Four Australian airmen will be laid to rest in
Berlin next week, more than half a century after they died, when
their Royal Australian Air Force Lancaster ED 867 crashed during
World War II, Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence and
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Danna Vale announced today.
"The mystery of Lancaster ED 867 is finally
about to come to an end, both for the memory of these young
Australians who gave their lives on 29 January 1944, and also for
their families who grieved," Mrs Vale said.
ED 867 from 467 Squadron was shot down just north
of Berlin following a bombing raid over the city. All seven
crew-members, three of whom were from the Royal Air Force, were
believed to have perished. It would take 57 years to discover their
A German Aviation Historical group first
discovered the aircraft wreckage in a wooded area of a German Army
military practice range in 1997. The area was 40 kilometres north of
Berlin near the town of Oranienburg. The area was in the former East
Germany. Initial excavation of the site in 1999 by the Aviation
Group and the German Army recovered a quantity of remains and some
personal effects. Identification of the aircraft and crew remained
unclear and the remains were interred at Berlin War Cemetery as
Unknown British Airmen.
Through the subsequent investigative efforts of a
relative of one of the crew in England, and the German Aviation
Group, the aircraft was identified in 2001.
The combined allied crew were:
Flight Lieutenant Ivan Durston DFC, RAAF Pilot of
Windsor QLD, age 32
Pilot Officer Robert Ludlow, RAAF Wireless
Operator of Glen Niven QLD, age 31
Flight Sergeant Jack Sutherland, RAAF Rear Gunner
of Fullarton SA, age 22
Flight Sergeant Phillip Gill, RAAF Upper Gunner of
Coorparoo QLD, age 20
Flight Lieutenant Harold Fry, RAF Navigator of
Ilford, Essex UK, age 21
Pilot Officer Sidney Griffiths, RAF Air Bomber of
Cardiff UK, age 22
Sergeant Francis Aver, RAF Engineer of Merstham,
Surrey UK, age 23
At the time of the crash in 1944, German soldiers
recovered the remains of Pilot Officer Griffiths and buried him at a
cemetery close to the wreck. In 1947 he was relocated to the Berlin
War Cemetery. The remaining six crew members were commemorated on
the memorial for the missing at Runnymeade in Surrey UK.
Further investigation, including forensic dental
comparisons, enabled RAAF and RAF officials to declare that the
remaining six crew had been found. Headstones for each of them will
now be placed at the 1939-1945 Berlin War Cemetery, with their
remains interred in a collective grave.
Ten relatives of the RAAF crew will depart
Australia for Berlin this Friday, along with RAAF personnel from Air
Force Headquarters. A full military funeral service is to be
conducted on the afternoon of Tuesday, 15 July at the Berlin War
Cemetery with the guard of honour comprising airmen from the RAAF
and RAF. Also in attendance will be Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal
Angus Houston, along with family members of the deceased RAF airmen.