AN RAF Flight Sergeant will finally be laid to rest with full military honours 68 years after his plane was shot down over Italy.
David Millard Perkins, from Sydenham, had been on board the Douglas Boston BZ590 on April 21 1945 when it was shot down after a mission over Taglio di Po.
(L to R) Sergeant David Raikes, Flight Sergeant David Millard Perkins, Flight Sergeant Alexander Bostock, Warrant Officer John Hunt
The four-man crew of three Brits and one Australian were declared officially dead in 1949.
And their plane remained hidden until Italian archaeologists discovered the wreckage and the men’s remains in a field in Copparo near Ferrara in July 2011.
Flt Sgt Perkins’s ring with the inscription ‘Chris with Love’ (pictured below) was also found at the crash site.
Members of the crew belonged to the RAF Volunteer Reserve 18 Squadron, who delivered a spare artificial leg to Wing Commander Douglas Bader in France in 1941.
David was the son of Leonard and Annie Millard Perkins, of Border Road, Sydenham.
The 20-year-old was born in Honor Oak in July 1924 and his last known address was Therapia Road.
It is believed he had two sisters, Helen and Mary, and a brother Gordon.
The funeral will take place at a Commonwealth War Graves cemetery in Padova on July 18.
He will be buried alongside fellow 20 year olds pilot David Raikes, radio operator Alexander Bostock – all members of the RAF Volunteers and attached to 18 Squadron – along with the plane’s gunner 21-year-old Australian John Hunt.
It is being organised by the RAF and the Royal Australian Air Force with the help of the British Embassy in Rome.
Participating in the event will be serving representatives of both Air Forces, including members of Queen’s Colour Squadron and 18 Squadron, as well as Italian military and civilian representatives.
In a statement the British Embassy in Rome said: “Relatives of the four men will be meeting for the first time, coming from the United Kingdom and Australia, in what will be a very moving occasion commemorating the life of these men who lost their lives at such a young age.
“Some of the wreckage of the aircraft and some surviving personal belongings will be presented to the relatives of the four servicemen during the opening of a wing of the River Po WWII Museum in the town of Felonica, dedicated entirely to the crash.”
Details of the mission
Flight Sergeant Millard Perkins was the navigator onboard Boston BZ590 belonging to 18 Squadron.
On April 21 1945 it took off from Forli near Rimini at 8.54pm with the target being a river crossing on the Po at Taglio di Po followed by an armed reconnaissance of the Po Valley.
The aircraft failed to return and was believed to have been brought down by anti-aircraft fire.