Downed WW2 Airman’s Ring Returned To Sister

A gold ring has been returned to the sister of the World War Two airman who died when his plane came down in Albania in 1944.

Dorothy Webster was handed the wedding band at a special ceremony that was the culmination of an extraordinary series of events.

Her brother flight Sergeant John Thompson was given the ring when he married Joyce Mozeley in June 1944.

He spent just a weekend with his wife before being posted abroad from where he took part in sorties to supply Albanian rebels.

The ring was found by Albanian Jaho Cala in 1960 while he was collecting metal and wood in the mountains of the then Stalinist state.

It took another 55 years, and the chance finding of the plane, before he was able to return it to Sgt Thompson’s family.

At the ceremony in Albania’s Defence Ministry, Mr Cala’s son Xhemil kneeled as he handed the ring to Mrs Webster, along with a fuel gauge from the aircraft and a piece of rock from the mountain that brought it down.

Defence Minister Mimi Kodheli told Mrs Webster: “Your brother helped to liberate my country. He will never be forgotten.”

Mrs Webster said she was “overwhelmed … getting all these keepsakes that we never thought we would ever get”.

“I remember him very well, as if it were yesterday,” she added.

The clue to the owner of the ring were the words “Joyce & John” engraved on the inside.

Jaho Cala had no idea whose it was when he found it but decided he was determined to give it back to the owner.

Xhemil Cala, said: “He gave it to me when I got married in 1971, but told me clearly the ring did not belong to our family and I was to return it to its owner after communism ended.”

The Albanian tried several ways of locating the owner of the ring including asking fellow Albanians who were visiting Britain to help

In desperation he appealed to a regional government official, who contacted the British Embassy about two years ago.

Then, in October last year, a British-US expedition found the remains of a Handley Page Halifax bomber 6,000ft (1,829m) up in the Albanian mountains.

One of those who was part of the expedition Chris Casey said: “Clearly what we found was enough to suggest we had found the remains of a big four-engine bomber.

“The ring … really helped us to solve this riddle.”

Gerd Kaceli, a military assistant at the British embassy, said Sgt Thompson’s plane dropped supplies in the Biza valley in Albania before it came down.

It was the only plane out of 14 supplying anti-fascist fighters in Albania on 29 October, 1944, not to return.

On turning west to return to Italy it clipped the top of a mountain and crashed, killing the crew, Mr Kaceli said.

It was listed as “missing and assumed to have crashed”, according to military records.

Sgt Thompson’s widow remarried after the war and died in 1995.

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9 March 2015 | 10:44 pm – Source:


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