Crew members of Lancaster DS678, a Royal Air Force bomber, took off on the evening of 24th March 1944 for a raid on Berlin, Germany but never returned…

Sadly, nothing further was heard of their fate. However, a service of commemoration to honour 5 of the crew members has now been held at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Niederzwehren war cemetery in Hessen, Germany.

The service, organised by the MOD’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC), part of Defence Business Services, was conducted by the Reverend Doctor (Squadron Leader) John Harrison, Royal Auxiliary Air Force.

Tracey Bowers, JCCC said: “It’s a great pleasure to be here today to pay tribute to these brave men who made the ultimate sacrifice for king and country. Although the location of their actual graves has been lost over the year it’s fitting that they are commemorated by name.”

The 5 crew members remembered were: Sergeant William Bowey, Sergeant Victor Watson, Sergeant Donald Keeley, Sergeant John Burke, and Leonard McCann, Royal Canadian Air Force.

The 5 were killed and buried in the Prisoner of War cemetery at Ohrdruf. After the war, the Missing, Recovery and Exhumation Services were unable to identify the graves as the cemetery was under Soviet control and remained so until 1991.

Over the years, the graves had been declared as ‘lost’. Now, more than 70 years after their deaths, a special memorial for each of the five fallen crew members has been rededicated in Hessen, Germany.