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Ameland

Texel & Den Helder

 

 

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Leeuwarden Airfield

Schiermonikoog

Harlingen & Harderwijk

Occupied Harlingen

German Radar

Ameland Graves

Vlieland

Terschelling

St. Jacobparochie

Rottum Island

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     12 Squadron Losses
     Runnymede Memorial 

Deanweb - the Forest of Dean Directory

History and photographs after Willem's visit to Ameland

Ameland Memorial to the frigate Valk

A part of the British 1799 military campaign against France was to take the Dutch Fleet into

safe keeping (so that the French could not use it) and to liberate Holland from French control with help promised by the Russian army.

Dutch 20-gun frigate the Valk was one of the ships taken possession of by the squadron of Vice-Admiral Mitchell, without firing a shot, in the Zuyder-Zee on 30 August 1799. 

The help from Russia did not arrive and our troops were withdrawn.

On 10 November 1799 the Valk went aground off the coast of Ameland. 

The conditions were terrible and the ship was ripped apart on the sandbank while the wind and the waves were pounding it.

Despite efforts to rescue as many as possible, of the four hundred and forty-six souls who had sailed in the ' Valk,' only 25 were saved, including Lt Hill of the Welch Fusiliers. Three companies of that 23rd Royal Welsh regiment were on board.

 

War-time Ameland

Crew of MKW (1939) - post 4 Nes-Ameland

 

Radio hut of MKW - post 4 

 

Measuring position & distance to MKW-post 4

Pottery of Marine Flak Abteilung 246

Later watching platform of MKW-post 4 at Nes

Dutch soldiers captured by first German troops at Nes (see larger photo)


Allied graves at Hollum Cemetery in 1945

 

Vorpostenboot no. W8 and Gunners on a VP boat

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(1) Soon after the outbreak of the war the first sea-mines were washed up on the beaches. Dutch mines, French mines, and British and German examples as well. During the rest of the war this was going on and on, sometimes nothing for weeks, and then suddenly day after day, and even 2 or 3 a day. This first photo is probably from November 1939, with Dutch military, on the Ameland North Sea beach.

(2) Sea-mine exploding in front of the Nesser beach (near Hotel Scheltema)

(3) The newly arrived Germans unloading supplies

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466 RAAF Squadron, the Bornrif lighthouse, the Hollum Lifeboat and more stories in connection to Ameland, Wirdum etc. By Willem de Jong

 

Friday, January 1, 1943: New Year’s Day of another year in the great world war, and more than a year before the disastrous Leipzig raid, "the night of the falling stars", in which 12 Allied planes were lost over Holland as we know, including Halifax LV781 of 466 Sqdn near Harlingen / Friesland (see top of page no. 5, the "wallet story").At the same day, after the traditional midnight toasts and greetings on a "Happy New Year", the newly formed 466 Squadron, since October 1942 in a heavy air training scheme, was declared operational. From now on, there was a "hell of a job" to do for this crews; among them many "Aussies" and "Kiwis", so far from home and for some reasons - I really don’t understand why till now - not fighting against the Japs ! 

For them no happy free hours in the summer sun "down under", on Northern Island (N.Z.) or on the beach near Sidney (Australia), but long nightly and dangerous flights in winter’s Europe. In this time of the year, in this dark war nights, all things were grey and black, even all the peoples were "black". What a difference with home….. and if the sun was shining, perhaps, they were sleeping under while.

 

On January 13, 466 Squadron started with a series of so called "Gardening Operations", off the coastlines of Northern Holland and Germany; let’s say on the doorsteps of Terschelling, Ameland, Schiermonnikoog and other islands in the Nectarine Region. 

6 Wellingtons, type Mk.X and loaded each with 2 brand new and for the Germans still secret sea mines - 2 x 700 kg. in the bomb bays - were leaving from RAF Leconfield near Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire. 

And so we can understand now, why one of the pilots on this mission, Officer Don Bateman, together with all the members of his crew, was searching and searching, again and again and again, because of that crazy lighthouse in the darkness, whilst "Thialf", the (Frisian) God of winter, was acting in the opposition!! And in the same time the "Huns" were shooting with their damned "Flieger Abwehr Kanonen" (Flak).

 

But, before telling the rest of this story, first something about Ameland, the lighthouse, etc. "It Amelân", like many islands in the world of course, has a long and maritime history. 

The so called "commandeurs", skippers and merchandisers of the real sailing fleets - "with your ass in the winds" - living at home in wintertime, made many summer trips to foreign cities /ports, like Edinburgh, Portsmouth, Hamburg, Oslo (for a long time named Kristiana), Göteborg, Lübeck, Riga and St. Peterburg.

 

They brought money / prosperity to the island. And many young men of their own families, their own villages and their own island were paid some salary, if they were joining on board as ordinary seaman, boatswain or helmsman. So these guys were learning by practicing and they could set up their own business later on, maybe, if they survived home sickness, sea sickness and…. the sailors grave !

The sea is "giving and taking", all the time. Many islanders, as sailors, fishermen, or rescue men on their horses in the breakers of the wild sea, or in small lifeboats later, didn’t return.

Once, in November 1799, the frigate "De Valk" (= The Falcon) was running on the grounds and was cracking up on the banks North of Hollum. Only 5 sailors, 19 soldiers (Royal Welsh Fusiliers) and their commander John Humphrey Edward Hill were surviving; all the others, 419 in total, died in the North Sea. 

A family was "lucky", when the dead body was found afterwards and could be buried in the local graveyard. Also foreign sailors found their graves in the dunes of Ameland. 

Days and weeks later the corpses were found on the beach. Thus, that’s the reason why, at the end of the "Jan Roepespad", is erected a memorial stone (see photo) and there is an "Englishman Dune" (where the bodies were buried) and a "Engelsmanhiem" (= a street and also a resort with holiday homes under this name) North of Hollum village.In that time the "Crow’s Nest", the mighty bell tower of Hollum’s old St. Magnus church, was a beacon, a clear checkpoint for navigation on coastal waters (see photos). And in some storm nights a "vuurboet" (= fireplace on beach or dune top for purposes of orientation) was made by the beachcombers of Ameland, to assist the sailors or….. just for the own pockets, their own income (!). 

Cargo goods washed on the beaches could bring them a fortune. But in the more modern times later on, things were changing, were organized better, mostly with help and / or pressure of the authorities. 

It’s in that way, a 55 meters high lighthouse was erected in the year 1880, under government of His Majesty, Willem III. 

Built up of heavy cast iron panels, bolted together in a cylinder form - weight bodied on the basement and smaller on the top - it was a revolutionary and pure industrial building method in these days.

A nice piece of work by architect/engineer Quirinus Harder and his men, and since that time a well known and useful beacon along the seaway, and the highest building of the entire isle.

A gas light on top of the tower, surround by expensive optic mechanics (with a lot of copper work on it), is doing the sign work during the nights - nowadays powered by electric light of course (4.400.000 cd strong, visible over 30 sea miles !) - but in World War II the light was switched off by order of the Germans. It was really dark over the island for a long period.

Airborne in the afternoon, the formation was almost flying on sea level to the targets, so the German radar controlled anti-aircraft-defence should plot them as late as possible (we know better now: they picked them up already from the moment of start!).

This was really not an easy job to do, not a simple type of warfare: under the typical North Sea weather conditions of the wintertime, full of mist, rain showers and cloud banks on low altitudes, you had to find the right fairways of the merchant fleet and, of course, of the Kriegs-marine.

 

 

A part of these seaways / shipping routes were also situated in between the islands, to the mainland harbours, like Harlingen, Delfzijl, Emden and Wilhemshafen. In this way they had to cross the Atlantic Wall many times and, as we know, the German Flak wasn’t "spitting on the ground". And further, in most of the gaps between the Frisian islands, in the middle of these shipping routes, the German navy had posted armed vessels, the so called VP-boats (= Vorpostenboote; see some photos. These boats were equipped with anti-aircraft-guns too.

The men of 466 were drilled as professional pilots, qualified observers, good bomb aimers and air gunners / wireless operators, and they did all the work on board in well-trained routines, even blind if necessary, but…. none of them were really experienced. 

They were as green as grass! What was the enemy doing, right now, and how should he react? Of course they were nervous and of course….. Wak-wak, wak-wak-wak….. wak… My God, there it is! They are shooting now. So close…. and these damned flashing searchlight beams!!

In the early morning hours all the Wellingtons were safely returning. A first and great success for these brave airmen, and not at least because of the moral, the confidence of each of them. 

But, the next mine laying operation was already planned, for the following night. Thus, while the ground crews were busy, the "heroes" were trying to sleep……

After Terschelling island, the neighbouring isle of Ameland was next. And in this evening  there was even an extra plane; 7 "Wimpies" set off for the Bornrif waters, West and North of the red and white colored lighthouse on "it Amelân" (Frisian name for it). 

These mines couldn’t be spread out over the sea like confetti; only on the right places in the shipping lanes they would be working optimal. And these exact locations were pointed before by some experts and briefed to the crews. Therefore the airmen had to fly with "clockwork precision" over the drop zones and, as we can understand, after the pilot, the observer was a very important and busy man aboard; but all of the men had to look out, had to assist the observer, by finding the right location(s).

 

After getting airborne in the afternoon, the formation was almost flying on sea level to the targets, so that the German radar controlled anti-aircraft-defence would plot them as late as possible (we know better now: they picked them up already from the moment of start!).

This was really not an easy job to do, not a simple type of warfare: under the typical North Sea weather conditions of the wintertime, full of mist, rain showers and cloud banks on low altitudes, you had to find the right fairways of the merchant fleet and, of course, of the Kriegs-marine. 

While the Wellington crews were looking for this impressive red-and-white pylon in the landscape - I don’t understand why the "Jerries" never painted the tower in camouflage colors during the war ! - the guns of Ameland’s West-Battery were heavy firing on the plane; Bateman and his mates were "dying ten lives in a minute". Their "Wimpy" was bumping in the sky like an attraction on the fair, or in the fun-park, and after each course correction of the pilot, there was coming a new burst of shell splinters ! But then, good luck was starting: for a moment they could see light in and on the lighthouse….. and after that they found easily their drop zone. Was the Dutch lighthouse watcher helping them at that crucial moment ?

Not every crew on this mission was so lucky. Wellington HE152, HD-"L’’ (for Love) was hit over Western Ameland, by the same guns of Marine Flak Abteilung (MFA) 246, and fell down in the sea, in the direction of Terschelling, at 17.42 hrs. 

All were killed: Pilot - Sgt. R.V. Babingtonn, 2nd Pilot - Sgt. J.A. Austin (RNZAF) aged 24, son of Edith Maude Austin of North Beach, Christchurch, NZ, Navigator, - Sgt. L.H. Tabner, Bomb Aimer (?) - Fl/Sgt. H.W. Stewart (RCAF), Wireless Operator - Sgt. M. Harris and Air Gunner - Sgt. A.J. Chester. Only the body of Herbert William Stewart was found afterwards, on the beach of Vlieland. This 19 year old Canadian, of Edmonton / Alberta, was laid to rest in grave 56 in the Churchyard / General Cemetery there. 

 

Only one problem: on his tomb stone is written down "Navigator" and not, like as on a RAAF- casualty list, Bomb Aimer! The others have no known graves….. their names can be found on the panels of the Runnymede Memorial, among the names of so many men fallen into the seas.

 

And after their first memorable mine laying trip to Ameland - many gaps in the plane’s fuselage must be sealed ! - Bateman and his flying mates decided to paint an

Australian bird, a Kookaburra, on the nose of their Wellington, holding under his left wing, the red-and-white colored Ameland lighthouse! Also to honor of that brave Dutch lighthouse watcher……(or was that Kookaburra cartoon already on the plane before, and was the lighthouse an addition?) A very beautiful story of course - I like such tales - or is it a local myth? Fact is, all or most of the planes of no. 466 Squadron were supplied with such artistic paintings: a "(kick)boxing kangeroo mum and her fist helping young", a "militant grand old lady / granny, named Nancy", etc.etc. 

Maybe it was because of the fact, that No. 466 Squadron did not have a real motto ( in Latin or in English or in "Aussie-slang") and no official squadron badge in that time ? (see the photos).

 

466 Squadron RAAF was formed at Driffield, Yorkshire, on 15th October 1942, as a medium-bomber squadron, equipped with Wellington aircraft and under the control of No. 4 Group. It moved to Leconfield in December 1942, but returned to Driffield in June 1944, and remained based there for the rest of the European war.

Beginning operations against the enemy on 13th January 1943, with a mine-laying or Gardening mission off the Frisian Islands, the squadron continued with Wellingtons until the end of August 1943, and during this period dropped 620 tons of bombs and laid 330 tons of mines. Halifax B.IIIs replaced the Wellingtons (which were disposed of in September), and with these No. 466, during the remainder of the European war, made 170 raids on 92 different targets.

 

 

Eynsford, Kent War Memorial

 

 

 

466 Squadron aircraft with boxing kangaroo and joey         

466 Squadron aircraft 'Granny named Nancy'

Old Church and Cemetery at Hollum

Bell-tower of Hollum (Crow's nest)

The Lighthouse - 236 steps to the top

Launching the Abraham Foch lifeboat with real horse power (2012).

 

Return of the lifeboat

Rough winds blow over the island of Ameland. There is a storm going on that terrifies

even the sailors of this proud whaling island. It's the 14th of August 1979 and suddenly a mayday-signal arrives at the rescue station in Hollum. The "Windspiel 4" is in trouble and immediately the horses are put in front of the Abraham Fock lifeboat to drive it to sea. 

The waves are blowing up high and the horses pull and pull, being blasted by wind and water. One by one they fall down and by the time the boat is afloat and speeding to the rescue, the toll is heavier then ever. Eight out of the ten horses have drowned in the waves while carrying out their duty to save men. At the Southwestern beach of Hollum a memorial marks those brave eight horses ..who gave their lives to save the sailors. (from Pavlik's Travel Page)

 

Sgt J D Stewart of 158 Squadron in Halifax HR715 from RAF Lissett.

 

Halifax II HR715 NP-E of 158 Squadron took off from RAF Lissett at 6.12pm 29th September 1943 on a mission to Bochum.

While flying over the Dutch Fresian Islands it was shot down at 9.15pm by the 3rd Battery Marineflakabteilung 815, based on Vlieland-West, and all the crew were killed. This was only their third operation. The first had been to Montlucon - the Dunlop tyre factory in France and the second took them to Mannhiem when their aircraft was twice attacked over the target by Ju-88's and fortunately the novice gunners seeing off the attackers.

The crew were pilot Sgt. William Finlay F. MacLaren (31), flight engineer Sgt. Edwin John Hall, navigator F/Sgt Harry Robertson (31), bomb aimer Sgt. Philip Corbet Du-Plat-Taylor (26), wireless operator Sgt. Edward Stanley Sheppard (20), and gunners Sgt. James Dixon Stewart (20), and Sgt. Vivian Herbert Bartlett. Only one body was recovered. Sgt Stewart is buried on Ameland in Nes General Cemetery; while his crewmates are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

Sgt Raymond Farrelly, the crew's usual bomb aimer, was not on this mission and his place was taken by Sgt P C Du-Plat-Taylor. Tragically Sgt Farrelly survived his friends by only a short period being killed when shot down near Rotterdam a few weeks later.

 

Jimmy Stewart enlisted in the RAF and was accepted for aircrew training as a pilot - this was discontinued after a few months and he remustered as an air gunner - from early 1943 he progressed via Air Gunnery school at Dalcrosss / OTU at Lossiemouth , HUC at Riccall and finally to 158 squadron at Lisset, part of 4 Group.

He was lost on his third operational flight on the inbound leg to Bochum on 29th September 1943. They had only been posted to the Squadron just two weeks earlier.

Their Halifax MkII was shot down by Marine Flak Battery "Vlieland West".

 Jimmy's body was washed ashore on Ameland on 5th October and following examination by the occupying power was buried the same day in Nes General Cemetery. His body was the only trace of the aircraft or its crew to be recovered. He is buried in the Commonwealth Plot.

His six crewmates have no known graves and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

 

 

 

 

 

German illustration of incident

 

 

 

The South West Battery at Vlieland West from 3rd Battery, Naval Ack Ack Unit 815 claimed the shooting down of this aircraft at 21.15 on 29th of September 1943. They reported that it exploded in mid-air and burst into several parts. Their gun-fire was 'radio guided' and 27 shots of 10.5cm shelltype L4.4 were fired. The aircraft was seen to turn south-west when it was hit and went down in flames approximately 17-18 kms away. Witnesses named on the report were Leutnant M A Burmeister, Obermaat Werner Albreght and Maat Theodore Penning.

 

 

 

 

 

Nes (Ameland) Cemetery contains the graves of 49 Commonwealth war casualties

Sgt Jimmy Stewart's war-time grave

A February 2011 photograph

 

 

Sergeant Jimmy Stewart's medals and Air-Gunner uniform insignia

 

 

 

 

The 158 Squadron memorial at Lissett near Bridlington, Yorkshire, to the aircrews who did not return

(from  http://www.fightercontrol.co.uk/forum )

 

Something about the Ameland villages in early wartime.

 

The inhabited area of the Dutch Frisian island of Ameland consists of 4 villages. From West to East they are named Hollum, Ballum, Nes and Buren, and they are situated in the lee of a specific coast landscape, with a wide beach, sand dunes, open waters (brackish and fresh / sweet), reed valleys, low bushes and heath moors. In the beginning of 1900 some pine woods were planted, West of Hollum and North and West of Nes, to stop the local "sandstorms" in wintertime, otherwise the sand was a slow killing threat to the rich farmlands surrounding the villages. 

In the past Ameland lost villages already (such as Sier) and manmade land before, by that "walking dunes" and the "hungry sea" too, so the Amelander people must manipulate their wild nature a bit, for the own safety and prosperity. But in the same way it was also a new and beautiful piece of nature, all these new trees. And believe me, it still is today!

 

 

 

The NZHRM-lifeboat station in the village of Hollum, with the real / original Msrb. Abraham Fock, during a training run, just before the war. The aircrew of the Avro Manchester L7380 (EM-"W") of RAF 207 Sqdn., under leadership of Canadian skipper F/Lt. "Mike" Lewis, was trying to steal this boat, on the night of 7 - 8 September 1941, after a successful belly-landing on Ameland's beach.

 

In August 1939, when it was clear that the "Munich Agreement" between "Herr Adolf" and Mr. Neville Chamberlain etc., of a year before, was worthless, the Dutch forces were mobilising; first all the staff officers, and then, some days later, all their troops. And thus, a number of boys of "it Amelân" were leaving their beloved island, going to their war posts on the mainland, while other boys, coming from the mainland, were starting their services on the island (that’s the way it is, in such situations !). But, some of the isle men never came back…..

The Dutch were setting up a poor defence line, consisting of 2 watching positions of the so called Marine Kustwacht, one near the beach of Nes (M.K.W.- post 4) and one in and around the Bornrif Lighthouse near Hollum (M.K.W.- post 5). 

 

 

This is a unique photo of the special newspaper "Ick Waeck" (= I'm Watching) printed for the military and their families at home of the M.K.W.-posts along the Dutch coast and on the islands (like M.K.W.-post 5 – Hollum); only 3 or 4 editions came out before the Germans invaded, in May 1940 (thus between Sept.'39 and May'40).

This was the first, and at the same time also the last edition showing the "new layout", thus it was unique indeed !

 

 

The demolition of many tourist houses in the dunes (open field of fire for the Germans)

 

 

Pictures from January 1940

The first wartime winter 1939 - 1940 was a "heavy one", bringing the islands like Ameland in an isolation again. Therefore, for supplies to the troops on location, and the post etc., and also for the civilian needs, airplanes were used, in the beginning only military. But after some days it was necessary to use also (bigger) air-liners from the KLM etc.

Because of the war situation, all the Dutch airliners were painted in hell orange, all over the machines, and with the large texts HOLLAND in black on the fuselage (thus no white and blue KLM-colors any-more, since the shooting down of one of the DC-2's by the Germans the autumn before).

By the way, on all Dutch merchant vessels were painted great red-white-blue flags, on starboard- and port-side, as well as on the upper decks and on the "smoke-pipes", and also with the texts HOLLAND in black in the white bar of these flags.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post etc from the air-liners on the beach brought in by horse-drawn sledge

 

 

Twenty-five to thirty men in total, from both Navy and Landforces, together with some M.P.s (policemen of the Marechaussee) and the regular personnel of the lighthouse…. that was all ! They formed "the eyes and the ears" of the entire isle and the seas around, in cooperation with a single navy ship sometimes and the daily patrols of the Fokker TW.8 floatplanes, such as the R-5 (see photos etc. on page 4). And, they had to build up first their own small look out post near the Nesser beach and to arrange their own shelter for the nights (!). Later on, in the cold winter 1939-1940, they were staying in some confiscated tourist houses, for example along the later on called Fenneweg (near the lighthouse and the Hollumer Bos / the wood West of Hollum).

 

 

 

A so called "birds-eye-view" of Western Ameland. This photo taken from the Bornrif lighthouse near Hollum, gives a beautiful view in the S.E. direction, to the village of Hollum, laying in the polderland of the island (background).

You can clearly see the old Protestant church St. Magnus and its outstanding tower (crow's nest), and left in the background you can also see the dairy factory (with chimney) for local consumption milk, cheese and butter.

When the steam whistle of this factory was going, the life-boat horses were already on standby in the meadows because these well trained horses knew the alarm-signal well.

In front of the photo, below the lighthouse, you can see the new planted woods and the houses of the lighthouse watchers, and a bit further on, lined up along the road, you see the tourist houses, in which were living the Dutch military in the cold wintertime 1939 - 1940.

 

And how about their equipment? No anti ship guns, no ack-ack against aircraft, no M.G.s either… only (light) hand weapons, and…. some field glasses, sign flags and lamps, equipment for measuring positions and distances (to ships on sea), a field telephone (hotline to the mainland) and simple radio-equipment (not usable for contacts with the own daily patrol-planes, as far as I know). Indeed, the eyes and the ears, for the troops on the mainland, nothing more…. and in case of a real war situation on the coast, they had to leave Ameland as they could - by lifeboat, to Terschelling Island or to the mainland - and not defend it ! 

 

 

And that’s exactly what was happening in May 1940: most of the men, at least of M.K.W.- post 5 /Hollum, fled to Terschelling, while the others were captured by the first German soldiers coming soon over there (see photos below).

 

Alas, I don’t know all the names of these men, (see 1939 photo of MKW crew below) who bravely did the best they could under these poor circumstances, but there are at least three names I can give: Mr. Kingma (of Akkrum village / Friesland I believe) sitting left outside, and Mr. Nienhuis, a married man already of Makkinga village / Friesland (thus growing up in the home village of my own mother) but I don’t know his position on the photo: and there was the main lighthouse-watcher, sitting in the middle, behind the "Matroos / Zeemilicien" with the textboard, Mr. Van Seijst. This Mr. Van Seijst would blow up the top of the Hollum lighthouse, in May 1940, at the moment the first Germans were coming! 

 

By the way, my mother and I were talking about the Nienhuis family (living in Makkinga

etc.) and we were looking at that Ameland MKW-post 4 picture, even with help of a magnifying glass. Alas, it wasn't clear enough for her to say for 100 % "that's him"; but it must be Hendrik (Nienhuis), one of the oldest in that household with 7 (?) children. 

I found a photo of him in the "Friesland Post" (historical monthly magazine). He is shown as an old local "muts" in this picture, in a woman's dress article of Ameland's history (?).  

 

 

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My aunt Grietje was telling me more. Hendrik (sometimes called Hindrik) Nienhuis is sitting in front in the photo above.

Standing in the background the 4th man from the top left, that Zeemilicien with the glasses, that was Mr. Paulus Akkerman (!).

Serving in the army then, he was the local "administrator" of the group on Ameland, but in addition, he was already a well known writer in Friesland (books, articles in newspapers, etc., most in the Frisian language.

His writers début was in 1925. Many years later, after the war, he was also staff member of the local bank on Schiermonnikoog island until his retirement. He died in 1982.

 

 

   

Name cards relating to the 1939 MKW post 4 crew photograph above

 

 

 

 

First Germans taking the Dutch military prisoners of war at Ameland 17 May 1940

 

 

 

 

German soldiers on the Nesser ferry-stage (the Dutch flag still on the ferryboat !)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Insel-Kommandant (German island commander) Oblt. Gras (left) near the ferryboat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hendrik Nienhuis (left) with one of his Dutch colleagues after they were made prisoners of war in Nes village, at the MKW-post no.4 near the beach, by the first German soldiers on the island. I think it was on May 17, 1940. We see the Beachhotel of Nes in the background.

 

 

But the "zeemiliciens" (conscripts) appointed for the job - before leaving Ameland by lifeboat - were sabotaging this horrible plan/his order, by taking the detonators to neighbouring Terschelling Island. They wouldn’t damage that wonderful piece of optic technique, that beautiful lighthouse, and by the way, not far from the tower were standing the houses of the lighthouse watchers themselves and their families..!!!

From Mr. Nienhuis it is known that he was writing a postcard to his young bride soon after his first days in army service on Ameland, saying to her: "come over here soon, it’s better for both of us, and there is plenty work for you also to make some money". And so she did, and they never left the island again, living in Ballum village, where they later started the first "supermarket" of Ameland, for tourists and islanders, and when there were nicer weather conditions, in the open air!

 

 

 

The Mayor of Ameland is making it publicly known, on behalf of the (German) Island Commander, that from now on all the beaches are forbidden territory, including all the dunes in the 300 mtr. zone along the beaches. And the area around "Excelsior" (the captured building in the dunes near Hollum) is also a no-go-zone !           Ameland, 15 October 1941.

(Thus, no beachcombers work anymore, no beach fishing, no eggs from sea gulls, no hunting of dune rabbits and pheasants and...... no fresh Christmas tree for the Amelanders).

 

The damaged 'Ameland' at Nesser Ferry Stage, Ameland

 

On 11 May 1940, during the second day of the German invasion in Holland, the captains and crews of the Ameland ferry-boats were ordered to leave Ameland and take their motor vessels to neighbouring Terschelling.

In the harbour of West-Terschelling, the ferries survived the enemy attacks etc., so that they could return later, to start again their regular service on the 17th of May, and ferrying also the first German soldiers to the island of Ameland and taking the Dutch military, now prisoners of war, back to the mainland.

 

But then, on 1 June 1940, a single RAF-bomber, probably a Bristol Blenheim of Coastal Command, attacked the ferries, while both ferry-boats, the M.S. "Ameland" and the M.S."Waddenzee", were moored along the Ameland ferry-stage. The "Ameland" was totally destroyed (see the photo) while the "Waddenzee" was damaged, plus the ferry stage in the harbour. For the German occupation troops a clear sign, but for the people of Ameland a "very unlucky event", because their life-line to the mainland was broken again, and as long as the "Waddenzee" was out of service (on the slipway for repair works) they could only use another smaller boat, mainly "overcrowded" with Germans, their goods and their assistants.

 

 

 

Halifax DT567 from 51 Squadron

 

Halifax II DT567 HH-F of 51 Squadron was lost on a Gardening operation on 7/8th March 1943.

Halifax DT567 MH-F from 51 Squadron took off from RAF Snaith in Yorkshire at 6.25pm on the 7th March 1943 while taking part in a mine-laying mission over the Nectarines Region.  It did not return and it is now assumed that the Halifax was brought down by radar controlled FLAK possibly from East Terschelling or Ameland.

 

F/O Holmes and Sgt Tombe are buried in Sage War Cemetery, Sgt McAleese at Kiel in Germany, while Sgt Ramshaw's grave is on the island of Ameland in Nes General Cemetery.

Sgt McAleese was originally buried on the North Frisian island of Sylt near the Danish/German border and Sgt Tombe was first buried on the East Frisian island of Norderney.

F/Sgt Dorman's body was recovered by an RAF air-sea rescue boat around 20 miles north of Ameland some time after the 4th of April. He was buried at sea and is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.The two other crew members are also commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

On the 4th of April 1943 John Ramshaw's body was found by a German soldier on the Northern beach near Paal/Marker 23. The local Commandant informed the Dutch police and after being identified his remains were placed in a coffin and transported, by horse and farmer's wagon, to the Nes General Cemetery by Mr Hendrik Nienhuis (mentioned in the paragraph above this account)

One of the two crew reburied at Sage was first interred on Rottum Island. Unfortunately his name is not recorded in the 'Soldatenkerk hof te Rottumeroog' kindly mailed to us by the archivist of the Gemeente Warffum, Mr Hillenga. Perhaps it was Flying Officer Holmes - we already know that Sgt Tombe was first buried at Norderney. Tom

 

 

The Leeuwarden Courant, November 9, 1998, reported that 77-year-old Bartle Hoekstra, who was keeping up a 50 year tradition, again placed a wreath on the grave of Sgt John George Ramshaw at Ameland Cemetery on behalf of his family.

 

Crew : 

F/O Alan Lionel Holmes. Age 20. Navigator. Son of Lionel Robert and Florence Emily Holmes, of Hampstead, London. Buried at Sage

Sgt Arthur Regent Harding Age 20. Flight Engineer. Ex RAF Halton apprentice. Son of Albert Samuel and Bertha Grace Harding, of Lewisham, London.  Commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

Sgt John George Ramshaw.  Navigator. Son of John George and Edith Amelia Ramshaw, of Willington, Co. Durham. Buried Ameland.

P/O Jack Eric Ulrich. Pilot ?   Commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. 

F/Sgt Robert Edwin Dormon Age 21. Son of Albert Edward and Doris May Dormon; husband of Lilian Anne Dormon, of Holloway, London. Runnymede Memorial.

Sgt Patrick McAleese. Air Gunner. Buried at Kiel cemetery in Germany.

Sgt George Tombe. Air Gunner. Buried at Sage.

 

 

 

Flying Officer Alan Holmes and Sergeant John Ramshaw

 

 

 

Newspaper photo of earlier days at the English Electric factory in Lancashire during November 1942 - Halifax DT567 - brand new and with a visiting United States aircraft production delegation in front of it.

 

 

 

An IWM photo of the same event

    

With War in Europe looming, English Electric was instructed by the Air Ministry to construct a "shadow factory" at Samlesbury Aerodrome in Lancashire to build Handley Page Hampden bombers.

Starting with Flight Shed Number 1, the first Hampden built by EE made its maiden flight on 22 February 1940 and, by 1942, 770 Hampdens had been delivered – more than half of all the Hampdens produced.

In 1940, a second factory was built on the site and the runway was extended to allow for construction of the Handley Page Halifax four-engined heavy bomber to begin.

By 1945, five main hangars and three runways had been built at the site, which was also home to No. 9 Group RAF. By the end of the war, over 2,000 Halifaxes had been built and flown from Samlesbury.

 

 

Ameland

Photos 1 & 2 - In the so called "West-Batterie" of the Germans on Ameland Island (of the Marine-Flak-Abteilung there), on a location in the dunes near Hollum village and the Bornrif lighthouse, was also standing a radar equipment during the war. As far as I know it was a Freya-Gerät type A1 (of producer GEMA), named a "Matratze-Antenne" or simple "Matratze" (= mattress). In fact it was an out of date antenna already, a static equipment, but good enough for a range of 120 km.!!!  

I don't know exactly, maybe some one else can tell us more (?) - but I think it was brought into Ameland after a "modern/better replacement" on a certain coast-location in Germany, were it was in use before (by the beginning of the war, in Sept. 1939, there were 8 of these antenna-equipments on the German coast-line). 

These photos - in the collection of the local museum of Ameland - are taken in 1945, while the Dutch were pulling down many of these Atlantic Wall remains, and also this antenna.

Photo 3 - This photo - taken by a German serviceman I think, because for the Dutch it was "Strengstens Verboten" to make a shot there - is showing us an "Alarm-run" to their guns and other equipment, set up under camouflage nets. Thus, alarm for these "dune rabbits"...... in such spots, Ameland was overcrowded with "Krauts".

Photo 4 - No further text necessary I think, only one notice: this so called Oerdbunker is on the other side, the Eastside of Ameland (a wildlife area now, full of birds etc.).  

 

What remains of the oerd-bunker today

 

(1) Bunker-bau' (construction of bunkers) in the Hollumer dunes near the lighthouse. (2) Christmas greetings from out an Ameland bunker to the 'Heimat' (homeland).  (3) German 'goodbye from the island of Ameland', of 3 june 1945, by unit 3 of MFlaA. 246

 

German inspection tour of the local Atlantikwall troops (lighthouse in the background)

The Catholic funeral at Ameland of Flying Officer David Lusk from 22 Squadron in May 1940

Some photos about the funeral etc. of F/O. David J.T Lusk, in the other nearby cemetery at Nes, in the Roman Catholic Churchyard of St. Clements church.

His body was washed ashore at Ameland's beach, 06/08/1940, after he was KIA on the 7th of May 1940 (thus before the German Blitzkrieg into Western Europe, before the attack and the occupation of the Netherlands).

However, he was on Ameland the first RAF airman buried with "full attentions of the Germans" (military funeral, complete with rifle salute etc.), in the first months of the war, because in the meantime the Germans were here.

 

 

 

 

F/O. Lusk was the Navigator of Bristol Beaufort Mk.I, L4472, OA-"G", of No. 22 Sqdn. "Valiant and Brave"; the a/c. set off for a anti-shipping-strike over the North Sea, North of the German Frisian Islands (Norderney etc.) because a Cruiser of the Kriegsmarine, of the Nürnberg class, was spotted in that area. Alas, the plane didn't return, neither did  a 2nd a/c. of the same 22 Sqdn., who was involved too. His Blenheim was hit by gunfire of the FLAK, during the strike fight there I think, and couldn't reach this home base again, ditching in the sea......

His full names etc.: F/O. - Navigator - David James Theodore Lusk - RAF - 70413 - age 21 - son of the Revd. David Colville Lusk and of Mary Theodora Lusk (nee Colville), of Edinburgh  B.A. (Oxon.) - KIA 7 May 1940 - buried one day later, 7 Aug. 1940 - RC churchyard St. Clemens, Nes / Ameland - reburied after the war in Jonkerbos War Cemetery, Nijmegen.

He was the only member of the crew whose body was recovered. His crewmates were -

 

Flying Officer [Pilot] Stuart P. Woollatt, RAF 39451, 22 Sqdn., age 27, 07/05/1940, missing

Aircraftman 1st Class Sidney W. Mills, RAF 623774, 22 Sqdn., age 21, 07/05/1940, missing

Aircraftman 2nd Class Myles J. Delahunty, RAF 636904, 22 Sqdn., age unknown, 07/05/1940, missing

Took off 14.52 hrs from North Coates. Formated with other squadron aircraft to bomb an enemy cruiser of the Nuremberg class which had been reported between the German isles Norderney and Juist.

Claimed shot down by Uffz Kaiser of II(J)/TrGr 186 into the North Sea off Norderney but may have been shot down by flak north of the Dutch Frisian isles.

 

 

(1) David Lusk's grave at Jonkerbos War Cemetery, Nijmegen. (2) Mayor Roel Walda. After the war he wrote to the Dutch and British authorities to stop this and other reburials (see crash-list on page 1).  By the way: Mr. Roel Walda was family of my grandmother Froukje Walda, my  father's mother. He was the first Burgemeester (mayor) of Ameland after W.W. II, and a "good father" for the island (there is a local school named after him, etc.).  (3) Kriegsmarine Kreuzer (Nürnberg klasse)

He wrote -

"I have wondered what may be the reason that the remains of those, who are already nine to twelve years resting in Ameland soil after so much time, have to be transferred elsewhere. If they went to their homeland or were transported to their home or former home to be buried, this would be more understandable. Now this is not the case, I believe this transfer gives the relatives a more or less painful impression. Letters received from the parents or other relatives, after they had visited the graves here, has repeatedly shown that the English families are very much satisfied with the way their loved ones are cared for here. I would therefore not be surprised that if all these families were asked their wish would indicate that the remains at Ameland should continue to rest. "

 

 

Celebrations at Nes on 7th and 8th of June 1945. Ameland celebrates.The occupation is over. The Germans have finally packed their bags and left Ameland. The new mayor of Ameland is now Roel Walda.

NSB (National Socialist) mayor Bouk Bakker and his family are arrested and transferred to an internment camp in Leeuwarden. 

 

 

 

 

Ameland  Cemetery Revisited by Willem - June 30th 2012

 

 

A view of the cemetery in summertime and an encouraging sign of new growth

 

 

 

 

 

 

A memorial bench and its inscription

 

Willem writes in the visitor's book on behalf of both of us.

 

 

 

 

 A recent German visitor comments - "Our freedom is a grateful gift from your people!"

 

 

 

 

 

The memorial at Ameland to F/Sgt Thomas Fetherston from 102 Squadron

 

Two 102 Squadron Halifax bombers that took off from RAF Pocklington to bomb Hamburg on the 9th of November 1942 did not return. F/Sgt Fetherston RCAF of 102 Squadron was the co-pilot of Halifax W7864 DY-F Hamburg which took off at 5.52pm, 9th November. The aircraft was shot down by Helmut Lent, who was at the time of his death, credited with 110 victories. His report placed the crash-site as being over the sea, 40 kilometers west of Wijk aan Zee.

The crew were all Canadians except for the Flight Engineer, 27 year old Sgt Fred Hope, who was from Aldborough in Yorkshire.

 

The crew were -

Flight Sergeant G A Neville (Pilot) 

Flight Sergeant T R N Fetherston (Co-Pilot) 

Pilot Officer T O Dunlop (Navigator) 

Flight Sergeant J K Player (Bomb Aimer) 

Sergeant F W Hope (Flight Engineer) 

Flight Sergeant N Sidorchuck (Wireless Operator) 

Sergeant C C Brook (Airgunner) 

Sergeant M V Riddle (Airgunner) 

 

All were lost without trace and having no known graves they were commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial which is situated a few miles from Windsor Castle.

That would normally have been the end of this tragic story had it not been for a man on a Sunday beach walk at Ameland in April 1999. He uncovered a bracelet in the sand and after taking it home and having it cleaned, uncovered the name 'Fetherston'.

 

A search on the Commonwealth Graves Web-site revealed that it had belonged to a Canadian pilot, Flight Sergeant Thomas Fetherston. 

Researcher Klaas van de Veen was then contacted. Because Fetherston is not a very common name a search of telephone listings was eventually successful. He was able to contact a cousin of Thomas Fetherston who told him that his widow, Helen, was still alive. There was also a daughter, Sharon, who was only eight months old when her father died.

 

The local municipality decided to invite the widow and her daughter to Ameland to be reunited with the bracelet. Due to ill-health Helen was unable to attend but her daughter gratefully accepted the invitation.

 

Sharon and her husband Preston arrived on July 12th 2000. She asked to be taken to the place where the bracelet was found. There she placed her hands in the sea and for an emotional moment was connected with the father she had never known.

On July 14th the official ceremony took place on the beach at Ballum and attracted a large amount of press attention. Sharon was handed the bracelet and said that for her mother this chapter in her life could now close.

At her request a monument was erected in Nes cemetery. Our picture shows the scene in July 2000 - left to right - Mayor Wilpstra, Henk de Jong, and Sharon & Preston Service.

 

Thomas was an enterprising person and he loved horses, dogs, and flying, but most of all, his Helen.

Thomas Fetherston Jr. was born on May 13, 1922 as the only child of Thomas Norman and Ann Fetherston. The first years of his youth were spent in Nanton, where his parents had a grocery store. Later the family moved to High River in Alberta where at school he met his future wife Helen. 

When he had finished his schooling at 18 he reported directly to the Royal Canadian Air Force. 

Thomas began his pilot training at the 2nd training school in Regina, Saskatchewan. On July 15, 1941 the 19 year old was transferred to the 5th starting school in High River, Alberta. On September 1 he was transferred to Dauphin, Manitoba for further training.  

In December 1941, soon after their marriage, he was transferred to England. Helen was pregnant when he left. 

In England, Thomas was posted to various training units. Initially he was with the 15th (P) AFU at Lenco Field Yorkshire. On 23 March 1942 he was transferred to the 1513 BAT Flight at Honington Suffolk. After completing his training on Wellington and Halifax bombers, Thomas was finally on October 29, 1942 posted to 102 Squadron stationed at Pocklington in Yorkshire. 

On 9 November 1942, on his first operational flight in which he flew as second pilot, he was posted as missing in action.

The irony of fate was that widow Helen still had to pay a mess bill for the last beer that Thomas drank on the night he died. 

 

The other Halifax from 102 Squadron, lost on the same raid, DT539 DY-A, was piloted by F/Sgt D T Marler RCAF. It was hit by flak and crashed at Oosterend,Texel. There were no survivors. All the crew were buried at  Den Burg cemetery, Texel.

 

 

 

15 Squadron Stirling III BF457 LS-B            Mission : Wilhelmshaven 19th February 1943

Take off was at 5.50pm from RAF Bourn. The aircraft was shot down at 9pm while returning from the raid, by Oblt. Hans-Joachim Jabs, and crashed at Ameland some 5 km E of Buren, in an area known locally as the Nijlandsrijd.

It was later reported that the aircraft was flying in a clear moonlit sky, over a white carpet of sea mist, and was, for an attacking German night-fighter, a perfectly silhouetted target. The Stirling caught fire and burned before exploding in the air.

The whole crew were killed. This was the first Stirling III reported missing from 15 Squadron.

During the following days, the Germans, as well as the local (Dutch) police, were searching the crash site for human remains amongst the small fragments of the heavy bomber which were spread over a large area. It was a horrible scene and identification of the airmen wasn’t easy. In the police report, ‘Proces Verbaal No. 5’, the identities of five of the eight man crew were unknown!

All eight were interred on 23rd February 1943 during a simple military funeral service at Nes General Cemetery led by the local German authorities.

Reliable private sources in Holland indicate that three 15 Squadron Stirlings had been shot down by ObIt Hans Joachim Jabs, IV./NJGl, that night. His claims being made at 2100 (BF457), 2114 (BF378) and 2145 (BF411) respectively. None of the 23 crewmembers survived.

The crew of BF457 were -

F/O. David Joseph Hopson - Pilot  - age 20 - from Borden, Kent, UK
F/O. Lawrence Bartlett Carson (RCAF) - Air Bomber - age 29 - of Oshawa, Ontario
F/O. John Williams DFC - Air Gunner - age 31 - of Bournemouth, Dorset,
F/O. Edward Lloyd George Ratcliffe - Nav. - 30 - of Treorchy, Glamorgan, UK
Sgt. Ronald Frank Fowler - W.O. / A.G. - age 30 - from Morden, Surrey, UK
Sgt. Ronald George Weaver - Air Gunner - age 21 - from London, UK
Sgt. Clifford William James - Flight Engr. - age 20 - of Lostock, Lancashire, UK
Sgt. Alfred James Ellis - Air Gunner - no further info via the CWGC

The crash site. A body is searched for identication, and a view of one of the Stirling's wheels amongst the debris

 

On the morning of  May the 3rd, 2008, Sue and Neville Gray arrived on the island of Ameland to visit the grave of  her father and to take part in the “Dodenherdenking”  Remembrance of the War Dead) ceremony, which is held every year on the evening of  May the 4th.

Her father, Sgt. Ronald Fowler (W.Op./Air Gnr.) died in the air crash of  Short Stirling BF457, LS-“B”, of 15 Squadron on the 19th February 1943 at Ameland. All members of that crew were killed and later buried in the General Cemetery in Nes village.

Sue had never known her father, because at the time he was killed, she wasn’t even born. 'My mother was pregnant after his last short leave' she smilingly related.

Sue migrated with her mum and sister to Australia in 1952 following an older relative who had arrived earlier.

She always knew about the grave of her dad on Ameland, but there wasn’t any time left for a visit. Her son was the first who saw the grave. Arriving in the local hotel, she was also meeting the family of one of the other crewmembers, Derek Weaver and his wife.

 

 

Derek, brother of Sgt. Ronald George Weaver (the Air Gunner) had visited Ameland several times after the war to see the graves of his brother and the other crew. Sue showed him some letters, written by her father and sent to her mother. In the last one, her dad is writing about a new crewmate - Derek Weaver's brother!

After the touching ceremony in the cemetery, the foreign guests visited the local town hall (in Ballum village), invited by the Mayor and other authorities of Ameland. During the next day an excursion was organised to the former crash site, were the visiting families could still see some small fragments of the destroyed aircraft. And at the end of that day there was a last remembrance farewell party.

Next morning Sue and the other guests left the island by ferry, very thankful and with great memories, and making a promise….we'll definitely come again!

 

RAFVR Flying Officer David Joseph Hopson, the pilot and skipper, was the son of Dorothy Alice Townshend, and step-son of Thomas Alexander Townshend (1908-1979), of Borden village, in the Swale area of Kent.

He was born to single mother, Dorothy Alice Hopson (1901-1980), on May 17th 1922 at Sittingbourne, in Kent.

She is recorded on the 1911 Milton Regis census as 9 years old, but I cannot find her birth registration.

Dorothy's father, Joseph Hopson (bn Liverpool in 1862), who was married to Lydia Trinder, and parent of eight children, worked as a machine hand at Bowater's Paper Mill at Sittingbourne.

Dorothy married Thomas Alexander Townshend at Milton Regis in 1931 and had three more children, Michael 1932, Nicholas 1934, and Mary 1936.

David Hopson attended Borden Grammar School between 1933-38 when his family's address was 11 Trotts Hall Gardens, Sittingbourne.

On leaving school he found work as a solicitor's clerk. 

We have no record, at present, of his enlistment date in the RAF.

He was buried at Nes (Ameland) General Cemetery, plot D, row 13, collective  grave 15A-16A.

His name is commemorated on the Borden Grammar School World War Two memorial board.

Thanks to Marc Stewart, who is an Old Bordenian, for the school information.




(RAFVR) Flying Officer John Williams DFC, the air gunner, service number 115798, was the 31 year old  son of Frank Williams, and husband of Nellie Williams of of 35 Court Road, Bournemouth, on the coast of Dorset.

He is believed to have had one son, also named John, and one daughter. His wife Nellie died in May 1986 (see the bottom text of his tombstone).

The award of John's DFC was announced in the London Gazette on April 24, 1945.

In Central Gardens at Bourne Avenue, and near the Bournemouth Borough Council Building, there is the WW1 and WW2 Cenotaph. There are no names engraved, but it commemorates all the lost servicemen from both World Wars. John is buried at Nes (Ameland) General Cemetery, plot D, row 13, collective grave 15A-16. The text on his gravestone added later by his family reads- ‘A courageous airman, defending his country and his family. Joined by his wife Nellie - 31st May 1986’

 

 

RAFVR) Sgt. Ronald George Weaver, the Air Gunner, was the 21 year old son of George Thomas Weaver and Alice Maud Richards, of Finchley, North London, who were married in the Barnet, Hertfordshire, registration district in 1917.

The couple had ten children, five boys and five girls. His brother Derek (born 1933), who lived at High Road, North Finchley in the 1960s, visited Ronald's Ameland grave on several occasions. Sergeant Ronald George Weaver is buried at Nes (Ameland) - General Cemetery, plot D, row 13, coll. grave 15A-16A.

 

(RAFVR) Flying Officer Edward Lloyd George Ratcliffe, the navigator, was born on 17 January 1913, the oldest of eight children, to coal miner Herbert Edward Ratcliffe and his wife Elizabeth (nee Houghton) of 154 Victoria St, Parkgate, Rotherham, Yorkshire.

He moved to South Wales in the 1930s and joined the Glamorganshire County Police.

In 1939 he married Elizabeth Ann John at Pontypridd, and moved to 11 Clark St, Treorchy, in the Rhondda Cynon Taff area of Glamorganshire.

That same year at the outbreak of war, he enlisted in the 2nd Battalion of the Coldstream Guards and served in France. The Second Battalion was one of the last six units to evacuate at Dunkirk, and returned to England on 2 June 1940. 

Because of his civilian experience, he was transferred to the Military Police. He then successfully applied to enlist in the RAFVR.

After aircrew training he was awarded the rank of sergeant.

Edward was commissioned on 13 March 1942 and became a Pilot Officer, operating with 15 Squadron, based at RAF Bourn, 7 miles west of Cambridge. He flew as a navigator on Stirling bombers, carrying out bombing missions over Germany and occupied Europe. He took part in the first 1,000 bomber raid to Cologne on 30/31 May 1942.

On 1st of October 1942 he was promoted to Flying Officer.

He is buried at Nes (Ameland) General Cemetery, plot D, row 13, grave 17. 

Edward's name is inscribed on the recently erected WW2 Cenotaph, unveiled on 16th September 2015, at Clifton Park, Rotherham, and also on panel 4 of the Rawmarsh & Park Gate War Memorial, at Rawmarsh Hill, near Rotherham.

Also remembered there is his younger brother, John Henry Ratcliffe, of the 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards, who was born on 23rd October 1918.

 

 

In September 2015, a memorial to honour the 1,124 men and women from Rotherham killed in WWII, was unveiled in the town. More than £30,000 had been raised to fund the memorial, which is now located in Clifton Park.  Work to identify which names should be commemorated started in 2007.

The Friends of Clifton Park researched the archives for the names of those killed. Elaine Humphries, from the group which led the fundraising, said: "We've met many people who have shared some very sad and memorable stories and it was hard work to reach our fundraising target. However, it's all been worthwhile thanks to the people of Rotherham and those who have connections with our town."           

http://rotherhamwarmemorials.weebly.com/clifton-park.html

 

After leaving school John Ratcliffe was employed as a miner at Kilnhurst Colliery. Around 1936 he enlisted as a Guardsman, with the 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards, and served in Palestine and Alexandria before the outbreak of World War 2. 

His unit was serving in North Africa when Operation Brevity was launched on 15 May 1941.

After two weeks the British were on the defensive and it was decided to halt the German advance and pull back to defend the Halfaya Pass, above Sollum, which was defended by a squadron of 4th RTR and 3rd Bn Coldstream Guards.

On 27th May, a force of 70 German Tanks in three battle groups attacked the Halfaya Pass and two weeks after the Operation had started the force holding it was pushed out, with the Coldstream Guards falling back with the loss of 100 men.

John Henry Ratcliffe's death is recorded as 27 May 1941, he was 23 years old. He has no known grave, and is commemorated on the Alamein Memorial, and with his brother, on the two local memorials mentioned above.

 

(RAFVR) Sgt. Ronald Frank Fowler, the wireless operator, was the 30 year old son of Francis Joseph Fowler and Grace Lillian Fowlds, from Greenwich, Kent and husband of Lilian Helena Banks.

He had married Lilian at his home town of Greenwich in 1937. The couple had two daughters, Helen (Grace), registered there in 1938, and Susan, who was registered after Ronald's death, at Mid E. Surrey in 1943.

In April 1948, the widowed Lilian, and her daughters, moved to Green Lane, Morden, in Surrey, and it was from there that they migrated to Queensland, Australia, on the P&O liner RMS Ormonde in May 1952.

Also on board were her husband's parents, Francis & Grace Fowler, her 39 year old brother-in-law, George P. Fowler (bn 1914), and his wife Olive Thwaite, all from Bexley Heath in Kent.

Lilian and the girls first moved to Ekebin, Queensland, where she was recorded as a dressmaker in 1954. From 1958 their home was at Dalby. She did not remarry and died at Buderim, Queensland, in 1991.

Her daughter Sue married Neville Gray. During a trip to the UK in 2008, the couple went to Holland and visited her father's Ameland grave. (see earlier notes)

 

 

Ronald's father, Francis Joseph Fowler, was born on 18th December 1882 at East Greenwich in Kent. Like his own father, he trained as a ship's boilermaker. In January 1904 he joined the Royal Navy as an engine room artificer.

Francis  served on various vessels, and was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal in September 1918 for his anti-submarine actions during WW1.

When he retired after 22 years service, in January 1926, he was the Chief Engine Room Artificer on HMS Ark Royal, an aircraft carrier built in 1914.

He had married a Lewisham girl, Grace Lillian Fowlds (bn 1885), at St. John's Church, Deptford, in 1911, and the couple had two sons, Ronald Francis (1912) and George P. (1914).

He and Grace sailed on the Madoja to visit relatives in Queensland, Australia in June 1949, and on the ship's register gave the Morden, Surrey, home of his daughter in law, Lilian, as his UK address.

In May 1952 they made a second trip to Australia on RMS Ormonde with his son, George, and daughter in law, Olive, together with Ronald's widow, Lilian, and her two daughters.

He died at Medway, Kent in 1959.

 

(RAF) Sgt. Clifford William James, the Flight Engineer, was born at Bromyard, Herefordshire in October 1920 and baptised on 14th November 1920 at Stanford Bishop, Herefordshire.

He was the only son of Albert and Edith James of Bromyard, who were married at Hereford in 1919. 

His father Albert (bn 1895) was only 37 years old when he died at Bromyard in March 1932.

Clifford married an Altrincham, Cheshire girl, Vera Cartledge Woodworth (1916-2002) at Horwich, Lancashire on August 27th 1942.

Her address at the time of his death was at Lostock near Bolton. The childless widow was remarried at Stratford, Worcestershire, in September 1943. He was John William Herbert Bell.

Clifford is buried in Nes (Ameland) General Cemetery, plot D, row 13, grave 17A.

 

(RAFVR) Sgt. Alfred James Ellis, the Air Gunner, was buried at Nes (Ameland) General Cemetery, in plot D, row 13, grave 18. This is the only information we have about Alfred. Unfortunately the CWG site does not record any information about his age or family. If anyone can help with more information we would be very grateful.

 

(RCAF) F/O. Lawrence Bartlett Carson, the Air Bomber/ Observer, was the 29 year old son of John Arthur and Ethel Sarah Carson.

He was born in Toronto on 10th of August 1913, but was brought up, and educated, in Oshawa. The family lived at 463 Athol Street East.

Lawrence was an honour graduate of the Oshawa Collegiate and Vocational Institute on their Senior Matriculation Course.

Before joining the RCAF he served in the army with the 2nd Battalion of the Ontario Tank Regiment, and was the first officer called for active service when that regiment mobilised in 1940.

He enlisted in the RCAF in late 1940, and received his training at Brandon, Vancouver and Regina before completing his aircrew course at No.1 Bombing and Gunnery School based near Jarvis, Ontario, on September 27th, 1941.

In his final exams he received over 80% in all subjects and had the distinction of being presented with two sets of wings (see photo) as a qualified pilot and an observer. He was posted overseas in December 1941.

Lawence is buried at Nes (Ameland) General Cemetery, plot D, row 13, collective grave 15A-16A.

 

 

Members of 15 Squadron and a Short Stirling Mk.I in June 1942

 

The crew of Stirling N3669 'LS-H' at RAF Bourn, in January 1943, chalking up the 62nd of its 67 missions, a record for a Stirling, in 1942-3.

In February 1943, the public got to meet this aircraft from 15 Squadron and helped raise money for the war effort at the same time. By then it was a veteran of sixty-nine operations, a record for Stirlings. The aircraft, which was on display outside St Paul’s Cathedral, generated much interest and remained on display into the following month. N3669 did not return to the Squadron after its ‘tour of duty’ in London, but instead was sent to No 1 Air Armament School, where it was used for training purposes. (IWM)

 

 

 

The graves of the crew of BF457 at Nes Cemetery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The (German) grave of the “weather-professor”, in the Roman Catholic St. Clements cemetery, in Nes village / Ameland.

 

From the moment the war really broke out - maybe on 1 September 1939, but certainly after the French and British declarations of war on 3 September’39, because Hitler’s armies did not stop in Poland - the regular exchange of daily weather-reports between “London, Berlin and Paris” was stopped immediately. And because of the fact that mostly the Atlantic depressions are “running” the weather over N.W.- Europe, for the Germans it was therefore more difficult to make good weather-reports for themselves after that date (!).

And by the way, even the airliners of the Lufthansa as well as the merchant fleet vessels of “Deutschland” - could gather and deliver useful weather-information too ! - They could not operate any longer on their normal routes, and were unable to send information to the homeland, in “clear language”, without using special codes (also, the Royal Navy and the RAF etc., were trying to “decode” such messages of course).

 

In Germany not only the farmers needed good weather forecasts. Lots of people wanted such information of course, like fishermen, people on their way in the daily traffic, the house painter on the corner of the street, the maid behind the washtub next door, etc. etc., and above all: the Kriegsmarine, the Army troops on the ground and, especially, the Luftwaffe. “You simply don’t plan a large scale air raid on enemy targets, while a heavy storm is coming in that area”.

 

Three views of a Heinkel He-111 German "Cloud Chaser's Aircraft" and below, a Wekusta. 26 - Do-17Z weather-aircraft from the same Staffel as Helmut Biester, buried at Nes.

 

In the years before the war, while they were building up their mighty Luftwaffe forces, the “Jerries” were clever enough to organize “special weather units”, which could deliver important information for preparing operations. WeKuSta. 26 (Wetter Erkun-dungs-Staffel no. 26 - 26th Metrolgical Squadron), the meteorological reconnaissance unit no. 26, was one of them.

Operating since June 1939, in the beginning from airfield Wesendorf, one of their airplanes was making a weather-flight in the direction of the East-coast of the British isles, on the 31st of March 1940.

In a special equipped Dornier Do-17Z version, they started from station Köln-Ostheim (near Cologne in West-Germany). The crew were gathering the information they needed, while probably flying the shortest route to the North Sea, across Holland too!

 

 Helmut Biester's funeral

 

What happened later on that day, alas I don’t know exactly, but the “Flying Pencil” was intercepted suddenly by an RAF-plane and shot down soon (maybe someone else can tell us which plane/which unit ?).

Some sources are saying it happened near the English coast,others are believing “much more into the East, over the North Sea, in front of the Dutch coast, North off Ameland island”.

One fact is clear, 2 airmen of this weather-plane found their (first) resting places on this Frisian island: the human remains of the “weather-professor” Dr. Josef Wille were found and recovered on 28 July 1940, and buried the next day, in row 1, grave 1, in the Churchyard of the Roman Catholic St. Clements Church, in Nes village, Ameland (a/d. Kardinaal De Jong Weg).

If there was a military funeral service for him - the occupying German troops were already there - I’m not sure about, but it is most likely.

 

 

The early grave at Ameland of Helmuth Biester, the one at Ysselstein and Dr.Jose Wille's grave  at Ameland

 

The second crewman of this plane, also found on the beach, near Paal / Marker 26 (on the East-side of the isle), was Unteroffizier (Uffz.) and Bordfunker (wireless operator) Helmuth Biester (reg. no. 62873 / 46).

That was on the day the Germans invaded Denmark and Norway, 9 April 1940 (about a month before the invasion etc. of Holland). His funeral was indeed with “full military honours”, also by “neutral Dutch soldiers”, and from the German attaché in The Hague etc., on the 10th of April 1940 (local Dutch papers were writing about it, some of them were even showing a photo).

He found his original grave in the General Cemetery in Nes village, row 15, grave 22 (in 1958 exhumed and reburied in the German War Cemetery at Ysselstein / Zuid-Limburg (near the German border).

 

Why the grave of Dr. Josef Wille is still there, nowadays near the alas burned down Roman Catholic Church, I don’t know….. it’s O.K. for myself, it’s part of our history (!), and..many others don’t even know. Let him R.I.P. But what happened to the pilot, and maybe more of the crew? MIA I think….. like so many more later on in the war.

 

 

St. Clement's Church at Nes

Last night there were heavy hailstorms here, with some loud thunderclaps (between 4 - 5 am in the early morning we woke up). They came in from the North, from the sea. And one of those storms was probably the reason - so we heard this morning in the news - that the beautiful St. Clements Church in Nes village, on Ameland island, is burned down, hit by a flash of lightning (?). A historical drama...... not just for Ameland.

 

 

It's the same church for instance of the funeral services held on 10 June 1940 and 7 Aug. 1940, of Dr. Josef  Wille (weather observer / crewmember in a Luftwaffe Dornier Do-17 Z2, shot down and crashed near Britain's East coast) and of F/O. David J.T. Lusk, of  No. 22 Sqdn., also washed ashore (reburied after the war, under protest; see this page). Willem - 5th February 2013

There is also some good news now about the Roman Catholic St. Clemens Church in Nes on Ameland, which building was destroyed 5 February last, probably by nature alas.

After investigations of the local fire brigade, with help of some experts from the mainland, and also with help of people from the Gemeente Ameland etc., there now could be made the decision not to pull down the remaining walls of the church; and from that moment on, it was becoming a real option to rebuild this ever beautiful and historical building, because of the costs in total and the payments of the insurance company after all (otherwise it should be much to expensive).

The remains are supported in the meanwhile by beams etc., and they are trying now to protect the walls as far as possible against the rain and wind etc. The plans were made already for its reconstruction (the original drawings of architect Pierre Cuypers were found in the archives).

The only great problem is, that if it is rebuilt in the future, is it then still a real monument ? (A yearly grant is coming from the authorities of the monuments).

But they were given " the green light " some days ago. Now the people of Ameland, especially the members of the church, are very happy and a bit emotional too; the building in which they were baptized and married etc., will be rebuilt again (in about 3 years) with further financial help from all Amelanders, and people of the church elsewhere, added to some future donations from tourists.

This very beautiful church, with a number of Norwegian details (the architect Cuypers in the year before building this one, was constructing another in Halden, Norway (1877) - and also with the restoration of the nice painting of Hendrick ter Brugghen in it, I hope the church will be coming back to the village, in all its glory !  Willem 27th February 2013

 

Willem's Introduction

14

Ameland in war-time

25

Texel  & Den Helder 

1

Friesland War-time Crashes

14b

Ameland,166 & 75sqdn

26

Hindeloopen

2

Friesland Cemeteries

14c

Ameland Graves

27

 Scharnhorst!

3

Leeuwarden area

15

Terschelling

28

Scharnhorst! 2

3a

Wirdum Remembers

15b

Terschelling 2

28a

 Scharnhorst! 3

4

Schiermonnikoog

16

Sage War Cemetery

29

12 Squadron

4b

Schiermonnikoog  part 2

16b

424 Squadron

30

Runnymede

5

Harlingen

17

Vlieland Cemetery

31

Vuren at war

6

Kallenkote Cemetery

18

Jacobiparochie

32

Makkum Cemetery

7

Wartime Occupied Harlingen

19

Hampden AE 428,

33

A Fatal collision?

8

RCAF 428 Ghost Squadron

20

 WW2 photographs

34

Hudsons & Venturas

9

Zwolle's ' De Groene ' group

21

Shipdham & USAF 44th

35

101 Squadron

10

408 Squadron's Leipzig raid

21b

68th Squadron's losses

11

Local Radar

22

Rottum Island

12

Lancasters DS776  & JA921

23

Bergen  Cemetery

13

Cartoons

24

   Lemmer  &  Bakhuizen    

 

 

 

back to 626 Squadron

 

 

 

 

 

 email-address:  w.jong1@upcmail.nl

 

 

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