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Search for descendants of Sgt Roland Hill (d. Aug 1943)

FrosteeMARIA

LE
Gallery Guru
The body of an airman shot down over Nazi Germany is set to be exhumed from a swamp where he has lain buried with his stricken aircraft for the past 70 years.

Sergeant Roland Hill, from Leicester, was flight engineer aboard Halifax bomber HR930 when it was brought down during a night raid on Berlin in August 1943.

The 32-year-old, of 158 Squadron, perished in the crash along with the rest of the seven-man crew.

Two of the airmen were recovered by German soldiers before the bomber sank without trace into the bog.

The crash site – 35 miles to the north of Berlin – was discovered in 2002 as the marsh dried up and wreckage was pushed to the surface.

But it has taken until now for German archaeologists to get permission from the authorities to excavate the site, raising hopes that Sgt Hill and the crew can finally be given a proper burial.

Roy Rudham, secretary of the Royal Air Force Association, Leicester branch, said: "It would be fitting for a man who gave his life for his country and our freedoms, paying the ultimate sacrifice with his comrades.

"Until now, the only memorial to Sgt Hill has been an inscription of his name on the air force's Runnymede Memorial, in Surrey.

"It's astonishing that his body has lain inside his aircraft, hidden from view, for all this time."

Bomber Command suffered the heaviest casualties – 55,573 killed – of any branch the British armed forces during the war.

"Unlike their counterparts in the Army, who for the most part were buried together near the site of major battles, airmen were scattered throughout occupied Europe and many were never found at all," said Roy.

He plans to approach association members about establishing a memorial to Sgt Hill in Leicester.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission name Sgt Hill's parents as William and Mary Ada Hill, of Leicester.

It is not known at this stage whether there are relatives of the airman still living in Leicestershire.

The two crew members pulled from the wreckage – Australian air gunners Flt Sgt Harley Harber, 27, and Sgt Arthur Cox, age unknown – are buried in the Berlin 1939-45 war cemetery.

Others in the crew were Australian pilot Flt Sgt William Burgum, aged 21, Canadian Flt Sgt Gordon Harrison, age unknown, and British aircrew Sgt Peter Buck, 20 and Sgt Donald Hempstock, 21.

Families of the men are calling on the Government to help fund the £50,000 project to recover the plane.

An MoD spokesman said: "The MoD does not fund archaeological digs of historic aircraft. However, if human remains are found, in co-operation with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the MoD will inform families, fund a burial in the area where the remains are found and support close family members attending a funeral service."

The spokesman said that all RAF aircraft belong to Her Majesty's Government, but normally any wreckage is gifted to a local museum if one is willing to take them.

If you are a relative of Sgt Hill, contact David Owen on 0116 222 4277 or e-mail him at:

davidowen@leicestermercury.co.uk

Read more: Airman shot down over Nazi Germany may get funeral, 70 years after his death | Leicester Mercury
 
As the son of a WW2 Halifax pilot I sincerely hope this trace story works out while there's still the chance of living relatives out there. Lest we forget.
 

Brotherton Lad

LE
Kit Reviewer
Popped into the CWGC cemetery in Berlin last August. As ever, very well-maintained:





Mainly RAF, some POWs and those who have died since 1945.

CWGC - Cemetery Details
 
BL, did you ever get out to the CWGC WW I cemetery at Stahnsdorf when you were with Brixmis?

Incidentally the centre rows each of seven graves are of complete bomber crews.
 
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Brotherton Lad

LE
Kit Reviewer
BL, did you ever get out to the CWGC WW I cemetery at Stahnsdorf when you were with Brixmis?

Incidentally the centre rows each of seven graves are of complete bomber crews.


Sadly, no. It was the Russian speakers who went. Thanks for the bit about the rows of seven. I didn't know that.
 

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