LOCAL World War II hero, Flying Officer George William Penrose, DFC and six of his fellow crew members killed by a German Luftwaffe ace in 1944 are to be co
mmemorated in a monument to be unveiled on the site of their crashed Lancaster bomber in The Netherlands, soon.
And the Dutch organisers are looking for relatives of the crew of the Royal Air Force’s Lancaster of 156 Squadron to see if they wish to attend the ceremony.
F/O Penrose’s service number was 80423 RAF VR. He died aged 30 and was the son of HS and Lilian Penrose, of Bulawayo.
On the night of January 14/15 1944 when the RAF Bomber Command carried out a raid on the German city of Brunswick, a total of 38 Lancaster bombers were lost to Nazi night fighters of the Luftwaffe. One of them was 156 Squadron’s Lancaster, serial number ND357.
The bomber was shot down by a German night fighter piloted by Oberleutnant Dietrich Schmidt who was the Kapitän of 8./NJG.1 based at Twente. The Lancaster, crewed by flyers from throughout the British Commonwealth, was his twelfth victim.
The bomber came down near Kolhorn, a small village roughly 25 km south of Den Helder, Holland.
For the past six decades, the crash site remained untouched, the plane buried under rich Dutch agricultural soil. But then plans were made to build a water pumping installation and it seemed that the plant would end up on top of the doomed bomber.
Pieter Korshuize of the Dutch Aircraft Recovery Group investigated the crash and offered a research report to the local authorities, leading to an investigation of whether the bomber could be recovered from the soil or not.
Measurements done by the Salvage Team of the Royal Netherlands Air Force showed that lifting the bomber and its crew would be a difficult and costly operation and that there was no risk for the environment if the crash site remained untouched.
This caused a slight change of development plans although it would save huge costs. A decision was then made by the local authorities and the land owner to leave the bomber in the soil and create a monument on the site to respect and remember the seven Allied RAF crew members.
The plan is to unveil the monument on January 14 2007, exactly 63 years after the crash and the Dutch organisers are now seeking for relatives of the crew members to take part in the ceremony and to obtain more information about the brave men.
Other crew members were:
* Wing-Commander Nelson Reuben Mansfield, DFC; Service No 43707 RAF (31) of Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand, Warrant Officer Charles Henry Lawrance; Service No 1268110 RAF VR; (30) of Brixton, London; Squadron-Leader Edward Sudbury Alexander, DFC, DFM; Service No J/15543; (24) of Karewera Rosalia Alexander of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; Pilot Officer Bernard Aidan Trott; Service No 169548 RAF VR ; (29) of Broomhill, Sheffield, Yorkshire, England; Flight-Lieutenant Charles Roy Swinney, DFC; Service No 52075 RAF; (26) of East Keswick, near Leeds,Yorkshire, England; and Flight Sergeant Victor Norman Cawdery; Service No 1315026 RAF VR; (20) of Tring, Hertfordshire.