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New memorials to KOSB soldiers are unveiled

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Memorials to four Borders soldiers killed 69 years ago - the day after World War Two ended - have been unveiled in Sweden.

L/Sgt John Mulholland, 32, Cpl James McAra Davidson, 32, Cpl John Pearl, 31 and Pte Duncan Anthony Connolly, 19 were members of the 7th Battalion of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers.

They were part of Operation Doomsday, the British 1st Airborne Division mission to ensure that the German surrender in Norway took place successfully.

They were on board a Short Stirling bomber which suffered engine failure and crash landed on Lake Rojden, on the Swedish and Norwegian border.

After a valiant attempt to control the plane, it touched down on the lake and almost on arrival at the shore, a wingtip caught a pine tree on the shore, spinning the aircraft through 90 degrees and into the shore. This caused the structure of the fuselage to fracture, resulting in 4 KOSB men drowning in the rear section of the aircraft. The remainder survived.

The four bodies were taken to nearby Torsby in Sweden and buried with full military honours, half of the local population attending with a piper and honour guard from 7th KOSB. They remained in Torsby until 1961 when they were reinterred in the Commonwealth War Grave cemetary in Gothenburg.

Lt Colonel Bengt Fransson, Commanding the Varmlands Brigade and a regular attendee at Berwick Minden parade, along with Gunnar Foseid from Norway organised for a memorial to be placed at the crash site and also in the cemetary in Torsby.

They co-ordinated all research and tracing of relatives, assisted by Ian Martin at the KOSB Archives in the KOSB Museum, and some 20 of them attended the memorial unveiling last weekend. Among them was the daughter of one of those lost and never met her father. Another travelled from Canada.

They were joined by four former King’s Own Scottish Borderers (Ed Swales from Berwick, Alistair Busby-Rutherford from Kelso, Andrew Herberts from St Boswells and Andrew Raiment from Sanquhar who is currently a piper with 1 Scots in Edinburgh.

Mr Swales said: “The fact that Operation Doomsday took place the day after war ended makes the tragedy that much more poignant.”

 

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