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Thread: Sgt R W Airey 78 Sqn

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    Default Sgt R W Airey 78 Sqn

    Sgt Ron Airey was the rear gunner of Halifax 111, LW509, of 78 Sqn. The aircraft was shot down on 24 Feb 44 on a raid against Schweinfurt. What happenened to Ron Airey has been a mystery and his name appears on the Runneymede Memorial.

    The late navigator of the crew, Plt Off Ken Smith, told me how upset he and the rest of the crew were not knowing what had happened to Sgt Airey. They wer shot down by a night-fighter some 10-15 minutes short of the target. Ken said that the rear gunner, Sgt Airey, baled out first and his last words were 'Going out now Skip'.

    I have been trying to find out where the aircraft crashed and what happened to Sgt Airey since hearing the story. I eventually found out that LW509 came down in a forested area at Obersulm- Willsbach and that a body was found near the crash site. The translation was a little confusing, but it appears that either the parachute failed or that he fell out of his harness. The body was buried in the local cemetery. This body was exhumed in 1947 by the Army Graves Commission and taken to the Allied War Cemetery at Durnbach am Tegernsee.

    The CWGC confirmed that only one body was recovered from Obersulm-Willsbach and that is buried as an unknown airman in Plot 1, Row K, Grave 15.

    I presented all this information to the AHB and they replied that their assessment is that my information is correct. Unfortunately there is now a laid down process to follow. The AHB, GWGC and THE MoD's Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC) study the evidence to determine whether the grave i Durnbach can be marked as that of Sgt Airey. They did say that this is not a fast process, but I am getting somewhat frustrated as I have not heard anything since providing my findings in July 2015.
    Let us hope that it will not be too much longer before yet another brave airman's final resting place can be formally acknowledged.

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    An interesting and frustrating post. Interesting from the point of what happened and frustrating from the point of the amount of time taken to confirm he is in Durnbach. I know from my own research into the incident that the pilot, confirmed that all of the crew had acknowledged the order to abandon and that both gunners were jumping from the rear crew door. Have you been able to get access to the MREU report?

    Regards

    Daz

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