A wedding ring belonging to a man who left Hackney to become a WWII RAF pilot has returned to his family 70 years later.
The ring, which belonged to pilot John Thompson, was found in Albania in the 1960s.
John’s family were contacted by the British Embassy last week and told the pilot’s ring had at last been found.
Given to his 92-year-old sister
The ring was given to John’s 92-year-old sister, Dorothy Webster, during a ceremony at Albania’s Ministry of Defence in Tirana. Joyce, John’s wife and a longtime Hackney resident, sadly died in 1983 with no knowledge of John – or the ring’s – whereabouts.
An emotional Ms Webster said: “It was slightly overwhelming but very moving. I’m glad I’ve been able to share John’s story with the world. It was an honour to be there.”
Alan Webster, Dorothy’s son and John’s nephew, was also in attendance. He said: “All these years my mother never locked her back door in case John ever found his way home. Now she can finally be at peace with his memory.”
Wartime sweethearts John and Joyce married only three days before John went to war in 1944, so were only able to spend a single weekend together at Joyce’s house in Hackney.
Tragedy struck a few months later when John’s plane went down while on a top secret mission from Brindisi in Southern Italy for the RAF’s 148 squadron. His body was never found.
Inscribed: “Joyce and John”
A finger bone was still inside the ring when it was found close to the wreckage of John’s plane. The British Embassy were able to trace the family through the ring’s inscription – “Joyce and John”.
Joyce lived with her family in De Beauvoir Square until the 1960s. When she heard of John’s disappearance, she was so upset she attempted suicide.
Mr Webster recently visited De Beauvoir to see where his aunt and uncle had spent that happy weekend. “I wanted to retrace my uncle’s steps to be as close to him as I could,” he said.
“We were stunned and over the moon when the British Embassy contacted us to tell us the ring had been found after 70 years of mystery. It’s a miracle that we can hold in our hands the very ring John wore – it looks as if it were brand new.
“If Joyce was here today she would be elated to know that John’s resting place and his ring had been found at last.”