After 73 long years of not knowing how her father died in the Second World War, Valerie Renton from Harrogate finally has some closure.
Ms Renton vividly remembers her mother sitting on the stairs crying when she first heard the news that her father, Sgt Reginald Renton, was missing, presumed dead.
It is a memory that has stayed with Ms Renton for decades, but was at last able to lay it to rest on Remembrance Day following a “completely unexpected and very bizarre” phone call.
Last year a community website for Bishop Monkton sought to find out more about Sgt Renton, whose name is on the village’s war memorial. Not expecting to hear anything back so soon, Richard Field, Editor of the website, was astounded when two days later he heard from a German World War Two crash site search team which had just located a new crash site, and one of the dead was Sgt Renton.
Ms Renton was traced after an appeal was posted on the website, and told that her father, who was an RAF bomb-aimer, was killed in a night attack on Mannheim and Ludwigshafen in 1943.
On Remembrance Day Erik Wieman from the crash site search team flew over from Germany to present Sgt Renton’s family with parts of the crashed plane, at Bishop Monkton Church’s remembrance service.
Sgt Renton’s granddaughter, Sally Ann Linfoot said: “My mother has been very emotional, to find out what happened to him after all these years is just remarkable and unbelievable. She was very shocked and it took her a while for it to all sink in when she found out, and I was the same.
“I was absolutely stunned to hear the news after all this time, and now we can put the whole thing behind us. I am planning on going over to Germany to plant a plaque at the site some time next year.
“Being presented with the parts was a very special moment for us, it really brought it home and made us think about what happened, and I am just so thankful to Erik and Richard for making this all happen.”
Richard Field said: “It is nice to feel that we have helped, bringing some comfort and closure to the family. It is great that there is a happy ending after all these years of not knowing and wondering. We weren’t sure if we would hear anything back, and to think that all of this has happened from a post on a website is wonderful.”