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ALLIED WAR GRAVES WERKENDAM

"They shall not grow old"

The cemetery at the Laantje in Werkendam contains 24 Commonwealth War Graves. In addition, 3 persons are buried who have been awarded a Military William Order. 

Below is information available about the Allied soldiers who are buried in this cemetery.

The grouping below is made per crew of the aircraft in question. At the bottom you can find information about the 4 soldiers who lost there lives at the battle of the Kapelsche Veer.

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LANCASTER LM 508 SR-F

21/06/1944 - 101 Squadron

It is late in the evening of June 21, 1944. An RAF air fleet takes off from England. One by one the 127 Lancasters depart from Ludford Magna airfield. In addition to the Lancasters, six Mosquitos will also be included. The planes are heading towards Wesseling, in Nazi Germany. The goal is a factory where synthetic oil is produced. The attack later became known as the Wesseling Raid. One of the Lancasters in this squadron was the LM 508 SR-F led by Pilot Officer Gerry Hingley.  They take off at 23:17 and head for the target.
Already on the way there, the crew encounters problems when one of the four engines is hit by anti-aircraft fire from the Germans. Still, the crew decides to go ahead and carry out the bombing. However, above the target and on the way back, the Lancaster is hit again. A fuel tank was hit and rear gunner Sergeant John Keogh was fatally wounded. The pilot decides that the crew should leave the plane. Sergeant Thomas Duff was seriously injured by fire from a German night fighter, this is a Junker 88, flown by pilot Hans Schafer, non-commissioned officer Heinz Mauter and corporal Karl Gliebmann. Duff is pushed out of the plane by parachute by Sergeant Rogerson, but unfortunately he does not survive.
The plane crashes around 02:00 near the T-junction of what is now the Grote Waardweg/Weerensteinweg. Pilot Hingley floats into a bridge with his parachute and breaks his back. He is arrested by the Germans and taken to a hospital. All other crew members arrive safely on the ground with their parachutes, but are taken prisoner of war.
Sergeant Duff is buried in Werkendam. In the autumn of 2014, the wreck of the Lancaster was excavated. The remains of Sergeant John Keogh were found here. He was buried on June 30, 2016 at the cemetery in Werkendam. More information about Sergeant Duff and Sergeant Keogh can be found under the button "crew".

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VICKERS WELLINGTON HE 244 AS-D

04/05/1943 - 166 Squadron


On Tuesday 4 May 1943, the first major bombing raid on Dortmund was planned. A total of 596 aircraft participated. 166 squadron supplied 12 Vickers Wellington X aircraft for this operation. One of these aircraft, HE 244 led by pilot Sgt Arthur Irving Stark, took off from Kirmington Air Base towards Germany at 22.20. However, they would never arrive here. On the way there, the aircraft was intercepted above Werkendam by Hptm Hans Dieter Frank (2./NJG1) which took off from Gilze Rijen Air Base. The Wellington was no match for Frank's Bf 110 G-4 and the aircraft crashed on 5 May 1943 at 02.38 near de Kievitswaard in Werkendam (7B). All 5 crew members are killed. Their names and who they were can be found under the button "crew"

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SHORT STIRLING W 7567 BU-S

23/07/1942 - 214 Squadron


On July 23, 1942, 8 Short Stirlings MK1 were ready to depart from Stradishall Air Base towards Duisburg. They were part of a total of 215 aircraft bound for Duisburg. 1 of these 8 Short Stirlings could not take off due to technical defects and so 7 left for Germany. Between 02.21 and 02.40 the bombs were dropped over Duisburg but only by 6 aircraft. On the way there they were chased by a German night fighter JU-88, which managed to shoot down 1 of the aircraft above Oss. It was Pilot Officer Jack Dempsey Peel's W 7567 that was hit. He managed to turn the plane around to try and return safely to the UK. However, this was not to be.
At around 2:21 am this aircraft crashed in the vicinity of Salomon Glerum's farm near the polder Kroon en Zalm (6 B). Only the injured radio operator Chyriel Fairhall survived the crash and received medical assistance from doctor Schols in Werkendam. Then he was captured by the Germans. The rest of the crew and also Pilot Officer Jack Dempsey Peel were all killed in this crash. Their names can be found under the button "crew"

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BOULTON PAUL DEFIANT BLUE-3 L 6960

13/05/1940 - 264 Squadron

On May 13, 1940, during the German invasion of the Netherlands, a two-person 'Boulton Paul Defiant type 1' night fighter departed from RAF Duxford (England) at 4:15 am. This night fighter, together with five other Defiants and six Spitfires, had a mission to attack German troops along the Dutch coast. Near IJmuiden, the aircraft came under fire from a Dutch anti-aircraft gun, after signaling the letter of the day (every day a letter was released for communication that could be signaled from the aircraft by means of a lamp, this was also often used during droppings for the resistance), the Dutch immediately stopped firing. Later near Rotterdam the English pilots saw German Stukas bombing Dutch positions, Chandler and the other pilots immediately went into the attack but were soon under fire themselves by a group of about 25 Messerschmitt BF109 fighters. Chandler and his 'gunner' McLeish then crashed into the Biesbosch at 5.30 am. McLeish's body was found after six weeks and buried in the Werkendam cemetery, but Chandler's body was only found after eleven months during the excavation of the wreck. Chandler was taken to Made and buried in this cemetery.

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HALIFAX  LV  962 QB-X

04/24/1944 - 424 Squadron

At 21:41 the crew took off in their Halifax bomber. The target for this operation was Karlsruhe.

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BATTLE OF THE KAPELCHE VEER

47 Royal Marine Commando, 41 Royal Marine Commando, 1 Polska Dywizja Pancerna

The Battle of Kapelsche Veer was a battle fought in the winter of 1944-1945 at Kapelsche Veer in the Overdiepse polder near Sprang-Capelle. This battle lasted five weeks and cost a total of about 1200 men in military losses: killed, wounded, missing and prisoners of war. The battle was characterized by bloody combat actions under harsh winter conditions.

In November 1944 the Germans were driven back to the north bank of the Bergsche Maas. A few Germans soon managed to cross the Bergsche Maas near Sprang-Capelle and settle in the Overdiepse Polder. A German bridgehead was created here, from which the Germans could more easily attack in a southerly direction. This threat became great when the Germans started the Ardennes Offensive on December 16, with the aim of retaking Antwerp. The main attack took place in the Ardennes, but if successful, a support operation would be carried out from the Netherlands. This had to be carried out from Kapelsche Veer, among other places. The Allied Supreme Command, supported by the Dutch resistance, saw the threat and decided to take action.

The 1st Polish Panster Division was responsible for front surveillance at the Kapelsche Veer. It was therefore this unit that first made an attempt to chase the Germans away. The conditions were bad, it was cold and wet. In addition, there was little shelter in the polder and it was actually only possible to advance via the dikes. Moreover, the Germans had had ample time to build good defenses. December 30, 1944 the Poles went on the attack, unfortunately this attack failed with many casualties as a result. The next Polish attempt was on January 6, but unfortunately it also failed. Again with many casualties. It was then decided to have the attack carried out by the British No 47 Royal Marine Commando supported by Norwegian Commandos. This attack also failed and again there were several casualties. The Allied High Command decided to launch a new attack, despite the fact that the Ardennes Offensive had already failed and the bridgehead posed little threat. This time the Canadians had to make the attack. What followed was a battle from January 26 to 31 in which the 4th Canadian Panther Division finally managed to drive out the Germans at a high price.

A monument has been erected in memory of this battle, naming all the units involved. This monument is located near a tree that was also there during the battle, 'the tree that saw everything'.

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