207 SQUADRON ROYAL AIR FORCE HISTORY
No. 207 Squadron Royal Air Force Association
An Act of Dedication
The Aviation Heritage Centre,
Saturday, 11th October 2003 at 1230
The location of the tree - on the boundary between the Aviation Centre and
the rest of the former airfield. The two trees dedicated in August
2003 lie further along the same fence.
AN ACT OF REMEMBRANCE & DEDICATION
Rev Harry Orchard: We come together in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to dedicate this tree and plaque to the memory of the Siebert crew.
We remember with thanksgiving the sacrifice made in death and in four years of imprisonment, and we remember those who have since died.
We pray for all who have died or suffered as a result of war. We pray for peace.
Let us now remember Gods presence with us (a period of reflection and silence)
Kees & Ans Rijken: We dedicate this tree to the Siebert crew and their families and to the other airmen of No.207 Squadron Royal Air Force who now rest in our Eindhoven General Cemetery.
Eleanor Fomison, son Neil behind
Eleanor Fomison reads Psalm 23 in the version usually set to Crimond:
The Lord's my Shepherd I'll not want.
He makes me down to lie in pastures green. He leadeth me the quiet waters by.
My soul He doth restore again and me to walk doth make within the paths of righteousness e'en for His own name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through death's dark vale, yet will I fear no ill; for Thou art with me, and Thy rod and staff me comfort still.
My table Thou hast furnished in presence of my foes; My head thou dost with oil anoint, and my cup overflows.
Goodness and mercy all my life shall surely follow me; and in God's house for evermore my dwelling-place shall be.
Revd Harry Orchard: Let us join together in the Lord's Prayer:
All: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen
Pam Gurnell will now read the names of those who have died and those who are absent as well as the names of the other men from 207 Squadron buried at Eindhoven, and then will say:
They shall not grow old as we who are left grow old
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
We will remember them
All: We will remember them
Mr Panton: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all evermore.
The dedication is concluded.
bottom photo L-R: Ans Rijken, Kees Rijken, Rev Harry Orchard, Mr Harold Panton
L-R: Pam Gurnell, Christopher Borrill (son-in-law), Claire Borrill (daughter), Ans Rijken
Ans & Kees Rijken with the tree
Ans & Kees Rijken, Jim Taylor, Ans and a Lancaster
In Eindhoven a Commemoration is held every year on the evening of the fourth of May, at the General Cemetery. It takes place in front of the graves of a Dutch soldier and of Allied airmen whose aircraft came to grief in the neighbourhood of Eindhoven. During the ceremony the Mayor of Eindhoven speaks about the necessity of commemorating "lest we forget".
After a silence of two minutes and The Last Post the Mayor lays a wreath on behalf of the citizens of Eindhoven, who come out in great numbers.
Further wreaths and flowers are laid by many military and civil organisations.
At the same ceremony the young people of Eindhoven lay tulips on the over 800 graves of other Allied servicemen.
For a number of years a wreath has been laid on behalf of 207 Squadron RAF Association at the grave of Flight Lieutenant John Siebert DFC (RAAF) of 207 Squadron RAF (whose grave is on the right), then based at RAF Waddington. The flowers on the stand are for him and the 12 other 207 Squadron airmen buuried in the cemetery.
He was the first Allied airman to be buried in Eindhoven, after his Manchester L7303 EM-P was shot down on the night of 27/28 March 1941 on an attack on Dusseldorf.
The rest of the crew were 2nd Pilot Peter Robson, Observer George Fomison, W/Op AG Jim Taylor, M/U William McDougall and R/G Peter Gurnell. John Siebert stayed with his Manchester until everybody else had jumped to safety they all became POWs. The next morning it appeared that John Sieberts parachute was only half open when he hit the ground.
Kees Rijkens father was a municipality official at Eindhoven Town Hall for over 45 years. Kees writes: During the war my father worked for the General Affairs department that had to deal with the contacts between the German authorities and the municipality. On March 29th 1941 a staff member of the Ortskommandantur (comparable with the Town Major we had after we were liberated in 1944) asked my father to see that a grave be dug in the "Ehrenfriedhof" (military part) of the municipal cemetery. An RAF Flight Lieutenant was to be buried at 1500 hours.
The German official showed my father the identity-disc of the fallen airman, who appeared to be John Siebert, RAAF and RC, No.36155. The Town Hall officials did not then know, as they would later, what the second A in RAAF meant. But the letters RC were understood. To ensure that John Siebert would be buried in consecrated ground a Roman Catholic priest was asked to be present at the funeral.
Though the Germans had forbidden any publicity about the forthcoming funeral, the rumour that an English airman would be buried that afternoon had quickly spread so that thousands of people assembled along the road to the cemetery and in the cemetery.
A German chaplain, a military band, a firing party and the Dutch priest were present. German Luftwaffe personnel carried the coffin - covered with the British flag - to the grave. The German military band played Ich hatte einen Kameraden (I had a comrade) and a salute of honour was fired.
After the funeral the Dutch people crowded round the grave and clearly showed their sympathy with the fallen airman, and their antipathy towards the Germans, by wearing red white and blue or orange knots. Many flowers were laid on his grave. On March 31st a staff member of the Ortskommandantur called again at the Town Hall. He expressed his astonishment about the presence of so many civilians at John Siebert's funeral. The Ortskommandantur, he said, did not have objections to the presence of Dutch civilians at a funeral of British airmen - but the people should behave as is customary during an interment. Parents should look after their children better. The conduct of the inhabitants of Eindhoven was improper, particularly because some of them were smoking.
Many burials of allied airmen would unfortunately follow John's. The Germans shifted all these burials to the early morning-hours, and all access points to the cemetery were closed. The other 12 airmen from No. 207 Squadron buried there are:
Lancaster ED600 EM-P 26.5.1943
F/O Philip Drayton
Sgt Keith Frost
Sgt George Bottomley
Sgt Ivor Hall
Sgt Douglas Genever
Sgt Thomas Stoddart
Sgt Eric Barker
Lancaster W4120 EM-L 31.8.1943
P/O John Hickling
Sgt Eric Preston
Sgt Maurice Atkinson
Sgt Thomas Barnett
Sgt Thomas Moore
Our thanks to Mr Harold Panton & Mr Fred Panton MBE of the Aviation Heritage Centre and to Rev Harry Orchard, Sqn Ldr RAF(Retd), who was Flying Control Officer at RAF Langar and RAF Spilsby.
If you have not already done so, please visit the RAF Spilsby Airfield Memorial, erected by 207 Squadron RAF Association. Consult your maps for Great Steeping. In Great Steeping turn off at School Lane between the Church of All Saints and the School. Follow School Lane to the 'T' junction overlooking the former airfield. Turn right and the Memorial site is 75 yards on your left take care parking and watch out for traffic.
A Manchester of No. 207 Squadron - source Haslam
Please visit our websites at www.rafinfo.org.uk
Peter Gurnell and the Siebert crew remembered at RAF Waddington
The Rijken family and Eindhoven (Woensel) Cemetery
More trees dedicated to 207s at East Kirkby
last updated 26 August 2006