Search for missing US WW2 airmen begins in Arundel field

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Dig for lost B-24 LiberatorImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
US veterans are conducing the search in a field near Arundel Castle

A group of US veterans is digging up a field where a bomber crashed during World War Two, killing several American crew members.

A B-24 Liberator was in a group conducting a bombing raid near Paris in June 1944 when it took severe damage from anti-aircraft fire.

The crew managed to fly the plane back to England but it crashed in a farmer's field near Arundel, West Sussex.

Seven airmen bailed out but three were believed to have been killed.

US veterans with American Veterans Archaeological Recovery (AVAR) have teamed up with the University of York to try to recover any human remains from the crash site so that they can be repatriated to America, 77 years later.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
The crew managed to get the B-24 Liberator back across the English Channel after it was damaged during a bombing raid

Stephen Humphreys, CEO of AVAR and former US Air Force captain, said: "Our mission is to actually recover the remains of those service members who were lost when this aircraft crashed in 1944, have them identified... and hopefully give closure to some families if we can."

The bomber was part of the 489th Bomb Group, which flew B-24 Liberators out of RAF Halesworth in Suffolk for several months in 1944.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
The site was preserved after a young boy who lived on the farm saw the crash

The emergency landing was witnessed by a young boy who lived on the farm, who went on to ensure the site was preserved.

A memorial was placed at the edge of the field to the lost airmen.

Mr Humphreys said: "That farmer took a deep interest in both the crash and in the story of those airmen and was a big part of preserving this site within the local community for the last 77 years so that this site would be here for us to come in and do this recovery mission in 2021."

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