Sunderland war hero remembered in special service

A Sunderland war hero was remembered at a special ceremony in Germany.

Thursday, 28th June 2018, 11:46 am
Updated Saturday, 30th June 2018, 12:12 am
A bugler from the Band of the Queens Division at the ceremony.

Wearside's Sergeant William Bowey was one of five air forcemen who was paid tribute to at the Service of Commemoration.

Born in 1922, Sgt Bowey lost his life during an air raid on Berlin in 1944.

He was one of the crew members of Lancaster DS678, a Royal Air Force (RAF) bomber, which took off on the evening of 24 March 1944 for a raid on Berlin, Germany but never returned. Sadly, nothing further was heard of their fate.

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A Service of Commemoration to honour five of the crew members was held yesterday at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Niederzwehren War Cemetery in Hessen, Germany.

The service, organised by the MOD’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC), part of Defence Business Services, was conducted by the Reverend Doctor (Squadron Leader) John Harrison, Royal Auxiliary Air Force.

Tracey Bowers, JCCC said: “It’s a great pleasure to be here to pay tribute to these brave men who made the ultimate sacrifice for King and country.

"Although the location of their actual graves has been lost over the years it’s fitting that they are commemorated by name and I’m delighted that we have some of their family from the UK, Canada and the USA here with us.”

Reverend John Harrison said: "It has been the utmost honour and privilege to conduct the service for these brave men and their families in the Royal Air Force's centenary year; they continue to be the benchmark for our service.”

Also included were Sergeant Victor Watson, Sergeant Donald Keeley, Sergeant John Burke and Pilot Officer Leonard McCann from the Royal Canadian Air Force.

The five were killed and buried in the Prisoner of War (PoW) cemetery at Ohrdruf. After the war, the Missing, Recovery and Exhumation Services (MRES) were unable to identify the graves as the cemetery was under Soviet control and remained so until 1991.

Over the years, the graves had been declared as ‘lost’. Now, more than 70 years after their deaths, a special memorial for each of the five fallen crew members has been rededicated in Hessen, Germany.