A researcher’s quest to find descendants of a Trail-born man killed in a 1944 plane crash in Germany is bearing fruit.
Erik Wieman, co-founder of a German research group, reached out to the Trail Times last month after his group found the crash site of the Dakota KG653 where Trail’s John Dunlop McVie and 22 other airmen were killed on Sept. 24, 1944.
Wieman was searching for descendants of McVie and the subsequent article in the Times (“German co-founder of crash site research group seeks info on Trail airman,” Trail Times, Feb. 22) garnered plenty of interest and response.
“I have found them,” said Wieman in an email reply to the Times on Monday. “Great news!! Thank you very much for your help.”
He shared a reply from Lorri DeLong, daughter of Marlene McVie, half-sister to John McVie, more commonly referred to as Jackie.
“My mother, Marlene, does live in Prince George and my Uncle Tom lives in the U.S. They are the only surviving siblings of ‘Jackie’ as John was known,” she wrote to Wieman.
“I really appreciate the work you are doing to help people remember these men. My understanding has always been that my uncle’s plane was shot down as he was flying over to France from Canada. My mom was young at the time he was killed and my grandparents tended not to talk about things back in those days.”
In Wieman’s research, he noted the plane departed from England.
“It should have flown down south over the free French countryside to Sardinia, then to India to help build up two new squadrons in the fight against Japan. It lost its way and, due to bad weather and navigational problems flew into Germany in broad daylight, alone, and was shot down.”
DeLong told Wieman she believes there are a few photos around of Jackie and was going to try and find them.
The Times reached out to DeLong but didn’t receive a reply by press time.
Meanwhile, Wieman told the Times work will proceed on the crash site soon.
“We have applied for a permit to excavate the site and search the site with metal detectors in 2018.
“We will have to wait till the field will be harvested in summer. But we will use this time till summer to contact the rest of the families and do pre-planning. The farmers already gave their permission and now we wait for the written permit from the archaeological services (we work very close with the archaeological services, we are co-workers there).”
He added he continues to seek out information on other members of the crew.
“(We have contacted) 13 families so far, out of 23. The McVie family is the family where I have seven contacts, most contacts per family.
“Of course I will keep you up to date about our proceeding.”
Aircraftman 1st Class John Dunlop McVie, enlisted in July 1943, and was killed in action over Germany. Today he lies in the Rheinberg War Cemetery in Germany.