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Forces War Records Blog


In April 1945 four crew members of an RAF Boston Bomber set off on a mission to attack a bridge on the River Po, Italy. Unfortunately, they never returned and it is only now, 68 years after their deaths that they have finally been laid to rest with military honours at Padua War Cemetery in Italy.
According to the BBC, the remains were only just discovered in 2011 by some archaeologists, near the city of Ferrara, Italy. It is believed that the RAF plane was shot down by German anti-aircraft fire and that everyone on board died in the crash. Three of the flyers were British - the pilot, Sergeant David Raikes, the navigator, Flight Sergeant David Perkins, and the wireless operator and gunner, Flight Sergeant Alexander Bostock. They were all aged 20. The crew's other gunner was an Australian - Warrant Officer John Hunt, of the Royal Australian Air Force - who was just a year older. The four men who served in 18 Squadron, took off from Forli in Northern Italy in April 1945, during the last few days of World War II. If they could have survived for just 10 more days they would have witnessed the Allied victory in Italy and then peace in Europe. Pilot Sergeant David Raikes, who led the mission,  poignantly used to write about his World War II comrades who never returned from war, before his own ill-fated mission. Below is a moving exert from one of his poems ‘Let it Be Hushed’: “Till minutes changed to hours, and still no news. One went to bed; but roused by later crews, Asked 'were they back yet?' And being answered 'No', Went back to sleep One's waking eyes sought out the empty beds, And 'Damn', you said, 'another kit to pack.” The wreck was eventually found by a group of Italian amateur enthusiasts, Archeologi dell'Aria - who have so far found 16 missing aircraft. Fabio Raimondi, the organisation's founder, says he once heard a story from a local man in his hometown of Copparo, near Ferrara, about a plane coming down in nearby farmland at the end of the war. Apparently the plane wreck had burned for two days and its shell picked at for valuable metal. However either German or Italian forces later covered much of the wreckage in the crater that the crash had caused. Raimondi says that as he and his team worked to retrieve the remains of the crew and told the BBC: "To find and identify the remains of four flyers is very important. With the funeral we close this circle." Source: BBC
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