Missing RAF bomber crew to rest in peace in the Netherlands

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Pacific Historian
Jun 4, 2005
Orange County, CA
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.
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.

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