Corby Falklands War hero's ashes to be exhumed against sister's wishes

Susan Fleming has invited friends and family to pay their respects before his ashes are taken away

By Alison Bagley
Saturday, 6th June 2020, 11:30 am

The sister of a Corby soldier who died in the Falklands War and had his ashes buried in his hometown has spoken of her distress that they are to be exhumed from his final resting place in Shire Lodge Cemetery.

Craftsman Alex Shaw, 25, who served with 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (3 Para), died with 22 other servicemen on June 13, 1982, and was repatriated to Corby for his funeral and burial of his ashes in his plot.

His sister, Susan Fleming, was a 15-year old schoolgirl when she heard that her big brother had been killed in the battle and visits the grave where their parents' ashes are also buried.

After a previous application to have Alex's ashes exhumed and reburied in The Falkland Islands where he was killed, his widow has now succeeded in having his casket moved to a military cemetery in Hampshire.

Susan told the Northants Telegraph: "This has been a very distressing time and there's nothing I can do to stop it. I visit the grave regularly to put down flowers and so do lots of other people. It's a short walk from my home and our mum and dad's ashes are buried alongside Alex according to their wishes - it's a Christian burial.

"In September 2018, I received a message from Alex’s widow, who had moved away and remarried shortly after his death.

"She said she had applied to have Alex’s ashes exhumed and returned to the Falklands. I was in total shock and disbelief. Why after all these years and why there?"

Alex Shaw

Alex was honoured last year with a visit by The Ride of Respect, a charity motorbike tour of UK graves of 23 soldiers killed in the Battle of Mount Longdon in the final days of the Falklands War. It inspired her to fight the initial plans.

She said: "After The Ride of Respect, I realised that Alex's comrades weren't all buried in the Falklands.

"With the support of family, friends and many veterans, some of whom knew my brother I filed my objection.

"Thankfully, her application was denied but she immediately applied again this time for the ashes to be placed in a military cemetery in England."

Ride of Respect to honour the memory of Falklands hero: Charity motorbike tour of grave sites of 23 fallen soldiers stopped off at Shire Lodge Cemetery, where riders were joined by Corby residents

His widow is next-of-kin and although Susan was consulted, she could not stop the exhumation.

Alex's ashes will be exhumed and taken 125 miles away to a cemetery in Bordon Hampshire.

Susan and Alex's parents, Jean and Alex senior, died in 2016 and according to their wishes, their ashes were buried in Alex's grave.

Susan said: "My parents' caskets are also buried in his grave. Their caskets will have to be disturbed too. I asked to be there when it happens but no-one is allowed to be there. I wanted to get the padre to be there but he can't be there either.

A friend of Alexs and fellow Falklands War veteran Joe McMahon, also from Corby, places a Poppy cross on Alex's grave.

"I believe it's unethical after all these years. To take my brother out of Corby far away from the people who visit him regularly.

"Unfortunately, the Ministry of Justice have agreed to her application and I understand the exhumation will take place within the next two weeks.

"I know over the years many people have visited my brother's grave and I felt it is only right to give them the opportunity to visit his grave here in Corby one last time.

"Please feel free to leave a flower or symbol of remembrance as Alex is not and never will be forgotten by the people of Corby.

“When he was killed it was terrible - I don’t think my mum and dad ever recovered from it. Above all Alex was a very special brother who was my hero before he went to the Falklands.””

Susan shared a message to her brother, writing: "To my loving brother Al, I am sorry, I tried my best. Although I won’t be able to visit you often you are always in my heart. I pray you will soon be allowed to rest in peace as is your right. Love you always and forever. Your wee skin and blister Susan xxxxxxxx."

Susan Fleming with husband Colin at the cemetery last year

⚫ Alex lost his life when 3 Para attacked the key position of Mount Longdon in the final days of the Falklands War.

⚫ His job as a Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers Craftsman with 3 Para was to keep all the weapons ready for action.

⚫ 3 Para attacked Mount Longdon in the final days of the Falklands war in 1982 and held the position under constant artillery and mortar fire for two days before advancing into Port Stanley to secure the Argentine surrender.

⚫ The members of 3 Para killed in the Battle of Mount Longdon were: Stewart Laing, Phillip West, James (Doc) Murdoch, Anthony Greenwood, Stewart McLaughlin, Mark Dodsworth, Alex Shaw, Gerald Bull, Timothy Jenkins, Keith McCarthy, Peter Higgs, Neil Grose, Jason Burt, Jonathon Crow, Peter Heddicker, Ian McKay VC, David Scott, Ian Scrivens, Richard Absolon, Stephen Hope, Craig Jones and Christopher Lovett.

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Alex Shaw
Alex and Susan when they were children
Alex's grave