Flyer's heroics revealed
IT IS a moving memento of a bygone era – but also a touchingly personal story of courage and death.Nearly 60 years after he was killed in action in one of the last bombing raids of the war, a log book belonging to Flight Sergeant Ken Alder, an airman whose parents lived in Ipswich, has turned up in a collector's shop.
By Tina Heath
IT IS a moving memento of a bygone era – but also a touchingly personal story of courage and death.
Nearly 60 years after he was killed in action in one of the last bombing raids of the war, a log book belonging to Flight Sergeant Ken Alder, an airman whose parents lived in Ipswich, has turned up in a collector's shop.
The 21-year-old was shot down over Germany on February 2, 1945, in one of the last bombing raids of the war.
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Alder, together with all but one of the crew of the Lancaster bomber, was killed.
Enthusiast Paul Knowles bought the logbook – a flight-by-flight record of his entire flying career, from his initial training as a wireless operator and air gunner, to his missions over Germany for just £20 from a shop in Shrewsbury, Shropshire.
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On the last completed page the logbook bears a stamp: Death Presumed. Thereafter, the pages are blank.
However it contained other items which must have been of great sentimental value to Ken's family. These included the dreaded telegram: "Regret inform you your son 1399114 Sgt K.C.R. Alder is missing as the result of air operations on the night of 2/3 Feb 1945 Stop Letter Follows Shortly Stop."
Also tucked inside was a local newspaper obituary, and notes from his mother keeping a diary of her visit to her son's grave in Germany in 1949.
Paul, who mostly collects Victorian campaign medals but also has a more general historical interest, was drawn into a fascinating detective story which led to him tracking down the only survivor of the plane, Don Clement, the Canadian rear gunner.
But how did his logbook come to be in Shrewsbury? His parents lived in Ipswich - the exact address on the telegram was "39 Rands Way, Nacton estate" - and nothing in the documents points to any Shropshire connection. Paul said: "This is the connection I want to try to find out.
"There has to be a connection between Shropshire and Ipswich. From a collecting point of view, I don't think this has been held by a collector before. It's come from the family - a house clearance or something. "I'm hoping this newspaper article will establish what the connection is.
Somebody might read about Ken Alder and say: 'That's my great uncle.'"
N If you can help solve the mystery please contact The Evening Star newsdesk on 01473 282257 or write to us at 30 Lower Brook St, Ipswich, Suffolk IP4 1AN.