After 71 years, missing RAF pilot identified.
At age 19, Flying Officer Derek Allen joined the RAF in 1937. Posted to "the Continent" in 1940, he flew the Hurricane fighter and was credited with 4 outright and 3 shared "kills" during the Battle for France.
However, on 18 May 1940, he was shot down. His body was never recovered; he was listed as "Missing in Action - Presumed Dead" and awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross posthumously.
The Air Historical Branch of the RAF never gave up. Finally, they discovered records that proved that the pilot's body had been removed by French farmers and buried as an "unknown airman" in the village cemetery.
Last week three generations of Allens, lead by Derek's younger brother, Richard, made a pilgrimage to his grave. There they dedicated a new headstone and placed flowers on his grave. Richard, now 81, spoke of his brother:
“There are 26 of us paying our respects to Derek, ranging from over 80 to 1 year old. My sister-in-law and my cousin from Canada have joined my son, three daughters, nephews and nieces and my eight grandchildren here today. They are only beginning to learn about what Derek did but the ceremony will bring the story home to the young ones. It will bring the family together in the act of remembrance. It happened long ago and one had almost forgotten, but it is a great relief to know where he rests.”
www.raf.mod.uk . . .
F/O Derek Allen, 1918-40. Gone, but not forgotten.
RIP, sir, and thank you for your service.