The resting place of flying officer Derek Allen has been discovered (© UK MOD/Crown Copyright 2012)

The final resting place of a heroic World War Two Hurricane fighter pilot has been discovered after 72 years.

Flying Officer Derek Allen, a member of 85 Squadron, was listed as missing in action after being shot down over northern France in May 1940.

He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for four outright and three shared enemy kills before his Hurricane was shot down.

Recent research carried out by the military archivists Air Historical Branch discovered records that proved that the pilot, who joined the air force in 1937 at the age of 19, had been pulled from the wreckage by locals in Poix-du-Nord.

Three generations of Allen's family travelled to the village to pay their respects at his grave in the village cemetery. They were led by Derek's younger brother, Richard Allen, now in his 80s.

He said: "There are 26 of us paying our respects to Derek, ranging from over 80 to one year old. My sister-in-law and my cousin from Canada have joined by son, three daughters, nephews and nieces and my eight grandchildren.

"They are only beginning to learn about what Derek did but the ceremony will bring the story home to the young ones. It will bring the family together in the act of remembrance. It happened long ago and one had almost forgotten but it is a great relief to know where he rests."

The ceremony was conducted by RAF chaplain The Rev Dr Sqn Lrd Andrew Wakeham-Dawson. He said: "By honouring the fallen, we give respect and gratitude for their commitment and devotion to duty.

"We appreciate and value the sacrifice made by out colleagues whether in World War Two or in recent operations."