Bernard Harding, 90, a World War II pilot from New Hampshire who went on a quest to find his buried pilot's wings in Germany 65 years after his B-24 bomber was shot down, died yesterday.
Mr. Harding's wife, Ruth Harding, confirmed he died at his home in Milford, N.H. He had prostate cancer.
Mr. Harding never found his wings during his September trip to Germany but was given a bracelet belonging to another American airman shot down to return to his family.
Mr. Harding was a 25-year-old first lieutenant on a mission to bomb Bernburgh, Germany, when his B-24 was shot down on the way back to his base in England. Fighters crippled his plane, forcing him and his crew to bail out.
Mr. Harding had parachuted into a freshly cut wheat field, barely missing a barbed-wire fence. Three farmers, two with pitchforks and one with a gun, captured him and took him into a cellar in a village southwest of Berlin. Fearing reprisals for being a bomber pilot, Mr. Harding buried his pilot's wings in the cellar floor.