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Missing crew finally laid to rest

In a poignant and moving ceremony the crew of a World War Two RAF Hampden bomber have been reunited and buried with full
military honours in the Netherlands, on Wednesday 7th May 2008, 67 years after being shot down by a German night fighter.


The burial, at the Bergen General Cemetery, followed a Commemorative Service in the town conducted by the Reverend (Squadron Leader) Tim Wright and Father Kees Groenewout.
Hampden P1206 of 49 Squadron took off from RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire at 1714 hrs on 8 November 1941 for an intruder sortie in the Bocholt area of Germany, but failed to return. The aircraft was attacked over the coast by a German night fighter and crashed shortly after 2100 hrs onto farmland along the Dorfstrasse of Berkhout in the neighbourhood of Hoorn.
The remains of two of the crew, Warrant Officer Christopher Saunders DFM (Distinguished Flying Medal) RAF and Sergeant James D'Arcy RAFVR (RAF Volunteer Reserve), were recovered at the time by the Germans and buried in Bergen General Cemetery.
Attempts to recover the other two crew members, Sgt. Stanley Mullenger RAFVR and Sgt. John (Jack) Kehoe RAF, were unsuccessful.
Graves still looked after by Ed Ijsbrandij and family (A.R. Society researchers from Holland)

The two lay with their aircraft until August 2004 when a Dutch land owner approached a member of the DARE group at one of their exhibitions, he asked if it would be possible to trace relatives of two crewmen who still remained buried along with their aircraft in one of his fields. The field where they lay was used by him to grow potatoes which he felt so undignified as their last resting place, constantly ploughed year in year out and often still unearthing fragments from the aircraft, surely something could be done to provide them with a proper grave as their last resting place. So it was that the DARE group took up this challenge to obtain war graves for these two missing boys. The next day my good friend Ed Ijsbrandij, secretary of the DARE group, contacted me at The Aircrew Remembrance Society to ask if we could help them in tracing relatives, of course we were only to pleased to do so, and after just a few weeks I was able to make contact with a relative of one of the missing boys, Margaret Walsh (ne Kehoe) sister of Sergeant John (Jack) Kehoe.

So it was that the first link in the chain was forged, a chain that after nearly four years grew to have many, many links, created by many, many people, each one forged with dedication and compassion, overcoming many obstacles, and often in the face of great adversity. We all owe a debt of gratitude to The DARE group and all their supporters in Holland, for now two more of our boys are NO LONGER MISSING!

Members of The Aircrew Remembrance Society, visit to the crash site in September 2005, to place a floral tribute on behalf of the families. (Left to right) Melvin Brownless (A.R.S.) David King (A.R.S.) Ed Ijsbrandij (D.A.R.E.)

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Members of the Queen's Colour Squadron (63 Squadron RAF Regiment) carry the coffin containing the remains of Sergeant Stanley Mullenger RAFVR and Sergeant 'Jack' Kehoe RAF to their final resting place

Margaret Walsh, Sergeant Jack Kehoe's sister, travelled to the Netherlands from southern Ireland to attend her brother's funeral. Her parents never knew what happened to their son and, reflecting on the family's anguish, the 89-year-old said:
"It's sad but I'm happy inside. It's taken 66 years and I'm thankful to all the people who have made this happen. I've nothing but good things to say, especially about the Dutch people."

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As the Queen's Colour Squadron lowered the coffin into its final resting place, a trumpeter from the Band of the RAF Regiment played 'The Last Post' and, as a tribute to the downed airmen, two Harvard AT-6 aircraft from the Royal Netherlands Air Force performed a flypast over the grave.

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Margaret Walsh , the sister of Sergeant 'Jack' Kehoe, at the graveside of her brother during the ceremony at Bergen General Cemetery.

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As a mark of comradeship, the remains of Sergeant Mullenger, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner on the Hampden, and Sergeant Kehoe, Air Gunner, have been laid in a single coffin beneath headstones lying back-to-back with the graves of their previously buried companions.
Sergeant Mullenger's niece, Penny Goodman, who was also at the funeral, said: "I feel honoured and privileged to be here and represent my mother. I didn't know my Uncle Stanley; I was born after he died but I do have memories of her telling me stories of him and the escapades he used to get up to!"

As a further mark of respect, and one that reflects the gratitude so prevalent toward the Allied Forces, a memorial to the airmen close to the original crash site at Berkhout was unveiled by Koggenland Mayor, Leoni Sipkes.
She said: "May they and all the others that died for freedom and justice not be forgotten.
They gave us freedom and it is our duty to keep it."

Ian Sharpe, nephew of Sergeant Mullenger, summarised his feelings with sentiments echoed by his family, when he said:
"They've been together for nearly 70 years and now they'll be together for eternity - what could be better?"

David King.
12th May 2008
Aircrew Remembrance Society

(All photographs copyright of Aircrew Remembrance Society and the D.A.R.E. Group Via Eric Molenaar.)

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On the left: John (Jack) Kehoe, right: Stanley Mullenger

The British Library is preserving this site for the future in the UK Web Archive at All Aircrew Remembered on our Remembrance pages, are therefor not just remembered here, but also subsequently remembered and recorded as part of our nation’s history
and heritage at The British Library.