PILGRIMAGE to Roermond


 

 

"Hello my name is Ron Cox from the Netherlands Roermond every Sunday I go metal detecting I found some items of the plane that crash there in Kloosterhof maybe if you come and visit Holland Roermond I can show you the crash site"


 

 

 

It was a message I had hoped one day to read on the internet. I immediately and happily responded to Ron Cox’s kind invitation. Not only did I visit the crash site but Dominique Clerx and Eric Munnicks, both distinguished local historians, arranged to meet me with my Son Pearson and Grandson Will at Roermond. They were anxious I should meet Mr Louis Cox whose family farm was adjacent to the meadows where Wellington NC607 crashed in the early hours of the morning of the 23rd January 1945.

Seated round the table with Dominique Clerx, Eric Munnicks and Rox Cox I heard Louis Cox describe being wakened by the crash. He related how the Wellington had skidded along the ground for a considerable distance and remembers the tailpiece was missing.

His family's farm at Kloosterhof, then in a district of Maasniel but now part of Roermond, had been occupied by the Germans. All the oak trees lining the nearby road had been cut down and used to build fortifications constructed in the vicinity of the farm and the meadow, emplacements for artillery guns and other military purposes. He was sixteen years of age at the time and he and his two brothers were told by the Germans to bury the three officers in the meadow where the plane had been brought down. They prevailed on the Germans to be allowed to take bodies of the three young men to the Old Cemetery in Roermond and proceeded to harness a sleigh to be pulled by a foal and began the long journey through the heavy snow to the Kapel in ’t Zand Public Cemetery, Weg langs Het Kerkhof, Roermond. Two of the brothers guided the foal and manhandled the sleigh over the wintry ground while Louis Cox sat beside the bodies of the three officers. At the Cemetery they ensured Flying Officer Lowrie, Flying Officer Hill and Flying Officer Turner were laid to rest next to six other RAF airmen: a small RAF enclave set aside in this Cemetery where Roermond had buried their heroes of the Resistance.

 

 

A view of the meadow and aerial photograph shows the family farm of Mr Louis Cox
on the site at a farm called Kloosterhof (a property of a former monastery),
the arrow indicating the approximate area of the crash-site of Wellington NC607,
no longer approachable because of major road developments.

 

It was deeply moving to stand near to the place where my boyhood friend had died. Although I was there some sixty-five years after it had happened, time did not matter. We were, as we always have been, indefinably linked by the days of our close friendship as young boys and as youths looking forward to living our life as young men in Peebles, the ancient burgh town in the Scottish Borders which we loved and where we were happy and contented. We both had started our careers - John in a bank and I in newspapers - until we put that aside to take up the call to defend our love ones and our country. I have missed John all these long years and now aged 90 make this pilgrimage to this spot where his courageous life ended in the company of brave RAF comrades. He had truly served 'Through Adversity to reach the Stars'.
 

Per Ardua ad Astra

 

   

 

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