RAF Nav finds shotdown body of crewmate after 60 years


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Crammed together in their unwieldy aircraft and utterly dependent on one another, the bomber crews of the Second World War forged friendships that often only death could break.

Which is why Pilot Officer Reg Wilson never forgot the night more than 60 years ago when he lost two friends in the night skies over Germany.

As he entered his old age - the memories of his youth perhaps more powerful than ever - Mr Wilson began a quest to find their remains.

Yesterday he told how at last he had succeeded in finding one of those friends, flight engineer Sergeant John Bremner, and finally laying him to rest.
Sergeant Bremner will be buried with full honours at the Heerstrasse War Cemetery in Berlin next Thursday.

'It's only right that John is honoured,' said Mr Wilson, of Chigwell, Essex.

'Thousands of good men, like John, lost their lives. It must not be forgotten. It will be an emotional, but happy, day.'

Sergeant Bremner died aged 21 on the night of January 20, 1944, when 800 aircraft raided the German capital.

Among the 27 aircraft lost was Halifax LW337 from 102 Squadron based at RAF Pocklington near York.

The aircraft - nicknamed Old Flo by her eight-man crew - was heading for home when she was hit by anti-aircraft fire.

Woodland hunt: Reg with wife Barbara in the woods in Koepenick Germany where the plane was discovered 60 years after it went down
Another survivor from Old Flo, rear-gunner Sergeant John Bushell, 84, said: 'It burst into flames from wing tip to wing tip.

'I was thrown out after hitting my head on a gun. I came to in free-fall and managed to pull the chute.'

Both he and pilot Mr Wilson, along with bomber aimer Flying Officer Laurie Underwood, now 86, and pilot Flying Officer George Griffiths survived and became prisoners of war.

The bodies of second pilot Sergeant Kenneth Stanbridge and wireless operator Pilot Officer Eric Church were buried after the war.

But Sergeant Bremner and gunner Warrant Officer Charles Dupueis were never found.
Mr Wilson, 85, a former management consultant, began his search for answers in 2005 when he travelled to Berlin with his daughter, Janet Hughes, 46, who speaks fluent German.
They met local historians and witnesses and the next year, he returned and found the wreckage with the help of a team of volunteers using metal detectors.

Final confirmation that the remains belonged to Sergeant Bremner, of Elswich, Northumberland, arrived after a DNA sample was taken from his sister Marjorie, 89, who will also attend his burial.

Mr Underwood, of Wetherby, West Yorkshire, is too ill to go and Mr Griffiths died in 1998.

A Royal British Legion spokesman said Mr Wilson's quest 'spoke of the searing and life-long impact of service in the armed services. People don't put away their war memories easily.'

Some 55,500 young men of Bomber Command died during the war.

Last night Mr Bushell, of Oakley, Bedfordshire, added: 'My abiding memory of John is singing our hearts out together at a piano bar in York. He was a war hero who gave his life for his country
Good that he is no longer "Missing". May he rest in peace.
He is unlikely though to be suitably Honoured . In a most shameful manner, the Britian's Government AND its population have abrogated all "responsibility" for the Strategic Bombing Offensive against Germany in World War II.

I think, despite the public's denial of Bomber Command's role in the Second World War, the Aircrew should still receive a campaign medal for their service to this country.

It is not a matter of morality, whether these men should receive such a medal. They simply performed the task, that their nation asked of them. Issues of the Strategic Bombing Campaigns ethics, were not theirs to address. The ethics of bombing, or the "bombing of ethics" is completely divorced from the issue of a Bomber Command Campaign medal.

The failure to so honour the aircrew, at the War's end, was a obvious political attempt, to deny the political "blame" for Bomber Command's operations.

It may be over 63 years late, but it is still possible to redress this gross injustice to Bomber Command's members.

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