Second World War airman's lost gift from wife found on airfield 80 years on

Richard and his wife to be Marion in 1942.

Richard and his wife to be Marion in 1942. - Credit: 490th Bomber Group Memorial

An airman's bracelet that was given to him as a keepsake by his partner 80 years ago has been found and returned to his family.

While working on an aircraft on Eye Airfield during the Second World War, airman Richard Francis lost a bracelet given to him by his then girlfriend Marion, who later became his wife.

The bracelet had been left undiscovered on farm land owned by the Baldwin family which used to be the airfield, but 80 years later, on a sunny autumn day in October, it was found by a farm worker who saw it "glinting" on the top of freshly ploughed soil.

Richard Francis' Second World War keepsake bracelet, which was found on Eye Airfield.

Richard Francis' Second World War keepsake bracelet, which was found on Eye Airfield. - Credit: 490th Bomber Group Memorial

Tom Baldwin, who owns the land, then contacted Jackie Aling and members of the 490th Bomber Group Memorial Group, who spent a week carrying out research to find the family of Mr Francis.

Other groups were also involved in the efforts including 8th Air Force groups and Facebook pages Get It Home United - God Tag Returns and Arbeitsgruppe Vermisstenforschung - CSI Germany.

"80 years on. It must have just got turned over with his ploughing when the harvest was taken in," Mrs Aling said.

Jackie Aling, member of the 490th Bomb Group Memorial Project.

Jackie Aling, member of the 490th Bomb Group Memorial Project. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

"It was engraved on one side with a man's name and his service number.

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"On the back it was engraved 'love Marion', so we set about trying to find his family and found his eldest daughter and eventually another daughter and son as well."

The couple's eldest daughter Deborah Francis, from California in America, was contacted about the news of the find.

Mrs Aling said: "She was absolutely shocked and bewildered.

"On a personal basis, we all agree that at a time of our lives which we've all been going through, when most of us have felt fed up to the teeth of everything, it's been a real lift.

"It's been a wonderful thing that has happened and the family over there say the same.

"It feels as if there's a little bit of light shining on us all."

Mr Francis died in 2001 and his wife in 2011.

His bracelet is currently making its last journey home to his family in the US via RAF Lakenheath after it was shipped out on Friday, November 5.

Mrs Aling said: "It seemed apt that the air force should arrange for it to get back.

"We're aiming it would get back before November 11."

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