Gone but not forgotten

Gone but not forgotten

A crash site research team based in Germany who specialise in investigating World War Two crashes are appealing for information regarding the whereabouts of the family of seven airman who perished in a Halifax bomber in 1943.

The team called IG Heimatforschung Rheinland-Pfalz, which translates a Historical Research Community Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, work closely with the the archaeological services of Speyer/Germany and have recently found the crash site of the aircraft.

Its code name was JD322 ZA-V and it crashed in the village of Waldsee sometime in the night of September 5/6 after an air raid on Mannheim.
It was shot down by a German night fighter. Tragically, all seven airmen died at this forgotten crash site.

One of the airmen was Sergeant Robert Thomas Harden Kearnes, RAF service number 913467, from Ilford and crash team founder, Erik Wieman, is determined to track down his family.

Robert was only 23 years old when he died, while working as the Wireless Operator aboard the Halifax. He was the son of Charles and Nellie May Kearnes, also of Ilford.
Erik said: “We have already found many smaller and bigger plane parts, exploded ammunition and personal belongings but we are still at the beginning of the excavation.

“We are looking for descendants of Sergeant Kearnes so we can inform them about our find and our plans to plant a memorial stone at the crash site after the excavation of the site.
“Often descendants do not have any details about what happened and where. We want to change that.

“These are special fields. And we do not want their names, the names of the airmen, to be forgotten. They paid the highest price for their country.

“Our goal is to find all seven families before the memorial stone will be erected at the site.”
The team have recently erected a memorial stone for the occupants of a Stirling EF129 that crashed on the same night as the Halifax and only three kilometres from where its remains were discovered.

Anyone with information regarding Robert, or the location of his descendants can contact Erik on erik.wieman@gmail.com

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George Hughes

George Hughes
Senior Editor

George Hughes is the senior editor of The Enquirer. George has been with the company for ten years and has seen it grow to be one of the UK’s most trusted news outlets.