02-16-2012, 09:35 PM #1
France - 71 years later, RAF flying ace Derek Allen's body found at Poix-de-Nord
Truly they were the Great Generation. And hats off to historian Andy Saunders.
Body of WWII RAF ace finally found (Daily Telegraph)
Flying Officer Derek Allen crammed more aviation heroics into eight days than many RAF comrades did in six years of World War II.
The 22-year-old flyer saw frenetic fighting almost every day in his short career and was credited with four outright and three shared enemy kills.
He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for bringing down a German bomber wreaking havoc on British armour during the Battle of France in May 1940.
In the same action his Hurricane plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire, forcing him to bale out. He spent 24 hours walking through enemy territory to get back to his squadron.
Exhausted, he went into battle again two days later but his plane was hit and crashed on farmland in northern France, killing him.
He was listed as missing in action presumed dead and his status remained that way for seven decades until historian Andy Saunders began researching the case.
After getting approval from Allen’s family and French officials, Saunders conducted excavations and found small parts of the downed plane. That evidence convinced the RAF Historical Branch to look deeper into their files for Allen’s old records, and eventually they confirmed that his body was buried in an unmarked grave in the village of Poix-de-Nord, near Cambrai.
When Allen’s parents were first told their son was missing in action, it was hoped that he might have been captured by the Germans and still be alive. Much later in the war, a RAF adjutant visited to tell them his plane had crashed and he was presumed dead. When the war ended in 1945, Derek Allen was one of 40,000 missing British airmen.
Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour. -- Prime Minister Winston Churchill, speaking in the House of Commons, 18 June 1940, one month after 22-year-old Flying Officer Allen disappeared
02-16-2012, 10:10 PM #2
I wish they would find this one.
She was Gertrude Tompkins
Teams search Santa Monica Bay for remains of N.J. World War II pilot who disappeared 65 years ago
What Jacobs saw was probably the final flight of a military pilot — a newly married woman from the New Jersey city of Summit — who had taxied a P-51D Mustang fighter plane out of Los Angeles Oct. 26, 1944, and disappeared.
She was Gertrude Tompkins, one of the 1,074 Women’s Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs, in World War II. And if a dedicated band of part-time adventurers has anything to do with it, Tompkins, the only WASP still unaccounted for, won’t be missing much longer.
02-16-2012, 11:02 PM #3
Daily Mail tells basically the same story with some additions, and has an absolute wealth of pictures of Derek Allen, and of the telegram to his parents when he was reported missing in action:
RAF hero's 8-day war: In just over a week, this pilot had seven 'kills', was
shot down and stranded behind enemy lines, then died in a blaze of glory
Mr Saunders, of Hastings, East Sussex, said: ‘The Ministry of Defence had the information for 70 years but it had just been overlooked.
‘You have to remember there were 40,000 RAF casualties who were unaccounted for by the end of the war.
‘A lot of cases were left pending and Derek Allen’s was one of those.
‘Had he survived, going at the pace he did, Derek Allen would have become one of the leading fighter aces of the Second World War.
‘He would have been up there with Douglas Bader and Robert Stanford Tuck, yet history records record him as an unknown airman.’
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