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1944-03-27 The Loss of Johan Blok and Simon de Ridder

Crash site: Tullybrisland, Londonderry, Ire

Crash cause: their Hellcats collided during practicing formation flying


Name

Blok, Johannes

J. Blok Source: SLH Ooster Blok J 050509-2

Rank

Off Vl 2kl MLD, P/O., Pilot

Decorations

None known

Born

14/11/1919

Place

Batavia, Java, NEI

Squadron

FAA 1847 Sqn

Ops/hr

Aircraft

Hellcat Mk. I

Base

RAF Eglinton, Londonderrry, Ire

Mission

Practicing formation flying

Status

KIFA, collided with another Hellcat (De Ridder)

age

24

Killed

27/3/1944

Place

Tullybrisland, Londonderry, Ire

Buried

Initially in St. Canice's Churchyard, Eglinton, N-Ire. Reburied 1946 Amsterdam Nieuwe Oosterbegraafplaats, NL, grave 42/57. His parents were buried in the same grave in 1974 and 1979.

Known to

OGS

yes

CWGC

no

Remarks

The Eglinton wooden grave cross is buried on top of Blok's coffin, after Oosterbegraafplaats authorities would not allow the Eglinton cross to be used.

Source: Harmen & Jan Blok, brothers of Johan, in "The Sentinel", Ire, 20/10/1994

Memorial

Memorial plate in Eglinton cemetery, installed by his brothers

Source: Rob Moeskops, 16/7/2005

GB arrival

Joined the merchant navy in 1939, and the Dutch Royal Navy in 1942 in Indonesia. Received further training as a pilot in Jackson, USA.

Data

Confusion

OGS: Died Eglinton. Crash site also mentioned as Gresteel or Greysteel, which is close to Tullybrisland.


Name

Ridder, Simon de

S. de Ridder Source: H. Bánki-Brogtrop. Ridder S de 3-1944.jpg Loenen 041030.

Rank

Sgt Vl, Sgt., Pilot

Decorations

None known

Born

14/3/1918

Place

Amsterdam, NL

Squadron

FAA 1847 Sqn

Ops/hr

Aircraft

Hellcat Mk. I

Base

RAF Eglinton, Londonderrry, Ire

Mission

Practicing formation flying

Status

KIFA, collided with another Hellcat (Blok)

age

26

Killed

27/3/1944

Place

Tullybrisland, Londonderry, Ire

Buried

Initially in St. Canice's Churchyard, Eglinton, N-Ire. Reburied Nederlands ereveld Loenen, Gelderland, NL, grave E/1012

Known to

OGS

yes

CWGC

no

Remarks

Memorial

None known

GB arrival

Data

Confusion

OGS: Died Greysteel, Londonderry

Ernie Cromie, 21/3/2006:

Blok & de Ridder tragedy - I understand this collision occurred in the course of formation training, when four aircraft were changing from 'box' to 'echelon' formation. Wreckage fell into very marshy ground immediately south of the railway line at Irish Grid map reference C558218.

I visited the site a few years ago to assess how feasible it might be to excavate for wreckage but came to the conclusion it would be a very costly and difficult operation because of the nature of the ground, which, in elevation, is just above the level of high tides in Lough Foyle.

You will be interested to know that the cross which marked de Ridder's grave at Eglinton still survives and is actually part of the Ulster Aviation Society's heritage collection, having been donated to us a considerable number of years ago by a gentleman who lives in Eglinton who rescued it following the exhumation of Simon de Ridder's remains. Possibly, it was known at the time that permission would not be forthcoming for it to be re-used at his present place of burial and the Eglinton church authorities decided that it should be retained in memory of him. Be assured, it is a respected item in our collection of artefacts.

It's impossible to know how much wreckage there may be at the Blok/de Ridder crash site. The gentleman who donated the cross is confident the engine ought to be there at the very least and if it is I should imagine it will be well-preserved (apart from impact damage) because of the marshy nature of the ground. The engine of the Hurricane we recovered from marshy ground was beautifully preserved apart from impact damage and I should imagine that Dutch archaeologists have had similar experiences in recovering buried wreckage from much of Holland.'

Cross that marked the first grave of S. de Ridder in St. Canice's Churchyard, Eglinton, N-Ireland. The cross is shown by Mr. Ernie Cromie of the Ulster Aviation Society. The Society preserves the cross in its Heritage Collection. Source: Ernie Cromie

1847 FAA Squadron on RNAS Eglinton, March 1944. 1847FAA Eglinton 3-1944b.jpg

Left to right, standing:

1. S/Lt. John David Standish Smithwick RNVR, MIA 12/4/1945

2. S/Lt. Hendrik Christiaan de Jager RNN, KIA 18/5/1944

3. S/Lt. J. Schwenke RNN

4. S/Lt Simpson

5. CPO Rob R. Twijssel RNN

6. CPO Frans Cornelis Marie Brogtrop RNN, KIA 18/5/1944

7. CPO Simon de Ridder RNN, KIA 27/3/944

Left to right, sitting:

1. Lt. Hugh Grenville Knowles RN, KIA 22/4/1944

2. Lt. Gerry Volkersz RNN

3. Lt. Cdr. A. Colville-Stewart RNVR, 1847 Sqn Commanding Officer 1/2/1944 to 20/5/1944

4. Lt. Karel A. La Bree RNN

5. Lt. Johan Blok RNN, KIA 27/3/1944

Photo source: Hanne Bánki-Brogtrop

FAA 1847 Squadron, with 10 Hellcats, was erected on 1/2/1944, with four British and eight Dutch naval pilots, all depicted above. Six of them would die in flying accidents, four in collisions, shortly after this picture was taken. All but one of the bodies could be salvaged from the water.

On 20/5/1944 the Squadron was absorbed into FAA 1840 Sqn.

2. Crash site data

Map 59. Tullybrisland, Ireland, crash area of the Hellcats of J. Blok and S. de Ridder The site was pinpointed by Ernie Cromie of the Ulster Aviation Society. The former RAF Eglinton is now the City of Derry Airport.



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