A memorial in Nieuw-Dordrecht

In the Second World War, many Allied aircraft were shot down over the Netherlands by the Germans, as also in the municipality of Emmen – Drenthe province. The first aircraft crashed in this municipality on February 20th, 1943, in the village of Nieuw Dordrecht. The city counsil of Emmen of that time decided to bury the deceased aircrew in the cemetery of Nieuw Dordrecht. Seven other aircraft, four British and three American, came down around Emmen in the consecutive 15 months of war. Perished crew of these aircraft consequently were also buried in this cemetery..

Jan Masselink’s desire

In 1948 Jan Masselink, resident of Nieuw-Dordrecht, left his place of birth to fulfill his duty as a soldier in the Dutch Indies (now Indonesia). Upon his departure, in a conversation with his father, who was a member of the town commission, he expressed his desire to find kind of a monument in Nieuw Dordrecht in memory of the British and American aircrew when he’d return. But when he came back in 1950, Jan did not find a memorial yet. The Netherlands were in the middle of repairing the damage caused by five years of war. Alongside, the economy was to be restored. There was no money available for a monument. In the 1950’s the American crew were transferred to, amongst, others, the American Field of Honor in Margraten, in the the south of the province of Limburg.

Visits with a goal

left to right: the parents of Johnson, John and Underwood visit their sons’ graves

After the Second World War, people from Great Britain came to visit Nieuw Dordrecht, often mothers and/or wives of the deceased crewmembers. They were eager to know where their sons/husbands were buried. A few local women, Mrs. Hulst, Mrs. Bults, Ms. Zwart en Sister Wesselink, initiated the assistance of British mothers, widows and other relatives and to give them the opportunity to visit the graves of their beloved ones. They had the opinion that only wives and mothers would truly understand that to overcome the grief one must visit the grave of ones beloved. Mrs. Bults was asked by the Dutch War Graves Association to act on their behalf in Nieuw Dordrecht. On special occasions, such as the 4th of May, she would visit the British graves with flowers or a British wreath. The british visitors were generally welcomed in the homes of aforementioned women. communication was difficult as their knowledge of English was limited but with hands and feet they managed.
Commemorations took place in Nieuw Dordrecht from the 1950’s, though in the 1960’s and ’70’s the interest had somehow subsided.

A desire comes true

When in 1978 Nieuw-Dordrecht appeared able to restore a church, Jan Masselink decided it was about time for a place of commemoration for the fallen in Nieuw Dordrecht. A commission was formed. It consisted of Jan Masselink, chairman, Harry van Dijk, secretary, on behalf of the Veterans Legion of the Netherlands – section Emmen, Mrs. Bults, on behalf of the Dutch War Graves Association and Jan Brinks, treasurer. They were assisted by people like Gerrit Wisman and Frits Strootman. Jan Masselink contacted the Town Counsil of Emmen. The Council put a piece of ground at the disposal of the committee at the cemetery of Nieuw Dordrecht. Certificates were produced as was also done for the national Monument on the Dam Square in Amsterdam. Buyers of these certificates became the owner of part of the ground on whch the memorial would be erected. With these funds the committee was able to afford the production of the memorial by Masonry Kalk in Emmen.

left to right: Jan Brinks, Harry van Dijk, Ma Bults, Jan Masselink and Gerrit Wisman

The unveiling

On May 3rd, the monument was unveiled by the British crewmembers Ken Lane (pilot) and Dick Raymond (Flight Engineer) of Lancaster ND963 of No.83 Sqn that came down near Siepelveen on May 22nd, 1944. Besides authorities as the Provincial Governor of Drenthe, Mrs. Schilthuis, Mayor Beusekamp who was accompanied by a few aldermen and the Military Attache of the British Embassy, a busload full of British family members were witness to the unveiling. A British Military Band, based in Monchengladbach and generously sponsored by Draka Kabel in Emmen, added extra cachet to the ceremony. Due to the activities of the IRA in 1980, security measures in Nieuw Dordrecht were very strict, because of the British guests.

photo: Ken Lane unveils the monument on May 3rd, 1980

Contacts through the years

British Legion from Germany

Our contacts with the Royal British Legion originated through David Taylor. David Taylor was stationed in Bad Dreiburg, Germany. Attending a commemoration in England, he met the widow of the late Stan Watchhorn. She told him that her husband laid buried in the Netherlands, close to the German border. David Taylor promised her then to bring flowers to the grave of her late husband. He bought flowers at Jan van der Weide Supermarket and mr. Van der Weide referred him to Jan Masselink. After that, David Taylor initiated the first visit of The Royal British Legion from Hameln and Herford (Germany) to Nieuw Dordrecht. According to Jan, David’s second wife, Jenny, played a significant role in this. Contact between the members of the British Legion from these two German bases and our organisation still exists up to this day.

Boxbergheide (Belgium)

Contacts with Boxbergheide came through an article about Nieuw-Dordrecht in the No.101 Squadron Association magazine. The secretary of Boxbergheide, Louis Beerden, had read that article. The Belgians came to Nieuw-Dordrecht on the 4th of May and the members of our Committee went to Boxbergerheide on the second Tuesday of September. (Boxbergheide is a suburb of the city of Genk). Since 2006 contact with the members of the Committee Het Heide Bloempje from Boxbergheide was lost.


Through the British Legion from Herford we got in contact with Ypres of Scarborough. A group from Scarborough had visited Herford where they learned of our ceremony in Nieuw Dordrecht. Several years or village was visited by young people and their escorts from Scarborough. Unfortunately, contact has fully receded, very regretful.

No.101 Squadron Association

Following our visits to Belgium, Jan Masselink met with Mr. Pearson Smith. He was the chairman of No.101 Squadron Association. We have had the honor to welcome Mr. Pearson Smith once for our commemoration ceremony in Nieuw Dordrecht.

Last wish

When Jan Brinks last visited with Jan Masselink on January 30th, 2007, Jan Masselink declared his wish to have the Committee to continue their annual activities for years to come to the best of their ability. Shortly after Jan Masselink passed away, he was a remarkable man.