A SECOND World War flying ace whose dying action was to save an entire village is to be honoured by the community.

And his only surviving son will be there to witness the occasion after being traced by The Advertiser's sister paper, The Northern Echo.

Wing Commander Richard Bunker of Redcar stayed with his stricken plane in order to use what was left of the controls to narrowly avoid crashing into the Surrey village of Windlesham. He was only 25 when he died on April 20, 1945.

The Stirling bomber was making a short journey after repairs when it appears something went wrong with the electronics.

Villagers watched in horror as the plane, with flames and smoke shooting from its rear, plunged towards a row of houses in the village.

However the crew did not bale out and Wing Commander Bunker managed to swerve the plane to a field where it crashed.

The story has been meticulously researched for years by Surrey man Bill Lindsay who raised money for a plaque to the three-times decorated wing commander and his six crew which will be unveiled next year.

However, despite months of effort, he could not trace Wing Commander Bunker's family. Eventually The Northern Echo published an appeal for information and Mr Bunker's son, Tony, 62, came forward.

Mr Bunker, now of Acklam in Middlesbrough but previously of Redcar, said: "I couldn't believe it when my next door neighbour showed me the article.

"I will take the greatest pride in taking part in the ceremony in Windlesham next April."

Mr Lindsay, a Royal British Legion member, said: "Really this man and his crew saved our village and it is about time we honoured them.

"It is simply wonderful news that The Northern Echo has found his next-of-kin, I can't tell you what it means to us here.

"We will be able to tell him that we held a ceremony at his father's grave near here last year."

Wing Commander Bunker served for the entire war. As a boy Tony Bunker went to Buckingham Palace with his mother shortly after the war to receive his late father's Distinguished Service Order medal from King George VI