207 SQUADRON ROYAL AIR FORCE HISTORY
Jisp Memorial, Noord Holland
The memorial also commemorates a 51 Squadron RAF crew
Halifax HR786 MH-J
12-13 May 1943: t/o 2249 RAF Snaith. Op: Duisburg. Shot down by a night fighter and crashed 0123 on the Kanaaldijk near Jisp (Noord Holland), 16km NNW from the centre of Amsterdam, where both the Air Gunners are buried in the city's New Eastern Cemetery. The rest of the crew are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. In August 1993 Dutch historians postively identified this aircraft at its crash site and its discovery was widely reported in the British press.
Pilot: P/O George William Locksmith RAFVR
Flt Engineer: P/O John Isaac Noble RAFVR
Navigator: P/O Reginald Tunstall RAFVR
Air Bomber: P/O Alfred Jones Hendry RAFVR
Wireless Operator: Sgt Hugh Alan Roberts RAFVR
Mid Upper Gunner: Sgt Cyril Norman Victor Cogdell RAFVR
Rear Gunner: F/O Gerald Olivier Marcel Massip de Turville RAFVR
This crew was lost on the same operation as a 207 Squadron Lancaster, ED418 EM-G, Pilot Officer William Dick Hawkes' crew. Their story, A Bent Sixpence, is told on the 207 Squadron Association website by Mr Ron Ravenhall, who was living in Hilversum with his English mother at the time. Dick Hawkes went to the same school as the 207 Squadron website editor.
Co Maarschalkerweerd, who took part in the design of the memorial created by Mr Just Kroon, has provided some articles from the Dutch press about the excavation of part of the 51 Squadron Halifax:
DIGGING IN JISP FOR FRONT SECTION OF HALIFAX
WORMERLAND - In the village Jisp the excavation of a British World War II bomber aircraft has started. The Royal Dutch Air Force excavation team expects to find the remains of five airmen inside. Also inside the wreckage there still are probably seven heavy bombs (1000 pounders).
The Halifax, bound for Germany, was shot down by a German nightfighter in the night of 12/13 May 1943. The bodies of two crew members were recovered the following day.
As a 15 year old boy, Mr Siem Zeilemaker witnessed the crash of the bomber. He is now watching the excavation with a lot of tension. "After the aircraft crashed" [he told the reporter of Het Parool of October 16th 1979] "we heard two persons whistling to each other. We searched the land, but did not find anyone there. I am curious to know how many bodies they'll find still inside. I myself think it will be three."
On that particular day in 1943, Mr. Zeilemaker was standing in front of the livingroom window, together with his brother and mother, when the burning Halifax flew over. The family feared for their lives, because the aircraft skimmed low over the roof of their home at Kanaaldijk. "It was 01.30 a.m. and our mother got us out of bed. Hundreds of planes were flying over, and there was a lot of noise in the air. Then, all of the sudden, came a ball of fire flying towards us, burying itself deep into the marshy land behind our house. We ran outside and noticed at once that there was nothing to save anymore."
In 1948 when Mr Zeilemaker assisted a Alkmaar enterprise to excavate the wreckage, they found the bodies of three airmen still inside the cockpit. "We dug out the tail and mid-sections, but when we saw these corpses, we immediately stopped the excavation work and closed the hole. It wasn't until yesterday when the pit was opened again." He thinks there are still bombs inside the aircraft. The bomber was totallyconsumed by fire, and in the previous excavation of the tail and mid-sections bombs were never found.
Each day the excavation team of the airforce is scraping away 80 centimeters of earth. On the first day one aero-engine of the medium-heavy bomber was found, as well as some bone fragments. Officer Harry de Jonge, better known as "The Nose", is involved in the excavation. Until now there was no urgent reason to excavate the aircraft, a spokesman of the airforce said. The plane was at the top of the unit's list, but they can do only a few excavation operations at a time. Because there are still human remains inside the aircraft, the service has now decided to do this one first.
(based on translation by Co Maarschalkerweerd)
In the pasture where the Halifax crashed 54 years ago, it was this week a coming and going of trucks.
In het weiland waar Halifax 54 jaar geleden neerstortte, was het deze week een komen en gaan van vrachtwagens. Foto Bart Homburg
Some of the bombs excavated yesterday in the meadow in Spijkerboor. They will be disassembled on Monday.
Een deel van de gisteren opgegraven bommen in het weiland in Spijkerboor. Vaandaag worden ze gedemonteerd.
Foto Pieter Eelman
Angelo Verhoeven (L) and Kees Bergman worked on the seven 1000lb bombs yesterday for four hours.
Angelo Verhoeven (L) en Kees Bergman sleutelden gisteren vier uur aan de zeven duizendponders.
Foto Bart Homburg
A bomb fuse
The landowner, Mr Van Diemen, takes a closer look at the engine (official photo)
Ken Goodchild flew as a wireless-operator in a Handley-Page Halifax II during WWII on the same Squadron. His plane Halifax MH-J bar JB806 was lost on another raid on Duisburg 12-13 May 1943, all the crew being taken PoW. He heard about the excavation and came over to the Netherlands to have a closer look ...
It was hoped to trace Mr Goodchild via 51 Sqn Association.
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page last updated 13 May 2007: 18 Nov 17