Wreath placed on unmarked Kent graves of German airmen

Wreath to German airmen and other military personnel The unmarked graves of Horst von der Groeben and Gerhard Muller were discovered in September

A wreath has been laid on the unmarked graves of two German airmen who were shot down over Kent in World War II.

Horst von der Groeben, 24, and Gerhard Muller, 27, were killed on 13 August 1940, during a bombing raid.

The location of their bodies in Whitstable was discovered by Joe Potter of Felixstowe, Suffolk, two months ago.

An oversight after the war meant their bodies were not moved to Cannock Chase German war cemetery in Staffordshire and their whereabouts was forgotten.

World War II: The Battle of Britain

The Spitfire fighter planes played a decisive role in the Battle of Britain between July and October 1940
  • By summer 1940, the Nazis had conquered much of Europe and had Britain in their sights
  • During a speech on 18 June, 1940, Winston Churchill announced: "... the Battle of France is over. The Battle of Britain is about to begin."
  • The Luftwaffe began attacks in mid-July, but met with resilience from the outnumbered RAF
  • The airforce frustrated Hitler's airmen and, by October 1940, he had abandoned invasion plans
  • An estimated 1,023 RAF and 1,887 Luftwaffe aircraft were lost in what became known as the Battle of Britain

Source: BBC History

Mr Potter is currently campaigning to have the bodies of the two Luftwaffe 1st Lieutenants exhumed and placed next to their compatriots in Staffordshire.

His efforts have been praised by Canterbury Conservative MP Julian Brazier.

Members of of the Whitstable Royal British Legion placed a wreath on their unmarked graves on Saturday afternoon.

A card attached to the wreath reads: "This wreath was laid in remembrance of all military personnel irrespective of their nationality whose final resting place is in this cemetery.

"This includes the two buried in this unmarked grave: Oblt Horst von der Groeben, Oblt Gerhard Muller. Rest in peace."

The graves of 32 other military personnel are also buried at Whitstable Cemetery.

Donald Bird, vice-president of Whitstable Royal British Legion, said: "Seventy-two years is a long time ago, and I know people still harbour grudges about the Germans, but whether we like it or not we're all Europeans now."

Remembrance ceremonies were held across Kent on Sunday to commemorate service personnel who died in world wars and other conflicts.

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