Dutch honour fallen High Peak heroes

editorial image

It was the dead of night on June 22 1943 when an RAF bomber was gunned down over the Dutch town of Kaathoven by enemy forces.

Among the eight men on board the Halifax II HR 735 that night were Sergeant George Mycock, of Buxton, and Sgt George Hill, of Glossop.

Sgt Mycock was only 19 years old when he died while serving as a rear gunner onboard the bomber and Sgt Hill was aged 20 and serving as a navigator.

The plane had been one of more than 700 aircraft that took part in an air raid on the German city of Krefeld.

It was hit by a night–fighter piloted by Hptm Hans–Dieter Frank, and crashed in a field on the outskirts of the town in Holland.

The following day, a Canadian bomber from the 427 Squadron crashed in almost the same sport, costing six men their lives.

Seventy years on, Sgt Mycock’s brother, Brian, received a letter from a Dutch councillor inviting him to a service to unveil a memorial to the airmen who had lost their lives, as well as five local villagers who had been killed by the Nazis for plotting against them.

“The Dutch are marvellous,” Brian said. “They do appreciate the fact that chaps put their lives on the line for them.”

Brian, a former Royal Marine Commando, attended the event along with his two sons David and Andrew. There he met up with Jeff Edwards, of Glossop, who was the nephew of Sgt Hill.

Brian continued: “I visited because the local council and historians and researchers had put up a memorial.

“Because I was the oldest veteran, they had me unveil it.”

The memorial consists of two plinths with information on them about the incident, as well as a metal cut out of the eight British airmen who lost their lives that fateful night – a replica of a memorial kept at the 158 Squadron base in Lissett, Yorkshire.

The event was organised by Dutch historian, Adrian van Zantvoort.

While in Holland, Brian took the opportunity to visit his brother’s grave at the Bergan–op–Zoom War Cemetery.

He said: “It was emotional in a way. I paid homage at the cemetery and it just cut me a bit.”

Brian is now 88 years old and living in Buxton, having been a former chairman of the Buxton Royal British Legion.

He said he believes there will still be a lot of people in the town who remember his brother.

“He was a keen footballer,” he said.“George had been working at the Pavilion Gardens as a trainee under manager.”

For further information on the crash, visit www.aircrewremembered.com