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In 2002, I was approached by a fellow Drakes-researcher on behalf of the Australian War Department and asked if I knew of any close relatives for 22 year old Flight Sergeant Stewart Ian Drakes in the RAAF, who had died in the Battle of New Guinea in 1943. The remains of the crew of four had recently been recovered from the sea floor by divers. Sadly, Ian's brother was killed at El Alamein, Egypt in 1942, aged 20, and neither of them was married. Their sister had died in 1975, about 27 years before his remains were found, but I was able to provide sufficient information for them to trace her three children in Australia. The Australian aircrew were buried at Rabaul in 2002, with full military honours; Ian's niece and two nephews were present.

The Royal Australian Airforce (RAAF) kindly put several colour photographs of the military funeral on their website, together with contemporary photographs of the four crew members inset into a photograph of their Bristol Beaufort. Sadly, in 2007, these photographs were no longer available on the Internet; however, I am currently seeking permission to put them on this website, so as to make them available again.

[Watch this space - photographs awaiting consent from Royal Australian Air Force]

This part of my research has put me in touch with these three descendants, one of whom has, sadly, since died; I have also since put them in touch with a distant English-born cousin who now lives only a few miles from the niece in Australia, though they were previously unaware of each other's existence.

It is such a small world.