In the night of 21 to 22 June 1943 a halifax of 35th Squadron RAF Path Finders Force crashed 500 meters southwest of Wamel, a small village opposite Tiel. (along the river Waal) just near the road to the ferry. Three crewmembers eventually ended up in Dreumel......



The crew

Prisoner of War


Click on the photograph to obtain more information

The last mission


The attack on Krefeld

At appr. 23.00 hours June 21, 1943 hondreds of planes took off from several bases in England. That night the target was Krefeld, situated in the southwest of the Ruhrarea, on the western bank of the river Rhine. In total 705 planes of Bomber Command would attact this city of 150.000 inhabitants. The hour of attack was set to 01.30 hours.

The following airplanes took part in this raid::
• 110 Lancasters and 37 Wellingtons of No. 1 Group;
• 98 Stirlings and 11 Lancasters of No. 3;
• 132 Halifaxes and 40 Wellingtons of No. 4;
• 92 Lancasters of No.5;
• 44 Halifaxen and 28 Wellingtons of No.6;
• 12 Mosquito's and 101 heavy bombers of No.8 Group.

Halifax HR-685 TL - X
That night it was very busy at the airstrip of Graveley. While the crew did  a last check-up the "Kistna" taxied to the runway.  the crew was in a very good mood. This would be there 43rd mission. Two more and they would have accomplished 45 missions.   That number would give them the right to stop flying dangerous missions. They had joked a lot about this and agreed to drop the chemical toilet "Elsan" on their 45th mission.

Left to right: Darling, Lane, Alexander, Jackson, Macdonald, Balson, Rogers

At 23.13 hours the Hlafax took off. At their special request Tom Lane greeted the groundcrew with his wings. In front of all the planes the pathfinders of 35th Squadron headed for their target in Krefeld. Voor de grote groep bommenwerpers uit vlogen de “Pathfinders” van 35th Squadron naar hun doelen in Krefeld.

The Dutch coast
When the bombers at 00.30 hours approachedthe Dutch coast, alarm was given on the airfield Venlo where German nightfighters were stationed. It was the tbase of 1/Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 (1/NJG 1). It was full moon and there were hardly any  clouds.

An ideal night for the German nightfighters and a night full of vigilance for the allied crew. Hauptmann Meurer and Hauptmann Franc ran to their Messerschmitts and taxied to the runway. This night could be a very productive one because in every respect the Germans would be in advantage. Their first task was bring as much damage  as possible to the flying bombers on the outward journey.

Without any problems the Kistna arrived aboven the target zones in Krefeld where they dropped their markingboms close to the marks set by the Mosquito's. Everything was quiet: no Flak and no searchlights. Of all the 705 bombers eventually 623 bombed their target.

That night half the city of Krefeld was destroyed (47% of the inner city burned, 1050 inhabitants were killed, 4550 people got wounded and 75.000 inhabitants got homeless. In total 2306 tons of boms were dropped)

The bombing of the industrial cities made the German civilians very angry. Some members of Halifax HR-685 woukld experience this later on. The allied losses a;lso were very high. In total 44 planes did not retun to their bases. Six planes of 35th Squadron didn't return to Graveley that night.

The return journey
Navigator Peter Jackson detailed pilot Tom Lane with new information about a new route to Graveley. The Halifax climbed to an altitude between 18.000 en 20.000 feet. The route crossed the south of the Netherlands and in the clear moonlight the rivers like silver ribbons indicated the way.
The crew kept watchfull. The first part of the mission had been successfull but in the clear moonlight the halifax was an excellent target. 

The defence of the plane was not very well that night. The reargunner was on the only one in position. Roy Macdonald, the mid-upper gunner, was "unemployed" this night. To give the plane more speed the turret was removed.

The crew did not know that the Germans since a short period had a new and effective weapon.  Since june 1943 they were capable to fire at an enemy plane while flying underneath it.


Messerschmidt Bf110

The German nightfighters by now had landed at Fliegerhorst Venlo to refuel. After that they got airborn once again to surprise the returning bombers a second time. Somewhere above the Peel in Noord- Brabant the bleeps of the "Monica"set  indicated to Tom Lane and his crew that there was an uninvited guest approaching.

Hauptmann Manfred Meurer also flew t with his Messerschmitt Bf110 somewhere above the Peel that night and it was he who became the Halifaxes uninvited guest. Meurer was born at hamburg and despite his young age of 23 he had made a fast career. He belonged to 3rd Staffel Nachtjagdgeschwader 1. Together with Hauptmann Frank he was one of the most successful pilots of that moment.  Until this night meurer had shot about 37 airplanes.

Manfred Meurer  

“Dive port Skipper!”
On the headsets of the crew the bleeps were now staccato. Reargunner  Don Alexander could not see the nightfighter. Then he saw the first  flashes of lightning fired upon the Halifax. The salvo came from the back on starboard  site, but missed the plane. While he fired back he shouted through the intercome to pilot Tom lane to dive port.

"The nightfighter was at a great advantage as we were silhouetted against the bright light and he could not be seen in the darkness. The rear gunner could only fire at the fighter when he saw the gun flashes.

The rear turret sustained a hit which disabled two of the four guns, and the remaining two jammed, so we had no defenses and could not see the fighter in order to perform evasive action. I remember looking out on the starboard side and seeing shells ricocheting off the wing and exploding up ahead of us when all of a sudden the port wing was engulfed in flames as the petrol tanks were hit."
Contribution Roy Macdonald, Mid-upper gunne

Meurer fired a new salvo and hit the left wing between the engines. He flew at an altitude of 5500 meters at that time. The Halifax trembled violently while at the same time the wing set fire. It was 01.48 hours at that moment. 

In the ensuing encounter several incendiary cannon shells hit the port wing of our aircraft between the port inner and outer engines, setting the' wing ablaze.                       

After several unsuccessful attempts by the Flight Engineer to extinguish the blaze, along with severe evasive action, the Flight Engineer and pilot decided that the crew had to abandon the aircraft.

Tom Lane continues:


"As Captain (Skipper) of the aircraft I gave the final order to abandon immediately as there was a serious danger of exploding in mid-air. I can vividly recall my navigator and bomb aimer coming up from the front of the aircraft and signaling me (thumbs up) that they were going out of the front escape hatch along with the wireless operator.

My mid-upper gunner heroically made sure that I had my parachute ready hopefully for my safe exit from the aircraft. In the meantime my flight engineer was still up to the last moment, trying to save our aircraft to no avail.

The rear gunner calld out "Skipper" over the intercom. indicating that he could successfully bale out of the rear turret. Both the mid-upper gunner and the flight engineer then indicated that they were leaving by the rear escape hatch and also gave me the "thumbs up" sign. These events seemed to take an eternity, but in reality were carried out very efficiently and effectively by an experienced and courageous crew. I flew the damaged aircraft as well as

possible in order to allow the all the crew to abandon the aircraft safely. Under these extreme circumstances the crew had, at all times, shown concern for my well being and had made every effort' to ensure my safety.
Contribution Tom Lane, Pilot


"After we had been succesful at Krefeld the plane was shot by a German nightfighter. When Jacko (Jackson) opened the escape hatch life of the crewmembers changed completely. An orange light illuminated two figures dissapearing in the dark. Tommy went to the bombay while I was putting on my chute. Then it was my time to go too. Jumping into the slipstream of the plane I rembered myself thinking: don't forget to pull the tie."
Contribution Peter Balson, Wireless operator



"Mac (Roy Macdonald ) Jacko (Peter Jackson) and I baled out of the front escape hatch after being shot up by the German night fighter firing up from under us just after Alec(Don Alexander the rear gunner)had raised the alarm Then Tom Lane ordered all of us to bale out as the plane was on fire. We were at about 17,000 feet and I watched "X-Xray" spiraling in flames until it crashed. We were within 10 minutes of the Dutch coast at this time!"
Contribution  George Darling, Bombaimer

"The Pilot gave the order to abandon aircraft and I unplugged my intercom and went for my parachute, returning to the side of the Pilot and plugging back into the intercom. I could see down to the front hatch where the navigator and bomb aimer were experiencing some difficulty in removing the hatch cover. The engineer was standing behind me, not plugged into the intercom and kept nudging me to hurry up and get out, whilst I was trying to indicate to him that he had to hang on a minute.

I then watched the navigator, bomb aimer and wireless operator disappear through the hatch and turned round to tell the engineer that we could go, only to discover that he had got fed up waiting and had gone to the rear of the aircraft where he had used the main entrance door, as had the rear gunner. I was on my to the hatch when I heard the pilot say that he couldn't find his harness clip, so I went back and pulled out his release clip and then exited the aircraft."
Contribution  Roy Macdonald, Mid-upper gunner


"My next task was to trim and stabilize the aircraft and then attempt to leave by the front escape hatch. This entailed getting out of the pilot's seat and then down below to the front escape hatch. As I was exiting this hatch my parachute partially opened and I tore my leather gauntlets to shreds in getting out.

The parachute opened fully almost immediately and I can still see the tail wheel of the aircraft passing above my head. I then followed the flight of our burning Halifax bomber until it crashed to the earth.With all the hectic evasive action and the crew activity within the aircraft I probably baled out at roughly 16-17.000 feet at about 1.30-2.0 am.

(At our crew re-union in 1983, Don Alexander confirmed with me again - as he had done in Prison camp -  that he was certain that he had successfully hit the attacking aircraft and that it had to have been seriously damaged.)
Contribution  Tom Lane, Pilot

Tom Lane is confirmed in his thoughts  by a citation from the book "Airfield Venlo part 2" written by Jan Dericx in which it says:       "The  Bf110 G9 + BL of Manfred Meurer and Feldwebel Scheibe was during airfights damaged so severely that both crewmembers decided to abandon their aircraft . The nightfighter crashed near Elsendorp....." (in the Peel, province of North Brabant)
Jan Derix also states that Hauptmann Hans - Dieter Frank shot a Halifax at 01.38 hours. the plane crashed at Wamel. Two crewmembers were killed which ofcourse is wrong! The Abschussliste also states that Hauptptmann Frank at exactly the same time shot another Halifax that crashed 1 kilometer west of Veghel. 
This map shows at least 7 crashes in the night of 21 to 22 June 1943. Number 4 indicates the location at Wamel.

3. Between heaven and earth
Within ten minutes live of the crewmembers changes completely. The relative safe secutiry of the plane changes into an uncertain future when succesfully Jackson, Darling, Balson, Alexander, Rogers, Macdonald and Lane leave the Halifax.
For a moment they are in the slipstream of the instable plane. Then the parachute slows down the speed. Descending starts with 1000 feet per minute. It will  take 18 minutes before they will hit the ground.

The crash of the Halifax
At an altitude of 6000 meters Lane and Darling follow the burning airplane in his last meters. Darling states that he saw the plane "spiralling down". Skipper Tom Lane sees the crash of the Halifax. They are not the only ones.............

Citation of the wardiary of Mr. J. van Olderen from Tiel. (He lived directly opposite the ferryhouse in Wamel)

Thuesday June 22 1944
Many planes this night fly over oiur area between 01.00 and 04.00 hours. At 01.55 hours I woke up from heavy shooting. I looked out of the window and saw a lot of fire in the air. At 02.00 hours a plane was hit. It flew at a very low altitude above the city of Tiel. As a big fire ball it made a cirkel, then for a few seconds it flew straight and then slowly descended vertically on earth.

Our first thought was that it would hit our house, but happily it fell on the opposite site of the river Waal. Directly we ran upon the dike and saw a fvery strong fire flash. Duriong the next twenty minutes we heard the sound of explosions. (ammunition). By that time it was a quarter to three and there were hundreds of people on the dike looking at the fire. When we saw a policeman we quickly went back to our houses. I saw five planes crash that night."

Another inhabitant of Tiel, mr. Holst has also  recollections of that night.......:
“I saw the plane coming from the direction of Ochten. This was very remarkable because most of the times planes flew across the province of Brabant. The plane followed the river Waal and then turned to Wamel. When it hit the ground a big fireball became visable. The next day we went to have a look. The plane had crashed in a pasture behind a farm."
A lot of inhabitants of Wamel witnessed the crash of the Halifax.  In the Dorpstraat, the main street of the village, baker Willy Looman and his neighbour Sjaak Bokken are asleep when through the wideopened windows in this warm night the sounds of an airplane catches their ears.

"What's going on, Sjaak?" the baker asks with his heavy sounding voice. Both men get out of bed and put their head through the window. They see the plane like a large fireball flying across the village. For a short moment they think they are in danger, but the Halifax continues flying........


Some streets further, in the Achterstraat (now Viaductstraat) are a copule of small houses, built after the flood in 1926. Here people have heard the sound of the approaching airplane too.

Father and mother Gerritsen get their children out of bed because airfights are going on and as the small house has no cellar,they by force of circumstance go to the street.

Ten year old Wil Gerritsen and his three years older brother Ad see the passing Halifax that night. At this moment the whole plane is on fire.

At an altitude of 100 meter the burning plane passes their house. They run to the back of their house and see the plane crash.  Wil expects a gigantic explosion, but .......... but the only thing he hears is some crackling and exploding ammunition.


Aerial picture of Wamel in 1950 with crashlocation of the Halifax; Baker Looman en Wil Gerritsen both saw the plane flying over their houses


Somewhere in the air space above the polder of Wamel….
The crew now is in the air space above the polder of Beneden - Leeuwen en Wamel. With a speed of 1000 feet a minute the seven crewmembers descend with their white parachutes. Panic and hectic have changed places with total silence.  Everyone now is on its own. Uncertainty takes possession of them and they think about what they can expect after landing. Undoubtedly also recalling the last minutes in the Halifax…….

"My first impression was of the complete and utter silence, broken only by the gentle sighing of the wind through the shroud lines of the parachute. This rather tranquil state was then rudely interrupted by a Lancaster bomber returning home which passed by so close that I could see the faces in the cockpit and was left swinging wildly in its wake.

I could not help but wish that they could have hooked on to me and towed me home. At this time I think we had been at about 17.000 to 18.000 feet and so in the bright moonlight one had little sense of falling and seemed to be hanging in space. I was facing the north star which was clearly visible and twisted my parachute straps in order to look around, and was amazed to see another parachute some distance away.

I shouted and he could hear me and asked me where I was to which I replied "on your west" and he shouted back that he could see me and to try and stay in contact. This was Jim Rogers, the engineer. Nothing else of importance occurred until I landed in a field of grass, after something like fifteen to twenty minutes in the air."
Contribution Roy Macdonald, Mid-upper gunner


"As I floated towards the earth, I could hear other bombers returning to their home bases in England if lucky, and thinking how alone I was, and how unlucky. The truth is that I was the fortunate one - I'm a survivor! In the full moonlight from that altitude I could clearly see the coastline of Holland and a huge expanse of water. Being a non-swimmer the thoughts of possibly parachuting into this water momentarily terrorized me!  

Many thoughts obviously pass through one's mind as you float down (are suspended) quietly and effortlessly through the air. As you approach the ground surface it suddenly darkens as you lose the direct moonlight and you land abruptly and hard, but thankfully, on the soil surface. This landing was in a pasture field and a frightened white horse bolted away, making a ghostly appearance to further shatter my nerves."

Contribution Tom Lane, pilot


The polder of  Wamel
Tuesdaynight Juni 22, appr. 02.00 hrs
The crew members in the end succesfully succeede in bailing out safely. Another problem was to survive the landing. In fact everyone was parachuting for the first time and curious to find out where one would land.
The first crew member probably bailed out somewhere above Boven - Leeuwen, while the last one, Tom Lane, left the plane somewhere above Beneden - Leeuwen and Wamel. Because of that the crew members scattered around in the polder area betwee Beneden - Leeuwen and Wamel.

It was appr. 02.00 hours when Tom Lane being the last one, landed. This time is rather precise bacause the plane according to the German Abschussliste was hit  at 01.48 hours by Hauptmann Manfred Meurer. Mr. Van Olderen wrote that the Halifax flew above the city of Tiel at 02.00 hours. Roy Macdonald rembered that the time between the hit and the last one baling out was at the most 10 minutes.

Not everyone did have lucking landing.  Peter Jackson had a contused ankle. Peter Balson ended up with a broken ankle........
Both Jackson and Balson are forced to stay at the landingzone and wait for the moring to come. Tom Lane  decides to do the same. Darling, Alexander, Rogers en Macdonald hide their parachute and set off to the inhabited world. The last one - looking at the  pole star – decides to go southwest.

"Nothing else of importance occurred until I hit the ground, after something like fifteen to twenty minutes in the air. I was in a field of grass, no idea whether I was in Germany or Holland, and quite expected German soldiers to pounce on me from all directions, but all was peace and quiet so I bundled up my 'chute and stuffed into a ditch and took stock of the situation.

I could see the Pole star quite easily so decided to head south-west as that should take me towards Belgium where there was reputed to be a good escape "pipeline". I reached the edge of the field in a few minutes only to find it was bordered by a wide ditch.


I wasted a lot of time looking for a bridge which turned out to be a plank of wood on the east side of the field, so I went back to the south west side and tried to jump the ditch, only to fall short and went into the water. It was about chest deep and I crawled up the other side with my battledress blouse ballooning out with water, so, being thoroughly wet, I just lowered myself into the following ditches and just waded across.

I crossed a cornfield and as I approached the far side I could see through the low mist a line of trees which seem to indicate a road of sorts. At the same time I heard a sound of footsteps which led me to believe that there was some sort of sentry pacing up and down.

I lay down in the corn, listening to creatures rustling about, but the footsteps seemed to be stationary, as though someone was marking time. I crept slowly towards a hedge which was between me and the sound, and to my surprise found it was a cow chewing the cud!


Drawing 1

Drawing 2

More then 60 years later (2004) Roy Macdonald made two sketches with memories of that night.

I carried on across the road and seemed to be endlessly in and out of ditches, and was thankful that it was a warm night. At one time I came across a small post about three feet high with a crossbar, both painted white, and on the crossbar was painted a notice which, to my uninformed eye I seem to recognize as Dutch, which at least told me which country I was in.

Another vivid recollection (see drawing 2) is of walking alongside a waterway, maybe about thirty feet wide on my left, and what appeared in the moonlight to be an orchard on my right. All of a of a sudden I heard the thundering of hooves, and two large shapes appeared heading towards me at high speed. Not wishing to argue with the unknown, I simply dived into the water and swam to the other side where I walked up the other bank only to find a small bridge about thirty yards from where I'd dived in!!

Crossing to the original side I could see the two mysterious shapes standing still at the side of the road where I'd been. Wondering why they hadn't bothered to chase any more I walked forward and discovered a barbed wire fence which had been between me and what I found to be two inquisitive cows!!!

My next vivid memory (see drawing 1) is of walking alongside a large river which was on my right hand side. By this time I had been walking for some three hours and was getting a bit fed up.

I reached the boundary wall or hedge, I can't remember which, of a large house. Why I couldn't go round it to the left I can't remember, but I went through a door into the garden which fronted on to the river. From the door, a gravel path led across the garden and the front of the house, and where it met the house it branched left along the nearside of the house to what appeared to be another door in the boundary. Not wanting to make a noise crunching over the gravel to get to the other door posed a problem as a large lily pond lay between the two doors! Being soaking wet already, I therefore lowered myself into the lily pond, and waded across and got through the other door."
Contribution Roy Macdonald, Mid-upper gunner

George Darling too decided to make his way. It is not known where exactly he went......

"I landed in a field none the worse for wear, and started walking ( it was a night of a full moon), crossing over a flooded ditch about 5 feet wide. After about an hour or so I saw a small farm cottage and decided to knock on the door. A man answered the door, saw my uniform and let me enter. He said a few words to his wife, indicated for me to stay where I was, and went out.

He returned shortly, maybe about half an hour, accompanied by a middle-aged man who spoke a little English. He told me he was taking me to another house in the village which was called WAMEL. It was a big house full of people. Someone left the house and I assumed that he had gone to get in touch with the Resistance. I could not have been more mistaken as, shortly after, the door burst open and two heavily armed German soldiers entered and ordered me to get into the sidecar of their motorcycle. They drove me down the road, passing some German transport vehicles, until we arrived in the village or small town of Tiel, where I was put into the goal. Later in the same day, I was transferred to Nijmegen by car which had arrived containing Roy Macdonald."
Contribution George Darling, Bombaimer

There is not much to tell about Don Alexander. this is his story…………..

"I do not know where I landed nor in what village I ended up. I came at a house and apparently was offered help by a woman.  She provided me with the change of clothes: a blue pullover and a pair of  dark trousers with a faint silver stripe in them. I was just having a shave when the police came for him. Obviously someone had informed on me being there. the next time I met Roy Macdonald, Jim Rogers, we were in the Feld Polizei Office in Njimegen."
Contribution Don Alexander, rear gunner
What Alexander didn't tell is that he enterd the office with under his arm a box  of cherries. June has always been the month that the cherry harvest took place. We will see that later on in the story of Peter Balson. It is possible that Don Alexander ended up with mr. van Hoeke, the local doctor of Wamel.

n the local newspaper, De Gelderlander, a couple of years ago there was a story about the war. Doctor van Hoeke tells about meeting an "airgunner". The widow of doctor van Hoeke does remember that one summerevening the doctor came home with a "pilot": "It was a very warm summer evening and we were eating cherries together with this pilot."
here is no information about Jim Rogers. The only recollection is recorded by  Roy Macdonald……..

"When I received the statements of the crew members Jim Rogers already had passed away. But I remember that he once told me about a man that rowed him across the river  and was brought to Tiel where the germans picked him up. Nevertheless it is strange that we were in touch when parachuted, but lost contact after landing."
Contribution Roy Macdonald about Jim Rogers
Tuesdaymorning June 22
The crashlocation of the Halifax
The Germans that were stationed in Tiel crossed the river in the early morning of June 22nd, 1943. One group of soldiers was ordered to guard the wreckage and others started a search in the pasturefields to find the crewmembers.

 Willy Looman, the local baker whom we met before, was delivering bread with his horse drawn weagon in the Liestersteeg. In the distance he saw a big group of soldiers. But he thought the Germans held a big exercise. At that time he didn't think of the plae that had crashed.

The local people of Wamel visited the crash location far more earlier then the Germans. They saw that there was no crater. This confirms the idea that the Halifax  had landed like a glider on the land of farmer van der Wielen. The wreckage was situated on the border of plot 246. Frans van Oijen is is a an amateur historian in Wamel. He spoke to many people and made tape recordings of these conversations. This is what his recollections are..........

"Half the village visited the wreckage that early morning. They hoped to find something of use. My father for instance took some plexiglass of which he made a ring. Unfortunately I lost it.  My neighbour also to plexiglass. Other people took the canvas of the chairs of which they fabricated portfolios. Mr. Jo Janssen at some distance found a wheel. He hid it in a small forest opposite the house where the Udo family now is living.

Wil Gremmen and his brothers performed something extraordinary. One of the engines obviously fell of the plane before the crash and was at some distance of the wreckage. It was about 3 meters down into the clay. They arranged to get it out and hid it in a nearby ditch. I do not know what happened with the engine afterwards.

Some years ago I had a conversation with mr. Holst from Tiel. He saw the crash that night. The next day he and a lot of other locals from Tiel crossed the river by ferry in order to find some "souvenirs". He encountered some Germans with a horse drawn weagon with some wreckage parts on it. the crash location was empty by then and he didn't find anything left. Mr. Has Thijssen was a twelf year old boy at that time. When he arrived at the crash location later that day he saw some German soldiers on guard."

Wil Gerritsen, living close to the crash site does not remember if he visited the wreckage. But he has this recollection......
"My older brother Ad found a little watch. He took it home and when doctor van Hoeke once visited them he showed him the watch. the doctor thought it had something to do with bombs. somewhat later the family handed the watch over to the doctor.
We go back once again to the plexiglass Frans van Ooijen was talking about. Will Gerritsen states:

“Mr. Toon Burgers was the local blacksmith.He made rings out of the plexiglass. In the ring he made three little holes that were filled up with red, white and blue paint!"
The Gerritsen brothers Wil and Ad saw at least one but maybe two crewmembers that were taken prisoner:
"The next day (June 22nd) a group of german soldiers passed the Achterstraat with 1 or 2 POW' s. In total there were five people leaving the farmhouse of mr. van der Wielen and heading towards the village. The prisoners made a Victory sigh to the people that stood along the road."
But let's go back to the statements of the crewmembers. Because of his wounds Peter Balson was forced to stay at the landing zone, hoping that someone would help him.......

" My next memory is of a large grey farm horse sniffing about me! I soon realized that something was wrong with my right foot, so dragged my parachute over me to protect me.

It was a bright moonlight night and I could see cattle nearby across a ditch.  As dawn broke, I saw a two wheeled farm cart approaching the cattle so I got to my feet, whereupon the driver of the cart turned about and sped off - as was he Ben Hur - to a village visible among the poplar trees."
Contribution Peter Balson, Wireless operator

This man was farmer Jan Sengers from Beneden-Leeuwen….
“In 1943 Uncle Jan lived in a big farmhouse at the corner of  Zijveld and Zandstraat in Beneden - Leeuwen. He had been a student at the seminar for some years so he could speak some English. It was common that uncle John every day at 07.30 hrs went to milk his cows in the polder with his wheeled farm cart. At the end of the Zijvond he turned right and drove upon the rampart along the canal. there he saw a "pilot". He waved with both arms and made the victory sign. He brought the pilot to the townhall in  Beneden-Leeuwen."
Contribution Sengers family , Beneden-Leeuwen

Mr. Martien Walraven from Beneden-Leeuwen has another recollection:

Jan Sengers with his horse and wheeled farm cart

“I was a boy of 15 years at that time. My parents did not tell me mutch about what was going on. In the morning my brother came home from the cherry orchard to get some sandwiches for a "pilot" he had found in the orchard.
After some time I cycled to the orchard to have a look. Somewhere halfway I met Jan Sengers with his horse drawn weagon. On the cart was a wounded pilot. Jan stopped and we had a chat. The pilot was eating  from a small scale with cherries. He told us that he had the feeling "as if he was back home in Australia. It was the scale he had received from my brother."

Contribution Martien Walraven

"Within what seemed just a few minutes a large number of people approached from the village which subsequently turned out to be called Wamel. (Must be Beneden - Leeuwen JVK) Amongst the people was a doctor who gave me expert attention on my foot It might well have been Dr. Van Hoeke (must be doctor van Haagen JVK)  and after that we all returned to the village hall where a cheering crowd gave me an enthusiastic welcome and a wonderful breakfast of bacon and eggs!

During this time, a young lady, whose name I believe was Wiekie (Mevr. Wieke de Vocht-Baltussen JVK), acted as interpreter. She informed me that the police were on their way, and in fact they arrived within an hour.

I would like to take advantage at this time to thank the good people for their generosity and great support and kindness to me at this rather traumatic time."
Contribution Peter Balson, Wireless operator

Farmhouse of Jan Sengers Townhall in Beneden - Leeuwen
Mrs. Wiekie de Vocht – Baltussen remembers this meeting very well:
"The boys of the resistance had brought mr. Balson to the prison in the townhall and held him there.  In those days mr. Haver was policeman in Beneden – Leeuwen. My father was a notary and a daugther of this policeman worked for my parents. Mr. Haver was a very reliable person and he always warned my family when the Germans undertook some action.

I was befriended with Ien van Haagen, the eldest daughter of doctor van Haagen, I went to see mr. Balson and spoke with him for some time. I do not know what has happenede to him afterwards. I think doctor van Haagen has visited him to have a look at his ankle.

After the war I stayed regulary in touch with mr. Balson. This all had to do with the fact that my brother Lou emigrated to Australia and met him there."


Wiekie Baltussen - de Vocht

Another crewmember depending help from the locals was Peter Jackson……

"After baling out of the aircraft, I landed very heavily in the dark and hurt my right ankle. When it became light I found I had landed on the edge of a corn field, and when the workmen arrived I got in touch with them. 

When they saw that I could hardly walk, they fetched an old horse drawn van and took me to the nearby village. They then called in the local doctor who looked at my foot. He thought that it was a bed sprain and bandaged it. He also informed me that unfortunately they could not help me to escape, as the German army had men watching the river crossing. As a result, they had to report my appearance".
Contribution Peter Jackson, Navigator

Mr. Has Thijssen from Wamel lived at the corner of the Liestersteeg at that time. (Now Parkenstraat) He has a recollection of an event from that time that fits in very well in Peter Jackson 's story.........
"Together with my grandfather I went into the polder one day after the crash. We went looking for crewmembers allthough I didn't know that at that time as I was just a boy of ten years old. somewhere near what nowadays is called the Hoevenstraat I saw an Englishman hidden in the corn. Probably grandfather saw the man too but he just pretended he had not seen anyybody. I do remember that he brought me home. I suspect that my granddad went back later that day and that he has brought the man to doctor van Hoeke. Obviously the news was spread very quick b ecause the man was picked up later that day.
Granddad picked up the parachute and hung it on the hay attic . He put away the ladder in orsder to prevent that others would take a look. When we moved to another house the parachute was thrown away.”

Apparently  mr. Has Thijssen returned to the polder too late because Peter Jackson  was already gone. Baker Willie Looman whom we met before, took him away…….

“The next morning I was delevering bread in the polder. When I was in the Liestersteeg near the house of the Beck family I saw an English pilot. I transported him back to the village. On my way home I met police van Wijk. He was a collaborator."

"Looman told him that he was intending to deliver the pilot at the office of policeman Springer. this officer talked to Jackson almost the whole day. There must be a photograph of this pilot somewhere in the Looman family. In the evening Jackson was taken away."
Videotape 1992 baker Willie Looman

  Baker Willie Looman
Five crewmembers are arrested by now and handed over to the germans. Tom Lane hid himself the whole day in the cornfield and waited until it waould be evening again. Roy Macdonald is still underway. Hij is by now had passed the cafe "Het Schutlaken" (situated in the middle of the polder) and is walking in the  direction of Dreumel……

"By this time it was getting light, and I wondered about trying to hide up somewhere, but the countryside was so open and bare it seemed rather hopeless, and I decided that I would have make contact with a local and hope for the best. I eventually came to a farm and banged on the door and yelled until an old man stuck his head out of a bedroom window.

I shouted all sort of things at him such as "R.A.F…..English…...................................... Aviateur Anglais", at which he looked more bemused and indicated for me to wait for him. He came down some minutes later having got dressed and came out wheeling his bicycle and beckoned me to follow him.

At that time I was carrying a large service issue clasp knife, but also had a scout sheath knife down the side of my flying boot. Along with pointing with my finger I said to him: "You…me…Police?" at which he shook his head, so, wishing to get the point across, I repeated the question, followed by "Me …you..." and gestured with the sheath knife, which I hoped would ensure that he got the message. He again shook his head and beckoned me again and we walked on, eventually coming to the outskirts of a village called Dreumel. It was very quiet and I saw no-one about.

I did notice however whilst turning a corner, there was a small card in the window of a house on which I was surprised to see the word "Hairdressing" written in English! I often wondered whether that would have been a better place to contact. Anyhow, we walked on, past the village church to a small house where the farmer knocked on the door and  to my dismay it was opened by a policeman! Needless to say, the farmer vanished!!

The policeman and his wife were kindness itself, and sat me down and made a much appreciated breakfast and coffee and produced a dry pair of socks and an old pair of black shoes so that I didn't have to stay in my soaking wet flying boots. They gave me to understand that they had sent for someone who could speak English, and he duly arrived, the tallest policeman I have ever seen, wearing a stovepipe hat which made him look enormous.

He was very nice and friendly and asked what he could do for me. I produced my silk map and asked him to point out where I was, which he did, and then I told him that I wanted to get to Belgium. "Oh, you wish to leave" he said, "but we have rung up the Germans and told them you are here!". At that, I gathered up the map, picked up my boots, and made to leave.

At this, the tall policeman stopped me and said "I'm very sorry, but you can't go now. The Germans know you are here and will come for you, and if you are not here they will take twenty men from the village and shoot them." 

Policeman  Leenders

  I then asked him why he had told the Germans that I was there, to which he replied "If you could have reached us without anyone seeiing you, we could possibly have helped you, but the old farmer has seen you, and when the soldiers come looking for the crew of the crashed airplane, the old man being very frightened, as are all the old people, is sure to tell them that you have been here and there will be shootings!" There wasn't much I could say after that, and sadly realized that my bid for freedom was over.
He then took me down the garden, through a gate and into the Burgomaster’s office in the little Town Hall. The Burgomaster had been summoned and was also very nice, rolling me a cigarette in a most ingenious little machine. He asked me where we had bombed but I declined to say, and then he shrugged his shoulders seemingly understanding my reticence and said that if I gave him my home address they would try to get a message to England to say that I was safe. As prisoners of war wrote home anyway, I didn't see any harm in giving him my address, but they never managed to notify anyone after all.


Burgomastar Waals


I was sitting in a chair at the opposite end of the room to his desk, and was next to the hinge side of the exit door, through which, after about twenty minutes, barged in two German Field Police wearing crescent shaped metal insignia hanging from their necks on chains. The door being now open, I was virtually hidden by it, and the two Germans walked straight over to the Burgomaster and shook hands in greeting, and I thought "Good Lord", they're all old pals!!" (being quite ignorant of the Continental habit of everyone seemingly shaking hands with all and sundry all the time)!!. 

They must have asked him where the airman was, as he suddenly pointed towards me, whereupon they both turned round and uttered some sort of excited roar, and as they both looked like prizefighters as they advanced towards me, a feeling of trepidation crept over me. The ugliest one said "How many motor you plane have?", to which I shrugged my shoulders and said "I don't know", then came "What town you bomb last night?" which got him another shrug and an "I don't know", at which he roared "Schweinhund", grabbed me by the arm, took me out onto the road and into the back of a car helped on by a boot up the backside.
Contribution Roy Macdonald, Mid-upper gunner

Roy at Graveley

Thuesdayevening June 22nd
Pilot Tom Lane by then is the only one left in freedom. He has spent the whole day in the cornfield and valued his chances.........

"Recovering from my landing, I realized that a corn (maize) field was beside the pasture field and I immediately folded up my parachute and concealed myself in the cornfield, where the corn at that time of year was several feet high.

I spent the daylight hours of June 22nd hidden in the cornfield and watched as a woman milked several cows in the pasture field, both in the morning and late afternoon or early evening. Whilst the pasture field and corn field were on level ground, the farm buildings were on much higher rolling topography.


I decided that I would wait out the daylight hours in the cornfield and go to the farm house for help after complete darkness had fallen. I carefully approached the farm undetected and knocked on the farmhouse door. The surprised occupants (3) waved me into the house.

They spoke no English but certainly knew that I was a foreigner in some sort of uniform. Very shortly afterwards the man and either his son or hired help (or forced labour ?) appeared each carrying a rifle and the woman then got a hayfork from the barn. Without any hesitation (or consideration) f they then forcibly marched me some distance to a village.


Tom Lane in 1942

  When we entered into what seemed like a town hall. several of the local inhabitants soon congregated there. I was somewhat of a welcome/unwelcome celebrity. There was no escape! I have no anger, no resentment at the farmer, nor his wife, for turning me over to the German authorities. Their lives were more in danger than mine if caught aiding a "Terror Flyer"!! The Police soon arrived and I was located in the local police lock-up overnight.
  Contribution Tom Lane, Pilot
It is not clear in which village Tom Lane eventually was arrested. Probably it was in Dreumel. It is very special that he was brought in by armed locals. Durinng the occupation all people were ordered to hand over their weapons to the authorities. The Germans handed the guns over to the NSB - collaborators. They very often paraded in the streets to provoce the inhabitants. In Dreumel were a lot of collaborators at that time. Most of them had chosen to do so because of poverty.

Being the last one bailing out the plane it is logical that Lane  landed west of Roy Macdonald. As Roy ended up in Dreumel, it is most likely that Tom Lane ended up there too.