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1942-06-05 The loss of Govert Steen

Crash site: Channel near Octeville-sur-Mer, Seine-Maritime, F

Crash cause: Shot down by enemy fighter coming out of the sun, when flying as tail-end Charlie on an ordered manouvre against which the pilots had protested.

Name

Steen, Govert

Dutch RAF aviator datasheet

G. Steen, 1938 Source: Steen family archive

Rank

1Lt Vl, P/O., Pilot

RAF VR 104343

Decorations

Vliegerkruis 2x, CDGaP, Oorlogsherinneringskruis

Born

12/3/1917

Place

Apeldoorn, NL

Squadron

RAF 129 'Mysore' Sqn Fighter Command

Ops/hr

78/102

Aircraft

Spitfire Mk. Vb Nr. BM639

Base

RAF Westhampnett, Sussex, GB

Mission

Circus 188b, escorting Bostons to Le Havre

Status

MIA, shot down by enemy Fw.190 fighter. Probably flown by Ltn. Horst-Benno Krüger, 5./JG2, 2 claims, at 15:35 and 15:41 uur. Ltn. Krüger was taken POW on 26/07/1942. See Kracker Luftwaffe Archive on this site

age

25

Missing

5/6/1942

Place

Channel off Octeville-sur-Mer, Seine-Maritime, F

Known to

OGS

yes

CWGC

yes

Memorial

Soesterberg

yes

Memorial

Other

yes

1. Runnymede, panel 71

Runnymede 080127 Steen

2. Vijfluik Loenen, Gelderland, NL

Vijfluik Steen G

3. Teuge stained glass window

GB arrival

Engelandvaarder. With a 3 man crew of escapees he captured a Fokker T-VIIIw floatplane, confiscated from the Dutch by the Germans, and flew it out of the Amsterdam Minerva Harbour to the coast at Broadstairs, Kent, GB, on 6/5/1941.

Source: NA 2.09.06-3813 & Steen family archive

Remarks

See 'Steen – een geschiedenis door Huize Groenoord', Soest, 2005, by this author. Steen was credited posthumously officially with one E/A shot down during the May fighting in Holland, and with zero in literature. Author claims that Steen actually shot down two E/A in May 1940.

Vliegerkruis, 16/10/1941

voor moeding en beleidvol optreden bij het voorbereiden en uitvoeren van hun ontsnapping uit door den vijand bezet gebied in een op dien vijand buitgemaakt vliegtuig en het landen daarmede op geallieerd grondgebied, hoewel dat vliegtuig de vijandelijke kenteekenen droeg.

Vliegerkruis 2, posthumous, 22/4/1948

Heeft zich door daden van initiatief, moed en volharding tegenover de vijand onderscheiden op 10 Mei 1940, als bestuurder van een D XXI vliegtuig, boven het vliegveld YPENBURG, waarbij hij een vijandelijk toestel omlaag schoot.

Croix de Guerre avec Palme, posthumous, 25/10/1948

Excellent pilote de Spitfire au Squadron no 129

A été porté disparu le 5 juin 1942, au cours d'un vol d'opérations aux environs du Havre






Data confusion

CWGC: Vliegerkruis, CDGaP, Bronzen Kruis

A biography of Govert Steen & family is given in 'Steen – een geschiedenis door Huize Groenoord', Baarn, 2005, by this author. The text below is a summary from the Steen text, where it describes the circumstances of Steen's final flight.


RAF Westhampnett, March 1942. 129th Sqn 'B' flight pilots taking it easy in front of a dispersal hut. Left to right Joe Loree, Govert Steen, Freddie, Ramsay, Cole, Manley and German sheepdog and Squadron mascotte Jan, adopted by Steen when Jan's boss did not return from a flight. Source: photo taken by Ray Sherk


Pastel painting of Govert Steen, commissioned by the RAF to Eric Kemmington, early 1942. Dimensions 47 x 67 cm. The painting became a Steen family possession, until 1992 when it was donated to the Military Aviation Museum in Soesterberg. Source: MLM, Soesterberg

2. Reconstruction of events

Figure 3. Circus 188b attack flight path, and the 6/JG2 counterattack



Figure 4. Assumed crash area of Govert Steen


Figure 5. P/O. Steen 'spinning out of control'


Channel at Octeville-sur-Mer, Seine-Maritime, at the end of the Chemin de la Mer et du Croquet, looking towards the sea area where Govert Steen is believed to have been lost. The concrete base of a German Flak position is still present. It has been claimed that Steen was shot down by Flak, but author believes to have contributed sufficient evidence that he was shot down as tail-end-Charlie by a Focke Wulf fighter aircraft. Octeville sur Mer 051020-1



Letter of the Dutch Minister of War to the Steen family, expressing his regrets with the loss of Govert Steen.

Source: Steen family archive

3. Searching for Steen


Le Havre, Cimetière de Graville, where WW2 casualties are reported to have been buried. There are no military War graves at this cemetery. They are in fact buried in Le Havre Cimetière Sainte Marie, Rue de L'Abbaye, plot 67. Le Havre Graville 051020-2


Contrary to the state of knowledge when author wrote 'Steen', all 10 unknown aviators buried here, 9 British and one Canadian, have dates of death. None match 5/6/1942. Therefore, we must assume that Bill Rowell is not amongst the unknowns buried here. Le Havre Ste Marie 051020-3



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