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Nephew of fallen Second World War airman found in Winnipeg

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The family of a Manitoba servicemen who died in combat during the Second World War has been found after a Netherlands group turned to a local Winnipegger for help.

The group hoped to commemorate Flight Sergeant John Day White in a ceremony honouring fallen Second World War soldiers but struggled to track down relatives due to John’s common last name. John, who was from Hartney, Man., died in 1943 when his plane was shot down. He was 21 years old.

Winnipeg blogger Christian Cassidy posted information about Flight Sergeant John Day White in an attempt to help the group in the Netherlands. 

The same day, after CTV News Winnipeg published a story about it, a distant relative of the airman got in touch with White’s nephew Gregory White, who lives in Winnipeg.

"This is kind of an amazing thing for me. This is very recent. It's kind of shocking in a way," Gregory said.

The Netherlands group thought John had only three siblings, Anna Pearl White, Phyllis Vera White and William Robert White, who have all passed away.

After the story aired, Cassidy learnt this was not the case. There was a fourth sibling, Roy White. Cassidy quickly discovered Roy was living in Winnipeg and had a son - Gregory.

Gregory said John was a navigator during the war, and his grandmother told him that he enjoyed playing piano.

“He was damn good at it,” he said.

Gregory said his uncle’s death during service hit his family particularly hard.

“It was tough for my grandmother. My dad said she just wasn’t the same after that,” he said.

A plaque commemorating the airmen is set to be unveiled on April 6.

Gregory says he’s hoping to attend the ceremony in the Netherlands, but is still working out the details.

-With files from CTV’s Kayla Rosen and Carie Willson

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