Crash information 42-63969 IJsselmeer

During World War II more than 40 different bombers and jet fighters have crashed within de county borders of Hollands Kroon. The crashes were mostly on land, in the Ijssel lake and the Wadden sea.

Few crew members were arrested after using their parachute to reach the ground, others could flee with the help of the Resistance. However, the majority lost their lives and did not return home safely to their family and loved ones.

Information about the remembrance post 

This remembrance post was unveiled on October 7, 2023

Location of this remembrance post

Photo of an American B-24 bomber

Crash information

On the morning of December 22, 1943, the bomber had taken off from Hardwick airfield in England. The American bombers targeted the marshalling yard of the German city of Osnabrück. On the way back, the formation of aircraft came under fire from German anti-aircraft guns (Flak) over the Netherlands, east of Staphorst. The formation broke up, after which those left behind were attacked several times by the German fighters. That day, 22 bombers were shot down between Osnabrück and the English coast. Including the B-24 bomber of pilot Hunt and his crew. The plane crashed in the northern part of the IJsselmeer at approximately 3 p.m.

All nine crew members were killed. In the following months, crew members washed up at various locations around the IJsselmeer. The tail gunner Bennet was found near the port of Oude Zeug. The co-pilot Congelli may also have washed ashore there. During the war the bodies were buried in the Middenmeer cemetery. After the war they were reburied in Margraten, Neuville-en-Condroz (B) or transferred to the United States.

De bemanning

Grady Glenn Hunt

First Lieutenant


26 years old

United States of America

Joseph Pasquale Congelli

Second Lieutenant

Second pilot

21 years old

United States of America

Thomas Richard Curry

Second Lieutenant


27 years old

United States of America

Leslie Clarence Matthews

Second Lieutenant

Bomb aimer

22 years old

United States of America

George Brinton Murry

Technical Sergeant

Radio operator

20 years old

United States of America

Ruben Ramirez Galindo

Technical Sergeant

Flight engineer

26 years old

United States of America

Theodore Arthur Blanchard

Staff Sergeant

Waist gunner

23 years old

United States of America

Roy Cook

Staff Sergeant

Waist gunner

31 years old

United States of America

James W. Bennet

Staff Sergeant

Tail gunner

Age unknown

United States of America


Unveiling of the 22nd and 23rd remembrance post

Our 22nd and 23rd remembrance posts were unveiled on October 7. The guests were received in the Cultuurschuur in Wieringerwerf with coffee and a welcome word from Jan Wouts, chairman of the Historical Society Wieringermeer. Our chairman Mark Hakvoort welcomed everyone, a special welcome was given to Colonel Juris L. Jansons of the U.S. Air Force. The American representation had everything to do with the two unveilings of this day. All crew members commemorated today are American nationals. A total of 10 young heroes died in 1943 when their aircraft crashed in the IJsselmeer after fighting with the occupying forces. Mark Hakvoort emphasized once again in his speech that freedom cannot be taken for granted in this day and age, we owe our freedom today to these and many other heroes.

Today's first unveiling took place at De Oude Zeug. There, Mayor Rian van Dam addressed the visitors, performed the official unveiling of the remembrance post and laid a wreath on behalf of the Municipality of Hollands Kroon. Mark Hakvoort mentioned the names of the nine crew members of the B-24 bomber, all young men between 20 and 31 years old. Unfortunately, the age of tail gunner James W. Bennet is unknown. The veterans led by Dick Doornik were, as at all previous unveilings, well represented and added cachet to the ceremony. Dirk Bak blew on his trumpet The Last Post and the American national anthem.

The second unveiling of this day was in memory of the American pilot Frank Gallion who crashed his P-47D Thunderbolt into the IJsselmeer in 1943 and was killed. The remembrance post has been placed at the Dijkgat, the place where the occupying forces blew up the dike on April 17, 1945, flooding the recently drained Wieringermeerpolder again. Colonel Jansons of the American embassy addressed the visitors. In the short time that he has now been in the Netherlands, he said, in excellent Dutch, that he was surprised by the way in which the Dutch commemorate the Second World War and show gratitude and respect to the liberators. Colonel Jansons also brought a surprise, the original belt buckle of pilot Frank Gallion, beautifully framed. Jansons had the honor of officially unveiling the remembrance post and laying a wreath. The Wieringermeer Historical Society and the Municipality of Hollands Kroon also laid wreaths at this remembrance post. Dirk Bak played The Last Post and The Star-Spangled Banner in a truly excellent manner. With a minute of silence and the veterans present, this ceremony was also complete and impressive.

Colonel Jansons was taken by Mayor Rian van Dam and the board of our foundation to the Dijkgat afterwards, where details about this event can be read, but the knowledge of both the mayor and our board members also made it an informative end to this day.

Photos of the unveiling

The whole story

Perished, but not forgotten

The unknown story of the B-24D Liberator 42-63969 and its crew.

On the morning of December 22, 1943, the American heavy four-engine bomber had taken off from Hardwick airfield in England. The crew and aircraft belonged to the 93rd Bomber Group / 409th Bomber Squadron. The American bombers targeted the train yard of the German city of Osnabrück. On the way back, the formation of aircraft came under fire from German anti-aircraft guns (Flak) over the Netherlands, east of Staphorst. To avoid anti-aircraft fire, the lead aircraft took evasive action, causing the “box of bombers” formation to disperse. The formation broke up, after which those left behind were attacked several times by German fighter aircraft. In the resulting confusion, the exact crash location of this aircraft remained unknown, as no report was made by other American aircrew.

Between Osnabrück and the English coast, 22 bombers were shot down that day, including the B-24 bomber with code YM-H of pilot Hunt and his crew. The plane crashed at approximately 3 p.m., probably in the northern part of the IJsselmeer. Unfortunately the location is not entirely certain. Some websites report “15 miles northeast of Amsterdam”, but this may be incorrect given the other crashes that day of the broken formation and the location of the found crew members of this Liberator 42-63969.

All nine American crew members were killed. In the following months, three or possibly four crew members were found at various locations around the IJsselmeer.



The pilot 1st Lieutenant Grady Glenn Hunt (26 years old) was washed ashore after six months and found on the dike, south of Makkum (Friesland) on the east side of the IJsselmeer.

On June 23, 1944, Hunt was buried in the old Makkum cemetery in grave number 34. In grave number 33 (to Hunt's left) lay another American airman. An airman (a gunner) whose name and rank are unknown was buried in grave number 35 on June 26. The website ZZAirwar states that all three washed up shortly after each other at the foot of the IJsselmeerdijk. After the war, the American Quartermaster Grave Recovery team examined the three graves. Grave number 33 and the grave of Hunt (34) were transferred to the US Identification Center in Neuville-en-Condroz (Belgium). The unknown airman at grave number 35 is probably of British descent and has been given an RAF headstone. He is still buried in Makkum with two empty places next to him. In 1949, 2st Lieutenant Hunt was reburied in Susanville in USA.


Staff Sergeant Roy Cook was the fuselage gunner, 31 years old and washed up five months after the crash at the foot of the Buitenpolder dike near Workum, on the eastern side of the IJsselmeer. Cook was buried next to nine other Allied graves in the cemetery in Workum. After the war he was exhumed and transferred to the US centralization War Cemetery "Netherlands" in Margraten, where he rests to this day in grave part A, row 8, grave number 25.


There is uncertainty about the location of tail gunner Staff Sergeant James W. Bennet (age unknown). He was found near the working harbor of Oude Zeug and/or washed up on the Wieringermeerdijk, the western side of the IJsselmeer. It is also possible that a (German) boat or fishermen found the body on the IJsselmeer and took it to the Oude Zeug. Bennet was recovered on June 18, 1944 and buried on June 20, 1944 in grave number 713 at the Middenmeer General Cemetery. After the war, Bennet was reburied at the US cemetery 'Ardennes', near the village of Neupré(Neuville-en-Condroz) in Belgium. His grave is in the cemetery part B, row 10, grave number 21.



The co-pilot 2nd Lieutenant Joseph Pasquale Congelli (21 years old) would probably also have been found or washed ashore there, near the Oude Zeug, the possible fourth crew member found. There is doubt about this. On November 15, 1944, remains and clothing of the American USAAF air force were recovered in a (German?) boat in the Oude Zeug working port. The name on the garments was not clearly legible after being in the water for approximately eleven months. Officially, Congelli is therefore registered as Missing in Action(MIA). On November 20, 1944, the remains were buried by the Dutch undertaker W. Hoes and his assistant S. Wolters. There was a lack of wood, on the orders of the occupier he was buried without a coffin in grave number 716 under the name “L. JP Songelli”.

Due to the condition of the body and clothing and the knowledge that crew members also exchanged clothing, there have always been questions surrounding co-pilot Congelli.

After recovery, the human remains and clothing were buried at the cemetery in Middenmeer. After the drying up following the flooding of the Wieringermeerpolder, the Grave Recovery team excavated the remains in 1946 and transferred them for further research. Based on calculations, the reconstructed length of the remains matched that of 2nd Lieutenant Congelli. They knew that other crew members of the B-24 42-63969 had also landed here. The coffin containing remains was sent to the U.S. Identification Center in Neuville-en Condroz, Belgium. However, when 2nd Lieutenant Congelli was to be buried at the cemetery there (USA War Cemetery "Ardennes" in Neupré), an inspection revealed that the coffin did not have the contents as described by the aforementioned undertaker. It is unknown whether boxes and/or papers were exchanged. The US military conducted a thorough investigation, but without desired results (source ZZairwar). The coffin containing the crew member's remains could not be found.

In 2015, an American reporter, Mr. Shane from a local TV & Radio station in Upstate New York, had contact with Mr. P. Cootjans from Limburg (source 2016 Mr. P. Cootjans). He has adopted a war grave in Margraten. Through this contact, a cousin of Joseph P. Congelli was found, Mr. Nick Congelli. His father (now deceased) was a brother of Joseph (source:

2nd Lieutenant Joseph P. Congelli probably rests as 'Known but to God' at an American war cemetery in the Netherlands (Margraten) or at the American war cemetery 'Ardennes' in Neupré, Belgium. Following a newspaper article (in Upstate New York where the Congelli family lives), a DNA investigation was started in 2015, partly because there were still brothers and sisters alive in 2016 and these relatives wanted certainty and answers. Unfortunately, the final results are not known or have not yet been made public.

Missing in Action

The other five crew members are still listed as Missing in Action (MIA for short).

What next?

The story about the American crew members and the B-24 bomber is incomplete and still has many uncertainties. Nevertheless, we have placed a memorial pole at the Oude Zeug working port with a view of the IJsselmeer.

Campers, cyclists, surfers and anyone interested can read this so that this crew and their sacrifice for our freedom is not forgotten. If you would like to share more information with us that complements the story, please email