The search for the families of crew members is moving on apace!

How swiftly have some aspects of the search for the family members of crew have moved since my last blog entry!!!

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

The other night after having left private messages on Facebook to two folk I felt could be the grandchildren of Harry Douglas Spry…and time went by without any reply… about two and a half weeks…and Eureka!!!  His granddaughter messaged me two nights ago. I think that she might have been on the phone to her father at the same time because the messages came in fits and starts.

However, she confirmed (from her father) that Harry Douglas Spry was her grandfather and yes he’d been in the RAF during the war. This was as much as he knew, though, because in common with many veterans he never spoke about what had happened to him. He knew nothing about what he’d done at all and was sorry about that.

Harry Spry was the mid-upper gunner on W.7471 Short Stirling MG-J on the night that it was shot down by Oblt. Ludwig Becker over the Friesland area of the Netherlands. When the plane came down he’d managed to bail out successfully but had sustained a twisted ankle… a minor injury when one considers what could have happened.

I was able to give him the major details of when and where he’d been shot down and which POW camp he’d been sent to at first. His daughter, conveying all these messages, said that it had really hit him… a lot to take in, I think.

Anyway, I ordered a copy of dad’s book to go to him and after the PM session I emailed more details for his granddaughter to give to him… plus the ways in which he could send for his father’s service record and Bomber Command clasp.

In a couple of weeks he’ll no doubt have started the book and we’ll speak on the phone with any luck. He’s going to see if he, or any of the wider family know anything or have anything further to add and maybe even a photograph of him.

Ger Boogmans, over in the Netherlands, was pleased that our search was starting in such a promising manner and has a few plans of his own to further the search with other crew members.

Someone else got in touch with me today… again on Facebook… and said that he might have a contact for another crew member… but that’s another entry in the blog in a few days.

There are many who decry the internet… but in this case it’s been my best tool for tracing someone. And there are others on the list who may soon have a phone call… if everything falls into place as this one has. Optimistic? Oh yes!!

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5 Responses to The search for the families of crew members is moving on apace!

  1. Harry Feenstra says:

    Hello. I read your post this weekend.
    I live in Blije I was born (long after the war) in the neighbourhood where your father must have come over the dyke.
    I heard you would like to see a memorial panel about your fathers crash erected. I will do what I can to help make that possible. Ik made a kind of overview of the events in the area on a topographic map from that time. The outer dyke erea looks a lot different nowadays. I can send this as PDF if you like.
    Your father must have been at my mothers farmhouse then. She told me she saw the tree man trough the window. She was about ten years old then and none of them spoke English. They gave them food and milk and they went on.
    I hope to hear from you. Greetings, Harry

    • charts2012 says:

      Hi Harry!

      Thank you so much for responding to my blog entry.

      The memorial panel I mentioned in the blog was not my idea… it was the idea of a chap I’ve become friends with on Facebook… Ger Boogmans. He and his friends research the crash sites and get in touch with relatives of the crews and when all have been contacted they group erect a memorial panel near to the site.

      How incredible that your mother saw them!! He mentions in the book he wrote about the events of that night… although, of course, he didn’t know the names of the people who might have seen him… only those he actually met. Although they did get some bread and cheese from a farmhouse along with a drink… but they had to move on. On that night he met Romke Smidt the Chief of Police and a Mr Esselink and his son.

      Apparently, the land on which they came down belonged to Willem Jansma. However, after the war, much later he visited the area and became friendly with Klass Malda who worked on the farm where their plane had come down… I wonder whether he is still alive? He also visited the relatives of the original Jansma family, I gather.

      I would be very interested to see a pdf overview of the area… thank you very much.

    • charts2012 says:

      I’ve put a new post onto the site, Harry, with another one to come when I’ve written it. I don’t seem to have your email address!

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