RAF Short Stirling which failed to return after raid on Berlin discovered along with the remains of its crew 65-years later

Stirling short

On 30 March 1943 a Short Sterling bomber (BK 716) of No.218 Squadron which was also known as the Gold Coast Squadron after the Governor of the Gold Coast (modern-day Ghana) and the people of the Gold Coast who adopted the squadron, was shot down by German fighter pilot Werner Rapp. The entire crew was killed and there was no trace of the aircraft which crashed somewhere over the Netherlands.

BK 716 training

No source but said to be the crew of BK 716 during training

In 2008 the Stirling was accidently discovered after part of its undercarriage fouled the anchor of a boat on Lake Markermeer, Netherlands, and in 2019 a cigarette case bearing the initials of Flying Officer John Michael Campbell was recovered and human remains of the crew were identified through DNA. The crew are now remembered at the Bos der Onverzettelijen Memorial Gardens in the Netherlands.

   Research and recovery was coordinated by Johan Grass a volunteer who investigates crash sites in the Netherlands and founded the Aircraft Recovery Group.

The Crew of Short Stirling BK 716

  • Sgt Charles Armstrong Bell, 23 from Langley Park, County Durham
  • Pilot Officer John Michael Campbell, 30 from Golders Green, London
  • Flying Officer Harry Gregory Farrington, 24 from Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
  • Flying Officer John Frederick Harris, 28 from Swindon, Wiltshire
  • Sgt Ronald Kennedy, 22 from Newcastle-upon-Tyne 

Author: Alan Malcher

Military historian and defence commentator

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