The remains of a US airman whose bomber crashed in flames into the sea off the coast of Malta during World War II have been recovered after the plane was found on the seabed.
New video footage shows divers approaching the downed US Air Force B-24 at the bottom of the sea near Benghajsa, just off Malta’s southern coast.
The plane, which had a 10-man crew, had taken part in raids over Sicily ahead of the 1943 invasion of Italy by Allied forces.
It was hit by flak on the way home, injuring five of the crew before it crashed into the sea near the Malta coastline.
Sergeant Irving R. Newman, 22, was the only member of the 10-man crew to vanish when the plane went down and he was declared missing in action.
But now his remains have been retrieved from the wreckage.
Professor Timmy Gambin of the University of Malta said that his “whole team wanted to go the extra mile to bring this boy home”.
After more than 80 years missing, Sergeant Newman’s remains were given to his family to be laid to rest.
Sergeant Newman was the only person out of 10 crew members on board the aircraft who had not been able to escape.
The plane’s location remained a mystery until 2015 when Professor Gambin’s technical diving team located it using sonar equipment.
The US Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, which is part of the US Department of Defense, then tasked them with retrieving the downed airmen’s remains.
Newsflash obtained a statement from Professor Gambin, saying that the B-24 “developed engine problems over Reggio di Calabria and was hit by flak over Sicily whilst heading back to Malta.”
He added: “The aircraft was ditched in the sea as three of the four engines were out of action.”
He said that it appeared that the airman had been wounded. He said: “He seems to have been badly wounded or unconscious before the plane was ditched.”
Professor Gambin, a marine archaeologist, said the remains had been retrieved “through strict archaeological and scientific methods.”
He added: “It is a great honour to have been assigned this mission by the DPAA.”
Newsflash also obtained an earlier statement from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency dated 20th June saying: “Sergeant Newman entered the U.S. Army Air Forces from California and served in the 343rd Bombardment Squadron, 98th Bombardment Group. On May 6, 1943, was a crew member on a B-24 Liberator (serial number 42-40112) that participated in a bombing mission against Reggio di Calabria harbor in Sicily.
“This aircraft experienced engine trouble during the mission and was then damaged by anti-aircraft fire, wounding five men, including SGT Newman. The pilot attempted an
emergency landing on Malta, but during the approach, the plane caught fire and crashed into the sea near Benghajsa Point. Nine of the ten men on board survived, but SGT Newman could not be rescued.
“In recent years, the University of Malta and Vulcan, Inc. located the wreckage of a B-24D near Benghajsa Point, Malta, at a depth of 180 feet. Beginning in 2018, archaeologists and divers from the University of Malta recovered material evidence, life support evidence, life support equipment, and human remains from the crash site.
“These remains were sent to a DPAA laboratory for further study; the laboratory analysis and the totality of the circumstantial evidence available confirmed that remains were those of SGT Newman.
“Sergeant Newman is memorialized on the Walls of the Missing at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Nettuno, Italy.”
The Ananova page is created by and dedicated to professional, independent freelance journalists. It is a place for us to showcase our work. When our news is sold to our media partners, we will include the link here.