The amazing Dutch researchers – and the proposed erection of a commemorative panel.

Dad and the rest of the crew were shot down over the Friesland area of the Netherlands…and, luckily, all survived. They were sent to the Dulag for questioning and then were sent off to various Stalags… for them ‘the war was over’.

Mk 1 Short Stirling MG-J (W.7471) Winter 1941/2 at Oakington, home of 7 Squadron

Mk 1 Short Stirling MG-J (W.7471) Winter 1941/2 at Oakington, home of 7 Squadron

Over the few years that I’ve been looking at the history of my dad’s experiences of the war I’ve been in touch with various Dutch folk who are anxious to keep alive the memory of the RAF servicemen who fought against the German war machine. Their dedication is humbling and they expend time, energy and money in trying to find out and remember those men who flew and crashed in Holland… whether or not they survived.

Recently a dedicated researcher, Ger Boogmans, and I have exchanged information and thoughts about the crash of Short Stirling W.7471 MG-J on the 7 June 1942. The crew were:

F/O Norman Leslie Tayler ‘Buck’(RAF – 565003)                   Captain

Sgt. Clarence Frank Henigman (RCAF-R58530)                       2nd Pilot

PO Edward Joseph Earngey ‘Ted’ (RAAF -402761)                 Navigator

PO Frank St John Travis ‘John’ (SRAF – 104538)                   Wireless Operator

Sgt. William Edward Goodman ‘Bill’ (RAF -1263380)            Front Gunner

Sgt. John Henry Arnold ‘Jack’ (RAF –  934266)                         Rear Gunner

Sgt. Sidney John Macnamara ‘Mac’ (RAF – ?)                             Engineer

F/O Harry Douglas Spry (RAF -78865)                                       Mid Upper Gunner

He and other Dutch folk have successfully created commemorative panels to remember the crew of various aircraft that crashed in the Netherlands during the war. The panels contain photos of the airmen and the circumstances leading to their crash. They do this to honour the men who flew night after night to bomb and fight the enemy that was Germany at that time.

Over in the Netherlands memorials to allied airmen are tended with reverence and care… their thanks to men like my father is deeply held and has been continuous since the end of the war. The memorials and commemorative plaques are not just generic, paying respect to a generation of men. They have been and continue to be erected to honour and remember individuals and specific events…such as the shooting down of MG-J ‘Johnny’ the Stirling aircraft that was shot down in the early hours of 7th June 1942 by Oblt. Ludwig Becker the German fighter ace his second ‘kill’ of that night.

There are plans to erect a commemorative panel at Blija, near Dokkum to remember the crew of dad’s plane. So far my Dutch friends have details of the families of just three of the crew… Frank Henigman, Ted Earngey and my father. The families of other members of the crew have still to be found and there is little evidence of who or where they are at the moment.

Sidney John Macnamara possibly died in Surrey in 1978 and was probably married in Kent.

John Henry Arnold possibly died in South Glamorgan in 1993.

Harry Douglas Spry possibly died in Canterbury, Kent in 1979 and was possibly married in Kent.

Norman Leslie Tayler possibly died in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire in 1993 but might have married and lived in Yorkshire.

Frank St John Travis was from South Africa and returned there after the war.

This is where the help of others would be appreciated… to help locate the families of the men we’ve not been able to find yet.

It would be amazing to bring together members of the family of each of the crewmen, either literally or in spirit, to remember the crew members of MG-J ‘Johnny’ before they were sent to various POW camps for the remainder of the war.

If you, who are reading this, know of any of these men or have ideas for contacting them please get in touch… currently we seem to have stalled in our searches and it would be wonderful if someone out there ‘knows someone who knows someone’ who is related to or knew one of these men. If you have any information… please get in touch!!

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