Three years since he was first discovered, Second World War airman, Sgt. Wilfred Lawson was laid to rest at the Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery on March 16.
The Department of National Defence assisted in identifying the airman.
“We are pleased to have been able to support the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence in identifying Sergeant Lawson, making it possible for him to be laid to rest with a name by his unit. We will not forget him, our own Pilot Officer Carlson, nor the other five Canadian members of the aircrew of flight LL721. They gave everything they had for the war effort,” said Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan.
Sgt. Lawson served with the Royal Air Force. He was killed on the night of January 27-28, 1944 when his Lancaster II bomber, LL721 from 426 Squadron was shot down near Berlin.
The other crew members were a part of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Three of the six remaining crew members survived and were taken prisoners, two died and were buried in the Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. The remaining two members, Sgt. Lawson and RCAF Pilot Alfred Carlson, were declared missing.
On August 16, 2014, parts of the airplane were recovered in Germany, including the remains of one of the crew members. DND’s Casualty Identification Program worked with its British counterpart, the Joint Casualty Compassionate Centre of the UK Ministry of Defence, to identify the discovered remains.
Initially, DNA testing was conducted with one of Sgt. Lawson’s decedents; however, this proved inconclusive. DND then offered to arrange a test with a descendent of Pilot Officer Carlson. The result excluded him as a match and allowed for the positive identification of Sgt. Lawson.
“Sergeant Lawson gave his life for his country, as did so many thousands of Allied sailors, soldiers, and airmen during the Second World War. We are grateful for the opportunity to commemorate him, and his Canadian colleagues, alongside our friends in the United Kingdom,” said Kent Hehr, Veterans Affairs Minister and Associate Minister of National Defence.
The families of both Sgt. Lawson and Pilot Officer Carlson were invited to attend the funeral service.