Many Revelstokians fought in World War 2 for the freedom that we all enjoy (and often take for granted), at the sacrifice of someone else’s life, whether we were privy to it or not. Many of us had parents or grandparents that fought for our country and it is our job to hold those in high regard and remind the youngest generation that their great-grandparents or even great-great grandparents fought in a war to preserve our way of life.
Many families lost loved ones; some knew of where their family member lay to rest indefinitely while others never knew the exact location and always wondered where they were. Not often do answers creep out from the tangled forest of the past, but for some, they do.
Sergeant Walter Francis Hughes Born: July 19, 1904 at Revelstoke, British Columbia. Died: Sept. 24, 1944 Service Number: R/58248 Royal Canadian Air Force Enlisted July 5, 1940 at Vancouver, British Columbia. Son of Thomas and Catherine Anne (nee Boyd) Hughes of Revelstoke, British Columbia. Husband of Jeannette Abigail (nee Cody) Hughes of Revelstoke, B.C
The Revelstoke Current received an email from Erik Wieman who is a co-founder of a crash site research group based in Germany. The site in question is Dakota KG653, where twenty-three airmen died in this crash, including one war hero from Revelstoke.
The aircraft crashed on the 24th of September 1944 in Neuleiningen on route from England to India. From England it should have flown down south over the Free French countryside to Sardinia, then to India to help build up two new squadrons in the fight against Japan. It lost its way and, due to bad weather and navigational problems, the aircraft flew into Germany in broad daylight, alone, and was shot down. 23 soldiers died there, 20 Canadians, one Australian and two British airmen.
Wieman stated in an email the overall purpose of his contacting the Current, “We are connected to the archaeological services of Speyer. As with all our research and crash site excavations we plan to contact descendants, tell them about our findings (often descendants do not know where exactly the crash occurred, and what happened exactly), and plant a memorial at the crash site after the excavation is over.”
Wieman has visited the site with his crew and has found some rather unique findings to suggest that there is more below the surface of the ground.
“One witness showed me a piece of the aircraft he had picked up in 1944 at the site as a little boy. They also showed me where the piece of a wing (it broke off before the plane crashed, described by the pilot of the German Me109, Julius Meimberg) came down, 500 meters away from the main crash site, behind a house where an eyewitness was born.”
Also on his surface based search he has found pieces of Perspex (plastic windows), Bakelite, tire-fragments and small pieces of aluminium, some with the green camouflage paint still attached. The search team has applied for a permit to search the whole site to see what lurks beneath the surface.
The purpose of this dig is to find the answers as well as create a memorial stone for those that fell that day as well as contact the existing family members. Weiman has been able to trace and contact 12 out of the 23 families through Genealogists in both Canada and the United Kingdom and has made headlines in numerous publications from Peterborough to Winnipeg.
“They gave their lives for their country, and we should remember them, that is our goal. This crash site, where so many people died, people walk by without knowing. It should, in our opinion, have a memorial to remember them. This crash site and the fates behind it should not be forgotten.”
Weiman is looking for any family relation to Sergeant Walter Francis Hughes. If any family members are in town contact the Revelstoke Current at firstname.lastname@example.org.