Sonnega Revisited

The following text and photographs are courtesy of Bryn Thomas:

Our visit was a success, enjoyable for meeting all the people involved and very emotional even after 70years.

We were met at the village hall at Sonnega/Ostradjine by Mark and introduced to the local residents of both villages and enjoyed coffee and a very nice lunch.
In attendance was the mayor, local councillors and a representative of the press and some of the local school children.
Speeches were made and then it was my turn.

As you can see in the photograph I am holding a stainless steel Welsh dragon.
On the front it is inscribed with our thanks to the people of Sonnega/Ostradijne and the school children who have adopted the monument at the crash site of Lancaster JB545.  

After some consideration we as a family decided to present the gift  into the care of the school children bearing in mind that several people have been involved in arranging our visit and the mayor agreed that this had been the ideal thing to do.

After lunch we were taken to the site of the monument where we laid a wreath of poppies and the children laid a wreath on behalf of the local community.  

It was very emotional as you can imagine but something I had to do in memory of my uncle's parents and his sister who was my mother.  

Before we left the site we were invited to join the memorial service to be held at the Wolvega cemetery later that evening.

At the cemetery we were joined by Mark, Margreeth Van den Berg and Frits Doornenbal our main contacts prior to our visit.  
We were taken by surprise at the number of people attending which was estimated to be at least 600 and were invited to lead the procession to the graves with the local councillors and other dignitaries.
There was a local band also in attendance and the music played was more or less the music played at the Cenotaph in London every November.......again very moving and emotional.

After speeches and prayers, wreaths and flowers were placed near the graves. I laid a wreath of poppies while Ann, Alyson and Joe placed poppy crosses at the feet of the six other crew member's graves.


We also visited the graves of two Dutch soldiers graves who were shot at the start of the war.

After such a welcome and kindness by the Dutch people I realise even more after this visit how much they appreciate what was done for them by those who made the ultimate sacrifice..