A war memorial is not just a piece of stone or bronze that refers to a period in history. If you are observing directly involved people during the unveiling of a monument, you will experience just how important such a monument is. To help them to cope with their grief, to point out to others what sacrifices there were made. A tangible piece of history that refers to the peace which we cannot cherish enough now.
The moment the Colour Party and a small platoon Air Force soldiers on the sunlit pasture marched in, most guests have already taken their places.
A Sunday afternoon in Boekelo. The clear blue sky fits nicely with the colourful banners and uniforms. Equally diverse is the number of nationalities present. Many have even come from Canada, America and the United Kingdom to attend the unveiling of the monument. It is September 29, 2013 . Exactly 70 years ago a bomber of the Canadian Air Force crashed on this same spot. Of the seven crew members of the Halifax DK259 WL – L two of them deceased from the injuries. Five crew members survived the crash.
Among those present at the unveiling of the monument not only various honourable dignitaries, including the Canadian military attaché and the mayor of Enschede, but also relatives of the crew and relatives of those who in 1943 helped the survivors escape. ‘The Band of Liberation ‘ played some melodies, which nicely fit a memorial like this. More engrossing is the speech by the granddaughter of one of the crew members. Emotionally she tells how grateful she is that everyone has come to this place for her great hero and wounded and deceased colleagues.
They were still very young. Bertram Scudder 18 years even the youngest. When the plane was shot by the German prince Ace zur Lippe – Weissenveld, he panicked and did not dare to jump off the plane. He flew his first mission that night. His charred body was later found in the plane wreckage. Bertram Scudder was buried on October 1, 1943 in the Eastern Cemetery in Enschede. Luckily it was not the end for all the crew. The American Richard Stuart returned 25 years after the war to look for the ones who gave him shelter. From visiting the family who had helped him at that time a friendship arose until the end of his life. He continued in the military until his retirement and even served during the wars in Korea and Vietnam .
One of the other crew members , the Canadian George Hastings , returned after the war to his homeland and became a successful businessman and politician in Manitoba.
For those on the pasture in Boekelo who lost their lives, there is now a memorable place where future generations can reflect on the tragic death of the young men who fought for our freedom .
( Text courtesy of Laurens van Aggelen )
Pictures: see Album