Australian WWII aviator laid to rest

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The Hon Matt Keogh MP

Minister for Defence Personnel

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

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Stephanie Mathews on 0407 034 485

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4 May 2024

As a nation we’re committed to honouring the service and sacrifice of all Defence personnel, whether they’re currently serving or did so more than a century ago.

True to this commitment, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has conducted a memorial service this week in The Netherlands, finally laying to rest Second World War RAAF pilot Flight Sergeant Charles Carr Atkin who was killed in a plane crash more than 80 years ago.

On the night of 4/5 March 1943, a Royal Air Force (RAF) Wellington aircraft, piloted by Flight Sergeant Atkin, was tasked on a mission from RAF Station Wymeswold, England, to drop leaflets over Breskens in The Netherlands. During this mission, the aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire and crashed into a nearby field. Flight Sergeant Atkin was the sole occupant of the aircraft when it crashed. 

In November 2013, a civilian contractor mistakenly excavated the crash site, unearthing aircraft components and human remains. These remains were collected by the Royal Netherlands Air Force’s Salvage Team and handed to the Grave Service of the Royal Netherlands Army.

The United Kingdom Ministry of Defence’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre informed the Royal Australian Air Force of the discovery and after a fact-finding investigation; a Defence Identification Board confirmed these remains to be those of Flight Sergeant Atkin.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission reunified Flight Sergeant Atkin’s remains in October 2023 where he is buried at Flushing (Vlissingen) Northern Cemetery, The Netherlands.

I’d like to thank all those involved in this significant investigation; it is especially heart-warming for the family of the aviator involved to come together with Australian Government and Defence representatives to remember Flight Sergeant Atkin and his sacrifice, in his final resting place.

We will continue to strive to investigate, recover and identify our missing service personnel as part of our commitment to honouring their service and sacrifice for our nation.


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This builds on an announcement Minister Keogh made in France last week, identifying seven previously unknown soldiers who fought in the battle of Fromelles -

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