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Hunt for family of wartime hero

PUBLISHED: 14:10 20 October 2003 | UPDATED: 14:32 03 March 2010

DUTCH wartime historians are seeking the family of a fallen Ipswich hero to pass on his cigarette lighter.

Klaus van der Heide found a lighter engraved with the initials JDT while excavating a Wellington bomber shot down over the Netherlands in November 1941.

DUTCH wartime historians are seeking the family of a fallen Ipswich hero to pass on his cigarette lighter.

Klaus van der Heide found a lighter engraved with the initials JDT while excavating a Wellington bomber shot down over the Netherlands in November 1941.

After lengthy research it was revealed Sergeant Jack Dennis Thompson was the owner.

Friend Douwe Drijver interrupted a family holiday in Clacton to seek family members of Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve member.

And he said the 300-mile round trip was a small way of repaying British soldiers who fell liberating Holland from the Nazis.

He said: "Many things happened in that war that I could not comprehend. In the years after the war I began to wonder what had happened to the men that liberated our country.

"These men volunteered to fight a war, they risked and many of them gave their lives for liberating people they did not even know.

"That is my drive to do this work. I want to pay back a little of the debt I think we have towards them."

Sgt Thompson was part of a six-man crew aboard the Wellington, of whom lost their lives.

The Dutch historians tracked down his details by trawling through the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.

It revealed Jack Thompson was the son of Ernest Alfred Thompson and Edith Ellen Beatrice Thompson of Ipswich.

Sgt Thompson's plane crashed over marshland in the Dutch village of Akkrum. The excavation became possible because the warm summer had dried out much of the land.

The lighter was among several belongings amid the wreckage, included a bracelet and a cigarette case.

Sgt Thompson was only 21 when he died on November 7 1941, a member of 75 (New Zealand) Squadron, his likely base was in East Anglia – with bases in Stradishall, Mildenhall an Feltwell between 1939 and 1942.

He is buried, with the rest of the crew, at Bergen-Op-Zoom Cemetery.

Mr Drijver said: "My friend found the lighter and because we were coming to England we thought we would try to find the relatives of the owner.

"It belongs to them and we hope that they will be pleased to have it although we understand that people do not always want to remember."

Any relatives of Mr Thompson who are interested in reclaiming the lighter can contact the Evening Star on 01473 230023.


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