Bid to trace family of World War Two Bradford airman Douglas Brigg Birbeck (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Bid to trace family of World War Two Bradford airman Douglas Brigg Birbeck
7:00am Sunday 27th October 2013 in News
The relative of a serviceman who died when his aircraft was shot down during World War Two is trying to trace the family of his Bradford crewmate to mark the 70th anniversary of the tragedy.
Louise Dexter, whose uncle Sgt Ronald Hoole was killed, aged 20, when the Lancaster ND474 crashed near the village of Bolstern in Germany on March 15, 1944, is trying to find the family of air gunner Sgt Douglas Brigg Birbeck.
Sgt Brigg Birbeck, the son of Leonard and Florie Birbeck (nee Smith) and the grandson of Vincent Smith and Sarah Brigg, was born in the former Bradford parish of North Bierley, which included Wibsey, Odsal and Low Moor.
Mrs Dexter, of Hampshire, wants to invite his family to the unveiling of a memorial to the seven-man crew, who were aged between 19 and 23 when they died.
She said: “I have been researching the aircraft and her crew for over two years and as a result I have found the relatives of four other crew members – the pilot, the navigator, the rear gunner, the wireless operator. Together, we have also found the site of the crashed aircraft and eyewitnesses from the local German village.
“Next year on the 70th anniversary, March 15, 2014, the families of the relatives and the local people from the village of Bolstern will unveil a memorial to the crew. We will ensure that the sacrifice they made for our country will never be forgotten.”
On March 15, 1944, the seven names of the new ND474 crew appeared on an operations board for their first mission into occupied Germany.
“Despite the terrible odds against them the young crew of ND474 prepared to leave for Stuttgart. They had a meal together and collected their flying suits from the lockers rooms,” said Mrs Dexter.
“As the light faded ND474 rumbled down the runway, together with seventeen other Lancasters from 49 Squadron, Fiskerton.”
At 11.15pm, ND474 was intercepted by a German night fighter and shot down. After the attack people in Bolstern removed the dead airmen from the wreckage and buried them in the village church yard, tending to their graves until the bodies were laid to rest in Durnbach War Cemetery in Munich.
Mrs Dexter can be contacted on 0771 7536611 or e-mail email@example.com
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