Search to find Shotteswell serviceman’s family has been a success

Proffit White relatives NNL-160419-180231001
Proffit White relatives NNL-160419-180231001

Relatives of an RAF serviceman who lost his life on a bombing raid over Germany will travelto Berlin next week to attend a commemoration of his sacrifice.

The cousins of Pilot Officer William Proffitt White of Shotteswell were found after village postmistress Val Ingram heard of an appeal by the MOD commemorations team through the BBC.

“The BBC contacted Shotteswell via the website which I run,” said Mrs Ingram

“Fortunately, I still had contact with Tim and Victoria Proffitt White although they no longer live in Shotteswell.

“I contacted Tim and Victoria, they posted the appeal on Facebook and other family members got in touch.

“Tim and his uncle came to the church in Shotteswell last week to film a feature for the BBC along with another cousin, John Broughton, who lives in Brackley.

“Aside from actually knowing William Proffitt White and his brother Lionel, who also died during the war, he had a photograph of the two young men.

“Lionel, who was in the tank regiment, died first. As soon as his brother heard, he joined the airforce in Rhodesia and then after training came home and joined the RAF.

“He was stationed at Chipping Warden and had done a radio interview for the BBC just a few days before he died.”

At least four members of the Proffitt White family will be attending the service next Wednesday in Berlin, where the British ambassador to Berlin will attend and full military honours will be accorded.

The Halifax bomber, in which there were seven crew, was shot down into a lake near Berlin in January 1944 on the way to a raid of the city.

Four members of the crew were retrieved, identified and buried at the time.

Then in 1959 when the wreckage was salvaged, the bodies of two of the remaining three crew members were found and buried. Because none could be identified and one body was missing they could not be formally commemorated. That will happen next week.

Nicola Nash of the MOD said: “At least 15 members of those three crew members of the Halifax will be coming.

“There will be a rededication service to reflect that they were the crew of this plane.

“Bill Proffitt White was a 23-year-old air gunner. The pilot was Fl Sgt Arthur Binnie Walker, aged just 21. His sister, who is now 84, will be coming to the service.

“The other member was Fl Sgt Norman Thompson Steele, the navigator, who was aged 22. His nephew will come to Berlin.”

Bill Proffitt White’s grandfather was one of a very large family, hence the number of cousins since discovered.