Crash information DZ386 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 will be unveiled on June 15, 2024

Location of this remembrance post

The location for this remembrance post is not yet known

Photo of the plane will follow later

THe whole story


The location

The title of the story about the Mosquito bomber and its killed crew suggests that there are uncertainties. In this case, this uncertainty concerns, among other things, the exact crash location of the Mosquito. From the stories we know, it can be concluded that the plane landed at least within swimming distance (Geert Koekoek story) of the Wieringermeerdijk. It cannot be determined whether this is just inside or just outside the current municipal boundary. What is certain is that no memorial post or monument has been placed for the two crew members to date, not in the municipality of Hollands Kroon, and not elsewhere. Hollands Kroon Memorial Posts Foundation believes that crew members Shand and Handley should also be commemorated and therefore places a remembrance post on the Wieringermeerdijk. The unveiling of this pole will take place in 2024.

The Story of Shand and Handley

Back in time. It is April 20, 1943, Hitler's birthday. A small number of English fast bombers of the Mosquito type fly over Berlin. The air raid sirens are blaring, the Berlin population looks up in fear and runs to the bomb shelters. A number of bombs are scattered on the capital of the Third German Reich. The two crew members Shand and Handley sit in the cramped cockpit of a fast Mosquito bomber. The pilot William Peter Shand and the navigator Christopher Dinsdale Handley are experienced crew members. The commanding officer had stated in the instructions earlier in the evening that the aim of this night operation was to disrupt Hitler's birthday party.

Shand and Handley flew back from Berlin to England with satisfaction. Unfortunately, neither would return to their home base of Marham that morning and, to the great sadness of their families, remained missing for years. The 139 Squadron logbook mentions about this last mission that they took off with the Mosquito XD-H serial number DZ 386 at 10.25 pm with several Mosquitos on their way to Berlin for a diversionary bombardment. Everything is neatly described and archived, just no landing time. This is the fatal flight.


The Mosquito Bomber

The plane was nicknamed the “wooden wonder”. The lightweight aircraft was fast due to the two Merlin engines, each with 1735 HP and could reach a speed of up to 688 km/hour. The construction was not made of aluminum but made of wood and glue. It was a very reliable aircraft and popular with airmen. Approximately 7781 units were produced. The Mosquito bomber was faster than the German night fighters such as the Messerschmitt Bf110 or Junkers Ju88 and could carry 1800 kilos of bombs. Due to its speed, it had been impossible for German night fighters to shoot down a Mosquito aircraft until April 1943. It gave some Mosquito crews a false sense of security, which sometimes led to complacency. For example, instead of flying different routes there and back each time, some crews probably chose the shortest route there and back. They also often flew at the same altitude, approximately 3000-4000 meters, above the range of the German light caliber anti-aircraft guns. Some German radar posts and night fighter pilots immediately noticed this pattern.

139 Jamaica Squadron "Si placet necamus" ("We destroy at will")

139 squadron was equipped with Mosquitos. Coincidentally, the Dutch pilot and resistance fighter Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema (nicknamed Soldier of Orange) flew for this squadron. He flew an incredible 72 Pathfinder and bombing missions against Germany with the squadron. By comparison, the average number of missions a bomber crew flew was about 13 before they were shot down or dropped out. In the summer of 1943, 139 Squadron switched to night raiding and joined the Pathfinder Force. The aim of the Pathfinders, flying ahead of the heavy bombers, was to drop Window (thin strips of aluminum foil). The strips of foil were intended to confuse the German warning radar. And also conduct "ghost attacks" on other targets to distract enemy night fighters from the primary target. From February 20/21 to March 27/28, 1943, this squadron carried out a series of 36 consecutive night attacks on Berlin. On May 2 and 3, 1945, the last wartime missions of 139 Squadron were an attack by 14 Mosquitos on the German port city of Kiel. During the war, 139 Squadron flew more than 4,000 operational sorties and dropped approximately 1,500 tons of bombs.

The German tactics

Several experienced German night fighter pilots had devised a way to shoot down a fast Mosquito bomber in the previous months. In close cooperation with the ground sounding station (radar) and the combat control officer present there, this tactic would guide the night fighter to its target. Probably Leutenant (Lieutenant) Lübke from the radar post "Eisbär" in Gaasterland (Friesland) and the experienced and successful night fighter pilot Staffelkapitän (squadron captain) Lothar Linke worked together. Linke flew with the Luftwaffe night fighter squadron IV/NG1 from Leeuwarden. Extensive rehearsals were conducted in preparation. It is a very difficult maneuver that had to be performed on a dark night. A steep dive was necessary to achieve high speed. There would only be one chance to hit the Mosquito. Whether this tactic was also used by Linke to take down the Shand & Handley Mosquito is not entirely certain because the information found contains conflicting data. Maybe it happened as described below.

The hunt for the Mosquito

Leutenant Lübke was positioned in Gaasterland that night and vaguely saw a dot appear on the radar screen. This was probably one of the Mosquito bombers on the way back from Berlin. Lübke contacted the night fighter pilot Linke via radio. Linke flew at a high altitude above East Friesland. Exactly as he and Linke had predicted and practiced, the Mosquito flew in a straight line and at the expected height towards the IJsselmeer, roughly in the line Stavoren - Wieringermeerpolder. As soon as the possible route was known, Linke started a dive with his Messerschmitt Bf110. The night fighter's speed increased rapidly. From the ground, Lübke communicated a number of minor course changes to Linke via radio. The night fighter came down from behind, straight towards the Mosquito. Shand and Handley were in the cockpit and probably didn't look back. Night fighter pilot Linke looked through the sights of his machine guns and released the safety catch. The speed was high and soon the Mosquito filled the entire crosshairs. At that moment, Linke pulled the trigger on the machine guns. The bullets hit the Mosquito, which immediately ducked. The night fighter was pulled out of the dive with difficulty by Linke. Linke reported the achieved result to Lübke over the radio at approximately 2:07 am. Linke and Lübke were probably the first to shoot down a Mosquito bomber at night. After some time it was confirmed that an English plane had crashed in the IJsselmeer, near the Wieringermeerdijk and approximately 500 meters south of the T-junction Schervenweg - Zuiderdijkweg. The crew members had not been found.

Night fighter pilot Staffelkapitän Lothar Linke

Lothar Linke was born on October 23, 1909 in Liegnitz in the state of Silesia, now Legnica in Poland. Before the war he was a flying instructor. His first victory was on April 19, 1940. On the night of May 4 to 5, 1943, he shot down four RAF bombers. It is not known exactly whether he had engine failure, or whether Linke himself was shot down on the night of May 13 to 14, 1943, after the downing of a second Lancaster. He was flying a Messerschmitt Bf110 G-4 and was possibly hit by the gunner(s) of the latter Lancaster. He and his radio/radar operator Walter Czybulka jumped from the hit night fighter, but Linke hit the tailplane of the Messerschmitt. He probably became unconscious, so he did not open the parachute and therefore fell to his death in the area of Tacozijl, near Lemmer. He was buried at the Noordercemetery in Leeuwarden and reburied after the war at the German cemetery in Ysselstyn. Czybulka was injured and survived the night-time parachute jump, he eventually died at an old age in 2007. Lothar Linke, who was promoted to Oberleutnant (lieutenant), was 33 years old and was posthumously awarded the Ritterkreuz (high Nazi decoration, the Knight's Cross) on September 19, 1943. Oberleutnant Lothar Linke shot down 27 aircraft in more than 100 missions. He recorded 24 victories at night, including 12 four-engine bombers and one Mosquito.


What happened to Shand and Handley? Unfortunately, the exact story will always remain unknown, as we mentioned in the introduction. Possibly both jumped out with the parachute above the IJsselmeer after the Mosquito was hit. Both wore their life jackets, nicknamed Mae West due to its shape, and remained afloat on the water. The Mosquito may have flown burning for some time to near the Wieringermeerdijk, where the plane crashed in the cold IJsselmeer water. The incident that night was described in the report of the Wieringermeer Air Protection Service (LDW), drawn up by Van Zijll-Langhout. Mr. J. Zijlstra, also from the LDW, was looking out on the church tower of the Reformed Church in Wieringerwerf and saw a plane come down and reported this to Van Zijll by telephone.

Van Zijll then reports that a plane probably crashed at the end of the Schervenweg on April 21 at 2:30 am. Together with Mr Haarsma from the military police, he drove to the indicated location in the municipal car. Once there, they were informed by German soldiers that the plane had crashed into the IJsselmeer south of the Schervenweg, probably after an air battle. German soldiers had arrived earlier from Middenmeer and had “found parts of an airplane washed up 500 meters south of the Schervenweg." The tanks that washed ashore had inscriptions in English. The aircraft type could not be determined. They found no trace of the crew. No further measures were necessary because the German soldiers were present and Van Zijll and Haarsma returned home.

In 2016, Mr Geert Koekoek said that he and his friends had seen aircraft wreckage in the water from the Wieringermeerdijk a few days after the crash. Among other things, an airplane wheel was visible. One of his friends then swam to the wheel and cut off pieces of rubber. The rubber pieces were used as shoe soles.


The connection with Makkum

The two English airmen are buried at the Protestant cemetery in Makkum. But how do the bodies get there in Makkum, while the Mosquito landed close to the IJsselmeerdijk of the Wieringermeer? The papers of the municipality of Makkum state that both bodies were found on May 11, 1943. The stated location is "Kornwerderzand in the IJsselmeer". They were buried on May 12, 1943 in Makkum.

Regarding the discovery of the bodies in 1943, no description was made of where exactly they were found near the Frisian dike near Makkum.

There are therefore different options.

- Floating, this happened more often during the war, picked up by a fishing boat from Makkum.

- Washed up on the IJsselmeer side of the Frisian dike.

It does not say “Afsluitdijk”, but it says “found in IJsselmeer”.

The place name "Kornwerderzand" can be interpreted very broadly. In other Makkumer archives about found airmen, the name "Breezanddijk" is sometimes used as the location Afsluitdijk. Various interpretations are possible here, such as between Breezanddijk and Kornwerderzand, or near Kornwerderzand, in the IJsselmeer, or between Kornwerderzand and the (Frisian) Kop Afsluitdijk, also in the IJsselmeer. In other words, there are enough options that make it difficult to determine the precise location where the bodies were found.

Both bodies have been in the water for about 20 days, it is estimated. Research has shown that a body normally floats to the surface after approximately 8 days (partly depending on the temperature of the water) (gas formation in the intestines). The bodies floated on the surface for 12 days, following the current. It is also possible that they were briefly “held” by a fishing net along the Afsluitdijk.

Unknown airmen are given a name

The IJsselmeer current is in the direction of Kornwerderzand and may have carried the bodies to the other side. For example, by attracting IJsselmeer water that flowed out through the discharge sluices at Kornwerderzand. There is also a predominantly westerly wind, from North Holland in the direction of Friesland, which may have taken hold of the floating bodies.

The water was probably cold and the clothes were still intact. One body wore a wristwatch with a number engraved on it. The inscription is known and appears on the municipal form (from the Makkum archives): AM 6B / 234 19259 / 40

Both bodies were buried as “unknown” at the Prostestante cemetery Makkum on May 12, 1943.

The epitaph “unknown” remained that way until after the war, which Mr. Klaas Groeneveld from Makkum can deduce from series of row letters and grave numbers from the cemetery in Makkum. Mr Groeneveld is very involved in the annual commemoration of the dead in Makkum and has helped us enormously with this research.

After the war, the Allies inquired with all municipalities in the Netherlands about (un)known graves. As a statement from the municipality of Wonseradeel to the official foreign authorities, it was reported that unknown persons were buried in both graves.

In 1948 the name of C.D. Handley (navigator) on the gravestone, apparently in response to the above-mentioned inscription in the wristwatch. Pilot Shand remained listed as missing.

Wing Commander W.P. Shand

The name of the navigator Handley is mentioned on the gravestone in Makkum. The other gravestone with the unknown soldier probably belongs to William P. Shand. He was a pilot and also a wing commander (lieutenant colonel) and was 27 years old.

Many efforts have been made by the Makkumer amateur historian, Mr. Jentsje Hoeksema. He was a hairdresser in Makkum and worked for years at war commemorations. Hoeksema was very involved and interested in the air war above Makkum. While cutting hair for his customers in the years after the war, memories and stories were exchanged and the war continued to live on.

The policeman who found the bodies in 1943 (...) recorded their height, eyes and hair color. A breakthrough came in 1980 when Mr. Hoeksema sent this data to the British Commonwealth War Graves Foundation(CWGC). He pointed out that both bodies had been found at the same time and in the same place and that therefore the other man had to be Handley's pilot: William P. Shand. The CWGC agreed and eventually in 1981 the unknown aviator's gravestone was changed to that of William P. Shand with the inscription “believed to be”.

Finally, after so many years, the Shand family had a place where William could be visited and remembered.


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