After the establishing and unveiling of the Stirling-motor-monument in 2008 we investigated all the 3 allied bombers, which crashed in 1943 on the countryside of our village Markelo and of which the 17 allied wargraves at the General Cemetery are the silent witnesses.
Thanks to the help of the local History Foundation “Stichting Heemkunde Markelo” and many other people at home and abroad, we received much information and many pictures about these bombers, their mission and their crew.
We especially thank Darryl Robertson from Nelson, New Zealand, second cousin of the Stirling Bomb Commander Andrew McEwin. Darryl spent a lot of time and efforts in tracing the families of the total of 21 crewmembers involved. Through them we got a lot of information, which was unknown at Markelo so far.
This has led to the knowledge of the personal backgrounds of 20 of the 21 airmen and now we almost can place a face to each headstone.
With this website we make all information accessible for all relatives and other interested people. Currently you mainly find only the basic information about the crewmembers. However in the coming months this will be supplemented with lots of personal information, so at our Memorial in June 2013 we have a completed database, which can be shared with all relatives.
Thanks to the courtesy of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) and the Municipal Court of Twente a new monument will be unveiled with a plaque with the names of all 21 crewmembers at the General Cemetery.
Another special plaque will be unveilled in line with the Halifax-graves for the missing Air Gunner Flight Sergeant Roy Victor Ledger. He also belonged to the victims, but his remains or other evidence was never found and so he still is booked as missing and he never got a tombstone.
With this monument we want to commemorate these brave airmen in the future as well.
5 October 2012,
Benny Schreurs, president of the Foundation Committee Fallen Airmen Memorial Markelo.
In 1943, three Bombers of the Royal Air Force crashed in Markelo: On the 2nd of March the Halifax W7877 at the Tichelweg, on 24th of May the Lancaster W7877 at the Witterietsweg and on the 23rd of June the Stirling EF399 at the Traasweg.
This resulted in the death of 18 of the 21 crew members. 17 identified are all buried at the Algemene Begraafplaats (General Cemetery) in Markelo.
Seventy years later, on 21st June 2013, a new monument will be unveiled on the Field of Honour with the 17 war graves. There will also be a big Commemoration, to which the families of all 21 crew members involved will be invited.
To organise it, a new foundation has been formed called ‘Committee Fallen Airmen Memorial Markelo 2013’ by Benny Schreurs (Chairman) and Egbert Holterman (Treasurer). They were both members of the Committee ‘Foundation for Cultural Historical Elements Around Markelo’ and were very closely involved with the Commemorations of 2008, the unveiling of the Stirling aircraft-monument on the Kattenberg, and in 2010, on the occasion of the 65th anniversary celebration of the liberation of Markelo.
These commemorations were attended by many dignitaries as i.a. the Ambassador of New Zealand and representatives of the British and Australian Embassy, of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and of the Royal Dutch Airforce.
Due to the above Commemorations many reactions have been received from home and abroad, including a visit from the New Zealand’s Minister of Defence Dr. Wayne Mapp. Even many crew member families especially visited Markelo from New Zealand or Great Britain.
It appeared that, unlike in many other places, there is no central area at the Field of Honour war graves, where wreaths or flowers can be laid. Contact was made with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) with the request to place an authentic WWII propeller as a monument by the 17 war graves. The CWGC gave a positive answer to that request, after which the Municipality Hof van Twente followed by offering their full co-operation.
That resulted in the purchase of the intended WWII propeller.
After that, the plans are being further elaborated and the idea was formed to place the monument for all three crashed bombers and unveil it in 2013, 70 years after the crashes. The next step was inviting the family members of all 21 crew members involved (17 died, 3 survived and 1 missing) coming from Australia (1), New Zealand (4) and Great Britain (16).
Up until last year, the only contact with the crew family members was with the 4 New Zealand crew member families of the Stirling that had crashed on the Kattenberg. One of them, Darryl Robertson had earlier tried to contact the family members of the 3 British crew members of the Stirling without success.
In the summer of 2011, with the help of a number of RAF veterans and others, articles asking for contact with the families were posted in all the local newspapers of the birth places of those crew members, with surprisingly positive results: 20 of the 21 crew members families responded.
Their reactions were heart warming and the expectation is that at least 60 of those will attend the 2013 unveiling of the monument.
After consultations with the Canada Comité Markelo it was agreed, that for 1 week the guests could stay with local host-families, who for years have welcomed Canadian veterans and their families.
As representatives of the Canada Comité, Henriette Kok (secretary) and Gert Jan Oplaat (committee member) have offered to take seats on the committee of the new foundation.
At the celebration of the 65th year of liberty in 2010, close co-operation with Keep Them Rolling (KTR) was made during their Liberty tour with over 100 vehicles, who then also attended the Markelo Commemoration at the cemetery. In 2013 the KTR will not only be at the Commemoration but provide transport for foreign visitors. For this the local member of KTR Erik Nijenhuis will have a seat in the new foundation’s committee.
Some 100 children of class 8 of all the primary schools of Markelo will play a close part in the Commemoration. Years ago they adopted the war graves to keep the memory alive, that our freedom has not been achieved without sacrifices and that freedom should not be taken for granted.
The committee is still busy gathering all the information they can get, from home or abroad, about the 3 crashed bombers and their 21 crew members.
We ask all the people of Markelo or others who have information, not already known, to pass this on to Benny Schreurs (see contact).
Rev. 28 August 2012