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

And his only surviving son who never knew his him will be there to witness the occasion after being traced by The Northern Echo.

Wing commander Richard Bunker of Teesside narrowly managed to avoid crashing into a Surrey village as his out-of-control plane hurtled to the earth.

The story has been meticulously researched for years by Surrey man Bill Lindsay who raised money for a plaque to thrice decorated Richard Bunker and his six crew which will be unveiled next year.

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

Information obtained by both Mr Bunker and Mr Lindsay has thrown fresh light on what happened on April, 20 1945 when Richard Bunker and his crewmen died. The Stirling bomber was making a short journey after undergoing repairs when it appears something went wrong with the electronics.

Villagers watched in horror as the plane, with flames and smoke shooting from her rear, plunged towards a row of houses in the village. However the men did not bail out and, with extremely limited controls left to him, wing commander Bunker managed to swerve the plane to a field where it crashed.

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

Tony Bunker said his father, who he has only vague memories of, has been a hero to him all his life. He explained that although his father's home was recorded as being in Redcar, in fact Richard, 25 when he died, was a London man who moved to various places around Teesside when he met and married Stockton girl Stella, while stationed in Thornaby in 1938.

Richard Bunker DSO, DFC and Bar served for the entire war and Tony went to Buckingham Palace with his mother shortly after the war to personally receive his late father's Distinguished Service Order medal from King George VI. "I couldn't believe it when my next door neighbour showed me the article about this," said Mr Bunker. "I will take the greatest pride in taking part in the ceremony in Windlesham next April. "