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Old 15-01-10, 00:16
Marbeth Wilson Marbeth Wilson is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: N Ireland
Posts: 6

Originally Posted by Hanno Spoelstra View Post

Welcome to this forum and thanks for joining us!

Very good to hear about your interest in Erik den Hollander. Many years ago when we visited the crash site of Blok and De Ridder, the farmer in who's field they crashed could give us an eyewitness account. This type of information is vital and is valued very much by relatives. If you can, please post the details about Erik's accident here.

I do not have information about Erik den Hollander at hand, and will have to ask the keeper of the Johannes' files if any reference is made to him. If I find anything I will post it here or contact you through the forum. No doubt these men knew each other, as the squadron was a relatively small unit and the Dutchmen were all a long way from home.

If you can, please post Erik's picture, as it is always great to put a face to a name.

All for now,
thanks & best regards,
Hanno - thanks for the warm welcome and hope you will find my contribution useful.

It would be wonderful to find reference to Erick Hendrik den Hollander in Johannes Blok's files. I will keep my fingers crossed that you might find something. In the meantime, I have summarised the events of Friday, 28 April 1944 when Erick Hendrik den Hollander crashed into my Grandfatherís farm. The information outlined below was supplied to me by my father, James McCarroll, and his friend Sam Gaston who was an eye-witness to the crash. I do not seem to be able to post Erick's picture - I may need my son's help with this when he next pays me a visit - but between us, we will manage it eventually.

On Friday 28 April 1944, my Grandmother, Lizzie McCarroll, and two of her children, Tommy (16) and Jean (15), were going about their normal duties on the family farm at Loughmagarry in N. Ireland. As it was market day, my Grandfather, Robert, was not at home. Their eldest son James (17) - who was later to become my father - was at work in HM Vitualling Depot in Dromona, approximately 4 miles away. My father worked in a clerical capacity.

It was a beautiful morning with clear blue skies. Around 10.30am, however, this peaceful scene was shattered, when my Grandmother and her two children heard the roar of an aircraft, looked up, and were stunned in horror as a plane plummeted towards them.

They had a lucky escape; the plane narrowly missed their house and crashed into their cornfield on the other side of the road.

My father, who had been at work, heard the crash take place, although he had no idea that that was what he had heard at the time. He recognised the sound of aircraft flying overhead; he thought there was more than one aeroplane, flying in convoy. This was a regular occurrence at that time. Suddenly, he heard two high pitched, short, sharp whines - one immediately after the other. He knew that this noise came from an aircraft in trouble. Then there was silence. Although he was inside a large building and couldnít see outside, he was acutely aware that something had happened.

Around 11.00am, the staff supplies van returned from Ballymena and the driver and helper confirmed that an aeroplane had indeed crashed. They had followed the cloud of smoke rising from the ground and, by their description of the crash site, my father knew it was very close to his home. He got permission to leave work and cycled home as fast as possible.

When he arrived, the scene before him looked like a war zone, it appeared to him like ammunition was exploding everywhere and plumes of smoke were still rising from the wreckage strewn over the road and adjacent fields. A policeman stopped him, telling him he couldnít go any further. My father explained he had to get through, as he lived in the farmhouse beside the crash and was worried about his family.

The policeman told him to leave his bicycle and to keep as close as possible to the hedge running alongside the edge of the potato field on the other side of the road from the crash. When he got home he was relieved to find that his family was safe, albeit in shock, as they thought the aircraft was going to land on top of them - its undercarriage and axle landed on top of the hay-shed roof, a mere 20 feet away.

The Ballymena Fire Brigade arrived and used water from the well on the farm but this quickly ran out. People were running with buckets of water trying to put out fires and shortly after that, Air Force personnel arrived and cordoned off the crash area. Within a short time, the American Fire Brigade arrived and it was believed they came from Toome, where they were stationed. They sprayed the fires with water and foam.

The pilot's badly burned body was located in the field behind the house. Aircraft personnel wrapped his remains in his parachute which was spread out in the field. They managed to retrieve the pilotís wallet from the breast pocket of his badly burned flying jacket.

It took days for Air Force personnel to dig out the remains of the plane which was deeply embedded into the ground and to remove the wreckage from the surrounding area.

As previously stated, I would be indebted to anyone who could supply me with information relating to the pilot, Erick Hendrik den Hollander who was born in Bandoeng in Java, NEI, on 29/9/1922 or the den Hollander family.

EH den Hollander was laid to rest in St Canice's Churchyard, Eglinton, N Ireland.

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