Search for family of Stratford sergeant killed in Second World War
- Credit: UK CROWN COPYRIGHT / MOD. Courtesy of Air Historical Branch (Royal Air Force).
At just 20 years old, Gerard Stanley Walters should have had his whole life ahead of him.
Instead, he was killed when his aircraft crashed in the Netherlands 72 years ago.
Gerard, who grew up in Stratford, had enlisted into the RAF in November 1940, at the age of 18.
He rose to the rank of sergeant and was on board an RAF Halifax bomber with six others on April 3, 1943, when it was reported as being hit by German anti-aircraft fire.
The plane had left RAF Lissett in Yorkshire to take part in bombing raids of Nazi-occupied Europe.
You may also want to watch:
All seven men were killed when the plane came down over a dyke in Wapenveld, 10km from the city of Zwolle, in the north of the country.
Their bodies lay there until late last year, when the Dutch authorities carried out an excavation of the site and found some of their remains.
- 1 The Boleyn Tavern in East Ham to welcome back punters after £1.5m restoration
- 2 11 films and TV shows shot in Newham
- 3 Arrests in Ilford and East Ham as police target suspected county lines gang
- 4 Exploding aerosol cans 'contributed to rapid spread' of Silvertown blaze
- 5 Looking back: five years since West Ham United left the Boleyn
- 6 Primary school recognised for supporting pupils' mental wellbeing
- 7 Free summer school offers music, fashion, hip hop dance and more
- 8 Richard House Children's Hospice sensory garden equipment stolen
- 9 Average house price in Newham slides again after record February
- 10 US burger chain Wendy's set to open first London restaurant in Stratford
Now an appeal has been launched by the Royal Air Force and the Ministry of Defence to track down any surviving relatives of Sgt Walters.
Louise Dorr, from the Ministry of Defence’s joint casualty and compassionate centre, said: ““We know from our records that before joining the RAF, Gerard was employed as a dairy hand and that his last known address was in Stratford.”
Born in June 1922 to Albert Stanley and Jane Walters, little is known about Gerard’s early years.
He had a brother, Albert Reginald Walters, who Louise believes may have lived in the Thurrock area.
She added: “Unfortunately that is about all we know about him and his family and that’s where the trail goes cold.
“Despite our best efforts we have not been able to trace any family members.”
The search for Sgt Walters’ family is part of a bid to invite the surviving relatives of all seven on board the flight to a possible future re-internment ceremony.
If you can help, call Louise on 01452 712612 extension 5465.