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War grave in Watling Street Cemetery, Dartford, set to be restored

A young history enthusiast who was trying to find out more about a Second World War pilot so he can restore the airman’s grave has found success.

Jake Etheridge, 21, stumbled across information on Flight Lieutenant Zdzislaw Henryk Przygodzki in the Kent History Forum, an online community of local history enthusiasts.

When he visited the gravestone in Watling Street Cemetery, Dartford, he was sad to see faded lettering and weeds growing.

In an article that appeared in the Messenger last year, Mr Etheridge volunteered to pay for restoration work himself, but because the grave is private, the Commonwealth Graves Commission (CWGC) was unable to help.

Jake Etheridge beside the unkempt grave of Flt Lt Zdzislaw Przygodzki, in Watling Street Cemetery, Dartford

He was told last year that although Dartford Borough Council is responsible for the cemetery, it requires the permission of the plot owner, Rose Woolsey, before any work can be done.

Mr Etheridge, of Fulwich Road, Dartford, said: “After the article appeared in the Dartford Messenger, a gentleman contacted me with evidence to suggest the grave owner, a Rose Woolsey, died in 1971.

“Having taken this new information to the CWGC, they have inspected the site and the Commission agree that the private memorial does not ‘adequately commemorate’ the airman.

“They will replace the memorial with a Commission headstone, once permission has been gained from the council.”

Zdzislaw Henryk Przygodzki was just 26 when he was killed in action.

The unkempt grave of Flt Lt Zdzislaw Przygodzki

The corroded headstone reads: “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Flt Lt Przygodzki was born on July 12, 1918, and flew with 316 “City of Warsaw” fighter squadron. Several Polish squadrons were formed in the Second World War and many fought during the Battle of Britain.

On September 8, 1944, he took off from RAF Coltishall. He was forced to return to base due to bad weather, but his aircraft landed near Bayfield Hall in Norfolk.

It is not known why Flt Lt Przygodzki was buried in Dartford but it is presumed he must have known Rose Woolsey in some way.

The grave was designed for more than one person to be buried in it. After nearly 70 years, Flt Lt Przygodzki is the only one in the tomb.

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