David Chynoweth (the surname is Cornish in origin and his mining ancestors travelled to Alderley Edge in Cheshire to work the tin mines there) was a twin, born on 12th March 1927 and the two brothers had worked during the War at an ammunition factory at Kirby, Liverpool. Both men were conscripted in 1946 and completed their National Service together in the King’s Regiment 2nd Battalion, Liverpool. David & his brother were initially stationed at the Hook of Holland on Regimental Police Duty and, by chance, since they didn’t have any previous experience of being undertakers, they were sent to Karlsruhr in Germany to join 80 Graves Concentration Unit to work for the War Graves Commission, identifying and reburying war casualties. They were then sent to Nice in France to join 40 Graves Concentration Unit to complete the same task.
David is attached to the Stockport Veterans group, having an affinity with the Normandy veterans through his role after the war in establishing order and respect to the chaos of the make-shift burials that are the hallmark of any military campaign. He explains:
‘We were equipped with medical sheets of the men who were known to have died in a specific area and as you dug the bodies up, you had to check everything to ensure that you could identify the bodies. The details included not only the soldiers from a campaign but also airmen who had been lost on sorties as well. Unfortunately, you couldn’t always identify them, and these are the ones we had to place as UNKNOWN.
The bodies were then re-buried in War Cemeteries, similar to those we visit in Normandy with the Veterans Group. Whenever I visit these cemeteries, I always go and look at the Unknown Soldiers graves and wonder if there could have been any way that we could have identified them. But I don’t think we could have done any more than we did.’
Following his National Service, David joined the Cheshire Yeomanry Territorial Army and served with that unit for 6 years.