Remains of RAF airmen found in German field

The remains of five British airmen have been found nearly 70 years after crashing in a muddy field outside Frankfurt, Germany, during World War II.

The discovery was made possible with the help of an eyewitness who saw the Lancaster bomber crash in April 1943 after returning from a raid on the Skoda armaments works at Pilsen, Czechoslovakia, according to The Telegraph.

It took hours of digging by volunteers to uncover the bomber after Peter Menges, now 83, led them to the site outside the village of Laumersheim, near Frankfurt, where he’d seen the plane crash and explode after being hit by German anti-aircraft fire.

“A Rolls Royce engine and landing gear of the Lancaster bomber was found followed by ‘hundreds’ of fragments of human bones in what would have been the cockpit,” according to The Telegraph.

The bomber was one of three dozen aircraft which didn’t survive the mission that night.

The impact of the crash created a large crater in the ground.

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91-year-old vet reunited with his last Spitfire

A 91-year-old fighter pilot was reunited with the Spitfire he flew on his final World War II mission nearly seven decades ago this past weekend.

Lt. Rolf Kolling journeyed from his home in Norway to the North Weald Airfield in Essex, England, last Friday to catch of a glimpse of the Mark IX Spitfire he last piloted in late April 1945, in the waning weeks of the Second World War.

Kolling was joined by wingman and compatriot Eigel Stigset at the home of 332 Squadron, where celebrations took place to mark the 70th anniversary of the wartime links between North Weald and Norway, according to The Daily Mail.

The pair belonged to the Royal Air Force’s Norwegian wing in 1939-1945 conflict.

Returning to the base brought back bittersweet memories for Kolling, who during his combat career of 120 sorties was credited with one confirmed kill – a Focke Wulf – and a share in one probable – an ME 109, The Daily Mail reported.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Kolling said: “Four Spitfires would go up. And none would come back. Two pilots would be dead. Two would be prisoners of war. Every time you got into the cockpit, you knew it could be your last flight.

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World War II figher plane found in desert

For 70 years a relic of World War II has sat in the Sahara Desert, untouched, unseen and unbeknownst to anyone.

That relic is being described as an almost perfectly preserved RAF Kittyhawk P-40 fighter plane, recently discovered where it came down in the Egyptian desert in June 1942.

It is thought the pilot, believed to have been Flight Sergeant Dennis Copping, 24, survived the crash and initially used his parachute for shelter before making a desperate and futile attempt to reach civilization by walking out of the desert, according to The Telegraph.

The location is more than 200 miles from the nearest town and Copping was never seen again.

The single-seater plane was discovered by chance earlier this year by a Polish oil company worker exploring a remote region of the Western Desert in Egypt.

While the aircraft did suffer some damage when it landed, the dry desert air has helped it retain much of its original color scheme.

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Life and death on a Lancaster bomber

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Russell Margerison was one of hundreds of thousands who volunteered for service in the RAF during World War II, serving as a gunner on a Lancaster bomber. His chances were survival weren’t great, as more than 12,000 RAF Bomber Command aircraft were shot down and 55,573 airmen perished out of a total of 125,000.

The Daily Mail is printing excerpts of Margerison’s book, “Boys at War,” which includes this riveting description of being shot down during a raid on Germany’s Ruhr Valley:

“We were on the return flight, at 23,000ft, when there was a sudden heavy rattle of cannon and vicious, sparkling white tracer whipped through us. The Lanc appeared to stop dead, as if to gasp for breath, then lurched on like a drunken man.

“Both port engines were ablaze and flames spewed back over the port tailplane and fin.

“The firing had lasted for no more than two seconds, but it was more than enough. Down went the nose of the aircraft, the engines screaming in agony, and my head felt as if it was going to burst with the pressure.

“‘Pull the bugger out, pull the bugger out,’ someone shouted, and in reply the aircraft slowly responded.

“‘Feather port engines,’ Max ordered, then immediately: ‘Abandon aircraft. Abandon aircraft.’

“Shocked at the suddenness and speed at which events were moving, I watched as curls of metal rolled off the huge oval tailfin and revealed the framework underneath.

“Off came my gloves. I uncoupled my oxygen supply and electrically heated suit, then vacated the turret in record time.

“The whole fuselage was an inferno. Flames licked at my parachute, which lay on the floor. I grabbed it and with a sharp tug tried to hook it on to the harness I was wearing. I failed.

“Gib, wearing his ‘chute, opened the back door, turned, gave me a thumbs-up and disappeared from sight.

“Smoke and lack of oxygen were making breathing difficult as I tried, and failed, once again to clip on the ‘chute. I leaned against the fuselage side and said aloud: ‘Well, this is it.’

“The heat was intense as I moved nearer the door. Ammunition was exploding. Through holes made by the cannon shells, I could see flames outside.

“‘What the hell am I doing?’ screamed my fogged brain. In sheer desperation, I banged on the ‘chute as I tried to attach it again. This time it stayed on, and I rushed to the door.

“As soon as I poked my head outside, I was whipped out of the plane by a fierce wind. As I floated down I could hear a fighter coming closer and, as his engines became a deafening roar, I tried to curl myself into a little ball. The night was so black I couldn’t see him but, thankfully, the noise faded.

“It was a grim sight, watching our plane curl ever downwards, streaming flame as she went.

“I had seen many go down but this was different. Some of my mates could well be inside this aircraft. The Lanc hit the ground to leave a circle of fire. I turned my head away.”

Margerison would spend weeks on the run with the Belgian underground following his plane’s downing before being captured by the Germans. He eventually returned home to England after the war, still six months short of his 21st birthday.

Some 59 years after being shot down, he returned to the Continent, to visit the Belgians who risked everything to help him.