A SIMPLE email and social media post from the other side of the world has allowed a Southland man to receive closure about his war hero uncle.
German crash site researcher Erik Wieman reached out to Southland media as well as posting on social media about his discovery of a World War II crash site near Ludwigshafen in Germany.
The site was the final resting place of a Stirling bomber which killed seven servicemen, three of whom were from New Zealand.
One of the servicemen killed in the crash was Flight Sergeant Alexander Hunter Holms, of Invercargill.
His nephew Alex Holms, who was named after his uncle, said he was “overwhelmed” when he heard the news the site had been found.
The Waimahaka local said he was in bed when he received the phone call from his daughter.
“I read all that data which was posted and I thought, this is unbelievable after 75 years.”
He said his uncle was a highly respected member of the community in Waimahaka and was constantly in his thoughts.
“Everybody talked about him. The district talked about him. Growing up you would socialise with people in the district and they spoke of him very highly and say that uncle of yours you were named after, you have a wee bit to live up to.”
A letter from the only survivor from the crash sent to the Holms family described Flight Sergeant Holms as “the father of the crew”.
Mr Holms said he proudly wore his uncle’s medals during Anzac marches each year.
The two other Kiwi servicemen killed in the crash were bomb aimer Flight Sergeant David Herbert William Badcock, of Taranaki, and wireless operator/air gunner Warrant Officer Adrian Vincent Douglas, of Rotorua.
Mr Wieman said he had since been in contact with relatives of all three of the New Zealand serviceman and was happy his investigations had panned out.
Several other crash sites had been found in Germany by Mr Wieman and he said he took great pride in being able to inform family members of his discovery.
“Walking by these fields, finding these sites, knowing the families of these brave men don’t usually know what happened… is a great feeling to tell the families more about what happened.”
The site will now be excavated before a memorial in honour of those who perished in the crash would be erected.
Mr Holms said he had always wanted to go to Germany to visit his uncle’s burial site but had not had the chance.
“Now this has warmed up again I think I might get there,” he said.