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Sunday, 27 August, 2000, 08:52 GMT 09:52 UK
Glacier bodies finally buried
RAF Fairey Battle light bomber
The wreckage of the Fairey Battle lay buried in ice
The bodies of four airmen whose bodies had lain in an Icelandic glacier for nearly 60 years were being buried with full military honours.

The ceremony was being held at the Commonwealth Graves Commission cemetery in the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik.

There was a feeling of helplessness in that four men had died there

Nick Barr, RAF expedition leader
Relatives of the dead servicemen, who had made their way to Iceland for the funeral, were due to be presented with medals by the British Ambassador to Iceland in honour of the men's service.

New Zealand Flying Officer Arthur Round and British crew, Flight Sergeants Reginald Hopkins and Keith Garret and Pilot Officer Henry Talbot were killed in May 1941 when their Fairey Battle bomber crashed into a mountain in heavy fog.

Attempts to recover the bodies at the time were abandoned and a short ceremony was conducted at the crash site.

Melted ice peak

The crash site was rediscovered by a local historian last year when an unusually warm summer melted the glacial peak.

Last week, a Royal Air Force crew from Kinloss, Morayshire flew to Iceland to retrieve the remains for burial.

RAF expedition leader Nick Barr said: "It was a very emotional time for everybody up there.

"To hear the shuddering of the glacier and to see the wreckage made you feel that 'there, but for the grace of God, go I'.

"There was a feeling of helplessness in that four men had died there."

'Short, sharp shock'

Judging by the devastation at the crash site, the accident was "a very short, sharp shock which probably ended in a fireball," he said.

The expedition recited the Lord' prayer in English and in Icelandic before leaving the site.

"It was the proper thing to do," Nick Barr said. "It was a time to remember the bits and pieces we had seen had once been living young men like us."

Alongside the bodies and the wreckage, the 16-strong RAF team found tins of corned beef, boot polish, machine guns and personal items, such as a toothbrush, a wallet and an engraved watch belonging to Flying Officer Round.

On the 60th anniversary of the crash next year, the RAF will unveil a memorial to the men at Akureyri airport.

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