Australian 460 Squadron
Our father Sgt Reginald Lawrence Lewis RAF Volunteer was attached to the Australian 460 Squadron, based at Binbrook. On 12th June 1943 his Lancaster 4960 was shot down over Reeuwijk, Holland, all 7 crew died.
His crew were buried in Sluipwijk in the Church graveyard where they laid until 1953 when their remains were transferred to Jonkerbos war cemetery Nijmegen. We are very grateful to the Valette family who lived in Reeuwijk in 1943, Gerauld Valette organised the burial of the crew and his young son Jack Valette placed flowers on their graves only for them to be taken off by the Germans, he was so upset that he vowed that if they were ever liberated he would place flowers on their graves every year.
When the war ended he went around the village and collected money to have floral tributes for the 7 graves but collected so much money there was enough to have a stone cross made with the names of the crew to replace the 7 wooden crosses. Jack continued to place flowers on their graves and continued to when the crews remains were taken to Nijmegen until his death in 1990 when his son Charley Valette accompanied by his young son, Guy Valette, have continued laying flowers on their graves. An amazing family who have been so dedicated for the past 71 years paid tribute to 7 Lancaster crew buried so far away from their native land.
Since 2002 we have met Charley Valette and his family and also met 3 eyewitnesses who told us of the events of the 12th June 1943 . We have attended the 4th May Memorial service in Reeuwijk every year. We have visited the crash site and also handled parts of the Lancaster which Crash40-45 Aviation Society have dug up over the years and are on display at their Museum in Alsmeer Fort by a very dedicated bunch of volunteers.
Since 2001 we have located the families of 4 of the Australian crew and they are so pleased that they know that we go over and place flowers on their loved ones graves.
The story of our dad and his crew are on the website www A.V.R.O W4960 created by Frank Moorman a friend of Charley Valette.
John and Michael Lewis