International appeal to find relatives of Second World War Norwich airman Sgt Sidney Smith for Dutch memorial unveiling

Sgt Sidney Smith from Norwich who was killed after the Lancaster bomber he was flying in was shot do

Sgt Sidney Smith from Norwich who was killed after the Lancaster bomber he was flying in was shot down by the Luftwaffe above Molenaarsgraaf in Holland on May 22 1944. Picture: SUPPLIED BY ARJAN WEMMERS - Credit: SUPPLIED BY ARJAN WEMMERS

The hunt is on for relatives of a Second World War airman who died in action ahead of a memorial unveiling in Holland.

The 2015 excavation of the propeller and engine of the Lancaster bomber which was shot down by Luftw

The 2015 excavation of the propeller and engine of the Lancaster bomber which was shot down by Luftwaffe above Molenaarsgraaf in Holland on May 22 1944. Picture: SUPPLIED BY ARJAN WEMMERS - Credit: SUPPLIED BY ARJAN WEMMERS

RAF pilot Sgt Sidney Smith, from Norwich, was 23 when he died after the Avro Lancaster bomber he was flying in exploded above a Dutch village on May 22, 1944.

The tragedy above Molenaarsgraaf killed six of the seven British crew members.

The grave in Molenaarsgraaf church, Holland, dedicated to the British airmen who died after their La

The grave in Molenaarsgraaf church, Holland, dedicated to the British airmen who died after their Lancaster bomber was shot down by the Luftwaffe on May 22 1944. Picture: SUPPLIED BY ARJAN WEMMERS - Credit: SUPPLIED BY ARJAN WEMMERS

After being shot down by the Luftwaffe at 1am, the bomber's Packard Merlin V12 engine and propeller were buried 12 feet underground in a farmer's field.

One man who lives in Molenaarsgraaf made it his mission to excavate the aircraft parts –completed in April 2015 – which will be turned into a permanent memorial opposite the village church.

The grave in Molenaarsgraaf church, Holland, dedicated to the British airmen who died after their La

The grave in Molenaarsgraaf church, Holland, dedicated to the British airmen who died after their Lancaster bomber was shot down by the Luftwaffe on May 22 1944. Picture: SUPPLIED BY ARJAN WEMMERS - Credit: SUPPLIED BY ARJAN WEMMERS


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Arjan Wemmers, 39, wants relatives of the seven crew members to attend the memorial's unveiling on May 20 next year.

He is yet to make contact with family members of Sgt Smith whose service number was 1466984 and was the son of Walter and Annie Smith.

An archive picture of the debris of the Lancaster bomber in Molenaarsgraaf, Holland, which was shot

An archive picture of the debris of the Lancaster bomber in Molenaarsgraaf, Holland, which was shot down by the Luftwaffe on May 22 1944. Picture: SUPPLIED BY ARJAN WEMMERS - Credit: SUPPLIED BY ARJAN WEMMERS

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Mr Wemmers, an aircraft and Second World War enthusiast, said: 'Over the past few years I have met several relatives of the other crew members. If you meet them you see how important it is for them to commemorate the airmen.

'The memorial is very important because the young men gave their lives for our freedom.'

An archive picture of the debris of the Lancaster bomber in Molenaarsgraaf, Holland, which was shot

An archive picture of the debris of the Lancaster bomber in Molenaarsgraaf, Holland, which was shot down by the Luftwaffe on May 22 1944. Picture: SUPPLIED BY ARJAN WEMMERS - Credit: SUPPLIED BY ARJAN WEMMERS

He also wants to find out more information about Sgt Smith from living relatives.

The crew of the 156th RAF Pathfinder squadron are buried on the grounds of the Molenaarsgraaf church – but Mr Wemmers wanted a more visible memorial.

The grave of Sgt Sidney Smith from Norwich and other airmen who were killed after the Lancaster bomb

The grave of Sgt Sidney Smith from Norwich and other airmen who were killed after the Lancaster bomber they were flying in was shot down by the Luftwaffe above Molenaarsgraaf in Holland on May 22 1944. Picture: SUPPLIED BY ARJAN WEMMERS - Credit: SUPPLIED BY ARJAN WEMMERS

'The propeller and engine are in unbelievable condition. If you see them you would hardly imagine they have been in the ground for 72 years,' he added.

He first came into contact with the story of the Lancaster bomber in 2006 while researching another wartime aircraft tragedy. It was understood the propeller and engine were in a farmer's field and after eight years of government discussions, permission was granted to excavate.

The restored propeller of the Lancaster bomber which was shot down by the Luftwaffe above Molenaarsg

The restored propeller of the Lancaster bomber which was shot down by the Luftwaffe above Molenaarsgraaf in Holland on May 22 1944. Picture: SUPPLIED BY ARJAN WEMMERS - Credit: SUPPLIED BY ARJAN WEMMERS

After the discovery, Mr Wemmers helped set up the War Memorial Molenaarsgraaf-Brandwijk foundation to keep the memory of the Lancaster bomber crew alive.

Seven volunteers have refurbished the engine and propeller which will be displayed in a glass case and mount.

Volunteers from the War Memorial Molenaarsgraaf-Brandwijk restoring the engine of the Lancaster bomb

Volunteers from the War Memorial Molenaarsgraaf-Brandwijk restoring the engine of the Lancaster bomber which was shot down by the Luftwaffe above Molenaarsgraaf in Holland on May 22 1944. Picture: SUPPLIED BY ARJAN WEMMERS - Credit: SUPPLIED BY ARJAN WEMMERS

If you are related to Sgt Smith contact Mr Wemmers by emailing ajwemmers@hotmail.com.

Do you have a military history story? Email sophie.wyllie@archant.co.uk

Volunteers from the War Memorial Molenaarsgraaf-Brandwijk restoring the engine of the Lancaster bomb

Volunteers from the War Memorial Molenaarsgraaf-Brandwijk restoring the engine of the Lancaster bomber which was shot down by the Luftwaffe above Molenaarsgraaf in Holland on May 22 1944. Picture: SUPPLIED BY ARJAN WEMMERS - Credit: SUPPLIED BY ARJAN WEMMERS

Volunteers from the War Memorial Molenaarsgraaf-Brandwijk restoring the engine of the Lancaster bomb

Volunteers from the War Memorial Molenaarsgraaf-Brandwijk restoring the engine of the Lancaster bomber which was shot down by the Luftwaffe above Molenaarsgraaf in Holland on May 22 1944. Picture: SUPPLIED BY ARJAN WEMMERS - Credit: SUPPLIED BY ARJAN WEMMERS

The 2015 excavation of the propeller and engine of the Lancaster bomber which was shot down by Luftw

The 2015 excavation of the propeller and engine of the Lancaster bomber which was shot down by Luftwaffe above Molenaarsgraaf in Holland on May 22 1944. Picture: SUPPLIED BY ARJAN WEMMERS - Credit: SUPPLIED BY ARJAN WEMMERS

The 2015 excavation of the propeller and engine of the Lancaster bomber which was shot down by Luftw

The 2015 excavation of the propeller and engine of the Lancaster bomber which was shot down by Luftwaffe above Molenaarsgraaf in Holland on May 22 1944. Picture: SUPPLIED BY ARJAN WEMMERS - Credit: SUPPLIED BY ARJAN WEMMERS

The 2015 excavation of the propeller and engine of the Lancaster bomber which was shot down by Luftw

The 2015 excavation of the propeller and engine of the Lancaster bomber which was shot down by Luftwaffe above Molenaarsgraaf in Holland on May 22 1944. Picture: SUPPLIED BY ARJAN WEMMERS - Credit: SUPPLIED BY ARJAN WEMMERS

An aerial view of Molenaarsgraaf, Holland, where a Lancaster bomber was shot down by Luftwaffe on Ma

An aerial view of Molenaarsgraaf, Holland, where a Lancaster bomber was shot down by Luftwaffe on May 222 1944. Picture: SUPPLIED BY ARJAN WEMMERS - Credit: SUPPLIED BY ARJAN WEMMERS

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