In April 2012, a New Zealand newspaper, The Nelson Mail began running a series of stories about a war-time event including the heroic actions of a local man named Tom Wilkinson. Wilkinson, who hailed from Nelson sacrificed his life attempting to crash land his stricken RAF bomber whilst avoiding the German forest village of Schwanheim at midnight on a September evening in 1943.
As it turned out, three of the seven man crew onboard the Stirling bomber of 75(NZ)Sqn RAF came from the South Island town of Nelson – my father included.
Since the discovery of the crash site in 2011 and under the guidance of German air crash historian, Uwe Benkel, the town of Schwanheim decided to memorialise the historic event in a gesture of reconciliation and appreciation.
It made one heck of a story.
My thanks go to The Nelson Mail’s senior reporter, Tracy Neal.
Pages reproduced with the permission of The Nelson Mail.