Belfast Telegraph

Monday 20 October 2014

WWII bomber crew buried in Italy

The remains of a Second World War bomber crew have finally been laid to rest in Italy, 68 years after their aircraft crashed during operations.

The crew of the Royal Air Force Boston Bomber, which crashed just weeks before the end of the war, were buried with full military honours at the Padua War Cemetery in northern Italy, watched by their families.

Boston BZ590, from 18 Squadron Royal Air Force, took off from Forli, near Rimini, at 8.45pm on April 21 1945, targeting a river crossing on the Po at Taglio di Po followed by an armed reconnaissance of the Po Valley.

But it was brought down by anti-aircraft fire and the four-man crew, all aged 20 and 21, died.

They were pilot Sergeant David Raikes; navigator Flight Sergeant David Perkins; wireless operator and air gunner Flight Sergeant Alexander Bostock, all 20 and from the RAF Volunteer Reserve, as well as Australian air gunner Warrant Officer John Hunt, 21, from the Royal Australian Air Force.

The remains of the aircraft were unearthed in 2011 by Italian amateur archaeological society Archeologi dell'Aria, which searches for remains of Second World War aircraft.

Relatives of three of the men travelled to Italy to see their remains finally laid to rest, coming from as far afield as New South Wales in Australia. Sgt Raikes' nephew, also called David, read a poem penned by his uncle at the service while Sgt Raikes' brothers Roger and Tim Raikes travelled from Brecon in Wales for the occasion.

Tim Raikes, 79, said: "I've been waiting all these years and thought he would never be found. We had to come here, see the crash site and to meet the other relatives and the warmth of the people has been marvellous. There are so many emotions, it was a joy to hear that his plane had been found."

Relatives of Flt Sgt Perkins, originally from Honor Oak in south east London, were unable to attend the service, but the family of Warrant Officer Hunt travelled from the Shoalhaven region of New South Wales, Australia.

Glenice Hoffman, cousin to Flt Sgt Bostock, originally from Kimberley, Nottinghamshire, travelled with husband Raf from Forest Row in Sussex for the occasion. She said: "For me, being the only surviving relative, hearing so much about him all my life, it's a privilege and an honour to be here to bring some peace."

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