18th Dec, 2017

Daughter of RAF engineer shot down during Second World War to finally lay father to rest after 72 years

Leamington Editorial 15th Oct, 2015 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

THE DAUGHTER of an RAF flight engineer who died when his plane was shot down during the Second World War will finally have the chance to say a proper goodbye to her father.

Sergeant Raymond ‘Norman’ Foster was among a crew of seven aboard Lancaster Bomber ED427 which took off from RAF Fiskerton near Lincoln on the night of April 16, 1943.

It was one of 327 bombers on a mission to attack the Skoda armaments works in the Czechoslovakian brewing town of Pilsen.

But the plane came under anti-aircraft fire on its return and crashed near Frankfurt – one of 36 other planes and their crews that never returned home that night.

The bodies of the 49 Squadron crew were never recovered but a few years ago a German man who had witnessed the crash as a boy guided historians to the site of the Lancaster’s final resting place in a field outside the village of Laumersheim.

And in 2012 an excavation team unearthed the remains of the Lancaster and those of the crew, who will now be laid to rest with military honours at the Durnbach War Cemetery in southern Germany.

It will be an emotional moment for the families of the crew, including Sgt Foster’s daughter Hazel Snedker, who will be travelling to Germany from Leamington with her family for the burial.

Hazel, who will be joined by husband Tony, three children and two grandchildren, told The Observer it would be a “very strange” experience.

The retired medical secretary, who has lived in Leamington for nearly half a century, said: “I still can’t quite believe it.

“My husband was surfing the internet when he found details of the discovery online. It was unbelievable, a real shock.

“It’s not something that has played on my mind over the years. You’ve got to move on. There were a lot of other children in a similar position.”

Cheshire-born Sgt Foster was just 22 when he died. He was only flying his third mission, having narrowly escaped disaster the day before when an engine caught fire during his second mission. The crew were close to bailing out but the plane just managed to limp back to Lincolnshire after the fire went out.

Hazel, now 75, lost her father just ten days before her third birthday, and has no memory of him. Her mother died four years later after contracting tuberculosis, and Hazel was brought up by her father’s parents.

She is looking forward to again meeting families of the other crew members – among who a strong bond has developed – and will be reading a special poem at the ceremony in memory of those who lost their lives when ED427 came down on that fateful night over 70 years ago.

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