On the night of 22 -23 June 1943, a British bomber was shot down by a German night fighter. The four-engine aircraft was on its way to Germany, but never made it there. Instead, the plane exploded. Burning fragments of the plane fell down in the Wittevrouwen district of Utrecht. There were several victims, including five civilians and five crew members.
The Runnymede Memorial at Englefield Green – overlooking the River Thames – commemorates by name more than 20.000 Commonwealth airmen who were lost in World War Two during operations from bases in North and Western Europe, and who have no known graves. Their names are engraved into the stone walls of the memorial, according to country, year of death and rank. Most of these airmen where lost without trace over sea. Such was the fate of three members of the crew of Wellington BK198. This aircraft from No.142 Squadron was lost on a so-called ‘gardening’ operation on the night of 7/8 November 1942. Although the machine crashed only kilometres from the Dutch coast and German sources mention four airmen were washed ashore the following day, only two members out of the crew of five have a known grave.
American Gerald Reyburn, nicknamed 'Jerry' by the other members of his crew, left his hometown Louisville aged 18 when he volunteered to fly in the Royal Canadian Air Force before the United States had entered the war. His parents, brother and sister would not see him again, as he was reported 'Missing, believed killed in action' when his Wellington was lost over Holland in the autumn of 1942. His family knew nothing about the fate of Reyburn, till 1947, when they learned he was buried in Rockanje. 'Jerry' was the Air Gunner in the crew of Wellington X3455 of 142 Squadron, which was lost on a mission to Milan during the night of 24/25 October 1942.
The Dutch Frisian Islands are the most northern part of The Netherlands. During the war more than 350 Commonwealth killed servicemen – mainly airmen and navy personnel – washed ashore on the islands beaches. Many of them could not be identified and were buried as unkowns. Most airmen were single members of crews which were lost over the North Sea. Like Pilot Officer Parslow and Sergeant Swingler, who are buried in the cemeteries on Ameland and Terschelling. They were two members of a six men Wellington crew that was lost on the night of 20/21 January 1942. The bodies of their companions were never found and these men are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
In the early morning of 30 July 1942 the inhabitants of the Belgian villages of Olmen and Balen were woken by a fierce air battle over the town. A German night fighter targeted a Wellington bomber of No.142 Squadron returning from a raid on Saarbrucken. The fight was finally resolved in a victory for German fighter ace Oberleutnant Eckart-Wilhelm von Bonin. The bomber crashed in a meadow near Olmen and immediately caught fire. All six crew members were killed in the crash.
At exactly midnight on 25 to 26 March 1942, engine humming is heard for the umpteenth time by the crew of the observation post of the Luchtbeschermingsdienst (air protection service) Vlaardingen. The searchlights are switched on in south-eastern, southern and north-east direction. Shooting starts. More searchlights are switched on. A British bomber gets caught in the beams of light. The pilot of the machine tries to flee into the darkness, but his attempted escape fails. Above the city the plane gets hit. Seven minutes after midnight, the plane crashes in the direction of the city of Delft.
The average age of the 125.000 volunteers who flew the aircraft of Bomber Command during the Second World War was only 22 years. 55.573 of them failed to return, an attrition rate unequalled by any other arm of the allied forces. Bomber crews had an average life expectancy which was shorter than that of soldiers on the Western Front in World War One. There was hardly time for new pilots to gain some experience before taking their crew into combat. The average age of the crew of Wellington Z1466 was even lower. Canadian Flight Sergeant Chipman Fraser was the eldest at only 22. His compatriot and pilot, Flight Sergeant Harold Heath, had only just turned 19 when the crew was posted to No.142 Squadron and Heath had to take them to the air.
My father, Dave Hersch, spent the last year of World War II slaving in Mauthausen Concentration Camp, self-rated by the Nazis as the harshest, cruelest labor concentration camp in the entire Reich. Near the end of that year, in April 1945, he escaped from a death march originating at the camp. Recaptured, and inexplicably – perhaps miraculously – not killed for it, he was returned to Mauthausen. Placed on another death march the following week, he escaped again. This time he was found by a local family and, at the risk of their lives, hidden until the US Army’s 65th Infantry Division liberated the town. This is the story of my father’s first escape.
The Roman Catholic churchyard at the Kloosterweg in Brielle provides a place for a war grave of the Commonwealth. It concerns the grave of Seaman John Thomas Cook DSM of the Royal Naval Reserve (Patrol Service). As a result of the somewhat unclear data of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the grave is a bit difficult to locate. Also the widow and children of Seaman Cook for a long time were not aware where their husband and father had been buried. Their husband and father perished when his ship, HMS Cayton Wyke, had been sunk off the coast of Kent.
Fred Seiker was born in Rotterdam, Holland, in 1915. His elementary and further education were accomplished in Rotterdam, culminating in obtaining a place at the Rotterdam College of Marine Engineering. He served in the Dutch Merchant Navy before and during the war. In peacetime he mainly served on ships plying the Far East, South Africa, Canada and the eastern seaboard of the USA. In wartime he served on the North Atlantic routes and between the Far East and the United Kingdom.
Gassing of Jews by the Nazis was not only carried out in the extermination camps but also by means of gas vans, the so called special vehicles. The victims were locked up in the body of the truck and subsequently gassed by the exhaust fumes which were blown into the compartment through tubes.
George Wilson served in the 7th Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders, 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division. In October 1944, his division was involved in the liberation of Tilburg. After that liberation it was send to the east, into a area in the Netherlands called 'De Peel'. On the 27th of October, German forces launched a counter-attack. The 15th Scottish Division was rushed from Tilburg to help deal with attack. This is where George Wilson picks up the story.
The following eyewitness account has been written by Gifford B. Doxsee about 20 years ago. He was born in the U.S in 1924 and served during World War II in the 106th InFantry Division . His division was to be sent to a 'quiet' sector of the front. A short while after the division appeared at the front, the Germans launched their wellknown 'Battle of the Bulge' in December 1944.
This text was pronounced by Adolf Hitler on the German radio at 1:00 a.m. on 21 July 1944, after the attack and coup of 20 July 1944.
Hitler's order to execute Commandos and airborne troups.
The following article is, apart from a few editorial comments, a literal representation of an oral biography of a Dutch Waffen-SS volunteer. The conversation was recorded on the 17th of November, 1988. It expresses the opinion of the speaker, not of the creators of this website or the Information World War Two Foundation (STIWOT).
Translation of the diary entries of the German propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. He describes the Pogrom against the Jews that was broken out in the night of November 9, 1938, cynically called the Kristallnacht or Reichskristallnacht. The atrocities, which were orchestrated by Goebbels, were a coordinated response to the death of the German diplomat Ernst vom Rath. He died as a result of an assault, committed by the Jewish young man Herschel Grynszpan.
This is an extract from 'The Story of the 23rd Hussars 1940-1946' published in 1946. This story relates to the liberation of Stiphout and Helmond between 22 and 25 September 1944.
In 1938 Fred did not know it but he sailed on his last trip from Holland and would not return to his native land for over seven years. In May 1940, as his vessel was en route to his home port of Rotterdam, the captain received a signal to make for Weymouth Bay, UK, as the Nazis had attacked Holland. Because the small Dutch army had dared to resist their invasion the Nazis had obliterated the centre of Rotterdam by air bombardment.
During the Second World War Matilda Weyergang volunteered for the local fire defence service, where she worked as a driver on a fire truck. During this period she experienced various harrowing moments.
Plaque in memory of the notorious Wannsee conference
When war was declared, Modeste van den Bogaert was a student at the College of the Jesuits in Antwerp. He was drafted by the C.R.A.B. and was required to report to the Recruitment Center in Roeselare. As chaos reigned everywhere, he was first sent to Poperinge and from there to an area south of the Somme. His brother Étienne accompanied him. The movement of troops was done on bicycle. They were pushed back at the French border three times, before successfully crossing at the beaches of De Panne, Belgium. At Abbeville, France, they found themselves face-to-face with German Panzers. They then went to Calais where they boarded a Polish ship, called Katowiz after which they lifted anchor for the destination of Bordeaux.
The following text is the translation of the Molotov - Von Ribbentrop pact, the non-aggression treaty between the Soviet Union and Germany that was signed on August 23rd, 1939. The treaty is named after the two Ministers of Foreign Affairs who signed the treaty on behalf of their country, respectively Vyacheslav M. Molotov on behalf of the Soviet Union and Joachim von Ribbentrop on behalf of Nazi Germany. The additional secret protocol was not published at the time. In principle, the translation reflects both the German as well as the Soviet version but whereever small differences exist, the translation is based on the German version.
Below is the notorious Order No. 227, also known as the "Not one step back!" order, issued by the People’s Commissioner of Defense, Joseph V. Stalin. As the military situation became untenable in the summer of 1942 and the Soviet supreme command, Stavka, acknowledged that a symbolical step had to be taken, Stalin issued this order. It was not distributed in print but was read to all military personnel by political officers.
Programme of the Nationalsocialist German Workers Party.
The speech that follows was delivered on Radio London by the French general Charles de Gaulle after France had been defeated by the German army and the French Prime Minister Philippe Pétain had announced he would sue for an armisitice. De Gaulle would not give up and decided to continue the struggle from London as the leader of the Free French.
The speech that follows was delivered on radio by Vyacheslav M. Molotov in his capacity as vice-chairman of the Council of People’s Commisioners (ministerial council) and People’s Commissioner for Foreign Affairs on occasion of the German invasion, Operation Barbarossa. In the large cities, the speech could be heard through loudspeakers in the streets. Molotov’s closing sentence in particular became famous and frequently returned on propaganda posters and such.
On June 22nd, 1941, the day the Axis powers invaded the Soviet Union, not Joseph V. Stalin but Vyacheslav M. Molotov, People’s Commissioner for Foreign Affairs, delivered a speech by radio to the Soviet population. The first days after the invasion, Stalin was in a state of deep disturbance, apathy and unbelief and only made himself heard publicly 11 days later, on July 3rd with the following speech on radio which was published in Pravda the same day. The speech has become legendary for Stalin’s choice of words, for instance, he addressed his fellow countrymen as "brothers and sisters" and as "my friends" for the first time.
The Dutch Foundation Memorial 2015 for Dam victims 7 May 1945 researches the victims of the Dam shooting in Amsterdam. During their research in the Archives for information about victims, the document below was found at the Amsterdam Archive, the Council Office for Funeral Services. It isn’t in relation to May 7th 1945 and the shootings at the Dam Square, but is about the death of an English soldier on May 8th 1945 during a motorcycle accident in the Dutch capital.
Samuel Rajzman is one of the very few survivors of the Treblinka extermination camp – he was lucky enough to escape. The testimony he gave, more than 60 years ago, is still important enough to understand the horror of the crimes that were committed in that camp in connection with the Endlösung der Judenfrage (Final solution of the Jewish Problem). Before the war he worked with the Miedzyrzecki Overseas Import & Export Company in Warsaw. His testimony, delivered in 1945 before the American House Committee on Foreign Affairs follows.
Statement of Alfred Naujicks about the raid on the radiostation at Gleiwitz.
Sworn testament of Paul Blobel.
Sworn testament of Paul Blobel.
Some short statements by Karl Dönitz about Hitler's death and the German capitulation.
In the fall of 1941 I transferred from Mississippi State College to the University of Mississippi. The reason simply was that MS State had 2,000 male students and less than 100 females – a very bad ratio. Also, Ole Miss was a small school, less than 1,000 students with a fine ratio of almost 50/50 males and females. Since I was an excellent history and political science student, the field of law was chosen for my major. In fairness, it could be said that sororities were my major and minor.
A poem dedicated to the 257 Corps Delivery Squadron, Royal Armoured Corps, by Lieutenant R.M.D. Lynes. It was send to Major R.T.G. Lynes, M.B.E., Commanding Officer 257 Corps Delivery Squadron.