Relatives of a Keighley airman who survived a plane crash in Holland during the Second World War are being sought ahead of a memorial service next month.

Sergeant Thomas Little, born in 1919, was the only survivor of the Lancaster bomber, which was shot down near the village of Kessel in Limburg in July, 1944.

It is believed the pilot Flight Sergeant Neil Davidson, 21, attempted to land near the River Maas but the aircraft, belonging to the 75 New Zealand Squadron, exploded and initially only two crew members survived.

A plaque dedicated to the plane’s crew will be placed on the bank of the river on Thursday July 21 – 67 years after the crash.

The service will be attended by dignitaries including the chief of the Dutch Air Force and the New Zealand ambassador.

Also attending will be 13 relatives of the crew, including the brother and sister of Fl Sgt Davidson, who are travelling from New Zealand. Sgt Little, the crew’s bomb aimer, who died in Keighley in 1991, parachuted out of the aircraft and landed in a garden.

He was handed over to the Germans for treatment and became a prisoner of war at a camp in Mulhausen. He is believed to have lost one or both of his legs as a result of his injuries.

Barrie Davies, 76, who served with the Army Air Corps and lives in the nearby village of Beesel, has spent years trying to contact their relatives.

In 2006 he found the daughter of Flight Sergeant Henry Hiscox, the plane’s rear gunner, who was blown into fields strapped in his turret. Villagers heard his whistle for three days and his body was discovered and buried in the churchyard in Beesel, where a memorial service is held each year. The bodies of the other five crew members were not found and they have no known graves. Mr Davies said: “We want the family of Sgt Little to know what’s happening and get them over here. We couldn’t find out anymore about him.

“I served in Borneo and I buried some of my colleagues there, and I often wondered if I went would anyone come and see my grave, and that’s been in my mind all along. The local people have responded enormously to it because they were occupied and will have heard their mums and dads talk about it.”

The plane was among 157 bombers flying to Homberg in Germany to bomb a fuel refinery It set out from RAF Mepal in Cambridgeshire on July 20 1944 and crashed at 1.30am the following day.

Of all the aircraft, 22 were shot down by night fighters and AK AK guns. More than 130 crew members died.