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Friesland War-time Crashes    1939 - 45   by Willem de Jong

Texel & Den Helder




Leeuwarden Airfield


Harlingen & Harderwijk

Occupied Harlingen

German Radar




St. Jacobparochie

Rottum Island



Aircraft losses and crewmen with no known graves




Look at this picture. The long intense, look of these airmen, in their faces, and you will understand why...... That's how it was, bitter, hard, exhausting, to the finish or to the death !

It's really a shocking list, I would say, with all these names and so many airmen Missing In Action over the North Sea, the Wadden and the IJsselmeer (IJssel Lake).

1943 was the "turning point" in the air battle over Holland, and the "Yanks" were coming too, in large scale daylight operations, who everyone on the ground could follow easily most of the time. But the US-crashes are not in the list, as you see.

By the way, the North Sea crashes in this list are only those which are near the coast of the Netherlands, max. 30 km. offshore, and not those " far over the horizon ".  

Following the statistics in a pure way - trying to "switch off " the painful feelings about all these dramatic results of the war - you can "read " in fact the whole course of the battle: the introduction of new types of planes for instance (Manchester, Lancaster, Mosquito etc.), and which squadrons were operating most over our regions, and when they were starting the large scale raids to German cities like Hamburg (1000 bombers, including planes of OTU-units) etc. etc.

You can find it all in these numbers....

I hope you are still enjoying this thankful volunteer's work. For myself, I feel it is good to do so, with pleasure and happiness, because we are free, living in the world they were preparing for us. That's my opinion at least.   




Unknown Allied Airmen, buried in the Frisian Chain and other nearby coastal cemeteries by Willem

Bodies recovered from the island shores, the tidal flats and sandbanks in sea, or at the island or mainland seawalls (dikes), or brought in by lifeboat personnel or fishermen, etc., and buried without successful identification afterwards, in cemeteries at the Northern part of the Netherlands North Sea coast - and around the IJsselmeer c.q. former Zuiderzee, or in the nearby ‘friedhofen’ at the Ostfrisian coast in Niedersachsen etc. / N.W. Germany)


Newest information in brown texts                                Version of Aug. 20, 2016

Listing with names of islands, towns and/or cemeteries, in alphabetical order, and in order of date :





The excavation in August 2016 of Wellington R1322 from 305 Squadron


The crash site


On May the 8th 1941 Wellington R1322 from the Polish 305 Squadron, based at RAF Syerston, in Newark, Nottingham, UK, took off with six other aircraft, at 22.56 hours. They were part of a force of 133 bombers targeting the port and city of Bremen.

While about 12 kilometers south of Lemmer, the aircraft was shot down by a German Bf 110 night fighter based at Bergen and piloted by Ofw. Rasper.

The Wellington crashed into the IJsselmeer with the loss of all its Polish crew. 

They were:

Pilot - F/Sgt. Jan Piotr Dorman - Born Olkuski on 12th January 1911 the son of John and Mary.

2nd Pilot - Sgt. Zdzislaw Gwózdz - Born Sambor on June 19th 1914 the son of John and Mary.

Navigator - P/O. Maciej Wojciech Socharski - Born Warsaw in 1908, the son of Mieczyslaw and Stefania.

Wireless Operator - Sgt. Henryk Franciszek Sikorski - Born 10th September 1916 Jastrzebicach area, Lodz.

Air Gunner - Sgt. Stanislaw Pisarski - Born March 8, 1915 Suchowola province, Bialystok, son of Wladyslaw and Anna

Air Gunner - Sgt. Ludwik Karcz - Born August 25, 1915 at Krakow, the son of Albina and Adela.


The graves at Amsterdam and Amerfoort


The bodies of F/Sgt. Dorman and Sgt. Gwózdz were picked up from the IJsselmeer by local fisherman, and buried, together with an unidentified Polish airman, most probably one of their crew-mates, on 20th May 1941 in the New Eastern Cemetery at Amsterdam.
One dedicated researcher quotes a reliable report that a few months after the crash, a wounded Polish RAF Sgt. Dorman, and a wounded Polish RAF Sgt. Gwozdz, were alive in the Luftwaffe section of Amsterdam hospital, talking at the beds with wounded Allied airmen.
This was on dates after their burial and it is now assumed that this was a trick of the German Intelligence to spy on, and interrogate, wounded Allied airmen.

Because the Wellington was shot down on its way to Bremen, and if it did not explode as some reports suggest, it is expected that the full bomb-load is still inside the wreckage. Two bombs have apparently already been identified on site.

When it left RAF Syerston it was carrying 4 x 500lb (226.8kg) bombs, 3 x 250lb (113.4kg) bombs, and 3 x canisters of incendiaries.


  Jan Piotr Dorman  

Zdzislaw Gwózdz Ludwik Karcz


Sgt. Ludwik Karcz was washed ashore on the Northeast Polder dike between Urk and Lemmer, and buried at Urk on July 2nd in the same grave as 24 year old Sgt. Duncan McDougall, the wireless operator from 12 Squadron's Wellington W5375, (see our 12 Squadron page) who had crashed into the IJsselmeer on April 10th and buried on 25 May 1941.

For the funeral of Duncan McDougall the community of Urk had arranged a respectful service that upset the occupying Germans.

The whole village attended, former Dutch soldiers carried the flower-covered coffin, Dutch police saluted, and speeches and prayers were read by the minister and mayor in the English language.

It is believed that the same honours were again shown at the funeral for Ludwik Karcz.

The respect that the people of Urk had displayed for those two Allied airman was reported to the German authorities and resulted in an order that such funerals in future were forbidden.



In early September 1941, the local people placed a white stone cross on the double grave. Because of the limited identification on the recovered bodies, its foundation was engraved 'D.Mc.D. - 25-05-1941' and 'KORCZ - 02-07-1941'.

Both airmen were later re-buried at Amerfoort in 1947.

Ludwik's crewmates, Sgt. Pisarski, Sgt. Sikorski, and P/O Socharski, were never officially recovered.

With the aid of modern sonar equipment, the crash site was identified in 2014.

Divers recovered some debris from the aircraft including two cylinders from a Bristol Pegasus radial engine, and a Vickers 303 machine gun.

It is located at a spot designated for sand mining. The Vickers Wellington is sitting at the bottom of the lake, and during August 2016, a complex operation is taking place to excavate the wreckage and, with the help of a special Army unit, remove any explosives.

A steel dam has been erected around the site and the water pumped away. Next to the pit, a small work island has been created for the workers and equipment, and  a patrol boat from the coastal section (inland marine) of the Dutch Navy is guarding the area day and night.

There is a possibility that the remains of at least two of the missing crew members are still on the site.

Peter Rapinski has appealed on line for contact from relatives of the missing airmen in order to organize a funeral service.


The three of the Wellington's crew who have no known graves. Left to right - Henryk Franciszek Sikorski, Maciej Wojciech Socharski, and Stanislaw Pisarski.


After a week of recovery work inside that 'artificial island' in the IJsselmeer / former Zuiderzee (about 5 kilometers South of the Oudemirdum coastline / Friesland), at the crash site of No. 305 (PF) Squadron Wellington R1322, most of the bomb load is found / recovered now, even most likely transported to a safe place likely.
They were very lucky with the nice, dry weather (!), and of course many more remains of the aircraft were  recovered, like a propellor blade, engine cylinders, at least two Browning machine guns, a lot of typical Wellington geodetic construction parts, many remains of the cockpit and the front turret, oxygen cylinders, bullet boxes, steel plates, etc. etc., and........ already found during the first day, a pistol (!); although, it is not known to me, if it was simply a signal pistol, or indeed a personal weapon of one of the crew (?)

The 'salvage operation' South of Oudemirdum village by the way, was also on the Dutch tele again, yesterday evening; it was the last news item in the 8 o'clock (20.00 hrs.) primetime news bulletin, just before the weather forecast. They were showing a short movie then, telling also that bombs were found / recovered, etc., but no human remains, at least not till now.

- Via the local newspaper of this morning, the 'Leeuwarder Courant' of 1st Sept. 2016, I read: there are no remains of the missing crew found, which could be sent for identification, and no 'other important links too' (like numbers of engines), so it is in fact still not 100% sure, if this Wellington wreckage is of  R1322 indeed (......?!).

They found that the a/c. wreckage was almost complete destroyed / spread out over / in the bottom of the site, confirming the 'old story', that the Wellington exploded in mid air already (the fuel tanks), before it was falling down in the waters...... and for which reason the bodies of the crew were 'easily washed away' from the crash site too (their latest theory), but not the heavy bombs, 500 pounders, which were laying in one line, even after all those years.....

- The bomb load will be transported to the mainland, to a military shooting range (at Witten) near Assen city, Prov. of  Drente, for bringing them a controlled explosion, in a sand pit.

And what they found most on the crash site, at the bottom of the former Zuiderzee ? Thousands and thousands seashells, and stones from the cliffs of the nearby Southfrisian coastline!                       Willem

Update 9th September 2016

Wellington R1322 - A 'hot item' on our newspaper's page 1: 

a.) The excavators have found some bodily remains from one or more of the crew. They are being transferred to Soesterberg to be examined, and DNA sampled by the containers and identification service of the Air Force.

Only when the family or families are notified, will more information be given on the identity.

b.) There is a 'headphone-set' found from one of the crew, with his name on it ! (positively identifying the plane)

c.) There are 'numbered plates' found amongst the recovered wreckage identifying that it is Wellington R1322.

d.) It is still not easy to find out which of the crew was the owner of the Smith & Wesson revolver found. (personal weapon aboard)

e.) Nothing is known at present, at least by me, when exactly that planned 'memorial flight'  by an RAF Lancaster over the crash site, honouring this Polish crew, is happening.       Willem


19th September 2016

I'm preparing myself to visit Oudemirdum village this afternoon, to the beach pavilion 'De Hege Gerzen' which is to the south of it. Then to look over the IJsselmeer waters and the former crash site of Wellington R1322.

At the end of the meeting there, where they will be displaying photos of the 'recovery operation' and wreckage parts from the 305 Squadron (Polish) Wellington, at about 14.10 - 14.15 hrs. (according to the BBMF-program), Lancaster PA474 'Thumper' is bringing a 'last salute', via a flypast over the crash site and the coast.

I'll try to take some nice pictures there!    Willem










The flypast and 'last salute'.


Images from the wreckage displayed



I recognise this equipment from my ground-crew radio training. It is the Wellington's trailing radio antenna. Those balls in the top left hand corner are lead weights, and its exit point on the belly of the aircraft is bottom left. That aerial cable was around 75 metres in length when fully extended.  Tom


How it probably looked before the crash. The antenna at the belly of the aircraft and its winding mechanism near the wireless operator's seat.

                          Oxygen supply canisters and lead weights from the trailing antenna.

Engine parts, propeller blade, and a small section of the wing structure.

The Sea Cadet, pictured above, who was guarding the display, told me that there is much more 'debris'  recovered from the Wellington, and now stored  in a large sea transport container, which is almost completely filled with pieces and materials.   Willem


Willem's Introduction


Ameland in war-time


Wartime Texel  & Den Helder 


Friesland War-time Crashes


Ameland,166 & 75 Squadron




Friesland Cemeteries


Ameland Graves


Destroy the Scharnhorst!


Leeuwarden area




Destroy the Scharnhorst! 2


Wirdum Remembers


Terschelling 2


Destroy the Scharnhorst! 3




Sage War Cemetery


12 Squadron in World War 2


Schiermonnikoog  part 2


RAF Topcliffe & 424 Squadron


The Runnymede Memorial




Vlieland Cemetery


Vuren at war


Kallenkote Cemetery




Makkum Cemetery


Wartime Occupied Harlingen


Hampden AE 428, & Koudum


A fatal collision


RCAF 428 Ghost Squadron


Willem's War-time photos


Hudson & Ventura losses


Zwolle's ' De Groene ' group


Shipdham Airfield & USAF 44th


101 Squadron


408 Squadron's Leipzig raid


68th Squadron's Casualties


Friesland radar


Rottum Island or Rottumeroog


Lancasters DS776  & JA921


Bergen General Cemetery







back to 626 Squadron









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