Advertiser appeal traces wartime airman's relatives
2:00pm Thu Oct 18, 2012
The family of a Newark airman whose remains were unearthed 69 years after his plane crashed hope to attend his funeral, thanks to the Advertiser.
The family of Sergeant Roland Cope were traced to Scunthorpe. They had no idea his remains had been found until an appeal in last week's Advertiser to find his relatives.
Sergeant Cope, a gunner, had been posted as missing since April 16 to 17, 1943, when his Lancaster was shot down over Germany on its way back from a bombing raid on an armaments plant at Pilsen.
It was believed the plane must have crashed into the sea, but wreckage and hundreds of fragments of bone were recently unearthed in a field near the village of Laumersheim.
The names of the seven crew are recorded on the Runnymede Memorial to 20,000 airmen who have no known graves, but their status will be amended to Killed in Action.
Funerals for the crew, with full military honours will take place, probably in Germany.
Mrs Kathleen Clawson, whose husband, Dennis, was Sergeant Cope's cousin and neighbour at Hill Vue Gardens, Newark, read the appeal and got in touch with the family.
Sergeant Cope, 23, had a wife, Ruby, and a son he never met.
Ruby was in the early stages of pregnancy when her husband's aircraft was shot down.
Ruby lived for a time with Dennis Clawson's mother, Mary, who was Sergeant Cope's sister.
Ruby returned to her native Ireland briefly and later married Mr Alan Sayers, of Newark. They moved to Scunthorpe where Mr Sayers worked in the steel industry.
Mrs Cope named her son Thomas John Ronald - he was known as Ron to close family - and had another two children with Mr Sayers.
Ron Cope junior died 31/2 years ago. He had five sons - Gary, Dean, Jason, Wayne and Paul. They will be officially notified of their grandfather's death by the Ministry of Defence.
The oldest, Gary, of Scunthorpe, said: "It was mind-blowing to receive the news he had been found.
"It was such a shock, but it's nice to know that he is no longer simply missing.
"I was amazed that people are still so committed to looking for the missing and they are not forgotten.
"We would love to be able to attend the funeral."
Dean, also of Scunthorpe, said reading the Advertiser story had re-opened the Cope family history book.
He said his father was in the Army and its traditions had been very important to him.
He paraded through Newark and was based in Germany, where Dean was born.
"My father was Thomas John Ronald and I now know where the name came from," Dean said.
"The picture of my grandfather shows he is the double of my dad.
"My dad died 31/2 years ago from lung cancer and the unfortunate thing is that he never knew any of this.
"It would have answered some questions for him.
"If circumstances permit, I would like to go the funeral.
"I think dad would have liked that. He’d be proud if we were able to see it through."
Jason said: "This is great but at the same time sad news.
"I had little knowledge of my grandfather as I was the youngest child and my Nana Ruby had a new partner, who I classed as granddad.
"I am relieved to know that his remains have been found and will finally be laid to rest, but at the same time I'm saddened that my father is no longer with us to share this remarkable story."
Mrs Clawson, of Hill Vue Gardens, Newark, said: "Ruby was distraught at her husband's death. She adored him.
"It is marvellous to think that he has been found after all these years."
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