Grave of RAF hero found 68 years on

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THE mystery surrounding the ‘lost’ remains of a Cupar Second World War hero has finally been solved - almost seven decades on.

Sergeant Alexander Barrie was one of eight RAF servicemen who died when their Halifax bomber was shot down over Denmark in April 1943.

As their bodies were unidentifiable, they have lain in unmarked graves ever since.

But now, thanks to the painstaking efforts of Danish historian Anders Straarup, all eight have been identified and have at last been given a proper burial.

Just a week before the tragedy, Sgt. Barrie - who was just 33 - rescued a US pilot whose aircraft crashed and burst into flames.

He rushed into the burning wreckage and dragged the badly wounded pilot to safety, earning him a posthumous British Empire Medal.

The news that Sgt. Barrie had at last been identified was welcomed by 87-year-old Tom Peebles of Upper Dalgairn, Cupar, who remembers him well.

“Sandy used to come and stay with us when he was home on leave and he was like a big brother to me”, Mr Peebles told the Fife Herald.

“We were always under the impression that he was shot down over Poland so it is good to finally know the truth.

GRATEFUL

“I often thought about Sandy and wondered where he was and now that he has been found I am very pleased and grateful.”

The airman’s neice, Catherine McGinn (77), who now lives in Kirkcaldy, was just nine years old when Sandy died but she remembers much of the family’s early life in Cupar.

“He lived in a flat in the Bonnygate and worked in what was then Elder’s bakery and café in St Catherine Street before moving down to Woking in Surrey,” recalls Mrs McGinn.

“He and his wife Lilian had a son, Michael, who died some years ago, and a daughter, Wendy, who lives in Portsmouth.

MEMORY

“She was only three when he died and has very little memory of him.”

Now Wendy and other family members will join the relatives of Sandy’s seven comrades for a ceremony in Denmark next spring to dedicate the headstones.

They have all expressed their deep gratitude to Anders Straarup, a retired schoolteacher, for his tireless efforts in unravelling the mystery by sifting through Danish records and even tracing eyewitnesses to the crash by placing an appeal in a local newspaper.

He also enlisted the help of the RAF 51 Squadron History Society.

Mrs McGinn added: “To receive this news after 68 years was astonishing.

“It brings closure for the family at last, especially Wendy.”