Monument to 220 airmen lost over IJsselmeer during WWII unveiled
A national monument has been unveiled to more than 200 airmen who were shot down over the Netherlands during the Second World War but whose bodies were never recovered from the sea.
The memorial in the Frisian village of Molkwerum, on the edge of the IJsselmeer, was an initiative by local residents after they discovered there was nothing to commemorate missing servicemen.
It was inspired by the story of Tom McCrorie, a 27-year-old Scottish pilot who was shot down on June 23, 1943, over the lake near Ten Oever.
The bodies of five of the seven-man crew of the Short Stirling bomber were washed ashore in the subsequent days and McCrorie’s grave in Molkwerum is the scene of an annual commemoration.
But two of his colleagues, flight engineer Sgt Eric Grainger and bomb aimer Sgt James Richards, from New Zealand, were never found. Until now their names have only been commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial near Windsor, UK.
Fekke Bandstra, one of the villagers who worked on the memorial project, said the idea for a Dutch memorial took shape in 2020 during discussions about how to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of the war.
‘We discovered that there was no monument or memorial stone for them,’ he told NOS. ‘Usually airmen were buried in the country where they died and that became a memorial site where their memories were kept alive. But there was nothing for the missing.
That gave us the idea for a national monument for all missing airmen over the IJsselmeer so that they can be remembered for the sacrifice they made.’
The unveiling of the monument, a four metre-high rear wing of a Stirling bomber that sticks out of the water, was the culmination of three days of commemorations attended by relatives of the missing airmen.
The village committee has also set up a website, nationaalmonumentmissingairmen.nl, which includes the names of all 220 airmen commemorated at the site.
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