Friesland wartime history     by Willem de Jong      <   page 19   > 

The Monument to RCAF 420 (Snowy Owl) Squadron's Hampden AE248 PT-A at Koudum 


Texel & Den Helder




Leeuwarden Airfield


Harlingen & Harderwijk

Occupied Harlingen

German Radar




St. Jacobparochie

Rottum Island

     Sink the Scharnhorst!
      12 Squadron Losses
      Runnymede Memorial 



Deanweb - tan Direcry

The Fleanmasine (Flying Machine) Monument






Kingsley Brown (Junior) left, and the unveiling of the monument by Mayor Hayo Apotheker with assistance from pupils of primary schools at Koudum, and Mrs Mary Bethune who was engaged to Sgt Bobby Williams, the navigator of the aircraft.

The monument began from an idea of Ulfert de Jong, Sjoerd Huitema, Hellendoorn Frits and Loes de Boer of the Wurk Histoarysk Koudum Group who took the initiative in 2011 to make a memorial or monument.

Exactly seventy years after the crash, on Tuesday July 3 at 15:30, it was unveiled by the Mayor of the municipality of Südwest-Friesland, Hayo Apotheke, and Mrs. Mary Bethune. They were assisted by four students from the highest of the two groups at Koudum schools.  Mrs. Bethune was during the war engaged to Sgt. Bobby Williams, the navigator killed on Hampden AE 248. 

Representatives of all four families of the airmen attended the commemoration. 


See youtube film clip



In the early morning of July 3, 1942 the village of Koudum was startled by the crash of an Allied bomber. The aircraft, a Hampden bomber, serial number AE 248, had taken off a few hours earlier (23.00hrs) from RAF Waddington on a bombing mission to Bremen. On the outward journey, the plane was intercepted by a German night fighter from the airfield at Leeuwarden.

The sudden nocturnal attack over the Southwest corner of Frisian damaged the Hampden. A wing of the plane was torn off and came down at the Martens family farm, now Kerkhoflaan in Koudum. The remainder of the wreck crashed at the spot where the Finke Residential Care Centre is now located.

Three of the four crew members did not survive the crash. The bodies of 24 year old Sergeant Robert Oscar Williams (navigator) from Esher, Surrey, UK, 22 year old Flight Sergeant Robert William Rowland Whytock (wireless operator/gunner) from Canada, and 22 year old Sergeant John Noel Waddington (wireless operator/gunner) from Hove, Sussex, UK, were buried in 1942 at Koudum with full military honors. Their graves are at the General Cemetery.  


From 420 Squadron's diary


July 1 1942 : No ops. F/Lt K.E. Brown arrived at squadron to become Deputy Flight Commander of A-Flight.

July 2: Thirteen aircraft were readied and took off on ops. Five aircraft returned early due to mechanical issues. Six reported attacking the primary target, but at a cost of two aircraft reported as missing. Bomb loads were 2x500 plus 360x4 incendiaries. Take off time was 23:00. "K", "R", "P", "H" and "F" were early returned due to engine problems or other mechanical issues. One crew believed they attacked the primary target, Bremen "D", and the rest area-bombed the town. Crews dropped their bomb loads at 01:40 from 10000 to 13000 feet. Visibility was good over the target but details were obscured by flares and bomb flashes. Defences included flak, searchlights and night fighters. 

Crews reported seeing many fires in the target area. P/O Rayne in AE390 "Z" made a glide bombing run beginning at 17000 feet bombing and 13000 and restoring power at 11000. 

AE248 "A" flown by pilot F/Lt KE Brown and crew, nav Sgt R. O. Williams, wop/ag Sgt J.N. Waddington, and wop/ag Sgt R.W. Whytock were reported missing. As well, P5332 "T", piloted by F/Sgt CG Wilde with crew of nav Sgt AD Bond, wop/ag F/Sgt TE Crothers and wop/ag F/Sgt JE Gibbs did not return. The pilot of "A", F/Lt KE Brown was later reported as a POW. The other members of Brown's crew and all the crew of "T" were killed. Bomber Command sent a force of 325 aircraft to Bremen this night. Although it appears much of the attack occurred south of the city limits those bombs falling on target appeared to be effective. 1,000 homes, four small factories, dock facilities and seven ships were damaged including the Marieborg, which was sunk. (BC:-9)

July 3: No ops. Three aircraft were involved in morning sea search. 

The only survivor F/Lt. Kingsley Brown came down by parachute, landing on the rooftop of a family house in Molkwerum (Molkwar in Frisian), a village between the Koudum crash site and the IJsselmeer coast. After his capture he was transported through Leeuwarden and Amsterdam, to the large POW camp Stalag Luft III near Sagan in Silesia, now Poland. 

In 1989 Kingsley Brown (Jnr) explained that his father had both before and after the war worked as a journalist. His experiences were related in the book "Bonds or Wire." He recalls that his father escaped twice from the POW-camps in Germany, one time for a period of 3 days. He was also connected to "The Great Escape", but was "moved to another camp" before he could escape with the others. His father has now passed away, but in the 1980's he wrote a book about the crash and his time as a POW, named "Bonds of Fire". After he left the last prison camp Kingsley Brown returned to England in 1945. He is later reported to have made the authorities of the RAF "mad", by stealing a floatplane, hoping to fly it home to Canada as he was desperate to see his family again after such a long time.


In the 1970's during Terschelling summer holidays, I met a family De Jong from Zaandijk village (Noord-Holland). His name was Hindrik, born in Lemmer (Friesland), and he was working at the railway station in Wormerveer. Hindrik had 3 children (Sietie, Leo & Geertje), and was married to a woman of whom I can't remember her first name (mostly he called her "Beppe" = granny in Frisian). 

This Mrs. De Jong - (nee) De Jong, was born and grew up in Koudum village, and as a young schoolgirl was at the crash site of the Hampden AE248. She found a part of the aircraft which she brought home; a massive piece of aluminium. Her father, or maybe someone else in her family, made a "remembrance ring" for her, from this wreckage part. For her whole life she wearing this ring !   Maybe she is pictured in the crash-site photo.  Willem




The graves at Hemelumer Oldeferd (Koudum) General Cemetery


The Cemetery

The cemetery is on the southern outskirts of the village, 100 metres west of the road to Bakhuizen. On its western boundary are the graves of 4 airmen, three from the United Kingdom and one from Canada.

There is a war memorial that commemorates the victims who fell in the Second World War and the war in the Dutch East Indies.






The four commonwealth graves today and in war-time, and a wreath from the school-children


The fourth grave is of a 78 Squadron pilot, 28 year old Flying Officer John Arthur Whittingham from Putney, London. His Halifax, W1067 E-Y, took off from RAF Middleton St. George at 23.00 25th of June 1942 on an operation against Bremen and was shot down by a night-fighter (Uffz Heinz Vinke, II./NJG2) and crashed at 00.42 into the IJsselmeer. At the time only two died; F/O Whittingham rests in Hemelumer-Oldeferd (Koudum) General Cemetery, while 28 year old Sgt Dronfield's body could not be found and is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.


On the night of 25/26 July 1942 the Royal Air Force launched their third and last 1000-bomber assault on Bremen, setting the German port city ablaze, but also suffering heavy losses themselves. At about 00.30 Halifax W1067 piloted by the 28-year old John Arthur Whittingham was somewhere south of Stavoren over the IJsselmeer when the aircraft was attacked by a German nightfighter piloted by Heinz Vinke.

It is not known whether Vinke's attack caused a fire onboard W1067. It was however badly damaged. 

After the attack, Vinke followed his victim to see what would happen. Whittingham turned his aircraft northwest heading inland, just east of Mirns. He stayed at the controls giving his crew time to abandon the aircraft using their parachutes. 

All the crew managed to escape except Sgt H.Dronfield, the top turret gunner, who might have been killed or at least incapacitated in the initial attack. When the aircraft was somewhere between Warns and Stavoren there was an explosion in the bomb bay, but the aircraft kept on flying. Perhaps knowing that everyone who was able to had left the plane, he finally abandoned the pilot seat and made his way to the escape hatch, but it was too late. The bomber had lost too much altitude by the time Whittingham jumped out. As the bomber, at this point flaming and with screaming engines only just passed over the dike between Stavoren and Molkwerum, Whittingham plummeted to his death; there was no time for his parachute to open. 

The Halifax hit the water a few hundred metres off the coast, still carrying the body of Sgt Dronfield who was never found. Heinz Vinke notes in his logbook "Abschuss: 00:42".

The next morning at dawn John Wittinghams's body was found, apparently among the daisies, looking remarkably peaceful, with one hand on the release ring of the parachute, which had not had time to open. His watch had stopped at a quarter to one. He was buried in Koudum.

The rest of the crew were captured and interned in prisoner of war camps. They were Sgt A.G. Springthorpe, P/O G. Gibson, Sgt D.B. Donaldson, and Sgt R.A. Brown. One of the initial survivors, Reginald Brown, from Bennington, Hertfordshire (now a Warrant Officer) was killed in captivity when a prison transport was attacked by RAF aircraft on the 11th of April 1945. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.  (from




From the Stevenage at War website.  


Reginald Brown and Ian Smith were residents of Shephall and lived just two doors away from each other.

In the summer of 1941 Reg Brown married Audrey Smith, Ian’s sister, and the two men became brothers-in-law. Sadly, they were also to be the only two men from the hamlet to lose their lives during the war. Shephall is now a ward of Stevenage town and their names are recorded on a memorial at St. Marys church.

On the 26th June 1942 a Halifax bomber, W1067, was on an operational flight to attack Bremen. The rear gunner was Warrant Officer Reginald Brown and at 00.42 Hours the aircraft was attacked by a German night-fighter piloted by Unteroffizer Heinz Vinke of II/NJG2. The pilot and the mid-upper gunner of the bomber perished in the attack but the rest of the crew baled out and were taken prisoner. Reginald was held in Stalag Luft 6 at Heydekrug as prisoner No.311 and remained there for nearly three years. In the Spring of 1945 the German forces were coming under increasing pressure on both their Western and Eastern fronts. In an effort to prevent Allied prisoners of war from joining up with the Allied forces it was decided to move them further back into the German interior, where they would be out of reach. Very often, due to the limited availability of transport, prisoners were forced to march on foot for many miles without a break. These men were usually in no fit state to undertake such an exacting task and many of them perished on the way. It appears that the men of Stalag Luft 6 may have been a little more fortunate in that transport was made available to move them. However, it seems that the very presence of these vehicles may have contributed to the deaths of a number of men.

On the 22nd April 1945 the small transport column had stopped at a small farm and the prisoners were placed in a barn for the night. As they slept a number of Typhoon fighters on an Intruder mission spotted the transport around the farm and attacked it. The barn was set alight and one prisoner described how Reg Brown had been killed instantly after a cannon shell from one of the aircraft had struck him in the throat whislt he was asleep.

Reg Brown was later buried by the side of the road and subsequently has no known grave. His name is recorded on the Runnymeade Memorial. (Panel 269).


His brother-in-law, Lance Sgt Ian Smith, was the son of John & Madge Smith and joined the Army in 1940 at the age of 20.

His Regiment served as part of the 35th Infantry Brigade, 56th (London) Division which fought with the 8th Army in North Africa. Ian saw considerable service in the desert theatre and later took part in the invasion of Italy. He was wounded on 21st September 1943 during the Allied landings at Salerno. After recovering from his wounds he rejoined his unit and served almost continually on the front line.

On the 17th January 1944 Ian’s Battalion were in position near the village of Lauro and were  involved in an attempt to cross the Garigliano River. The allies were held up in Italy on the Gustav line and the 10th British Corps had the task of breaking through on the southern flank, from the mouth of the Garigliano to Cassino to pave the way for the Anzio landing. There was considerable shelling from German artillery and many snipers were operating in the area. The Battalion had to make an assault through an orange grove and this was hampered by both the density of the trees and German heavy machine guns which were located in the area. The following day Ian was leading his platoon and had gone forward alone to rescue a wounded man. Shortly afterwards he was severely wounded and later died from the effects of his wounds.  Ian is buried in the Minturno War Cemetery, Italy. (7.K.22.)



Hindeloopen is an old city on the North of the Netherlands on the IJsselmeer. It lies within

 the municipality of Nijefurd and is famous because of the Hindeloopen art and hindeloopen costume. It is one of the eleven cities of Friesland and an important "Hanzestad" for the Frisian merchant fleet to Scandinavia etc. (via the Skagerrak to Sweden, Poland and Rusia). And also A busy fishing habour for fresh sea food, like anchovy, herring and eel, until the construction of the 32 km. long "Afsluitdijk" (= Closing Dam of the former Suydersee) was finished in 1932. 

After the dam was closed, the whole water basin of that inland sea, from Amsterdam to Harderwijk, to Kampen and Enkhuizen, became braskish little by little - so most of the sea fish was dying after a while - and later on it became fresh and sweet. Only eel and flounder could live there, together with the new freshwater fauna; and in the years 1933 - 1934 there was a "gigantic mosquito plague" over the IJsselmeer and the former seaboards ! (A new balance in nature was needed, with more swallows and bats, and less sea gulls).  

During the war, especially in the first years 1940, 1941 and 1942, many bomber aircrews were using Hindeloopen and neighbouring Stavoren, situated on a headland, stretching out into the lake, as a clear checkpoint on their route to Germany, and Luftwaffe pilots knew about that ........ so they were waiting there ! 


150 Squadron's  Wellington R1016 JN (A for Apple) from RAF Snaith, near Goole, in Yorkshire (UK), took off at 21.45 hrs on 14th August 1941 with its mission an air raid on Hannover in Niedersachsen / N-Germany. On its way home the aircraft had engine trouble ( a wireless message to the UK?) and was straggling behind from that time. 

While flying over Texel island at 03.45am, it was hit and damaged by German ack-ack-fire and the skipper, Sgt. Henry Barton, was wounded. 

The aircraft turned back to the mainland trying to make an emergency landing, but was flying alas an "unhappy long course", over the IJsselmeer waters, across the Afsluitdijk; and at the end ditched in the shallow waters in front of the Frisian coast. 

All the crew escaped with the aid of a dinghy, except for the injured pilot….. he was sinking in the plane in about 1.5 - 2 meters of water. His crewmates were unable to rescue their brave skipper. 

Local fishermen brought them in the early morning to the habour. The body of the 150

 Squadron pilot was recovered some days later when a floating crane from Harlingen ( Welgelegen shipyard) had lifted the wreckage. After identification, he was buried by the Germans in a military ceremony at Leeuwarden and is interred at Leeuwarden  (Northern Cemetery) - row 1, grave 4.

The 20 year old RAF pilot was Sergeant Henry Harvey Molyneux Barton.  Henry was the son of Irish born Capt. Cecil Molyneux Barton (bn 1884) and his wife Una. At the time of their son's death the couple were living at Mevagissey where Cecil was a Justice of the Peace. 

He was from a wealthy land-owning Irish family and served much of his life (1919-1930s) as a colonial administrator in Kenya and Gambia. It appears that his son Henry was born there in 1921, returning to England when 3 years old.

Henry's crew were  all made prisoners of war camp and were incarcerated at camps 3E / L6 / 357. 

They were Sgt. J.W Whittingham, Sgt. C Davies,  Sgt. J.D Elder,  Sgt. H Dodsworth,  (RNZAF) Sgt. E.W McConchie







Hindeloopen Harbour- the wreckage of R1016 in August 1941


Willem's Introduction


Ameland in war-time


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


424 Squadron


The Runnymede Memorial




Vlieland Cemetery


Vuren at war


Kallenkote Cemetery




Makkum Cemetery


Wartime Harlingen


Hampden AE 428


A fatal collision?


RCAF 428 Ghost Squadron


Willem's War-time photos


Hudsons & Venturas


Zwolle's ' De Groene ' group


USAF 44th


Hudsons & Venturas 2


408 Squadron's Leipzig raid


68th Squadron's Casualties


101 Squadron


Friesland radar


Rottum Island


Lancasters DS776  & JA921


Bergen General Cemetery



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