Sergeant John Bremner, one of four crewmen killed when Luftwaffe ace Leopold Fellerer shot down their Halifax bomber on the night of January 20, 1944, will be buried with full military honours at the Berlin War Cemetery next Thursday.
Attending the funeral will be navigator Reg Wilson and rear gunner John Bushell, two of the four other members of the crew of “Old Flo” who parachuted to safety moments before the aircraft ploughed into woodland in southeast Berlin.
Wilson, Bushell and the two others who survived, bomb-aimer Laurie Underwood and pilot George Griffiths, spent the rest of the war as prisoners. Bremner, wireless operator Eric Church, second pilot Kenneth Stanbridge and Canadian mid-upper gunner Charles Dupries were all killed.
Underwood, who was interned in the Stalag Luft III prisoner of war camp made famous by the film “The Great Escape”, is still alive but will not be at the funeral because of ill health, according to an RAF statement.
The bodies of Church and Stanbridge were recovered from the wreckage after it crashed and are both now buried in the same cemetery where Bremner, the flight engineer, will be laid to rest next week.
The wreckage of the bomber and Bremner’s remains were only discovered in 2006 after Wilson returned to Germany to launch a search. Earlier this year the remains were confirmed to be those of Bremner using DNA testing. The body of Dupries, who according to Wilson’s memoirs wore a rabbit’s foot as a good-luck charm, has never been recovered.
“Sergeant Bremner is actually going to be buried in the same row as Sergeant Stanbridge and a few plots away is Pilot Officer Church’s headstone,” Sue Raffrey from the British Defence Ministry’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre, which helps track down soldiers missing in action, told AFP. “It is nice for the families to have closure after all these years.”
Griffiths’ widow and daughter will be in Berlin, as will Bremner’s daughter and niece, Stanbridge’s daughter and Church’s son, Raffrey said.