With memories of friendship driving his mission, Royal Air Force bomber pilot Reg Wilson single-handedly recovered the remains of his friend and co-pilot more than 60 years after their plane was shot down by enemy fire during World War II, the U.K.'s Daily Mail newspaper reported Friday.
Heading for home on Jan. 20, 1944, their aircraft — nicknamed Old Flo — was hit by anti-aircraft fire, bursting into flames.
Wilson and two other officers who survived the shoot-down became prisoners of war. The remains of all but two officers were found. One of them was a friend of Wilson's, flight engineer Sgt. John Bremner.
Returning to Germany to search for his missing comrade, Wilson, 85, met with local historians and returned to the wreckage site flanked with volunteers armed with metal detectors. Finding the remains of Bremner completed his mission, putting one more officer to rest.
“It's only right that John is honored,” Wilson told the Mail. "Thousands of good men, like John, lost their lives. It must not be forgotten."
His quest “spoke of the searing and life-long impact of service in the armed services,” a Royal British Legion spokesman told the Mail. “People don't put away their war memories easily.”