For more than 50 years, the family of Flight Sergeant Kenneth Rutherford, 22, knew only that he was “missing presumed dead” after his Stirling aircraft, on which her served as a wireless operator and air gunner, failed to return from a raid over Germany in September 1942.
But after years of painstaking research – including the help of a German historian and a Dutch resistance heroine – his brother Gordon located the crash site off the Frisian island of Schiermonnikoog, and was guest of honour at a memorial service to remember those lost at sea during the war.
As part of his visit, he was taken out by boat to lay a wreath of poppies where Stirling R9187 crashed at 3.15am on September 24, 1942, with the loss of all seven crew.
Mr Rutherford, 84, from Hedon, near Hull, wrote a message on the wreath which said: “Ken and all your gallant comrades, you are not forgotten.”
He said he would send copies of the service to the families of the other crew members, adding: “It was a bit overwhelming but it was very special to me, it was magic. It was the end of the trip, it felt like I’ve done my job.”