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    Friesland wartime history     by Willem de Jong       page 32     

Makkum Cemetery

Texel & Den Helder

 

D

Leeuwarden Airfield

Schiermonikoog

Harlingen & Harderwijk

Occupied Harlingen

German Radar

Ameland

Vlieland

Terschelling

St. Jacobparochie

Rottum Island

 

 

 

View of 'Van Donia' Church and churchyard, & overview of Allied War Graves (row M in front) Ao.2011

 

 

Makkum village was until 2011 part of the Gemeente (community) Wonseradeel. Located on the Frisian mainland coastline of the former Zuiderzee (todays Ijsselmeer), it was also an important fishing harbour and industrial and trade centre with its many connections to Amsterdam, via the shipping lanes of the ‘Suydersee’.

Not only were mackerel, ansjofish and eel, valuable merchandise, especially in the 17th century, but also mortar and plaster (from shell fishing and burning), tiles, bricks and pottery (from our own factories/kilns), there were the windmills for timber trade, and oil products (from nuts), corn, paper etc.

The shipyards built fishing and merchant sailing ships to be used on the routes to Great Britain and Scandinavia etc.

Local fishermen and a view of the (fishing) harbour, pictured before 1932, the last year of the real Zuiderzee.

 

Today it’s a well known tourist town, still with a shipyard, a yacht harbour/club, old and beautiful buildings, all situated in the new formed Gemeente Súdwest-Fryslân.

Most of the military funeral services held at the Makkum cemetery, in particular those in the early wartime years, were pictured, by some ‘brave Dutch patriots' but under the highest secrecy of course – and the Germans didn’t know.

It was the locals' intention to preserve these photos for after the war, as evidence, and to give them to the families of the airmen buried there.

Unfortunately, that historical collection was stored in the local ‘Marechaussee-kazerne’ (police station) at Makkum, which was burned down by the Germans and their Dutch helpers during a ‘punishment raid’ of the SD and ‘Sicherheitspolizei’ (starting from out of Sneek), on the morning of Saturday, April 7, 1945, thus about one week before liberation......!!!

Therefore not only was that ‘resistance nest’ totally damaged, but also those pictures /negatives lost for ever...... But most dramatically, at least seven men, good local civilians and brave resistance workers, were shot down and murdered close to the inferno......

Makkum Protestant Churchyard contains a plot with 35 Commonwealth war graves, one Polish war grave and one Dutch war grave.

Near the RAF graves are the graves and village memorial of resistance men killed by the Germans on  April 7, 1945

 

RAF 149 Squadron

Originally flying Wellingtons, it was re-equipped with the Short Stirling in November 1941, and the squadron took part in the first 1,000 bomber raid

In 1943 it made a significant contribution to the Battle of the Ruhr, and also took part in the Battle of Hamburg and the famous raid against the German V-weapons experimental station at Peenemunde. Between February and July 1944 the squadron helped supply the French Maquis with supplies, arms and ammunition by parachute. Towards the end of 1944 the Stirlings were replaced by Lancasters and with these the squadron continued its offensive until late April 1945.

It then dropped food to the starving people of Holland and later, after the German surrender, ferried many ex-POWs back to England from the Continent.

Among the many decorations won by its members was a Victoria Cross awarded posthumously to Flight Sergeant RH Middleton, RAAF, for his part in a raid on Turin on the night of 28/29th November 1942. from the Mildenhall Register

 

View youtube film about the recovery of 149 Squadron's Stirling BK710 which crashed near the island of Marken in 1943 with the loss of all its crew. The Mildenhall Register site has more details about that crew.

 

Stirling N6082 from 149 Squadron

The crew had previously gained their share of lucky escapes. On 11th January 1942, while on a mission to Brest in W7460 "O", it was found that after bombing the target from 16,000 feet, bomb fins were found to be stuck in the bomb doors. The aircraft had also suffered from flak damage resulting in a splintered wind-screen and three holes in a fuel tank and the front turret.

On 15th January 1942 they were the crew of W7461 tasked with a bombing raid on Hamburg and the aircraft suffered engine trouble over the target.

On their return to England they struggled in poor visibility and after getting lost they eventually ran low on fuel so the pilot ordered his crew to bail out.

He force-landed the aircraft in the Anston/Todwick Bar area of South Yorkshire, close to the Nottinghamshire border at 02.08hrs on 16th January 1942.

All escaped injury but the aircraft was written off having been badly damaged.

F/O Barnes's crew on that occasion were, second pilot - Sgt Baker, flight engineer - Sgt Townsend, observer - Sgt Cyril William Dellow, wireless operator/air gunner - Sgt Leonard Charles Collins RAAF passenger/observer - Sgt Heron, air gunner - Sgt Ronald Cook RAAF, and tail gunner- Sgt Richard Thomas  Patrick Gallagher.

It is believed that this was the mission that earned F/O Barnes his DFC which was  gazetted in April 1942.

RAAF Sgt Ronald C Cook from Toowoomba, Queensland, was the crew's wireless operator until he was wounded in the calf of his left leg on their mission to bomb Essen on 16th/17th June. 

On June 29th, ten of the squadron's aircraft were detailed to attack Bremen. One was withdrawn at 17.15 hrs, and another crashed on take off and burnt out. Fortunately its crew escaped safely. The eight remaining Stirlings all reached and bombed the target.

Two of the Stirlings were lost on the homeward trip that night.

N6082 OJ-Q was piloted by F/O W G Barnes and shot down over Makkum, and BF310 OJ-H, which crashed into the IJsselmeer with no survivors, was piloted by American F/O C W Simmons of the RCAF.

Both were victims of German night-fighters directed from local radar sources.

Stirling N6082 took off from RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, at 23.40 hrs on 29th June 1942. Its mission was to take part in that month's 3rd raid on Bremen in NW Germany.

The aircraft carried a very experienced crew, who were flying on their 30th sortie. Also aboard was an extra crew-member, Squadron Leader G W Alexander, who was on his second trip with this crew as co-pilot.

The trip to Bremen went smoothly. Over the target area they were 'coned' by a searchlight and immediately hit by flak, causing severe damage to the left inner engine.

Inside the Stirling, the radio operator had been injured, and the second pilot and navigator both killed by shrapnel.

The pilot went ahead to bomb the target and then set off homewards on three engines.

Everything went well until they reached the Frisian coastline area of  the former ‘Zuiderzee’.

The Luftwaffe had been tracking them with local radar, and a Bf.110 night-fighter from Fliegerhorst Leeuwarden intercepted the bomber. Before the Stirling's crew realized what was happening, and give return fire, N6082 was hit and seriously damaged again, and the tail gunner, Sgt Richard Gallagher, blown out of his position and killed.

A Messerschmitt Bf-110G night fighter

 

With the front of the aircraft now in flames, and all internal communications  lost, the only thing the Australian upper gunner, Len Collins,  could do, was bail out.

His parachute had been damaged, and had several holes, so he was unable to control his descent, and came down in a nearby canal.

He was the crew's sole survivor, and after his rescue was taken prisoner by the Dutch police.

The last action of the skipper was to turn the burning Stirling back towards the mainland. He then lost all control and the burning plane crashed to the ground in the Makkum area.

Claiming the victory was Lt. Bethel of unit 11./NJG.2.

We have not found any recorded information about Lt. Bethel.

 


The crash site at Wons

The crew were all RAF except for the mid-upper gunner who was Australian. F/Lt. William George Barnes (DFC) was the pilot, S/L. George William Alexander, co-pilot, Sgt. Philip Frank Hickley, wireless operator, Sgt. Richard Thomas Patrick Gallagher, rear gunner, P/O. Cyril William Dellow, observer, F/Sgt. Leslie Wiltshire, flight engineer, Sgt. Leslie Shearer F/gunner, and Sgt. Leonard Charles Collins (RAAF) mid-upper gunner.

 

149 Sqdn. Stirling BF310 OJ-H flown by American P/O C W  Simmons of the  RCAF, was also lost on this raid.

 

 

The pilot, Flight Lieutenant William George Barnes DFC, was the 29 year old son of Victor and Catharine Hilda Barnes; and husband of Edith Mary Barnes, from Woking, Surrey.

He had married 21 year old Edith Gastrell in her home town, Cheltenham, in 1938, and the couple were living at Maybury Road, Woking, Surrey at the time of his death.

He received his commission, with the rank of Pilot Officer, on 1st June 1941 and after air-crew training arrived at 149 Squadron in September 1941 to pilot Wellington bombers.

The couple had one son, Bruce, who was born at Woking in early 1942.

William  was awarded the DFC in April 1942 - believed to be for his mission to Hamburg in January 1942. (see Stirling W7461 story earlier this page)

 

The co-pilot that night was 38 year old Squadron Leader George W Alexander. He was born on March 30, 1904, at Feckenham, Worcestershire to Emily Jane Heath, age 39, and Leamington Spa publican Edward Alexander, age 43.

At the age of sixteen he was employed as a clerk with Warwickshire County Council. He also served as a part-time soldier with the Royal Field Artillery (Territorial Force) in 1920.

George married widow Dorothy Stanley Woodhall (1900-1986) on February 23, 1929, at Warwick in Warwickshire, when he was 24 years old, and the couple had two children.

In February 1939 he applied for, and received, a licence to use Horton Kirby Aerodrome, near Dartford in Kent, as a Private Flying School.

On 17th July 1939 George was presented with his diploma as a Master Flying Instructor.

Unfortunately the outbreak of World War 2 prematurely ended that flying school project and in October 1939 he was commissioned as a Pilot Officer in the RAF.

His promotion to Flying Officer came in October 1940.

We know little about any service record until George's posting from1503 (Beam Approach Training) Flight (BATF) at Mildenhall to 149 Squadron on 23rd June 1942.

He did not waste much time in his effort to gain overseas mission experience when he joined the experienced crew of F/O Barnes for the first time taking part in the Bremen bombing raid on 25/26th June.

It was on his second mission with the crew of F/O Barnes to Bremen on 29th/30th June 1942, that he lost his life.

He is buried at Makkum in a collective grave (row N, coll. gr. 37)

His home address in 1942 was Gillian Cottage, Lowfield, Crawley, in Sussex.

The mid-upper gunner, RAAF Sergeant Leonard Charles Collins, was born on 28th November 1919 in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, and enlisted there on 16th August 1940.

On arriving in the UK he was posted to 20 OTU at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland for Wellington bomber aircrew training on 14th June 1941.

On the completion of that course, Len was posted to 149 Squadron at Lakenheath on 1st September 1941.

He  was now part of the Wellington crew of which Pilot Officer William Barnes was the skipper. His crewmates at that time included fellow gunners RAAF Sgt Ronald Cook, and RAF Sgt Richard Gallagher.

His squadron converted to Short Stirling bombers in November 1941 and Ron was still with the same skipper when he reached the end of his 30 missions tour in June 1942.

He later related his account of the events of 29th June 1942 in Stirling N6082 OJ-Q.

"Although it is fifty years later I can still remember every detail. I had already completed thirty operations to Germany and was about to be transferred to an EFTS (Elementary Flying Training School) for training as a pilot.

As another gunner was ill, I reported on June 29, and volunteered to take his place for the attack on Bremen. In addition to our crew, the co-pilot, Squadron Leader Alexander, was on his first "trip"  to gain combat experience. The rest of the (original) crew were about to perform their thirtieth operation.

The trip to Bremen went smoothly. I chatted with the co-pilot, who told me that he was particularly interested in the multi-colored flak which was fired at us when we flew over the enemy coast, and also the colors from the searchlights.

I predicted that there were difficulties in the offing when a blue searchlight lit-up our wingtip region and above Bremen we were immediately struck by flak. The left inner engine was hit and the second pilot and navigator killed instantly. In addition, the radio operator was injured by flying shrapnel.

The bombs, however, were still dropped on target, and a photo taken before we headed for home on three engines.

At first everything went well, but when we arrived above the Zuiderzee we were suddenly attacked by a night fighter. I remember all too well how I saw some light reflecting from his cockpit just before he opened fire and our tail-gunner was literally blown out of his turret.

Cannon shells were flying around me, I was hit, and my leg injured by shrapnel. I myself could not open fire with my machine gun because the night fighter was hidden just behind the fin of our Stirling. The front of our plane was burning like a torch. I had no contact with my fellow crew members.

The situation was hopeless. I felt I had no choice but to leave the aircraft. My parachute however, was not in the rack where it ought to be. I found it directly under the feet of my turret with a cannon shell burnt through. I quickly pulled open the rear escape hatch, attached the parachute to my harness and sat on the edge of the hatch. Then I pulled the parachute open and fell out. Because there were several holes burned in my parachute I kept spinning in circles and landed in a canal."

Ron, having bailed out of Stirling N6082, and the only survivor, landed safely, and was then taken in and given a meal by a Dutch civilian before the police captured him.

Having been made a prisoner of war he saw out the remainder of the war in captivity. First held in Dulag Luft from 6th July 1942 where the Germans assessed and interrogated the prisoners, he was then moved to Stalag VIIIb (Lamsdorf) on 23rd July 1942, (later re-named Stalag 344.)

There is an official report that Warrant Officer L C Collins (service number A404396 RAAF), attempted to escape from Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf) in May 1943.

He left there on 12th March 1945, just before the Soviet Army reached the site five days later. From 19th March 1945 until 5th May 1945 he was held at Stalag 398 (Pupping, Austria).

After the war he returned home and was demobbed on 24th October 1945.

 

Pilot Officer Cyril William Dellow, the observer, was the 22 year old son of  Major George Dellow and Anne M. Wood who were married at Romford, Essex in 1917, and the husband of Dorothy Lincoln Hardy of 325 Henley Road, Ilford, Essex.

Cyril had married Dorothy at Bromsgrove, Worcestershire in 1941. Their son, Brian C Hardy, was born at Ilford in 1942.

In civilian life Cyril was employed as a Post Office clerk. After enlisting in the RAF he was trained as an observer on aircrew.

We know little about his service record but he was a sergeant and part of the crew of F/O Barnes at 149 Squadron from before January 1942. He received his commission to Pilot Officer on April 10th 1942.

Cyril is buried at Makkum in a collective grave (row N, coll. gr. 37)

 

The tail-gunner, Sergeant Richard Thomas Patrick Gallagher, was the 28 year old son of Andrew and May Gallagher; and the husband of Margaret Emily Gallagher, of Farnham, Surrey. He and Margaret Walker were married there in 1940. His son, Timothy R Gallagher, was born in 1941.

Richard was part of the 149 Squadron crew of F/O W G Barnes from September 1941 when they were flying Wellingtons, and on their 30th overseas mission when losing his life.

He is buried at Makkum in a collective grave (row N, coll. gr. 37) and commemorated on the Farnham War Memorial.

 

 

Richard Gallagher is remembered at Farnham in Surrey. (from www.stonecrest.co.uk)

 

The wireless operator was 24 year old Sergeant Philip Frank Hickley who was born at Southampton in 1918, the son of a commercial traveller, Herbert Hickley (1889-1978), and his wife Daisy Durston (1889) who were married at Daisy's home parish, Battersea, London, in 1916.

Philip was brought up in Southampton and attended King Edward VI school between 23 September 1929 and 21st December 1934.

He married Winifred Sutton at Newmarket in early 1942 and their only child, Lesley, was born at their home in Frederica Road, Bournemouth and registered after Philip's death, in the last quarter of 1942.

We have no record of his civilian occupation, or RAF record, but he joined 149 Squadron before October 1941 so had probably been on a similar number of missions to the regular crew members.

This was only his third sortie with the crew of F/O Barnes, taking the place of their injured wireless operator, Aussie, Sgt Ron Cook.

He is also buried at Makkum in the collective grave (row N, coll. gr. 37

 

 

Philip Hickley's name is inscribed on the glass panels by the Southampton Cenotaph in Watts Park, and the Roll of Honour book at the Southampton Civic Offices

 

The front gunner, Leslie Shearer was the 21 year old son of Doctor Charles Shearer M.A  M.D, and his wife Alison, of Newcastle-on-Tyne. Unfortunately we know nothing more about Leslie. He was not part of this crew in January 1942 but was all through June and late May. Before that he was with the crew of F/O Brogan.

He is also buried at Makkum in the collective grave (row N, coll. gr. 37.

 

Sergeant Leslie Wiltshire, the flight engineer, was the 31 year old son of William  James Wiltshire and his wife Alice Evans from the South Wales town of Oakdale, near Blackwood in Monmouthshire who were married at Bedwelty in 1910.

When Leslie was born in 1911, his parents were living at Bloomfield Terrace, Blackwood, and his father was employed as a stationary engine-driver at the local coal mine.

Oakdale Colliery near Blackwood

 

The couple had four children, three girls and a boy.

Leslie married Lorna M Dawe at Bedwellty in 1933.

We know little of his civilian and service history but he had been flying as a regular member of the crew of F/O Barnes.

He is also buried at Makkum in the collective grave (row N, coll. gr. 37, and is remembered on the Blackwood Memorial.

 

Part of the plaque on the Blackwood War Memorial where Leslie Wiltshire is remembered

 

 

 

 

Willem's overview of Allied War Graves at Makkum village on the coastline of the former Zuiderzee -in the Protestant cemetery of Van Donia church.

no.  name  Rank Grave Recovered Reburied Unit Aircraft    Serial no.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

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 email-address:  w.jong1@upcmail.nl

 

 

 

 

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