WW2 bomber crew’s remains identified 80 years after plane shot down over Netherlands | Military #WW2 #bomber #crews #remains #identified #years #plane #shot #Netherlands #Military

Eighty years after they were shot down by the Germans over Dutch waters, British airmen Arthur Smart, Raymond Moore and Charles Sprack can be laid to rest after the Dutch defence ministry confirmed their remains had been identified.

Two silver-plated cigarette cases were found with the initials of the 27-year-old flight engineer Smart and 21-year-old wireless operator Moore.

Their Lancaster bomber never returned from a mission targeting Bochum in Germany on 13 June 1943. Instead the “Pathfinder” was tracked on its way home and shot down into the Dutch waters of the IJsselmeer with seven men onboard.

While the bodies of four men were washed up and buried in Stavoren, Workum and Hindeloopen, Smart, Moore and 23-year-old mid-upper gunner Sprack were registered as missing in action.

Johan Graas, of the Stichting Aircraft Recovery Group, which helped with the investigation, said the men’s families were relieved.

“It is good news that all three have been identified and amazing that the cigarette cases of Smart and Moore were found,” he said. “The goal of our foundation is to give men like them an official grave, men who gave their lives for our freedom. Alas, it has taken many years.”

The crash site was discovered in 1996 when local fishers hauled up a motor, pulled off the serial number and brought it to a museum run by the foundation, which campaigned for a salvage operation.

The British defence ministry and Commonwealth War Graves Commission are deciding when and where the burial will take place.

There are thought to be 30-50 crash sites in the Netherlands containing remains of missing second world war fighters.

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“We have ended a very valuable and extraordinary journey,” said Petra van den Akker, the head of heritage at Súdwest-Fryslân council. “It is never certain whether you will actually find missing people in a salvage operation.

“The three missing crew members, Smart, Sprack and Moore, whose location was not known for sure by their families for 80 years, can now at last be brought to their final resting place.”

#WW2 #bomber #crews #remains #identified #years #plane #shot #Netherlands #Military

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