Friesland  Wartime  History

By Willem de Jong (and edited, with some hopefully helpful additions, by Tom Bint in the UK)



Texel & Den Helder

Leeuwarden Area
Harlingen & Harderwijk
Occupied Harlingen
Shipdham Airfield & the USAF 44th
St. Jacobparochie
Rottum Island
12 Squadron Losses
Sink the Scharnhorst!
Runnymede Memorial
Makkum Cemetery


My dream….. by Willem de Jong

I have had a dream, a nice dream for many years now. No, I’m not Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., of course not, and therefore I have a different dream. But in my thoughts, it’s nice and perfect indeed, like most dreams. Maybe it is better to keep it in that way, to myself, but sometimes….. If only 20 % of it could come true, some day, that would be beautiful and enough for me, in that dream.

Thus, I'll go on….. let me try to explain, for once in my lifetime. And after that, you will never hear about it again from me, that’s a promise!

Hundreds of them are standing there, in cemeteries in the coast areas, and on the islands along the North Sea, those white tombstones, on the graves of so many, who paid so very much!

And those “White Cliffs of Dover” would be perfect screens, for one time, to project texts on, like peace wishes or one-liners, or, in case of the “unknowns”, the colors of their flags, and even portrait photos of the men involved, resting in those graves.

And at the same time there should be music, from the past, like “we'll meet again”, but certainly also in the style of the young people of today. Thus, no large military ceremony, nor dramatic brass band hymns alone, not this time, but simply, their own words and their own thoughts, of those young humans as they were, and about their hope and wishes for later, in freedom. Their message to us!
With the modern techniques of today, with spotlights and beamers and things like that, such an event can be performed I think. And why could they not be open these cemeteries for one evening, let’s say in June or July, while further on in the year, after every sunset, there is totally rest (yes I know, normally no public entrance in the dark). Thus, some dimmed lights would be beautiful…
The islanders, like those on Terschelling, were singing often in the past; sailors songs, songs for dancing, etc., and also with fiddles and accordion. And today modern “music-men” such as Hessel van der Kooij in Hoorn, with guitars etc., but also musicians from the nearby Frisian mainland, like Syb van der Ploeg, etc. etc. are still singing, beautiful local songs and in English (international) too, about “black horses”, “red lips”, and “white birds”. Therefore, let them sing also about “white stones”…… one time, maybe a special song for that event ?

Mostly the people living on the islands are good organizers, entertainers for lots of tourist, for (longer) events and festivals, like the “Roggefeest” (Ameland), “Oeral” (Terschelling) and “the Great Wide Open” (Vlieland). Therefore, why couldn’t they plan and execute such a special evening together, over all the coastline area ?

But then the final episode of my dream, by the end of that special evening, full of peace and hope: the “City of Lincoln” is passing over, or perhaps some other historical plane, from Texel to Borkum, and then returning over the outlines of the mainland!

In the first minutes of the dark (summer) night, and this time with burning navigation lights, but again with his bomb bay doors wide open: a great salute to all these airmen, by dropping a wreath in the North Sea, West of Texel island, and after that….. dropping flowers over the local cemeteries, in red, white and blue - a greeting to the flags of so many nations involved, not only to the Dutch or the Frisian - and over the villages of Den Burg, Oost-Vlieland, West-Terschelling, Nes and Oosterburen / Schiermonnikoog.

The sound of these Merlin engines should be heard again,once more, over these historical areas, also for the younger people now, that “overwhelming song of the coming liberation”.

Maybe some older people can still talk about it….. ? In 2016 ?


Willem Remembers....

As Tom knows already for a long time, all this 'stuff ' is based, from the beginning from records collected via the ' Public Record Office ' (National Archives now) in London, from the ' Deut-sche Dienststelle (WASt) ' in Berlin, from the ' Bulletin-groep 1940-1945 ', the historical research group of the 'Koninklijke Vereninging voor Luchtvaart (KNVvL) - as far as now by me the percursor of the nowadays SGLO - from contacts with many Dutch 'gemeentes', from details collected by the late Mr. Jan J. van der Veer - Elahuizen (not via his books and newspaper articles only), by Mr. W.H. de Vries - Wolvega (idem), Mr. Evert Penning - Hindeloopen, Mr. Marcel N. Huizenga - Leeuwarden, Mr. Douwe Sicco Drijver - Leeuwarden, the late Mr. Jan Visser - also Leeuwarden, the late Mr. Gerrit Zijlstra - Midlum, Mr. Hille van Dieren - Terschelling, etc. etc., and by myself of course, also via interviews and many, many letters in the past.

Nowadays, it's regularly updated, since it has been 'stored' in my own computer for about 3-4 years now, with the latest details, collected / corrected with the help of other sites etc. via 'Google'. It's not 100 % correct of course - it can't be - and it's not finished yet, I know, but it's all for those young men who gave so much, even their lifes! And for me that's the only important thing, and thats what drives me every time to work on it, further and further on.

As an extra gift to you, after my mail earlier this day, some ' history and anecdotes ' from my own life, as a volunteer researcher of airwar history 1939 - 1945.

In my younger years I lived in Leeuwarden, growing up in the heart of old Friesland, in the city which will be the 'Cultural Main City of Europe' during the year 2018, as we heard some days ago. When about 14 years old, still as a school kid, I bought my first photo camera, 2nd hand of course (no money for a new one), and after my first black-and-white photos, in particular of war graves and via the camera of my parents (not every time simple, especially with snow white tombstones in the sun!). And I was also experimenting at same time with colour film. What to do first ? Don't go far away, make some try-outs nearby and wait for the first results ! Therefore I raced my bike inside the city, from the 'Huizumer Begraafplaats' (Soutern Cemetery) to the 'Noorder Begraafplaats' (not far from the airfield) and - because I knew about it days before - to the 'Joodse Rustplaats' (Jewish Cemetery) near the inner city where there was buried one RAF airman. When I arrived, via a small bridge, the gate was closed. But 'lucky' for me.... on the entrance door there was a sign, telling visitors the address etc., where to find the key of that door. Naive and inexperienced as I was, I went straight away to that family, named De Jongh or De Jonghe (no relation), rang the bell and asked for the key. 'You are not Jewish yourself, I think', was what the woman said to me. ' How could she see that, how could she know that ? ', I thought. Oh stupid, it was a Saturday, I realized after, for them the 'Sabbath'........ but it was indeed on that day I was taking the first photo of the grave of Harry Kleiner, in colour, and successfully.

On a free Saturday around 1975, there was a meeting at 'Kamp Zeist' near Soesterberg and Amersfoort, organised by the 'Studie- or Bulletingroep 1940-1945' of the KNVvL, in cooperation with the Dutch Air Force (KLu). In fact we were all guests of Mr. Gerrit 'Gerrie' J. Zwanenburg - who was born in Harlingen / Friesland - and his crew of the 'Bergingsdienst' (Recovery Group) of the Klu., who did a lot of excellent work regarding warplane wrecks found in the new Dutch polders, thus in the heart of our country.

People like Mr. Ab A. Jansen (author of books like 'Gevleugeld Verleden') also came there, and Mr. Hans Oudewater (another author) and Mr. Jan (?) de Groot (collector of wartime leaflets, dropped by Allied warplanes, and German propaganda posters etc.). And from our own province of Friesland, together with Mr. Kroes just outside, from Marum in Groningen, there came a ' heavy ' delegation too; by train via Leeuwarden and Zwolle, and later on by bus from Amersfoort, we all traveled together to that meeting point. There was only one person who used his own car, Mr. Willem H. de Vries, from Wolvega / S.-Friesland. While we were drinking coffee 'safe in the camp', and talking and smoking a bit outside the building, Willem de Vries, who was late and in a hurry, had turned his car in the wrong direction and parked it in a forbidden place nearby, the neighbouring US - Air Force base! Much later than us, after the meeting had started - he arrived with a ' very red face ' and under protection and escort by some US - guards from that Yankee - base!

On another Saturday later on, again at a meeting of that 'Bulletingroep', we met again Mr. Ab A. Jansen and some friends of his, who were assisting him by collecting details for his books, about ' Wespennest Leeuwarden ', thus about 'our' Leeuwarden airbase in Friesland, during the wartime. In the beginning we were all cooperating too in that project, but after some time, we in Friesland had the strong feeling, 'it wasn't always for our own profit too'; it was more and more for the 'glory and honour' of Mr. Jansen and his books ! Peoples of the provinces of Friesland and Groningen, are not only speaking in different languages, they have also different mentalities, and often different methods to reach their goals, as we learned again on that day in particular. One of my best friends in those days, Douwe Drijver, was therefore complaining about it, while standing up in the middle of the whole group. But what he didn't know - because the face of the author wasn't known to him - that Mr. Jansen was sitting right behind him! Thus, while Douwe was 'spitting his fire', Ab was quickly standing up and giving him a 'direct answer' face to face, so both started almost something like a 3rd World War about the research work and what to do with the results. Later on we were laughing about it, but at the time it was 'very tumultuous' and never seen before in that group.

One day I was phoned by Willem de Vries and invited by him to visit again, but not at his home in Wolvega this time. He and some other guys were 'digging' in a meadow near Sonnega village, on the former crash site of a Lancaster bomber. The owner of the land had given his okay, but at the end of the 'recovery work' and before the growing season, everything had to be returned the same as before! But then, suddenly they found the remains of 6-sided fire rods or incendiary bombs! As soon as they came out of the mud, in the open air, they started to smoke first and soon they were even burning...... in fact heavily dangerous, because none of the men knew how to handle this in a safe way. The best solution of course was to put them back in the ground, direct in that hole, but that meant they had to stop digging, or perhaps to make new holes somewhere else in the meadow (?). And that farmer was just thinking till then 'get rid of that wartime stuff ', in a cheap way with amateurs, without the meddling of any authority or insider. Then, one of the men was clever saying: 'put it in the nearby ditch, under water, so oxygen can't react anymore with the liquid which is leaking out". And so they did, with shovels and other tools, trying to protect their hands and clothing. But...... soon some 'white milk' was coming out of the water to the surface, spreading out over the water then, and soon it was reaching the outlines, grass and reed was starting to burn! A fat plume of blue smoke was rising up in the air and alarming everyone in the neighborhood. Just before someone called the local fire brigade, the 'recovery men' managed to stop their 'smoke signals' with mud and sand. It was a good lesson, because I never visited such an event again nor digging by myself later on. It's really for experts, insiders. Only the story behind it all, that's enough for me.

- So you have now learned maybe a little more about me, and things that happened in my 'own history'. Perhaps more later....

After 69 to 75 years….. isn’t it highest time for the final check, a DNA - match ? -

DRONRIJP (NL), MARCH 2014. About 3 weeks ago, in most of the Dutch newspapers we could read a small article, about the human remains of a German soldier, who was found in the Arnhem area during

public works to the local infrastructure. And a couple of days later on again, a similar message in the news, also in a small article, this time about two more bodies of the former Wehrmacht; most likely buried

in a ‘ temporary ’ field grave there, next to one of the roads to Arnhem, during the heavy battle in September 1944, in the time of ‘ One bridge to far ‘.

While most people were reading the headlines only I guess, for myself, as a history minded person, I was examining almost every part of those clippings, in particular because of the reactions of the authorities I found in it also: by intense research in the archives etc., in particular in Germany of course, and by interviews with older people still living nearby, and even via a DNA check at the end, they would try to find out the ID’s of those soldiers, after 70 years……(!).

Please, don’t misunderstand me, because I really hope for those families involved and the newer generations living somewhere in Germany, or in Austria etc., that they succeed in thus finding their names etc., because I have learned from worldwide contacts over the years that that is the most worst scenario of the war: Missing In Action (MIA) !

But, what about all of them, what to do next, what if some were or are for example ‘weasely occupiers’ and  or ‘ murderers of civilians ‘…….?

In fact history again is most unfair now, I thought, because those victims of the war, just soldiers of the former enemy, have the ‘privileges of our modern times', with all the newest research techniques of today, while….. since the first years after the war, although all the authorities and experts did the best they could do then, so many Allied ‘ unknowns ‘, the beloved guys of their families in the UK, Canada, the USA, New Zealand etc. etc., are still waiting for the final answer!

And believe me, many people are still hoping for any message or result. Not only the oldest, like (ex) wives, former fiancée’s and (girl-)friends – those that are still alive - but also their sons and daughters, or brothers and sisters, even grandchildren and other family of today.

Time heals all wounds‘, I was taught, but, ‘many scars are still giving discomfort, every day', in particular when someone is growing older.

Although this isn’t an appeal to (re)open every war grave of the Allied ‘unknowns' now, in a large scale investigation -it would be absolutely unrealistic, I know - but in some cases, and if the families are in agreement, it would be maybe a good decision to make, and perhaps with the help of the newest techniques, try to get a DNA - match.

However, perhaps it isn’t necessary at all to open every grave completely in an expensive ‘digging operation'. Because of the latest techniques of today: if an employee of a modern sewer system company is doing his work by using some camera - robot, why can’t a representative of the CWGC in the same time carry out similar work in a grave,via a small entrance hole? And if a specialist in a hospital is able to take away inside the human body some fragments of flesh and bones, without complex and maybe more dangerous surgery, why can’t that same representative of the CWGC carry out similar work in a grave, to collect DNA material?

In the Vredenhof Cemetery on Schiermonnikoog Island, in the Netherlands, are 2 graves for example, grave 83 and also no. 96, in which are also buried ‘unknowns'. It is possible that in no.83 is F.E. McKenzie (died 09.07.1942) and maybe in no.96,  Arthur George (who died 30.01.1943).

It would be a very nice solution, in cooperation with the families of course, to do a final check in such a way to find the answers. To know after all those years, a yes or perhaps sadly, no …… and in the meantime hoping, after all this time, that there is enough good material left in the graves.

Willem.    March 2014

The February 1944 Leipzig Raid     

The RAF raid on Leipzig on the night of 19-20 February 1944 was Bomber Command's second most costly attack of the entire Second World War. The attack on Leipzig cost Bomber Command seventy-nine heavy bombers and the lives of 420 aircrew, more than any raid apart from the attack on Nuremburg of 30/31 March 1944. 

 626 Squadron's Lancaster ME589 and 12 Squadron's JB609 and ND410 were lost with no survivors. * see Crews page 3

From RAF Bomber Command 823 aircraft were dispatched - 561 Lancasters, 255 Halifaxes, 7 Mosquitos. Lost were 78 aircraft - 44 Lancasters and 34 Halifaxes, 9.5 per cent of the force. The Halifax loss rate was 13.3 per cent of those dispatched and 14.9 per cent of those Halifaxes which reached the enemy coast after 'early returns' had turned back. The Halifax IIs and Vs were permanently withdrawn from operations to Germany after this raid.

This was an unhappy raid for Bomber Command. The German controllers only sent part of their force of fighters to the Kiel minelaying diversion. When the main bomber force crossed the Dutch coast, they were met by a further part of the German fighter force and those German fighters which had been sent north to Kiel hurriedly returned. The bomber stream was thus under attack all the way to the target. 

There were further difficulties at the target because winds were not as forecast and many aircraft reached the Leipzig area too early and had to orbit and await the Pathfinders. 4 aircraft were lost by collision and approximately 20 were shot down by flak. Leipzig was cloud-covered and the Pathfinders had to use skymarking. The raid appeared to be concentrated in its early stages but scattered later.    

Total effort for the night: 921 sorties, 79 aircraft (8.6 per cent) lost.

In the following pages are the notes and photographs, mainly from Willem de Jong, illustrating some of the people and places of that period. Willem has also photographed some of the cemeteries and graves of those aircrew tragically lost.

See Bob Baxter's site for list of total losses on this raid

Weather report Sunday February the 20th,1944.    Night-temp. = - 3.7 gr. Celsius  Day-temp. = +1.6 gr.  Celsius clouds = 0 ? 5 % , ¼ moon ( long time ), Min. windspeed = 5.1 mtr./sec. ( 3 Beaufort ). inland max. windspeed = 7.2 mtr./sec. ( 4.5 Beaufort ) on coast humidity = 78% (and later on that day - 4.3 hrs. sunshine..  Many of the airmen would never see that again)

In the days before, temperatures were sinking over Great Britain etc.; a winter storm from the Atlantic brought snow and freezing rain. Air warfare was in disorder, while the Allied forces were planning a “Big Week”. On the 20th all over Europe the weather was severely cold (windchill factor), with snow covering the ground on both sides, at the targets and on the bases, but not on the northern coast of Holland and Germany. Although the temperature over- here was dropping too, the Frisian Chain and the edge of the mainland was clear of snow (and ice rain) as far as Wangerooge and the seaway to Bremen. Thus, almost perfect weather conditions for the alert 1st line of the German air defence during that night (19/20 - 02) : clear runways, clear skies, enough moonshine (1/4 moon) and a stiff frosty breeze - therefore no fog - straight into the west, just in front of the heavily loaded RAF bombers on their way to Leipzig (!). The ideal scenario of a nightly disaster again…… (the statistics should demonstrate that the day after).  

Of course, these weather conditions were not similar to the circumstances in which the pilots and other crewmembers had to operate, flying high in the sky; on that altitudes the situation was even more extreme / more dangerous, like as for mountaineers. But they show us clear which “second enemy” these airmen had to face that night, all the way to Leipzig and returning to the U.K., and also downwards to sea level: the temperature, the cold ! And even when they were surviving a sudden and horrible attack of the Luftwaffe nightfighters - most already offshore - when they were “lucky”, bailing out by parachute and not wounded, death was still waiting: the cold waters of the North Sea, the Wadden and the Ijsselmeer. They didn’t drown in the water; the water was simply “cooling away” their lives, in about 15 - 20 minutes.

Such brave men they were…..     

How successful some "Nachtjagd Experte" of the Luftwaffe realy were, in that particular night too, is showing us next "Abschussliste" of Oberfeldwebel Heinz Vinke (11/NJG.1)

He and his companion, flying a radar-equipped Messerschmitt Bf 110 G-4 nightfighter, shot down 5 RAF bombers in a couple of hours, most over Holland (as far as I know, Lancaster ME589 was not among them):  

1.Lancaster - location BM-77 5900 m. - 01.46 hrs. 20-02-1944

2.Lancaster - location BM-78 6100 m. - 01.57 hrs. 20-02-1944

3.Halifax - location CK-62 5000 m. - 02.13 hrs. 20-02-1944

4.Lancaster - location HK 3-1 6000 m. - 05.08 hrs. 20-02-1944

5.Lancaster - 15 km. NW of 4800 m. - 05.34 hrs. 20-02-1944   Apeldoorn (Nl.)

Only one important question about this list: who can tell me something more about these locations, as there are BM-77, BM-78, CK-62 etc. ? (Is it the same system as usual on the "Kwadrat-Karte" of the Kriegsmarine ? Their pilots, of the "Küstenfliegergruppen", let’s say of the German Coastal Command, used that system too).

At least 12 RAF Bombers were shot down over the Netherlands in that night; 5 of them by Heinz Vinke 

1.) Noordzee - Halifax LL184, 2.) Kallenkote - Halifax LW367, 3.) IJsselmeer - Halifax JD271, 4.) Waddenzee / Harlingen - Halifax LV781, 

5.) Elspeet - Lancaster JB609, 6.)Grevelingenmeer / Drieschor - Lancaster ND410, 7.) Kats / Zeedijk - Lancaster ND505, 8.) Tolbert - Lancaster DV267, 9.) Eemnes / Zuidpolder - Lancaster JA921, 10.) Krops-wolde - Lancaster DS788, 11.) Valkenswaard - Lancaster DS776 and, of course 12.) Noordzee / S’-oog - Lancaster ME589 (and thus, we are talking about 12 x 7 = 84 airmen, MIA or KIA or POW or…..! )

Addendum  October 15th 2011. 

Two important things now:  1.) his claims 4 + 5 (Harlingen + Apeldoorn), that's for sure, cannot be in connection with Lancaster ME589. 

2.) Heinz Vinke and his flying companion were indeed operating over Friesland  that night (location HK 3-1 is similar to "Raum Harlingen", so we are learning now). 

Maybe he was flying also in "Raum Schlei" / sector "Schiermonnikoog" ? His second claim, location BM-78  -01.57 hrs., was only 11 minutes before the crash of Lancaster ME589.....(?).


Why are we calling this night, 19 / 20th February 1944, "the night of the falling stars"?

When an aircraft was hit, and did not explode in one "simple flash", it was falling out of the sky most of the time in flames. And even when the pilot was controlling such a "burner", it was going down as a comet with a fire tail. And not only other pilots / crews could see such horrible infernos. Over the wide open landscapes of the Netherlands, and over the seas of Hollands coastline, everyone on the ground could see such fire tails in the dark war nights, easy and often, even miles and miles further on. 

Besides, in these years no lighthouse was burning, no streetlights as well, even the lights in the houses could not be seen (total black out by order of the Germans). Therefore, like as a nightly thunderstorm over the horizon, you didn’t hear anything, but you saw that lightnings far away. 

Only the German searchlights could "hide" sometimes such a crash fire.

But the more experienced people, like the German "Besatzungen" of the Flak-batteries or the pilots or other "Beobachter" of the Luftwaffe, but also the members of the local / Dutch "Luchtwachtdiensten" (men of the Dutch Home Guard, such as on the rooftop of the town hall in Harlingen city) they could "read" these fire tails (!). 

By the color of the flames the insiders could see if it was a RAF or a Luftwaffe - airplane falling down ! The a/c. with the more orange and red colored fire tail behind, was the unlucky Bomber Command "bird", while the machine with the more yellow and green or blue colored flames behind the rear was the Luftwaffe - fighter "im Absturz" (the chemical reaction of the burning air fuel and the, in the heath melting metal, most aluminium, wasn’t the same on both sides). 

In some books about the war in the air during WW II you can read such things, but I heard it for the first time from the late Mr. Zijlstra of Harlingen / Midlum (one of the insiders). And that’s also why we are calling this night "the night of the falling stars", because there were so many fire tails / comets / falling stars that night…..


Target Leipzig.      By Willem

At the outbreak of WWII, in September 1939, the city of Leipzig in Eastern Germany, with many industries, its well-known "Leipziger Messe" and an extensive railway junction, was the greatest city of Sachsen; more than 707.500 inhabitants, and therefore the no. 6 largest city of the "Deutschen Reich". RAF Bomber Command was giving this city, like as other German cities, a code name: "Haddock" (other secret fish names were for example "Chevin"= Dresden, "Pickerel" = Halle, "Blackfin" = Chemnitz, etc. etc; 43 names in total !).

Already in Summer and Autumn of 1940 Bomber Command was trying to reach the very important "Rüstungsbetriebe" in Leipzig, on locations in suburbs as Heiterblick, Mockau and Abtnaundorf; the "Erla Flugzeugwerke" over there was producing fighterplanes (!), new and even better replacements for the Luftwaffe losses in the Battle of Britain. 

 However, main problem for a long period was - let’s say to October 1943 - the long flight route between the airfields in the U.K. and the target, plus the way home of course: more than 1810 km’s. The ugly but robust Armstrong Whitworth Whitley, as heavy and long-range bomber the right work-horse for these special duties, could reach the Leipzig area, but the amount of fuel aboard was more important to the plane’s start weight than the numbers of the bomb load. And correct navigation in such ranges over Europa’s dark mainland was still a hell in these days ! However, the first "Fliegeralarm" (= air-raid-alarm) in the region was already given in the night of 16 - 17 Aug. 1940, when a single RAF-plane was attacking the "Leuna-Hydrierwerke" (= hydro-electric-power plant) nearby Merseburg. But the storm was growing…..

Thus, Leipzig was relatively safe from potential aerial bombing. Therefore many people and factories too were coming from Western Germany, from Bremen, Achen, Köln, Duisburg etc., to this city; therefore it was expanding and expanding, but also growing as important target.

Bomber Command’s answer, in the night of 27 March 1943, was clear: the new British air craft were coming further and further, and their effects / results were better and better. Suburp Gohlis was set on fire. And in the night of 31 August to 1 September, the RAF carried out a minor attacks on the towns of Schönefeld and Eutritzsch (four casualties and a lot of fire too).

And after the great attack on Kassel, 22 - 23 October 1943, it became clear for Leipzig‘s inhabitants: they were "standing in the row". NEXT !!!

During the night of 2 / 3 December 1943, the RAF attacked Berlin once again, and then the following night, Bomber Command had chosen for Leipzig (!). But the air route of this raid had been planned in such a way, the German air defence should be believing "die Reichshaupt-stadt Berlin" is the target again. The mainstream of the bombers was crossing the Dutch coast line and than they were flying over the IJsselmeer / former Zuiderzee, and than continued into the East, over Northern Germany, in the direction of Brandenburg / Berlin. 

Then they were flying Southwards, suddenly, and already near Leipzig. Besides, this air attack was launched in the early morning hours, cause the Germans did not expect an assault at that (late) time.

Between 3.50 and 4.25 hrs. A.M. - air raid alarm at 3.39 A.M. / all clear signal at 5.35 A.M. -442 bombers dropped a total amount of ± 1400 t. of explosives and fire rods on the heart of the city. In the centre, where the (old) buildings were densely put up to each other, with a lot of wood contructions in roofs and floors, and also overcrowded with people of Berlin etc.- refugees of the night before - the attack caused prompt a firestorm, like as in Hamburg, during "Operation Gomorrah". Hans Rumpf, the general inspector of the "Feuerwehr" ( fire-brigades), was in Leipzig during and after the raid, and he said, that firestorm was even intenser. They had to call firefighters from all the hinterland, be cause half of the own brigades were still in Berlin (!). And than, the water supply broke down quickly, and….the hoses of the external brigades did not fit the custom-made connections to the Leipziger hydrants !

More than 1800 people were killed that night; in fact a rather small number for such a heavy and successful "Bomben Angriff", and because many inhabitants and refugees did not follow the instructions, to stay in the cellars and shelters to the all clear signal, but fought against the rising flames, etc. And the results of the explosions and the firestorm were - meaning the destruction of buildings - 1067 commercial buildings, 472 factory buildings, 56 schools, 29 fair buildings and 9 churches. And the University of Leipzig was partly destroyed, like many historical buildings ("Alte Waage", Old and New Theatre, Museum of Arts, Town Hall).

Where did we see already such addition sums before ? Oh yes, I know, in Guernica (Spain), in Warszawa (= Warschau), in Rotterdam, in Coventry, in Leningrad, in Malta, etc. etc. This was obviously the only right answer they understood….. a very hard lesson from time to time.

Hitler’s war machine wasn’t so easy to stop, and Leipzig was still paying his contributions at the beginning of 1944, although many things were going in other ways and in other proportions: most of the men were on the (east) front, and therefore a lot of workers from occupied countries were in town, in the factories and in the barracks surround. Most of the women were working too, and youngsters were running the traffic, the post, schools etc.

 And the "Luftwaffenhelfern", 15 and 16 year old boys from the "Hitler Jugend" (Hitler Youth) or any other Nazi-organisation, were shooting the 2-cm-Flak 38 - batteries and lightning with the search-lights. That same fanatics were standing later on nearby bridges, roadblocks, railway crossing etc. etc., in 1945, when Allied troops were opening the front in Germans country side; American soldiers for example felt sorry for them, till they came under attack of the "Panzerfausten" and heavy gun fire. "The little bastards!"

Leipzig was on the roll again, 19 - 20 February 1944, as we saw already, during "Big Week". 

Between 3.15 and 4.20 A.M. areas in the South, like Connwitz, as well industrial areas in the Southwestern district of Leipzig were hit (Schleussig and Groszschocher). More than 700 RAF bombers were used, in that disastrous "night of the falling stars", which dropped about 2300 tonnes of bombs. And then, "big surprise", the same day more than 200 planes of the 8th U.S. Air Force attacked the industrial facilities in the Northeast of the city. 

The total outcome wasn’t like 4 December 1943, but about 970 people died, some of them "Zwangsarbeiter" from French, Oekrain, Poland etc., and most of them during the RAF night raid (but what could the RAF airmen do about it, they suffered themselves).

Most important of all: 65 % of that "Erla-werk" in Heiterblick was destroyed, and in May 1944 its production had not recovered the full capacity again.

I send you this crash-map of Friesland so people can see what was really going on in those wartime years over this part of the Netherlands.

But I must give some comments to this map too, because this was made in the year 1979, and since that time I have never made myself a new one, and besides, the Vlieland-area isn't on this map.

A up-dated map would show us a lot more "victims" of the air-battle, such as a Lightning at nearby Workum, a Manchester at the Ameland beach, a (French) Spitfire near De Hemrik, etc. etc., and of course, the Lancaster ME589, if I should know more about that location in the North Sea..... (?).

Some explanations to the map:


AM = Ameland (island)                  HA = Harlingen (city/habour)               

LE = (De) Lemmer (village/port)                TE = Terschelling (island)

AP = Appelscha (village)                HE = Heerenveen (village)                   

LW = Leeuwarden (city)                          VR = (Lieve) Vrouwenparochie

BE = Bergum (village)                    HI = Hindeloopen (city/habour)            SCH = Schiermonnikoog (island)             WK = Workum (city/habour)

DO = Dockum (city)                      IJL = IJlst (city)                                  

SN = Sneek (city)                                   WO = Wolvega (village)

DR = Drachten (city)                     KO = Kollum (village)                          

ST = Stavoren (city/port)                         ZO = Zoutkamp (village/port)


As you maybe can understand, the Cemeteries in the Frisian Chain and in the cities etc. around the IJsselmeer, the Waddenzee and the Lauwerszee, received most of the killed Allied airmen (Terschelling - 82, Harlingen - 63, S'-oog - 61, Ameland - 55, Lemmer - 44, Vlieland - 40, Makkum - 36; without the U.S.-victims ! ).

And most of the German airmen were buried in Leeuwarden, Noorder Begraafplaats (Northern Cemetry) + Huizumer Begraafplaats (Southern Cemetery)

72 in a total of 455 victims from all German army units (incl. 2 Russian soldiers, working for the Germans ? ). Of that 72 Luftwaffe victims (from airfields Leeuwarden + Bergen) about 30 % was KIA; the rest was killed by engine troubles, in bad weather conditions, by fuel problems, bird collisions, breaking undercarriages by landings, fire break outs etc. etc. , or by "glamorous behaviour" (stupidity).

  St. Löwe = Stellung "Löwe" (= Lion) in Marum - Trimunt (operating since Febr. 1941)

St. Tiger = Stellung "Tiger" (= Tiger) near West-Terschelling (operating since end 1941)

St. Schlei = Stellung "Schlei" or "Slien" (= Fjord) on Schiermonnikoog (operating since begin 1942)

St. Eisbär = Stellung "Eisbär (= Polar Bear) in Sondel (operating since begin 1942)

 As you can see on the map, "Fliegerhorst" Leeuwarden was "in the middle" of these "Radarpeilstations"; by the way, that circles are saying nothing about the range of the radar-equipment they were using (Terschelling - over 300 Km. !!!! ; when the bombers were airborne over G.B., the Germans "pick them up" at the same time).       Willem


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