Memorial to honour fallen Kiwi airman

The Berwickshire site where Sergeant Robertson died
The Berwickshire site where Sergeant Robertson died
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HE was just 20 years old when his Spitfire crashed on a training flight in the Borders.

Now, 70 years after the crash which claimed his life, the name of Sergeant Malcolm Eric Edward Robertson of the Royal New Zealand Air Force is set to be honoured with a permanent memorial.

A  Spitfire.  Picture: Fox Photos/Getty Images

A Spitfire. Picture: Fox Photos/Getty Images

An archaeology group which
uncovered the remains of his plane is bidding to raise money for the memorial through an exhibition of some of the items recovered from the watery bog at Westruther, near Greenlaw, Berwickshire.

Remains recovered at the time at the accident on January 16, 1943 were interred at Craigton Cemetery, Glasgow, but when the group attempting to uncover what was left of the plane found human bones during a dig in July last year, an investigation was launched.

Kenneth Walker, of the Air Crash Investigation and Archaeology Group, said: “I had been looking into a completely different incident when I came across a report of Sgt Robertson’s crash.

“One of the first things we found was a piece of metal with a serial number beginning in 300, which was the number used for Spitfires.

Pilot Malcolm Robertson

Pilot Malcolm Robertson

“However, we soon began to find human bones. We think that when the original removal of the body took place those doing it probably just had to take what they could at the time.”

The group contacted the police, who took over the site and removed the remains for forensic testing, which confirmed they belonged to Sgt Robertson.

Mr Walker added: “We had already been in touch with his family in New Zealand about the dig, and had actually met them in Glasgow before we started the project last summer.

“We took them to the Craigton Cemetery and also to the crash site itself to lay flowers and a wreath, which was very emotional for everyone.”

Kenneth Walker

Kenneth Walker

The group is now putting together an exhibition at the John Grey Centre in Haddington which, they hope, will raise enough money to fund a memorial for the fallen airman.

Mr Walker said: “We hope that seeing some of the things we recovered will help remind people of the sacrifice made by so many people, from all over the world, during that time.

“We’ve got the seat covers from the aircraft, the life-raft provided for the pilots and the small cup they were provided with to bail it out if necessary, engine pieces and parts of the control panel.

“We also have some official letters that Sgt Robertson had with him at the time of his death.

“The exhibition is free, as we want as many people as possible to come, but we are hoping that some of them will be generous enough to make a donation to this cause.”

The finds from the excavation of Spitfire AR403 will be displayed in the Star Room at the John Grey Centre, 15 Lodge Street, Haddington, on May 4 and 5.


A MEMORIAL cairn to honour pipers and drummers killed in battle is to be built in Edinburgh.

Soldiers from 39 Engineer Regiment, based at Kinloss Barracks in Morayshire, are constructing the cairn in the grounds of Inchdrewer House, home to the Army School of Bagpipe Music & Highland Drumming.

Director of army bagpipe music, Major Steve Small, said: ”Many pipers and drummers have given their lives in the service of our country. Throughout history – including recent campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan – pipers and drummers have shown bravery on the battlefields around the world, serving with honour and devotion to duty, all too often paying the ultimate sacrifice.

“We wish to honour

them all.”

It is expected the memorial will be completed by October, and will be visible to all visitors to the piping school.