Keith Letch was born and brought up in Chelmsford. He attended the town's grammar school and after leaving worked for an accountants firm. He joined the R.A.F. in July 1941 and went to Canada in October 1941 to train as a pilot. He also trained in the United States. He returned to England the following summer and was killed in September 1942 when his aircraft was in collision with another over Cambridgeshire. He was engaged to be married. His parents lived in Swiss Avenue.
Keith was born in Chelmsford in 1921, the son of Albert Edward Letch (1887-1960) and Lucy Keyworth Letch (nee Jackson) (1885-1945).
His parents had married in 1908 and in1911 had been resident at 3 York Villas in Upper Bridge Road, Chelmsford. Keith's siblings included Winifred Margaret Letch (1909-2001), Kenneth Albert Letch (1911-1982), and Cyril G. Letch (1920-1921).
Early in 1922 Keith won second prize in the under one class at the baby show which formed part of the annual tea for employees at the Crompton engineering works in Chelmsford. In May of the same year he was placed second at the Chelmsford Borough Child Welfare Centre baby show in the class for best progress by delicate babies.
Keith was educated at King Edward VI's Grammar School in Chelmsford, before working for chartered accountants Messrs Luckin & Sheldrake of Waterloo Lane, Chelmsford. He inherited his father's interest in cricket and played the game at the grammar school and for Chelmsford.
In July 1941 he joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, where he served as Sergeant (Pilot) 1336613 . Three months later went for further training in Canada and then the U.S.A.
In late August 1942 a Chelmsford newspaper interviewed Keith on his return to England:
"HOSPITALITY OF THE AMERICANS
Sergeant-Pilot Keith Letch, of the R.A.F., youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. A. E. Letch, of First Avenue, Chelmsford, has his American "wings" as welt as those of the R.A.F. He is now home on short leave. Before the war. Keith was engaged at the oflice of Messrs. Luckin and Sheldrake in Chelmsford. He joined the R.A.F. in Ju\y, 1941. and in the following October he went over to Canada for further training. From there went to America, where he had rigorous training under the American command.
Keith speaks highly American hospitality. 'They're fine people,' he says. He has been in the Southern States — among the heat and the negroes. While there he was in United States training schools. 'The people were darned good,' he told me — with a very slight American accent. 'It was not uncommon to have five or six invitations out to dinner a day. People stop you in the streets and offer you their hospitality. I thought it was awfully good of them, and we appreciated it. Still, it's good to be home again. I hope the Americans over here will have the same hospitality as we had over there.'"
Just over a week later Keith was dead. On 7th September 1942 he was one of four airmen from 7 (Pilot) Advanced Flying Unit at R.A.F. Sibson in Cambridgeshire killed when their two training aircraft, a Miles Master II (DL849) and (DL838), collided over Cambridgeshire.
DL849 crashed Newton Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, while DL838 fell at Poplar Tree Farm, Newton Wisbech. The other men killed in the incident were Sergeant [Pilot] Frederick Norman Andrew, Pilot Officer Noel Galbraith Bailey, and Sergeant (Pilot) Donald David Knott.
Keith was aged 20 and was engaged to Mary Turner of Swiss Avenue, Chelmsford. His parents were resident at 58 First Avenue, Chelmsford, the address given as his 'usual abode' in his burial register.
Keith's funeral service was held at Hall Street Methodist Church, Chelmsford on 12th September 1942) with burial afterwards at Chelmsford Borough Cemetery (Grave 5702). Keith was a former member of the Methodist Guild and Sunday School. In 1948 the Rev. John J. Mahoney of the Hall Street Methodist Church dedicated a dozen hymn books (provided from money remaining in the Church Forces Comforts Fund), as a memorial to Keith.
Keith LETCH, Sergeant (Pilot), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Killed in an aircraft collision over Cambridgeshire. Aged 20