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Deanweb - the Forest of Dean Directory

 

 

 

Harlingen Cemetery Friesland, Holland By Willem de Jong

 

 

 

Harlingen - in the Frisian language named "Harns" - is one of the famous eleven cities in Friesland. This has old an old dock-crane !!! (a wide and beautiful view over the old city, the sea etc. / you can turn that crane 360 degrees around via a switch). And of course, like as most of the old Dutch cities, it has nice buildings along "grachten" /canals, old bridges, "sluizen" / jack gates etc. etc.

During the wartime 1939-1945, one of the harbours was used by the Kriegsmarine, for (small) VP-boats, andthere were Flak-batteries, search lights, and an anti-ship-battery; and there was also for a long time a base of the "Seenotdienst" (a Heinkel He-59, white coloured and with red crosses on wings and fuselage); the RAF was shooting down that plane on a day..... because the Germans used it for all sources, not only for search and rescue !

In the local General Cemetery, along the Begraafplaatslaan (= Cemetery Lane), in Plot E, are still buried  Sergeants Brown G.E. and Harper E., both Air Gunners of that Halifax LV781. Willem

 

 

 

 

 Willem's visit to Harlingen  4th May 2013 

 

 

Visiting Harlingen is every time a "real party", because this town has always been, and still is, a very photogenic place, with its many old buildings, those typical streets and canals, the harbour with its ships, and of course the sea front, with the dikes, dams and small beach, beautiful under every type of weather.

The local remembrance and celebrations happenings of 4 and 5 May in this year, were starting in fact one day before, on 3 May 2013, with the concert in the Great Church of Harlingen by "The Memorial Consort" emsemble, under maestro Jan-Joost van Elburg.

For the rest: in fact the following photos are telling the story, with sunny weather, an impressive service, a great number of people at the service, nice supporting music from the local brass, a good mayors speech, not only about the past, and..... a local cat suddenly appeared in the middle of the event, searching for affection from the people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(1) The wreath from the local 'Central Committee 40-45' laid by Mr. Boyd Affleck.

(2) The national hymn 'Wilhelmus' after the 2 minutes of silence.

(3) The Jewish plot of the cemetery

 

 

 

(1) The Jewish memorial, with wreath and flowers.

(2) A guard of the local scouts.

(3) The graves of the local resistance heroes.

 

 

 

 

1) First wreath laid by Mr. Boyd Affleck, with some scout help

(2) The mayor's perfect speech, not only about the past

(3) Extra flowers on some graves. Here rests - 22 year old Canadian pilot, Flt/Sgt. W.M. Popplestone from Manitoba.

 

He was a special guest coming from Canada to the Netherlands, and in Harlingen again. (He was been several times before), Mr. Boyd Affleck, aged 87 now: the last living liberator of Harlingen. (His battalion was liberating "Harns" on Sunday 15 April 1945). For him was the honour of laying the first wreath during the memorial service, and receiving spontaneous applause.

"I remember that we were making progress against an enemy bunker, West of Harlingen. Suddenly we heard them speaking, Germans, no doubt about that! We were prepared for a lot of shooting then, but- no - they surrendered easily, laid down their weapons and sticking their hands in the air...... all (drunk) !! And there was another German soldier, a sniper, posted on the roof of the Watertoren (Water Tower) near the Midlumerlaan. He was shooting and shooting, many times, and for that reason a lot of the local people were still waiting in their houses. Of course for them, defenceless as they were, the only and best option. But when we were marching in his direction, we learned soon he could hit none of us, because.. he was too drunk I think ! Luckily he was a very bad sniper, and a loser, that's for sure!".

 

 

Harlingen's water tower before the war, with its original roof, and how it looked in April 1945.

 

Since the beginning of the war in 1939 the look-out-post of the local (civilian) guards of Harlingen was situated on the roof of the townhall. The Germans wanted their own posts in the city and during 1941 were taking the rooftop off the 'watertoren' (water tower),and using it as a watching platform for one of their "Luftschutz-punkte" (air raid alarm posts). They modified for that reason the rooftop and also built an elevator outside, against the wall and powered by electricity. (In the last months of the war a problem, when there was no power!). It was on this position where that German sniper was posted, 15 April 1945, from the story of Canadian veteran Mr. Boyd Affleck.

By the way, in 1990 the tower was pulled down, because it was no longer useful for the water supply works. Our photo shows a Frau im Luftschutz ' (woman in air raid alarm service)

 

 

Crowds welcoming the Canadians to Leeuwarden Monday April 16th, 1945.

 

 

 

 

Harlingen Cemetery in 1945

 

 

Graves at Harlingen in 1945 of 21 year old Sgt Eddy Kinerman the flight engineer of Halifax DT645 from RAF 51 Squadron, and 2nd Lt Robert F Palicki, co-pilot of USAAF B24H Liberator 42-52105 that crashed into the sea north of Terschelling on 22nd December 1943.

 

Willem's Visit to Harlingen in 2015

I found also in Harlingen a small wooden cross at the grave of F/Sgt. M.R. Kleisdorff (grave E.2.4), on which was an Australian ' Lest we forget ' message, from Evatt and Toby.

Tom has now looked into his origins and found that on June 27, 1942, Sgt Murray Kleisdorf was part of the 405 Squadron crew of Halifax W1175 LQ-Q which left RAF Pocklington, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, piloted by Canadian F/Sgt William Field, at 2332 hours on a mission to Bremen.

After takeoff nothing more was heard from the aircraft. It had been intercepted and shot down by Lt. Erich Gollasch of Stab.6./NJG2 at 0255 hours approximately 25 km west of Den Helder.

When German pilot Erich Gollasch was killed with his crew over Tscherkasy, Russia on 26th September 1943, he had claimed seven night-time victories.

Ralph Kleisdorff's body was washed ashore at Harlingen, but those of his crewmates were never recovered and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

The crew were RCAF Flt Sgt William Ewart Nixon Field,  (Pilot), RAF Sgt Ronald Frank Ansell, (Flight Engineer), RCAF WO Rowan Charles Fitzgerald, (Navigator), RAAF Flt Sgt Murray Ralph Kleisdorff, (Air Bomber), RAF Sgt Eric Omar Smith, (Wireless Op./Air Gunner), RCAF Flt Sgt John Drew Ailey, (Air Gunner), and  RAF Sgt Alan Danby (Air Gunner).

Ralph was not officially identified until 1949.

On Thursday 14 April 1949, an Adelaide newspaper reported - Their Airman Son Found After 6 years. Suspense about the fate of their airman son, Flt-Sgt. Murray Ralph Klefedorff, who crashed in an air raid over Bremen in a Halifax bomber in June 29, 1942.

Greatest consolation has come to Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Kleisdorff, of Grandview Grove, Toorak Gardens, who now know that his remains are in a specific grave.

Last week Mr. Kleisdorff, a well-known timber mill owner and general merchant in the South-East, had a letter from the Department of Air, Melbourne, saying that a report has been received from the Missing Research and Enquiry Service that the body has been recovered and identified.

Four bodies were washed ashore on the Waard Sand bank, north-west of Holland between the island of Texel and the mainland, about 15 miles from the town of Harlingen.

German records show that a Halifax aircraft crashed into the sea in that vicinity on the night on which Flt-Sgt. Kleisdorff was lost. All four bodies were laid to rest in Harlingen cemetery, and their son is buried in row two, grave four.

Unfortunately it was not possible to identify the other bodies recovered. 'When Ralph was lost,' his father told me 'I wrote to the airport, asking for names of the crew of the bomber, thinking they would be Australians. Word came that Ralph was the only Australian. Four were Canadians and one an American. I am assuming that heavy weather off the Holland coast in February caused the bodies to be released from the disintegrating airplane.

'But here is something that has made us the happiest grandparents in the world. My mother is still in Denmark, where I was born. Our daughter Enid thought she should go over there and see her and others of the family. 'While there she fell in love with, and married her cousin, my brother's only child, and last Friday, two days after we heard about Ralph, we got a cable saying that a son had been born to them, and they had named him Ralph.'

 

 

The crash of Halifax DT645 near Harlingen

On 12 May 1943, at 11.20pm Halifax DT645 MH-B  of 51 Squadron piloted by 21 year old Flight Sergeant David Crofton Smith from Tibshelf, Derbyshire, took off from RAF Snaith in Yorkshire on a bombing raid to Duisburg in Germany.

The route planned was from RAF Snaith to Hornsea on the east coast, over the North Sea and through Egmond to a point above Winterswijk and then veering south to Duisburg.

The Halifax, was for some reason many miles north of its outward course when shot down at 2.05am near Harlingen by a German night-fighter flown by Oberleutnant Lothar Linke.

All its seven crew members were killed. DT645 was one of four 51 Squadron Halifax bombers lost over enemy territory that night.

RAF Bomber Command lost 33 of the 572 aircraft sent out. A loss of nearly 6%. Of the total of 220 crew members of the aircraft that were lost that night, 189 were killed, 29 were taken prisoner and two managed to escape. At least fifteen bombers came down on Dutch territory. Two of those collided and crashed into the IJsselmeer. Both aircraft, Stirling BF523 and Lancaster W4762, were salvaged by the Storage Service of the Dutch Royal Air Force (led by former Harlingen Gerrit J. Zwanenburg) from the then under construction Flevopolder in 1972.

The crew of Halifax DT645 were Sgt. Eric Wilson Thomson - Navigator - 22 year old son of Richard Sangster & Dorothy Elizabeth Thomson, of Dorset, Ontario, Canada.  Sgt. Barnard Angus Bunting - Air Bomber - 20 year old son of Angus & Beatrice A. Bunting; and husband of Margaret Bunting, of Southall, Middlesex (UK).(Only married for 6 months).  F/Sgt. David Crofton Smith - Pilot - 21 year old son of Harry Watson Smith and Olive Watson Smith, of Tibshelf, Derbyshire (UK). Sgt. Charles Lionel King - Wireless Operator aged 32. Sgt. Edward Frederick Kinerman - Flight Engineer - 21 year old son of Frederick & Louisa Maud Kinerman, of Southend-on-Sea, Essex (UK).  Sgt. Murray Hudley Nesbitt - Air Gunner - 23 year old foster son of Arthur & Sadie Nesbitt of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  Sgt William John Merrigan - Air Gunner - 22 year old son of James & Hannah Merrigan, of West Ealing, Middlesex  (UK).

 

From a July 1943 newspaper. David Crofton Watson-Smith was the son of County cricketer and coal-mine manager Harry Watson-Smith.

 

The pilot's father, Harry Watson-Smith (1886-1955), was an English coal mine manager and cricketer who played for Warwickshire in 1912 and for Derbyshire in 1920. In 1936 he was appointed General Manager of the Hardwick Colliery Company and the Hardwick By-Product Company. He later became Deputy Chairman and Managing Director of both Companies. His companies transported some of their coal through the Shipping and Coal Company (SSM) in Harlingen. The then director of SSM Mr. J B Sash had business contacts with Mr Watson-Smith before the war and later adopted the grave of Harry's son - David.

 

The S.S.M. - company was operating mainly on two cargo-lines in the UK, to Goole and to Leith, and somtimes they were making trips to other British sea ports, including London. They brought in to Harlingen British coal, steel, tea, agricultural equipment etc., and transported to the UK Frisian cattle (livestock), potatoes, seeds, milkpowder, cheese, butter, etc. Our photos show harbour activities in 'Het Dok' just before WW2 - Frisian seed-potatoes near British coalships of the S.S.M. - company, and ships loading for Goole sea-port in East Yorkshire (UK)

 

The grandfather of the flight engineer Sgt Edward Kinerman, was born in Hessen, Germany in 1860. He was Mr. Frederick Kuehnemund. Because of living in London during World War One, he changed his German family name, as did many people, to the 'more English sounding' Kinerman. Edward's father Frederick Kinerman came from West Ham in East London and married Louisa Maud Mansfield from Southend in Essex. After the war they lived in Rochford, Essex.

Murray Nesbitt was born on January 4th, 1920 in Toronto, Canada. After he had finished High School he had several jobs: lecturer, salesman and punch-press operator. His hobbies were photography, canoeing, hockey, baseball, basketball, tennis and finally rugby. In August 1940, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and was trained as an Air Engineer. After he had finished the course he was posted to England. He travelled by air and arrived in Great Britain on April 5th 1941 where he was assigned to the ground staff of 402 Squadron, a Canadian unit which flew the Hawker Hurricane fighter. In January 1943 Murray Nesbitt thought it was about time to take part more directly in the war and requested training as an Air Gunner. He successfully completed the seven weeks course which earned him his 'AG' wings and he was promoted to Sergeant. Nesbitt was then posted to 1658 Heavy Conversion Unit based at Riccall, Yorkshire. There he was assigned as a Mid Upper Gunner to the crew of David Watson-Smith, a 21 year old Pilot from Tibshelf in Derbyshire. At the 1658 HCU the crew of seven learned all about the Halifax and it was there that they made their first operational flight. On April 10th, 1943 they were transferred to 51 Squadron, a front line unit based at Snaith in Yorkshire. During the next weeks David Smith and his crew flew several operations over enemy territory.

 

Halifax DT645 had drifted miles north from the original course given in the briefing before the raid. When it was suddenly attacked by Linke's Messerschmitt Bf-110 nightfighter over the mainland of NW - Friesland, the 30 mm. cannons of the enemy fighter shot off important parts of the rear section of the bomber. Later, during the first daylight hours of 13 May, wrecked parts of the rudder were found in the meadows near Herbaijum village, between Franeker and Harlingen, with the thin steel control cables still attached. For that reason it may be clear that the Halifax was out of control after the attack, and was heavily burning too, while it tumbled down in a horrible last scream, from an altitude of about 5000 metres (16400 ft.) into the direction of Harlingen and Achlum village. The local people on the ground all heard this unforgettable sound of death but would find it very difficult to describe later on.

The civil air guards in Harlingen, stationed in their look-out-post on the roof of the town hall in the middle of the city, reported the happening as the noise of aircraft engines north of the city (at 02.00 hrs.) and a flash of light eastwards, at 02.03 hrs. (local time) and some minutes later that an aircraft crashed burning S.E. of the town! (They wrote down nothing about the noise of shooting, explosions, etc. which woke many people in Harlingen during this event).

The local fire fighters were reporting also that night, and in their paperwork we can find something about those noises. (By the way, they didn't come into action after the impact of the falling RAF machine, because their help was not welcome - not permitted by the occupiers!)

 

Firefighters from the Harlingen area

 

Their log book reports: Wednesday, 12 May 1943 - We were playing cards to shorten our evening duty. At 23.30 hrs. we were eating something and after that we were going to rest in turns. At 01.45 hours one of our officials, Mr. Fontein, had been called to the fire post phone, because of the noisy movements in the air. Looking outside, we could not see anything. However, some 15 minutes later we suddenly heard heavy shooting; that must have been an air battle. Seized with fear we all went outside and then saw southeastwards quite clearly the flashings from the fire, of the plane we had heard falling just before, with a frightening roar. And then from our position we heard and saw explosions of shells etc. in the fire, over a period of at least half an hour; and at 04.30 hrs., the aircraft was still burning!

By the end of this firehouse report, we can still read between the lines about the great frustrations of those firemen, during their fruitless waiting in this case, and even their helplessness. Willem

 

The crash-site a few months later and today's memorial situated 110 metres away now in the residential area of Ludinga.

 

The next morning five bodies were counted. Murray Nesbitt was found near the farm of the De Bruin family. The person who first saw him, noticed the Royal Canadian Air Force badge on the uniform of the deceased airman. Later on during the day, two more crew members were found hidden amongst the high plant growth. In the afternoon the seven bodies of the British airmen were examined by a German doctor from the Luftwaffe airbase in Leeuwarden. After that, they were put in a coffin and taken to the General Cemetery in Harlingen and were buried two days later on Saturday 15th May 1943.

The wreckage of DT645 had come down in three different municipalities. The report of constable Jan Idsinga tells the following: ‘When I arrived at the scene I established a closer search. The fuselage section, which was totally burnt out, crashed down in the municipality Franekeradeel. Another part of the aircraft, the tail, was laying in a field under Almenum, municipality Barradeel, while other wreckage, along with some bombs were laying in the municipality Wonseradeel. German soldiers were looking for those bombs.’

During the day the Germans salvaged some of the aircraft's equipment. Ente Visser, who was worker on the farm of Tjaarda and living on the Schritsen was forced to assist in the recovery:  "The wreckage had to be loaded with German manpower using a hand driven hoist by a tripod on our cart. I had to be there to steer the horse." He also saw the Germans remove a big bomb from the plane. The remains of the Halifax were then discharged to the Docks in Harlingen and put on the train to 'Zerlege-Operation' in Utrecht. This was a collection of plane wrecks where they were further demolished so valuable materials for German industry such as aluminum, rubber and copper could be reused.

 

Four of the graves of the crew of Halifax DT645 at Harlingen in 1945

 

Duisburg was hit hard that night. Within three minutes 1,600 tons of bombs were dropped. The centre of the city and the harbour area (the biggest port of Germany on the Rhine) were both seriously damaged. 1600 buildings were completely destroyed and there were 273 deaths. In the port 34 ships were sank totalling 18,921 tons. In addition, there were sixty ships seriously damaged. They represented a tonnage of 41,000. This was the fourth attack on Duisburg during the "Battle of the Ruhr".

 

 

Oberleutnant Lothar Linke and Halifax DT645 wreckage on war-time display at Utrecht

 

Lothar Linke was shot down on the night of 13/14 May 1943, after downing two RAF Lancaster four-engine bombers. His Bf110 G-4 (W.Nr. 4857) “G9 + CZ” was hit by return fire northwest of Lemmerwegen. He and his crewman baled out but Linke struck the tail unit of the aircraft and fell to his death. Oberleutnant Linke was posthumously awarded the Ritterkreuz on 19 September 1943. Lothar Linke was credited with 27 victories in over 100 missions. He recorded 24 victories at night, including 12 four-engine bombers and one Mosquito. Of his three victories recorded by day, two were recorded flying as a Zerstörer pilot.

 

 

 

Flak Damage. This is another 51 Squadron Halifax - JD244 MH-K.  Airborne 0011 22nd June 1943 from RAF Snaith. Hit by Flak over the target area (Krefeld) and was so badly damaged that a return to base was impossible. It crash-landed in a heavily wooded area near Balen-Neet (Antwerpen), 4 km SE of Moi, Belgium. All the crew survived and were made prisoners of war.

 

see YouTube film of Friesland after the Liberation

 

 

 

 

 

466 Squadron's Halifax LV781

 

 

   

 

 

The graves at Harlingen of the air gunners from 466 Squadron's Halifax LV781 one of four aircraft shot down on the 20th of February 1944 by German night-fighter Oberfeldwebel Heinz Vinke of 11./NJG.1

Sgt Gerald Edwin Brown 631720 from Exmouth, Devon and 23 year old Sgt Edward Harper son of Mr. and Mrs. Kilby Francis Harper and husband of Joyce Elsie Harper, of Clipstone, Nottinghamshire. 

Their pilot, W/O James Francisco Moran, whose body was not recovered, was the son of James and Bertha Emeline Moran, of Wagin, Western Australia.

 

 

 

 

 

Halifax LV781 took off from RAF Leconfield at 0017 hours on the night of 19/20th February 1944 to bomb Leipzig, Germany. Fourteen aircraft took part in the raid and all returned except LV781. 

The Harlingen local "luchtwachtdienst" (home guard), in their observing post on the rooftop of the town hall in the heart of the old city, was watching and reporting the crash, in a southern direction. Willem

 

 The crew were 

 

RAAF 415168 W/O J F Moran Captain (Pilot)

RAAF 412261 W/O A N D McPhee, (Navigator)

RAAF 423178 F/O M G Pepper,  (Bomb Aimer)

RAAF 425449 Flt Sgt L A Laver (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)

RAF Sgt E Harper, (Rear Gunner)

RAF Sgt G E Brown (Mid Upper Gunner)

RAF Sgt R F Banks, (Flight Engineer)

 

 

Following post war enquiries it was believed that the aircraft was shot down by a night fighter and crashed in the North Sea off Harlingen, Holland. All the crew were killed. The bodies of Sgt Harper and Sgt Brown were washed ashore near Harlingen and they are buried in the General Cemetery at Harlingen, which is a town on the seaboard of Waddenzee, 38kms west of Leeuwarden and 28kms north west of Sneek. Locality Friesland, Netherlands. It was presumed that the four RAAF members of the crew and Sgt Banks (RAF) lost their lives at sea, and their names are commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing, Runnymede, Surrey, UK.

The photo on the right shows the personal effects of the pilot Jim Moran from Wagin, West Australia found in August 1944 by a fisherman, believed to be the late Mr Slik from Oudeschild, Texel, trawling near Texel Island, 55km from the crash site.  It is an artificial leather wallet containing two Roman Catholic crosses, a piece of a newspaper cutting, including part of a gospel, and a card with handwriting on both sides.

The address of his priest, Mons. K. Neave, was given as the Melbourne Hotel, Perth, WA 

See West Australian newspaper article passed to Willem by Robert Stewart.

 

From: Robert Stewart   To: w.jong1@chello.nl

Sent: Thursday, November 10, 2011  

Dear Willem,

I found your contact address via  http://www.626-squadron.co.uk/willem.htm, after an Australian friend having been sent this link to the story of the recovery and returning of a wallet to an Australian family.

Mention of Texal, Vlieland and Ameland make me sit up and take notice, my late uncle's crew are somewhere close to Texel's SW shore having been shot down in September 43. ( Halifax HR715 of 158 Squadron.)

The attached link shows some photos of the crew and a little family history which may be of interest to you.

http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/searching-someone-military-genealogy/15778-family-war.html

I much admire the work done by folks like yourself , Rene Metz and Gerlof (on Ameland) in remembering the aircrew  of all nations who "fell from the skies" over the Netherlands in WW2.

Best Regards     Jim S

 

 

Harlingen is a town on the seaboard of the Waddenzee, 24.5 kilometres west of Leeuwarden and 28 kilometres north-west of Sneek. The cemetery is on the northern outskirts of the old town in Begraafplaatslaan, a turning off of Midlumerlaan. It is a 15-20 minute drive from Leeuwarden to Harlingen via the A31/E10 highway (the Green Coast Way)- and about half-way is Willem's home village Dronryp.

The Commonwealth war graves plot is to the left of the main path in the south-western part of the cemetery and contains a plot of 67 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, the majority of them airmen. 22 of the burials are unidentified. Also in the plot are four unidentified war graves of other nationalities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  See more wartime photographs of Harlingen 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harderwijk General Cemetery (Begraafplaats Oostergaarde)  Oosteinde 12

 Photos by Willem de Jong

 

12 Squadron's Lancaster JB609  PH-F

 

 

JB609 was delivered to 12 Squadron 7th November 1943, loaned to 626 Squadron and returned to 12 Squadron 18th February 1944. JB609 was one of two 12 Squadron Lancasters lost on this operation. It was airborne 23.23 on the 19th of February 1944 from Wickenby. 

Crashed at 02.30 20th February 1944 at Elspeet (Gelderland), 15 km NW of Apeldoorn, Holland. All were buried between the 21st and 25th of February 1944 in Harderwijk General Cemetery. The crew were - F/Sgt  N.C. Bowker,  Sgt F.W. Burdett  F/Sgt A.I. Corlett,  Sgt E. Gedge, Sgt H.G. Williams, WO2 J. May RCAF, and Sgt E.S. Goodridge . 

 

 

“A Sunday morning on the Schaarweg “ (the nearest road to the crash site, outside Elspeet village, in Southwestern direction, from the corner of the Kleine Kolonieweg; see via Google).
On the night of Saturday the 19 th to Sunday the 20 th of February 1944 the air was filled up with airplanes. In the days before the air activities were low; because of the bad weather conditions, between 16 and 19 February many planes were pinned on the ground.
The chief of the local police in Harderwijk, Kraaijenbrink, wrote down (in his report of the day, I guess): “On the night of 19 to 20 February there is a lot of sky roar. Brunswijk (= Braunschweig in Germany) is bombed again and 79 planes were shot down (B.B.C. - news). Really a tragic loss. The Germans reported the loss of 83 British airplanes”.
Kraaijenbrink’s conclusion about Brunswijk / Braunschweig (called Brunswick in the U.K. as far as I know) was not correct of course. From the War Diaries of Bomber Command we know now Leipzig was the target.

 

 

 

Willem's photos of the Elspeet crash-site

 

 

 

One of those aircraft was Lancaster JB609, PH-“F”, which started in the evening of Saturday at 23.23 hrs., from the RAF station Wickenby, the home base of No. 12 Squadron. A seven man crew with Flight Sergeant Norman Charles Bowker as pilot (skipper). 

In total 823 airplanes were flying to Leipzig. No. 12 Squadron contributed 11 Lancasters. The attack was no success. That night 78 machines did not return and 420 crew members lost their lives.
Since the beginning of the war it was Bomber Command’s most costly loss in one single night.
It was Oberfeldwebel Heinz Vinke (and his crew), flying in his Messerschmitt 110G, who shot down the Lancaster, at 05.34 hrs., at a height of 4800 meters, about 15 km. N.W. of Apeldoorn (Gelderland / Central Holland).
The doomed machine came down in a meadow on the right side of the Schaarweg, outside Elspeet, about 200 meters from the corner of the Kleine Kolonieweg. 

 

 

 

At 08.30 hrs. in the morning (Sunday morning), “Opperwachtmeester” (rank in the police hierarchy) and local commander of the Marechaussee* in Elspeet, Derk Schaapman, called / informed his chief Karst Doeven (in his office elsewhere?). As he told him, he had seen 2 crew members still in the wreckage of the plane.
* The so called Marechaussee was in fact the Military Police (M.P.) in Holland, apart from the regular / civil police; but during the German occupation, this police organization had to do “normal police work”, for the civilians - of course under German authority - because Holland didn’t have its own Forces anymore, and thus no Military Police too. But using the same name as always, Marechaussee, and wearing the same uniforms as before mostly, they did “good and bad work” for the people, to the end of the war; sometimes assisting the German police etc. - under pressure - but mostly helping the civilians, even the resistance and the former Dutch military, as far as they could.
The 13 years old Wim Pol, living in Uddel at the time (neighbouring village, South of Elspeet and the crash site), was looking over there together with his father: “I can remember very well that 2 members of the crew were still on their seats in the crashed plane. Both terrible burned (almost black) with red, bloodshot eyes. A horrible scene I will never forget”.
Karst Doeven (dismissed from MP-service on 18-05-1945 without honour!) was sending out a “wanted notice” straightaway. This warrant / official message is speaking about 3 killed airmen and 8 survivors / fugitives. In the afternoon Schaapman could give a more realistic report to Doeven, saying 5 airmen found, all killed. 

 

 

 

Doeven was writing after that: “In accordance with German officers, the experts on location, there could be said, maybe a 6th man was killed too, but it was very difficult to make it for 100% sure, be cause of the destruction c.q. the fire damage. These experts were speaking about a type of airplane normally piloted by 6 men max. And therefore the warrant about the “running airmen” could be cancelled in the same afternoon” (the whole crew was killed).
These so called German “experts” didn’t know obviously that a Lancaster had a 7 man crew….. 

The mortal remains of the airmen killed in action were brought into Harderwijk by the Germans (a small harbour city North of Elspeet, on the Southern bank of the IJsselmeer).
Translation by Willem de Jong, March 2012 of page no. 7 - booklet “Strepen in de lucht” - author Dick Baas / research Hans de Ruiter (Elspeet), Jaap Vermeer (Nijkerk) & Dick Breedijk (Balkbrug) 

 

 

"A Sunday morning on the Schaarweg " 

From a supplement to his last writing we learn, that only the names of two of the crew were known at the moment. About the other four flyers was mentioned: "bodies of unknown British airmen". On February 24 the 6 men were buried. Karst Doeven was writing about this:

"The remains of the killed British aviators were carefully recovered by the German authorities and placed in coffins with the assistance and financial help of the "gemeente" (local administration / community). The funeral ceremony will be held at the General Graveyard in Harderwijk probably; about the exact time etc., the German authorities could not give out any information before" (of course not ! ; in this rough way they could keep out the sympathizing local people, but sometimes, in the early next morning, the new graves were decorated with wild flowers….. ).

 

The first known name was that of Flight Engineer / Sergeant Frank William Burdett. He was 21 years old and the only son of William and Rose Amy Burdett. He came from Woodgate near Leicester. 

 

 

Frank Burdett with his mother in 1930. Rose at the grave in 1966, and his girlfriend Betty who was a WREN

A

The other name was of Bomb Aimer / Sergeant Edward Gedge. His age was 29, he was married and his wife was named Dorothy. Erdington was his home, in Birmingham.

Later on (after the war) the names of the other airmen came out of the archives. The pilot was Flight Sergeant Norman Charles Bowker, age 21, son of Joseph and Doris May Bowker, of Marston Green, Warwickshire. 

The function of Navigator was filled by Flight Sergeant Arthur Ian Corlett, of the island of Man. With his age of 33 he was the oldest of the crew.

There was also a Canadian crewmember: Pilot Officer James May, 21 years. His defensive duties were in the Gunners’ Dome (Mid Upper Gunner). 

Wireless Operator and Air Gunner was Sergeant Haydn George Williams, known as Don, and a talented boxer. He was a son of Daniel and Madge Irene Williams, of Garndiffaith, Monmouthshire. Don Williams was married to Evelyn and they had two children, Brian and Kay. On his gravestone in Harderwijk is written: "Don, beloved husband of Evelyn, Daddy of Brian and Kay. He died that we might live". Kay passed away in 1979 and Evelyn in 2005.

The 7th member of this crew was Reargunner / Sergeant Eric Sidney Goodridge, 24 years, and a son of Bessie Goodridge, of Broad Chalke, Wiltshire. He was buried in Harderwijk too, almost one month later, March 21, 1944. His body was discovered on the 19th of March. There are many stories about what happened to him.

So there is an explanation, telling he was found at nearby Staverden (West of Elspeet). He had broken his legs in the "landing", trying to survive in the days after by eating grass….. They could see it by the ungrazed spot in the grassland were they found him (?!).

A more realistic story is saying, "a place in the edge of the woods", along the Oude Garde-renseweg in Elspeet (nearby the Old Road to Garderen). A man named Jan Davelaar is telling: "My father had told me once about a pilot, who was found in the woods behind his meadow. He was one in a group of people, when they discovered the dead body, laying with the head in the ground. The first thing one of the Germans did after they were called up, he was "cassing" the death man’s watch; he was listening to the watch for a moment, then he put it in his pocket. Rings etc. were going the same direction".

And that place in the woods where the body was found later on, wasn‘t so far from the crash site (had he simply fallen out of the crashing plane or was he trying to bail out in the last moments ? That answer we will never know, I guess).

This Lancaster bomber JB609 was in service for about 3 months, only some days more (!).The aircraft was delivered on November 7, 1943, and on February 20, 1944, came the end already……

 

 

Translation by Willem de Jong, March 2012, of page no. 9 - booklet "Strepen in de lucht" - author Dick Baas / research Hans de Ruiter (Elspeet), Jaap Vermeer (Nijkerk) & Dick Breedijk (Balkbrug).

This booklet is telling a lot more stories, such as the crash and the killing in action of Spitfire-Pilot John Burton Shillitoe (buried in Nunspeet), the crash of Lancaster DS818 "Maggie" of No. 514 Sqdn., in Nunspeet too, etc. etc. (only one problem for some of you: it’s in Dutch).

 

 

 

 

The JB609 memorial with one stone representing each crew-member.

9

9

9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Special Notice -            Program of the 2014  7th Elspeet Memorial Tour

 

 


See their website for more details

 

 

 

 

Willem's report about the Memorial Service etc. at Elspeet, Saturday 19 April 2014

 

My first contributions to this magnificent website of Tom Bint were ever starting in connection with the dramatic Leipzig air raid of 19-20 February 1944, ‘ the night of the falling stars ‘.

One of the Allied bombers which came down that night and early morning was Lancaster JB609 (PH - F), in which F/Sgt. Norman Bowker's crew from 12 Squadron - RAF Wickenby came down in a horrible way near Elspeet village in Gelderland as known (story also added to this site, page 5 / Harlingen & Harderwijk).

 

By the way, and coincidence or not, the other 12 Squadron loss that night over the

Netherlands, Lancaster ND410 with P/O. Paul Dempster Wright's crew, is a well known story too. In the meanwhile; it was crashing in the Grevelingen Lake, at Zeeland, near Drieschor village on Schouwen-Duiveland isle (story via www.626-squadron.co.uk/crews3.html and many more sites, even via YouTube - ‘ The last flight of the AVRO Lancaster ND410 ’).

Those wartime happenings, those killed airmen of RAF Bomber Command, in Zeeland as well as in Gelderland, are really not forgotten, and in particular (ex) members of the No. 12 Squadron and the families involved are thankful for it, I guess, for the memorials on location,

the remembrance services, etc. etc.

 

Alas, Zeeland is ‘ rather far away ‘ for me - traveling in one day from Friesland and back home then - so I was very pleased to receive an invitation and also the great and detailed Elspeet Memorial Tour program, in March last and via a mail from Mr. Hans de Ruiter, one of the organizers of ‘ Herdenken WOII Elspeet ’. For me a nice and nearer occasion to visit, related also to 19-20 February 1944 (the ‘morning part’ of the program) and….. on a

beautiful day also, because the weather forecaster was correct after all !

 

Life is full of compromises and, to be honest, the Easter weekend traffic and in particular the

Sail Kampen ‘ happening on our route (appr.70.000 visitors on that day alone !) was reason enough for me to stop our Elspeet visit already soon after the Schaarweg memorial service, but it was all very nice till then, impressive and well organized. Therefore many thanks from my side too ! And Elspeet by the way, with its old windmill etc., and situated between the forests and the heath areas of the Veluwe, is a nice and friendly village, giving visitors / tourists plenty of entertainment, accommodation and a warm welcome.

 

Bryan & Pauline Williams add their tribute

 

The greatest surprise for myself during the memorial service at the Schaarweg was, of course,

the revisit of Mr. Bryan Williams - son of 22 years young father and Wireless Operator/Air Gunner of Lancaster JB609, Sgt. Hadyn George Williams; and Bryan’s wife Pauline was also on the former crash site now.

I didn’t know they were in Holland again, the first time after the unveiling of the memorial in 2008. For them it must be another day full of mixed feelings, I guess, but very thankful at the end I think, because of the many people taking part in the service, as well as in the complete tour, the good and heartwarming words and speeches, the beautiful flowers and wreaths, and also the hymns and corals of the local brass, the guard of honour of the Dutch veterans, the ‘blue skies fly-past’ of the ‘Edambusters’, and….. the very friendly weather of the day !

Willem de Jong.

 

The Flypast by the Edambusters

 

 

 

Mr. Williams and the Embassy Representative (uniform & red sash)

 

 

Bryan Williams at the memorial

 

 

 

Leicester Mercury April 23rd 2008

RAF Bomber crew get fitting send-off.  DUTCH TOWN HONOURS DOWNED AIRMEN by Jenny Ousbey

Thousands of people lined the streets of a Dutch town to give airman Frank Burdett-a hero's send-off.
The townspeople of Elspeet, in the Netherlands, have never forgotten the seven RAF crewmen who lost their lives on February 20, 1944, when their plane was shot down by a Nazi soldier (German pilot) as it returned from a raid on German factories in Leipzig. 

On Saturday, the town was transformed for a service to the air heroes -including Leicester man Frank - with a fly past by the Dutch Air Force, a parachute drop and a ceremony, ending with the unveiling of a memorial to the crew who lost their lives.

Frank's stepbrother, Donald Ford, 73, of Groby, said it was wonderful the airmen's memory was honoured. He was hoping to go to the event, but could not travel after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in January. He said: "Frank was my stepmother Rose's only son, and she would be thrilled to know what they did in Elspeet." 

 

Organiser Jaap Vermeer, 43, said: "It was a very special day because we had a memorial for the crew of the Lancaster bomber. "The school children have been learning all about the event and they have been reading a booklet about the soldiers in school. "They were very surprised to hear about it as the younger children don't know so much about the Second World War. "It's very important to remember the bravery of the men - we wanted to honour them. Every year, I lay flowers on one of the graves - it is important to do that." One of those that died who is honoured here is Flight Engineer Frank Burden. 

Frank, who was born in Swan Street, near Woodgate, joined the RAF in July 1942. He trained as a flight engineer on Halifax and, later, Lancaster bombers. It was his job to monitor the engines, instruments and fuel transfer throughout the Lancaster's flight. At the start of 1944, Frank joined 12 Squadron, a frontline operational bomber unit based at RAF Wickenby, near Lincoln - part of a team of men who were barely out of their teens. Within a week of joining the squadron, Frank was flying his first mission, -against the German town of Brunswick, on January 14th. His active military career was to last little more than five weeks. On the night Frank died, the RAF's plan was to bomb factories in Leipzig, Gennany, but as the Lancaster crew were heading back to Wickenby, they were shot down. Frank is buried in Harderwijk, in the Netherlands. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This newspaper article is telling a lot more about that day, the 19th April 2008 (Liberation day for locations Elspeet, Nunspeet etc.- 19-04-1945!) about the parachute drop, about the tour of old army vehicles of "Keep them Rolling", about the speech of the burgemeester / mayor, about the historical telling of Mr.Dick Baas, author of the book "Strepen in de lucht" (= condrails in the air), and about the visit of the military attaché's of Canada and England, about schoolchildren laying flowers, about the singing of the national hymns of G.B., Canada and Holland, and about the thousands of people who came to the crash-site.....

A very emotional moment for Brian Williams (photo above) because at the moment he unveiled the monument for his father, a twin-engined B-25 Mitchell bomber (flying museum plane) of the Royal Dutch Air Force was passing over in a "fly by". With tears on his face he gave the memorial stone a handkiss and with his fingers he was "reading" the letters of his fathers name....   Willem

 

 

 

 

 

 

F/Sgt  Norman Charles Bowker, age 21, son of Joseph and Doris May Bowker, of Marston Green, Warwickshire. Pilot

Sgt Frank William Burdett,  age 21, son of William   and Rose Burdett, of Woodgate, Leicester. Flight Engineer.

F/Sgt Arthur Ian Corlett, from Regaby, Ballaugh, Isle of Man. His parents ran the local shop.  Navigator.

Sgt Edward Gedge, age 29, son of Edward and Dora Gedge; husband of Dorothy Gedge, of Erdington, Birmingham. Bomb Aimer.

Sgt Hadyn George Williams the son of Daniel & Madge Williams, of Garndiffaith in Monmouthshire, and husband of the late Evelyn Williams. W/Op.

WO2 James May RCAF from Regina, Canada. Air Gunner

Sgt Eric Sidney Goodridge, age 24, son of Bessie Goodridge, of Broad Chalke, Wiltshire. Air Gunner.

 

 

 

Where some of the crew came from

 

 

 

 

 

Ballaugh, Isle of Man, War Memorial       Supplied by David Radcliffe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Corlett family gravestone on the Isle of Man    

Isle of Man photos kindly supplied by David Radcliffe

 

See his Isle of Man photographs on Flckr

 

WO2 James May RCAF from Regina, Canada. Air Gunner (promoted to Pilot Officer around the time of his death)

 

 

Here is "May Creek" in Saskatchewan, Canada, on the South-Eastern bank of Close Lake named in honour of RCAF Air Gunner - P/O James May of 12 Squadron.

On the Geo Memorial Project more than 80 Saskatchewan military personnel who gave their lives in World War II had northern lakes, peninsulas, bays or islands named after them.

 

 

 

 With special thanks to J.H Vermeer 

 

 

*  By the way:  Jaap Vermeer, of Nijkerk, who was mailing us the photos about Frank Burdett, Norman Bowker, Hadyn Williams etc., was in 2008 one of the local people who organized the whole service + unveiling + tour (already mentioned in the text of the "Leicester Mercury".)  His age is 46 now, and he is married with Yfke, a woman born in Friesland (!), Witmarsum village (near Harlingen), and they are running a Catering business in Nijkerk, Gelderland.      Sometimes the world is small.....   Willem

 

 

 

Willem's Introduction

14

Ameland in war-time

25

Wartime Texel  & Den Helder 

1

Friesland War-time Crashes

14b

Ameland,166 & 75 Squadron

26

Hindeloopen

2

Friesland Cemeteries

14c

Ameland Graves

27

Destroy the Scharnhorst!

3

Leeuwarden area

15

Terschelling

28

Destroy the Scharnhorst! 2

3a

Wirdum Remembers

15b

Terschelling 2

28a

Destroy the Scharnhorst! 3

4

Schiermonnikoog

16

Sage War Cemetery

29

12 Squadron in World War 2

4b

Schiermonnikoog  part 2

16b

RAF Topcliffe & 424 Squadron

30

The Runnymede Memorial

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, & Koudum

33

A Fatal collision?

8

RCAF 428 Ghost Squadron

20

Willem's War-time photos

34

Hudson & Ventura losses

9

Zwolle's ' De Groene ' group

21

Shipdham Airfield & the 44th

35

101 Squadron

10

408 Squadron's Leipzig raid

21b

68th Squadron's Casualties

11

Friesland radar

22

Rottum Island

12

Lancasters DS776  & JA921

23

Bergen General Cemetery

 

 

 

 

 

 

back to 626 Squadron

 

 

 

 

 

 email-address:  w.jong1@upcmail.nl