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Sorting Matters After The War

Introduction, Care for the families, Fundamental rights of families, Care for the casualties, Allied War grave processing, Grave Registration Units, The Missing Research & Enquiry Service, The MR&ES and Eastern Germany, About ID Disks or 'Dog Tags', Concentrating graves, Reconcentrating graves, Design of constructed CWGC cemeteries, Administration of War graves, About grave position indicators, Maintenance of War cemeteries, Short history of the Dienst Identificatie en Berging, Reburials and the Oorlogsgravenstichting, Dutch official guideline for salvage of aircraft wrecks, Searching today for the men missing-in-action, The Dutch and the British way, The American way – until they are home, Private ways: Respectable efforts, Private ways: Rejectable efforts, Unauthorized identifications, New official initiatives in The Netherlands, Reconciliation, Recognition, Memorials, CWGC and OGS, USA, France, Germany, Private initiatives, Museum representation, Recognition for casualties flows into care for posterity

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1. Introduction

When World War 2 was over, there were a lot of jobs that needed to be done. Obviously many people became involved in rebuilding their very seriously damaged countries and societies. Some people were ordered, or took it upon themselves, to finalize matters left open after the armistice. Dutchmen had fallen, and were buried, in many countries. One of the jobs was to find their graves, to identify the contents of these graves, and to rebury the remains decently, either in Holland or elsewhere. All three of these subjobs understood with the moderator 'as far as possible'. Author mentions the work of the Dienst Berging en Identificatie, and the Gravendienst, later the Oorlogsgravendienst, later the Oorlogsgraven-stichting, in chapters below.

Another job was to assist families who had lost their keeper. This started as early as 1940, from a remarkable private initiative. Author did not research this subject in depth, but wishes to mention at least this very early initiative. Probing deeper would undoubtably reveal that the Dutch Government did take action, following from its responsibilty to take that action, and also that things could have been done better than they were. What else is new.

Sorting matters was not only a community action. Individual aviators who had survived, and who were psychologically traumatized, had to sort matters for themselves too. They had to reconcile their Wartime experiences. Author gives a brief chapter on this subject. The notion that some to many servicemen, most certainly not limited to aviators, were in need of psychological care, was unknown in the post-War years. Such insight developed only decades later, meaning far too late for some. Being very specific and naming names would be improper, but author feels that these men, as a group, should be mentioned. Their effort to help win the War was no less than that of the others, and the price they paid has to be seen as higher than the price paid by many of the other survivors.

Then there was the matter of the memory of the servicemen lost. After finding and identifying their remains, and after proper burial, their sacrifices had to be remembered via Memorials. Quite the same for the servicemen who were and remained missing-in-action. Recognition for their sacrifices was expressed via posthumous decorations, via Memorials, and via musea and literature. These various modes are depicted and evaluated in chapters below.

Have matters, with all this, been finally sorted? To a fair degree. There are things left to do. Authors views on this are expressed in the chapters on Research topics, and on finding WW2 aircraft wreck at sea.

US forces blew up the swastika on top of the Zeppelintribune, Nürnberg, 22/4/1945

Source: Nürnberg Dokumentations-Zentrum

2. Care for the families

Care for the families of Dutch WW2 aviators started as early as 1940, from the private initiative of 'Boy' Ruys de Perez.

Vloog op 10 mei 1940 de Fokker D-XXI Nr. 222. De mitrailleurs weigerden, maar Ruijs de Perez, net hersteld van angina, besloot in een lucht vol vijanden te blijven. Met schijnaanvallen probeerde hij de kollega's te helpen. Kreeg een schot door de arm. Moest daarom noodlanden, op een weiland bij Monster. Het toestel werd op de grond stukgeschoten door Duitse jagers. Voor zijn verrichtingen op 10 mei 1940 werd hem op 6 mei 1946 posthuum het Vliegerkruis verleend.

Ruijs de Perez was zeer welgesteld. Hij hielp 1e Ja.V.A. vliegmakker Guus Kiel na mei 1940 met het huren en inrichten van café 'De Vliegende Hollander', ofwel 'De Vlieg', in Amsterdam. Dit werd een ontmoetingsplaats voor loslopende piloten. Het café werd gesloten kort na de ontsnappingen per vliegtuig in mei 1941. Na de bevrijding ging het weer open.

Bron: Guus Kiel, gesprek dd. 6/11/2003

Ruijs de Perez richtte een fonds op, al in 1940, met als doel de ondersteuning van families van Engelandvaarders. De families bleven immers in bezet gebied achter, in een leven dat door een ontvluchting van de kostwinner allerminst gemakkelijker werd gemaakt.

De Engelandvaarders werden veroordeeld tot zware gevangenisstraffen; Ruijs de Perez kreeg 10 jaar opgelegd. Door een kennelijk hoger, en mogelijk het hoogste, bevel uit Berlijn werd Ruijs de Perez' vonnis gewijzigd in de doodstraf. De rechterlijke macht was in het Derde Rijk dus niet onafhankelijk. Die doodstraf werd, tegen de verwachting van sommigen in, werkelijk voltrokken, in de Kennemer Duinen bij Bloemendaal, op 15 augustus 1942.

Bron: Peter Gerritse, 'De Mei-vliegers', Baarn, 1995, p. 130 ev., waarin deze geschiedenis uitvoerig wordt verteld. Gerritse's bronnen zijn Guus Kiel, Jan Linzel en Carel Steensma

It should be noted that hardly any care or help whatsoever was available from the Dutch Government for the many that had lost loved ones as a result of combat. Everybody had to help him- or herself. On the other hand, the Dutch Government was quick to save assets of Dutch East Indies banks from falling into the hands of the Japanese occupiers. As far as this author is aware, none of these funds were returned to the rightful owners, the bank account holders. Some, and perhaps many, lost fortunes by this salvaging action. All funds evaporated 'into the War effort'. There is no evidence that this matter was settled, or even discussed, in any way after the War.

Fundamental rights of families

Families of casualties of War, whether dead or missing, have rights. These were formulated in the brochure 'Operational best practices regarding the management of human remains and information on the dead by non-specialists', International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva, 11/2004, written for all armed forces and humanitarian organizations. From Chapter 2, General considerations:

A. The families of missing persons must be recognized as victims.

B. Their right to information, accountability and acknowledgement must be upheld. Their most fundamental need is nevertheless for information on the fate of their relatives.

All family members have the right to know the fate of relatives missing because of armed conflict in internal violence, including their whereabouts or, if dead, the circumstances and cause of their deaths.

3. Care for the casualties

1. Allied War grave processing

The War brought the enourmous task of dealing with the bodies of millions of casualties. This task can be systemized as follows. A few lines only, that try to summarize a huge effort that seems to have received little attention in literature.

1. Finding graves and identification of casualties

1. Grave Registration Units

War casualties were, more often than not, buried where they fell, in so-called field graves. This applies to casualties suffered in enemy territory. There are hardly any unknowns buried in the United Kingdom.

The Allies employed Grave Registration Units, GRU's, that went out into the fields to locate and register these graves, and to identify casualties, if at all possible on the field level. Much of this horrible work was done by the Army Field Chaplains. Their information about where to look had to be obtained from statements of servicemen, and from locals, that were received on a haphazard basis. Bodies that were found, sometimes several years after the death of the serviceman, would be wrapped and tied in a blanket; coffins were hardly ever seen. The task description of the Chaplains and the GRU's was quite detailed. It included lifting finger prints from the body, if at all possible. But such detail is often missing from the Chaplains notes, if the work load was huge. Identification was quite difficult, if bodies were deformed or had decayed, and if an identifying tag or document was not found, or not readable.

Evacuation of a field grave in France. Source: Cpl. Eric Gunton, in William Jordan, "The Bayeux British Cemetery 1944-1945", Norwich, 2006, page 17. Bayeux 1944-3.jpg

2. The Missing Research & Enquiry Service

A more thorough approach was followed by the British Missing Research & Enquiry Service (MR&ES), and its American counterpart, whose members went out into the field to interview possible eyewitnesses of field burials. A main source of information were the German 'Totenliste'. The Germans usually, but definitely not always as War progressed to its end, administrated who was buried where under their control. Obviously the means for the Germans or the local Police to identify corpses were limited to the data present on the corpse. The flimsy RAF Form 1250 identification card and the poor physical properties of the RAF Identification Disks saw to it that a lot of confusion arose regarding British servicemen. The American stainless steel 'dog tags' led to much less confusion here. Unfortunately, the data in the 'Totenliste' did not connect casualties to individual aircraft.

The work regarding the airmen was the responsibility of the Air Ministry Casualty Branch, that established the Missing Research & Enquiry Service in 1944 in the liberated areas of France. Search officers were send out to locations in France, where Allied aircraft were believed to have crashed. Using the Casualty Enquiry Form, they gathered whatever they could, using German documents as well as interviews with locals at crash sites. This could also yield personal effects of aviators, secured by locals, that helped the process of identification.

However, the number of crashes was very large indeed. It was realized that a more systematic approach was needed. This led to the attraction and training of additional staff, that was send out to all villages, all areas, of Europe as it became liberated. In and after April 1945, Sections were set up in Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Italy and Germany. In August 1945, volunteers were recruited in POW camps in England, so as to deal with the vast amount of work that had to be done in Germany. These volunteers had the advantage of being native German speakers, greatly enabling the process of interviewing eyewitnesses in Germany.

The MR&ES was active until the early fifties. After that, cases of missing servicemen were closed as unsolvable.

The process of identification could be spread out over years. See the 'Manderfeld file' above. When more time was taken, more elaborate means of identification could be used: searching the bones for old fractures that could be matched to the known medical history of the candidate identities for the unknown body. Or dental records, if these could be found at all. It seems that the USA was well ahead of many of the European nations in this respect. Especially the US 'dog tag', that would remain in pristine condition after decades of burial, greatly helped the process of identification.

A Grave Concentration Unit exhumation report of a RAF airman's body found in a ditch in a Belgium wood. The body was transferred to Hotton British Cemetery. See the 'Manderfeld file', chapter 4.96, for details. Source: CAD-MvD 5.050.5220/109. Exhumation report.jpg

If the body of a serviceman could not be identified by name, it would be identified, if at all possible and usually via the uniform markings, by service and/or rank, and/or date of death or burial or body washup. Ranks would be mentioned, if known, on the headstone, but function within the aircraft, such as navigator or airgunner, would not be mentioned.

Remains of airmen that could not be identified individually, were, if possible, identified via the logical process of elimination. If one of the crew members, or the aircraft wreck, could be identified, or had been identified by the Germans, it followed that the other bodies, or human remains, found at the same site, belonged to the (other) crew members of that aircraft. They would be given a 'joint grave', meaning individual headstones spaced close together, without the guarantee that the remains of the individual are buried beneath the headstone carrying his name.

Alternatively, the airman that was positively identified received a separate grave, and the crew members a joint grave next to that. Or all received separate graves, even if positive identification of remains could not be done.

These various burial schemes did not come about in an arbitrary or careless way. They are based in the difficulties involved in the identification task, and the genuine desire to do what could be done in the service of the memory of the casualties.

Today, there are still several cases of unknown airmen, that apparently died on the same date, and that were found next to each other in field graves, now buried next to each other in a concentration cemetery. It seems that the process of elimination was unproductive at the time, possibly because the site of the field graves could not be connected to an aircraft crash. It seems that, with new knowledge based on new archive & field research, and better insight via electronic databases, the process of elimination can still yield results.

Dates on headstones of unknown servicemen are usually understood as dates of death. Pending a proper investigation of a large number of GRU & GCU reports, and considering that headstone additions such as 'buried & date', 'buried near this spot', 'known to be buried in this cemetery' are not seen in large quantities on the headstones of unknown airmen, author has to assume that a date on a headstone of an unknown can mean either the date of death, or the date of burial, or the date that the body was found, or an estimation of the period of death. Especially in coastal villages, dates on headstones of unknowns usually refer to the date that the body washed ashore, or was found at the shore. The same would be true for those that washed ashore in Germany, and were reburied in one of the concentration cemeteries in Germany.

The picture above shows headstones with various burial data, in increasing order of uncertainty:

1. Unknown airman, date given is date of burial Reichswald 070320 unkn Airman buried 19-12-1944 4D8

2. F/O. N.P.W. Pedersen, 'known to be buried in this cemetery' Reichswald 00320 Pedersen NWP known to be buried here 10G8

4. P/O. W.G. McCracken, 'believed to be buried in this cemetery' Reichswald 070320 McCracken WG believed to be buried here 10G1

5. Sgt. H.R. Porter, 'buried near this spot' Reichswald 060321 Memorial

3. 'Believed to be' Sgt. F. Burns Bayeux 060910 believed to be

6. 'To the memory of' F/Sgt. R. Allen Reichswald 070320 Allen R to the memory of 10G9

Cases of servicemen lost in the seas were not investigated. Bodies that washed ashore were obviously identified, if at all possible, and buried in the cemeteries of coastal villages. Meaning that many of these casualties were identified, if at all, by the Germans or by the local Police. After the Liberation these graves were registered by the GRU's, heavily relying upon German or Police data. In many cases these graves remained in situ, and they are still there. Others were reburied in concentration cemeteries, especially so in Germany. The rationale for such reburials is, except in Germany, not always clear. Some Polish airmen that washed ashore at Ameland, NL, were buried there, and later relocated to the Canadian War Cemetery Jonkerbos, Nijmegen, NL. In the process, the identity of one of these men, Walenty Sieczka, became lost. He is now buried as a Polish unknown airman.

Source: Jos van Alphen 25/09/2006

3. The MR&ES and Eastern Germany

Arthur 'Digger' Arculus from Manukau, New Zealand, is a British ex RAF signals officer. He is engaged with research into a case comparable to the F/Lt. André van Amsterdam case. In the very early morning of April 4th, 1945, W/O. Alfred Bruce Clarke RNZAF and his navigator Sgt. A.C. Beaton were shot down in their Mosquito B.XVI Nr. RV305 near Lockstedt, Germany, ENE of Wolfsburg, 8 km ESE of Oebisfelde. Sgt. Beaton was initially buried in the churchyard of the Evangelische Kirche in Lockstedt. The other aviator is missing and has no known grave. It was seen than an airman was transported away. The trail ended there. In contact with author, the time and the place were studied, in an effort to understand the circumstances better. Matters did not look too good at all. For the following main reasons:

1. In the chaos of the final war days around Berlin in 1945, military conventions about honourable treatment of prisoners of war and of their bodies could no longer be expected to have been observed by German troops. These troops, there and then, were quite often ill trained Hitlerjugend or elderly civilians enlisted in the Volkssturm. High anxiety and adrenalin in the face of the advance of the Russian artillery may already explain less than perfect military behaviour of such troops. The Germans had usually administrated War matters meticulously; now the time had come for them to burn the paperwork rather than to carry it on retreat or on movements to the front. Moving prisoners around was not a troop priority either. Troops could relieve themselves of such burdons by shooting the prisoner, leaving the body where it fell.

2. On top of that, the civilian population was suffering heavily from the Allied air raids against the Berlin area, as well as from Sovjet artillery bombardment, that was everywhere. Downed aviators could hardly expect a warm welcome from these civilian war casualties.

3. Both F/Lt. Van Amsterdam and W/O. Clarke fell in what would soon be called Eastern Germany. The aera came under the Soviet sphere of influence. Below is a letter from the Secretary of the IWGC, in which serious concern is expressed with the lack of cooperation experienced from the Russians.

The Secretary,

Imperial War Graves Commission.,

Wooburn House,

Wooburn Green,

High Wycombe,


Mosquito R.V. 305

NZ.411565 Warrant Officer Clarke A.B.


Death Presumed 5th April, 1945.

The above aircraft failed to return from operations against Magdaburg on the night of the 4th/5th April, 1945.

German documents reveal that the aircraft crashed near Luckstadt, in the Province Magdaburg.

There seems little hope of permission being granted by the Soviet Authorities to Search Officers of the Missing Research Organisation to conduct further investigations in this area for the purpose of locating the grave of this airman, and his name will be recorded on the Memorial to the Missing in accordance with the decision contained in your letter dated 26th August, 1949, (ref. A/32).


Fact is that Sgt. A.C. Beaton was initially buried in Lockstedt, which became located in Eastern Germany, and was reburied in Berlin Charlottenburg War Cemetery, in the Allied zone of Berlin. This means that the Grave Units in fact had been given access to Lockstedt in East Germany. Furthermore, from the MR&ES reports about a few graves in Berlin, mentioned in the Van Amsterdam Chapter, it is evident that these graves all came from locations in Eastern Germany. We conclude, at least for the moment, that the Grave Units in fact were given access to sites where casualties known to be Allied were buried in Eastern Germany. And if sufficiently true, then we do not have to go out there to see if there could still be burials in Eastern Germany, that could be of Allied service casualties, and that may have escaped the notice of the Grave Services. We did that anyway, and took an admittantly small sample of a dozen cemeteries in rural villages in the former DDR. No graves were seen anywhere, that could possibly be Allied War graves.

Lockstedt Evangelische Kirche and churchyard, where Sgt. A.C. Beaton was initially buried. There are no graves here today, that could possibly be Allied War graves. In fact, there are no graves at all from the pre-1945 period, as if that part of the local history has been erased. Lockstedt 080628-8

However. As so often in this study, deeper probing revealed more complicated realities. Many Allied casualties were concentrated in the Heeresstandortfriedhof Dallgow-Döberitz (Army Camp Cemetery), relocated from the initial field graves at or near crash sites all over Eastern Germany. At least this was done in earlier stages of the War. This Army camp had grounds, the Döberitzer Heide, that made it suitable for tank exercizes, a quality recognized by the Sovjets too. It is said that these Sovjet activities destroyed a number of Allied graves, before the Allies were allowed to concentrate the graves to Berlin Charlottenburg 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Furthermore, it is said that grave robbing has taken place, which does not help the identification process one bit.

Source: Gemeinde Dallgow-Döberitz, 22-07-2008

The Heeresstandortfriedhof Dallgow-Döberitz was completely abandoned in 1948, by which time all graves found had been relocated.

Fact is that there are 350 Allied airmen buried in Berlin as unknowns, the highest number by far anywhere. Fact is also that only 40% of these were buried with a date on the headstone, a percentage that is only lower in Sage, 32%, when considering all Allied War cemeteries in Germany. Furthermore, not a single one of the 350 was recognized by rank, if we follow the headstone texts. A clear indication of the difficulties encountered by the MR&ES in this area.

In the final months of the War, the Germans were moving a lot of people. Troops of course, going to the front, or trying to escape from encirclement. Civilians, seeking safety in area's they perceived as safer, meaning to the West of Berlin, away from the advancing Sovjet forces, and/or to the North, to the promise of an escape via the Baltic Sea. Then there were massive movements of concentration camp prisoners. One reason for this was that the SS sought to eradicate traces of the atrocities that had taken place in camps that would soon be overrun by the Allies. Another was to preserve the slave labour capacities of sufficiently fit prisoners in camps in safer areas. POW's were moved around to areas that were considered safer too. Meaning from the East to the West, away from the advancing Sovjets. A lot of these movements had to be done on foot, and quite often under severe winter conditions. Many perished during such "rescue operations", as a result of the cold, malnutrition, disease, exhaustion, bombardment. Those unable to walk any further were left to die in the cold, or were shot. There are many testimonies in literature about these 'death marches'. Testimonies include the shooting by the guards of those who were unable to continue.

Map 130. Map showing locations of Stalags Luft, and main movements of Allied Airmen taken POW.

This map offers only an impression of the movements of people in the first months of 1945, as it is limited to the movements of Allied Airmen that had been taken POW. Even within that limited scope, the map is unlikely to be complete. Journeys took from one to three months. A lot of the way had to be covered on foot, as the railway system was in jeopardy, and totally overloaded for as far as it still functioned. The number of lives of Allied Airmen lost during these 'death marches' is unknown, but it would be realistic to assume a number of several hundred. These were the more organized marches. POW's in Heydekrug were moved already in July 1944; the other transports took place from January to April 1945. Most of the Airmen from the camps in Sagan, Bankau and Lamsdorf were send to Luckenwalde, 60 km South of Berlin centre. The prisoners arrived on various dates in February 1945. A few weeks after that, the area would be encircled by Sovjet troops. 30 km East of Luckenwalde the Halbe Waldfriedhof would be instituted shortly after the War, see below.

Some of the Allied airmen were held in other camps. A few of the Dutch RAF POW's were held in Stanislau, which is located today in Russia.

One such transport, of at least 2.000 prisoners, was send by rail to Gardelegen. The railway line was cut by Allied aerial bombardment at Nieste. The final 10 km by rail became a 100 km detour on foot via a Northeasterly route. Nieste is about 18 km ENE of W/O. Clarke's crash site. The time frame seems to match. The hypothesis is that W/O. Clarke may have become attached, as a matter of convenience to his captors, to this transport of prisoners that happened there and then. Many tried to escape, and were shot. The remaining group was imprisoned in the shed of the "Isenschnibbe" farm near Gardelegen. On April 13th, 1945, the farm was set on fire, and those who tried to come out were shot. The work was finished with hand grenades thrown and anti tank rockets fired into the farm. This to direct orders of Heinrich Himmler, as the prisoners had worked on V-weapons, and were therefore considered to know German military secrets.

Karel Margry wrote a very detailed account of events leading to the Gardelegen massacre. In this it becomes clear that the killing was being done in numerous places, before this culminated in the "Isenschnibbe" shed. It also becomes clear that this killing was done, not on all, but on many levels of the Germans involved. He does not confirm that this was done to orders from Himmler. It rather seems that the disposal of prisoners by killing them had become the regular behaviour there and then.

Source: Karel Margry, 'De massamoord bij Gardelegen', Magazine '40-'46 Toen & Nu, Nr. 111, Arnhem, undated, with thanks to Henk Welting

The Americans would capture Gardelegen only days later, to find 1.016 partly burned bodies in the farm. This massacre led the American commanding officer to order that all would be buried in individual graves. In later years, a monument was erected at the site, next to the cemetery, that holds the graves of very many unknowns.

Eastern facade of the barn of the Isenschnibbe farm near Gardelegen, three days after the massacre. Gardelegen Isenschnibbe barn 16-04-1945-1. Source: US Army. Gardelegen Isenschnibbe barn 16-04-1945-1.jpg

Gardelegen Isenschnibbe barn 16-04-1945-2. Source: US Army. Gardelegen Isenschnibbe barn 16-04-1945-2.jpg

The Americans ordered that the Gardelegen victims would be buried individually. The local population was charged with this, and had to appear in their best suits. Each family was ordered to care for one grave perpetually. If the family died out, the City of Gardelegen was to appoint another family in the care of that grave. Gardelegen cemetery 22-04-1945. Source: US Army

Gardelegen War cemetery, located next to the memorial, that was build on top of the remains of the Isenschnibbe farm where the massacre took place. Most of the casualties could not be identified. Two unknown Dutchmen are believed to be buried here too, amongst the only 186 of the 1.016 who could be identified as to their country of origin. Gardelegen 080628-28

Map 131. Location of the Gardelegen massacre

711 of the 1.016 Gardelegen victims are unknown. Bodies were mostly burned, meaning that identification as say a RNZAF airman, would have been difficult to impossible. Remember that the fibre RAF/RNZAF ID disks could not survive fire. This strenghtens the hypothesis that W/O. A.B. Clarke may be buried here. This would be another place to look for his grave, next to Berlin Charlottenburg, if W/O. Clarke received a grave at all. And the list of places is unlikely to be complete with only these two locations.

There is more. Graves of thousands who perished during such transports, are unaccounted for. Bodies were left where they fell. A number of these bodies may have been assembled by the Germans, and incinerated. The local population, if not departed or deported, must have been totally overloaded by the number of casualties. Care for the remains would be restricted to unidentified burial in mass graves. Some of the casualties may have obtained field graves at best. These graves would have been found in later years, even if unmarked, as the DDR was, and still is, mostly agricultural. The farmers doing their thing would have found at least a number of these graves. Did the DDR people, when finding WW2 field graves, simply ignored or even destroyed these, or has there been a more centralized and systematic effort to do the decent thing? We asked the CWGC about this. Mr. Roy Hemington, CWGC archive supervisor, declared that no systematic effort was undertaken by the Ministry of Defence after 1991, when the area became accessible again, to locate possible graves of Allied servicemen that may be buried in the soil of the former DDR, outside Berlin Charlottenburg. However, the MoD has reacted to cases brought to their attention.

Source: Roy Hemington, CWGC, email dd. 15-07-2008.

Prior to 1991, the DDR government was not helpful either. The subject of War graves was taboo, based on the assumption that most of these graves would belong to German soldiers, the former enemy for the Sovjets, who were in effect calling the shots in Eastern Germany. War graves were removed from the villages, and relocated to several dozen concentration cemeteries. These come in three main categories:

1. Cemeteries for German soldiers and other German victims, such as the Waldfriedhof Halbe.

2. Cemeteries that were instituted as a result of a mass grave found locally, such as the Gardelegen cemetery.

3. Cemeteries for Russian soldiers.

Prisoners of War, forced labourers, and in fact any-one who became entangled in the moving masses of people, and who perished in the process, may have become buried as unknowns in cemeteries of the first two categories. This would include Allied aviators taken POW, who were being moved to somewhere.

Care for German War graves outside of Germany is in the hands of the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e.V. (VDK), an organisation quite comparable to OGS and the CWGC. The Volksbund was denied access to the former DDR. Care for the War graves was in fact given by the evangelische Kirche in the DDR, against official opposition. Over 20.000 people were killed in the Halbe area, about 60 km Southeast of Berlin centre, at the end of April 1945, where 150.000 to 200.000 Wehrmacht soldiers of the 9th Army became encircled by the Sovjets. The Germans refused to surrender. 'Der Kampf verlief schonungslos', nobody was spared. As the area was swamped with fugitives, very many of these must have perished too.

Civilians trying to escape from the battelfield, near Halbe, end of April 1945 Halbe April 1945-1. Source: VDK

After the War the field graves, that were literally everywhere in the area, were concentrated in a cemetery instituted in 1951 for this purpose, the Waldfriedhof Halbe. Many War graves from elsewhere in the DDR were relocated to Halbe too, as ordered by the Party.

Halbe 081009-14

About 65% of the 22.000+ graves in Halbe are of unidentified casualties. It was Reverend Ernst Teichmann, who took it upon himself to care for the graves in Halbe. Furthermore, coming from the front himself, he was aware of the vast number of men that were missing, and of the agony this caused the families. Even late in the fifties, when trains brought back German POW's who were released from Russia, the railway stations were visited by many who carried portraits of their missing loved ones. Ernst Teichmann did what he could to mark and register the War graves in the Halbe area, but surely his effort could not possibly span the enormous volume he had to deal with. Professional help, from the VDK and the MR&ES, was not allowed. Consequently, many of the unknown remained unknown and, equally important, many of the families could not be given the message that would bring closure. His engagement and achievements are remarkable, especially when considering that most others saw only the reconstruction of their own lives and of society as the job at hand. He died in 1983 at the age of 77, and was buried in Halbe Municipal Cemetery, directly next to the Waldfriedhof.

Rev Ernst Teichmann Source: Rainer Potratz

In 1989 mass graves were found in Oranienburg, directly North of Berlin, containing an estimated 24.000 casualties. Many of these died in a Sovjet concentration camp, that was operative here from 1945 to 1950. It is estimated that the graves of 15.000 to 30.000 casualties are yet to be found in this area.


In 2006 the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge celebrated the 15th anniversary of their activities in the former DDR, especially the Brandenburg area. Although the VDK operates outside of Germany, the new Bundesländer, counties in the East of the unified Germany, are considered as an area where the VDK is to be active. When the VDK was finally allowed in 1991 to become fully operative in this area, it was estimated that very many of the casualties had not yet received a decent burial, rather than the mass graves in which they lay, and that the graves of many thousands were yet to be found. The VDK is giving matters a major effort. The number of VDK people engaged in the DDR area was 350 in 1991, growing to almost 3.600 in 2006. Over 40 new War cemeteries were founded, in for example Werben, Spremberg, Wittstock, Müncheberg, Ketzin, Finsterwalde and Cottbus. Since 1991, the previously unregistered graves of more than 2.000 War casualties were found in the Brandenburg area, of which more than 200 could be identified. These field graves were relocated to Halbe, Lietzen and Spremberg, and to Lebus if the casualty could be identified as Russian.

Source: 15 Jahre Landesverband Brandenburg des Volksbundes Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e.V., press release, 20-08-2006.

The VDK has recorded so far the graves of over 176.000 Wehrmacht casualties in the former DDR.

Source: VDK, Frank Salomon, 23-08-2008

On top of that come the Sovjet, civilian and POW casualties, and the thousands of graves that have not yet been found. The VDK has an online database, similar to the databases of OGS and CWGC. In the coming years the data of about 800.000 WW2 casualties, dead or missing, is to be added to this database, from the archives of the Red Cross and the Deutschen Dienststelle, formerly called the Wehrmachtsauskunftstelle (WASt). The Deutsche Diensstelle currently still holds about 1.5 million records about POW's captured by the Germans. Most were surrendered to the Allies shortly after the War, but this sizeable POW archive remains.

Langemark 080801-10

Map 132. Some of the places in the former DDR, where some Allied aviators may be buried as unknowns.

Map 133. Map showing the Halbe salient, end of April 1945

150.000 to 200.000 German troops were encircled by the Sovjets in this area. As the perimeter shrunk, the death toll rose. Civilian fugitive streams and POW displacements were entrapped in this pocket too. This map hardly tells the story of the final weeks of the War in the Berlin area. It merely gives an idea of what went on in the area at that time. Halbe Kessel 2

Potsdam Neuer Friedhof on the Heinrich Mann Allee. The War graves section holds 1.886 graves of casualties from many nations, most of whom remain unidentified. Potsdam 081009-8


In the former DDR there was no basis for the caring of War graves that would comply with the humanitarian rights of people:

1. With War coming to a violent end, the German Army no longer saw to the job of doing the honourable thing for casualties, including enemy casualties.

2. The number of casualties was such that this care for graves could not be expected from the civilians either.

3. Many groups of people were on the run, or otherwise being moved around, more often than not on foot, under conditions that would be fatal to many, leading to even less care for the dead. These groups spanned Wehrmacht troops, civilians, prisoners of War, forced labourers, and prisoners from concentration camps that the Germans wished to evacuate so as to remove evidence of crime. The amount of people moving around in chaos can be estimated as hundreds of thousands, if not millions.

4. These mass movements were constantly in danger of bombardment, either from Sovjet artillery, or from the Allied aerial effort.

5. At least one group of about 2.000 people was deliberately being moved to their place of execution, by order from the highest office.

6. As many German troops realized that their efforts were in vain, they became candidates for execution as a deserter, which happened on a massive scale. Consequenly, the value of life declined rapidly.

7. The Sovjets, who took control of most of the area, showed little respect for Allied War graves, and restricted MR&ES operations. This part of an MR&ES history is yet to be written. I estimate that, in the end, the Sovjets allowed the GCU's and the MR&ES to concentrate visible graves of servicemen identified as non-Russian Allied to Berlin Charlottenburg War Cemetery. The MR&ES was not allowed to freely investigate crash sites, where field graves of Allied servicemen may have been located. The MR&ES has been able to perform its job fully anywhere else in Europe, but not in the DDR, nor in Poland, which was equally under Sovjet control.

8. The DDR authorities followed the trend set by the Sovjets. War graves were removed from the villages, and concentrated to a number of War cemeteries. There was no official effort to identify the multitude of unknown casualties. This was done by private initiative, against all odds, by members of the evangelische Kirche, most notably Reverend Ernst Teichmann.

9. The frequent reburials started already during the War, when local cemeteries became faced with numbers of casualties beyond their capacity. With each reburial, especially when done under the stress of hostilities, chances of identification were lessened rather than increased.

10. When the Sovjets went home, in 1991, the Allies did not move in to complete a job that could not be finished earlier. This job is being undertaken, straight away from the time that it became possible in 1991, by the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge. From 1991 to 2006 the VDK has found the previously unknown graves of 2.000 casualties, and has identified 200 of these. The job that still faces the VDK must be overwhelming. The as yet unknown graves of Allied airmen in that area may be merely a footnote to this job.

However. There is one organisation that will respond if an aircraft crash site that could contain human remains is brought to their attention: the American JPAC organisation. In 2006 JPAC salvaged a USAAF Lightning wreck with its pilot 1st Lt. Shannon E. Estill near Elsnig in the former DDR, about 40 km Northeast of Leipzig. He was shot down by Flak on April 13th, 1945. Lt. Estill was identified using DNA technology. The site was found and reported by two private aviation archaeologists from Eastern Germany. So in JPAC there is an international partner with whom the VDK, as well as private individuals, can communicate with hope of action and positive results, if the casualty can reasonably be assumed to be American.

Source: JPAC press release 09-10-2006

The above illustrates that many things may have happened to F/Lt. Van Amsterdam, and indeed to any other Allied aviator taken POW, in the final War weeks in the Berlin area. Things that held very little promise of survival, not even of a visible grave.

4. About ID Disks or 'Dog Tags'

Servicemen were issued with a means of identification, that was supposed to work under battlefield conditions. This became known as the Identity Disk to the British, or 'Dog Tag' to the Americans. The disk would carry the name and the service number of the owner, and perhaps his religion, abbreviated to for instance CE for Church of England or RC for Roman Catholic. The disk could carry a service indicator, such as RAF. On a Polish disk issued in the UK, year and place of birth are added.

Where identification papers would perish under prevailing circumstances such as mud, water and fire, the disk was supposed to survive, and make possible an instant identification of a body found in the field.

Standard issue British ID disks, one round brown, one octagonal green, hand- punched with the name and service number of the owner, and a religion and/or service unit indicator. Source: collection Airborne Museum, Oosterbeek, NL. Hartenstein 080418 ID Disk 1

Author has been unable to find any literature on the subject. This subject may seem self-evident, but there is a problem. Author believes that the British ID disks were of such modest quality, that this led to far more servicemen buried as unknowns than would have been the case if disks were used that were suitable for the intended purpose.

British disks were made of Bakelite. This material, a mixture of phenol and formaldehyde, became available at the end of the first decade of the 20th Century. Patented in 1907 by Dr Leo Hendrik Baekeland, a chemist from Belgium who was working in New York, and who gave name to the material. The two basis materials could be formed, under heat and pressure, into durable objects of any shape that would come out of a steel die. This was the beginning of the development of what became known as polymers, or plastics in common language. Bakelite was the first artificial material. The development of polymers would shoot skyhigh, but only after World War 2.

Bakelite had desirable properties. It was restistant to moisture, heat and chemicals. It became widely used because of its electrical insulation properties. The material properties could be modified with the use of filler materials, such as wheat flour or cotton. Cotton fibres would make Bakelite less brittle. Colouring was easy via the addition of pigments to the mixture.

The British used this material for ID disks for servicemen already in World War 1. At the time, a novel and high-tech material. A man was issued with two disks, one round and brown, one octagonal and green. The octagonal disk had two holes, the round disk one, for suspension on a cord or rope. Letters and numbers would be punched in with hand held single digit punches. Folklore has it that one disk was resistant against water, the other against fire. We shall see below in how far this folklore can be upheld. In fact the twin-disk arrangement, used also by other armed forces, was to enable one disk, the red one, to be taken from a body for administration purposes, and the green one left with the body, if the body could not be instantly evacuated to a concentration cemetery.

The British continued the use of these disks, in apparently the same material, until at least 1989, according to a RAF servicemen who wore them. So these disks were issued to RAF personnel as well, but we do not know if that has been the practice at all times and for all units. The disk material became known as 'fibre', 'compressed fibre' or 'composite'. Fibres can hardly form a solid disk without the presence of a binding agent. We are in fact talking about Bakelite, as other plastics were not yet available, in the composite shape of filled with fibres, to make it less brittle.

Next to the advantage of resistance against chemicals, in the practice of War meaning sweat and seawater, the disks could be moulded and mass produced with rounded edges. Mass production of stainless steel disks requires additional attention to do away with the sharp edges produced by the cutting of disks from steel plate.

RNZAF ID disks Source: Simon Strombom, NZ

The disks were used by the Commonwealth nations, although the Australians would also produce variants, using aluminium and even leather. The Czech and the Polish RAF aviators were issued with the British Bakelite disks.

Sources: Pavel, Prague & Jos van Alphen, NL

The Dutch RAF aviators were also given these disks. Some of the Dutch RAF aviators may in fact have worn the metal plates that dated back to their ML-KNIL days, or the metal plates received in the USA during training at the Royal Netherlands Military Flying School.

Source: Rob Venema

Some servicemen produced their own twin disks, or single bracelets. Self-engraved coins were used. More elaborate designs were made from silver-plated brass or the like. Copper and brass were not used, or at least not issued officially, as these materials do not respond well to human sweat, and the human skin does not respond well to the corrosion of these materials.

Rob Venema, 21/4/2008:

'Eigen aanmaak' hield in dat de luchtvarenden zelf een ID uitvoering lieten maken naast de ID discs uitgereikt door de RAF. In de vorm van een halsobject of een polsbandje. De materialen varieerden van zilver tot metaal. I

Andre van Amsterdam nam bijvoorbeeld nooit zijn ID plaatjes mee ivm vergeldingsmaatregelen op famlieleden in bezet NL wanneer hij in krijgsgevangenschap zou geraken ( bron: gesprek met de weduwe Van Amsterdam ) de Oost lieten ze op eigen kosten ID 'plaatjes' maken van goud! Jawel, er werd veel gevlogen, de uren werden zeer goed betaald en van het uitgeven van geld kwam niet zoveel terecht en lieten ze bij de 'Chinees' een juwelier/edelsmid van chinese afkomst een ID object maken ( bron: gesprekken met diverse oudf-321' ers ). Kan ik je laten zien.

Ook werd soms nog het vooroorlogse Luchtvaartafdelingplaatje gedragen zoals bijv. door Dirk de Koning ( Dirk zijn vooroorlogs luchtvaartafdeling KL ID plaatje samen de RAF ID discs kwam samen met andere persoonlijke bezittingen via een vriend na de oorlog terug bij de famile ( bron: gesprek zuster Dirkje de Koning ) en Lutsz.

A privately made ID bracelet. For S/Ldr. A.V. Gowers see the Chapter on the loss of Mitchell FR174 on 28/10/1943. S/Ldr. Gowers did not wear his ID bracelet on the day he went missing-in-action. Author has reasons to believe that S/Ldr. Gowers may be buried in a certain grave in Cherbourg. The CWGC and the MoD have been asked to investigate. This bracelet is a family possession. Source: Andy Turner, GB

Standard RAF issue ID disks with original rope, of Off Zwnr 2kl Jacques Erwteman, 320 Sqn. Source: @St.M.Vl.P. 1939-50

Unhappy with the standard issue disks, Off Zwnr J. Erwteman had this disk custom made for him. The material could be Alpaca, a copper/zinc/nickel alloy, also known as "Berlin silver", with nobler properties than aluminium or plated brass Source: @St.M.Vl.P. 1939-50

Most other nations used metals as disk material. Quite often aluminium, but usually stainless steel, or at least steel in a corrosion resistant alloy.

ID disk of D. Bootsman. Source: @St.M.Vl.P. 1939-50

Dutch ID disk of D.E. de Koning. Source: @St.M.Vl.P. 1939-50

RAF ID disks of D.E. de Koning. Source: @St.M.Vl.P. 1939-50

Custom made ID bracelet of H.C.W. Knip. Source: @St.M.Vl.P. 1939-50

RAF Form 1250 Identity Card of a Dutch RAF aviator. The paper would become unreadable after a few days in seawater. It certainly could not withstand fire. J.P. Oele was a 320 Squadron navigator. He had British Bakelite ID disks, but preferred to wear his metal ML-KNIL disk. Source: @St.M.Vl.P. 1939-50

We have been unable to find documentation about the prescribed physical properties of ID disks. We shall have to use common sense. Disks should be able to withstand almost anything short of the direct action of an explosive. This means resistance against chemicals, fire and violent impact. All would certainly apply to aviators, as they could perish in aircraft crashes. These crashes can usually be associated with sea water, which is a highly corrosive material. Or with fire, in crashes on land. In both cases violent impact forces would apply. Forces so strong that they could shatter even the smallest bones in the human skeleton.

The British ID disks had adequate resistance against chemicals. It is author's belief that they scored quite low on resistance against fire and violent impact. Certainly in comparison with stainless steel. Even Bakelite made tough with fibre fillers could easily shatter to bits during a crash. Certain filler materials could raise the resistance against heat, but the disk would deteriorate to unreadability, or burn to ashes, at temperatures above 200 degrees Celcius. Fires in burning aircraft exceed 1.000 degrees C.

Reduced readability in this set of British ID disks, that did not even suffer from fire or violent impact.

Source: collection Airborne Museum, Oosterbeek, NL. Hartenstein 080418 ID Disk 3

We conclude that the British ID disks were unsuitable for the identification of airmen. This shall not have been a consideration in 1914. But it should be one in 1940 or later. The air weapon had developed enormously, and the British had seen the results of aircraft crashes. Furthermore, they had the experience of World War 1, that produced hundreds of thousands of British casualties that could not be given a name. There are several factors in the explanation of that part of the results of WW1; the absence of a proper ID disk has to be one of these factors.

It has been suggested that using Bakelite was one way of economizing on the use of aluminium and stainless steel, which are vital materials for the production of War hardware. If true, then this does not explain the use of Bakelite-like disks by the British long after WW2.

American stainless steel dog tags can turn up at crash sites in pristine condition after sixty years in the ground. This leads to instant identification of a casualty. If the British had used stainless steel, then we would have had less RAF aviators buried as unknowns all over Europe.

2. Concentrating graves

The Allies employed Grave Concentration Units, GCU's, that transported the field graves marked by the GRU's, or graves they found themselves, to places where the War graves would be concentrated. The bodies would be transported with an 'Evacuation slip' that held the information found. The grave concentration places were the places where the first sort of systematic order regarding War graves was instituted. Some of these places grew to be the War cemeteries that exist today, others had a temporary nature. In the process of sorting matters, bodies could be reburied after the field burial up to four times, as established by this author. No claim on accuracy here, five or six reburials may also have happened.

Bayeux British War Cemetery, under construction in July 1944. Makeshift wooden crosses were used. The labour was in part done by French civilians. Source: Cpl. Eric Gunton, in William Jordan, "The Bayeux British Cemetery 1944-1945", Norwich, 2006, page 14-15

Bayeux British War Cemetery taking shape, August 1944. It became the largest Commonwealth WW2 cemetery in France, with 4.144 burials, and 504 War graves of other nations. 338 of the Commonwealth burials remained unidentified. Source: CWGC. Source photograph: Cpl. Eric Gunton, in William Jordan, "The Bayeux British Cemetery 1944-1945", Norwich, 2006, page 18-19. Bayeux 1944-2.jpg

Bayeux in 2006. Bayeux 060910-1

3. Reconcentrating graves

The general principle after the first grave concentration effort seems to have been, at least for the Dutch, the French and the Norwegians, to let the family of the casualty decide where the final burial should take place. Some families decided for burial in a local family grave, or at the cemetery where the casualty was born. It seems that the French were amongst the first to choose this option. At least one Dutch family took matters into their own hands; see the chapter on Joost Sluis. Other families decided, possibly for lack of finances to decide otherwise, to leave matters into the hands of the national grave processing institutions.

The second task was to sort casualties by nationality, and send the remains to concentration cemeteries in the care of the appropriate nation. This had been done as far as possible by the Grave Concentration Units directly after digging up field graves. But Dutch RAF casualties were temporarily buried in GB or US cemeteries, prior to reburial under Dutch care. Enemy casualties were also cared for by the Allies. These bodies were either concentrated in what would become German War cemeteries, but more than a few would be, and remained, buried in Allied War Cemeteries.

The Americans concentrated their War graves in large cemeteries, and eventually transported many of the human remains back to the USA.

The British concentrated War graves in large cemeteries, but very many of the casualties were left buried in the town cemeteries where they had fallen and were buried by local initiative. That added up to over 2.500 cemeteries in France alone, with burials of Commonwealth World War 2 casualties.

It has been argued that this was a result of locals wishing to care for War graves of their liberators, aviators or others who had died or who had washed ashore in the immediate area. This would be a partial truth only. The British were faced with an overwhelming number of casualties, produced especially in World War One. Early in the 1920's, and after quite some debate, the British had decided that the graves of the fallen should remain where they were, rather than be repatriated. It was argued that a casualty was connected to the area where he fell, and to the others that died and were buried with him there and then. A repatriation of the graves would disrupt that connection. In this argument we suspect the use of ethics to mask the real motive that is probably best placed in the chapter of economy. The exception was made for Commonwealth War graves in Germany. Here the volume of WW I casualties was relatively low, and after WW 2 it could be argued that the German population, that had suffered tremendously under Allied aerial bombardment, could not be trusted to care for the graves in the proper way. In Germany virtually all War graves were concentrated in a dozen dedicated cemeteries, in soil that effectively became a tiny part of the United Kingdom. Thus, the proper care for the graves could be assured for perpetuity.

The Dutch eventually concentrated a fair number of their War casualties in a limited number of places, such as Orry-la-Ville in France, Mill Hill in London, and Rhenen Grebbeberg in Holland. But other Dutch RAF aviator casualties can be found buried all over Europe. The number of families who wished a home town burial remained small.

Dutch Field of Honour at Orry-la-Ville, France. Orry-la-Ville 050702-7

Report of burial and reconcentration of an unidentified War grave, from the US concentration cemetery in Henri-Chapelle, Belgium, to Amersfoort Rusthof, NL. The unknown was assumed to be either P.H. Peetoom or H. Muntinga, hence the transfer to The Netherlands. See the 'Manderfeld file', chapter 4.96, for details. Source: CAD-MvD 5.050.5220/109, Report of burial.jpg

The concentration War cemeteries are located on grounds given by the host country to the nation that has its servicemen buried there. Thus, CWGC cemeteries in The Netherlands became small parts of the United Kingdom.

Memorial plate in Sittard War Cemetery, where Commonwealth casualties are buried. These CWGC burial grounds became small parts of the United Kingdom. Sittard 080425-5

4. Design of constructed CWGC cemeteries

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has built 2.410 War cemeteries and integral War graves plots. A constructed cemetery is one that was built for the sole purpose of accomodating CWGC War graves. These cemeteries range from 40 to almost 12.000 graves. The largest one is Tyne Cot Cemetery, Passchendaele, Belgium, holding mostly WW1 casualties. One of the largest holding the graves of many airmen is Reichswald Forest War Cemetery in Germany: about 7.500 burials in an area of 5,7 hectares.

These dedicated cemeteries were all constructed to one design. Text of the CWGC:

'A typical cemetery is bounded by a masonry wall with entrance gained through wrought iron gates hung on masonry piers. In larger sites a notice in stainless steel gives details of the campaign and the creation of the cemetery. There is likely to be a building containing a bronze register box, which can also be used by visitors as a shelter or place for reflection. The cemetery will have a stone Cross of Sacrifice, designed by Blomfield, the height of which ranges between 4,5m and 9m depending on the size of the cemetery. If the cemetery has 1.000 burials or more it will be provided with a monolytic war stone called the Stone of Remembrance, designed by Luytens. All war stones are a standard 3,5m long and 1,5m high and have three steps leading up to them. The cemeteries contain headstones of a standard pattern, usually set in perfectly straight rows, with no distinction made on account of military or civil rang, race or creed. In some cemeteries, notably on the Gallipoli peninsula, in Macedonia, the Far East and the Pacific, stone or brone plaques on low pedestals are used instead of headstones. All the Commission's structures are landscaped and all have lawns, flowers and trees where there is enough water to support them.'

Source: "The structural maintenance of the Commission's cemeteries and memorials", information sheet, CWGC

5. Administration of War graves

At CWGC cemeteries, an alfabetical casualty register has been made available to the public. The register includes a layout with plot, row and grave numbers, which enable visitors to find the grave they wish to visit. This is most helpful, especially in the larger cemeteries. The register includes a description of the fighting that took place in the area, based on the assumption that most of the casualties buried in that cemetery fell in the area. With aircrew, with bodies that washed ashore, and with burials that were relocated, this may not be the case. Finally, the register holds a statistical summary of the burials in that cemetery.

The register is accompanied by a visitor's book, in which remarks can be written. Register and visitor's book are kept in a masonry box with a brass door. CWGC registers are not available at very small War cemeteries, nor at small War grave plots in general cemeteries.

Sittard 080425 Register box

The British, Canadians, Australians, Americans, and the Dutch evolved their paperwork casualty databases into structures that can now be accessed online. This data may not be complete and/or accurate, as demonstrated in a later chapter, but at least there is data, and it can be accessed. These databases are a main source of information for researchers. Things are getting better here, as time progresses. The CWGC website has evolved into something that is really good. Even if it leaves out most of the non-Commonwealth casualties, that served under the British, and all of the unknowns. When requested for such, the CWGC informed that a list of burials of unknowns does not exist. However, burials of non-Commonwealth casualties are noted in the register available at a CWGC cemetery. The task is obviously still enourmous, even after sixty years, to bring together all the data, but the people at it have the will to do the proper thing. Author wonders whether these people receive the recognition deserved. At least that recognition is expressed here.

The headstone of F/O. K.S. Lear received an insert, when it was found that his rank was mentioned incorrectly. This indicates that the CWGC does give it an effort, to get the data right. Rheinberg 070106 Lear KS rank corrected

6. About grave position indicators

This systematic subchapter would seem to be superfluous at first sight, as the matter would seem to be self-evident. However, as confusion has repeatedly risen regarding this matter, it seems appropriate to give it attention.

Graves have a certain position in a cemetery. Position indicators usually follow the general scheme below.

The grave position is defined by

1. The cemetery, defined by name and location.

2. The plot, indicated by number or letter. Roman numbers are also used as plot indicators.

3. The row, indicated by number or letter. Roman numbers are also used as row indicators.

4. The grave number, usually indicated with a number, and sometimes with a letter.

5. The counting system. The CWGC usually, but not always, counts from left to right in a row.

This system is recorded in, and requires for its function, a cemetery register with the names of the buried connected to the grave position indicator, and a map of the cemetery layout. An alternative to the map is the mention of plot and row numbers on the left- and rightmost headstones in a row, as done by the CWGC in all but the very small cemeteries.

Variations of this general scheme:

1. Graves are indicated by a single number only; there are no plot or row indicators.

2. Graves are indicated by a grid reference system, for which the locally used grid needs to be available.

3. Graves do not have a position indicator, at least not one that was accessible to author. This may be the case in very small cemeteries.

The obvious reason for a grave position indicator is, in connection with a cemetery register, to enable visitors to find the grave they wish to find. In small cemeteries, or in cemeteries with a small amount of War graves, grouped together in a plot that can easily be found, a less-than-perfect position indicator system does not pose a problem. In cemeteries with hundreds to thousands of War graves, or in cemeteries with thousands of civilian graves and only a few and scattered War graves, a less-than-useful system can lead to very long walks.

Next to the practical reason for a grave position indicator system is a moral reason. With the system, the keeper of the cemetery expresses respect, care and professionalism. It is expressed that it is perfectly well known where a certain casualty lies buried. The CWGC even places special Memorial stones for those who are known to have had a grave, that has, for some reason, been lost.

Such a system has been implemented in the larger CWGC cemeteries, that were instituted after the Liberation as concentration cemeteries. In these cases, the CWGC had a free hand in cemetery layout design, and made good use of that, in its enormous effort to get it all sorted as much as possible.

Things can be very different in pre-War cemeteries, that received and kept War graves. These graves had to be fitted into the existing numbering system, if any. In such cases things can get puzzling.

Matters are also complicated by exhumations for reburials elsewhere. The grave position indicator defines a space in the cemetery, that may no longer hold, or may never have held, a grave. This easily leads to confusion, especially in the following cases:

1. If rows are very long, as in for example Berlin Charlottenburg War Cemetery.

2. If it is unclear whether an open space can hold one or two graves.

3. If headstones are not spaced evenly, as can be the case with aircraft crew buried in a joint grave, with headstones lined up with no space in between.

4. 1. to 3. can all be present, to a degree that the confusion becomes greater than a few positions only. See the chapter on the loss of A.A.J. van Amsterdam for an example of this.

5. Wartime burial data may have been superseded by relocations of single War graves, or even of entire plots of War graves, and this information may have been lost in the records of the War Grave Commissions. See the Chapter on the loss of J.B. Bolte and C.J. van der Graaff for an example of this.

6. The local cemetery keeper may have transmitted incorrect data that is not immedeately obvious, or obviously conflicting data. That data may pass as correct for decades, if nobody sees the conflict, or goes out there to check. See the Chapters on the losses of A.M. ten Herkel, W. Hijkoop and C.A.E. van Otterloo for an example of this.

Joint graves can lead to confusion about grave numbering. Reichswald 080223 joint grave

Author has checked all the grave position indicators of the Dutch RAF/FAA aviators who are the subject of this study. This has led to several requests to CWGC and OGS for clarification, and to several suggestions for improvements, as appropriate. OGS has responded favourably to this, and modified its records accordingly. The CWGC did not. Author assumes that it is difficult and time consuming to find out the ratio behind local, non-CWGC, grave position indicators. Old systems may gradually have grown into chaos. In any case, author presents data in this study about the position of the grave today, so that there should be no more confusion. A matter of respect for the dead.

7. Maintenance of War cemeteries

The European nations have given land to the Allied nations for the burial of their War casualties. The War cemeteries in these locations are there 'for eternity', and they are usually very well cared for. The work is done by local gardeners, and by stone masons, who restore or replace worn headstones. These cemeteries are open to the public all of the time. Occasionally cemetery registers are found to be missing, and such matters are reported by people such as author to CWGC & OGS. These places are usually found to be without visitors, or they are crowded with thousands, when there is a five-year Liberation ceremony or something similar.

The Allied War cemeteries throughout Europe are very well kept. The grass in CWGC cemeteries is always mown. In the picture, in Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany, the sign indicates that in places the grass is being replaced. Rheinberg 070106 work in progress

Care is needed, as evidenced by this photograph. The headstone for F/O. A.A. Dixon RCAF, who died 28/12/1944, has been broken by some cause. Rheinberg 070106 AA Dixon broken stone Cases of vandalism against these War graves are on record too.

Headstones are renovated or renewed as needed. The picture shows two of the many new headstones placed in Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany, these ones in plot 20. Rheinberg 070106-3 renovated stones

Renovated headstone on ereveld Grebbeberg, Rhenen, Utrecht, NL Grebbeberg 080416 stone maintenance

Occasionally a newspaper debate develops, whether these spots of foreign soil are to be kept in say Northern France. Author allows himself a strong position in this matter: as long as there is War raging in many parts of the world, these places of remembrance and reflection should be kept. If man is not going to learn from history, it is doubtful whether he can learn al all. The least that ought to be done is to enable at least some to learn, and the War cemeteries are amongst the places that can enable this learning. In itself a selfish argument, as the remembrance of those who gave their lives for their country should be quite sufficient as a motivation to keep and maintain these places.

Becklingen 080703-3

Abbeville 080731-4

2. Short history of the Dienst Identificatie en Berging

In 1942 the Section III, the first aid unit, of the Ordedienst Eindhoven started to take care of identification of War casualties that resulted from bombardments on the Philips factories in Eindhoven. The initiative came from Lt.Kol.Dr. A. van Anrooy. After the liberation of the area, the Ordedienst was dissolved. However, the identification work was continued, financed with private means. The Red Cross became involved, and in May 1945 the Minister of Internal Affairs send word to all cities to report all War graves centrally to the service that by now was called the Dienst Identificatie en Berging (Identification and Salvage Service), DIB for short. In August 1945 the service was placed under control of the Minister of Defence. This decision was made official on March 4th, 1946.

There were War graves everywhere. Both cities and civilians had been taking initiatives to register graves and to care for these. Obviously forensic knowledge was not widespread. The scattered initiatives were well meant, but lack of knowledge brought the danger that evidence would be destroyed, that could have led to identification of unknowns.

The DIB cooperated with the British Grave Registration Units, GRU's. DIB officers were detached to GRU's to learn the work at hand. Dr. Van Anrooy met in London with Sir Fabian Ware, the founder of the Imperial War Graves Commission. The Dutch had to learn what the British already had learned, during and after the First World War.

Source: Letter of Dr. A. van Anrooy, CAD/MvD/DIB/Map 114

In 1946 the DIB had about one hundred staff, led by Dr. Van Anrooy and Major A.W. de Ruyter van Stevenink, later Lt.-Kol. The DIB resided Nieuwe Parklaan 14, The Hague.

Source: Newspaper Trouw, 12/10/1946

Next to the DIB, the Dutch Minister of War instituted the Gravendienst (Grave Services), as Department B.6. Its task was to register and care for the Dutch War graves worldwide. This service evolved into the Oorlogsgravenstichting (OGS), a privatized organisation quite comparable to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. OGS sees Dr. A. van Anrooy as its founder.

From an undated Government document:

Naar schatting bedraagt het aantal graven van Nederlandse oorlogsslachtoffers, zowel in ons land als in het buitenland en in Indië, minstens 25.000. In ons land zijn de oorlogsslachtoffers voorlopig begraven op 1.300 tot 1.400 begraafplaatsen. In Duitsland liggen zij verspreid op 2.200 begraafplaatsen.

Uitgaande van de gedachte, dat het gehele Nederlandse volk zich verantwoordelijk voelt voor een piëteitsvolle begrafenis en verzorging van het stoffelijk overschot der velen, die voor de Nederlandse zaak vielen, is thans opgericht de Oorlogsgravenstichting, waarin naast de betrokken Ministeries en de voornaamste kerkelijke gezindten tal van Nederlandse instellingen vertegenwoordigd zijn. De Stichting stelt zich ten doel, de zorg op zich te nemen voor het verzekeren van een waardige rustplaats aan alle Nederlanders, militairen en burgers, die hun leven voor het vaderland hebben gegeven, zowel hier te lande als overal elders ter wereld, in het bijzonder ook in de Overzeese Gebiedsdelen.

Source: CAD/MvD/DIB/Map 114


The number of graves of Dutch War casualties, both at home and abroad, is estimated as at least 25.000. In our country the War casualties are buried temporarily in 1.300 to 1.400 cemeteries. In Germany they are spread over 2.200 cemeteries.

Considering that the entire Dutch population feels responsible for a respectable funeral and care of the mortal remains of the many, who fell for the Dutch cause, we have instituted the Oorlogsgravenstichting (War Graves Foundation), in which, next to the Ministries and main religious organisations involved, many Dutch institutions are represented. The purpose of the Foundation is to care for and assure a worthy place to rest for all Dutchmen, both servicemen and civilians, who gave their lives for the home country, both at home as anywhere else in the world, especially in the Dutch East and West Indies.

The DIB was renamed in 1995 into Bergings- en Identificatiedienst Koninklijke Landmacht (BIDKL). In 1998 a further reorganisation brought the BID under control of the Opleidings- en Trainingscentrum Logistiek (OTCLOG)

The work is currently divided in five parts, each having its own operational command:

1. Identification of human remains is in the hands of the

Commandant OTCLOG, Kolonel Palmkazerne, Amersfoortse Straatweg 85a, Bussum. Operational command is currently in the hands of Adjudant Arnand Maringka.

2. Salvage of aircraft wreckage is in the hands of the Commandant van het Logistiek Centrum van de Koninklijke Luchtmacht (C-LCKLu), Postbus 77, Hoogerheide. Operational command is in the hands of the Stafofficier Vliegtuigberging van het Logistiek Centrum van de Koninklijke Luchtmacht (SOVB), currently Kapt Ing Paul Petersen.

3. Clearing of explosives is done by the Exposieven Opruimings Commando (EOC) Koninklijke Landmacht, Sergeant-majoor Scheickkazerne, Gutenberg 10, Culemborg.

4. Clearing of radio-active materials is in the hands of the Stralingsbeschermingsdiens Defensie, as well as other parties.

5. Clearing of asbestos is in the hands of the DTA of the Ministerie van Defensie, as well as other parties.

Responsibilities and the legal aspects are explained in a brochure titled 'Bergen van vliegtuigwrakken en vermiste bemanningsleden uit de Tweede Wereldoorlog; opsporen en ruimen van andere explosieven dan geimproviseerde.", Ministriële Publicatie 40 serie, 40-45-100, undated, see This is Dutch law; the guideline has nothing to say about identification of Dutchmen buried abroad. The guideline is reprinted in Chapter 9.3.4.

Today, the older methods for identification have been expanded with DNA technology and craniometry, the comparison of skull dimensions with portrait pictures of candidates for the identity of the unknown. Furthermore, dental data increased in significance as more data was recorded and archived by dentists. A similar development is likely to be seen in the field of DNA technology. The technique can only work if there is reference material. This is collected from family members of candidates for the identity of unknowns. A longer period between death and body discovery, as would be the case with WW1 casualties found today, means a decreased chance to find DNA reference material, as families have died out, or have spread all over the world. The armed forces are likely to develop DNA databases of personnel, so as to secure reference material in advance.

3. Reburials and the Oorlogsgravenstichting

Text by OGS:

Vele oorlogsslachtoffers werden niet op gepaste wijze begraven. Sommigen zijn zelfs ter plekke van overlijden letterlijk onder de grond gestopt.

Op 13 september 1946 werd op initiatief van Dr. A. van Anrooy de Oorlogsgravenstichting opgericht met als doel om de graven van Nederlandse oorlogsslachtoffers op te sporen, in te richten en te onderhouden, als erkenning van hen die hun leven waagden, uit respect tegenover hun nabestaanden en als waarschuwing voor toekomstige generaties dat vrijheid niet vanzelfsprekend is.

Onder voorspraak van Z.K.H. Prins Bernhard der Nederlanden slaagde Dr. Van Anrooy er in de steun te krijgen van de overheid en van belangrijke personen en groeperingen uit de samenleving. Om de graven van Nederlandse oorlogsslachtoffers te kunnen inrichten, had de Oorlogsgravenstichting zoveel mogelijk gegevens nodig van Nederlanders die tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog waren omgekomen. Het verzamelen van deze gegevens werd gedaan door een kleine staf en een aantal enthousiaste vrijwilligers. Zij hebben gebruik kunnen maken van de archieven van het Rode Kruis, het Rijksinstituut voor Oorlogsdocumentatie en het Ministerie van Defensie. De verzamelde gegevens werden, voor zover mogelijk, geverifieerd bij de bevolkingsregisters.

In het bestuur van de nieuwe stichting namen onder andere zitting vertegenwoordigers van de meest betrokken ministeries, maar ook afgevaardigden van het Nederlandse Rode Kruis, het Voormalig Verzet en organisaties van oud-gevangenen.

H.M. Koningin Wilhelmina werd bereid gevonden als beschermvrouwe te fungeren. In 1981 werd H.M. Koningin Beatrix beschermvrouwe.

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All Dutch RAF aviators buried in France were either repatriated, or concentrated in Orry-la-Ville by the OGS. In England many were concentrated in Mill Hill, but others were left where they were buried. Quite often in remote places. We have tried to reconstruct a rationale behind this. It could have been rational to leave men buried next to their crew members, or perhaps in the town in which a Dutch RAF aviator widow was living. We failed to find a clear rationale. It seems that OGS proceeded in a haphazard way. The following Dutch RAF aviators are buried scattered over the United Kingdom, outside of the Mill Hill concentration cemetery: (here Rob Philips planned to add the list)

4. Dutch official guideline for salvage of aircraft wrecks

The Dutch have issued an undated guideline that declares the appropriate actions and the parties responsible, regarding WW2 aircraft wreckage. It is reprinted below in full.

Source: Ministriële Publicatie 40 serie, 40-45-100, undated, see


It is estimated that there are still about 2.000 aircraft wrecks buried in Dutch soil, and that about 400 of these contain human remains. WW2 aircraft wreck are considered to be field graves, that are not to be disturbed. There is no statement about research directed at finding these field graves. If an aircraft wreck is found, then it is up to the local authorities to decide if an excavation is called for. The guideline then explains who is responsible for what. In the real world that means that aircraft wrecks, that may or may not contain human remains, are excavated if there is a public reason to do so. The usual public reason is safety, with the presence of explosives at the wreck site in mind. But piety towards the dead and their families is included as one of the possible arguments for the decision to excavate. One of the eight main chapters deals with the cooperation between authorities and private individuals. Reference to international agreements is made, but the statements are valid for The Netherlands only.


The estimation of the number of aircraft wreck is not documented. It is not stated how many of the estimated wrecks have been localized. But nevertheless the message is clear: there are still very many WW2 aircraft wrecks buried in the Dutch soil, and with these many hundreds of airmen that shall remain missing-in-action, if the wreck of their aircraft shall not be found and salvaged.

Bergen van vliegtuigwrakken en vermiste bemanningsleden

uit de Tweede Wereldoorlog; opsporen en ruimen van andere explosieven dan geimproviseerde.

1. Inleiding

In de Nederlandse grond, zee- en rivierbodem bevinden zich nog veel restanten uit de Tweede Wereldoorlog. Zo liggen er naar schatting nog 2000 vliegtuigwrakken. De exacte locatie van deze vliegtuigwrakken is in veel gevallen niet bekend. Vliegtuigwrakken waarvan de exacte locatie wel bekend is, zijn soms (maar niet altijd) door een gedenksteen dan wel een Monument gemarkeerd. In ongeveer 400 van de zich in Nederland en zijn territoriale wateren bevindende wrakken zijn waarschijnlijk nog stoffelijke resten van bemanningsleden aanwezig. Met of zonder gedenksteen worden deze wrakken door de Nederlandse overheid als 'oorlogsgraf' beschouwd. De identiteit van de bemanningsleden is in veel gevallen niet bekend. In de vliegtuigwrakken zijn meestal explosieven aanwezig. Ook buiten de vliegtuigwrakken liggen op veel plaatsen nog explosieven en kunnen stoffelijke resten worden aangetroffen. Ten slotte kunnen zich in de vliegtuigwrakken radioactieve stoffen bevinden, zoals (met name) radioactieve aanwijsinstrumenten, en hechtgebonden asbest, zoals remvoering, brandwerend koord en verpakkingsmateriaal.
In deze circulaire schetsen wij, mede namens onze ambtsgenoot van Justitie, de verantwoordelijkheden en bevoegdheden van de verschillende overheden en andere betrokkenen bij het bergen van vliegtuigwrakken en stoffelijke resten uit de Tweede Wereldoorlog en de opsporing en ruiming van de hierbij aanwezige (conventionele) explosieven. Deze circulaire geeft het kader waarbinnen en de procedures waarlangs de bij een berging, opsporing of ruiming betrokken overheden en particuliere organisaties dienen te handelen.
Deze circulaire heeft tot doel aan betrokkenen informatie te verschaffen. Tevens wordt in het bijzonder aan de gemeenten gevraagd om hun medewerking te verlenen aan de hierin geschetste procedures. De circulaire geldt voor het Nederlands grondgebied.

2. Samenvatting

Op grond van nationale en internationale regelgeving zijn de nodige overheidsbelangen gemoeid met het bergen van vliegtuigwrakken en stoffelijke resten en de ruiming van explosieven.
Vliegtuigwrakken die zich onder de grond dan wel op de zeebodem bevinden, worden door de Rijksoverheid conform internationale verdragen beschouwd als veld- dan wel zeemansgraf en daarom in beginsel onberoerd gelaten.
De beslissingsbevoegdheid voor het al dan niet laten uitvoeren van bergingen van wrakken en / of stoffelijke resten berust bij het gemeentebestuur. Overwegingen die hierbij een rol spelen zijn openbare orde en veiligheid, algemeen belang, volksgezondheid, pieteit ten aanzien van nabestaanden en gesneuvelden. De Rijksoverheid voert hierbij een ondersteunend beleid door bij een beslissing van het gemeentebestuur om tot berging over te gaan, de bergingsdiensten van het ministerie van Defensie in principe kosteloos aan het gemeentebestuur, zijnde de opdrachtgever, ter beschikking te stellen. Slechts wanneer inzet van Defensiemiddelen is gebonden aan regels voor marktoptreden door de Rijksoverheid (zoals bij de opsporing – en dus niet de ruiming van explosieven) worden dientengevolge kosten in rekening gebracht.
Om de zorgvuldigheid van de berging te waarborgen en invulling te geven aan de Verdragen van Geneve, geschiedt de daadwerkelijke berging van vliegtuigwrakken onder verantwoordelijkheid van de Stafofficier Vliegtuigberging van het Logistiek Centrum van de Koninklijke Luchtmacht (hierna: SOVB). Om invulling te geven aan relevante overeenkomsten met de Verenigde Staten, het Gemenebest en Duitsland inzake de overdracht van stoffelijke resten is de berging en identificatie van stoffelijke resten bij uitsluiting voorbehouden aan de Bergings– en Identificatiedienst Koninklijke Landmacht (hierna: BIDKL) van het Opleidings- en Trainingscentrum Logistiek, voorheen bekend onder de naam 'Gravendienst'. Omdat particulieren waardevolle bijdragen kunnen leveren aan delen van het bergingsproces, ligt het in de rede waar mogelijk met hen samen te werken.
Voor het opsporen en verzamelen van radioactieve stoffen kan de Stralingsbeschermingdienst Defensie, of een externe instantie die op grond van de Kernenergiewet bevoegd is dergelijke werkzaamheden te verrichten, worden ingeschakeld. Voorts beschikt de SOVB in verband met de genoten opleiding over een autorisatie van het Bureau Autorisatie en Registratie Kernenergiewet (te weten de BARK/A6008c 'Autorisatie berging vliegtuigwrakken'), met inachtneming van het gestelde in de Handleiding Stralingshygiene Defensie (DP 35-311).
Voor het opsporen en verzamelen van asbesthoudende stoffen kan de Deskundig Toezichthouder Asbest (hierna: DTA) van het ministerie van Defensie, of een externe instantie die op grond van het Asbestbesluit bevoegd is dergelijke handelingen te verrichten, worden ingeschakeld. Tevens is de SOVB in het bezit van de DTA-bevoegdheid en mag als zodanig het plan van aanpak en werkplan (voor de verwijdering van het asbest) samenstellen en voorbereiden en de bijbehorende vergunning aanvragen bij de desbetreffende gemeente.
In de Ministerraad van 13 april 1999 is besloten dat de ruiming van explosieven, gelet op de zwaarwegende aspecten van openbare orde en veiligheid, is voorbehouden aan de Explosieven Opruimingsdiensten van het ministerie van Defensie.
Wanneer door een gemeentebestuur wordt besloten tot een berging, een opsporing of een ruiming, komen de andere kosten (zoals b.v. de civieltechnische kosten en verzekeringen) in beginsel voor rekening van de opdrachtgever, zijnde de gemeente. Hierbij kan op grond van het Bijdragebesluit kosten ruiming explosieven Tweede Wereldoorlog 1999 (Stb. 2002, 597) (hierna: Bijdragebesluit 1999) voor bepaalde kostensoorten, onder bepaalde voorwaarden en boven een bepaald drempelbedrag, van Rijkswege bij het ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken en Koninkrijksrelaties (hierna: ministerie van BZK) een bijdrage worden aangevraagd.
Het is voor gemeenten raadzaam een aanvullende verzekering of to sluiten voor dat risico dat niet wordt gedekt door de reguliere aansprakelijkheids– of risicoverzekering.

3. Begrippen

In deze circulaire wordt verstaan onder:

'Een militair vliegtuig dat tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog is neergestort op (huidig) Nederlands grondgebied.'

'Bommen of gevechtsladingen; geleide of ballistische projectielen; munitie voor artillerie, mortieren en klein-kaliberwapens; alle mijnen, torpedo's en dieptebommen; vernielingsladingen; al dan niet pyrotechnische vuurwerken; bundelrekken, moederbommen en dispensers; inrichtingen in werking gesteld door patronen en stuwstoffen; elektrische ontstekingsinrichtingen.'

'Het geheel van organisatie en uitvoering binnen een opsporingsgebied van achtereenvolgens het detecteren, lokaliseren, interpreteren, benaderen en identificeren van de vermoede explosieven; het tijdelijk veiligstellen van de situatie en de overdracht aan de explosieven opruimingsdiensten (EOD'en) van het ministerie van Defensie met een proces-verbaal van oplevering.'
'Het detecteren (vaststellen van de aanwezigheid van een voorwerp op of onder het maaiveld) en lokaliseren (vaststellen van de exacte ligplaats van een voorwerp, dat op of onder het maaiveld is gedetecteerd) van explosieven.'

'Het na de opsporing benaderen, veiligstellen, afvoeren of vernietigen van het explosief dat in een bepaald gebied is aangetroffen.'

Radioactieve stoffen
'Radioactieve stoffen als bedoeld in artikel 29 van de Kernenergiewet.'

'Asbest als bedoeld in artikel 1 van het Asbest-verwijderingsbesluit.'

4. Juridisch kader

Ten aanzien van het bergingsproces is een breed spectrum aan regelgeving van belang. Op de belangrijkste relevante regelgeving wordt hieronder ingegaan.

4.1 Internationaal juridisch kader

Op grond van de Verdragen van Geneve betreffende de bescherming van slachtoffers van internationale gewapende conflicten dient de Nederlandse overheid er voor zorg te dragen dat een graf wordt ontzien en te allen tijde kan worden teruggevonden.
Voorts is de Nederlandse overheid naar de strekking van de Verdragen belast met de identificatie van stoffelijke resten bij eventuele opgravingen. Om aan de verdragsverplichting van de Nederlandse overheid inzake de identificatie van stoffelijke resten op een verantwoorde wijze te voldoen, dient ook de berging van het vliegtuigwrak zelf zorgvuldig piaats te vinden en dient betrokkenheid van de BIDKL gewaarborgd te zijn.
Indien een verdragsstaat of een nabestaande de uitdrukkelijke wens kenbaar maakt tot herbegraving dan wel tot overbrenging van stoffelijke overschotten naar het land van herkomst, bestaat er voor de Nederlandse overheid daarmee nog geen verdragsrechtelijke verplichting om tot berging over te gaan. Wel kan men op grond van gevoerd beleid spreken van een inspanningsverplichting. Deze inspanningsverplichting richt zich op het meenemen van overwegingen van pieteit ten aanzien van zowel de gesneuvelden als nabestaanden in het totale afwegingsproces van het gemeentebestuur, waarbij ook overige betrokken belangen aan de orde komen, zoals dwingende redenen van openbare orde en veiligheid of het algemeen belang. Gelet op de strekking van de internationale verdragen, moet bedacht worden dat pieteitsoverwegingen ten aanzien van de overledenen van overwegend belang kunnen zijn bij het besluit het oorlogsgraf ongemoeid te laten.
Indien door het gemeentebestuur wordt besloten tot berging over te gaan zal de Rijksoverheid hierbij vervolgens een ondersteunende rol vervullen. In dit kader worden de bergingsdiensten van het ministerie van Defensie in principe kosteloos aan het gemeentebestuur, zijnde de opdrachtgever, ter beschikking gesteld. Slechts wanneer inzet van Defensiemiddelen is gebonden aan regels voor marktoptreden door de Rijksoverheid (zoals bij de opsporing en dus niet de ruiming van explosieven) worden dientengevolge kosten in rekening gebracht.
Het aanvullend protocol betreffende de bescherming van de slachtoffers van internationale gewapende conflicten legt op verdragspartijen in het algemeen een verplichting om zorgvuldig om te gaan met de stoffelijke resten van in een conflict op hun grondgebied omgekomen militairen. Persoonlijke bezittingen van de overledenen dienen aan de nabestaanden te worden teruggegeven. Het opgraven van stoffelijke overschotten is slechts toegestaan, indien sprake is van een wens van het land van herkomst of een nabestaande (zoals hierboven aangegeven) of opgraving dwingend is geboden door het algemeen belang (waaronder in ieder geval wordt begrepen openbare orde en veiligheid en medische noodzaak).
Verdragspartijen worden in de Verdragen van Geneve ook verplicht om overeenkomsten te sluiten om uitwerking te geven aan de desbetreffende bepalingen. Nederland heeft dientengevolge met de Verenigde Staten, met de landen van het Gemenebest en met Duitsland afspraken gemaakt over de wijze van informeren over de vondst van stoffelijke resten en de eventuele overdracht daarvan.

4.2 Nationaal juridisch kader

De behandeling van de stoffelijke resten op Nederlands grondgebied dient te geschieden conform de procedures die zijn neergelegd in de Wet op de lijkbezorging.
De Wet wapens en munitie bepaalt dat het zonder ontheffing voorhanden hebben van wapens en munitie, niet is toegestaan. Voor de Krijgsmacht is op deze regel een uitzondering gemaakt. De ruiming van explosieven (zoals geduid in het Bijdragebesluit 1999) is als gevolg van een beslissing van de Ministerraad d.d. 13 april 1999 voorbehouden aan de EOD'en van het ministerie van Defensie. Hierbij kan door de EOD'en gebruik worden gemaakt van civieltechnische explosieven opsporingsbedrijven (voor b.v. graafwerkzaamheden). Indien de opsporingswerkzaamheden worden uitgevoerd zonder personeel van de EOD, dan dienen de desbetreffende
opsporingsbedrijven in het bezit te zijn van een ontheffingsvergunning van het ministerie van Justitie.
De Gemeentewet bepaalt dat de handhaving van de openbare orde en veiligheid een primaire verantwoordelijkheid is van de burgemeester.
Op grond van de Kernenergiewet moet de SOVB, onder wiens verantwoordelijkheid de berging plaatsvindt, beschikken over een vergunning om radioactieve stoffen, die zich in het wrak kunnen bevinden, op te sporen en te verzamelen. Een vergunning is niet nodig, indien ten behoeve van deze werkzaamheden derden worden ingeschakeld die reeds beschikken over de vereiste vergunning. Het verzamelde radioactieve materiaal moet worden overgedragen aan de Centrale Organisatie Voor Radioactief Afval (hierna: COVRA), zijnde een instantie die op grond van de Kernenergiewet gemachtigd is om radioactieve stoffen in te zamelen.
Op basis van de Beoordelingsrichtlijn 5050 moet asbest door een gecertificeerd bedrijf worden verwijderd. Een vergunning voor het verwijderen van asbesthoudend materiaal wordt verleend door het college van burgemeesters en wethouders van de gemeente waar de asbestvenNijdering plaatsvindt.
Het Burgerlijk Wetboek biedt in beginsel geen basis waarop de eigendom van buitenlandse militaire vliegtuigen is overgegaan van de oorspronkelijke eigenaar naar een derde. Juridisch betekent dit dat het land van herkomst in principe eigenaar blijft van de opgegraven materialen. Duitse vliegtuigen uit de Tweede Wereldoorlog zijn echter van rechtswege aan de Nederlandse Staat vervallen voor zover zij ten tijde van het in werking treden van het Besluit Vijandelijk Vermogen (Stb. 1944, E133) eigendom van de Duitse Staat waren.
Hierbij gaat het overigens om de wrakdelen van de vliegtuigen en niet om de persoonlijke bezittingen van de bemanning. Deze persoonlijke bezittingen dienen in beginsel altijd aan de nabestaanden te worden teruggegeven. In eerste instantie zullen zowel de persoonlijke bezittingen als de persoonlijke uitrustingsstukken benodigd zijn voor de identificatie van stoffelijke resten. De BIDKL dient derhalve hierover te kunnen beschikken. Deze zal aan de hand van de identificatiewerkzaamheden haar bevindingen rapporteren aan de ambassade(s) van land(en) van herkomst.
Het Bijdragebesluit 1999 geeft gemeenten recht op een vergoeding van Rijkswege van bepaalde kostensoorten, onder bepaalde voorwaarden en boven een bepaald drempelbedrag. Deze bijdrage kan bij het ministerie van BZK worden aangevraagd.

5. Verantwoordelijkheden en bevoegdheden

Uit de vorige paragraaf bleek reeds in algemene zin dat er bij de berging van vliegtuigwrakken en stoffelijke resten en bij de opsporing en ruiming van explosieven uit de Tweede Wereldoorlog, de nodige overheidsbelangen zijn betrokken. In deze paragraaf worden die belangen vertaald naar verantwoordelijkheden van overheidsinstanties.

5.1 Beslissingsbevoegdheid

De beslissingsbevoegdheid ten aanzien van het al dan niet laten uitvoeren van bergingen, opsporingen of ruimingen ligt bij het gemeentebestuur. Het is dus aan een gemeente, al dan niet op verzoek van een derde, een afweging te maken of een berging, opsporing of ruiming zal plaatsvinden. Die beslissingsbevoegdheid is primair gebaseerd op de verantwoordelijkheid van de burgemeester voor de openbare orde en veiligheid in zijn gemeente en het feit dat de burgemeester het beste in staat is om de lokale situatie, omstandigheden en overige betrokken belangen bij zijn beslissing te betrekken. De Rijksoverheid voert in principe een ondersteunend beleid bij het bergen en ruimen.
Eventueel noodzakelijke beslissingen over prioriteitstelling van b.v. te bergen wrakken zullen worden genomen in overleg tussen de betrokken overheden. Het bergen van stoffelijke resten en het opsporen of ruimen van explosieven heeft hierbij een eerste prioriteit.
Op grond van de artikelen 175 en 176 van de Gemeentewet kan de burgemeester bij bergingen, opsporingen en ruimingen, indien daartoe aanleiding bestaat, bevelen of algemeen verbindende voorschriften geven die hij ter handhaving van de openbare orde of ter beperking van gevaar nodig acht. Deze bevelen of voorschriften kunnen b.v. een verbod inhouden om het terrein waar de berging, opsporing of ruiming plaatsvindt te betreden, zonder toestemming van het bevoegd gezag.
Gemeenten die de exacte locatie van een vliegtuigwrak hebben vastgesteld en een beslissing nemen om niet tot berging over te gaan worden geadviseerd om de desbetreffende locaties op een passende wijze te markeren. Het Iigt in de rede dat dit gebeurt door een Monument dan wel een gedenksteen.

5.2 Bergen vliegtuigwrakken

De SOVB is belast met en verantwoordelijk voor het daadwerkelijke bergen van vliegtuigwrakken, in het geval een gemeente besluit tot berging over te gaan. De SOVB zal daar waar mogelijk en relevant samenwerken met particuliere organisaties.

The Mayor of Woubrugge, Mw. M. Wiebosch-Steeman, and Kapt Ing P. Petersen, SOVB, introducing the Mosquito salvage operation in September 2008. Woubrugge 080918 M. Wiebosch-Steeman & P. Petersen

5.3 Bergen en identificeren stoffelijke resten

De BIDKL is op basis van de vereiste zorgvuldigheid bij uitsluiting belast met en verantwoordelijk voor het bergen en identificeren van stoffelijke resten. De BIDKL voert deze taak uit conform de procedures die zijn neergelegd in de Wet op de lijkbezorging.

5.4 Opsporen of ruimen van explosieven

De werkzaamheden verbonden aan opsporen – in de zin van het onderzoeken van een bepaald gebied in verband met de vermoede aanwezigheid van explosieven – mogen zowel door militair personeel van een van de EOD'en van het ministerie van Defensie als door civiele explosievenopsporingsbedrijven worden uitgevoerd. Indien de opsporing wordt uitgevoerd door Defensiepersoneel dienen, conform de aanwijzingen voor het verrichten van marktactiviteiten door de Rijksoverheid, marktconforme prijzen in rekening te worden gebracht.
De EOD'en van het ministerie van Defensie zijn n.a.v. een besluit van de Ministerraad bij uitsluiting belast met en verantwoordelijk voor de werkzaamheden verbonden aan de ruiming van de gevonden explosieven. Het Explosieven Opruimingscommando van de Koninklijke Landmacht (EOCKL) treedt hierbij coordinerend op.
Bij een opsporing of ruiming is de burgemeester in principe beslissingsbevoegd. De commandant van de ruimploeg is echter verantwoordelijk en beslissingsbevoegd voor zover het de veiligheid van zijn personeel betreft.

Searching for an aircraft wreck and ordinance in Oegstgeest, Zuid-Holland, May 7, 2008. Left Glynn Hobson of GroundTracer BV, with a 300 mHz ground radar antenna, towed by hand this time. Left the cart of KWS, carrying four magnetometer probes. The verdict after data analysis: the site is suspect. In places it holds an unusual amount of metal, that could coincide with an aircraft wreck and ordinance. Oegstgeest 080507-3

The KWS company drilling 8 meter PVC pipes into the soil for depth magnetometry, in seach for bombs close to the bridge over the IJssel river in Deventer. The bridge was a main supplies artery for the Germans in WW2, and was heavily bombarded by the Royal Air Force, but never hit.

Personnel of the EOC-KL showing 20mm shells recovered from the Mosquito crash site excavated in Woubrugge, Zuid-Holland, in September 2008. Woubrugge 080918-11

5.5 Opsporen, verzamelen en overdragen van radioactieve stoffen

Het opsporen, verzamelen en overdragen van radioactieve stoffen mag worden gedaan door de Stralingsbeschermingdienst van het ministerie van Defensie of een externe instantie die op grond van de Kernenergiewet bevoegd is dergelijke werkzaamheden te verrichten. De SOVB beschikt over de op grond van artikel 29 van de Kernenergiewet vereiste vergunning. Overdracht mag uitsluitend plaatsvinden aan de COVRA.

5.6 Opsporen, verzamelen en overdragen van asbesthoudende stoffen

Het opsporen, verzamelen en overdragen van asbesthoudende stoffen mag worden gedaan door de DTA van het ministerie van Defensie of door de SOVB of door een externe instantie die beschikt over de vereiste vergunning op grond van het Asbest-verwijderingsbesluit.

Searching for unexploded ordinance in the IJssel at the road bridge in Deventer. Schollenberger Kampfmittelbergung GmbH came all the way from Celle, near Hannover, Germany, to do the job with their specially prepared boat carrying seven magnetometer probes. Deventer Schollenberger 080604-3

6. Samenwerking bij bergingen tussen de overheid en particulieren

Particulieren – veelal in de vorm van verenigingen of stichtingen – zijn in toenemende mate actief bij het verrichten van geschiedkundig onderzoek naar vliegtuigwrakken en bemanningsleden. Dit onderzoek levert vaak gegevens op die van belang zijn bij het bergen en identificeren van een wrak en de stoffelijke resten van de bemanning.
Daarnaast zijn er instanties die gespecialiseerd zijn in het opsporen en verzamelen van radioactieve stoffen, b.v. de National research & Consultancy Group te Petten en de Röntgen Technische Dienst. Omdat particulieren aldus waardevolle bijdragen kunnen leveren aan delen van het bergingsproces, ligt het in de rede (waar mogelijk) bij bergingen samen te werken met particuliere organisaties. Het is particulieren echter niet toestaan
om zelfstandige bergingswerkzaamheden te ontplooien, aangezien zulks de bij berging aan de orde zijnde belangen van pieteit, openbare orde, veiligheid, rechtsorde en milieu direct raakt. In het bijzonder staat hierbij de pieteit ten aanzien van de gevallenen centraal, aangezien vliegtuigwrakken die zich onder de grond dan wel onder de waterlijn bevinden door de Rijksoverheid worden beschouwd als veld- dan wel zeemansgraf.

7. Procedures

De volgende situaties met de daarbij behorende procedures kunnen worden onderscheiden:

7.1 Berging van een vliegtuigwrak

Verzoeken om tot berging over te gaan worden door de desbetreffende gemeente ingediend bij:

De Commandant van het Logistiek Centrum van de Koninklijke Luchtmacht (C-LCKLu)
Postbus 77
4630 AB Hoogerheide

De genoemde commandant zal op zijn beurt de SOVB, die zich in zijn staf bevindt, verzoeken een vooronderzoek dienaangaande te verrichten. Aan de hand van dit vooronderzoek zal de SOVB wel of niet een positief bergingsadvies afgeven met betrekking tot de haalbaarheid om tot berging van het vliegtuigwrak over te gaan.
De SOVB is in voorkomend geval belast met het vooronderzoek, afgeven van een bergingsadvies, opstellen van een werkplan en heeft bij de daadwerkelijke berging de leiding en de cobrdinatie bij de uitvoering van de bergingswerkzaamheden met betrekking tot de Defensiediensten. Zijn er aanwijzingen of vermoedens dat zich in of rond het wrak explosieven of stoffelijke resten bevinden, zal de SOVB terstond het EOCKL c.q. de BIDKL in kennis stellen. De SOVB zal vervolgens in overleg met alle betrokken particuliere en overheidsinstanties een werkplan opstellen. In het werkplan zal onder meer worden aangegeven of civieltechnische ondersteuning nodig is voor de uitvoering van de bergingswerkzaamheden. Deze werkzaamheden vallen onder verantwoordelijkheid van de gemeente. Aan de hand van het werkplan kan de gemeente beoordelen of een berging, met waarborging van alle in het geding zijnde belangen en verantwoordelijkheden, financieel en anderszins kan worden uitgevoerd.
Het is mogelijk dat zich in (de omgeving van) het vliegtuigwrak nog explosieven bevinden. De gemeente waar het vliegtuigwrak zich (vermoedelijk) bevindt, kan daarom in beginsel bij berging van een vliegtuigwrak een bijdrage in de kosten vragen bij het ministerie van BZK. Deze aanvraag moet worden ingediend voordat de werkzaamheden aanvangen.

Wreck sites usually yield a lot of scrap aluminium, aircraft parts shredded to bits by the forces of impact. Here parts of the Hampden salvaged in Berkhout, Noord Holland, 2007. Source: Berkhout 2007-2 by Dick Breedijk

Wreck parts can be in surprisingly good condition, as shown by this fuel valve found at the Berkhout Hampden wreck site.

Source: Berkhout 2007-1 by Dick Breedijk

7.2 Berging en identificatie van stoffelijke resten

Verzoeken tot berging en identificatie van stoffelijke resten worden ingediend bij de commandant OTCLOG:

Commandant OTCLOG Kolonel Palmkazerne
Amersfoortse straatweg 85a Bussum
Postbus 90004
3509 AA Bussum

7.3 Ruiming van explosieven

Verzoeken tot ruiming van explosieven worden ingediend bij:

Explosieven Opruimingscommando Koninklijke Landmacht Sergeant-majoor Scheickkazerne
Gutenbergweg 10
4104 BA Culemborg
0800-0230494 (gratis)

Het EOCKL coordineert alle verzoeken om tot ruiming over te gaan, stelt prioriteiten vast en schakelt de meest in aanmerking komende EOD('en) in.

7.4 Opsporing, verzameling en overdracht van radioactieve stoffen

Verzoeken tot opsporing, verzameling en overdracht van radioactieve stoffen moeten worden ingediend bij de Stralingsbeschermingdienst Defensie, dan wel een andere instantie, die op grond van de Kernenergiewet bevoegd is deze werkzaamheden te verrichten.

7.5 Opsporing, verzameling en overdracht van asbesthoudende stoffen

Verzoeken tot opsporing, verzameling en overdracht van asbesthoudende stoffen moeten worden ingediend bij de DTA van het ministerie van Defensie, de SOVB, dan wel een andere instantie die op grond van het Asbestverwijderingsbesluit bevoegd is deze werkzaamheden te verrichten.

7.6 Rijksbijdrage

Wil een gemeente in aanmerking komen voor een Rijksbijdrage in bepaalde kosten, dan moet een berging. opsporing of ruiming, in beginsel voordat de werkzaamheden beginnen, schriftelijk worden aangemeld bij:

Het ministerie van Binneniandse Zaken en Koninkrijksrelaties Directie Brandweer en GHOR
Afdeling Bestuur en Organisatie
Postbus 20011
2500 EA Den Haag

8. Financiële aspecten

8.1 Kosten

De gemeente kan een bijdrage verkrijgen voor het opsporen en ruimen van explosieven uit de Tweede Wereldoorlog, en voor de berging van vliegtuigwrakken indien en voorzover noodzakelijk voor het opsporen en ruimen van explosieven. De voorwaarden en eisen zijn vastgelegd in het Bijdragebesluit 1999 en de Regeling eisen civiele explosieven opsporingsbedrijven en opruimer explosieven (Stcrt. 2002, 247).

8.2 Vrijwaring

Gezien de mogelijke schadeveroorzakende risico's van het ruimen van explosieven, verdient het in beginsel aanbeveling voor een concrete ruiming een verzekering of to sluiten voor het bovenmatig risico dat niet wordt gedekt door de reguliere gemeentelijke aansprakelijkheids- en / of risicoverzekering of door een (opstal)verzekering van andere belanghebbenden, b.v. particuliere bedrijven. Ontstaat er bij het optreden van een van de EOD'en van defensie onverhoopt schade, dan kan de gemeente de Staat der Nederlanden (i.c. de Minister van Defensie dan wel de Minister van BZK) in beginsel alleen aansprakelijk stellen voor schade die door opzet of grove schuld van de betreffende EOD is veroorzaakt.

4. Searching today for the men missing-in-action

1. Dutch RAF aviators MIA over land

During and for several years after the War, both the Americans and the British had their Grave Registration Services, that saw to identification, if at all possible, and proper burial, of the servicemen who had fallen. The results of this work were followed up by the Imperial War Graves Commission, later called the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, CWGC, and by a similar organisation in the USA.

Then there was the issue of the men missing-in-action. The British instituted the Missing Reasearch & Enquiry Service, MR&ES for short. Author does not intend to give a detailed history of this service; we are interested in the efforts to find back the Dutch RAF aviators missing-in-action.

In the archive of the Dienst Berging en Identificatie we have found only a single MR&ES report; the one about P.H. Peetoom. Such reports are not present in the document collection of the Sectie Luchtmachthistorie in The Hague. These documents are assumed to be present in the Hayes archive of the RAF Historical Branch. This archive is classified and remains closed to 2040. However, staff was kind enough to quote to author from such documents, regarding the MIA-loss of Jan Plesman. No MR&ES reports here on Govert Steen and Rijklof van Goens; in their cases only the reports of the Commanding Officers of their Squadrons.

Then it transpired that the National Archives in Kew, London, formerly called the Public Record Office, also holds MR&ES material, and that this material is accessible. The classification policy seems to be implemented in more than one way. So we asked the National Archives to research the matter, giving all names and details of the Dutch RAF aviators listed as MIA over land. Text of the request, dated 18/12/2005:

Dutch RAF aviators MIA over land, period 5/1940-6/1945

RAF Missing Research and Enquiry Service reports, period 1943-1950, are sought regarding the following Dutch aviators, that remained MIA over land whilst serving with the RAF. These reports are expected to be present in AIR55.

Aircraft 1

1. Hamilton of Silverton Hill, Henry Louis (Bill), Res 1Lt Vl, 320B (Dutch) Sqn,

born Bodjawa, Java, NEI 03/12/1918 - MIA


2. Kuijpers, Franz Matthias, Sgt Vltg Schutter, 320B (Dutch) Sqn,

born Goch, Germany, 29/03/1911 - MIA

Mitchell Mk. II B-25C Nr. FR179 NO-T

From RAF Dunsfold, Surrey, GB

Target: Vire railway station, Calvados, F

Vire or St. Laurent-sur-Mer, Calvados, F, 08/06/1944

Other crew:

3. F/O. W. Badings, copilot/nav – KIA

Initially buried at St. Laurent-sur-Mer, grave 1/4/749. Reburied 1948 Bayeux, grave XVI/B/14, and reburied 10/7/1957 Nederlands ereveld Orry-la-Ville, Senlis, F, grave A/1/6.

Sources: OGS 10/1/2005 & CAD-MvD 5.050.5220/81

4. Sgt. I. Posthumus, Wop/Ag – KIA

Initially buried at St. Laurent-sur-Mer, reburied 1948 Bayeux, grave XVI/B/13, and reburied 10/7/1957 Nederlands ereveld Orry-la-Ville, Senlis, F, grave A/1/7. Sources: OGS 10/1/2005 & CAD-MvD 5.050.5220/81

Data confusion: crash also reported as at sea. Author holds 1946 picture of a 320 Sqn Mitchell fuselage marked NO-T in a French scrapyard. Aircraft apparently did not crash.

Aircraft 2

Plesman, Jan Leendert (Jan), VK, Tijd Res Kapt Vl, 322F (Dutch) Sqn,

RAF VR 102524

born Gouda, NL, 18/12/1919 - MIA

Spitfire Mk. IXb Nr. MJ343 VL-P

From RAF Deanland, Sussex, GB

Aircraft shot down by enemy Flak

Location: unknown, probably S to SW of Hazebrouck, Nord, F, 01-09-1944

Data confusion: Crash usually, following the ORB, reported as NE of St. Omer. However, the aircraft was shot about 4 miles South of Hazebrouck, 30 km East of St. Omer, and dived down from 3.000 ft.

Aircraft 3

Amsterdam, Andreas Antonius Johannes (André) van, VK, DFC, Res Kapt Vl VML, 139B Sqn, RAF VR 190755

born Kortenhoef, NL, 13/11/1917 - MIA

Mosquito Mk. XVI Nr. MM131 XD-J

From RAF Upwood, Huntingdonshire, GB

Mission: raid on Berlin

Aircraft shot down by night enemy fighter ME262 flown by Obfw Karl-Heinz Becker. Pilot parachuted out unhurt, and must be assumed to have been killed on the ground. N of Brandenburg, D, 27-03-1945

Other crew:

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

The following missing Dutch RAF aviators are included, as they fell in sea, close to very close to the shore:

Aircraft 4

1. Dieren Bijvoet, Anthonius Johannes (Boelie) van; F/O., pilot

Born Utrecht, NL, 1/9/1919 - MIA


2. Knaap, Cornelis van der, Res 1Lt Wnr, P/O., copilot/nav, RAF VR 104591

Born Rotterdam, NL, 10/7/1916 - MIA

His burial location, in Cherbourg Cemetery, was reported as 6/5/11 by the Préfect Département Manche to OGS in 1953, information revoked in letter dated 24/3/1954

Note: OGS no longer has this 1953 letter


3. Apeldoorn, Albert Gerardus; Cpl., Ag

Born Amsterdam, NL, 1/10/1920 - MIA

RAF 320 (Dutch) Sqn Bomber Command

Mitchell B-25C FR174 NO-K

From RAF Lasham, Hampshire, GB

Target: German cargo vessel 'Münsterland' in Cherbourg Harbour

Aircraft shot down into Cherbourg Harbour by enemy Flak, 28/10/1943

Other crew:

4. Sgt. P.F. van Woesik, Wop/Ag – KIA

His body washed ashore on 6/11/1943 at Fort du Homet within the Cherbourg breakwater, which is approx. 200 meters from the crash site. When, how and by whom he was identified has not yet been uncovered, but German involvement must be assumed. Buried initially on 8/11/1943 as 'Von Wossik, Pierre' in Cherbourg Communal Cemetery, grave 6/

Source: Cherbourg Cemetery Register; letter Préfect Dépt. Manche 24/3/1954.

Reburied 13/6/1956 by OGS at Orry-la-Ville, Senlis, F, grave A/1/5

Results are in the literal text of the email received 6/2/2006 from Mr Ian Strawbridge, member of the The National Archives Records Search Team:

Dear Mr Philips

Thank you for your enquiry regarding the records of the Missing Research and Enquiry Service in regard to seven Dutch aviators who were reported missing in action.
I have investigated series AIR 55 as requested. Much of this series (consisting of 358 pieces) is unrelated to your enquiry, so I have only considered pieces within the various sub-series which directly relate to the Missing Research and Enquiry Service and the various Missing Research and Enquiry Units. Many of the applicable documents have titles or catalogue descriptions which indicate only policy, organisational and administrative type content, rather than the specific "Missing in Action" reports required. Any descriptions which I felt may have hidden such reports have been further investigated.

I have searched the following AIR 55 documents for entries relating to these men:

AIR 55/53: Operational areas and location statements 1947 Feb.- 1948 Aug.
AIR 55/54: Minutes and agenda of conferences held on 10 Mar. and 2 June 1947 Feb.- June
AIR 55/55: Memorial services and inauguration ceremonies 1947 Mar.- 1948 Aug.
AIR 55/57: H.Q. Missing Research and Enquiry Service Casualty Branch Instruction and Missing Research Memoranda 1948 June - 1949 May
AIR 55/58: Location statements 1948 June - 1949 July
AIR 55/62: Liaison with D.D.G.R.E. and A.G.R.C. (Deputy Director Graves Registration and Enquiries and American Graves Registration Command) 1949 June - Sept
AIR 55/63: Operational and domestic returns 1948 June - 1949 Feb.
AIR 55/65: Report on Royal Air Force and Dominions Air Forces Missing Research and Enquiry Service 1944 - 1949 by Gp.Capt. E. F. Hawkins, D.S.O. Air Headquarters B.A.F.O. 1949 Mar.
AIR 55/68: H.Q. MED/ME M.R.E.S.: reports on staff visits 1946 Jan.- 1947 Apr.
AIR 55/77: Memorial Services and Inauguration Ceremonies 1946 July - 1947 Jan.
AIR 55/80: H.Q. M.R.E.S., MED/ME: centralisation of investigation into fate of missing casualties: reports and memoranda 1945 Dec.- 1946 May

Of these, pieces AIR 55/55, 62, 63, 65 & 77 looked closest to the desired material, however, of more detailed inspection, these only contained a few example cases - nearly all where a search had been very successful, rather than any reference to outstanding missing persons cases. A few other examples of named individuals were found in the context of training examples. Some of the policy material refers to the thousands of individual case files, however, there does not appear to be a complete example of an individual report within this series.

Additional documents in other series were also search:

AIR 14/1245: Casualty returns of airmen reported missing over enemy territory 1943 Nov.-1944 July
AIR 14/1246: Casualty returns of airmen reported missing over enemy territory 1944 July -Nov.
AIR 14/1247: Casualty returns of airmen reported missing over enemy territory 1944 Nov. - 1946 Mar.
AIR 2/6469: AIR MINISTRY: General (Code B, 7/1): P.4 (Casualties) branch: Research Section, missing 1942-1945
AIR 2/6330: AIR MINISTRY: General (Code B, 7/1): Missing Research Section P4 (Casualties) branch 1941-1949
FO 916/526: Missing British airmen - whereabouts in enemy territory 1943

Unfortunately, while there are many references to specific searches for named Air Force Personnel within these documents, I have been unable to find any mention of the required airmen. Within these documents, cases are again often present as examples of successful searches, or mentions of successful evaders from capture who were questioned about their experiences and for information regarding other missing men.
AIR 2/6330 records that when the Missing Research and Enquiry Service was closed in 1949, of a total of 41881 Air Force Personnel reported as missing presumed dead, the M.R.E.S. had accounted for 22875 cases. Of the remaining 18906 cases, 12000 to 17000 cases could be considered closed as "lost at sea". It was not made clear what was to be done with the remaining outstanding cases (2000 to 7000), or what would happen to any report files.

I am sorry that on this occasion we have been unable to find the information requested.

Ian Strawbridge

National Archives Records Search Team

That's it then. Whilst the National Archives gave sterling service for the very modest fee of GBL 70,-, we have come up with nothing on the Dutch RAF aviators who went missing-in-action over land. Meanwhile it is intriguing that such a report does exist, in the RAF Hayes archive, of one Dutch RAF aviator, Jan Plesman. Therefore we cannot conclude that the MR&ES ignored the missing Dutch RAF men. But it seems that the MR&ES archive has been divided in two sections: the general information and the succes stories, now in the National Archives and accessible, and the cases that could not be resolved succesfully, in the RAF Hayes Archive, that remains closed to 2040.

The Dutch did not institute a similar search party. The Dutch knew about the MR&ES efforts, and decided to sit back and wait for results. See 'Steen' by this author for a sample document regarding this Dutch position. It seems that the Dutch are still sitting back, but probably no longer waiting for anything in this area.

It has been suggested in 2004 to the Sectie Luchtmachthistorie, in casu drs Erwin van Loo, who made Dutch RAF aviation the subject of his thesis, that it might be a good idea to go over there and become aquainted with the collegues of the RAF Air Historical Branch. Then make a collegial exchange of relevant material. There must be a way to get that done, and done now rather than after the year 2040. But it seems that this would be outside of the regular scope of work for the SLH. Not if I would run the show there. If you want to find data, go out there and get it. Need data, must travel. And must speak languages. English & German is within reach for many Dutchmen with a proper education, but French is out of fashion nowadays. This may be one of the reasons why no Dutchmen has spoken earlier with the eyewitnesses in France that author has found.

The above is about aviators MIA over land only. Those who are assumed or known to have been lost at sea, making them MIA almost by definition, did not receive any research attention, either from the British or from the Dutch. These statements have been documented in 'Steen' too.

2. The Dutch and the British way

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Oorlogsgraven-stichting are performing absolutely first class work when it comes to their main task, which is the care for War graves. The commitment is to maintain these War graves forever. We are talking about hundreds of cemeteries, scattered all over Europe, and outside Europe as well. Truly a tremendous effort. The cemeteries in their care are usually meticulously kept, throughout the seasons, by an army of gardeners. Headstones are renovated or replaced by new ones as needed. Signs are placed when a headstone is removed for renovation, or when an area should not be accessed because of newly sown grass. Stolen cemetery registers are replaced as needed. Casualty registers are made available online, with steadily improving software. These registers hold very many 'imperfections', meaning mistakes or otherwise inaccurate data. Considering the vast numbers of casualties in these, about 170.000 in the OGS register, and ten times that number in the CWGC register, it is quite understandable that there are many 'imperfections'. Optical Character Reading (OCR) software, used to come to the online registers, added more imperfections. But we do not question the genuine desire with both OGS and CWGC to get it right, meaning complete and accurate. But then there is the other matter: MIA research. For this, both OGS and CWGC have made themselves known as the proper parties, but at the same time they disqualified or disabled themselves when it comes to decisive actions in this field.

1. What is it that they do not want us to know?

The question in the title was recently raised by the widow of a decorated Battle of Britain hero, who went missing in action. A grave has been found that is most likely his. An identity claim application was submitted, and rejected two years later. Additional evidence was said to be needed. This was produced within a week, when it became clear what the officials wanted to see demonstrated too.

That did not lead to a swift closing of this case. It went back to the bottom of the pile. This was called "fairness to the other cases", and all that could mean a new verdict no sooner than two years from now. By then the widow may no longer be alive to be given the closure that she desires and richly deserves, and that clearly seems to be within reach. I could do little more than to express my concern with the work capacity of the officials involved.

The production of this, and any other, identity claim application took quite some time. This was caused mainly by some of the relevant archives being kept closed to us. Not only in England, but also in France. The evaluation by the officials of the claim application produced the data we were denied to see earlier. Once this data had surfaced via this less-than-efficient way, we could use it and act as needed. This clumsy procedure sees to it that matters that could be dealt with in weeks in fact take years. With this procedural speed, it shall not be long before there is no next-of-kin left to rejoice about new facts, after having been told for decades that there was nothing more to tell.

There are two archives that are of key importance to air war researchers interested in missing-in-action cases: The RAF Casualty Files, kept at Hayes by RAF AHB, and the CWGC archive. The first is classified to the year 2040, meaning no public access. Classification is, fortunately, fuzzy: document contents can be shared with next of kin of casualties, and with official parties, such as the MoD.

The CWGC archive is not classified, but not accessible by the public either, as a result of its level or lack of system, and currently as a result of matters being digitized. This last statement brings hope, but it shall no doubt take considerable time before we can profit from that.

It has been stated that RAF AHB is in the process of transferring - parts of - the Casualty Files to the National Archives, meaning a declassification and public accessibility. The director of RAF AHB has been asked, if only parts are to be transferred, about the selection criteria.

In air war research spheres, ways have been developed to try and deal with this secretive situation. Bottom lines are that good contacts are needed, that these contacts are to be safeguarded from interference from the uninitiated, that infomation is thankfully received after having been given in acts of benevolence, and that we should not make too many noises about all this. We even feel content if we managed to get a scrap of classified information.

I subscribe to all this, for lack of better ideas. This obedient incrowd strategy has proven to be productive, to a degree. But I also believe that occasionally louder noises are needed. Frankness is not a bad thing. Surely voices should not be raised against the servants doing their jobs. They are not in control of these matters; they function as prescribed by higher offices. I welcome any views from visitors of this forum, about where and how our voices should be raised, so that, as a first target, RAF AHB, CWGC, and the applicable MoD staffs shall be doubled by those who are in the power to do so. If we cannot access these parts of our history, then how are we to learn from it? If we cannot learn from the past, which is a faculty posessed even by animals, then how are we to prevent making the mistakes of the past? We should demand to be treated by our Governments as adults, having a right to know our common history.

2. Decisive means of identification are not allowed

Author has followed a long and tedious track when trying to get the Dutch and the British authorities to act upon the case of a Dutch RAF aviator who is missing-in-action, but who could well be buried as unknown airmen in Cherbourg, France. See the chapter on the loss of the Van Dieren Bijvoet crew for details. Statements given here are source documented in that chapter. This case was actually a test case, as it seemed a relatively easy one. Author has a lot more Dutch RAF MIA research in mind, and prepared, but needed to see a will to cooperate, prior to boring people with all the details. Regarding the test case, author has been given contrary statements and other rubbish by the institutions involved. Hence no friendly lines below. The bottom lines are:

1. The Dutch shall not act because the grave is in a cemetery that is in the care of the CWGC, the British. The Dutch are off the hook, and with ease. That's the same position taken by the Dutch sixty years ago. The Dutch are not even prepared to ask the collegues from Britain to cooperate. The conclusion can only be that there is no genuine desire to bring back missing Dutch servicemen. The Dutch will act upon crashes that took place within the borders of Holland, but only if local authorities request that this be done. Anything outside of Holland is out of sight, never mind the fact that Dutch servicemen were involved and died in these incidents. They got away with this then, and they are getting away with this now. These things are written down by me, so that the reader can know. Perhaps the future shall bring Dutchmen with a stronger morality in their knees.

2. The CWGC shall not act because the British Ministry of Defence does not give permission for exhumations for identification purposes. The dead should rest in peace, meaning also that the missing should remain missing. The British did not perform a single exhumation for identification purposes, after the GRU, GCU & MR&ES period, that ended in the early 1950's.

This argument is a moral one, 'they should rest in peace'. It is a trick in a discussion that is not being held. The families of the lost ones were not asked if they would appreciate a MIA search action. The Governments could guess the answer to that one. They devised a policy, that may have made sense in 1919. But this is the year 2006. MIA research was undertaken during the final stages of, and after World War 2, by GRU & GCU units, and by the MR&ES. This work was terminated in the early 1950's. Period. That we now have new and decisive technology for identification, the DNA technology, is dismissed. 'DNA technology is impossible at this time'. Americans are using that technology as the key tool, on a daily basis, and they are bringing home two identified MIA's a week. The Netherlands and Great Britain do not rank as poor and backwards countries. They have quite the same DNA technology available as the Americans. But they do not display that moral sense of 'brother to brother', that comes as natural to the Americans.

As there is no discussion about these matters, author feels free to give his opinion. The Dutch simply lack interest and boldness. They yield to the rule of the stronger Government. The British shy away from the labour and expenses involved. The number of MIA's, especially when taking the MIA's of World War 1 into the equasion, is so huge that the work can never be completed. This is resolved by doing nothing, at least nothing that can be called decisive. The total number of MIA's is known with a certain degree of accuracy, but there is no survey of all those buried as unknowns in the cemeteries that are in the care of the CWGC. Some information about these men is available. It is written on their headstones. It is telling that this information has not been collected by, and is not available to, the CWGC.

Headstone of an unknown airman, in Reichswald War Cemetery, Kleve, Germany. The casualty was recognized as Airforce, but the Airforce, rank and personal identification could not be acertained. The date of burial is stated on the headstone, indicating that the date of death is unknown. Most of the unknown (RAF) Airmen have a headstone stating a date. This date may, or may not, be the date of death. The information about these matters is locked in the CWGC archive, that is inaccessible to the public. At least at the time of writing. Reichswald 070320 unknown Airman buried 19-12-1944

Terlincthun British War Cemetery, near Wimille, Nord, France. Most of the casualties buried here died in World War One. An illustration of the rationale behind the British position, to let the unknowns remain unknown: there are so very very many... Still, another position is possible, one taken by the Americans. Terlincthun 080126 many unknowns 2

3. The paperwork methods and the missing Quality Manual

Now that decisive methods of identification are ruled out, because these methods require an exhumation, we are left with the paperwork methods. Occasionally claims are made by private researchers, about the identity of a casualty buried as unknown. Such claims follow from researches in local archives, and are sometimes motivated by eyewitnessing War events in childhood. Such claims, laid down in case reports by these private individuals, are scrutinized by CWGC and MoD. This sometimes leads to acceptance of the claim, but usually to its rejection. Here we enter a field where urgent questions arise. Author feels sure that the claim scrutinizing work done by CWGC and MoD is done to the best of their ability. But there is no textbook about the procedure to be followed. Hence the claimants usually cannot check the validity of the CWGC/MoD argumentation, if that is given at all. Not quite a scientific approach. Furthermore, the subject-matter is complicated. It requires a profound knowledge of logics and of the laws of probability. And it requires making choices, out in the open, so that others can agree, disagree, or falsify the matters presented as facts. Anything less than that is unscientific, and with that to be dismissed as personal opinion, were it not that the persons involved are in the power position to have their will done. It would need to be defined and stated if a probability of claim accuracy of say 75% shall be considered sufficient. It would need to be defined how probability is calculated. In short, a Quality Manual about MIA case decision making would be needed, but this does not exist. One may wonder how many of the CWGC/MoD persons involved, and that may in fact be only one or two, are trained in logics and the other fields that are relevant for a calculation of probabilities. It seems that the CWGC/MoD, now more than in the past, do not allow probabilities to enter the equasions at all. It seems that, nowadays, a claim is only accepted if the process of elimination leads to 100% certainty. A probability of say 85% means that some doubt remains, hence no acceptance of a claim. In the past, a number of headstones with names on them received inscriptions such as 'believed to be', 'buried near this spot', 'known to be buried in this cemetery'. These inscriptions indicate that a margin of uncertainty was allowed, leading to the greater good of making visible a name rather than keeping it invisible. A more flexible position, in the duty of remembrance. Author wishes to point out that working with probabilities is a regular practice in science. 100% certainty remains the target, and meanwhile we do the best we can. That is a perfectly valid way to proceed, as long as we state what we are doing, so that others can understand and check.

As an example: CWGC rejected the identity claim regarding the Polish aviator Tadeus Josef Koloszczyk, buried as unknown in Veghel Cemetery, The Netherlands, claim forwarded by Jan Hey and Jos van Alphen. The first argument for rejection was that the colour of the body's hair did not match with the RAF record of the aviator. It had to be pointed out to CWGC that hair colour can remain unchanged for centuries, but can also change significantly within hours after death. The hair colour argument is forensic rubbish, and therefore invalid. CWGC demonstrated to have insufficient knowledge in this field.

After this, the claim was rejected because the Veghel official had written down 'USAAF' in his 1944 report, undoubtably unaware of the fact that Poles were flying with the RAF and the USAAF. All that was top secret at the time. The local clerk had the first letters of the casualties surname right, and the letter of his first name, and the aircraft that he flew. Quite an achievement in Wartime. How great are the odds that this casualty is not T.J. Koloszczyk, who was lost there and on that day? We wish that CWGC/MoD would very seriously deal with that question, so that, in the end, a Quality Control Manual for MIA claim evaluation may be written.

T.J. Koloszczyk, via Jos van Alphen. Left the headstone in Veghel, NL. The shield in front of the headstone is placed there by a local citizen, who witnessed the crash of the Mustang. Veghel 060711 Koloszczyk TJ

All of these considerations are short-circuited by the tendency of official and semi-offical parties to follow data that is stamped 'official', never mind if that data is also true. This tendency to tunnelvision of officials has been mentioned in other parts of this study. If we cannot get common sense and logics to enter the official equasions, then our fight is a hopeless one. We are left with only the option of describing these matters, hoping for such times that common sense shall find a new, and in fact its real, meaning. The tunnelvision of officials and semi-officials is blocking the path towards a true and accurate description of history.

None of these complications would need to be present, if decisive technology was allowed and used. By the way, the Americans follow the analysis guidelines described here, and then they proceed to decisive means. That way is not only in line with common scientific practice, it is also the moral one to go.

3. The American way – until they are home

The Americans have been actively searching for their servicemen missing-in-action since the Second World War. During and after the War, the US had their Grave Registration and Grave Concentration Units. In 1976 the work was delegated to the Central Identification Laboratory at Oahu, Hawaii, CILHI for short. Other Department of Defence and Government agencies such as the CIA were involved in this work, and had as their priority the liberation of lost men that could be still alive, as captives of the enemy. This remains the highest priority, but the majority of the cases involve MIA's that are no longer alive. These forces merged in 1995 into the Joint Task Force – Full Accounting. This force and the CILHI merged on 1/10/2003 into the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, or JPAC. It is still based in Hawaii. Its motto reveals its mission: 'Until they are home'.

The Americans estimate that about 88.000 of their servicemen are missing, 78.000 of these as a result of World War 2, the others as results of later armed conflicts, most notably Korea and Vietnam. It is also estimated that about 35.000 are recoverable. The others are not deemed recoverable, because they were lost at sea. This does not mean that the Americans consider all who were lost at sea are unrecoverable, but the priority has been set to those lost on land, as this presents a lesser degree of difficulties. Furthermore, in several cases it has been decided to leave the remains of missing sailor inside the wreck of their War vessel, such as the wreck of the batteship USS Arizona that was sunk in Pearl Harbour on Hawaii by the infamous Japanese airborne attack. The bodies of these men are recoverable, but as the site of burial is known, and felt to be quite appropriate, it was decided to leave these bodies where they are. This is quite unlike the connotation of the word 'sea grave' when used by nations in Western Europe. The meaning of the word is then: lost at sea, location unknown, recovery totally impossible.

USS Arizona and Memorial, in Pearl Harbour, Hawaii. Source: unknown

JPAC has a staff of over 425 civilians and military, coming from several sciences and all branches of service. JPAC's laboratory is the largest forensic anthropology lab in the world. JPAC recognizes the importance of input from the public, and that includes collecting family DNA for future reference, when the remains of potentially matching casualties shall be found.

Currently detached to JPAC is the Dutch scientist Dr. Miranda Jans. She discovered that fragments of bone are preserved better over time than bone from complete corpses. This is the result of bacteria present in the human body, that attack the skeleton after death. This does not happen if a body is fragmented, as quite often is the case with military aviation casualties. So that's good news for military aviation MIA research.

Source: "Characterisation of microbial attack on archaeological bone", M. Jans et. al., Journal of Archaeological Science 31 (2004) 87-95. With thanks to Theo Toebosch, who interviewed Dr Jans in 2007.

JPAC's succes rate is about one hundred identifications per year, which is two per week. The process of identification of a single casualty can take days, or years. It can be calculated that JPAC, with the ressources that it has, needs 35.000/100 is 350 years to fulfill it mission. It should be obvious that the Americans do not shy away from so huge a task. That the work cannot be done in a lifetime should not be an argument to do no work at all. The Americans have the will to do the right thing, and therefore they make available the ressources needed to do the job. Mitochondrial DNA comparisons are the key tool used today, a tool that was not available to the GRU's and GCU's of the past. What the CWGC calls impossible, is done by the Americans on a daily basis. The difference is not found in the availability of technology, or funds, England and Holland are neither backwards nor poor, but in the will to act.

JPAC knows five primary functions: analysis, technical negotiations, investigation, recovery, and identification.

1. The analytic phase involves studying archives, interviewing potential eyewitnesses, and studying loss circumstances. That's what the study by this author is all about too. This phase remains active throughout the process. Results are provided to all others involved, meaning the field and the lab teams.

2. Technical negotiations are about securing good and safe working conditions on the soil of another nation. These negotiations are terminated with an agreement prior to JPAC actions on the soil of that foreign nation. Such negotiations increasingly are becoming a matter of routine, especially with nations that are NATO members. In other words: JPAC can usually do what it has to do, on the soil of another nation, with the blessing of that nation. I suggest that the Dutch Oorlogsgravenstichting reads the line above more than once.

3. JPAC employs six investigation teams, each consisting of six to nine members. These teams are charged with finding the site where a soil search can be recommended. In the words of JPAC: 'Once adequate information has been collected and analyzed by the intelligence and operations sections of JPAC, Stony Beach and DPMO, recommendations are made to pursue a recovery operation. Cases recommended for recovery have firm locations and have been tentatively correlated to a loss incident involving one or more unaccounted for Americans.'

4. JPAC has 18 recovery teams, the muscle of JPAC's operation. Ten teams are dedicated to recoveries in Southeast Asia, five teams to the Korean War and three teams to recovering missing Americans from World War II and the Cold War. The typical size of a recovery team is 10 to 14 personnel. Team members include a team leader, forensic anthropologist, team sergeant, linguist, medic, life support technician, forensic photographer, explosive ordnance disposal technician, and several mortuary affairs specialists. The team leader is in command of the overall field operation and has responsibility for the safety, welfare and conduct of the mission. His command team includes a senior team sergeant and anthropologist. The anthropologist controls the scientific process and procedures at the recovery site.

Regarding the recovery process:

'At a recovery site, the anthropologist directs the excavation much like a detective oversees a crime scene.

Dr. Helen Wols, Laboratory Manager:

"Each mission that we go on is unique but there are certain things that they usually have in common. The first thing the anthropologist has to do is to define the site - to figure out the site perimeter - where does the site begin, where does it end. Once we've determined that, we will establish a grid system. Then we'll begin careful excavation of that grid system. We screen everything that comes out of the site, we carefully look at any sorts of remains, anything we believe is biological material, anything we believe to be life support or personal effects, we analyze, and then we will bring that material back to the lab."

5. Regarding the identification process:

'Upon arrival at the laboratory, all remains and evidence are logged in and placed in secure areas where they remain during all stages of analysis, the science of what JPAC does.

Dr. Thomas D. Holland, Scientific Director:

"Currently, we've got a staff of about 31 forensic anthropologists and those are individuals who have advanced degrees not only the skeletal analysis - the analysis of skeletal remains, but also have experience doing archaeology, so that they can do the archaeological recoveries in the field.
We also have 4 forensic odontologists or dentists on staff and we approach from both an anthropological and an odontological or dental front, so that's the reason we have both dentists and anthropologists on staff."

Dr. Helen Wols, Laboratory Manager:

"When remains come in to the laboratory, they're assigned to an anthropologist and that anthropologist creates what's called a biological profile. That consists of information such as age, sex, race, stature and any sort of medical disorders that might help us identify who that person is."

Capt. John Lewis, Forensic Odontologist:

"Dentistry plays a very critical role in the identification process, but its part of the entire package. We combine the anthropological findings - we also put in the odontological findings in the material evidence, so they all go together as a package so that we can come up with an identification."

Dr. Thomas D. Holland, Scientific Director:

"Currently the laboratory is identifying about 2 men a week - over a hundred a year. And that's a significant number, certainly, but, when you realize how many men are missing, we've still got a long way to go."

Family Member of an Identified MIA:

"I'm so proud to be an American, that they do care about all of the unknowns, and the remains that have not been identified. We feel like we have been treated like royalty."

Dr. Helen Wols, Laboratory Manager:

"These are families who have waited years for answers - and to be able to play some role, even if it's small, in them getting those answers is so incredibly rewarding."

Dr. Thomas D. Holland, Scientific Director:

"Ultimately, the reason that you do this is one brother to another, one father to another, one son to another, because I think that's the debt that one generation has to another."

Source: & other JPAC material available online

US Department of Defence press release dated 9/10/2006:

Missing WWII Airmen is Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

He is 1st Lt. Shannon E. Estill, U.S. Army Air Forces, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He will be buried on October 10 in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.

On April 13, 1945, Estill's P-38J Lightning was struck by enemy anti-aircraft fire while attacking targets in eastern Germany. Another U.S. pilot reported seeing Estill's aircraft explode and crash. Because the location of the crash site was within the Russian-controlled sector of occupied Germany, U.S. military personnel could not recover Estill's remains after the war.

In 2003, a team from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) investigated a crash site near the town of Elsnig in eastern Germany. The site had been reported by two German nationals whose hobby is finding the location of World War II crash sites. They also claimed to have found remains at the site, which they turned over to U.S. Army officials. The team surveyed the site and interviewed two more men who witnessed the crash as children.

In 2005, another JPAC team excavated the crash site and recovered additional human remains as well as P-38 wreckage. Included in the recovered wreckage was an aircraft data plate from Estill's plane.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used mitochondrial DNA in the identification of the remains, matching DNA sequences from a maternal relative.

For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at or call (703) 699-1169.

In correspondence with JPAC, the following additional information was obtained, dated 4/1/2007:

Dear Sir,

In preparation of a newspaper article, I seek some more information
about the splendid work done by JPAC. I did not find this information in
the material offered via your website. The article is to be published in
one of the leading newspapers in The Netherlands.

1. Could you provide me with the total number of US servicemen that JPAC
and its forerunners have brought home from the European Theatre of
Operations in World War 2? Best would be a survey of the nations and the
services (Army, Navy, Airforce) involved.

Answer: (There are no Air Force identifications because the service did
not exist until 1947)
GERMANY - 34 Army; FRANCE - 32 Army; ITALY - 9 Army; NETHERLANDS 8 Army; HUNGARY - 1 Army; CZECHOSL0VAKIA - 1 Army; NORWAY - 2 Navy; RUSSIA – 7 Navy; TURKEY - 3 Army; BELGIUM 8 Army; ALBANIA - 2 Army; LUXEMBOURG – 3 Army; BULGARIA - 1 Army; UNITED KINGDOM - 3 Army.

2. JPAC estimates that about 35.000 of the 78.000 servicemen MIA in WW2
are recoverable. The others were lost at sea, or are entombed in sunken
vessels. I know that this does not mean that JPAC considers all who were
lost at sea to be unrecoverable. Has JPAC or the DOD expressed views on
this subject, or is there a policy that is followed? If so, where can I
find text about that?

Answer: The US Navy considers a Navy member lost at sea 'entombed' and
buried at sea and, thus, there is no search for these individuals. For
all other water losses -- In general, if we have info about a water loss
and our investigation indicates that a recovery is possible, we will do
it. I don't have text to point you to, but I can tell you that we do and
have done underwater recoveries (all have been very near the coast line
and were accessible and relatively shallow). Unfortunately, the majority
of underwater losses are not deemed recoverable, not only due to
accessability issues but due to the fact that we don't know where they
are at. Some were lost in deep water, with no data on where the
aircraft, ships or remains might have been swept by currents. I should
also add that not all in the 'deemed unrecoverable' category are water
losses -- some losses on sea and land occurred in such a manner (eg
massive battlefield explosions) that our historians and analysts deem
that there is no scant opportunity for today's forensic anthropologists
or archeologists to recover any fragmented remains. And for some, as
previously mentioned, there is absolutely no data on the nature or the
location of their loss.

3. Does JPAC encounter difficulties when it seeks permission from
authorities of the European nations to do its work on the soil of those
other nations?

Answer: When it becomes necessary for JPAC investigators and scientific
teams to do their work within the borders of soverign nations, JPAC
enters into technical talks with national and local authorities. In
those talks, JPAC lays out the nature of the investigation, the evidence
that leads to a particular geographic location, and the necessity to
continue the work in the host country. Naturally, JPAC respects the
cultural sensitivities of all the nations in which it works, and has
found that each of our hosts respects the professionalism and expertise
of the JPAC specialists. JPAC has never been denied access to any
European nation to conduct its work.

Deputy Director of Public Affairs
Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command

Author sees only one point of criticism on the splendid work done by JPAC: it is just not enough. Information about crash sites involving US servicemen is brought to JPAC's notice, and then sometimes nothing is heard from JPAC for years. JPAC is totally understaffed for dealing with all the crash site information available to them. This leads to one of the arguments used by MIA search parties formed by private individuals: if we have to wait for JPAC, then the site may become vandalized by treasure hunters, with personal belongings of lost aviators ending up for sale on Ebay and similar auction sites. It should be noted that aircraft wreckage can be found on the surface, in plain sight, in remote places, such as Pacific area jungle or Norwegian rock soil. That such wrecks were undisturbed for 60 years, is no guarantee for their future. It would be good if JPAC would find ways to cooperate with these private ventures, rather than accusing the good ones of disturbing evidence on crash sites. A distinction in good and rejectable private MIA research & salvage ventures is offered in the next chapter.

'Until they are home' Source: CILHI, 2001

4. Private ways

This chapter is about private initiative to find and salvage servicemen missing-in-action. It is not about private initiative to find wreck sites, from which human remains were already found and secured. Dozens of groups and individuals are active in that field, in all countries where the WW2 air War raged, especially the West European countries, from Scotland via France to Norway. Author has been in touch with most of these groups. They search for, find, and then document wreck sites. In many cases their efforts have led to textbook excavations. In more than a few cases these excavations involved the retrieval of remains of servicemen listed as missing-in-action. In those cases their efforts were always describable as done in subchapter 1. below. These groups and individuals are adding detail to the general history of World War 2.

1. Respectable efforts

Several groups of private individuals are active worldwide in the MIA research & salvage sphere. A distinction has to be made between respectable and rejectable efforts. Author considers it to be quite respectable if such search parties are genuinely motivated by the desire to find back lost men and aircraft, and if they play it by the book, meaning with the blessing of and in cooperation with local authorities. That includes the engagement by local authorities of specialists in the handling and disposal of explosive ordnance. These groups can do, and are doing, research, analysis and excavation, but they cannot do the lab work as done by JPAC. Author feels safe to guess that these groups would be happy, and capable, to follow a textbook on site investigation, if JPAC would provide that, and send all human remains found to the CIL lab, with all required site documentation, when a US casualty is involved. These groups are highly motivated to do what they are doing, sometimes as a result of a family member lost as MIA. Most of these groups are American, they believe in private enterprise, and they shall not be stopped. Estrangement between JPAC and such groups would lead these to go 'underground', which is what nobody can want. JPAC could remain in charge of the field, by providing such groups with a textbook, and by other support. As the amount of work to be done is enormous, and quite beyond the present capability of JPAC, it would be wise to engage all suitable forces available. Such private research groups would possibly be proud to be accredited by JPAC as qualified in the Work Quality Assurance sphere. The effort needed from JPAC to achieve this would be more than matched by the results that can be expected. Everybody would benefit.

2. Rejectable efforts

There are others, whom are engaged with MIA research & aircraft excavation, and whom can only be called treasure hunters. They are in it for the money that can be made with historical aircraft metal, and with personal effects of lost aviators. They are petty thieves robbing graves, and frustrating the work of JPAC. They operate underground by nature. They mislead farmers to agree to a dig, by claiming to be family of the lost aviator, and/or by claiming that they retrieve 'Crown property', but they do not have a license to do so. In fact they are criminals under the British 'Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Act 2003'. And they are criminals under the laws of the countries in which they dig. They are not motivated to bring home MIA's, but by bringing bucks to themselves. Author has no patience with such efforts. In this age of Google and Ebay, software could be written that spots the results of these illegal efforts, when offered for sale via the Web. The culprits could then be tracked down. Offering such persons money from the Government, so that they would yield their harvest, is unlikely to work. These people have private collectors as their market; collectors that shall offer more money than the Government. Author does not care where the aircraft metal goes, as long as such transfers are recorded and published. But human remains, and personal belongings of missing servicemen, can go no other way than the family of the casualty, and go so via official channels.

3. Unauthorized identifications

There are a few cases in which private individuals identified a grave of an unknown airman, by attaching a plate to the headstone, mentioning the assumed identity. These cases were not authorized by the MoD or the CWGC, leading to the removal of such plates by the CWGC.

This grave in Veghel Cemetery, The Netherlands, of an unknown Polish airman, was identified by Jos van Alphen and Jan Hey as that of T.J. Koloszczyk. The claim was rejected by the CWGC, as proof was not considered to be 100%. The grave is cared for by Mr. Van Boxtel, who eyewitnessed the crash of Koloszczyk. He produced the name plate placed in front of the headstone. Veghel 060711 Koloszczyk TJ

This plate was found by Andy Saunders in Longuenesse War Cemetery, France, in 2006. Origins of the plate are unknown. The plate was removed by CWGC at a later stage. Longuenesse Brozda grave AS - by Andy Saunders

5. New official initiatives in The Netherlands

1. Bureau Vermiste Personen Noordzee

The Dutch have instituted an official service that is engaged with missing persons: the Bureau Vermiste Personen Noordzee (BVPN). This is a recently instituted subsection of the Korps Landelijke Politie Diensten (KLPD). As this office is focussed on bodies of unknowns that washed ashore in The Netherlands, and as the sea makes no distinction to nationalities of victims, the office scope is not limited to Dutchmen only. This is an addition to the existing KLPD desks designated for missing persons, and cooperating with Interpol.

The BVPN has made a database about all unknowns who washed ashore in The Netherlands since 1982. The Bureau calls for the other nations, to build such databases too, and to internationally exchange data.

The BVPN has been asked whether the scope of this desk includes the cold cases of the unknowns who washed ashore during World War 2.

2. Werkgroep Vermiste Personen Tweede Wereldoorlog

In The Netherlands there has recently been an update on the law controlling processes concerning the dead (Wet op de lijkbezorging). This update enables DNA samples to be taken from unknown casualties of WW2, as these are found. A work group "WW2 Missing Persons" has been instituted, consisting of the Dutch Red Cross, the Police, and the BID, the Salvage & Identification Service of the Dutch Army. The Work Group is to officially start its opertions in September 2008.

Family members of WW2 casualties who are missing, are requested to submit DNA reference material. As of January 2007, a database is being build, containing DNA reference material. It is expected that this database shall increase rapidly in size, so that it shall become a useful tool for MIA research.

Relatives of WW2 MIA's can contact the Dutch Red Cross for more information: by email via [email protected] or by mail to Nederlands Rode Kruis, afdeling Oorlogsnazorg, postbus 28120, 2502 KC Den Haag.

We can assume that this is a result of the following factors:
1. The succes of DNA technology in criminal investigations.
2. The increasing convenience of the technology and the decreasing costs of it.
3. The Dutch Lawgiver has recognized that MIA research is desirable, as the proper way to bring closure to the families of the missing.

The Work Group estimates that about 500 Dutchmen are still missing as casualties of WW2. I do not know how that number was estimated, and believe that this is a serious underestimation. Perhaps the number is based on an estimation about the number of Dutch WW2 casualties that are still MIA on the soil of The Netherlands only.

A large sample I took (over 1.900 names) from the records of the Oorlogsgravenstichting, the Dutch CWGC, reveals that at least 4% of the WW2 casualties is not registered, meaning in fact missing. 4% of 180.000 registered casualties amounts to 7.200. This could even be substantially more, as an unknown number of casualties from the "Arbeitseinsatz" in Germany, possibly as many as 20.000, are not included. 90 of the Dutch RAF aviators are still MIA. On a total of about 900 Dutchmen who performed flying jobs in the RAF that's about 10%. So the number of MIA's mentioned as 500 is most likely to be far too low. Nevertheless, it seems that new winds are starting to blow, with new tools and a new awareness, leading to new chances for identification of bodies of unknown casualties, and therefore of missing persons.

Surely this message can be seen as of little significance in British eyes. The UK has lost not 500 or 10.000, but hundreds of thousands of men in two World Wars. I did not bother to look up the official estimation of the number of UK MIA's, as the point is clear enough. Nevertheless, new winds are blowing right across The Channel, and the costs of the technology involved are rapidly going down.

Sources: Dutch Red Cross & Nederlands Forensisch Instituut, correspondence with OGS

Dutchmen MIA outside of Holland form as yet a grey area. Recent cases are covered by agreements about international police cooperation. For WW2 cases things are different. Dutch law does not apply outside of The Netherlands. Dutch law neither provides for such situations, as far as I know. If the BID KL is to operate outside of The Netherlands, which indeed has happened a few times, then it needs to have permission to do so from the highest office, which is the Minister, and of course permission from authorities abroad. The JPAC experience is that such international permission is always given. Surely the matter of Dutchmen MIA abroad in WW2 can do with an update of the Ministriële Richtlijn, controlling the work of the BID.

5. Reconciliation

At the time of writing, 21 Dutch WW2 aviators have been found to be alive. 18 of them were Dutch RAF aviators, and most served with 320 Sqn. Author is in touch with the majority of them. Some are online, and appear to be utterly indestructable, even at the age of ninety. Others however, and very sadly, still carry a far too heavy burdon brought about by the War. Five out of 17 have to be called incommunicative, because they have locked themselves away from the outside world. There is no doubt whatsoever that this has to do with their highly emotional Wartime experiences, that could never be reconciled. One to at most three years of Wartime flying changed their lives for the remainder. The lack of interest and recognition from their Fatherland must have played a role in this. For obvious reasons, this is not a chapter in which names are to be given. Author hopes that this work may contribute to a more general understanding of what these men were willing to do, and actually did, and achieved. This study is intended to be a Memorial to these men. The least we can do. Wish this had been done earlier. Many years earlier.

Gravelines, France, where T.F.A. Buys went missing-in-action in the Channel. Now the flags of Holland, Germany, the United Kingdom and France are flying together in this area. Gravelines 051018-4

6. Recognition

How was the loss of life for liberty recognized by the Dutch Government? In other words, how were the lost Dutch RAF aviators decorated, and where and how are they commemorated? What is there to be seen by the public today? Answers can only be brief.

1. Decorations

Of the 226 Dutchmen in RAF service who were killed in Europe, 68 were decorated. This number includes British decorations, 7x DFC and one DFM, and decorations for Engelandvaarders. For their Wartime flying, no more than 42 of the 226 were rewarded with a Dutch medal. That's 19 percent. Most were rewarded with the Vliegerkruis (Flying Cross). The 95 aviators amongst the 226, who were killed without an enemy in sight, were rewarded for their efforts with a total of four medals. That's 4 percent. Being killed in a flying accident must have been considered unheroic, and never mind the circumstances, that nobody bothered to find out anyway. Many of these 95 men had been at War for several years. The Dutch Goverment has not been liberal in its policy regarding decorations for men lost. Of the 678 Dutch RAF aviators, excluding ground crew, who survived, 231 were decorated for their Wartime flying. Again, usually with the Flying Cross. That's 34%, twice as many as amongst those who did not have the good fortune to survive.

Leo de Hartog, in 'Officieren achter prikkeldraad 1940-1945', has pointed out that the Dutch officers in prisoner of War camps were mostly forgotten too, when it came to decorations. As if their escape attempts, costing the lives of at least 17 of them, were requiring less courage than the acts of others.

Source: L. de Hartog; 'Officieren achter prikkeldraad 1940-1945', Baarn, 1983, p. 359-362

A Dutch proverb is 'out of the eye, out of the heart'. We are not going to look for explanations and understanding. Or the cost price of a medal. This can be the briefest of chapters.

2. Memorials

1. Hardware Memorials

Holland has more than 2.900 War Memorials.


The 226 Dutchmen who lost their lives in Europe whilst serving with the RAF are not commemorated on or any of these. Let alone on one that carries all their names. Several of these men are commemorated on several Memorials, see the Chapter about Memorials at the end of this book.

However, in 2006 KLu Commodore b.d. Steve Netto took the initiative to erect a Monument on Soesterberg Air Force Base, for all Dutch post-War military aviators who had fallen. This initiative was supported by the top of the Dutch Ministry of Defence. Its scope gradually expanded to cover all Dutch military aviators lost, from the very first days of military aviation in The Netherlands, including the losses of the Marine Luchtvaart Dienst. The Wartime data collected by author saw to it that this more ambitious scope for the Monument became possible, as the Ministry of Defence reported to have unsufficient data to support that part of its history. The first stage of the Monument, carrying all 267 names of those who fell in the post-War period, was revealed on 14/09/2007, see the Chapter Memorials - Soesterberg 2

Other countries did commemorate their aviators lost in RAF service, with a Memorial carrying all or most names:

Belgium: Commemorative wall in the Jubelpark, Brussels, and the commemorative walls in Brussels Evère Cemetery. The Belgian RAF aviators who ar missing received symbolic headstones in Evère.

Norway: Commemorative wall at Akershus, Oslo, N.

Poland: Monument in Northolt, Greater London, GB.

Australia: Monument in Canberra, AU.

Data with thanks to Rob Moeskops, 7/8/2005

The USAAF commemorates its missing men in several countries. At the Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial in Neupré, South of Liège, Belgium, there are 12 granite slabs that carry the names and particulars of 447 USAAF and 15 US Navy servicemen who went missing in the area. At the WW2 American Cemetery in Madingly, Cambridge, UK, there is a stone wall carrying the names of 5.126 Americans who remained missing-in-action. In Margraten, NL, the Tablet of the Missing carries 1.723 names. These are three examples out of 24 US military cemeteries woldwide outside of the USA.


In Canada Bill C-417 was first read in the House of Commons on 27/03/2007, an Act to establish a Memorial Wall for Canada's fallen soldiers and peacekeepers. More than 115.000 Canadian servicemen are buried in 75 countries. Repatriating all is considered impossible. The Memorial Wall is to carry the names of all, and to be completed not later than two years after this Act comes into force.

Source: Newsletter of the 2nd Tactical Air Force Medium Bomber Association, Canadian Corner, Nr. 87, November 2007,

A flying Memorial for the Dutch RAF aviators. Mitchell Mk. II B-25J, Nr. 44-29507, N320SQ and Spitfire Mk. IX 3W-17 of the Stichting Koninklijke Luchtmacht Historische Vlucht, performing a flypast over Apeldoorn on May 8, 2005, in remembrance of the liberation of Holland by Canadian forces.

WW2 Military vehicles of the 'Keep them Rolling' organisation in front of The Loo Palace, Apeldoorn, May 8, 2005. Some 400 WW2 vehicles were massed in Apeldoorn, to transport Canadian veterans during the parade celebrating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Holland.

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight of the Royal Air Force performing at an airshow in 2008

2. Online Memorials

1. CWGC and OGS

A recent type of Memorial is the online casualty register. The Dutch Oorlogsgravenstichting has an online register,, and the lost Dutch RAF aviators are all present in the OGS database. One has to know their names in advance, as the online search facilities do not allow the men to show up as a group. As a group, they are invisible in the public eye. The online Casualty Register could become a better Memorial, if search facilities were expanded. After all, a Memorial is intended to memorize those whose names are not commonly known.

The British couterpart, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, also has an online database with names of Commonwealth casualties of both World Wars: Recently, the CWGC offered extended search facilities, on demand, not online:

Computer Database Printed Reports

Computerisation of our casualty records means that we are now able to produce printed database reports to single or multiple specified criteria. These can include military unit (for example regiment, battalion, battery), ship, squadron, surname, date of death or hometown. Further details and charges are available on request.

Source:, 12/2005

However, CWGC database search facilities were expanded in a most useful way by Mr. Duncan McLeod in March 2006. The aims of this project are, in his own words:

- To index the CWGC lists on-line in a way that search engines can scour the full CWGC database, making fuller searches with site specific searches possible.

- Not to step on the CWGC's toes. They own the copyright to their database and I have no intention of re-serving their data. I want to improve the usability of their data by increasing the search possibilities.

See: This Web page offers links to CWGC cemeteries, or cemeteries with CWGC burial, grouped by country or area, worldwide. If one wishes to have a survey of all complying cemeteries in say Denmark, this is now easily available.

OGS is in the process of adding headstone pictures to the online Casualty Register. Author has corresponded many times with OGS, questioning the OGS data, and suggesting improvements. Unlike the CWGC, OGS is responsive to this, to a limit that is set by the status of data, and by the amount of labour involved. Data has to be official rather than accurate or truthful. Incorrect grave position references, for example, reported by author with maps and photographs to substantiate the case, are checked by OGS via correspondence with local authorities. These authorities may or may not answer. Statements in the OGS database therefore may or may not be corrected. In the OGS data about the 226 Dutch RAF aviators lost in Europe, author has found minor to serious errors in over one hundred cases. The process of getting it right is very slow. But we persist. Getting it right is the least that can be done in the memory of the lost men.

Conversely, OGS has supplied author with unpublished documents and statements, that were most helpful in resolving some of the enigmas, or in understanding how some of the questionable bits of data came to be.

2. USA, France, Germany



However, at the time of writing, May 2007, the French casualties of the 2nd World War are not yet available via these sites.


3. Private initiatives

About the efforts to photograph, and make available online, all War graves.

1. Britain

The British War Memorial Project Ltd.

2. Canada

3. Australia

4. New Zealand

5. South Africa

6. Poland

7. Belgium

8. Denmark

9. Norway

10. Tjechoslowakia

3. Museum representation

Deelen 100310-2

In this Chapter Museums are mentioned that were found to have traces of the Dutch RAF/FAA effort. This listing does not sum up all Airwar Museums in The Netherlands, and it does not claim to be complete.

Several Airforce Bases in The Netherlands hold a 'Traditiekamer', a small Museum with artefacts relating to that base and/or aircrew who were stationed there. As several of these bases are being dismantled at the time of writing, the status of these collections is sometimes uncertain. The collections are unlikely to disappear, but accessibility can be limited, or non-existent for a period of time.

1. Military Aviation Museum, Soesterberg, NL

Richelleweg, Soesterberg, 52.11231N/5.29131E.

The main Airforce Museum in Holland is the Military Aviation Museum on Soesterberg airbase. On April 2nd, 2005, Mr. Albert 'Beuk' Beukhof, former 320 airgunner with 90 ops to his name, gave a lecture in the Soesterberg Museum. He remarked that the Dutch RAF effort is almost invisible in the exhibits. The Museum does have a Mitchell bomber, but of the wrong type. This Mitchell does not have a gun turret such as in which Mr. Beukhof was operational during those 90 ops. Author adds that the plate near the Mitchell mentions 320 Squadron Coastal Command as having flown with the Michell too. Three Twenty really ought to receive more attention.

322 (Dutch) Squadron is also invisible in the exhibits. In 2006, the gallery of Dutch Airforce War Heroes held the uniforms of the following men:

1. Mr. J.W.T. Bosch KvV, VK2, DFC, OHK.2, and more. Engelandvaarder, flew Blenheims and Mosquitos with the RAF, switched to KLM after the War.

2. Hfd Off Vl H.V.B. Burgerhout MWO 4kl, VK, DSO, OHK.2. Became an inspiring CO of RAF 320 Squadron, 12/12/1943 to 25/12/1944.

3. J.H.H. Lentz, flew with RAF 159 Squadron in Europe, later in the Pacific. Shot down by Japanese fighters. Survived the War in a Japanese POW camp. Retired as LKol of the Dutch Air Force.

4. J.N. Mulder VK, MWO 4kl, ON.4x, OHK.3 flew with RAF 320 Squadron, finally as Flight Commander. Remained in the Dutch Air Force in leading positions.

5. G.J.H. Vullers ON.4x, VK, NL.3, OHK.1. Flew with RAF 126 Squadron Fighter Command. Retired as General Major of the Dutch Air Force.

6. Res 1Lt Vl A.H. Bodaan MWO 4kl. Killed in action near Waalhaven, Rotterdam on 10/5/1940 during his third sortie that day.

7. H. Schaper MWO 4kl, DFC, ON.2x, OHK.2, and more. Flew with RAF 320 Squadron Coastal Command. Shot down 29/5/1942 by a Flak ship, became POW. Held many leading positions. Retired as Lieutenant General of the Dutch Air Force.

8. ZKH Prince Bernhard.

If we exclude ZKH Prince Bernhard, six out of seven of these famous and very highly decorated Dutch military aviators have flown with the Royal Air Force. Three of the six received the highest Dutch decoration for valour, the Militaire Willems Orde. Three of the six also received a British Distinguished Service Order or a Distinguished Flying Medal. This demonstrates the point that the Dutch RAF episode has been a major one.

Uniform gallery in the MLM in 2008. Left to right Asjes, Burgerhout, Swagerman, Schaper, Mulder and ZKH Prins Bernhard. The uniforms of Bosch, Lentz, Vullers and Bodaan were removed. Excluding ZKH, three out of five were Dutch RAF aviators: Burgerhout, Schaper and Mulder. MLM 080403-1

Dr. Jan Jansen, director of the Museum, solemnly promised on 2/4/2005 that matters shall improve on this point, once the Museum has moved to larger premises. We record for the record. History does not start and stop with World War 2. But in terms of objectives, results, and the costs involved, WW2 definitely was the major episode in Dutch military aviation, and the Dutch RAF aviators in Europe carried about half of that burden. The exhibition in the most important Airforce museum of Holland should reflect that. It is a matter of focus. Events were not limited to the Dutch borders. This was a World War.

Militaire Luchtvaart Museum, Soesterberg, NL, Snijdershal. A Dutch NEI Mitchell, a Mustang, a V-1 missile, and Fokker G-1 and D-XXI replicas are visible. MLM Snijdershal 051206, picture taken with special permission of the MLM

Map 134. Location of the Militaire Luchtvaart Museum in Soesterberg

2. Other museums with Dutch RAF/FAA material

1. The Netherlands

Please note that data about opening times is volatile. The data given is accurate only at the time of writing. The number of museums with military aviation material is not exhausted with the entries below. Only collections holding material about the Dutch RAF episode in Europe are mentioned.

The collections mentioned below usually do not have an inventory list, that would help in identifying Dutch RAF/FAA material. Meaning that these collections might hold more material on the subject than can currently be described.

This chapter was written with great help from Gerben J. Tornij.

1. Nederlands Instituut voor Militaire Historie, Den Haag

Alexanderkazerne, gebouw 204, Van Alkemadelaan 357, 2597BA 's-Gravenhage, Postbus 90701, 2509LS 's-Gravenhage, phone 070-3165836,, email [email protected]. Access as explained below.

The NIMH was formed in 2005, when the separate historical departments of the Royal Dutch Army, Navy and Air Force were reorganised into one institution. From the collections of the former Sectie Luchtmachthistorie (SLH) and the Instituut voor Maritieme Historie (IMH), the NIMH holds a vast amount of material about the Dutch RAF/FAA period. Only documents and photographs; there is no hardware in this collection.

Source: Dr A.P. van Vliet, director NIMH, conversation dated 24/08/2006

The NIMH is a research institute with a vast archive, not a museum.

Text of NIMH:

Het Nederlands Instituut voor Militaire Historie (NIMH) is een gespecialiseerd kennis- en onderzoekscentrum op het gebied van de Nederlandse militaire geschiedenis. Het instituut, gevestigd in Den Haag, is er voor iedereen met belangstelling voor het Nederlandse militaire verleden. Het NIMH draagt zorg voor een moderne wijze van onderzoek naar, onderwijs over en vastlegging van het heden en verleden van de Nederlandse strijdkrachten in binnen- en buitenland; te land, ter zee en in de lucht.

Het NIMH voorziet de Defensietop op ieder gewenst moment van beleidsadviezen, draagt bij aan de militaire doctrinevorming, verzorgt lezingen en onderwijs aan militaire opleidingsinstituten en universiteiten, publiceert wetenschappelijke studies, beheert een unieke militair- historische collectie, en maakt de aanwezige kennis en het audiovisuele bezit toegankelijk voor een breed publiek. De medewerkers verzorgen militair-historisch onderwijs te velde en zijn aanspreekpunt voor iedereen met vragen over het Nederlandse militair verleden.

Het Nederlands Instituut voor Militaire Historie is een vooraanstaande wetenschappelijke autoriteit op militair-historisch gebied, met specifieke kennis en collecties.

Het NIMH opent bovendien zijn deuren voor iedereen die zich (verder) wil verdiepen in de geschiedenis van de Nederlandse strijdkrachten. Defensiespecialisten, onderzoekers of particulieren kunnen de unieke collecties zelf komen raadplegen. Ook is het mogelijk zich schriftelijk dan wel per e-mail te wenden tot een van onze gespecialiseerde medewerkers.

2. Nationaal Luchtvaart-Themapark Aviodrome, Lelystad

Pelikaanweg 50, 8218PG Luchthaven Lelystad, phone 0900-2846376

Text of Aviodrome:

Het Nationaal Luchtvaart-Themapark Aviodrome is geopend van dinsdag t/m zondag, van 10.00 tot 17.00 uur. Tijdens de zomermaanden juli en augustus is de Aviodrome geopend tot 18.00 uur.

De Aviodrome is op maandag gesloten met uitzondering van de schoolvakanties. De maandagen dat de Aviodrome wel geopend is (van 10.00 tot 17.00 uur) zijn:

  • Kerstvakantie, maandag 26 december 2005 en maandag 2 januari 2006
  • Voorjaarsvakantie, maandag 20 februari en maandag 27 februari 2006
  • Pasen, maandag 17 april 2006
  • Meivakantie, maandag 1 mei 2006
  • Pinksteren, maandag 5 juni 2006
  • Zomervakantie, maandag 3 juli t/m maandag 28 augustus 2006
  • Herfstvakantie, maandag 16 oktober 2006 en 23 oktober 2006

Op Eerste Kerstdag en Nieuwjaarsdag is het Nationaal Luchtvaart-Themapark Aviodrome gesloten.

3. Traditiekamer Vliegbasis Twenthe, Enschede

Also known as Luchtvaart Museum Twenthe. But it no longer exist. The collection contained some material about 320 Squadron.

Rien Tiehatten, Medewerker Traditiekamer Vlb. Twenthe, reports in an email dated 16/8/2006:

In verband met de naderende opheffing van de vliegbasis Twenthe is de Traditiekamer van dit onderdeel opgeheven en is de collectie overgedragen aan diverse instanties zoals het MLM in Soesterberg, het NIMH (Nederlands instituut voor Militaire Historie) in Den Haag en aan de stichting 'Vrienden van het Luchtvaartmuseum Twenthe' Ook diverse in bruikleen verkregen voorwerpen en goederen zijn terug naar de eigenaar.

In de collectie bevonden zich, naar mijn weten geen zaken die in uw studie passen. Enige voorwerpen zoals motoren van zowel Britse als Duitse vliegtuigen waren wel aanwezig en bevinden zich thans in opslag bij de bovengenoemde stichting.

Mr. A.M. Roding, gemeente-archivaris in Enschede, reported on 28/8/2006 as follows:

De Vereniging Luchtvaartmuseum Twente werd op initiatief van o.m. ondergetekende in 1974 opgericht. De door haar in dit museum beheerde eigendommen als ook de door 'derden' afgegeven bruiklenen werden (worden) bijeengebracht, onderhouden en beschikbaar gesteld door de Stichting Vrienden Luchtvaartmuseum Twente.

Teneinde de militaire inbreng in het door de Vereniging instandgehouden particuliere museum in de vorm van de inbreng van middelen en bruiklenen te formaliseren werd vanuit defensiezijde in 1985 de Traditiekamer Vliegbasis Twenthe opgericht op basis van een op dat moment tevens van kracht wordende ministriele regeling. Conform deze regeling verkreeg zij haar spullen uitsluitend via bruikleen van genoemd museum en fungeerde de Traditiekamer formeel als dependance van het Militaire Luchtvaartmuseum te Soesterberg.

Ten gevolge van de aangekondigde opheffing van de Vlb.Twenthe en daarmede de Traditiekamer Vliegbasis Twenthe en het bovendien niet meer beschikbaar zijn van een geschikte fysieke locatie is de collectie van de Stichting thans gedeeltelijk overgebracht naar eigen depots en gedeeltelijk 'uitgezet' bij een aantal regionale musea, zoals overigens altijd al een deel van haar collecties elders in bruikleen was gegeven.

He adds that the Stichting holds no material relevant to this study.

4. Traditiekamer Vliegbasis Leeuwarden

Vliegbasis Leeuwarden, Keegsdijk 7, 8919 AK Leeuwarden, phone 058 – 234 69 11. Open every first Thursday afternoon of the month. Visits by appointment, to be made with the Staf Voorlichting of the vliegbasis.

Text of Vlb Leeuwarden:

Vliegbasis Leeuwarden beschikt over een klein museum (traditiekamer), waarin op bijzondere wijze de geschiedenis van het Leeuwarder vliegveld wordt getoond. De traditiekamer is gevestigd in het uit hout opgetrokken KLM-gebouw, dat dateert uit de beginperiode van de vliegbasis, toen het vliegveld dienst deed als burgerluchtvaartterrein.

De collectie van dit museum geeft een boeiend overzicht van de luchtvaartgeschiedenis van de vliegbasis in de regio vanaf de opening in 1938. De verzameling bestaat uit foto's, affiches, documenten, krantenknipsels, plattegronden, een groot aantal modelvliegtuigjes en vele andere aan de luchtmacht verwante artikelen uit heden en verleden. Het beheer over de traditiekamer is in handen van enkele oud-militairen die de bezoekers uitgebreid tekst en uitleg geven over de tentoongestelde artikelen.

5. Stichting Militair Vliegend Personeel 1939-1950, Baarn

d'Aulnis de Bourouillaan 6, 3741 CJ Baarn, phone 035-5411483. Open after appointment by phone only.

The Foundation holds the collection brought together by Mr Rob Venema. The collection holds photographs, documents, log books and personal effects of many Dutch WW2 military aviators. Many of these have been Dutch RAF or FAA aviators. This superb collection has been a major source for portrait photographs and personal aviator data presented in this study. The Foundation contributed no less than 135 original Wartime photographs to this study. For security reasons, we do not present pictures of the Museum itself, as it cannot muster security measures that bigger musea can.

6. Nationaal Oorlogs- en Verzetsmuseum, Overloon

Museumpark 1, 5825 AM Overloon, phone 0478-641250, email [email protected]

Open September t/m June 10.00-17.00h; July & August 10.00-18.00h.

Closed December 24, 25, 31, January 1.

Text of Overloon:

Wat achterbleef was een totaal verwoest Overloon.

Zoveel verbeten tegenstand hadden de geallieerden sinds de Normandische stranden in juni niet meer meegemaakt. Ze hadden drie vliegtuigen, zo'n veertig tanks en 1878 manschappen verloren. De Duitsers raakten ongeveer 600 man en een aantal tanks kwijt.

Harry van Daal, inwoner van Overloon, was zo geschokt door de gebeurtenissen dat hij voorstelde om een deel van het slagveld intact te houden en in te richten als een museum. Op 25 mei 1946 verrichtte generaal Whistler, bevelhebber van de Britse troepen die Overloon veroverden, de officiële opening van het museum.

De 15 hectare grond van het museumpark, behoort tot de grootste slagvelden van de Tweede Wereldoorlog. Het is een blijvende herinnering aan en een aanklacht tegen de verschrikkingen van de oorlog.

The museum has a Spitfire on display, painted as NH649 3W-F. The aircraft was originally delivered as TP285 to the Indian Airforce. The museum acquired the aircraft in 1987, and gave it a 322 Squadron look.

The Indian Air Force Spitfire TP285, acquired by the Overloon Museum, and repainted as a 322 Squadron aircraft. Overloon 060804 Spitfire 1

7. Museum Vliegbasis Deelen, Arnhem-Deelen

Hoenderloseweg 10, Gebouw 20, 6816SW Arnhem/Deelen. 52.061596N/5.897450E. Phone 026-334 1625. Open Saturday & Sunday 11.00 to 17.00h.

Deelen 100310-12

The museum is housed in a former German 'Gefechtsstand', at the Northeasterly corner of the vast Vliegbasis Deelen. On display are photographs & documents relating to the Lancaster crash nearby, taking the life of Geert Overgaauw & crew. See Chapter 3.84.

It is planned to reserve a corner for the Dutch RAF fighter pilots who perished in WW2: Govert Steen, Rijklof van Goens, Hans Tutein Nolthenius.

Deelen 100310-4

Map 135. Location of the Museum, at the Northeasterly corner of Vlb Deelen

8. Duke of Brabant Air Force Collection, Gilze-Rijen

The Duke of Brabant Air Force has been renamed Stichting KLu Historische Vlucht. This foundation maintains about 27 Dutch RAF aircraft, of which 17 are airworthy & flying. Amongst these a Mitchell B25, serial N320SQ.

Hangar 10 of the SKHV Source: Copyright SKHV

Stichting Koninklijke Luchtmacht Historische Vlucht

Vliegbasis Gilze-Rijen, entrance at Bavelse Poort

Secretariaat: Postbus 229, 5120 AE Rijen.


9. 320 Squadron Society Collection

10. MLD Traditiekamer, De Kooij, Den Helder

11. Stichting Collectie Militaire Traditie, Driebergen

Museum 't Schilderhuis, Van Rijkevorselstraat 2, 3972ER Driebergen, phone 0343-517588., email [email protected]. Open 1 April to 30 September: Saturday, Sunday & festivity days 12.00-17.00h, other days 14.00-17.00h. 1 October to 31 March: Saturday, Sunday & festivity days 12.00-17.00h, Wednesdeays 14.00-17.00h.

Text of 't Schilderhuis:

Museum 't Schilderhuis in Driebergen exposeert over de geschiedenis en tradities van onze strijdkrachten. De ontwikkeling van de militaire kleding en toebehoren wordt getoond, onder andere met zeer veel originele uniformen, gedragen te velde en op parade, door soldaat en generaal, van de Tachtigjarige Oorlog tot en met de vredesmissie in Irak. Het museum, geheel draaiend gehouden door vrijwilligers, is het enige in Nederland dat aandacht besteedt aan alle krijgsmachtdelen sinds hun oprichting tot vandaag.

12. Kazemattenmuseum, Kornwerderzand

The Kazemattenmuseum is housed in some of the bunkers of the Afsluitdijk defensive position, that effectively stopped the German attack in May 1940.

The Kazemattenmuseum has on display the tail section and some other parts of Hudson FK780, that was shot down and crashed in the IJsselmeer nearby on 6/7/1944. Four crew, and four Dutch BBO agents died in this crash. See chapter 3.82

Kazemattenmuseum 070728-6

For questions about visiting the museum and group visits you can call the VVV, Regio IJsselmeergebied Friesland, phone +31 515 540 550 (throughout the year) or call +31 515 542 565 (March till November). Open May 1st to November 1st, Wednesday & Saturday, 10.00-17.00, and Sunday 13.00-17.00 in July and August.

Email [email protected].


13. Wings to Victory, Arnemuiden

Informatie over het pas opgerichte museum over de luchtoorlog 40-45 is te vinden op Het museum is gevestigd in een hangar op het vliegveld Midden-Zeeland bij Arnemuiden. Geopende elke laatste zaterdagmiddag van de maand, en op afspraak.

2. Abroad

Author has found only a few collections holding material about the Dutch RAF/FAA Europe episode in musea outside of The Netherlands, when aircraft records kept at the RAF Museum in Hendon, GB, are excluded. Parts found to be surviving in the hands of private collectors abroad, are mentioned in the crash chapters.

1. Bircham Newton, Norfolk, UK, Heritage Room

Many buildings of former RAF Bircham Newton survive. They are in use by the National Construction College. In this building the Heritage Room is located. Bircham Newton 080211-3

Of its satellite, the nearby former RAF Docking, only a single derelict building remains. RAF Docking had grass runways; the area could be reclaimed by agriculture with ease.

Bircham Newton 080211-2

Map 136. Location of Bircham Newton Heritage Room

2. Dunsfold Aerodrome, Surrey, UK, Reg Day Museum

1. The Museum

Dunsfold 080213-7

Dunsfold 080213 Reg Day Museum

Founder and Curator is F/Lt. (ret'd) W.E.R. Day, who was an aircraft mechanic in the 2TAF days. Dunsfold Aerodrome has been transformed into an industrial estate. However, the runway is still there, and can be used. The estate management was charmed by Reg Day's request in the year 2001, for some space for a Memorial Museum. Two Portacabins were made available. Reg, age 85 when we meet him in February 2008, explains that he would not have this small museum anywhere else, Dunsfold is connected to so many memories... Since the start, the collection of 2TAF memorabilia has grown rapidly.

Dunsfold 080213 Reg Day Museum

Dunsfold 080213 Reg Day Museum

The Museum is open on Wednesdays only. Contact: Reg Day, 171 Foxhays Road, Reading, Berkshire RG2 8NW, phone 0118 9875728.

Dunsfold 080213 Reg Day Museum

The Reg Day Museum in Dunsfold holds a Rolls of Honour commemorating all crew of 2nd Tactical Air Force. Included are the names of 320 (Dutch) Squadron crew who lost their lives.

Dunsfold 080213 Reg Day Museum

Dunsfold 080213-8

Peter Jenner (L) and Reg Day in front of the former 98 Sqn radar & radio workshop. Dunsfold 080213-12

'Rose Cottage', former headquarters of 98 Sqn Dunsfold 080213-14

Dunsfold 080213-15

Map 137. Location of Dunsfold Aerodrome and the Reg Day Museum

Dunsfold's Unique Collection

4. Literature

Mr. J.W.T. Bosch, attached to the Sectie Luchtmachthistorie at the time, wrote 'De Militaire Luchtvaart tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog in Groot-Brittannië 31 mei 1940 - 9 mei 1945', no date (after 1970). The typescript was not published, and the information processed, e.g. the number of Dutch RAF aviators in the English period, is far from complete. This is the only work we know, that deals with the subject in a systematic way. Sections of this history were published, oriented at Squadrons, or as egodocuments from survivors. Most notably amongst these is '320 Squadron Memorial 1940-1945', 1987, no place, by Mr. Jan P. Kloos, who published the book privately in two editions totalling 600 copies. Mr. Kloos produced the book for the benefit of the 320 Sqn personnel families. The book gives a broad selection of material, including many photographs, and a summary of the ORB. The book is in album form, without connecting text. The book is almost impossible to find on any market. It is a major source of information, as indeed is Mr. Kloos himself with his iron memory and constitution. The book should be republished, on high quality paper, to bring out the photographs better.

This means that there is no summarizing publication about the Dutch RAF episode available to the public. Currently drs Erwin van Loo, historian at the Sectie Luchtmachthistorie, is working on a thesis describing the episode. This shall become the first comprehensive publication on the subject. Mr. Van Loo is in the best position to make a very good job out of this. We like to believe that the text in this book can be considered as a special chapter belonging to the more general work on the subject.

Apeldoorn, May 8th, 2005, Victory Parade. Canadian officers escort a WW2 vehicle that transports Canadian veterans during the parade that commemorates 60 years of liberation of Holland.

7. Recognition for casualties flows into care for posterity

The chapter above is not just about recognition for those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. The various ways for recognition at the same time have a message to convey to posterity. Author believes this to be as important as the recognition issue. Memorials and literature also have a learning function. Mankind is probably the only species in Earth's Nature, that kills members of its own species, for a variety of utterly unintelligent reasons, that are never connected with the usual rule of Nature, which is food for survival. It has been argued that man's killing is a natural phenomena with the purpose of population control. This is utter rubbish. If this would be true, then it has failed entirely. Unlike the animal predators, mankind, meaning each and any human individual on Earth, has a choice. Either it or he or she can continue to kill, or it can choose not to do so. We like to see the last option as the civilized one. Being able to make moral choices is one of the key features that distinguishes man from the animals. Or so we like to believe.

To make such choices, a certain sense of morals is needed. If in doubt about a sense of morals, author suggests consulting the Bible, or the Koran, or any other similar great book of learning and behaviour. In the moral matters that matter, there are no discrepancies between these books. Do not consult Friedrich Nietzsche, which is what the Nazis did, but do have a very good time reading his stuff. Even if he is THE advocate of the wrong choices, he at least depicts the choices very clearly.

Furthermore, at least a basic knowledge is needed of the history of mankind. This history is filled with wars. Therefore, in order to choose in a conscious and deliberate way, knowledge of human history, and therefore also of warfare, is imperative. Men ought to learn from his behaviour in the past, or else be condemmed to repeat the mistakes of that past. Memorials and literature are instrumental in providing such knowledge. Considering the fact that so-called local wars are raging in countless places on Earth today, sixty years after World War 2, we have to conclude that mankind as a whole has not learned nearly enough from the 40 million casualties of World War 2. The message of the War Memorials, and most certainly the statements in this study, shall not reach those present-day generations who know little more than the single-syllabic languague of the Kalashnikov assault rifle. Very macho, but they are ignorant idiots. There is no heaven waiting for them after they have blown up themselves in order to kill others.

Their mothers and their leaders and Omar Bin Laden-type idols are addressed with this too. They invented the idea that heaven is waiting to receive these misguided youngsters. This idea cannot be found in their book of reference, the Koran. It is all merely a hoax coming from a limited number of power-hungry individuals. The youngsters should be educated, so that they can make choices that they can call their own, and be proud about that. For any desire for dangerous living remaining, author suggest to try sports. As in parasailing from high cliffs. There is an abundance of possibilities for living on the edge, without killing others in the process.

World War 2 tells us that the time has come, already sixty years ago, for bold moral decisions. Until mankind is prepared to make such decisions, War Memorials are the least that can be done in the duty of learning. Author believes that far more is needed. But that would be another book.

Berkhout, Noord Holland, during the revelation on 7/5/2008 of a monument for the four Hampden crew members who lost their lives here on 8/11/1941. The wreck, and the missing remains of two crew, were salvaged in 2007. Source: Bergen NH 080507-2 by Dick Breedijk

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