Beegden & Heel Cairn

In the late 90s an Organizing Committee from the municipality of Heel, located near Roermond, Holland, made plans to erect a Memorial Cairn to commemorate a Wellington bomber crew that crashed on the night of 14 Feb 43. The aircraft was W/C S.S. Blanchard's that was shot down by a night-fighter while returning from a raid on Cologne. The crew of six were killed when they crashed near the villages of Beegden and Heel.

Organizing Committee (l to r) Lies Derksen-Dierx, Chris Clout, Cor van Hout, Wies Janssen, Harry Coolen, Jo Janssen, Margriet Greve-Snijders, Frans Theunissen, Hein van de Mortel, Pierre Janssen and Frans Schoenmakers.

The Dutch committee asked the Squadron Association, the Air Force, Veterans groups and the Canadian Government be represented at the unveiling of the Cairn schedualed for 3 May 99.

Formal invitations in this regard were sent to the Canadian Embassies in the Hague and Brussels. The Chief of the Air Staff, LGen D.N. Kinsman, was advised and he directed his office to arrange for Air Force representation which coincided with ongoing celebrations marking the service's 75th Anniversary. Veterans Affairs Canada provided the wreaths which would be placed by the Association and 426 Squadron representatives during the ceremony as well as making available a supply of Canada pins.

The Association Team consisting of the Chaplain, Father Harry Schmuck (who served as an air gunner with 426 Squadron during the war), and the President, Larry Motiuk (LCol, ret'd), arrived in Roermond on 29 Apr. Over the next few days several meetings were held with members of the Dutch Organizing Committee. Details regarding the Order of Service were discussed and the memorial site was visited. Located on a small promontory, which juts into a lake, the site borders on a bicycle path and walkway overlooking the spot where the Wellington came down.

At 1600 hours on 3 May the Mayor of the municipality of Heel, K. van Soest, and Council members hosted their Canadian guests at an informal reception at the Town Hall. The twenty member 426 Squadron contingent, led by LCol W. Hoddinott, CO, arrived from the Royal Netherlands Airforce Base at Eindhoven where the unit's Aeromedical Evacuation instructors were holding talks with their Dutch counterparts. The squadron's representation included a Colour Party, a bugler and a piper.

By 1700 hours the local dignitaries, the Canadians and some 200 citizens from the area, including several eyewitnesses of the crash, had gathered at the Memorial Cairn. The colour party marched on and Committee member Chris Clout, as Master of Ceremonies, delivered the welcoming address. He in turn called upon the Mayor and the Association President to speak to the gathering followed by the blessing and dedication by Chaplain Schmuck. The eulogy was delivered by Denis Corley (Bishop's Stortford, UK) brother of Sgt P.M Corley, bomb aimer in Blanchard's crew. Mr. Corley was then asked to unveil the Cairn while the local Crescendo Music Band played a hymn.

March on the Colours, the Association Flag is on the right. Chris Clout is in the dark suit to the left.

Chaplain H. Schmuck delivers the blessing and dedication.

Delivered by LCol L. Motiuk (ret'd) on behalf of the Association

After the unveiling, the ceremony continued through it's proscribed order, and concluded with the playing of the National Anthems of Canada, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, and then the dismissal of the Colour Party. 

Unveiling of the Cairn by Mr D. Corley.

Mr D. Corley, LCol L. Motiuk (ret'd) and Chaplain H. Schmuck.

The 426 Squadron contingent.

Following the ceremony, the Canadians were invited to attend a reception and dinner hosted by the Mayor and his Council at a Beegden restaurant. During the evening Larry Motiuk presented Mr K. van Soest with a 426 Squadron plaque which was accepted on behalf of the citizens of Beegden and Heel. From LCol Hoddinott, the Mayor received an RCAF Ensign which was presented to the Municipality on behalf of the Chief of the Air Staff. Both the plaque and Ensign are displayed at the Town Hall in Heel. The Squadron Commander was given a wrist watch by Margaret Greve-Snijders which had belonged to Sgt K.W. Tutton, the co-pilot in Blanchard's crew. It had been found by a Mr Corbey shortly after the Germans had left the crash site. Veterans Affairs had been unable to trace any of Tutton's surviving family members and it was decided by the Dutch hosts to present the watch to the Squadron. The watch has been suitably framed and captioned for display at the Squadron's Headquarters. See "Tutton's Watch" in the Memorabilia Section of the site.

A memorial certificate commemorating "The Last Fight of Wellington X-3420/OW-H" was given to the Squadron Commander by Committee Member Harrie Schuwirth. It is now displayed in Blanchard Hall of the Dishforth Building in Trenton. Smaller versions of the certificate were prepared and, as requested, were sent by the Association to: Mrs E. Kindt (Sudbury, Ontario) sister of rear gunner F/S J.H. Eveline; and, Tracey and Trudy Schuhart (Calgary, Alberta) the granddaughters of W/C Blanchard.

As part of the occasion, a visit to Jonkerbos War Cemetery was made by Denis Corley, Harry Schmuck, Larry Motiuk, and several members of the Organizing Committee. While at the cemetery Chaplain Schmuck led a short commemorative prayer service by the graves of the crew.

Mr D. Corley, overcome with emotion, visits the grave of his brother.

Sgt P.M. Corley, RAFVR 

Sedley Stewart Blanchard, W/C, Pilot, RCAF, age 31.

Percival Maurice Corley, Sgt, Bomb Aimer, RAFVR, age 20, son of Ernest Edward and Harriet Corley of South Norwood, Surrey.

Joseph Henry Eveline, F/S, Air Gunner, RCAF, age 23, son of Stanley and Hattie Eveline of Sudbury, Ontario.

Paul Winstanley Jeanneret, F/O, Navigator, RCAF, age 23, son of H.G.F.S. and Winifred E. Jeanneret of Victoria, B.C.

Arthur Grant Longwell, F/S, Wireless Operator, RCAF, age 29, son of Donald and Nettie Longwell of Foxboro, Ontario.

Kenneth William Tutton, WO2, Pilot, RCAF, age 20, son of Thomas Henry and Nellie E. Tutton of Toronto, Ontario.