Tuesday, 8 October 2019

A RESTLESS GRAVE IN FINNINGLEY, SOUTH YORKSHIRE

                                                  The unnamed grave at Finningley



In the quiet little village of Finningley, South Yorkshire, interred in the churchyard of Holy Trinity and St Oswald lies the remains of an airman lost during World War II.  The occupant of this grave has never been formally identified and his family have never had any form of closure - they still do not even know that his body has been found. 



During the course of WW2 105 Polish airmen were killed flying out of RAF Lindholme; 50 of them were serving with 304 Squadron and 55 were serving with 305 Squadron.  We only know that this man was a Polish airmen based on the fact that the Police investigating the incident we are about to describe stated that he was Polish.



Requests for assistance have been made to the South Yorkshire Police (under the Freedom of Information Act) but they claim to have no records of an investigation which only took place in 1987 when the body was found on the Hatfield Moor.  It is very odd that no records have been kept of an event which kept the body on ice for 4 months whilst it was being investigated and the investigating officer went down to London to search through RAF records.  We also do not know how the Police came to conclude that it was a Polish airman.



The South Yorkshire Coroners records were lost in floods a few years ago so they, unfortunately cannot help with our quest.  However, some of his comments were recorded in the After The Battle article.  The Coroner actually suggested that there is probably an undiscovered crashed aeroplane on Hatfield Moor.



Information on the eventual burial of the body has been forthcoming from the Senior NCO in charge of the funeral, as have photographs of the occasion.  These do not help with identification but have given a very good picture of events.



We have been given a copy of part of a book in which the author explains the whole story of Lindholme Willie.  This is essentially a ghost story which many people believe represents the spirit of a Polish airman killed during WW2; these hauntings allegedly stopped when this body was buried in the churchyard at Finningley, South Yorkshire.  The author has written a reasoned article and, on the subject of this unidentified body, he postulates that there is another undiscovered aircraft buried on the moors.  We are not concerned with the ghost story - we are looking for the truth.



We believe that the body (skeleton) examined in 1987 most closely resembles the rear gunner on board Vickers Wellington MkII serial no Z8406 Squadron Code SM-G.  Namely Flight Sergeant Stanislaw Marian Gross.  To avoid future confusion, it should be noted that this aircraft was a replacement for Wellington bomber W5557 which also crashed on Hatfield Moor at a nearby location but several months earlier.  Coincidentally, Z8406 was the replacement for W5557 and therefore had the same Squadron Code, which was normal procedure in RAF squadrons.  As an extra coincidence the navigator on both these aircraft was Flight Lieutenant Stanislaw Barzdo who was injured in the first crash and killed in the second.



In the following analysis we have reduced the possibilities to six men and all were in the same crew on Z8406 which disappeared without trace.  So we have to accept that the body in the grave at Finningley could be any of these six airmen.  We have been informed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission that they do not permit DNA testing on bodies in their care.



We have contacted the Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP with a request for help and he says that Finningley is in the constituency of the Rt Hon Caroline Flint MP and has passed on the papers to her.  She has passed the buck to my MP whom she says is the Rt Hon Kevan Jones.  I have contacted him and asked him to pass on the papers to my real MP, the Rt Hon Laura Pidcock.  Neither she, nor her office, have responded and she went on maternity leave - so we expect nothing further there.







Analysis of 105 Polish airmen killed whilst flying out of RAF Lindholme:



304 Squadron - Deaths of Aircrew whilst at RAF Lindholme, listed by aircraft lost or damaged



Wellington X9620  25th July 1941 Opperdoes, Netherlands

F/O Karczewski

F/O Musial

F/O Rzepa

Sgt Salamon

Sgt Witkowski

Sgt Zuwala



Wellington N2852  NZ-D  20th October 1941  Heligoland, Germany

Sgt Adamik

P/O Borzecki

F/O Gisman

Sgt Klimiuk

Sgt Plis

Sgt Zykow



Wellington W5720   (NZ-Q)  26th October 1941 North Sea near Cromer, Norfolk - rest of crew were rescued.

Sgt Stenocki



Wellington R1064  16th December 1941  Near Ostend, Belgium

S/Ldr Blazejewski

Sgt Golabek

F/O Komlacz

Sgt Rutkowski

Sgt Suwalski

F/O Szczodrowski



Wellington DV423  10/11 January 1942  Near Borkum, Friesian Is

Sgt Garstka

P/O Maczynski

F/O klewicz

Sgt Pokrzywa

Sgt Strzyzewski

P/O Zajac





Wellington Z1082  10/11 January 1942  Near Nordeney, Friesian Is   

F/O Kurek

Sgt Kwiecien

Sgt Obiorek

Sgt Patek

Sgt Rogowski

Sgt Sankowski



Wellington X9764 NZ-X  5/6 April 1942  Leuven, Belgium

P/O Assman

Sgt Babraj

Sgt Grajnert

F/O Natkanski

P/O Osadzinski

P/O Ziemianski



Wellington  R1230 NZ-E  10/11 April 1942  Kessel,Germany - rest of crew made POW

Sgt Janik



Wellington X9687  12/13 April 1942  Essen, Germany - rest of crew made POW

F/Lt Mlynarski



Wellington X9829 NZ-O  23/24 April 1942  Manslagt, Germany

P/O Dzierzbicki

Sgt Jankowski

F/O Kwak

F/Lt Wojcik

Sgt Wozniak

F/O Zieleniewski



Wellington Z1088 NZ-D  27/28 April 1942  Villers la Ville, Belgium

Sgt  Ferenc

Sgt Garbacz

F/Lt Kowalski

F/Sgt Pieczynski

F/O Szczurowski



These are all the 304 Squadron aircrew who were killed whilst flying out of RAF Lindholme and it is patently obvious that none of the bodies could possibly have found their way to a peat bog exactly one mile from the end of the short runway at RAF



305 Squadron - Deaths of Aircrew whilst at RAF Lindholme, listed by aircraft lost or damaged







Wellington W5593 SM-P  5/6 August 1941  Belgium - 1 made POW, 2 evaded capture and returned home
Sgt Rybak

F/O Saferna

F/O Sukiennick





Wellington W5463 SM-E  16/17 August 1941  Holland (off coast)

F/Sgt Majewski

F/O Miondlikowski

Sgt Plachta

Sgt Przeclawski

Sgt Stankiewicz

Sgt Wardenski



Wellington W5557  SM-G  26/27 September 1941  Nr RAF Lindholme In the same peat bog.

Sgt Buszko

Sgt Korczyk

Sgt Leyche

Sgt Wasilenko

3 bodies recovered and 3 still alive.  Sgt Korczyk died next day.  F/Lt Barzdo and Sgt Pisarek injured but alive and recovered.  All bodies accounted for.



Wellington W5579 SM-L  16/17 October 1941  In the sea near Dunkirk

F/O Bryk

Sgt Hejnowski

Sgt Hildebrandt

F/O Kosowski

Sgt Lang

F/O Lucki



Wellington W5374 SM-J  23/24 December 1941  Sibbertoft, Leicestershire.  Damaged by flak and force landed



Sgt Baracz

F/O Golacki

Sgt Kurowski

F/O Nowak

Sgt Rozpara

P/O Siwiec


Wellington W5423 SM-R  22/27 February 1942 Flak damaged and crashed in Denmark 

Sgt Ceglowski

Sgt Gidaszewski

F/O Golczewski

Sgt Gorzenski

F/O Orzechowski

P/O Zeromski



Wellington Z8438 SM-B  13/14 March 1942 Flak damaged and overshot RAF Lindholme and crashed

Sgt Bala

P/O Dranicki

F/O Ostaszewski

F/O Rymkiewicz

Sgt Sasin



4 dead and 2 recovered alive. Sgt Sasin survived F/O Ostaszewski died in hospital

All bodies accounted for



Wellington Z8586 SM-W  14/15 April 1942  Ran out of fuel and crashed near Wroot, Lincolnshire 


Sgt Sznidel

Sgt Pasich


2 killed and 4 safe.  




Wellington Z8406 SM-G  3/4 May 1942  Lost without trace returning to RAF Lindholme after bombing Hamburg/ Emden

F/Lt Barzdo

F/Sgt Gross

F/O Jankowski

Sgt Nowotarski

Sgt Weiraszka

F/Sgt Zagorski

One sighting of a Wellington being attacked and this was by another Wellington pilot who was also trying to evade night fighters and flak.  No confirmation of ID of aircraft under attack (there were about 83 bombers) and several planes were lost that night.  No information on Air Ministry crash card.  Radar at RAF Lindholme switched off because of the presence of German intruder aircraft.  Radar only used intermittently and very briefly.   Crash site could have been anywhere between the sea off Hamburg and the bogs around RAF Lindholme.  One still unidentified Polish body found one mile from Lindholme in 1987.  No bodies officially accounted for on this aircraft.  The body buried in the nameless grave at Finningley most closely resembles F/Sgt Gross who was the rear gunner.



Wellington Z8583 SM-Z  1/2 June 1942  Crashed on landing at RAF Bawdeswell, Norfolk

S/Ldr Hirszbandt

Sgt Sedzimir

F/O Szela

Sgt Ulicki

F/O Wieliczko

Sgt Zawistowski



Wellington Z8339 SM-N  19/20 June 1942  Shot down over Schonhabten, Raalte, Holland

Sgt Ardelli

F/Sgt Gusowski

F/O Jankiewicz

Sgt Swiderski



F/Lt Madejczyk survived and was made a Prisoner  of War



Wellington Z8528 SM-R  25/26 June 1942  Ditched off Great Yarmouth F/Lt Nowak, F/Lt Rudowski, Sgt Schmidt, P/O Szybka were all rescued

G/Cpt Skarzynski


These are all the 305 Squadron aircrew who were killed whilst flying out of RAF Lindholme and it is patently obvious that all but the 6 who were apparently lost without trace could not have been the body in the grave at Finningley.

The Air Ministry crash card for Wellington Z8406 shows no information other than the date, aircraft no and the names of the airmen..  All sources except one show the plane as having been lost without trace and some state that it was presumed shot down over the sea.

The one exception is the Aviation Safety Network - a non-official site which allows its readers to alter the information provided but warns that: " This information is added by users of ASN. Neither ASN nor the Flight Safety Foundation are responsible for the completeness or correctness of this information. If you feel this information is incomplete or incorrect, you can submit corrected information."

The information they supply is: " There is a possibility that this aircraft was the second Wellington claimed by Oblt Albert Schultz 5./NJG2 on this night."

This statement is patently wrong and the official Luftwaffe record of claims (The Kracker Archive) shows that Oblt Schultz made no claims of shooting down any Wellington bomber within weeks either side of the night in question.

The story was written up by the investigating Police Officer in 1988 shortly after the event occurred.  For copyright reasons, we cannot copy the article here but we strongly recommend that you read it if you get the chance.  Copies are still available from the publishers.



On 23rd July 1987 a body was found on Hatfield Moor near the site of the former RAF Lindholme. It was not reburied until 11th November 1987 when it was interred in the churchyard at Finningley, Yorkshire.

Not previously mentioned in any reports, the body was found at a place named Packard's Moor in a direct line with the shorter runway at RAF Lindholme at a distance of about one mile. The body was uncovered by a peat cutting machine working at a depth of about 7-9 feet below the original surface level.  The driver of this machine noticed human remains and stopped digging immediately. This may well be the reason why no dog tags were found if they were caught up in the cutting blades of the machine. It will also explain the absence of approximately 2% of the skeletal remains.  According to South Yorkshire Police there are no documents relating to this investigation but the article in a 1988 After The Battle magazine raises the question "Why not when there is a body that is still unidentified?"  The article was written by Det Con Andrew Greenslade who was the investigating officer and he wrote: "As far as the Police are concerned, the discovery of human remains obviously starts warning bells ringing, and senior officers, detectives and the uniformed branch, attend in order to establish whether there is any apparent suspicious nature to the death."  No documents kept? This seems ridiculous in view of the fact that a special licence had to be obtained (under the Protection of Military Remains Act, 1986) to excavate what was immediately recognised as a war grave.

On 10th August 1987 Dr John Finbow, consultant pathologist at Doncaster Royal Infirmary, performed a post mortem on the remains and found that the victim was approximately 18 years of age, 5ft 6 to 5ft 8 tall. of slight build with short dark brown hair and slightly female features.   18 was the minimum age for active service so he would actually be between about 8 months to two years older than that to account for his training time - according to his trade within the aircraft as pilots and navigators had more extensive training than air gunners and wireless operators.

On 12th October 1987, HM Coroner, Mr Kenneth Porter, recorded an open verdict and stated that the victim was probably thrown from an, as yet, undetected crashing aircraft which like several others was buried in the bog. He noted that the missing uniform and its insignia may have sunk as deep as 30 feet or more into the bog.

It is unclear why there was a further delay of one month before the body was re-interred in Finningley churchyard with full military honours on Armistice Day 1987. The coffin was borne by a pilot, a navigator and four NCO aircrew which was fairly typical of a wartime Wellington Bomber crew.  A nice gesture by the RAF.

There are still many bodies that have never been found and were assumed to have been shot down over the sea.  But that is not necessarily the case - take, for example, a plane that allegedly crashed in the North Sea - on board at the time was Ciapek (a dog) the squadron mascot which was found, many weeks later, half starved but running around Norfolk.  Did that plane actually come down in the wetlands of Norfolk?  We may never know but this story highlights the dangers of assumption.

In the case of Z8406 we have two possible ways to identify the body in the grave at Finningley.  The first is a DNA test but the Commonwealth War Graves Commission policy will not allow that to happen.  The second is a facial reconstruction, or at least an opinion by an expert based on the skull shape.  Dr Catherine Wilkinson has offered to do this for us either by comparing the skull to a photo of the man we believe it to be or through the use of a good quality photograph of the skull.

The first is not possible because of the restrictions by the CWGC and the second is not possible because the South Yorkshire Police claim that they have not kept the files relating to the case - which is astonishing in itself since they never identified him and it is only just over 30 years since the body was found.  This is frustrating for us but it denies the families any sort of closure on the fate of their loved ones and there is no apparent way around it - unless the Police "find" the file which should still be live in the case of an unidentified body.

The present grave is marked only by a headstone with the wording.  An airman of the 1939-1945 He was wearing a flying jacket issued between 1938 - 1942 so anyone serving at RAF Lindholme after that time can be excluded.  No1656 Heavy Conversion unit were at RAF Lindhome after the Poles left and is unlikely to have been the home unit for this man. 50 Squadron,  who were there before the Poles recorded no likely losses in the area.  So his diminutive size  (the Poles were generally shorter than the British), the manning of RAF Lindholme and the fact that all Poles would be issued with these flying jackets as they arrived 1940-1942 with no equipment at all, indicates that the body was probably Polish.



















RAF Funeral with full military Honours

He is buried with a gravestone marked Known Unto God but we want to give him a proper gravestone bearing his name and personal details. He gave his life for Britain; we want to see that he is properly remembered. We believe that we know who he is and if we can prove that, it will give some closure to his and five other families even though the other bodies have yet to be found.  We also are well aware that these five men are probably still lying undiscovered in that peat bog - and that is truly sad.



What follows is a summary of the crew of the missing aircraft Z8406 SM-G, an experienced and highly decorated crew who deserve a memorial and proper graves.

P-0079  F/Lt Stanislaw Barzdo  Observer/Navigator




















Born 6th January 1916 in Podbrodzie near Vilnius, son of Bronisław and Zofia. In 1935 he graduated from the Zygmunt August Middle School in Vilnius.  In 1936 he joined the Infantry Primary School in

Komorów near Ostrów Mazowiecka.  He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on 1st October 1938. From October 1938 to June 1939 he served in the 83rd Rifle Regiment in Kobryn. In July 1939 he moved to aviation and in August completed the Observers course at CWL-1 Deblin.  Then he was assigned to the 6th Air Regiment and in September 1939 he was part of the defence of the airport in Lwow.

Then, via Romania, he made his way to France, where he arrived in November 1939 and In 1940 he arrived in Great Britain.  After finishing the observers training in No 6 Air Observers Navigation School and fighting training in 12 OTU, in December 1940 he was assigned to 305 Squadron.

On 26th/27th September 1941, he was on board the Vickers Wellington W5557 aircraft which, in difficult weather conditions, crashed on a farm in Hatfield Moor (Sgt Buszko, Sgt Leyche, Sgt Korczyk and Sgt Wasilenko were killed.) He was decorated with Virtuti Militari no 9353 and twice the Cross of Valour.

He was killed on the night of 3rd/4th May 1942 on a mission to bomb Hamburg. His Wellington bomber Z8406 SM - G vanished without trace.

793004 Sgt. Stanislaw Marian Gross   Rear gunner




















Born in Lwow, Poland (now Ukraine) 0n 29th August 1919.   He graduated from the   NCO school, the SPLdM, as a radio operator in 1939 and was evacuated to Romania in September 1939 in order to continue fighting.

In Great Britain, he completed the course of radio telegraphers.  In April 1941 he was sent to 18 OTU for combat training and then posted with his crew to 305 bomber squadron.  He was killed on the night of 3rd/4th May 1942 when his Wellington Bomber Z8406 SM - G disappeared without trace on a mission to bomb Hamburg. He was the rear gunner and was a very experienced man who had already been awarded Poland's highest medal for galantry - the Virtuti Militari and the Krzyz Walecznych (Cross of Valour) and two bars.

As the rear gunner, he only had to rotate his turret and fall out backwards.   Because of this ease of egress, and being of diminutive stature, he is the most likely to be the unidentified body in Finningley cemetery.

He [the unidentified body] is known to have leapt out of the plane without a parachute and was not killed instantly.  He almost certainly drowned in the then flooded bog but his injuries were so severe that he was probably, and mercifully, unconscious at the time.


P-0484   F/O Antoni Jankowski  Pilot




















He was born in Tuzca, Poland (now Belarus) on 1st March 1908. He was an Officer with 5th Air Regiment in the Vilnius / Lida area. He was mobilized ready for war in August 1939 and he took part in the home campaign of 1939 as a pilot of the 56th EO aviation group attached to the  Carpathian Army.

In Great Britain, he underwent a piloting refresher course on British aircraft and then completed his practice in pilot training with 5 Bombing and Gunnery School. In May 1941 he was enrolled with 18 OTU for combat training. In July 1941 he was assigned to 305 Squadron. He was decorated with the Virtuti Militari and the Cross of Valour and three bars.

He was killed on the night of 3rd/4th May 1942 when his Wellington Bomber Z8406 SM - G disappeared without trace on a mission to bomb Hamburg.


782245  Sgt Mieczyslaw Nowotarski  Air gunner




















Born in Rymonow, Krosno, Poland on 31st May 1920.  He was an SPLdM Graduate. Allocated to 6 Air Regiment in the Home Campaign in 1939 as an Air gunner. After the 1939 campaign, he escaped to France where he was assigned as an air gunner to L'Armee de l'Air in Lyon-Bron. After the fall of France, he was evacuated to Great Britain.

In April 1941 he was directed to 18 OTU but in May 1941 he was transferred to No 4 Bombing and Gunnery School to train as an air gunner. In July 1941, he was sent back to 18 OTU for combat training.  In September 1941he was assigned to 301 Squadron but, in the same month, he transferred to 305 Squadron. He was decorated with the Krzyz Walecznych (Cross of Valour) and bar.

He was killed on the night of 3rd/4th May 1942 when his Wellington Bomber Z8406 SM - G disappeared without trace on a mission to bomb Hamburg.


783363  Sgt Wladyslaw Wieraszka  Pilot




















He was born in Borek, Kozienice, Poland on 25th May 1918 or 1919 (records vary). He graduated from SPLdM in 1939 as a pilot an was posted to the 1st Air Regiment He took part in the 1939 campaign as a 112 Squadron pilot of the Brigade of Posciowa at which time he was credited with 1 definite and 3 possible kills. After the 1939 campaign, he went to France where he was attached to Czeslaw Salkiewicz's fighter group (after his death Lieutenant Stanislaw Szmejl), who were stationed at Toulouse-Francazal aerodrome.

After the fall of France, in July 1940 he arrived in Wiltshire, posted to 5 OTU. In November 1940, he was assigned to 302 DM, in December 1940 transferred to 303 DM. In February 1941, he left the fighter group. In May 1941, he was assigned to 9 Air Gunnery School as a full-time pilot. In August 1941, he was posted to 18 OTU. In November 1941 he was assigned to 305 Squadron.

He was decorated with the Krzyz Walecznych (Cross of Valour) and two bars.

He was killed on the night of 3rd/4th May 1942 when his Wellington Bomber Z8406 SM - G disappeared without trace on a mission to bomb Hamburg.


792058  F/Sgt Tadeusz Karol Zagorski   Air gunner




















Born in Lwow (now Ukraine) on 7th October 1919.  He graduated from SPLdM in 1939. He was evacuated from Poland via France and came to Great Britain.  After completing his training course in 2 SS, in April 1941, he was directed to 18 OTU for operational training and was then transferred to 305 Squadron.

He was awarded the Krzyz Walecznych (Cross of Valour) and two bars and a posthumous Virtuti Militari after being killed on the night of 3rd/4th May 1942 when his Wellington Bomber Z8406 SM - G disappeared without trace on a mission to bomb Hamburg.

So finally, if you have any information on this crash or any old newspaper reports please contact us on nevillebougourd@gmail.com

Aircrew photos courtesy of Krzystek's List

Neville Bougourd & Emma Barnes

Friday, 21 November 2014

AT LAST WE MEET

After co-operating, with Egbert Hughes, on the story of Squadron Leader Boguslaw Pilniak of 304 Squadron, I finally got round to the task of writing Egbert's own story - which is here for all to see.  And after having done that we finally got to meet, last week!  My wife and I spent a night with him on our way to visit her sister in Essex.  We had a great time over a meal (which Egbert cooked) and a couple of drinks.
 
I am 23 years younger than Egbert (in years) but I hope that I can get to be his age and still be as active and as capable as he is.  All three of us had a great time and hope to repeat it in the future.
 

 

Wednesday, 1 October 2014


 
 

EGBERT HUGHES

 

FROM THE DUTCH RESISTANCE TO THE RAF



 

 

 

THE STORY OF AN ENGLISH BOY

CAUGHT UP IN A EUROPEAN WAR

 

THE VERY BEGINNINGS



INTRODUCTION
Part of the philosophy of Blitzkrieg is that there is no need to declare war; this gives the aggressor the tactical advantage whilst the build up to it is a psychological assault on the nerves of the victims.  In the same twisted system of logic, the fact that the nations under attack are declared neutrals is immaterial. And this is how an Anglo-Dutch family was dragged into the Second World War.
On the morning of 10th May 1940, German forces moved into the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.  Their intention was to draw the French and the British Expeditionary forces deep into Belgium, away from the Ardennes and the airfields on the Dutch coast which the Luftwaffe needed as a springboard to attack England and to harass Allied shipping in the English Channel.

The Dutch Forces were little more than a nominal defence force with no tanks, few artillery pieces and only limited numbers of armoured cars andhe word.  The Dutch Air Force was limited to only about 140 antiquated aircraft, almost half of which were destroyed on the first day of the invasion.
The German assault was rapid but it met with considerable resistance.  The Hague was well, and courageously, defended against an assault by German paratroops, foiling the German attempt to seize the Dutch Government in the initial attack and heavy casualties were inflicted on the German troops who tried to seize the airfields at Ypenburg and Ockenburg.  But, stiff as the resistance was, the Dutch were ill equipped and unprepared to take on the might of Nazi Germany.  Queen Wilhelmina and her Government escaped to England, where they set up a Government in Exile.

In Rotterdam, up to 900 civilians were killed and 25,000 houses were destroyed in the bombing which had been concentrated on homes rather than defences or military targets.  Whilst negotiations for surrender were going on, the Luftwaffe bombed the city heavily, resulting in the previously mentioned carnage.  The Germans had an easy victory – but there was still resistance.
General Henri Winkelman (centre), just after signing the Dutch capitulation on 15th May 1940
© Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1969-097-17 / Hausen, v. / CC-BY-SA

His father, Edward Gerard Hughes, was born in Whitehaven, Cumberland (now Cumbria) in 1878 and his mother, Margaretha Stijns-Hughes, was born in Maastricht, Holland in 1888.  They were connected to the bulb growing industry in Spalding, Lincolnshire and travelled frequently to Holland.  In fact two of their four children were born there.

Edward Gerard Hughes

Margaretha Stijns-Hughes


Egbert himself was born on 27th October 1926 at No 12 Het Amerikaantje (meaning the little American Indian) in Gouda, Holland and was delivered by his Dutch Grandmother; he was the youngest of the four.  They moved to No 1 which was known as “The Point” as the house was on a sharp corner about fifty metres from the River Ijsel, where it was an active port with landing stages for the barges.  They lived right opposite the Schuttelaar coffee roasting plant and loved the deliciously overpowering aroma.

They lived right over a Kroeg (pub) but a very busy one that was frequented by sailors and was very rowdy on a Saturday night.  Of course Egbert had no memory of that.  When he was three years old, his father went out to buy some tobacco and was never seen again, leaving his mother with four children and very little money.  There were no benefits in those days but there was a charity which handed out food to the needy and they relied quite heavily on it.

They moved to a single storey rented property which had a garden and a ditch which led into a lake; he and his brother Ted had a raft which they floated down to the lake and spent their time swimming and fishing.

Later they moved to another house close to where Egbert was born and he seems to have had a happy childhood enjoying all the usual pastimes and sports with a normal group of friends.

In the dark days immediately before the outbreak of World War II, the British Consul advised his mother to return to England where the family would be relatively safe from the uncertainty caused by the looming clouds of war.  However, she believed that Holland would remain neutral – as they had done during the Great War.

In Egbert’s words: the Germans put paid to that idea as they invaded Holland in May 1940 and rounded up all the undesirable aliens (in this case British subjects).  This meant that his brother John was arrested and taken away to a transit camp at Schoorl in Northern Holland and on to a prison camp near Breslau in Poland where he spent the rest of the war.

Egbert and his other brother Ted were told that they would receive the same treatment when they were old enough under the terms of the Geneva Convention.  However, they spent the rest of the war dodging the Gestapo and becoming part of a young Resistance group known as “For Netherlands’ Freedom” and later as part of the Interior Battle Forces which became very active after the failure of Operation Market Garden and the Arnhem debacle.

Egbert received a Certificate, a Resistance Badge and a letter of thanks from Prince Bernhard for his activities during his time in the Resistance.
Letter of thanks from Prins Bernhard



Certificate of Service in the Dutch
Binnenlandsche Strijdkrachten
(Interior Forces, which were the
formalisation of the Dutch Resistance)
Badge received by all members of the Resistance
Medals were not awarded
Photos © Egbert Hughes unless otherwise stated