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Air battles over Flevoland. Part 9: A failed and a successful emergency landing

“Those guys just jumped out in the hope that they would fall over land".

The story of the salvage officer who was involved in the salvage of, in particular, Allied aircraft wrecks in the Flevoland polders.

Jumping above water with poor visibility
The men had been to Italy. That too was a seven or eight hour trip. It was bad weather when they came back. Poor visibility over the Netherlands, meaning the ground wasn’t visible. They hardly knew where they were. They thought they were over the Netherlands. At one point they realized that they didn’t have enough fuel to make it to England, so they decided to just try and jump out above land and see what happened. The aircraft was still flying, it wasn’t actually damaged, they just didn’t have enough fuel. They had put the aircraft on autopilot, so it was still flying on. The men jumped. One is buried in Harlingen, one is buried on the islands and a few are still missing. The fell into the water with their parachutes. They might have landed on a sandbank if the tide had been out but then the tide came in. The aircraft continued flying, coming in at IJmuiden and it got shot down in Amsterdam by German flak. It crashed at Landsmeer. For years it was thought that the crew was still on board but that wasn’t the case. Without visibility the crew just jumped out in the hope of landing on solid ground. Unfortunately they jumped to their deaths. Just plain bad luck.

Allies in hiding at Gaastmeer
A nice story about a Halifax that had to drop weapons over Friesland. They had to ditch off Stavoren in the water of the IJsselmeer. They managed to get into their dinghy. The navigator became nervous and drowned but the others managed to get ashore. They arrived in Gaastmeer. They stayed here all winter. From October until the end of the war. The wireless operator still had contact with England through, and for the Frisian Resistance Forces. That’s a different story. A monument is situated on the dike at Stavoren. A film has also been made by the television channel Friesland, ‘in hiding at Gaastmeer’ The same wireless operator returned to the Netherlands a few year ago and that was when the monument was unveiled at the place where these men came ashore.

Source: New Land Heritage, interview by Lenie Bolle with Gerrie Zwanenburg, 16 th September, 2009

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