Missing RAF bomber crew to rest in peace in the Netherlands

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by syscom3, Aug 31, 2006.

  1. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

    Jun 4, 2005
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    Amazing that the MIA crews that served in the ETO are still being found.


    Missing bomber crew to rest in peace in the Netherlands
    29 Aug 06

    The 64 year old mystery of a missing bomber crew has finally been
    solved after the remains of British and New Zealand airmen were
    discovered by the Royal Netherlands Air Force.

    The crew of Stirling W7624 will now be able to rest in peace when
    they are buried with full military honours on Thursday, 31 August
    2006 in Ambt-Delden cemetry, Delden, in the Netherlands.

    Stirling W7624 of No 15 Squadron took off from RAF Bourn,
    Cambridgshire on 27 August 1942 for a raid on Kassel city, Germany.
    But the bomber never reached its final destination. It was
    reportedly attacked by a German night fighter and crashed near
    Bentelo, in the commune of Delden, five kilometres west of Hengelo
    in the Netherlands.

    Of a force of 306 aircraft that took part in the Kassel raid, thirty
    one were lost: twenty one Wellingtons, five Stirlings, three
    Lancasters, one Halifax and one Hampden.

    And when the Stirling went down all on board were lost: Flight-
    Sergeant H Barton-Smith (Pilot), Flight-Sergeant K Wakefield
    (Navigator), Sergeant L E Moss (Air Bomber), Flight-Sergeant J V
    Robinson (Flight Engineer), Sergeant P S Sharman (Wireless Operator)
    Flight-Sergeant E F Talbot (Mid Upper Gunner) and Flight-Sergeant A
    Smith (Rear Gunner).

    The body of Flt-Sgt A Smith, the rear gunner, was the only crew
    member to be recovered at the time. Two other unidentified bodies,
    believed to be members of the crew, were also found and buried next
    to Rear Gunner Smith in Delden.

    It seemed that the fate of the rest of the crew would continue to
    remain a mystery until, in May 2005, the Royal Netherlands Air Force
    excavated the site of a crashed World War Two aircraft. The aircraft
    was identified by serial numbers on its engines as Stirling W7624.
    And during the excavation itself a very small quantity of human
    remains were discovered.

    Relatives of the crew were subsequently traced by staff of the Joint
    Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC), the focal point for MOD
    casualty reporting and related issues, and informed of the
    discovery. They were assisted by the New Zealand authorities. Given
    that over 60 years have elapsed since the end of the Second World
    War this was a time consuming and difficult task.

    Ian Wilkins of the Historic Casework Team at the JCCC explained the
    significance of the burial:

    "Over sixty years after the end of the Second World War, it is
    important we do not forget the sacrifices made by RAF aircrew, like
    the crew of Stirling W7624. They are the basis of the freedom all of
    us in Europe now enjoy.

    "The fact that we have been able to trace relatives of all the crew
    of this aircraft and inform them of the discovery will hopefully
    allow them to close a chapter of their family history and provide a
    place at which they can remember and honour there relatives in
    future years.

    "The Ministry of Defence is very grateful for the efforts of the
    Royal Netherlands Armed Forces and all the local community involved
    in the recovery effort at the crash site of Stirling W7624.

    "The funeral arrangements for the crew of Stirling W7624 were made
    following consultation with the families of those killed. The grave
    will be marked by a headstone commemorating the crew and, along with
    the graves of Flt Sgt Smith and the two unnamed crew members from
    the aircraft at Ambt Delden, whose bodies were recovered at the time
    of the crash, will be maintained in perpetuity by the Commonwealth
    War Graves Commission."

    So in line with RAF tradition, MOD policy, and the wishes of the
    families, the remaining crew members will be buried in a single
    coffin with a single headstone next to the grave of Flt Sgt Smith.
    It somehow seems appropriate that the men who flew together and died
    together will be buried together.

    The headstone, provided by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission,
    will be engraved with the crests of the Royal Air Force and the
    Royal New Zealand Air Force and the simple words: 'Three crew of
    Stirling W7624'.

    The bomber crew will be remembered in a memorial service at the Oude
    Blasius church in Delden. Members of the Queen's Colour Squadron of
    the Royal Air Force will lead the funeral procession. At the
    cemetery there will also be a flypast by a Tornado GR4 aircraft from
    No: XV(R) Squadron, from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland, the same
    squadron to which the Stirling and its crew belonged.

    A further report, including pictures from the burial in Holland,
    will appear on the MOD website shortly.
  2. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
    Staff Member Moderator

    May 20, 2004
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    sys :

    thanks for this............may they be courageously remembered.

    and to think there are so many MIA's still somewhere in the dark woods of the Ardenne from both sides in 44-45.
  3. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Nov 28, 2004
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    To think that there are many more all over Europe, North Africa and the Far East were battles were won and lost.
  4. v2

    v2 Well-Known Member

    Nov 9, 2005
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  5. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
    Staff Member Administrator

    Sep 17, 2004
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    Rest well, gentlemen. :salute:

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