Charles Darby Memorial.
The East Battery, near the lighthouse, is where the Beachcombers erected their memorial to Staff Sgt. Charles S. Darby, little remembered today for his artwork but very much honored for service to his country during World War II. He was killed in 1944 when his plane was shot down over Holland. In 1946, the Beachcombers placed a driftwood cross with a bronze plaque by the sculptor William Boogar on the grounds of the Art Association. After the plaque was stolen, the cross was removed to Long Point.
¶ Adapted from Building Provincetown (2015).
Amy Whorf McGuiggan wrote on 25 February 2014: Charles Sinkler Darby (1908-1944) arrived in Provincetown by motorcycle from the Washington, D.C. area sometime in the early 1930s. He immediately fell in love with the quaintness of the town and, in short time, became a year-rounder, exhibiting painter and beloved member of the Beachcombers Club. Drafted in 1942, S/Sgt. Darby became a radio operator with the 77th Troop Carrier Squadron, based in England, that participated in five major airborne operations in Europe from June 6, 1944 until VE-Day. On October 17, 1944, Charles Darby was radio operator on a mission to airlift supplies to advancing Allied armies. Weather conditions were excellent on the continent but marginal over the English coast. On its return to England the plane crashed into a hillside in Southern England, killing all four crew members instantly. Initial reports stated incorrectly that Darby had been shot down over Holland, the confusion stemming from the fact that in September, 1944, just a month before the fatal crash, Darby and his crew had parachuted from their burning plane after being hit with enemy fire over Holland. It was Darby’s grief-stricken father who proposed, to the Beachcombers, that a plaque, fastened to a stone, might be set on a dune overlooking the ocean. “I only thought,” wrote Mr. Darby to the Beachcombers, “that it would, in some small way, tie more closely Charles to his beloved Provincetown.” The cross, built of an old railroad tie by artists Phil Malicoat, Roger Rilleau and John Whorf, was dedicated at the Art Association (across the street from the Beachcombers Club) in October, 1946. It was moved to Long Point in the early 1960s, fulfilling Mr. Darby’s wish.
Tim McCarthy wrote on 26 June 2016: I was just at Long Point and shot a photo of the flag-draped cross but knew nothing about Airman Darby until I returned home and read this. The striking thing is the realization that the flag is periodically replaced as evidenced by the many remnant flag spines that remain when a new one is tacked up. The current flag is a bit tattered but I am sure that it will, too, be replaced.