Wednesday, 10 August 2011

News - Search for relatives of brave Notts airman as dig reveals wreckage of plane lost 66 years ago (Italy/Kimberley)

THE brave airman has been missing for more than 65 years – lost when his aircraft failed to return from a raid in the final weeks of the Second World War.

Flight Sergeant Alexander Thomas Bostock, 20, from Kimberley, was part of the four-man crew of a Douglas Boston A-20 bomber shot down in April 1945 during a reconnaissance mission over the Po Valley, in northern Italy – just one week before German forces in the area surrendered.

The aircraft plunged to earth near the town of Copparo, south of Venice. But in the confusion of the final days of the war, the wreckage was never recovered, the bodies of its crew buried by the impact.

Six decades on, Douglas Boston BZ590 has been located by a team of Italian amateur archaeologists.

In the wreckage, buried in a field in open countryside near the town of Copparo, the diggers have uncovered aircraft parts, personal effects and the bones of crew members.

Now they are trying to trace relatives who can provide DNA samples to help positively identify the individuals whose remains have been found.

Michele Becchi, one of the historical researchers from Archeologi dell'Aria, said: "The Douglas Boston BZ590 was declared missing in the night of April 21, 1945.

"The crew was declared officially dead in 1949, after the failure of the researches made by the RAF."

Signor Becchi said the bomber had taken off from its base at Forlì airstrip, on a mission to attack a German river crossing at Taglio di Po, and then to undertake surveillance of the surrounding area, but it was shot down in flames.

Archeologi dell'Aria is a group of amateur aviation enthusiasts who have been searching for crash sites since 2008.

So far they have located 40 wrecked aircraft and recovered the remains of nearly 20 lost airmen – of several nationalities.

They came across references to a downed aircraft in the Copparo area more than 12 months ago.

Then an elderly eyewitness pointed them to a possible site and digging began.

The hunters, led by Fabio Raimondi, have now uncovered a large amount of wreckage which is being held for restoration, and human remains which have been passed to the Italian police.

"We went into the field with a metal detector and almost immediately we found pieces of galvanised aluminium," said Signor Raimondi.

The crew was: Pilot Sergeant David Kennedy Raikes, Flight Sergeant David Millard Perkins (navigator bomb aimer), from Sydenham, Kent; Flight Sergeant Alexander Thomas Bostock (wireless operator air); RAAF 433038 Warrant Officer John Penboss Hunt (air Gunner), from Sydney, Australia.

Raikes was something of a poet and, in 1954, a collection of his verse was published.

Some of the personal effects of Flight Sergeant Perkins have been recovered.

These include his ring with the initials DP and the inscription "chris, with love".

The researchers have been able to trace relatives of Australian airman John Hunt.

But they are anxious to find the family of the other men, including Flight Sergeant Bostock, son of William and Ada Bostock.

The British Embassy in Rome has been informed of the discovery and is trying to confirm the identities of the airmen with the Ministry of Defence's Historical Branch.

If the bones are confirmed as belonging to the crew, they will be given a ceremonial burial.

Do you have any information about Flight Sergeant Bostock? If you can help, contact Andy Smart at Bygones, Nottingham Post, Castle Wharf House, Nottingham NG1 7EU, telephone 0115 948 2000 or e-mail

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