THE FAMILY of a Second World War airman who died in enemy action over Germany in 1943 are to be reunited at a memorial service to celebrate his life.
It comes after genealogist Sue Jackson, a researcher with Ipswich-based Anglia Research, tracked down eight surviving relatives of Coventry-born Flight Sergeant Geoffrey Brown. Her research was sparked after Flt Sgt Brown’s buried plane was unearthed by historians in Germany.
Erik Wieman, co-founder of a crash site research organisation, Historical Research Community Rhineland-Palatinate, appealed locally to find relatives of Flt Sgt Brown – who died aged just 24 – after the wreckage of the four-engined Handley Page Halifax was found near the villages of Hassloch and Lachen-Speyerdorf.
Miss Jackson, who was previously a senior intelligence analyst in the British Army, said: “Mr Wieman knew that Geoffrey was the son of Ernest and Emily Brown from Coudon, near Coventry.
“Brown is a very common name but by using some intuition and going through the births, deaths and marriages records and the electoral rolls I managed to back-track through his mother’s line to find maternal cousins, and I also located Geoffrey’s two surviving nephews, Terry and Roger, who both still live in Coventry.”
Flt Sgt Brown was a gunner when his plane was shot down by a German night fighter on the evening of April 16, 1943 while on a mission to bomb the Skoda factory in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia. Six of the seven crew members died on board. They are buried at the Rheinberg British Cemetery.
Mr Wieman said: “The work of Miss Jackson has been fantastic and we have now been able to identify eight surviving relatives of Geoffrey.
“After the excavation we plan to hold a memorial service for the crew at the crash site and bury a geocache in their memory. Many relatives do not know what happened or under what circumstances their relatives died and where.
“We want to contact as many relatives as possible and inform them about the planned memorial.
Miss Jackson found Flt Sgt Brown’s family members across the UK including Coventry and neighbouring Kenilworth, together with Hull, Tamworth, Bridgwater and Dorchester.
No date has yet been confirmed for the memorial service.