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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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64 Squadron Crest
06.03.1945 64 Squadron Mustang III KH451 Flt Sgt. J. B. Jat van Mesdag

Operation: Night Flying sortie

Date: 6th March 1945 (Tuesday)

Unit No: 64 Squadron

Type: Mustang III

Serial: KH451

Code: SH:?

Base: RAF Bentwaters, Suffolk

Location: Bury Road, Lawshall, Suffolk

Pilot: Flt Sgt. Johannes Bartholomeus Jat Van Mesdag 195516 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

The Squadron was detailed on a night flying sortie and Flt Sgt. Jat van Mesdag's Mustang was one of two crashes this night. The second pilot, Flt Sgt. White, was only shaken up when his aircraft overshot the runway after an engine failure.

Very little is known regarding this loss. It is reported that the aircraft dived out of cloud into the ground on Bury Road, 7 miles NW of Lawshall. Cause unknown.

Prior to war breaking out Johannes was studying in the USA. During that period he lived in Ardsley, Hudson, New York. Then joined the Dutch forces in Canada before being sent to the UK, arriving on Monday 17th August 1942. Gaining his wings on the Friday 26th November 1944.

He joined 64 Squadron on the 28th December 1944. During service with the Dutch airforce his rank was 2e Luitenant (Fg Off).

Sgt. Van Mesdag whilst flying with 64 squadron was credited with destroying a Fw-190 NW of Frankfurt on the 14th January 1945.

Burial Details:

Flt Sgt. Johannes Bartholomeus Jat Van Mesdag. Cambridge City Cemetery, Grave No. 15561. Grave inscription: "DEN VADERLANT GHETROUWE BLIJF ICK TOT IN DEN DOET". Born on 3rd October 1923. A. Son of Mr. and Mrs. J.S. van Mesdag, of Hilversum, Holland.

The grave inscription come from two lines of the Dutch national anthem, the "Wilhelmus" and are a common inscription on the graves of Dutch fallen soldiers. The official translation reads: “I DEDICATE UNDYING FAITH TO THIS LAND OF MINE”.

Also commemorated on the Het Nieuwe Lyceum Memorial, Hilversum, Netherlands. Mill Hill Memorial Table, London

Nancy McQueen informs us that Jat Van Mesdag met her mother, Mollie Cruickshank, at some point when he was training in Saskatchewan, Canada before he was sent overseas to England. It was her understanding that they became engaged before he left for England, but he was killed before they were married.

Memorial at All Saints Church, Lawshall, Suffolk (courtesy Geoffrey Gillon - January 2017)

Researched by Kelvin Youngs (Webmaster) for the relatives of Flt Sgt. Van Mesdag in the hope that they view this memorial - Johannes B van Mesdag, nephew of the pilot, contacted us in August 2015. Thanks to John Gibson for the great memorial photos and for bringing this loss to our attention. To Rob Philips for research material, Also to Geoffrey Gillon for memorial photograph. Thanks to Nancy McQueen for the story regarding Johannes and her mother (Jan 2022). Updated narrative by Ralph Snape, Aircrew Remembered (Jan 2022). Thanks to Herman Schuurman for the clarification regarding the grave inscription (Apr 2022).

Other sources see below:

RS 04.04.2022 - Clarification of grave inscription

Pages of Outstanding Interest
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Acknowledgements
Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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