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Goodbye to a hero from 1942; FUNERAL: Relatives gather in Holland after Midland pilot's body found in wreck.

Byline: By Mail Reporter

SIX decades after being reported missing in action, the final chapter in the story of a lost RAF bomber pilot from Sutton Coldfield was written as he was laid to rest.

The mystery of what happened to Stirling bomber W7624, which disappeared in an operation on August 27, 1942, was solved last year when Dutch excavations unearthed the rusty wreckage.

The body of Hugh Barton-Smith, a pharmacist from Sutton Coldfield, was among those discovered.

Relatives of the seven tragic airmen gathered from across the world as they were buried with full military honours yesterday at the Ambt-Delden cemetery, Del den.

Although the body of one crew member had been recovered at the spot near the village of Ben-telo after the crash, the rest of the crew remained missing in action.

That was until last May's dig turned up the remains of at least three individuals, including Mr Barton-Smith.

Their heroism was honoured with a flypast from a supersonic Tornado GR4 aircraft, flown by modern-day airmen from the same RAF squadron.

Stirling W7624, part of 15 Squadron, is believed to have been attacked by a German night-fighter on August 27, 1942.

The seven crew - who included two New Zealanders - had taken off from RAF Bourn, in Cambridgeshire, at 9pm for a raid on the German city of Kassel, but came under fire and crashed.

Of the 306 aircraft which set off for the raid that night, almost 31 did not make it back.

The Stirling's rear gunner, Flt Sgt Glen Allen Smith, aged 24, was found dying near the crash site and was later buried in Del den.

The bomber was eventually identified from serial numbers found on the engine.

Our Say, Page 70

CAPTION(S):

SOLEMN DAY... RAF officers join the families of the dead RAF crew at the Ambt-Delden cemetery in the Netherlands. Below, Hugh Barton Smith, from Sutton Coldfield.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Sep 1, 2006
Words:315
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