The last flight of T for Tommy

The Last Fight of T for TommyThis book has been written in memory of the British Stirling bomber and its crew which crashed in the woods near Gortel on 16th December 1942. Six young crew members lost their lives. After the war a modest memorial sign was placed near the spot where the aircraft crashed. However, over the years this monument disappeared.

When I heard of this in January 1992, I went and found the crash spot with the help of a retired game keeper. We even found a switch belonging to the emergency intercom which after fifty years was still very much intact! This was the day that an idea to erect a new monument with the help of a group of schoolchildren was born. Approval for the plan was given by HRM Queen Beatrix herself as the monument would be situated on royal ground. On 23rd June 1992 a simple stainless steel cross was placed at the site of the crash. The names of the perished crew as well as the details of the aircraft have been engraved on the cross. Field-stones were cemented at the
base of the cross by the pupils from group 8 of the then existing primary school ‘De Kosterstraat’ in Vaassen.

I have tried to collect as much information as possible concerning the last flight of these young airmen. After so many years this was only partially possible. However a lot of information was successfully collected. All this data has been combined with general information. No fiction has been added. Standard procedures and existing facts have been described to form a reconstruction. As a result a picture as close to the real event as possible has developed.

In this book I have tried to describe the circumstances under which the airmen of the Royal Air Force had to do their dangerous job. There is hardly any county in the Netherlands that doesn’t have a grave of a fallen soldier. In total 18.160 men of Great Britain and the British Commonwealth are buried in the Netherlands, spread over 480 cemeteries. The story of T for Tommy is representative of many other raids of Bomber Command of which aircraft crashed and met their final fate in the Netherlands.

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