The RAF’s Queen’s Colour Squadron (QCS) remove the Union Flag from Flt Sgt Hurrell’s coffin before laying him to rest (Picture: copyright J.A.M.Y. (Jacqueline) Spijkerman, Senior Communications Advisor, Netherlands Ministry of Defence).
The RAF's Queen's Colour Squadron (QCS) remove the Union Flag from Flt Sgt Hurrell's coffin before laying him to rest (Picture: J.A.M.Y. (Jacqueline) Spijkerman, Senior Communications Advisor, Netherlands Ministry of Defence).
WWII

Second World War airman laid to rest 78 years after fatal flight

The RAF’s Queen’s Colour Squadron (QCS) remove the Union Flag from Flt Sgt Hurrell’s coffin before laying him to rest (Picture: copyright J.A.M.Y. (Jacqueline) Spijkerman, Senior Communications Advisor, Netherlands Ministry of Defence).
The RAF's Queen's Colour Squadron (QCS) remove the Union Flag from Flt Sgt Hurrell's coffin before laying him to rest (Picture: J.A.M.Y. (Jacqueline) Spijkerman, Senior Communications Advisor, Netherlands Ministry of Defence).

An RAF airman's remains have been buried – 78 years after he was killed in action in the Second World War.

Flight Sergeant William Robert Stephen Hurrell's remains were buried at Jonkerbos War Cemetery in the Netherlands on Thursday, attended by military representatives and members of his family,  who had travelled from Australia.

The airman's remains were found in 2019, excavated from an aircraft near the village of Eefde by the Joint Recovery Team of the Netherlands Ministry of Defence.

The UK Ministry of Defence's (MOD) Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC), also known as the 'MOD War Detectives', worked with the Recovery and Identification Unit of the Royal Netherlands Army and the RAF Air Historical Branch to establish details of the aircraft.

The JCCC reviewed documents confirming the aircraft was a Typhoon MN582 of No. 175 Squadron RAF which crashed on 26 September 1944.

The MOD said Flt Sgt Hurrell was flying in a six-aircraft formation, carrying out armed reconnaissance north of Arnhem, when up to 60 enemy ME109s attacked them.

Brydie Hurrell, Flt Sgt Hurrell's great niece, said: "We grew up knowing that Bill was shot down at the end of the war and that his parents had never found him.

Flight Sergeant William Robert Stephen Hurrell who was buried in Netherlands 78 years after WW2 death.
Flight Sergeant William Robert Stephen Hurrell.

"We knew he was in the Netherlands – we just weren't sure where exactly. When we heard about the salvage project we were over the moon.

"Representing the rest of my family back home means a lot. Bill's parents and his brother, my grandfather, died never knowing where he was, but we now have closure for them and for ourselves."

Tracey Bowers, from the JCCC, said: "It has been an absolute privilege to arrange this ceremony for Flt Sgt William Hurrell and I am grateful for the help given by the community of Lochem.

"I am honoured to stand alongside his military and blood family to pay him this final tribute."

Earlier this week, a joint ceremony was held by the RAF and Royal Canadian Air Force for the seven in the British and Canadian crew of Stirling BK716 No. 218 (Gold Coast) Squadron, also at Jonkerbos War Cemetery.

After leaving Downham Market, Norfolk, on 29 March 1943 for a raid on Berlin, their airplane went missing. The crash site was eventually found, and their remains were removed in 2020.