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1945-03-27-Loss of André van Amsterdam

Crash site: North of Brandenburg, Germany

Crash cause: Aircraft shot down by enemy fighter. Pilot died or was killed on the ground.

Name

1. Amsterdam, Andreas Antonius Johannes (André, 'Mokum') van

A.A.J. van Amsterdam Source: SLH

Rank

Res Kapt Vl VML, F/Lt., Pilot

RAF VR 190755

Decorations

Vliegerkruis, Distinguished Flying Cross

Born

13/11/1917

Place

Kortenhoef, NL

Squadron

RAF 139 (Jamaica) Sqn RAF Bomber Command

Ops/hr

112/379

Aircraft

Mosquito Mk. XVI Nr. MM131 XD-J

Base

RAF Upwood, Huntingdonshire, GB

Mission

Take-off 19.12h. Raid on Berlin

Status

MIA, aircraft shot down by enemy night fighter Me.262 flown by Obfw Karl-Heinz Becker of 10./NJG 11. Pilot parachuted out unhurt, and must be assumed to have died or have been killed on the ground.

age

27

Missing

27/3/1945

Place

North of Brandenburg, G

Known to

OGS

yes

CWGC

yes

Other crew

2. S/Ldr. H.A. Forbes RCAF, DFC - safe, POW in Stalag Luft 1 Barth-Vogelsang, but escaped and joined the RAF again.

Remarks

Take-off at 19:12 hours. Both aviators left the aircraft by parachute.

Married to Irene van Amsterdam of King's Lynn, Norfolk, GB.

Memorial

Runnymede, panel 266

GB arrival

31/5/1940 with Dutch vessel 'Batavier II' from Cherbourg, France, after an escape from Holland on 16/5/1940. Detached KL to KM. Send from England to NEI 1/9/1940 for military flying training

Data

Confusion

CWGC: age 28

Earlier he had flown as Res 1Lt with RAF 320 (Dutch) Squadron. On 27/10/1942 he was rescued from the Irish Sea East of the Island of Man, after an accident that took the life of Robert van Woerkom.

Van Amsterdam's navigator, S/Ldr. H.A. Forbes DFC, declared after the War that both aviators baled out unhurt of the damaged aircraft. S/Ldr. Forbes was taken POW, but managed to escape later. F/Lt. Van Amsterdam remained missing.

We must assume that he died on the ground. He may have landed in the Beetzsee, and drowned there. The average depth of the Beetzsee is only 3 meters; his body may have washed ashore. He may, more likely, have landed on the ground, and died or was killed there. In all cases he may have been buried as unknown, and if true, then this grave may still exist.

But the Germans may also have made his body disappear into 'Nacht und Nebel'. An area search for graves of unknown Allied servicemen is called for, and Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery is the first place to look.

A.A.J. van Amsterdam Source: SLH

Vliegerkruis, 26/05/1944

Gedurende geruimen tijd bij het 320e Squadron R.D.N.A.S. van Onzen Marine Luchtvaartdienst in het Vereenigd Koninkrijk, in oorlogsvluchten tegen den vijand blijk gegeven van moed, bekwaamheid, volharding en plichtsbetrachting.

André 'Mokum' van Amsterdam with his first Observer in 139 Sqn, F/O. Arnett DFM. Source: @St.M.Vl.P. 1939-50

Ja, na zijn sprong uit de MM 131 is het onbekend wat er verder met Van Amsterdam is gebeurd daar kunnen we slechts over speculeren. Direct na het veilig neerkomen van Harry Forbes de navigator van Van Amsterdam, werd Forbes vrijwel meteen door de Duitsers gevangengenomen en zij deelde hem mede dat zijn kist de MM 131 verderop (?) lag. Forbes vroeg ( ? ) of de Duitsers ook zijn piloot gevangen hadden genomen, maar daar werd geen antwoord op gegeven.

- Een vreemde zaak niet dat Forbes aan de Duitsers inlichtingen vroeg over het wel en wee van zijn vlieger ?! Dat deed je toch niet om veiligheids en inlichtingen redenen?! Maar misschien dat Forbes zich daarin vergist had toen hij mij schreef wat er precies gebeurd was die avond. Ook van mevrouw Van Amsterdam heb ik begrepen dat Forbes haar dezelfde inlichtingen had gegeven toen Forbes kort na zijn bevrijding in '45 terugkeerde naar zijn eenheid ( 139 Sqn ) en haar een bezoek bracht. Helaas kan ik het Forbes niet meer vragen daar hij een aantal jaren geleden is overleden. Ook kort na ontvangst van zijn brief heb ik gereageerd met een nieuwe brief met daarin vragen voor aanvulende info. Maar helaas, daar heeft Forbes nooit meer op gereageerd!-

Source: Rob Venema, 27/4/2007

24/8/2006

Meeting with Dr Adri van Vliet, director of the NIMH, and Drs Erwin van Loo. It is discussed that I shall produce a request to RAF AHB, for details from the Casualty Files about the loss of F/Lt. Van Amsterdam, request to come from the NIMH. I assume that F/Lt. Van Amsterdam may be buried as an unknown RAF airmen in the Brandenburg area. He is one of those who remained missing-in-action over land, so this case may not be entirely hopeless. The circumventive line of communications is chosen for two reasons:

A. The benevolence of RAF AHB to search an archive that remains classified to the year 2040 should not be stretched by a civilian. The NIMH people are collegues of the RAF AHB people. That could make a difference.

B. I would like to see established such a line of communications with RAF AHB, as I want all data on all Dutch RAF/FAA aviators that are still listed as MIA. That data is not available in archives in The Netherlands, or at least such data has not yet been found. A request of this proportion is one that I cannot make.

This worked, for the few Dutch RAF aviators that were put in the request. The NIMH even received copies of a few documents from the Casualty Files, under the condition that these were not to be copied to others. However, RAF AHB had to report that Van Amsterdam's file is missing from their records.

Source: AHB5(RAF) to NIMH, letter dd. 31/10/2006

Any more data about his loss shall have to be searched in Germany.

Four 30mm cannon made for a formidable armament in the Messerschmitt Me262, the first operational jet fighter. It outpaced the fastest Allied fighters by about 150 km/h. This aircraft of 9./JG7 was flown to Switzerland at the end of the War, leading to its survival in the Deutsches museum, München. Several others were shipped to England and the United States, to learn about the German jet technology. Deutsches Museum 070325 Me262-1


ID disks of F/Lt. Van Amsterdam. He obviously was not wearing these on the final mission.Source: @St.M.Vl.P. 1939-50


Allied aviators downed in the East of the Reich were to hold out this leaflet to Russian troops, to prevent being shot on sight. POW notice Russian - Source: @St.M.Vl.P. 1939-50

2. Crash area data


Map 119. Area North of Brandenburg, Germany, where Mosquito MM131 crashed

Both aviators came out of the aircraft by parachute. H.A. Forbes was OK, but A.A.J. van Amsterdam remained missing-in-action. The crash site has not been pinpointed.


Google Earth view of Brandenburg & Northern area.

Part of the vast and shallow Beetzsee, near Bachow, about 20 km NE of Brandenburg. Van Amsterdam may have descended into these waters, and perished there. Berlin Bachow 070424-3

3. Where is the body of F/Lt. Van Amsterdam?

All field burials or burials in local cemeteries, that were found of Allied personnel, in a wide area around Berlin, and that includes the Brandenburg area, were concentrated in this Berlin Charlottenburg cemetery, Heerstrasse, Berlin. About 80% of the 3.594 Commonwealth burials here are airmen. 397 of the burials are unidentified.

Source: CWGC

The CWGC total excludes five Polish aviators buried here too. According to the CWGC 343 of the 397 unknowns were recognized as airmen, but we counted 349. Of these, only 138 could be buried with a date on the headstone. None of the 349 burials have rank information on the headstone.

We believe that F/Lt. Van Amsterdam may be buried in one of the Berlin graves mentioned below.

Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery:

1. Unknown RAF, 4/4/1945, grave 6/F/28

2. Unknown RAF, 4/4/1945, grave 6/F/29

3. Unknown RAF, 5/4/1945, grave 6/Z/27

4. Unknown RAF, 9/4/1945, grave 6/G/8

5. Unknown RAF, 14/4/1945, grave 9/C/11

6. Unknown RAF, March 1945, grave 9/F/26

There are no graves of unknowns in Berlin Charlottenburg, with dates later than 14/4/1945.

For the graves mentioned above, the NIMH has requested the burial data, as far as it is present in the CWGC archive. We are looking for information about where and when the bodies were found, and any other details that might be on record.

Berlin 070425-3

Map 120. Plan of Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery

Source: CWGC.

The cemetery is marked by a sign on the Heerstrasse in Berlin Charlottenburg, but otherwise invisible from the Heerstrasse. The blue dots mark the positions of the six graves we identified as possible candidates for a grave of F/Lt. Van Amsterdam; four in plot 6, two in plot 9.

Berlin 070425 unkn RAF 4-4-1945 6F28 Berlin 070425 unkn RAF 4-4-1945 6F29


Berlin 070425 unkn RAF 5-4-1945 6Z27 Berlin 070425 unkn RAF 9-4-1945 6G8


Berlin 070425 unkn RAF 14-4-1945 9C11 Berlin 070425 unkn RAF March 1945 9F26

Below is a survey of data received from the CWGC, with the incomplete British Wartime coordinates deciphered. The places where the bodies were found are plotted in a map below the survey. Unfortunately, this data does not allow us to point to a clear candidate for a grave of F/Lt. Van Amsterdam. Two candidate graves remain, about which the CWGC could not offer any information. And then there are 211 burials here, of unknown airmen, with no date on the headstone. For all we know, any of these could be a candidate too. We need access to GRU/GCU-MR&ES data of all these graves. Author feels that our modern computer database technology would yield at least a few matches that were very difficult to find in the pre-digital age.


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