The Boerdonk Memorial

Report of the unveiling of the Boerdonk Memorial
June 14th 2008By Erik van der Meiden

This morning it is Saturday June 14th. I get into my car and drive to the Woensel Cemetery in Eindhoven. At 14.00 hrs there is the unveiling of the memorial to the crew of ED497 which crashed at Boerdonk on June 17th 1943. The little village of Boerdonk is 45 minutes from Eindhoven. But I want to go first to the Woensel Cementery to lay flowers on the graves of the fourteen men who served with 49 Squadron. This will be flowers on the graves of crew of ED497 and also on the graves of crew Lancaster ME675 which crashed near Lage Mierde on June 22nd 1944.

My wife Anne and I bought some flowers this morning at the market and made fourteen nice bundles and into each we placed a card of the 49 Squadron.
I arrived at Woensel cementery and look at the graves. They are kept very well. It is going to rain but I am armed with an umbrella and raincoat. I lay flowers on the graves. The graves are spread about this local civil cemetery but I can find them all.
I look at the headstones, read the lines and look at the ages. The youngest was twenty years old and the eldest thirty seven. Seventeen years between them. When I was twenty I was a student, had a happy life and a future to live for. When I was thirty seven I was happily married, founded a family, and lived in peace. I was not there during the war when their lives stopped but I know what they are missing.
I take some photographs in the rain and head to Boerdonk to be on time for the meeting.

In Boerdonk people come together in the Hall called 'de Hazenpot'. Many of the older people living in Boerdonk were there in June 1943. I meet some people and they tell me their stories. The crash of Lancaster ED497 is always with these people even sixty five years after the war. In Holland we have, every year, on May 4th our commemoration of WWII. In the evening there are silent marches to cemeteries where victims of the war are buried. At 20.00 hrs there is a two minute silence all over Holland to remember our civilian and military victims. I think the monument of Lancaster ED497 will be the place where the villagers will go every year during the evening of May 4th to commemorate WWII.

From de Hazenpot we all go to the monument. Boerdonk is part of the municipality of Veghel and there, the Alderman, Mr Kerkhof is speaking. Lieutenant Lee of the British Embassy also gives a speech. The daughter of the farmer where ED497 crashed speaks on behalf of her father Mr Penninx. It is clear that the crash has made a great impression to the people of Boerdonk. Finally, Andrew MacDonald gives his speech. His speech is a personal and emotional story. His Great Uncle Flight Lieutenant Charles Dunnet was the pilot of Lancaster ED497.

The monument is unveiled by Andrew and Mr Kerkhof and is blessed by Squadron Leader Revd. Tim Wright. The 'Last Post' is played and followed by a one minute silence. Then both National Anthems are played by the local band. Wreaths are laid by Mr Kerhof, Lieutenant Lee Blackburn, Andrew MacDonald and Erik van der Meiden on behalf of the 49 Squadron Association and the inhabitants of Boerdonk. Following the wreath laying the participants are invited to have a drink in the village.

The children of the St.Nicolaas school at Boerdonk are going to look after the monument.