A British woman has travelled to Albania to recover a ring her pilot brother was wearing when his bomber crashed in 1944.
More than 70 years after Flight Sergeant John Thompson went missing in action, his 92-year-old sister has been handed a box of debris of his plane and the wedding ring he was wearing when he crashed.
The pilot’s Halifax bomber came down over Albania in October 1944, while he was transporting assistance to local anti-Nazi fighters. In 1960, local man Jaho Cala found the ring and other debris from the plane, which he later passed on to his son, Xhemil.
“I saw the ring in 1971 when I got married. My father gave it to me on my wedding day,” said Xhemil. “When he handed it to me, he said the ring had to be returned to its rightful owner and told me the story of how he got the ring.”
Cala originally hid the ring, afraid to show it to the then-communist authorities.
When he died, his son contacted the US and British embassies – the two countries that helped liberate Albania from the Nazis.
After three months, Britain confirmed the ring belonged to Thompson and contacted his family.
“We’ll treasure it,” said his sister, Dorothy Webster. “But with all these other things, I would like them to go in a museum if that’s possible. Because, I’m 92 and I would like to know what happens to all his things after I’ve gone.”
Xhemil says his father would have been “thrilled” to see his dying wish fulfilled.