For 71 years, the bodies of Eastbourne airman Sergeant Peter Buck and four other brave servicemen have been trapped inside the lost wreckage of a bomber plane after it crashed in the dead of night during World War Two.
Now, in a shock discovery, the ill-fated wreckage has been found in a marsh near Gollin, Germany, providing a long-awaited moment of closure for the families and prompting them to demand a proper burial for their loved ones from the Government.
Seven men were deployed for a night raid over Nazi Germany on August 23, 1943 but never returned home after their Halifax HR980 bomber was struck from the ground, crushed on impact and plunged into the marsh.
Two of the seven servicemen were pulled from the wreckage by enemy soldiers and buried in the Berlin 1939-1945 war cemetery, but the remaining five were deemed ‘missing’ and were left to lie in the sunken aircraft for the next seven decades.
A team of German archaeologists found the bomber crash site in 2002 and scoured the area for years but to no avail. Now, 12 years later, it is only thanks to the marsh drying up that the wreckage has been pushed to the surface and discovered.
The German archaeologists have been granted permission to recover the wreckage and bodies - a project that will cost £50,000.
As well as asking for a proper burial for their brave relatives, the families of the servicemen are urging the British Government to contribute some money to help fund the excavation.
Sgt Peter Buck, son of Arthur and Gladys Buck of Eastbourne, lost his life on the Halifax HR980 and his sister, Pat Davies, reflects on hearing the news and also calls for Government action.
The 93-year-old Eastbourne resident told the Daily Mail Online, “It would be a nice thing for them to finally be laid to rest in a proper burial.
“I think the government should do something - they went down protecting the country and doing their duty. Peter really loved flying and the crew were great friends.
“We just weren’t told anything at the time - it was quite extraordinary. One letter came and said the plane went down and roughly where it happened. That is all we ever heard.
“We never had any more details about what had happened to them after that.”
While the Ministry of Defence doesn’t fund archaeological digs of historic aircrafts, a spokesman confirmed that if human remains are found on board, the MoD will fund a burial in the local area where the remains were found and support close family members attending a funeral service, if appropriate with a level of official ceremonial support.