Bomber crew to be buried in Russia

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The Independent Online
FOUR RAF crewmen who died while flying to Russia to help protect Second World War convoys will be buried on Wednesday with full military honours in the northern city of Archangel. The Russian army will provide a guard of honour.

The ceremony, to be attended by the men's relatives, comes 51 years after their Hampden bomber was shot down by German aircraft at Alekurtti on the way to Murmansk.

Only one man survived, the Australian pilot, Flt Sgt John Page, who was taken prisoner. The Germans said the plane had been burnt out and the four crew men trapped inside had been buried with full military honours.

The truth was that they and the remains of their aircraft had been left where it crashed close to Alekurtti, then still part of Finland.

In 1991, the British Embassy in Moscow was told that the remains of a British bomber had been found together with the remains of the crew. Leslie Harry Mallinson, an RAF armourer from the Manchester area, was identified by a gold signet ring.

The other members of the crew were Pilot Officer John Douglas Smith, the navigator, from Hastings, East Sussex; Flt Sgt George Kirby, wireless operator from Keswick, Cumbria, and Sgt Roy Otter, air gunner/wireless operator from Sheffield.