On ANZAC Day 2010 I dedicated a post to my Uncle Freddie (pictured bottom row, centre), who while commanding a Lancaster bombing mission over Germany for the RAF, was killed at the age of 24 along with his crew of 6 on March 7th 1945. Freddie from Adelaide, was a pilot with the Royal Australian Air Force, but had been seconded to command bombers for the Royal Air Force. You can read the post here .
Late last year the following email arrived in The Laurel Hedge Inbox:
I read your blog post about your uncle. My grandfather was the Flight Engineer on Lancaster ME474, so would have been sitting next to your uncle on the plane. I did read that ME474 had been newly received two weeks prior to their last mission, being the maiden flight of the plane & that it had crashed into the sea off Holland, that's all we know. I do have some photos & I may have some letters somewhere which may be of interest & would be most grateful for any further information you may have. My Grandad is pictured in the back row far right.
You can imagine how I felt - the 68 years since that terrible night dissolved in a heartbeat. In my mind I saw the crew walking across the tarmac at Skellingthorpe, climbing into that big, noisy Lancaster & the plane taking off, heading across the English channel into the fading dusk light. I saw Paul's Grandad & my Uncle Freddie seated in the cockpit - doing the flight checks, talking about the weather conditions & maybe the task ahead. The British accents of the 6 crewmen occasionally interrupted by the flat laconic tone of the lone Aussie. The war in Europe was drawing to an end, great devastation had been delivered to both sides by similar bombing raids. I sat for a long while at the computer, re-reading Paul's email in quiet reflection of the great loss all the families of ME474's crew have endured through the years.
Any doubts as to why I blog were dispelled. Only 2 bodies of the lost crew were ever recovered after the aircraft ditched into the sea, Freddie's & Paul's Grandad Bill, the irony of that has not escaped me. I guess Paul was doing some research into ME474, a search engine picked up those words from my post & the link to The Hedge appeared. I shared the email with my cousin & he has now joined me in our communications with Paul.
So, many years later, 2 families on opposite sides of the world are reunited, in remembrance of the sad bond that links us forever.
ON THIS MOST SACRED OF DAYS
LEST WE FORGET