Canadian Flight Sergeant Receives German Burial

A flight sergeant from Canada who died in battle during the Second World War is finally to receive a proper burial. Although it has been over seventy years since his death, the circumstances under which he died made it impossible for him to be buried until now. It has been a long time coming, but the body of the Canadian flight sergeant will finally be at peace over half a century following his demise.

The airman in question is named John Joseph Carey. He flew for Canada until close to the end of August in 1942. That was when his military career came to a tragic end, as he was gunned down by an enemy aircraft. Following his demise, he crashed into Germany’s Laacher See, where his plane was left for decades. The body of the flight sergeant was only discovered a few years ago, when divers attempted to discover whether or not the ordnance he carried on his plane was tested to ensure that it would not suddenly go off. That was when the divers found that his body was still onboard after so many years.

Flight Sgt. John Joseph Carey, 22, was killed in August 1942 when his Halifax bomber was shot down.
Flight Sgt. John Joseph Carey, 22, was killed in August 1942 when his Halifax bomber was shot down.

Once his body was found, it took some time to identify him. To be precise, it took nearly six years. While his flight records would have helped to provide some clues, it was ultimately DNA testing that confirmed the identity of the flight sergeant. This DNA was given to the authorities by one of Carey’s now-deceased brothers, with the rest of his family on standby in case further assistance was needed.

The only assistance needed from Carey’s relatives in the end was their attendance at his funeral. Soon after his identification, he was laid to rest at the Rheinberg War Cemetery. He is not by far the only Allied flight sergeant to be buried in the German cemetery, as thousands of other Allied military personnel have been buried on the same grounds. Upon his burial, he was granted military honors for his service in the Second World War, the CTV news reports.

Flight Sergeant John Joseph Carey was one of Canada’s war heroes, and many are proud to see him now given a proper commemoration ceremony and respectful burial. He died when he was merely twenty-two years of age at the time of his death, having flown with half a dozen other men on his fateful mission. Luckily, not all of the passengers died. Roughly half of them lived, with one still unaccounted for. Flight Sergeant Carey is the last of the confirmed dead to have been found so far.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE