The Netherlands / Cemetery

B-17 Airplane crash




On 30 July 1943, an American crew flew their B-17 bomber back to England. They had carried out an attack on the Messerschmidt aircraft factories in Kassel, Germany. The B17, renamed 'Man-O-War' by the crew, had survived that mission without any incidents, but on the return flight it was shelled by German anti-aircraft fire. The plane crashed near Opijnen, killing eight of the ten crew members.

The US B-17 bomber, from 323 Squadron of the 91st Bombardment Group, flew back to base in England on 30 July 1943. Only two crew members managed to survive the flight. The bombardier had fallen through the thatched roof of a farmhouse on a broken parachute and died of his injuries. The pilot and co-pilot landed safely by parachute, but were taken prisoner of war by German troops.

On 1 August 1943, the fallen Americans were buried in the cemetery near Opijnen's Reformed church. Despite the fact that only the mayor was given permission by the occupying forces to attend the funeral, the whole village attended the funeral. They listened to the speech and laid flowers on the graves to pay their respects to the fallen Americans. Gravediggers were helped and a huge sea of flowers was formed.

The mayor sent a letter to his US counterpart from the pilot's hometown; a copy of that letter reached all the relatives of the eight crew members who perished.

At a memorial service in 1947, the Opijnen people received a memorial.

Almost all US soldiers killed in the Netherlands are buried in Margraten, Opijnen being one of the exceptions.

Stoepstraat 1, 4184 CH Opijnen, The Netherlands