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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 September 2005, 16:21 GMT 17:21 UK
Funeral for RAF crew, 61 years on
Memorial dedication for the crew of the Halifax bomber
Relatives of the seven crew members were traced by the RAF
The lost crew of an RAF plane shot down over Berlin have been officially laid to rest - 61 years after they died.

The Halifax LW430 went down in one of the worst bomber losses of the war.

The wreckage was uncovered by a search team in 2003, along with the remains of five of the crew. Locals had already buried two others in a churchyard.

Families of the crew - who were from Bristol, Bideford, Glasgow, Taunton, Whitstable, Basildon and Bucks - were in Berlin for the joint funerals.

Line of fire

Another 71 bombers were shot down in the raid of Berlin on 24 March 1944.

High winds blew the formation of 1,000 planes off course and into the line of fire of night fighters.

A photo of the Halifax bomber with the crew names
High winds blew the bomber off course and into the line of fire

The location of the LW430 bomber wreckage and crew was first discovered in September 2003 by a German missing persons research group.

Relatives of the crew members were then traced by the RAF. Some 25 brothers, sisters and friends of the seven airmen travelled to Germany on Tuesday for two days of commemorations.

To me it is the end of a long chapter
William Wheeler, relative

A memorial stone statue was first unveiled at the crash site by the man who led the recovery operation, Jens Bechler.

Speaking after the dedication, many mourners said the occasion had closed a chapter in their lives left open through uncertainty.

William Wheeler, from Winterbourne Monkton, Wiltshire, whose brother Sid was an air bomber on the flight, said: "To me it is the end of a long chapter which I had not thought about very much because it happened so long ago.

"This is the conclusion of that."

One headstone

The ceremonies ended on Thursday with the burial in the Berlin Military Cemetery.

Members of the RAF's Queen's Colour Squadron carried the single coffin draped in the Union Flag which contained the remains of the five crew.

Their grave is marked by one headstone which bears none of the crew's names.

Two of the seven crew were thrown from the plane in the crash in Saxony in 1944 and were buried by locals in a nearby churchyard.

The crew were Pilot Officer William McLeod, from Glasgow; navigator Sergeant Norman Cooper, from Taunton; air bomber Sergeant Sidney Wheeler, from Bristol; wireless operator and air gunner Sergeant John Burdett, from Basildon; flight engineer Sergeant Angus Webb, from Whitstable; air gunner Sergeant Jack Boston, from Devon and rear gunner Sergeant Ronald Turner, from Monks Risborough, Buckinghamshire.

See the ceremony to honour the RAF crew

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