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British WWII airmen get belated burial in Malaysia

The British Royal Air Force (RAF) officers carry a coffin with the remains of a crew member whose plane crashed in World War II, at a burial ceremony in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012. (AP Photo/ Vincent Thian)

KUALA LUMPUR: The remains of eight British World War II airmen were buried Thursday in Malaysia, nearly seven decades after their plane crashed while on a mission in Southeast Asia.

The eight were the crew of a Royal Air Force plane on a supply-drop mission from Cocos Island, Australia, which crashed into a ravine just south of Kuala Lumpur in the final days of Japanese occupation in 1945.

The wreckage was discovered in 1991 by local tribesman, leading to a private expedition that unearthed the fallen servicemen in 2009.

Their remains, mainly bones and small personal belongings, were buried with full military honours in a single casket at a Commonwealth war cemetery near Kuala Lumpur, as relatives paid their last respects.

It was the second such mass military burial in Malaysia this year after nine British servicemen who died in a 1950 plane crash while fighting communist insurgents in then-British-ruled Malaya were interred here.

Both planes were found largely due to the war history NGO Malaya Historical Group, which has carried out several expeditions to crash sites.

Group leader Shaharom Ahmad said in a Facebook posting he was deeply moved when relatives and heirs of those who died in the 1945 crash thanked him for his efforts.

"They held my hand tightly and thanked me repeatedly for working for dozens of years to bring back the bones. This is an inspiration for future efforts by the MHG," he said.

 

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