|On June 6, 1944, Herbert Rieger, from Hamilton, Ont., and seven other Royal Air Force servicemen vanished in their MK III Lancaster after a raid on one of the most important days of the Second World War.
Days before he was to die -- and vanish for generations -- Herbert Rieger had a very good day.
In the diary of the flyer from Hamilton, Ont., who was shot down on a return from a D-Day bombing run, the 21 year old wrote about a Sunday in England.
"Went to church in morning," he penned.
"No (operations) so I went out to tea and dancing with (Dorothy).
"Had dinner at Abbey Lodge. And went for a bike ride later."
He ended the note on June 4 with: "In by 11. Pleasant Day."
On June 6, 1944, he and seven other Royal Air Force servicemen vanished in their MK III Lancaster after a raid on one of the most important days of the Second World War.
For almost 70 years, their fate was a mystery.
"It was common knowledge that I was named after my dad's brother, but I didn't know a lot about him," said auto plant worker Herbert Rieger, 51, who also lives in Hamilton and keeps a copy of his namesake's journal.
"No one was sure what happened."
Answers have now been found buried deep in a farmer's field in Normandy. Aviation archaeologist Tony Graves says he's "1,000% sure" they've identified Rieger's Lancaster.
Speaking from Normandy, he tells QMI Agency: "The (British) officials do not need to confirm that this is Rieger's aircraft. I have researched this for the past 2.5 years and items recovered prove that this is ND 739."
While investigators used evidence taken from the mangled pieces buried deep in the earth, one of their most convincing clues came from the discovery of an inscribed signet ring believed to belong to Flight Lt. Albert Chambers. Inside was engraved "Love Vera" -- his young wife.
There was also a crushed cigarette case, a twisted pen and pieces of clothing.
Inside the sleeve of one jumper was a single German bullet, and Graves has built a case that the plane was brought down at dawn by ace Oberleutnant Helmut Eberspacher.
Within minutes, and as the bombers stood out against the moonlit clouds, Eberspacher took down three of the massive British planes.
Graves said there is no sign of any human remains.
"There's nothing to bury -- just tattered clothes," he adds.
As for the current Herbert Rieger, he says just knowing more about the end of the man he's named after helps to humanize him.
At the very least, it puts a final entry into a last page that's been blank for 68 years. Though who "Dorothy" was -- the woman he danced with on that last good Sunday -- is still unclear.