News, WW2

Remains of WW2 Airmen Found in Former Cottage of Militaria Collector

  • In 2020, a family made a chilling discovery after moving to a new home in Yorkshire.
  • They found the remains of two WW2 airmen while clearing out a blockage in a septic tank.
  • The plane of the two airmen had crashed in North Yorkshire in October 1944, but their bodies were never found.

RAF Air Crash

In 1944, during WW2, Alfred Robert William Milne and Eric Stubbs died in a plane crash. Milne served as an RAF pilot, while Stubbs was his navigator on their last mission.

The officers flew a de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito – a British multi-role combat plane. The twin-engine plane was introduced during World War Two on 15th November, 1941.

According to reports, both airmen were 22 at the time of the crash. When the plane crashed, the airmen were on a secret flight from RAF Beccles to Turnberry. Recent reports state they were indeed carrying a secret weapon invented by the mastermind of the bouncing bomb, Barnes Wallis.

Remains of RAF Pilots & Kenneth Ward

A family moved to a new property back in 2020. The new homeowner was investigating a blocked septic tank when he found a human jawbone near his shed.

Read More: German Bunker Opened for the First Time on British Territory

The property became the centre of attention for the local police due to the nature of the discovery. The police ran a search operation on the land for weeks, eventually, the police searched the house, hoping to find more evidence inside.

Having found the remains on land formerly owned by one Kenneth Ward, it did not take the police long to connect the dots. The police arrested Ward and seized all the military memorabilia that he also had in his possession. However, the investigators could not figure out how the remains of the airmen reached so far away from the crash site. That was until they realised that Ward was also a bone collector!

Kenneth Wards old home
The cottage at Chop Gate. The remains of the WW2 Airmen were found nearby a shed. Photo Credit : Glen Minikin.

Kenneth Ward is a disgraced British military officer who had recently gotten out of prison at that time. The man had spent five years in jail for multiple charges, including illegal possession of firearms, and stalking a female neighbour.

Read More: Luger from WW2 Handed into the Police

The disgraced officer has a long history of criminal offences and violent behaviour. In 2010, the police found a massive cache of bombs and ammunition in his home. Additionally, they also found a loaded Luger under his pillow.

In 2021, Mr Ward said of his arrest: “They are no further forward, except that they’ve wasted a fortune in taxpayers’ money. I was told the investigation has cost up to a million pounds.

“They were looking for memorabilia they thought was buried in the fields for some reason but they found nothing. They raided my home, took a lot of items away and haven’t returned them. I was forced to move away and my life was turned upside down.”

Forensic Reports of the Remains of the WW2 Airmen

Some years ago, the police had also confiscated a deceased pilot’s pendant from Ward. The MOD (British Ministry of Defence) confirmed that they gave Ward a warning for illegal possession. The pendant belonged to a Canadian airman who had died in a crash in East Yorkshire during the war.

Ward has been infamous for spending much of his life searching for plane wrecks. In addition, he has kept hundreds of items of military memorabilia in his home. He even displayed these items in his home to entertain visitors.

Forensic archaeologists studied the bones and confirmed that they were at least 70 years old. They also revealed that the bones were moved from the original crash site.

What elements of their shattered corpses could be retrieved from the crash site were subsequently buried in graves in Surrey.
Unbeknown to their grieving families and RAF comrades, however, the recovery of their remains was by no means comprehensive and significant body parts remained at Bransdale long after the war ended.

And years later — in a gruesome act of disrespect to the war dead — someone pilfered them. What Northallerton Coroner’s Court could not decide was how the body parts were moved, or who had moved them. This, despite the fact that Appletree Hurst Farm, and the derelict Appletree Hurst Cottage which sits on the estate, were formerly inhabited by Kenneth Ward, an ‘obsessive’ military souvenir collector.

Sian Boyle

Detective Chief Inspector Carol Kirk from North Yorkshire Police and forensic archaeologist Dr. Carl Harrison confirmed the status of the remains. They mentioned the remains were in a secondary deposition – which means that someone had relocated them.

Read More: Point du Hoc – The Lost Battlefield

Richard Watson, North Yorkshire coroner, shared that a mechanical failure had caused the crash. Concluding the incident, Richard Watson said, “It’s 77 years since the end of the Second World War and 78 years since this incident.”

“This is a timely reminder to us all of those young men who made the supreme sacrifice during those difficult times, and it’s a reminder of the cost of war,” he added. This year would have been Sgt. Stubbs’ centennial and PO Milne’s would have been last year.