RAF Odiham personnel to attend funeral of WWII airmen

Andover Advertiser: From left: Sgt David Raikes, Flt Sgt David Perkins, Flt Sgt Alexander Bostock and WO John Hunt From left: Sgt David Raikes, Flt Sgt David Perkins, Flt Sgt Alexander Bostock and WO John Hunt

PERSONNEL from RAF Odiham will attend the military funeral of four Second World War airmen whose remains were found by amateur archaeologists in Italy.

Wing Commander Lee Turner, officer commanding 18(b) Squadron, and Flight Sergeant Liz McConaghy, crewman training officer from 18(b) Squadron, will attend the funeral next Thursday at Padua War Cemetery.

The four airmen, all attached to 18 Squadron, were aboard a Boston bomber aircraft when it was shot down by German anti-aircraft fire on the night of April 21, 1945. The aircraft set off from Forli, near Rimini, earlier that evening in a raid on the crossing of the River Po. It was shot down in what proved to be one of the last days of the war in Europe.

Sergeant David Raikes, 20, the pilot, Flight Sergeant David Perkins, 20, the navigator, Flight Sergeant Alexander Bostock, 20, the wireless operator, and Warrant Officer John Hunt, 21, the air gunner, will be laid to rest with full military honours.

Relatives of the men from Wales and New South Wales, in Australia, will also travel to north-east Italy for the funeral.

In July last year, amateur archaeologists found the remains using metal detectors. They found human bones, a watch inscribed with WO Hunt’s name, and a gold engagement ring thought to belong to Flt Sgt Perkins.

At the time, Fabio Raimondi, from archaeological society Archeologi dell’Aria, said: “We went into the field with a metal detector and almost immediately, we found pieces of galvanised aluminium.”

18(b) Squadron spent much of the war around the Mediterranean, bombing German targets in Tunisia, Italy and the Balkans.

It has since reformed as a Chinook squadron based at RAF Odiham.

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