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A 44 Squadron Lancaster Crew Remembered at Reithoven

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The Reithoven Historical Society erected a memorial to the 44 Squadron crew of Lancaster LM592, which was lost on the night of 21/22 June 1944 en route to its target, the Wesseling oil plant. The memorial site is at Walik, near Reithoven, about 15 km south of Eindhoven. Although invited, unfortunately no representative from our Association was able to attend the memorial event on 22 June 2019.

The ceremony took place on the 75th anniversary of the loss of the aircraft, which was shot down by a German JU88 night fighter. The crew released their payload as the stricken aircraft was going down, creating seven deep craters as the bombs exploded. Exactly one month before the unveiling of the monument, two 500lb bombs were unearthed about one mile before the crash site, when earthworks were taking place beneath the route taken by the doomed Lancaster. The bombs were disarmed and removed safely.

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The monument was unveiled by the local mayor, Arinda Callawaert, and Julie Smith, nee McCoy, niece of Louis McCoy, the rear gunner. In her speech, Arinda Callawaert, said that the monument was no longer just a stone. It was now a stone with seven souls of the heroes who gave their lives so that others may be free.

Several relatives of crew members were present at the ceremony and the Secretary authorised the purchase of a wreath to be laid on behalf of the Association.

The monument was dedicated to the crew, which was constituted as follows:

Pilot Officer Edwin Albert Canty RAAF
Sgt Ronald Edgar Clay RAF
Fg Off Walter Marshal Crook RAF
Flt Sgt Louis Joseph Patrick McCoy RAAF
Sgt Eric Norris RAF
Sgt Ernest George Scott RAF
Fg Off John Reuben Vowles RAAF

At 1600 hrs two RAF Harvard training aircraft performed a flypast. The event made extensive TV news broadcasts in Holland.

Immediately after the unveiling, those present were addressed by Johan Biemans, aged 89 years, a noted local historian and author. Johan told the assembled audience that he visited the crash site when he was 14 years of age. In 1988 he wrote an article about it in the local newspaper. Soon after, a man came to see him who said he had also been at the crash site 75 years ago, when another man at the site had possession of a wallet and he was handing out 'souvenirs'. Johan Biemans’ visitor was given a passport size photograph. He had retained it all those years, not wishing to destroy it. He then and there gave it to Biemans, who didn't know what to do with it either, but he kept it. Last year he compared it with a photo of the crew which had been provided to the regional newspaper. He identified the photograph as that of the bomb aimer, Eric Norris. He had the photo mounted on a card with appropriate notations and he presented it to an emotional Rachel and Helen Leyland, great-nieces of Norris, who were present at the dedication of the monument.

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Aircrew graves at Skagen

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