Researchers search for relatives of World War Two airman who died after aircraft crashed in Germany
PUBLISHED: 12:00 30 October 2016
An archaeological dig has revealed a crash site for an RAF bomber which landed in Germany in 1943 - and researchers are trying to track down the family of one of the aircraft's crew members.
Sergeant John Edwin Gray, from Winscombe, was part of a seven-man crew in an RAF Stirling bomber which flew over Germany on September 5-6, 1943.
In total, 605 bombers took part in the attack over Mannheim, in south west Germany.
The Stirling aircraft was one of 34 shot down as it began its return to Britain, and it crashed into a field where it was lost until this year.
Researcher Erik Wieman, a member of a crash site research group, has worked with an archeological team to find the site.
He is now hoping to find Sgt Gray’s family, and share his research with them.
Mr Wieman said: “I am looking for relatives of Sgt Gray to tell them about our find.
“Usually relatives have practically no information about what happened and where. We want to change that.”
So far, Mr Wieman has discovered Sgt Gray was the son of James and Amy Gray, who lived in Winscombe.
When he died, he was married to Mildred Gray.
He was aged 35 and is buried in the Rheinberg War Cemetery in Germany.
Mr Wieman has already found the family of one gunner, called Sgt Reginald Renton, and they provided the picture of the crew.
Mr Wieman said: “We plan to erect a memorial stone at the crash site in the summer of 2017.
“We don’t want this historical and tragic place to be forgotten again.
“Through this memorial, no-one shall walk by not knowing anymore. And the families will have a place to go to.”
The attack on Mannheim was the largest air attack during the war, with thousands of bombs dropped on the city.
Four of the men serving alongside Sgt Gray were English, one was Canadian and the other came from New Zealand.