Human remains found at site of WWII spitfire crash

Police search the crash site
Police search the crash site
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A SEARCH for human remains is being carried out on the site where a World War II Spitfire crashed almost 70 years ago.

The RAF Spitfire crashed in the Borders shortly after taking off from Drem air base on a training flight on January 16, 1943.

The wreckage was discovered by residents near the site where it crashed at Westruther, near Greenlaw, 

The pilot, 20-year-old Sergeant Malcolm Eric Edward Robertson of Royal New 
Zealand Air Force, was killed in the crash and his remains were later interred at Craigton Cemetery, inGlasgow.

At the time, investigators said there was only one person on board the aircraft.

But now police have been called in after human bones were discovered on the site by a group of aircraft enthusiasts investigating the site.

Police said the identity of the remains had yet to be confirmed, and that the family of Sergeant Robertson had been informed.

Officers from Lothian and Borders Police yesterday began a search for human remains on the site of a crash.

They were contacted last weekend when a voluntary group, which specialises in excavation and recovery of World War II aircraft discovered a number of bones. The bones have been examined by anthropologists and pathologists who have confirmed they are human remains.

It was expected that the detailed search and examination of the site in the Scottish Borders would, weather permitting, be completed today.

Among the team to travel down to the site were trained body recovery officers and search officers from the local force, who are being assisted by anthropologists from Dundee University, Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification.

Detective Superintendent Lesley Boal of Lothian and Borders Police said: “While the remains were recovered at the site where a World War II Spitfire crashed on January 16, 1943, we will not be able to confirm identity until specialist forensic testing has been 
carried out.

“Our primary objective is to safely and securely undertake a dignified recovery of any other human remains present at the previously excavated site.

“While we are unable to confirm identification at the moment, the next of kin of the deceased pilot have been contacted and we will continue to keep them updated.

“An initial report has been submitted to the Scottish Fatalities Investigation Team of Crown Office Procurator Fiscal Service and we continue to liaise with the MoD”.

The search effort has been slightly hampered by the fact that the site is hard to reach.

It is understood the site has long been one of interest for aircraft enthusiasts, as the reason for the crash has never been fully explained. It had been on a routine training flight from Drem air base, East Lothian, where 602 Squadron were based.