A SECOND World War veteran has appealed for help tracing relatives of a friend who was killed in action.
Thomas Walton, of Saskatchewan, Canada, spent much of the war stationed with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) at RAF Middleton St George, now Durham Tees Valley Airport, near Darlington.
His friend and colleague, flight engineer Sergeant Bill Hampseed, from Stockton, was killed after being ordered to abandon their Lancaster when it got into difficulties over France.
Sgt Hampseed is buried in the Canadian War Cemetery at Bretteville-sur-Laize, in Normandy.
Mr Walton recalls the plane being shot at, although Stanley Howes’ book, Goosepool, which charts the history of RAF and RCAF Middleton St George, says the aircraft ran into severe icing difficulties when it reached the French coast and subsequently became uncontrollable.
Mr Walton said: “Back in the 1940s, I was stationed at Middleton St George, near Darlington, and was a wireless operator on a Lancaster bomber of No. 6 Group (Canadian) 428 Ghost Squadron, RCAF.
“We completed 21 sorties over Germany.
“On December 2, 1944, on a trip to Hagen, Germany, we were shot down over Rouen, France, and Bill Hampseed was killed, along with our Canadian navigator.
“Bill was a real nice, quiet fellow, I really liked him. I often think of him.
“At that time, lots of crews never returned to base, so it was a fairly common occurrence to lose contact with friends in your squadron.
“However, recently, Bill has popped into my mind several times and I have been wondering whether he had brothers, sisters, cousins or other acquaintances still living in Stockton.
“The name of The Northern Echo came up on my computer while I was searching the internet.
“If someone might read my request, then I would be able to learn a lot more about my good friend, Bill Hampseed.
“He was a great guy.”
Anyone who is related to Mr Hampseed, or who might be able to help in any other way, is asked to write to Mr Walton at 33 Fairview Court, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, S7L 4L2.
*The Tracer service is free. Write to The Northern Echo, Priestgate, Darlington, DL1 1NF, or email firstname.lastname@example.org with Tracer in the subject line.