More than 70 years after he went missing in action during an RAF special operations mission, the mystery surrounding the fate of a British airman has finally been solved.
Flight Sgt John Thompson was one of seven crew on board a Halifax bomber that was dropping supplies to resistance fighters in Albania when the aircraft clipped a mountain ridge and crashed on Oct 29, 1944.
The mission was shrouded in secrecy and for decades his family struggled to find out whether he was alive or dead.
Their attempts to find out exactly what happened to him were hampered further when Albania fell under Communist rule, becoming one of Europe’s most paranoid and secretive states.
But on Monday, a wedding ring that the 23-year-old airman was wearing at the time of the crash was returned to his family, bringing closure to a tragedy that had dragged on for seven decades.
When lifeboatman Mark Thorne lost his wedding ring in the sea during an emergency call-out, he pulled out all the stops to get it back.
He scoured the shoreline with a metal detector and even searched for it underwater using scuba gear, before finally giving up hope.
Now, six years later, he has finally been reunited with the precious piece of jewellery after a friend stumbled across it during a walk at low tide.
Mr Thorne’s platinum ring, which has a distinctive dent, came off his finger and plopped into the water in 2009 as he helped to launch a lifeboat in Weymouth Harbour, Dorset.
It was eventually found by his friend Steve Woolford who had taken a stroll along the shoreline.
Mr Woolford said he had remembered the lost ring and thought ‘you never know, it’s worth a look’ – before spotting it glinting in the mud.