Crashinfo_JN884_EN

Crash information JN884 Slootdorp

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 unveiling of the remembrance post for this crash

This remembrance post has been unveiled on April 16th, 2022

Location of this remembrance post

Halifax MKII

Engelse bommenwerper Halifax MKII

Crash information

The evening of 25 July 1943 at 22:39h the English Halifax bomber took off from Lissett airport

The 3rd mission for the crew who were led by pilot, Kenneth Larkin.


That night Larkin and his six crewmembers flew with 704 other bombers to the Kruppfactories in Essen. The following morning the Halifax didn’t return to Lissett airport and the entire crew was reported as missing. It was on the  way there that the bomber was shot out of the sky by a German night hunter at 00.17h. The six fallen crew members were buried that same day on the general cemetery of Middenmeer.

Only Jack Loudoun was able to get out of the burning plane in time by using his parachute just seconds before it exploded. Miraculously, he survived that crash and the war.

The crew

Kenneth Richard Larkin

Sergeant

Pilot

22 years old

UK

James Stewart

Sergeant

Flight engineer

20 years old

UK

Percy Fisher Watson

Flyer Sergeant

Navigator

28 years old

NZ

Edward Raymond Bray

Sergeant

Bomb aimer

20 years old

UK

Roy Desmond Raven

Sergeant

Radio officer

21 years old

UK

Ronald Joseph Wyatt-Matthews

Sergeant

Gunner

33 years old

UK

Jock Ernst Loudoun

Sergeant

Gunner

21 years old

UK

Photos of the unveiling

Reports and press

Loudoun family present at Dolfijnweg unveiling

 

April 16, 2022. With more than 100 interested parties at the unveiling of the remembrance post at the Dolfijnweg on April 16, it appears once again that the stories and memories of the events of the Second World War are still alive. That is nice to see, after all it is one of the objectives of our foundation.

 

At the Dolfijnweg, at the farm of the Juurlink family, invited guests and interested parties gathered where the coffee and tea were provided by Marlies and Reinier Woudstra. The barn was set up as a reception and presentation room especially for this occasion. The interest in what happened in WWII around crashed planes in the Wieringermeerpolder arose for Mark Hakvoort, our chairman, because of what happened here. In his presentation, Mark showed pictures of the crew members of the Halifax JN884, told anecdotes, and with enthusiasm Mark told, sometimes in detail, what happened on July 26, 1943. A special welcome was given to the Loudoun family. Dave Loudoun is the son of tail gunner Jock Loudon who was the only crew member to survive the crash, he died in 2003. Dave came to the Netherlands for this occasion together with his wife Jane. Grandson Tom Loudoun performed the official unveiling of the remembrance post. In 1979 Jock Loudoun and his wife Vera were in the Wieringermeer. Piet Terpstra, then deputy mayor, arranged the reception of Jock and Vera. Piet Terpstra has since passed away, but his wife Ria and son Alex were also present today. In addition to Mark's presentation, there were speeches by the mayor of Hollands Kroon, Rian van Dam and the deputy head of mission of New Zealand, Hannah Frost.

 

On this beautiful spring day, the group then went outside for the official unveiling of the remembrance post. Dirk Bak blew the national anthems of England and New Zealand. The presence of no fewer than fourteen veterans, led by Dick Doornik, completed this ceremony.

At the war graves in the cemetery in Middenmeer, Dirk Bak blew The Last Post and flowers and wreaths were laid by the Loudon family, the Veterans, the Embassy of New Zealand, the Freedom Flame Foundation (Edith van de Bovenkamp), the neighbors and former residents of the Dolfijnweg and Praamweg (Juurlink family, Hoitink family, Woudstra family, Hakvoort family, Sijtsma-Spits family and Scholten family) and the Wieringermeer Historical Society (Jan Wouts, Fred de Vries and Roellie Schiere). Mayor Rian van Dam of the municipality of Hollands Kroon also laid a wreath at the war graves. A wreath was laid by Tess Hakvoort on behalf of Sue and Alan Riddell, family of James Stewart (the flight engineer of the crashed Halifax).


After the ceremonies, funeral services Wieringermeer offered the opportunity to conclude with coffee or tea.

 

The board of Stichting Herdenkingspalen Hollands Kroon would like to thank everyone who was present on this day and who contributed to this impressive and unforgettable event. In addition, we would like to express our appreciation for our mayor who has a warm heart for our foundation and our goals and who is always present at our commemorations and unveilings.


Click here for more photos from this day

Report HN Nieuws

Family James Stewart visits remembrance post and cemetery Middenmeer

James Stewart was a flight engineer on the Halifax JN884 which crashed at the Dolfijnweg near Slootdorp on 26 July 1943. On April 16, 2022, we unveiled a remembrance post for the crew of this aircraft. The family of Jock Ernst Loudoun, gunner aboard this aircraft, was present at this unveiling.


On July 9, 2022, Mark Hakvoort, our chairman, received family members of James Stewart. Alan (son of James' sister) and Sue Riddel were in the Netherlands and visited the remembrance post at the Dolfijnweg. In addition, they laid flowers at Stewart's grave in the cemetery in Middenmeer. It was an emotional and beautiful experience according to Alan and Sue.

The whole story

The Story of the Halifax JN884 NP-F Crash on July 26, 1943


In the night of 25 to 26 July 1943, a four-engined British bomber crashed near the Dolfijnweg in Slootdorp. Of the 7 crew members, only the tail gunner Sergeant Jock Loudoun managed to save his life with the parachute. The Halifax aircraft crashed just after midnight at 0:17 am.


It was the crew's third mission, targeting the Krupp factories in the German city of Essen. The night before they had been on a mission to Hamburg. The fires that started there were so intense that there was a so-called fire storm. Due to the enormous heat and burning, the city became a hell on earth. The first mission was an attack on the city of Aachen, no details are known about this.


Mission Hamburg 24-25 July

On the way back from Hamburg, the glow of the fires that had started could be seen in the night sky from 100 kilometers away. The Halifax JN884 NP-F was brand new and had been delivered from the factory directly to 158 squadron on July 10th. The aircraft was lent to another crew for one night for a bombing mission over Italy. Although the aircraft was new and there were no reports of damage on the Hamburg mission, the crew encountered problems on the way back over the North Sea. One of the four engines of the Halifax JN884 failed. The aircraft (Halifax bomber type) could fly on three engines, but as a result lost speed and gradually lost altitude. This forced them to land at another airbase, Catfloss. From there, the crew was returned overnight in cars to home base Lissett Airport. The next day (July 25) Jock and pilot Larkin went to collect the repaired Halifax bomber for the next night mission. Unfortunately, there was a delay of several hours before they could fly together from Catfloss airport to home base Lissett. At Lissett Air Base, the Halifax JN884 NP-F was the last to be loaded with bombs and filled with fuel. When they finally took off, the English bomber main force, which consisted of 704 bombers, had already left and was flying over the North Sea on its way to Essen.


The fatal mission July 25-26 to Essen

After pilot Larkin and his crew took off, they again experienced problems with the same engine over the North Sea. But after a few precarious moments, the engine apparently ran okay again. Afterward, Wyatt-Matthews reported that he was unwell. After consultation, the pilot Larkin decided to continue the mission anyway. As one of the last of the 704 bombers en route to Essen, they arrived above Den Helder. The city was used as a marker on the route of this mission. The explosions of anti-aircraft guns, the German Flak stationed at the harbour, were visible. The Flak was deployed to defend against bomb attacks on, among others, the German Kriegsmarine, which was anchored in the harbor of Den Helder. To the surprise of the crew, the German Flak stopped firing as soon as the Halifax JN884 flew over Den Helder. The pilot Larkin reported over the intercom that the Germans were going to bed. The crew members laughed and looked out with a grin. In 1989, Jock told Loudoun that Larkin's laconic remark was wrong. Oh, how inexperienced they were, he said. Of course the Germans did not go to bed, there was something else that made them stop firing. Afterwards it turned out that a German night fighter of the Luftwaffe also flew over Den Helder and tried to chase the lone bomber in the dark. The German leadership was afraid to shoot down a plane of its own Luftwaffe aircraft and demanded that the Flak stop firing. A few minutes later, the pilot Larkin thought he saw a flare of fire in the distance. Thinking about the night before, he reported over the intercom that the glow of a burning Essen was already visible in the distance.


Perilous escape

Jock Loudoun, the rear gunner, was in the back of the bomber. On a small shelf in a glass dome. The dome (a kind of sphere) was equipped with four machine guns. Jock was alert and looked down. Suddenly, out of the darkness, he saw a twin-engine plane looming and rapidly approaching. A Luftwaffe twin-engined night fighter attacked from below and behind. Jock immediately alerted the crew over the intercom and simultaneously fired his four machine guns at the night fighter. At the same time, the night fighter also fired at the bomber. Tracer ammunition lit up the dark night and crossed in the sky. Jock felt the impacts and vibrations of the German bullets on the Halifax and thought he saw hits on the night fighter as well, which immediately ducked and disappeared from sight in the dark night. The heavily loaded Halifax bomber immediately began a dive. Jock tried to reach the crew via the intercom but in vain. The dive caused the heavily loaded bomber to gain more and more speed and the four engines began to howl due to the high revs. In retrospect, Jock thought pilot Larkin was probably hit and was lying over the control column. The Halifax was filled with bombs and jet fuel and immediately started to burn. When Jock looked back from his turret, he saw the flames already approaching in the bomber's fuselage. By chance on this mission he was “on” his parachute and decided to jump out of the burning plane. Rotating the tail turret 90 degrees allowed Jock to crawl out through the turret doors. As soon as he opened the doors, the airflow sucked him and his parachute out. He hung behind the machine guns with his aviator boot on his right leg and fumbled for a few anxious moments on the turret with one leg still hooked. The air current was so strong that his parachute harness slipped off his back. In a reflex, Jock was able to grab the shoulder strap. At that moment his boot popped off and he tumbled through the dark night. In his fall he managed to get the parachute harness back on. With a tug on the cord, the parachute deployed just in time. After a few seconds he floated close to a roof and landed in the front garden of a farm on the Westerterpweg in Slootdorp. After hiding his parachute and wandering around in the dark night, he decided to knock on the door of a farm. Klazien Hoffer, a teenage girl, opened the back door of the pantry and was shocked to see the airman standing with one boot on and a wound on his right leg. Jock asked in which direction Amsterdam lay. Klazien's father also immediately came to have a look at the back door. In broken English, Klazien said that Amsterdam was too far and that Jock had to hide on the land among the crops. After all, German soldiers had already visited the farms on the Westerterpweg. From the church tower in Slootdorp they had seen the bomber explode in the air and see a parachutist come down. It was therefore too dangerous to immediately shelter Jock. As Jock left the scullery, he walked around the corner of the farmhouse and ran into two German soldiers. "For you the war is over" said the soldiers.


POW

In 1993, Jock said that he did not experience his capture as unpleasant. He was injured in his right leg and afterwards quite shocked about the events in the hours before. The German soldiers took Jock to Amsterdam later that night where his leg wound was treated. There he also learned that the rest of the crew had died. After a short recovery period, Jock was taken to a POW camp near Dresden, Stalag IVB. There he was liberated in April 1945 by Russian soldiers. When the Russian liberators arrived, all remaining German guards who had not yet fled were mercilessly executed, after which the prisoners of war plundered the administration building and storage sheds. This must have been a shocking experience, because the remaining German guards were either old men over 65 or boys under 17.


Wreckage

The wreckage came down spread over several farms on the Dolfijnweg near Slootdorp. Parts of the fuselage and tailpiece came down at the Hakvoort family (the farm with the thatched roof), a wing with two engines in the front yard of the Juurlink family at number 9. The other engines on the land near the ditch between Juurlink and Spits ( now Hoitink).


Jack Loudoun

Jock and his wife Vera returned to Slootdorp and Middenmeer in 1979 and 1993 to visit the crash site and cemetery. Mr. Pieter Terpstra organized these special official visits as alderman and deputy mayor of the former municipality of Wieringermeer.


James (Jim) Stewart

One of the crew members killed is Sergeant James Stewart. He was born on April 1, 1923 in West Kyo – Durham. He was the flight engineer on board the four-engined Halifax bomber. In short, James Stewart was responsible for keeping the four engines running. James and others probably had too little time to put on the parachute before the Halifax exploded at about 6,000 meters.

James Stewart came from a poor mining family with four children. James was a bright boy and his high grades in primary school made him noticed by the teachers. A childless primary school teacher couple helped James further with his training as an engineer. After school he worked for four years at the Rington's Tea Company in Newcastle upon Tyne. This company still exists. When the war started in September 1939, James was also called up for military service. Due to his mechanical engineering knowledge, he was transferred to the British Air Force RAF and was trained as a flight engineer for a Halifax bomber.


After the crash on July 26, 1943, the German occupiers buried the six killed crew members in the cemetery in Middenmeer the same day at 7 pm. Margaret, the younger sister of James passed away in April 2017 at the age of 91. Unfortunately, due to her frail physical condition and dementia, she could no longer visit her brother's grave. Despite her dementia, she had a moment of clarity and told Alan before leaving for the Netherlands that he was going to see Jim (Jim = James). Her son Alan and daughter-in-law Sue came on Saturday afternoon, April 15, 2017 as the first family members of Stewart to the Wieringermeerpolder to visit Uncle Jim's grave. Margaret died the same day.


Lest we forget that these young men who gave everything 80 years ago, their experience, knowledge, courage and lastly their lives for our freedom.


Information about the plane crashes in the Wieringermeer during World War II at mark@shhk.nl