Six fallen soldiers from WWII won their Final battle in Germany

The family of a WWII airman, who died when a plane crashed in a field in Germany, nearly 70 years ago, has won a battle against German property developers. They were planning to bulldoze the site for housing projects. [Via]

A Lancaster PD214 left RAF Metheringham, in Lincolnshire, on the 6th of October 1944, on a bombing raid to Bremen – one of Germany’s major industrial cities. The crew was reported missing when nothing was heard from them after they left for the mission. It was later reported by the IRC (International Red Cross) that the plane had actually gone down in a field and that German authorities had recovered two dead bodies. The actual cause of the crash was never determined, although German authorities maintained that German fighter planes gunned it down. Later, in 1946, an investigation team sent by RAF exhumed the two bodies and identified them as 20 year old rear gunner sergeant Ronald J. Paul, and 35 year old trainee pilot from Australia, flight lieutenant John C. Barlow. They were later buried in Becklingen War Cemetery.

The bodies of six other crewmembers are believed to be buried under the wreckage of the crashed plane. Flight engineer, Ronald Barton, is believed to be one of those still lying in the wreckage. After the war the location of the crash site was forgotten and was not discussed again until the family of Sgt. Ronald initiated an epic search in the German countryside and rediscovered the site.

When Sgt. Ronald family arrived at the crash site, after a long search, they were in a state of shock, because a German Construction company was about to dig up the burial site for property development. They were not willing to allow archaeologists to search for the wreckage and the remains of the soldiers, the Get West London reports.

The family had to fight a lengthy and tense battle against the property developers. This turned out to be a very painful and emotional time for the whole family, as they fought for the respect of these soldiers. They eventually won the case against the construction company and German authorities ordered the bulldozers to stop digging the crash site and allow archaeologists to excavate for the wreckage. It was a great relief for the family of Sgt. Ronald Barton, as well as for the historians and archaeologists.

The other five crewmembers that perished in the crash are:

  • Bomb aimer pilot officer Clyde J. Royal, 31 (Canada)
  • Wireless Operator Gordon S. Grogan (Surrey, UK)
  • Navigator Flt Sgt. George B. Kirby, 22 (London, UK)
  • Pilot Flt Lt. Douglas Stewart, 29 (UK)
  • Mid upper gunner Flt Sgt. James A. Fell 21 (UK)

Ian Harvey

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