Dead airman's family to visit Belgian crash site after Croydon Guardian appeal

Croydon Guardian: Flight Sergeant Frederick Foster died when his plane was shot down in April 1944 Flight Sergeant Frederick Foster died when his plane was shot down in April 1944

The family of an airman shot down over Belgium 70 years ago is planning to visit the crash site after reading about an appeal in the Croydon Guardian.

Belgians researching the history of their country during the Nazi occupation got in touch with the paper as they were trying to trace the family of Frederick Albert Foster.

He was part of a devastating night sortie on April 24, 1944, which involved 637 aircraft bombing the transportation system at Karlsruhe, West Germany.

But as the Lancaster bomber Flight-Sergeant Foster was in flew back to the Witchford home base of the 115th Squadron it was involved in a dogfight with German Messerschmitts over Belgium.

At 2.28am on the morning of April 25 it was shot down 3km north of Mechelen, northern Belgium, and all seven crew were killed.

Filip Doms and his associates asked the paper to help them trace Mr Foster's descendants and get a picture of him to add to their gallery which already includes the other six airmen.

This article was seen by a relative of Mr Foster who still lives in Croydon and passed on to Anne Sheldrake, who would have been his eldest niece.

She has given the local historians a picture of her relative and said some of the family are now planning to visit the crash site, where a memorial has been put up.

The 63-year-old said: "It was surprising to see the appeal because the family had a letter from the air ministry in 1946 saying that they weren’t able to keep a grave there and he would be moved to a cemetery in Arnhem.

"We had no idea that the villagers were going to do anything but it’s lovely.

"We plan to visit the area next year."

Mrs Sheldrake added: "My grandparents had photos up of him and my mum spoke about Fred.

"Since my parents passing I have got the photos of Fred and things that he had like his medals."

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