Ring of World War Two pilot returned to family 71 years after crash

The ring of a World War Two pilot, which was lost when his plane crashed in Albania, has been returned to his family after more than 70 years.

Sergeant John Thompson was a pilot flying with the Royal Air Force when his plane crashed in 1944.

John was on a special mission taking supplies and assistance to Allied forces on the ground in Albania who were fighting Nazi troops.

It was not until 1960 that an Albanian man, Jaho Cala, found the ring which was still on John’s finger at Sinoi Mountain. He hid it away because he did not want to have to declare what he had found to the then communist authorities in Albania. It was only when he was on his death bed did he tell his son about the ring and told him that he should try to find its owner.

Xhemil Cala undertook a long search to find out who the ring belonged to. He initially contacted the British and US embassies in Albania, who went on to investigate the location of the ring and who could be its owner. After three months the British embassy notified Xhemil that it belonged to John Thompson, who had been killed in the crash.

John’s family was notified and this week a ceremony took place at the Albanian Defence Ministry in the country’s capital of Tirana. The ring was handed over to John’s family, including four nephews and his sister Dorothy Webster who is now 92. Along with his ring the family were presented with a box of debris from the Halifax bomber which John was piloting.

The family say they are overwhelmed by the find this many years after John’s death. His sister recalls how her parents never locked the front door of their house as they waited for their son to return, the Mail Online reports.

The British government never informed John’s parents or family about what happened to him, since he was part of a secret mission.

Ian Harvey

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