“Exceptionally challenging” investigation reunites WW2 airmen with their families
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A joint investigation by North Yorkshire Police and the Ministry of Defence Police into the discovery of human remains and military memorabilia near Chop Gate has concluded without any charges being brought against a 74-year-old man.
They were found at the remote farming location in the Hambleton District on 31 March 2020.
It resulted in a large-scale operation involving subject matter experts from the RAF and the Army, as well as forensic archaeologists who were able to identify the remains as male and more than half-a-century old.
The Crown Prosecution Service has now determined that there is not enough evidence to pursue suspected offences.
However, they praised the efforts of North Yorkshire Police and the Ministry of Defence Police, recognising the “exceptionally challenging” nature of the investigation.
Reunited with their families
One of the positive outcomes of the investigation was the identification of two Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve air crew from World War Two who were reunited with their families and given military burials on 12 August last year.
It can now be confirmed they were:
Pilot Officer Alfred Robert William Milne, aged 22 from Mitcham, Surrey
Warrant Officer Eric Alan Stubbs, also aged 22, from Guildford, Surrey.
They were tragically killed when their Mosquito aircraft crashed on the North York Moors near Bransdale, Helmsley, on 11 October 1944. They were on a training exercise from RAF Beccles in Suffolk to RAF Turnberry in Ayrshire.
Detective Inspector Carol Kirk, the North Yorkshire Police senior investigating officer, said: “At the beginning of this investigation, I don’t think any of us thought we’d be able to identify who the remains belonged to let alone return them to their families and be given military burials with the dignity and respect that they deserved.
“Even without being able to progress the investigation to court, we still believe this is a significant achievement.
“I have recently had contact with both families and they wish to pass on their thanks to all those involved in bringing Alfred and Eric home.”
DI Kirk added: “On behalf the investigation team, I thank North Yorkshire Police, Ministry of Defence Police, Army and RAF colleagues who have played a part in this highly complex and challenging operation.
“The commitment, diligence and professionalism from everyone involved has been outstanding.
“I also thank our local authority and community partners for their unstinting support throughout, and to the local residents whose daily lives were disrupted for many weeks while this activity was ongoing at the location.”