Letter from Corine Koek

Foto grafnummer 60611 Kerkhof bij het Laantje Laantje / Kerkstraat WerkendamHello Eric,

 

Thank you for your inquiry, sorry we took so long answering you!

 

This is what I found: Your uncle Eric Cooper indeed crashed in the Biesbosch, an estuary close to Werkendam, on June 24th, 1942. It is now called National Park The Biesbosch. https://www.google.nl/maps/place/biesbosch/@51.7507546,4.7632307,10z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x4694450055945b48?hl=nl

 

Werkendam polders

(with thanks to Corine Koek)

 

Six of the seven air crew members died when the Short Stirling. W7567 crashed into the field of farmer Salomon Glerum. The polder is called ‘Kroon en Zalm’ (‘Crown and Salmon’). I have attached a more simple map of the Biesbosch with the polders and marked it (very amateurish). The crash was so close to the farm, hundreds of roof tiles of the barn and many windows were destroyed. Even on the other side of the water ‘Lijnoorden’ windows were destroyed.

 

Pilot Dobson was found in the cockpit of the plane, his body carbonized. Mr. Maarten van Elzelingen found sergeant Cooper on the 5th of August. Three weeks later gunner Thorne was found. The others, gunner Flemings, observator Withers and pilot Peel, were found between February 25th and March 23rd, 1943. All of them are buried together in the church cemetery, which is also a Commonwealth Cemetery. I have attached a picture of the grave stone of your uncle.

 

Only the wounded wireless operator (C. Fairhall) survived, but he got caught later by the Germans. He did survive the war but could not shake the war trauma’s of crashing and the prisoner of war camp, and lived in the USA in a phychiatric hospital.

 

Unfortunately, I could not find anything about remaining pieces of the plane. I will ask around some more, but did not want to wait for it and send you an email with the info I got sofar.

 

Please know that on May 4th, our Remembrance Day, we have two commemorations in Werkendam. The big one is at the same time as the national one, with a two minute silence throughout the Netherlands. Everything and everybody stops. However, in Werkendam, we also have a smaller, more intimate commemoration in the morning. Flowers and wreaths are placed on the graves of the local resistance and also on the 23 graves of the soldiers of the Allied Forces. Schoolkids participate in this (like they do in the evening as well).

 

I hope this helps at least a little bit! Please let me know if I can be of more assistance.

 

Kind regards,

Corine

 

 

 

 

Corine Koek-Maasdam

secretaris Historische Vereniging Werkendam en De Werken c.a.

freelance correspondent and photographer

telephone numbers available on request.

Logo_historische_vereniging _Werkendam

gravestone Eric Cooper, R.A.F.

www.online-begraafplaatsen.nl

 

2015-07-08 wednesday.