had been vandalised.

Robert managed to track down Flying Officer MacDonald's family to let them know what had happened. His next mission was to find Archie's relatives so he could put a photograph on the airman's grave.

Robert spent the last two and a half years trying to trace Archie's relatives and within three days of enlisting the help of history detective David Webster, of Ross Genealogy, he was in contact with Alistair Dick, a nephew Archie never met.

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