Human remains found in North Yorkshire identified as WWII airmen

Pilot Officer Alfred Robert William Milne and Warrant Officer Eric Alan Stubbs. Credit: North Yorkshire Police

A large-scale investigation in North Yorkshire has discovered the remains of two World War Two airmen.

The remains near Chop Gate were members of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve air-crew. They were identified as:

  • Pilot Officer Alfred Robert William Milne: who was 22-years-old and from Mitcham in Surrey 

  • Warrant Officer Eric Alan Stubbs: who was 22-years-old from Guildford in Surrey

The investigation found that the airmen were killed when their Mosquito aircraft crashed on the North York Moors near Bransdale, Helmsley, on 11 October 1944.

The men were on a training exercise from RAF Beccles in Suffolk to RAF Turnberry in Ayrshire.

They have been reunited with their families, and were given military burials on 12 August 2021.

Detective Inspector Carol Kirk, the North Yorkshire Police senior investigating officer, said: “At the beginning of this investigation, I don’t think any of us thought we’d be able to identify who the remains belonged to let alone return them to their families and be given military burials with the dignity and respect that they deserved.

“I have recently had contact with both families and they wish to pass on their thanks to all those involved in bringing Alfred and Eric home.”

The Crown Prosecution Service has said that there was not enough evidence to pursue suspected offences, and a 74-year-old man has been released without charge.

They praised the efforts of North Yorkshire Police and the Ministry of Defence Police, recognising the “exceptionally challenging” nature of the investigation.

Human remains and military memorabilia were found at a remote farming location in the Hambleton District on 31 March 2020.

This led to a joint investigation by North Yorkshire Police and the Ministry of Defence Police - with experts from the RAF and the Army, as well as forensic archaeologists involved.