In March 1942, a young man from Swindon, just shy of his 21st birthday, was home on leave from his RAF training in Canada.

The Second World War was raging across Europe when George Green signed up. His father William, a decorated veteran of the Great War, then an engine driver for the Great Western Railway, and his mother Florence, posed with George outside the house for a photograph.

No doubt they were proud of their handsome son, this young man who had travelled across the world with the RAF, ready to fight fascism and defend his country.

It was a breezy day; a gust caught the front of Florence’s coat as she stood in front of her husband and beloved eldest son to pose for the picture. On the back is written: “Home on a windy Sunday, from Dad and Mum.”

Little did they know that by the end of the following year, their Swindon lad would be killed, shot out of the sky as his Lancaster bomber flew home from a sortie to Berlin.

This year, on November 26, George’s nephew Keith Powditch will commemorate the 74th anniversary of his death – as he does each year – by lighting a candle in remembrance of the uncle he never knew, beside the war memorial in St Augustine’s Church, Rodbourne, where George’s name is inscribed.

As well as paying tribute to his uncle, Keith will be thinking of his uncle’s young bride. George married after training, and his wife was pregnant when he died. She had a daughter, who never had the chance to meet her father.

After the war, George’s widow was thought to have moved to London and remarried – but nothing more is known about her. Keith does not have the name of the woman his uncle was so briefly married to, and he would love to know more of her story, and about the daughter she had – his cousin.

“I’ve used social media, and made inquiries, but we’ve found nothing yet,” Keith said. “We have lots of photographs of George and perhaps his daughter would like to see them.”

He has a photograph of his uncle’s wedding. In it, the bride is dressed in a beautiful long gown, with a coronet of white flowers and a veil that tumbles down to the floor. Cradling a large bouquet, with two finely dressed bridesmaids, she holds the arm of her new husband, whose RAF uniform is decorated with the single-winged aircrew brevet, with a wreath containing the letter N, denoting his role as a Navigator.

Keith, 64, lives near Shrivenham. He has worked as a professional photographer all his life and has long been fascinated by the story of his uncle. Florence and William had another four children besides George – including his mother Gwen, who was five years younger.

When Gwen died three years ago, Keith rediscovered a treasure trove of photographs, albums and memorabilia, all beautifully preserved, connected to his uncle. It reignited his interest in the life of George Green, and the vanished wife and daughter.

He recalled how his mother cherished the memory of her glamorous older brother, even in her later years.

“She adored him,” Keith said. “When she talked about him, she particularly remembered him coming home in his uniform, knowing he was coming home and running towards him – this young boy who had gone away, and this man who came back in uniform.”

He said she also had a vivid memory of the time they received the dreaded news of his death.

“I remember her saying someone came round from the RAF to inform them he was missing. Then later there was a telegram to say he was killed in action. How awful that must have been for my grandparents.

“Even though time heals, she still talked about it. She had a photo of him as a boy always in her living room.”

George trained with the RAF at St John’s, Newfoundland. His graduation ceremony took place at the Miramichi Golf Club, at Chathan, New Brunswick, on October 21 1942 – a little over a year before he died.

Among the photographs, Keith has the programme for the graduation ceremony to mark the end of George’s training – with the menu for the celebratory meal and the names of his fellow graduates. Like his nephew, George was evidently a keen photographer and took plenty of his own pictures, which he collected in an album, along with portraits and pictures taken by others, to chronicle this time in his life.

On November 26 1943, George was flying in a Lancaster bomber, one of a crew of seven, on a mission to Berlin.

As navigator he gave instructions to the pilot on their route, and the airspeed needed, to arrive on target and at the right time.

Two other members of his crew – Flight Engineer Brien Gooding and the pilot, Ron McSorley – had graduated with him the previous autumn. They survived the outward flight but on their return, flying over Holland near De Woeste Hoeve, they were shot down by a night fighter. George was buried in the war cemetery at Appledoorn, aged just 22.

More than 57,000 members of RAF Bomber Command, or airmen flying on attachment, were killed or posted missing in the war. Most were aged from 19 to their mid-20s.

Keith recalls that he and his brother Paul were intrigued by the uncle they had never known when they were boys growing up.

“He was a bit of a family hero. He made the ultimate sacrifice,” he said. “And he was so young – I can’t imagine being that age, and being trained and getting in a plane and being shot down.

“My brother and I loved our Lancaster books and model planes. We were very interested in the Second World War. I’m getting nearer to retirement now, and I will continue to research. It’s all so interesting.”

George’s brother Lionel died in July this year, aged 83, the last of the five siblings. Now it is up to the next generation to keep the memory of this brave young man alive.

Every year Gwen visited the war memorial in St Augustine’s on the anniversary of her brother’s death, the church where she also got married. Now Keith has taken on the role of remembrance.

“There aren’t many veterans left,” he said. “I do wonder what will happen when that generation has passed away. Will we still remember them and what they did? That’s why it’s important for me to tell his story.”

Anyone with information about George Green’s widow or her daughter is welcome to contact the Swindon Advertiser.