My father was the Flight Engineer on LM 320 of 100 Squadron. They had taken off from RAF Grimsby (Waltham) at 23.23hrs to join 758 other aircraft in the raid.
On Thursday 27th May 1943 The Daily Mail reported, under the headline “5 “COOKIES” a minute by RAF, Dusseldorf pounded for an hour in war’s greatest bad-weather attack” The report then gives further information about the raid on the night of 25th/26th May and reports the loss of 27 bombers during the mission.
On 24th May 2013, 70 years later, a memorial was unveiled in Herkenbosch, Netherlands in memory of the crew of Lancaster LM 320 that crashed that night and the crews of all the 5 other aircraft that came down in the vicinity of the village during the war.
My father was the Flight Engineer on LM 320 of 100 Squadron. They had taken off from RAF Grimsby ( Waltham ) at 23.23hrs to join 758 other aircraft in the raid. The previous night he had flown in a raid on Dortmund. The crew were:-
|S/Ldr.||P R Turgel DFC||aged 22||Pilot|
|P/O||I A Wynn||aged 35||Flight Engineer|
|F/O||D Harvey||aged 32||Air Gunner|
|Sgt.||J Hudson||age unknown||Air Gunner|
|F/O||J M Marnoch||aged 30||Wireless Operator/ Air Gunner|
|F/O||H N Petts||aged 25||Navigator|
|F/O||G Russell||aged 22||Bomb Aimer|
My mother was told that the plane had been brought down by Flak at 01.36 on the 26th May and as the Germans would not allow anyone to approach the crash site he was reported as missing. It wasn’t until April 1946 that he was confirmed as dead and buried with 4 other crew members in a collective grave. Two of the crew were identified and buried separately.
We now know that the plane was not brought down by Flak but was shot down by Hauptmann Manfred Meurer who later lost his life in the war, aged 24.
Ian’s family have generously allowed us to digitise their father’s extensive collection which can be seen here
In 2012 I wrote to the local authority in the area of the crash to see if anyone could give me more information as I wanted to visit the site on the anniversary of the crash.
They put me in touch with a Dutch family from the village who have researched the wartime plane crashes in the area of their village, HERKENBOSCH.
My brother and I together with our wives arranged a visit which we thought would be a family remembrance event.
We could not believe the welcome we were given by the family and people of the village. It can probably be summed up by the following extract from an E-Mail sent to me by the family,
“WE WOULD LIKE TO THANK YOU ON BEHALF OF THE WHOLE COMMUNITY FOR WHAT YOUR FATHER AND HIS CREW MEMBERS DID FOR US TO END THE OCCUPATION OUR PARENTS AND GRANDPARENTS WERE LIVING UNDER DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR”
The Dutch family talked to eye witnesses to the crash and located the actual crash site where, using metal detectors, metal from the plane was found.
A local hotel gave us free accommodation and the Dutch family did everything they could to make our visit a memorable one.
Unbeknown to us until a few days before our visit, the village had banded together to erect a memorial to all the planes and crews that were killed in plane crashes near their village. (They pointed out that not one aircraft had hit the village; a further tribute to our pilots who they believe did everything in their power to avoid crashing on their homes.)
They had obtained from a museum part of the engine from a Wellington, together with the propeller, and this is now mounted at the entrance to the village. There is a plaque showing the names of all 27 aircrew who were killed in the locality, together with an information board giving details of the various aircraft, dates of the crashes, etc.
My brother and I were invited to unveil the plaque at a ceremony on the evening of 24th May.
It was attended by, amongst others, Mayor E Hanselaar; Alderman C Wolfhagen; a delegation from the RAF at North Brunssum; General- Major L Van den Born of the Royal DutchAir Force; a representative of The Royal Air Force Association; The Union of War Veterans Association; Ceremonial Home Guard; the local Band and hundreds of local people.
The Royal British Legion in Exeter, Devon had provided me with a RAF Roundel at short notice and my brother and I laid it alongside 6 or 7 other wreaths and floral tributes.
We understand that it is now proposed to have a service at the site every year and to visit the War Cemetery at Jonkersbos near Nijmegen where all the aircrews were eventually buried.
The whole visit was very memorable but in particular the warmth and friendship of the Dutch is something we will remember for the rest of our lives.