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MOD searches for relatives of two men killed in World War II

The MOD is trying to trace the relatives of an airman and a soldier, both killed in the Netherlands, so they can attend burial services.

After the final resting places of Sergeant Gerard Stanley Walters and Lance Corporal Donald Stabler Noble were discovered recently, the MOD’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC) has launched an appeal to trace any relatives so they may have the opportunity to attend their burial services.

On 3 April 1943 Sgt Walters was one of seven crew onboard the Halifax bomber DT795, which took off from RAF Lissett near Bridlington. It was one of 348 planes taking part in nightly raids on the Krupps factories in Essen, Germany. On the home leg DT795 was hit and crashed in the Apeldoorns Canal in Wapenweld, 10km from Zwolle. All of the crew died but four of the bodies were not found, including Sgt Walters.

Along with aircraft debris, he was discovered in September 2014 when the Dutch authorities excavated the crash site. He was born in Stratford, east London, in June 1922, and was aged 20 when he was killed. His parents were Albert Sidney and Jane Walters and he joined the RAF in November 1940.

It is believed Sgt Walters had a brother called Albert Reginald Walters who lived in the Mansfield area and that Albert’s children and grandchildren lived there at some point or possibly in the Droitwich/Kidderminster/Stourport area of Worcestershire.

Meanwhile L/Cpl Noble enlisted in the Army as a boy soldier in 1938 and joined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment before moving to the Royal Berkshire Regiment and finally to the 4th Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment in August 1944. He was killed in action on 4 October 1944 at South Arnhem and his body lay undiscovered in a field grave. He was found, along with other unidentified remains, by Dutch authorities during a routine exploded ordinance clearance.

He was born in the parish of West Leeds on 22 March 1922 and was aged 22 at the time of his death. His mother was Dorothy May Noble and there is also a possibility that he had a half-sister, but this has never been verified.

Louise Dorr, of the JCCC commemorations team, said:

We know from our records that before joining the RAF, Gerard was employed as a dairy hand and that his last known address was in Stratford, east London.

We know that before joining the Army, Donald was a scholar and living with his mother, Dorothy, in Headingly,Leeds. Dorothy had two sisters, but we haven’t been able to find their descendants. His last known address was in the Burley area of Leeds.

She added:

After all these years, we would love to be able to trace these men’s families so they can attend the burial services. Any help that anyone can give us would be much appreciated.

The JCCC is part of MOD’s Defence Business Services and provides a focal point for casualty administration, compassionate travel for members of the British Armed Forces, along with co-ordinating investigations into the discovery of remains of British service personnel killed in World War I and World War II.

Anyone with any information is asked to call Ms Dorr on 07917428269.


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