Body of war hero found after 71 years

February 16th, 2012 - 11:00 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Feb 16 (IANS) The body of a lost British airman who fought against the Germans during World War II has been found after 71 years, The Telegraph reported Thursday.

Flying Officer Derek Allen crammed more aviation heroics into eight days than many RAF pilots did in six years of World War II, the newspaper said.

The 22-year-old flyer saw frenetic fighting almost every day in his short career and was credited with four outright and three shared enemy kills.

He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for bringing down a German bomber wreaking havoc on British armour during the Battle of France in May 1940.

In the same action his Hurricane plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire, forcing him to bale out. He spent 24 hours walking through enemy territory to get back to his squadron.

Exhausted, he went into battle again two days later but his plane was hit and crashed on farmland in northern France, killing him.

He was listed as missing in action presumed dead and his status remained that way for seven decades until historian Andy Saunders began researching the case.

He discovered Allen’s body had been removed from his wrecked plane May 18 by locals and buried in an unmarked grave in the village of Poix-de-Nord, near Cambrai.

His younger brother Richard Allen is now preparing to lead family members at a dedication service in France when a new headstone with Allen’s name on it will be erected on the grave.

Saunders started looking into the matter five years ago when he found a witness account of a Hurricane crashing near Cambrai on the same day Allen disappeared.

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