Closure after 72 years

2016-01-13 09:20
Pietermaritzburg resident Margaret Fitzroy holds up the scrapbook she compiled detailing her uncle’s burial, 72 years after he died when his plane was shot down by German soldiers in 1943.

Pietermaritzburg resident Margaret Fitzroy holds up the scrapbook she compiled detailing her uncle’s burial, 72 years after he died when his plane was shot down by German soldiers in 1943. ( Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - Margaret Fitzroy’s uncle died 72 years ago when his plane went down in Germany during World War 2.

However, the Pietermaritzburg resident was only recently able to bury her uncle.

Fitzroy (78), a former pre-school teacher, told her remarkable story to the Pietermaritzburg Memorable Order of Tin Hats (Moths) on Monday afternoon.

Fitzroy’s uncle, Alexander Bone, was one of four sons who joined the British military during World War 2.

Bone, who lived and grew up in England, joined the Royal Air Force straight after leaving school and, in April 1943, was sent over Germany to bomb a factory in Slovakia.

Bone was the flying officer, with six crew in the plane with him. Fitzroy said the plane was shot down as the crew flew back over Germany, near Frankfurt.

The plane plunged nose-first into the ground in farmland, throwing two crew out with the force of the impact.

The two were laid to rest at Durnbach War Cemetery in Bavaria, Germany in 1943. However, the bodies of the remaining crew were not recovered from the plane’s wreckage.

“Peter, a boy in his teens who lived on the farm where the plane crashed, said he always wanted to dig the plane up and give the fallen crew a proper burial ceremony,” said Fitzroy.

“He said there had been many German families who had lost their boys in the war and had not had closure, and he wanted to at least give closure to the families of the British crew.

“In 2013, the British defence ministry said the plane should be dug up and they brought out a team to do the extraction. They found the bones of the five men, including my uncle.”

Fitzroy said plans for the burial of the crew only got started in 2015, and, late last year, she, along with eight of her family, and the families of the other four men, flew out to Bavaria for the burial.

She said Bone was 31 years old when he died and had no children as his wife had died from tuberculosis a few years earlier. “The Germans asked us if we would like to bury the five with the other two men and we said ‘yes’. They had died together and we thought they should be put to rest together.

“It was a superb ceremony that was very moving and very special to us all. We finally have closure,” she said.


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