LL307 – Mystery of the Missing War Aviators Remains

This is a translation of the Dutch language PDF document: http://www.arteksten.nl/portfolio/Oorlogsvliegers%20Verswijveren%20Ons%20Eiland%201999.pdf

and is translated by https://translate.google.com

[ch]Mystery of disappeared war fliers remains
[kp]Adri Verswijveren and the war
who just won’t disappear
by Anja Romijn
“Come tonight with stories, how the war is gone, and
repeat them a hundred times: every time I will weep,” thus ends
the poem Vrede by Leo Vroman.
For Adri G. A. Verswijveren (27-11-1931) from Halsteren, the
war ’40 – ’45, however, will never really be a thing of the past. with heart
and soul he remains involved in the stories of the allied
war pilots, flying before and after D-Day on 6 June 1944 in Normandy
were directed to the north, in order to clear the Scheldt estuary and
conquer the northern area of ​​the Netherlands. They became
sent for bombing flights and droppings in occupied territory.
Especially the mystery of the missing planes from that
period of war continues to occupy him. After 55 years do relatives. ol :
of fallen fliers still appeal to him, at least to
to find the grave of their beloved dead.
The approach path of the Allied Airborne Army was right
about Schouwen-Duiveland, Sint Philipsland and Tholen. The German
anti-aircraft fire brought down many Allies. After the war
turned out that at least 111 planes were out of the air in Zeeland
achieved. Verswijveren’s special interest in aircraft
in general, culminated in a humanitarian aid operation to
pay my last respects, to airmen, who gave their lives
gave for liberation.
For his special service to the war pilots
’40-’45 he was made an honorary member of the 138th in England
Squadron Royal Air Force. During his working life he was
employee field service of the Suikerunie, but all his free time
he put in the book bars of the history of the
war pilots in his area. Most of his vacations
he spent in England, to do detective work. The
technical and adventurous aspects of the crashes, but even more
the human dramas that played out touched his
“One to the world, but all the world to me, in loving memory,
your wife Edith,” is written on the tombstone of one of the
killed soldiers, who rest in the cemetery in Bergen op
Zoom. With that loving thought in mind,
Verswijveren always dealt with the relatives of the
war flyers. Everyone is unique and worth getting into
cherished memory.
After the war, the municipalities on Tholen, Sint Philipsland and
Schouwen-Duiveland inundated with letters full of questions about the
allied war pilots. People who were desperately looking
for a trace of their son or loved one. Verswijveren now has –
after 55 years – still in contact with a large number of them. It
English and Canadian cemetery in Bergen op Zoom is still
visited by relatives of the fallen. They want everything
know about those last days in 1944 and often a
appealed to Adri to accompany them.
“Most of the planes took off from the secret English base
Thempsford, near Manchester. Once the crew got there
accommodated, should there be no more contact with the
outside world. The secret mission was well imprinted, no
chances are something leaked out. At Thempsford were two .
squadrons established, 20 to 25 aircraft per squadron,” says
Verswijveren, “the 161st and the 138th. The latter flew
first .with Lysanders, Hudsons and Whileys, later with the
four-engine Stirling and Halifax. Both squadrons were
responsible for maintaining contact with the
resists. The tasks to be fulfilled were dangerous. The
planes flew alone and without escort protection.
In addition, the droppings had to be done at night and with the utmost precision
to happen. In the RAF’s initial attempts at daylight
to operate – the targets were then more recognizable – became
suffered unacceptable losses. In time it became clear,
that the planes, without a fighter escort, could only travel at night
fly. The aircraft flew thereon only in moonlight and very
low, to stay out of range of enemy radar.
The noise stopped on Schouwen-Duiveland, Tholen and Sint Philipsland
of those flying planes at night many in fear
awake. In the aircraft itself, only the captain knew the
coordinates of the drop sites. He even knew the names
not, just the pseudonyms of the resistance fighters to be dropped.”
The moonlit nights were chosen for another reason.
The route over Schouwen, Sint Philipsland and Tholen was extremely
dangerous, because of the German anti-aircraft guns on the head of
Schouwen and further on in Brabant near Woensdrecht and Gilze-Rijen.
“The Oosterschelde signed in silver by moonlight
the landscape,” Verswijveren tells us, “when the captains
kept on this silver ribbon, they knew they were out of it
artillery from Walcheren and Schouwen-Duiveland. In the darkness
they then searched further on for the silver ribbon of
Roosendaalse Vliet and the Mark, to penetrate further into
Brabant. Despite all kinds of precautions, they were shot as
birds in the sky. In ten days, nine allied
planes down.”
“So in this war drama, two squadrons never came back
and no one ever heard of it again. they are missing
in operation’. How is it possible that they have disappeared,
nobody understands. No official mention has ever been made of the
nature of these mysterious disappearances. Typical English is, that
these squadrons are still expected back home.” It can
are that the planes have crashed into the sea, but also that they
crashed over land and that the remains of the
crew have been laid in field graves, without notification
is made. “I know quite a few of these kind of field graves. They are
until now well cared for, with flowers and memorials.”
How important it was for the next of kin to know how the
their loved ones’ last hours had passed, according to the
countless letters, which – immediately after the war – were sent via the Red
Kruis and other agencies entered the congregations. Mainly
parents of the missing were looking for names and addresses of
people who had last seen their son alive or dead.
Adri Verswijveren became involved in the
relatives of the crash of one of the English bombers. In
the night of 2 to 3 June 1944 collapsed at the Groeneweg
Stavenisse on Tholen, an English Halifax bomber down. Round
the crash of this plane has long been a haze of
kept in secrecy. After intensive research, they came to the
discovery, that the occupants would be dropped for a
espionage assignment. On the way they were attacked by German
night fighters and their aircraft was so badly damaged that it
crashed. The crew consisted of seven Englishmen and three
Belgian resistance fighters. The English occupants were the pilot
Thomas Morgan Thomas, Derrick Albert John Smith, Eric Nelson,
Leslie Victor Warboys, John Keith Robert Vincent, George Vick and
Eric Parry. According to a statement from a brother of the 20-year-old
Parry, it was Erich’s first flight. The three Belgians were
Gaston Masereel, (died 1972), H. Filot and L. Stroobants.
Masereel, who was later arrested by the Germans, was the
sole survivor of this drama. According to eyewitnesses, the
victims buried in the widow’s yard by local residents
Westdorp, because the German Ortskommandant Strutzina in Lepelstraat
thought that these were so-called saboteurs, who did not
were worthy of a decent burial. “The birds just had to
take care of the corpses, the Ortskommandant thinks, “this
Councilor J. A. Nortier wrote in his diary in Stavenisse
those days. Only after three weeks, mayor W. Hanssens gave of
Stavenisse permission to use the remains of the crew
to clear. Due to the inundation – Stavenisse was flooded
– the occupants could not be buried in the cemetery
ordered. Burial took place in one grave measuring two by 4.50
meters on a hedged part of the berm of the Havendijk, on
three meters away from dike pole 47. In Stavenisse, the
name Pilotweg to this drama. Only later found the necessary
tribute took place and the remains were transferred to
the war cemetery in Bergen op Zoom.
“About ten years ago the son of pilot Thomas stood here
suddenly in front of me,” says Verswijveren. “It came out
Australia and was on his way to Manchester. Because he has some time left
he made a stopover in Brussels to visit the grave of his
to find father. They had sent him to me in Stavenisse.
David Thomas, that’s his name, was born a few months after death
from his father. We went together to the place where are
father had come down. A very emotional moment. we have together
still looked for debris from the plane and those too
found it. Together we went to Bergen op Zoom to see the grave of
to visit his father. We still keep in touch.”
Verswijveren tells more about Eric Sherman from California
for example. He collapsed on July 21 at the age of 25
birthday in Halsteren and survived as the only one of his
crew the crash.” Adri Verswijveren can go to tears
stories and he continues to search and wait for signs of time,
that perhaps will put an end to the mysterious
disappearances of all those boys, who have not come back ‘yet’:
to be.
(Sources: Municipal Archives of Tholen and Schouwen-Duiveland, de
Eendrachtbode and private collection Adri Verswijveren.)
Photo captions:
1. Adri Verswijveren from Halsteren remains involved in the
stories of the allied war pilots of 55 years
2. David Thomas at the grave of his father, the pilot Thomas
Morgan Thomas, on the military cemetery in Bergen op Zoom.
3. The northern approach route.