UNANNOUNCED, the two women stood drenched and silent, shedding a few tears, as they carried out their parents’ last wish in the pouring rain.

They were spotted by military historians Geoff Hill and Fred Jackson through the window of the St George Hotel, which had once been the officers’ mess at RAF Middleton St George, in the days when it served as a bomber base during the Second World War.

It was only when Geoff and Fred invited the women inside to dry off that a touching wartime love story emerged and shed more light on the fascinating history of what was to become Teesside Airport.

Lynda Fuhrman Critall and Valerie Fuhrman Wasyliw had flown from Canada to intern their parents’ ashes at the place where they’d become sweethearts.

Harold Raymond Fuhrman, originally from Saskatchewan, in Canada, was an air engineering mechanic with 428 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Airforce, stationed at RAF Middleton St George from 1942.

Anne Wilson was a Geordie lass, from Wallsend, who was serving with 419 Squadron of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force as a spark-plug cleaner. There was a spark of romance and they became boyfriend and girlfriend before settling in Calgary at the end of the war and raising a family.

When Harold – known as Ray – and Anne died within a year of each other, their daughters flew to Newcastle with their ashes, and visited their mother’s roots in Wallsend. Then, they caught a train to Darlington, before travelling by bus to Middleton St George and walking the rest of the way to the St George Hotel.

Although the hotel has recently closed, a statue of Canadian war hero Andrew Mynarski – erected after a memorable campaign by The Northern Echo in 2005 – stands proudly in a memorial garden outside, saluting the ashes of several former inhabitants of RAF Middleton St George.

“We knew nothing about them until we took them inside the hotel for a cup of tea and they started to tell us their incredible story,” says Geoff, chairman of the Middleton St George Memorial Association.

Since the sisters have returned home to Canada, the association has had a plaque made to mark their parents’ final resting place.

In return, Lynda and Valerie have sent a collection of photographs and other memorabilia for inclusion in the association’s museum, which has been housed at the hotel and will, hopefully, soon find a new permanent home at the airport terminal.

The documents include Ray’s service records and pay-book, showing he earned six and sixpence a week. There is also an Aero Instruction School Certificate, presented to Ray for working on the Rolls Royce Merlin engines that powered the Lancaster bombers that flew on daring raids from the base.

“They would tell us the story of counting the planes at night and counting them as they came back in and praying that the outgoing and incoming numbers were the same,” says an email from Lynda.

Pictures sent by the sisters have helped fill in missing pieces of the RAF Middleton St George jigsaw. For example, no one knew where the spark-plug cleaning bay was until a fading photograph of Anne revealed it was in Hangar Two. The sisters have also unearthed the first known photograph of a Fairey Battle based at the site.

“It’s a really fascinating collection of documents, records and photographs that will be added to the museum,” says Geoff. “It was clearly an emotional pilgrimage for the sisters, but they could easily have gone unnoticed had we not been looking out of the hotel window at that moment. It’s such a lovely story and their memories will be treasured.”

Harold Raymond Fuhrman and Anne Wilson – back where they fell in love – rest in peace.