Remains of two Second World War servicemen identified after police investigation

The identities of two RAF heroes killed during a top-secret World War II mission have finally been established following a police investigation into the discovery of their remains.

The remains were found at a remote agricultural site in Hambleton, North Yorkshire, in March 2020, sparking a criminal investigation.

The police and Ministry of Defense then launched a large-scale operation involving experts from the RAF, the army and forensic archaeologists.

Officials confirmed on Thursday (February 3) that they had been identified as relatives of Alfred Robert William Milne and Eric Alan Stubbs, both aged 22.

Investigations revealed the couple were killed when their Mosquito plane crashed on the North York Moors near Bransdale, Helmsley on 11 October 1944. At the time they were on a training exercise from RAF Beccles in Suffolk to RAF Turnberry in Ayrshire when they disappeared.

The soldiers flew with Covert Squadron 618, which was tasked with developing and deploying the bouncy bomb during the war. Military memorabilia were found beneath their bodies, which had remained buried for more than 75 years.

Prosecutors have now determined that there is insufficient evidence to pursue alleged crimes against a 74-year-old man. The offenses were not specified.

However, North Yorkshire Police and Ministry of Defense Police were commended for acknowledging the exceptionally challenging nature of the investigation.

Detective Inspector Carol Kirk, chief investigator at North Yorkshire Police, said the men were now buried with dignity and respect. He said: “At the outset of this investigation, none of us thought that we would be able to determine who owned the remains, let alone return them to their families and give them a military burial with the dignity and respect they deserve.

“Even without being able to take the investigation to court, we still believe this is a significant achievement. I have had recent contact with both families and they would like to pass on their thanks to everyone involved in bringing Alfred and Eric home.”

DI Kirk added: “On behalf of the investigation team I would like to thank North Yorkshire Police, MoD Police, the Army and colleagues at the RAF who have been involved in this highly complex and challenging operation.

“The commitment, diligence and professionalism of everyone involved was outstanding. I also thank our local authorities and community partners for their unwavering support throughout and the local residents whose daily lives were disrupted for many weeks while this activity took place at the site.”

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