Remains of WWII airmen identified as elderly suspects released without charge


A 74-year-old man has been released without charge following a joint police and Defense Ministry investigation into human remains discovered on remote farmland.

The two young World War II airmen have since been identified and their remains returned to their families in Surrey.

North Yorkshire Police launched an investigation in late March last year, with officers searching for remote farmland near the sleepy village of Chop Gate.

Authorities were able to locate the remains, including bones, with forensic archaeologists confirming that they were male and estimating that they had likely been buried for more than 50 years.

Military decorations were also found, reports Yorkshire Live.

The discovery triggered a large-scale operation involving subject matter experts from both the RAF and the Army.

The Crown Prosecution Service has now determined that there is insufficient evidence to pursue the suspected offences.

However, they praised the efforts of North Yorkshire Police and Ministry of Defense Police, acknowledging the “exceptionally challenging” nature of the investigation.

Pilot Officer Alfred Robert William Milne.
Pilot Officer Alfred Robert William Milne

Pilot Officer Alfred Robert William Milne, 22, of Mitcham, and Warrant Officer Eric Alan Stubbs, also 22, of Guildford, were reunited with their families and received military burials.

They were tragically killed when their Mosquito aircraft crashed on the North York Moors near Bransdale, Helmsley on 11th October 1944. They were on a training exercise from RAF Beccles in Suffolk to RAF Turnberry in Ayrshire.

Petty Officer Eric Alan Stubbs, also 22 years old.
Warrant Officer Eric Alan Stubbs, also 22

Detective Inspector Carol Kirk, the lead investigator for North Yorkshire Police, said: “At the start of this investigation, I don’t think any of us thought we would be able to identify who the remains belonged to, much less return them to their proper place. . families and receive military burials with the dignity and respect they deserve.

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“Even without being able to take the investigation to court, we still believe this is a significant achievement.

“I recently had contact with both families and they want to pass on their thanks to everyone involved in bringing Alfred and Eric home.”

DI Kirk added: “On behalf of the investigation team, I thank colleagues from North Yorkshire Police, Ministry of Defense Police, Army and RAF who have played a part in this highly complex and challenging operation.

“The commitment, diligence and professionalism of everyone involved has been outstanding.

“I am also grateful to our local authority and community partners for their tireless support throughout, and to the local residents whose daily lives were disrupted for many weeks while this activity took place on site.”

A 72-year-old York-area man was arrested in the matter and was interviewed as part of the investigation, although police did not confirm the alleged crime for which he had been arrested.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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