It was summer 1943 and RAF volunteer George Hadden had set out on another dangerous bombing mission to Germany with his crew. The 20-year-old flight engineer, from Kings Heath, Birmingham, had signed up soon after the Second World War broke out.
George had successfully completed other missions to the war-ravaged continent with his Stirling bomber colleagues. But this time he did not return – and his family later received an official telegram simply stating he was ‘missing’.
For 66 years his relatives were left in limbo, never quite knowing what had happened to the brave young serviceman. Then, last year, his brother Raymond was contacted by the Air Recovery Foundation in Holland – after the wreckage of the bomber was found off the Dutch coast.
“Completely out of the blue we received a letter saying a Dutch fisherman had pulled up part of a plane on his anchor,’’ said the 82-year-old from Redditch. ‘‘The serial number was found to be that of George’s Stirling. We were speechless.” A team of divers later pulled out pieces of the wreckage and found evidence to suggest the bodies of six crew members were still inside. Parachutes were also discovered, while the escape hatch was undisturbed. War historians later confirmed that the four-engined bomber had been shot down by German airmen.
Last month the elderly Redditch couple embarked on an emotional pilgrimage to Marken, accompanied by George’s youngest brother Peter and a nephew. They laid wreaths on the water and were also presented with pieces of the wreckage as a sad memento. Read the entire story here.
RIP George Hadden and thank you for your service.