Crash on the Nederheide (Schijf) (English version)

Three Allied aircraft crashed in the municipality of Rucphen during the Second World War. Below is a (brief) description of the crash, which took place on June 17, 1944 on the Nederheide, near Schijf.

On June 16, 1944 at 10:54 PM, the Canadian bomber Halifax Mk III LW433 of the 434th “Bluenose” squadron took off from the English Croft airfield, 7.4 km south of Darlington, County Durham to carry out a bombing raid on the heavily defended synthetic petrol factory Fischer Tropsch near Sterkrade/Holten (Essen).

This bombing with 321 bombers from, among others, the No. The aim of 6 Bomber Command of the RCAF was to hit industrial targets in the German Ruhr area.

Four Heinkels of the Nachtjagdgeschwader 1./NJG 1 from Venlo patrolled above the southern Netherlands. Pilot Fred Haldenby’s Halifax LW433 was intercepted and shot down by the German night fighter Uffz. Hugo Oppermann in his Heinkel HE 219.

Fliegerhorst Venlo  1./NJG 1  
Heinkel HE 219

On June 17, 1944 at 00:53 the aircraft crashed on the Nederheide in Schijf.

Aerial photo of the crash site on the Nederheide – Schijf

There were seven crew members on board the downed Halifax Mk III LW433.

P/O Albert E.C. (Abi) Boehmer,
RCAF, Tail Gunner, 22 years old
Sgt. Peter D.F. Ager, RAFVR,
Flight engineer, 19 years old
P/O William A. Good,
RCAF, Radio Operator, 21 years old
P/O Fred J. Haldenby,
RCAF, Pilot, 20 years old
Flt. Sgt. Edward J. Downing,
RCAF, Naviagtor, 25 years old
Flt. Sgt. John H. Dougherty,
RCAF, Bombardier, 23 years old
Sgt Tom Iverarity,
RCAF, Gunner, 20 years old

Boehmer, Ager and Good are killed in the crash.

Albert Boehmer’s grave
Canadian cemetery
Bergen op Zoom
Grave of William Good
Canadian cemetery
Bergen op Zoom
Grave of Peter Ager
Protestant cemetery

Three crew members, Haldenby, Downing and Dougherty, found a hiding place with the help of the resistance, but were arrested by the Germans after betrayal in Antwerp. After the arrest, they were first transferred for interrogation to Dulag Oberursel near Frankfurt and then taken as prisoners of war to Stalag Luft VII in Bankau (now Bąków in Lower Silesia, Poland).

Location Stalag Luft VII
Stalag Luft VII

At the end of 1944, Nazi Germany was increasingly surrounded by the Allies. The Soviet Union advanced strongly from the east and the Americans, British and Canadians, among others, advanced in the west. This brought the Allies closer to the concentration camps.

The Schutzstaffel (SS) wanted to make the traces to these camps disappear. Hitler decided to transfer all prisoners housed in Stalag Luft VII Bankauzijn to Stalag IIIA Luckenwalde. The prisoners, including the survivors of the crash on the Nederheide, completed 240 km of this journey on foot, in severe frost and snow.

One of the prisoners made this map of the route the prisoners took to from Bankau Luckenwalde.

Tom Inverarity went into hiding on Katrien van de Berg’s farm in Wernhout after the crash. He stayed here until the liberation.

The shelter on Katrien van de Berg’s farm
Old photo of van de Berg’s farm
Katrien van den Berg-Kerstens from Wernhout and her seven children provided shelter during the Second World War to various soldiers from Canada, America, England and Slovakia, and to Dutch resistance fighters and people in hiding. She was awarded the resistance memorial cross in 1982, four years after her death.

If you want to know more about the crash on the Nederheide (or the one in Rucphen or St Willebrord), then reading the book that Ad van Uffelen wrote about it together with Frank van Overveld is more than worthwhile.

Would you like more information about this book? Then click on this link.