For over three quarters of a century there was uncertainty about the fate of British fighter pilot Sydney Hatfield Cheeseman (21) and his spitfire. Cheeseman disappeared on February 22, 1944 after bombing a German airbase near Gilze Rijen with a number of American planes.
On his way back to Britain, he got into trouble and crashed. Little was known about the state of the accident and the location of the accident. Until recently in the surf at Veere a fuel tank of the aircraft appeared.
The find of the fuel tank is especially good news for Sydney‘s younger brother John. Now 88-year-old John lives in a nursing home in Kent, in the south of England and is glad that there is finally news about his brother, who disappeared 76 years ago. “It really made John happy,” says a spokesman for the nursing home in the Daily Mail. “Finally clear after Sydney was missing all this time.”
A large part of the surprisingly recognizable fuel tank washed up on the beach near Veere two weeks ago. Researchers from the Wings to Victory Foundation were able to quickly reduce the aircraft component to Sydney Cheeseman’s spitfire. “We found a report about a plane that got into trouble during a flight and unloading one of its fuel tanks,” says Martien van Dijk van Wings to Victory at Omroep Zeeland. The same report shows that this did not provide any relief. “A little later, the plane crashed off the coast of Walcheren.”
Wings to Victory closely maintains a database of all aircraft that crashed during World War II. This spitfire is also mentioned in it, but at the time of the crash it says‘ unknown ‘(unknown) and at the location ‘North Sea’. In both cases, the find of the fuel tank can provide much more clarity. The investigators even hope to find out the exact location of the crash.
The fuel tank was transferred to the Wings to Victory Museum in Arnemuiden. There the aircraft part will be exhibited soon.