The remains of a Second World War pilot and his downed Lancaster bomber which dived into woodland have been discovered in a small German village.
For Ashford [p.72] resident John Tutt it marks the end of decades of searching for his brother, Sgt Bernard Frederick Tutt, who died aged just 29.
They grew up in Willesborough and attended the South Central School. Both worked as greengrocers for the Co-operative.
The father-of-two said: “To have found him after all these years is just amazing.
“I know for Bernard’s son Keith it is wonderful because Bernard died when he was just two-months-old and all he knew of his father was what his mother and I told him.
“He feels that his father is something more than just a story now.”
It was thanks to John’s persistent investigations that he received a response to a letter he sent 11 years ago to the Burgermeister of Brandau, a small village 22 miles south east of Frankfurt where the plane came down.
He continued: “I’d written a letter and had never received a response but then out of the blue just before Christmas a young German archaeology student called Felix Klingenbeck wrote to me to say he had found the wreckage.
“He’d informed the Burgermeister when human remains were found and the Burgermeister said he had remembered the letter I sent in 1999 and dug out my address.”
The 87-year-old, who served in an anti-tank unit from 1941-1946 and saw action in Normandy and Germany, was at home on leave when he received the telegram telling him about the death of his wireless operator brother Bernard.
John added: “Felix sent me a lovely letter with all the information he had discovered and told me how he had been out with his metal detector and found parts of the plane.
“It was a bit of a shock. I was able to telephone Keith and after 67 years without knowing where his father was it was amazing.”
Archaeology buff Felix Klingenbeck, 20, made the discovery after becoming interested in stories told by villagers about an English bomber that had crashed in the woods east of the village.
He found sections of the plane with serial numbers, which he posted online in the hope that someone would confirm the type of aircraft.
It was discovered to be the Avro Lancaster III JB221, a make famed for featuring in the film The Dambusters.
Work has now stopped on excavating the site in dense woodland following visits by families of the seven airmen aboard which was made up of English, Scots, a Canadian and an American.
It is hoped a permanent memorial can be erected and grandfather-of-three John plans to pay his final respects later in the year.
Lancaster losses p.21