Air crash memorials

As I cycle through Norther Holland, I am seeing several memorial plaques and signs for downed allied aircraft and with them, a link to the information about the crash and crews. I have put one below.

Downed Lancaster Bomber

Lancaster bomber DV267

The deadly flight of the Lancaster bomber DV 267 ended in Tolbert

The aircraft departed Mablethorpe on the west coast of Central England on the night of 19 to 20 February 1944, as part of a squadron. The flight plan was to fly to Leipzig via the Netherlands and northern Germany, to throw off their bomb load there. Jack Laurens, Don Bolt, Les Burton, Ted Royston, Jim Davies, Wag Kibble, Chris Aitkin and Cass Waight were the Lancaster crew members. James Davies was the eighth man added to the crew because he spoke German and was therefore able to eavesdrop on the contacts of the German radio stations in Trimunt and Leeuwarden via the on-board radio.

Above Oldenburg, the aircraft was intercepted by a German fighter, a Messerschmidt, who leaked the Lancaster fuel tank, which caught fire as a result. The flight to Leipzig was demolished and the pilot swung the aircraft west, towards the North Sea. The intention was to land in the sea and get by dinghy and then sail to England. However, the fire expanded rapidly and the crew realized they were flying into their deaths at dizzying speed. The pilot’s last words, before crashing, were that the door of the aircraft had to be opened with an axe.

Davies ended up with his parachute at the Bakkerom, a hamlet near Boerakker, where he hid in a sewer pipe. After a few days, he knocked on the door of a farming family who led him to safer places. Through the lifeline of the resistance he came to Belgium, where he was betrayed in Antwerp, he survived the camps in Germany. Burton, Royston, Kibble and Aitkin also fell into good hands but were finally arrested in The Hague and transferred to the prisoner camp in Thorn in Poland, where they were liberated by British soldiers in 1945.

Cass Waight’s body was found near Noordwijk, where he was buried next to the church. Don Bolt also did not survive the fall, his body was found near Tolbert and buried there. Jack Laurens the South African pilot remained at the bat of his coffin until the last to give his crew as much time as possible to leave the aircraft. His body was found at the plane wreck. He was also buried in Tolbert’s cemetery. Andries van der Donk of the Noorderweg witnessed the drama, he saw the burning aircraft come down near his farm. Jack Laurens was married to Margret in 1937, she was pregnant when Jack enlisted as a pilot at the RAF, his son John was born in November 1939. Jack never saw his son John. John Laurens passed away in 2015. Jack’s grandsons, James and Jack, wanted a box with their father’s ashes to be interred in their grandfather’s grave. And that happened during a special ceremony, also to keep alive the memory of the sacrifice made by the crew of the crashed plane. An emotional event in which John’s ashes were left with his father Jack. According to Jack and James, father and son are now reunited after their deaths. They are amazed that so many years after the war, the Tolberter community still commemorates and lays flowers at the graves of persons unknown to them.

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