A DETERMINED researcher is on the hunt for information about a Lakeland hotel a young pilot visited during World War Two.

Martyn Gaunt has been researching the life of Pilot Officer Donald Halsall - which was tragically cut short at the age of 21 - ever since he bought a battered pewter tankard from an auction sale in Scunthorpe with the young man’s name on.

“Upon cleaning it up a bit I saw it bore the names of three officers from 254 Squadron, RAF and a July 1941 date,” said Mr Gaunt.

“I discovered that the first two men on the tankard, Flying Officers Roche and Halsall were killed (along with their gunner, Sergeant Silk) when their aircraft was lost off Norway on December 27, 1941; they were 29 and 21-years - old respectively.

“Only Halsall’s body was recovered, and he is now buried in a War Cemetery in Trondheim.

Digging further Mr Gaunt managed to track down Pilot Officer Halsall’s living relatives in Donald's hometown of Southport, a nephew and great nephew, and return the tankard to them.

"I felt that the best thing I could do would be to try and get the tankard back to the family of one of the deceased airman," said Mr Gaunt.

The story deepened however, when Mr Gaunt received an email from Canada, from someone who had seen his appeals in the press.

“A couple of weeks back I received emails from Canada from a brother and sister whose mother, prior to emigrating, had been a friend of Donald Halsall, and sent a photo of her, Sheila Kissick, and Donald outside a hotel or B&B in Grasmere, described as ‘Mrs Flemming’s Hotel’, in June 1941,”

“I hope readers might just recognise the building behind this young couple, or may have any memories of Mrs Flemming.

“I realise that a lot of time has passed, but I would really like to be able to put another piece in the jigsaw of this young man’s life and tragic loss.”

If you have any information about the hotel please contact Martyn Gaunt at martyngaunt@btinternet.com .