49 Squadron Fiskerton
F/O Alex Bone (pilot) missing
Sgt Cyril Yelland (navigator) missing
P/O Bruce Watt (rear gunner) missing
Sgt Norman Foster (flight engineer) missing
Sgt Raymond White (wireless operator) missing
Sgt Ronald Cope (mid upper gunner) missing
Sgt RJ Rooney (bomb aimer) missing
Shot down 16-17 April 1943
Veteran German researcher and aviation archaeologist Uwe Benkel has found and excavated the remains of Lancaster ED427. The Lancaster was shot down on its way to Pilsen, Czechoslovakia, by anti-aircraft fire and exploded on hitting the ground.
It is believed that two bodies were removed from the wreckage soon after the crash and buried in a Mannheim cemetery. But all seven men are recorded on the Runnymede Memorial to airmen who have no known graves. Uwe and his team hope that the remains and new evidence will lead to the seven men being given a proper burial.
The 49 Squadron web site has an extract of the Missing Research and Enquiry Unit report:
On March 19th, 1947, a British detachment under Captain Martin exhumed the two coffins in Manheim. One contained a decomposed corpse, clothing and parachute remains. In the second were the badly burned remains of corpses and clothing. Identification was not possible as skulls, teeth and identification marks were missing.
Further investigation revealed that the corpse parts were not more than two bodies. On October 16th 1947, these were buried as “Unknown” in the military cemetery in Dürnbach, to the north of Tegernsee. These are the graves 19 and 20 in Row F, Area 20.
An acknowledgement for all seven airmen was turned down by the Air Ministry. The file was closed in June 1949.
The crew of the Lancaster ED427 are still officially counted today as “missing”. Only the relatives were informed of the crash site “near Dirmstein” since no-one was quite certain. Both German as well as English detachments had confused Laumersheim with Laubenheim in the documents.