The Netherlands / Audiospot
Approximately 6500 aeroplanes crashed in the Netherlands during the Second World War. 400 of these crashed in the Achterhoek region. The AVOG Crash Museum in Lievelde pays tribute to the allied airmen that fought in the war, and exhibits parts of allied and German aircraft, such as engines, propellers and landing gears.
The Crash Museum also holds records written by some of the airmen who flew over the Achterhoek region during the Second World War. One such story is the story of tail gunner John Miller, who boarded a No. 61 Squadron Royal Air Force Lancaster ED470 on 23rd September 1944 in the east of England, on his way to bomb the airfield in Handorf, Münster. His plane left with 248 other bombers, but German night fighters were waiting for them. 15 English bombers bore the brunt of the attack, one of which was Miller's Lancaster. The plane caught fire after being hit between the tail and the middle of its fuselage as it flew over the village of Eibergen, right on the German border.
No time to wait
John Miller wrote after the war: “... there wasn't any time to wait for orders … I had to get out as quickly as I could. I turned the turret sideways so that I could jump out. I grabbed the parachute and threw it on as best I could, and jumped!” Miller jumped from more than three kilometres up, and floated down to land on Dutch soil. As he hung from the parachute, he saw his Lancaster crash near Zelhem. The tail broke off and landed two kilometres to the north, and Miller landed in a field near Borculo.
Help from the resistance
Another story is that of Australian airman Bernard Sutton. Sutton was shot down over Meddo/Zwillbrock on 22nd June 1944. The rest of his crew was killed.
The local resistance movement knew of a number of ways of getting allied airmen, stranded in enemy territory, back to England by keeping them in hiding. It is estimated that the local resistance in the Achterhoek region helped more than 400 pilots, including Bernard Sutton. He was given a place to hide in Eibergen, and eventually escaped back to England. By August 1944, Sutton was back in the air, flying over Eibergen with a new crew.
Europaweg 34, 7137 HN Lievelde GPS code: 52.01419, 6.61389