Seven crew members of 148 squadron RAF laid to rest Credit MOD 241018.jpg

WWII Halifax Crew Laid To Rest 75 Years After Deaths

Communication with the aircraft was lost after seven crew members embarked on a supply mission from Italy.

Seven crew members of 148 squadron RAF laid to rest Credit MOD 241018.jpg

The service was held almost 75 years after the crew members died. (Picture: MOD)

Seven RAF crew members have finally been laid to rest almost 75 years after they were killed whilst carrying out a supply mission over Albania.

On 29th October 1944, the crew from 148 (special forces) Squadron were onboard the RAF Halifax JP244 aircraft that took off from Brindisi, Italy to carry out a supply dropping mission. But some time later, all communications were lost with the aircraft.

The special operations record book noted: "Nothing further was heard from this aircraft and must be presumed lost. It was seen to drop its load on the target."

The wreckage from the aircraft was found recently following wildlife fires in Albania.

On Wednesday, the crew were laid to rest with a burial service at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Tirana Park Memorial Cemetery in Albania.

Seven crew members of 148 squadron RAF laid to rest Credit MOD 241018
The coffin passed the Albanian Guard of Honour. (Picture: MOD)

The service was conducted by the Reverend Flight Lieutenant Jonathan Stewart Station Chaplain RAFC Cranwell and was supported by members of The Queen's Colour Squadron RAF.

Reverend Jonathan Stewart said: "It is a real privilege for me to be involved, laying to rest members of this RAF crew who undertook such an important mission to help bring us the freedom that we all enjoy today.

"Even though many years have passed, this is a poignant moment for all concerned."

The seven crew members remembered were: Flying Officer Edwin John Stubley - RAFVR (Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve) Pilot, Sergeant Charles Mabbs - RAFVR Navigator, Sergeant Alfred Coote - RAFVR Engineer, Flight Sergeant John Thompson - RAF Gunner, Flight Sergeant Ernest Logan Brown - RAFVR Despatcher/Bomber, Flight Sergeant Austin Donnelly - RAFVR Gunner and Sergeant Richard Charles Knee - RAFVR Wireless Operator.

The daughter of Sergeant Charles Mabbs, Kath Gammie who travelled with her daughter Fiona Fisher to the ceremony, said:

"I found the ceremony very moving and felt that it would have made so much difference to my mother, who died never knowing what happened to her beloved husband.

"She spent years trying to find out and at last, as a family, we have closure."

The Queen’s Colour Squadron prepare to raise the coffin Credit MOD
The ceremony helped bring closure to the families of the crew members. (Picture: MOD)

The nephew of Flight Sergeant John Thompson, Brian Webster, said:

"The ceremony today is the final piece in the jigsaw of this amazing story, from the finding of the wreckage to the burial of the crew, we feel humbled and are grateful to all concerned."