A seven-man Royal Air Force bomber crew killed when they were shot down over south-west Germany in September 1943 has been honoured at the largely forgotten crash site.
Parts of the 90 Squadron Stirling aircraft were discovered in a field outside the village of Limburgerhof.
Now, for the first time relatives of each of the airmen have seen where they died and witnessed the unveiling of a special memorial stone.
The Royal Air Force bomber crashed 74 years ago with the seven crew members – five British, a Canadian and a New Zealander – all perishing.
Eighteen of the airmen’s relatives went to the memorial but only because of the work of Erik Wieman.
Last year, Erik pinpointed the position where the plane came down outside the village.
The former Dutch marine, who works with archaeologists in a crash site research group, told Forces News:
“We’re interested in these crash sites. We want to make them public again because we walk fields. Nobody knows about it and then I start to look in my direct area and when I heard about this site we start our research here.”
“We found a lot of plane parts. Bigger, smaller plane parts of aluminium from the fuselage, from the wings. Parts from the engine.”
The bomber and its crew from 90 Squadron were shot down on September 6th, 1943.
Excavations at the crash site revealed 2000 aircraft parts and Wieman says finding them was made much easier by speaking to local eye witnesses.
“They were the clue. They were my golden link to the past.”
Local Friederich Wagner now in his eighties told us that he will never forget that night.
As an eleven-year-old Friederich remembers the burning aircraft narrowly missing his home and seeing the body a crew member on his father’s land.
“It was coming towards us he says then suddenly rose up and just cleared the roof.”
The airmen who flew Stirling Echo Foxtrot 129 are buried in the Rheinberg military cemetery.
Wieman also managed to trace and invite relatives of all seven crew members including Chris Gray who never knew his father Sgt John Gray.
“It’s something that I never ever thought would happen. So to come here, to visit the site where so many of his friends and crew and suchlike perished is quite something.”
This is not the only Second World War crash site that Erik Wieman is investigating, he knows of at least another twenty in the area.
Once again he plans to trace relatives and mark the sites with permanent memorials.