Heroes shot down days before victory

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Almost 70 years ago, and under the dead of night, fresh-faced Kimberley man, Flt Sgt Alexander Bostock, set off with three RAF colleagues on a World War Two bombing mission in Italy. They were never to return.

Their aircraft was gunned down on that fateful day - April 21, 1945 - and their bodies lay undiscovered in the mangled wreckage of the aircraft for 66 years.

Tragically, they died just ten days before the Allied Forces secured victory in Italy and they would have been free to return to loved ones.

Finally, in 2011, amateur archaeologists unearthed the ancient aircraft and the bodies of the brave souls inside.

Now the men, including Flt Sgt Bostock, who was just 20 when he died, have received a fitting burial at the Padua War Cemetery in Italy with full military honours.

The other men on board the Boston BZ590 bomber were pilot Sgt David Raikes, Navigator Flt Sgt David Perkins and Australian Air Gunner Warrant Officer John Hunt.

Australian Wing Commander Wes Perrett said: “It is fitting that the crew have been buried together as one, as they served together and died together.”

Flt Sgt Bostock lived in Truman Street and attended Kimberley’s British School and Church Hill School.

Just weeks after the wreckage and the remains were discovered, and the story came to light, by a strange twist of fate, Roy Plumb, chairman of Kimberley Chinemarelian Local Historical Society, came across Alex Bostock’s parents’ grave in Kimberley Cemetery.

Mr Plumb said: “I had read a story and couldn’t believe it when I came across a striking headstone bearing the names of Alex’s parents, William and Ada Bostock.

“Below their names was a tribute to Alex which said: ‘Our beloved son lost in action’.

“At the time it was hoped that Flt Sgt Bostock’s remains would be repatriated with his loved ones but the authorities have chosen to bury the four men together at Padua War Cemetery.”

The war heroes were laid to rest by the RAF’s Queen’s Colour Squadron as current members of their former 18 Squadron Royal Air Force looked on.

In attendance at the ceremony was Flt Sgt Bostock’s cousin, Glenice Hoffman, who spoke about the impact the loss of her son had on Alex’s heartbroken mother.

“When she heard the terrible news that Alex had disappeared while on a mission with the RAF, she was devastated,” said Ms Hoffman.

“Everyone else around her at that time was euphoric that the war had come to an end, but she was a broken woman and never got over her son’s loss.

“To be present at this remarkable military ceremony has been a privilege. Now Alexander can rest in peace, appropriately with his brave comrades.”