28th Oct, 2016

RAF airman laid to rest - 72 years after plane shot down

Ian Hughes 29th Oct, 2015 Updated: 13 hours ago

THE DAUGHTER of an RAF flight engineer who died when his plane was shot down during the Second World War said an emotional goodbye to her father – 72 years after his death.

Leamington resident Hazel Snedker and her family joined those of the seven crew members who were aboard Lancaster Bomber ED427 when it came under anti-aircraft fire over Germany when returning from a mission to attack the Skoda armaments works in the Czechoslovakian brewing town of Pilsen.

It crashed near Frankfurt killing all those aboard – including Hazel’s father Sergeant Raymond ‘Norman’ Foster, who was just 22 at the time.

The bodies of the airmen were not discovered until 2012 when an excavation team unearthed the remains of the bomber.

And last week the families travelled to Germany where the airmen were buried with full military honours at the Durnbach War Cemetery.

Hazel, now 75, who was not even three when here father was killed, and has no memory of him.

Prior to the burial, a service was held in a nearby village church at which Hazel read a poignant poem penned by an airman during the war, and which almost mirrored the fate of her father, speaking of an airman whose body was only found years after his plane crashed, before he was properly laid to rest.

Hazel, who has lived in Leamington for nearly 50 years, told The Observer: “It was very moving and highly emotional.

“I did not know what to expect really, but when they put the coffin in the hearse I broke down, as did my daughter and granddaughter.

“My grandson, who is 18, was also in bits, and when I asked him why, he said it was because they were so young. He could relate to them.

“Before the ceremony, people said it would bring closure. I wasn’t sure and did not know quite what they meant – but it really did. It felt right.

“It was really special. The ceremony was conducted with great dignity in a beautiful setting on a bright sunny day with the Alps in the distance. I will never forget it.”

Sgt Foster was born in Cheshire. He was based with 49 Squadron in Lincolnshire, and was only on his third mission when he lost his life.