Remains of World War II pilot found 75 years after spitfire crash
The remains of a distinguished RAF pilot have been discovered 75 years after he died in a Spitfire crash.
Squadron Leader Daniel Cremin, 25, of 66 Squadron, was killed when his plane collided with another in mid-air as he flew over Cornwall on March 24 in 1942.
His family were sent a sealed coffin purportedly carrying his remains and he was buried at Wardour Roman Catholic Cemetery in Tisbury, Wiltshire.
But last year, police were contacted after a metal detectorist discovered the Australian pilot’s bones at the crash site near St Erth, Hayle.
A second service was arranged at the Wiltshire cemetery and Sqn Ldr Cremin’s remains were interred in his original grave in November.
On Monday, Cornwall coroner Barrie van den Berg will hold an inquest into Sq Ldr Cremin’s death at the County Hall in Truro.
His son, Mark Cremin, told the Press Association: “The remains were buried in November with full honours.
“There was a bugler, the Roman Catholic padre from the Royal Air Force and there was an officer from the Royal Australian Air Force.
“All dealt with it with full ceremony and very respectfully. I had quite a small wooden casket. The grave had been opened so I put it in the grave.
“It helped to conclude the whole affair. I missed him as a father all those years and somehow doing that was a conclusion.”
Sqr Ldr Cremin was born in Sydney in 1917 and enlisted with the Royal Australian Air Force in 1936.
He was commissioned in the Royal Air Force two years later after being part of a pilot exchange scheme between Britain and Australia.
In 1938 he served in the Middle East, being promoted to flight lieutenant two years later.
During that time, he met Patricia Whitemore near Cairo and they secretly married in 1939. She returned to her family in Wiltshire when war broke out.
Their son, Mark, was born in February 1940 but Sqr Ldr Cremin remained on duty in the Middle East.
He won a Distinguished Flying Cross in 1941 for his bravery during the siege of Habbaniya in Iraq.
That Christmas, he was able to return to Wiltshire to be with his wife and meet his baby son.
Dr Cremin said: “He came and lived with us for probably six to seven weeks in between him having concluded the operational course that he had to do and being posted to Portreath.
“It was over Christmas in 1941 that he stayed with us, and he was killed in March 1942.”
Dr Cremin said his father was killed during operational training, while flying a Spitfire Mk V.
His plane collided with another Spitfire flown by another Australian, Sergeant William Norman. Both men were killed.
Dr Cremin said: “My father’s remains – and it really can’t have been anything, it may have just been sandbags – were put in a coffin and sent to my mother.”
The inscription on Sqr Ldr Cremin’s grave reads: ‘He left the vivid air signed with his honour’.
His wife lived in Tisbury until her death in 1974.
Dr Cremin, who worked as an English lecturer at the University of Kent, has four children. His eldest son was named Daniel Mark Cremin, in memory of his grandfather.
“It has somehow come to a conclusion for me,” Dr Cremin said. “It’s now all in one place and drawn together.”
The inquest will take place at 11.30 on Monday.
Picture: Undated family handout photo of Daniel Cremin and wife (left) in Egypt. The remains of the distinguished RAF pilot have been discovered 75 years after he died in a Spitfire crash, as he flew over Cornwall in 1942. (Family handout/PA).Tags: Daniel Cremin, found, pilot, Second World War, Spitfire, World War II