Brunssum, Netherlands - A service of remembrance was held today at the crash site of Lancaster Bomber R5701, of 97 Squadron Royal Air Force, which crashed in Brunssum on 5th October 1942 sadly killing all seven crew members.
Alderman Carolus de Rijck (representing the Brunssum Mayor) led a service, presided over by Wing Commander (Reverend) Ashley Mitchell RAF, with its congregation drawn from local people, the British delegation of JFC Brunssum represented by Wing Commander Paul Scott RAF and Warrant Officer Gareth Whiffen RAF, British personnel posted to the NCI Agency at Brunssum and British personnel from Glons. Tribute was paid to the Lancaster’s crew:
Flying Officer: Neville Briant DFC
- Flying Officer: Leslie Dorward DFC RAAF
- Flying Officer: Kenneth Harrison DFM
- Sergeant: John Dawson
- Sergeant: Augustus Desmond
-Sergeant: Kenneth MacKay DFM
- Sergeant: Albert Musgrave
The crew is buried in the Jonkerbos military cemetery in Nijmegen. However, a monument has been erected in Brunssum at Platanendreef, on the corner with Eikenlaan. This monument bears the title ‘Verstoorde Huisraad’ (household furniture in disarray).
Lancaster bomber R5701 took off from RAF Woodhall Spa in England at 19.11 hours on 5th of October 1942 bound for a bombing raid over Aachen. Her crew were experienced, having flown numerous missions over the preceding year. The least experienced crew member had flown 21 missions, whilst the pilot had amassed 35.
The night of 5th October saw very poor weather conditions, with thunderstorms and heavy icing. Heavy flak and German night fighters were a constant threat. R5701 and her crew never made it home, but crashed in Brunssum at 22.45 hours; the cause of the crash has been attributed to an aircraft from the German Airbase Sint Truiden that claimed to have shot down a Halifax in the area. Despite this, after a thorough investigation, there is no record of a Halifax being reported missing in this timeframe in this area. It remains most likely that the aircraft shot down was Lancaster R5701.
Story by JFC Brunssum Public Affairs Office