Bergen op Zoom, The Netherlands – In the night of 22 to 23 June 1941, during The Second World war, five Czechoslovak soldiers were killed near Nieuwe Niedorp.
Exactly 81 years after the plane they were in was shot down, they have been reburied at the military cemetery of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Bergen op Zoom.
The Vickers Wellington T2990 of 311 (Czechoslovak) Squadron Royal Air Force was recovered in June last year. During the Second World War, the aircraft crashed into a meadow near Nieuwe Niedorp in the province of North Holland. The Aircraft Salvage Service of the Royal Dutch Air Force removed the wreckage, while the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Service ensured the safe removal of on-board weapons and ammunition.
The Salvage and Identification Service of the Royal Netherlands Army took care of the mortal remains. This has led to the identification of the 5 fallen airmen. They were reported missing for 80 years. Jan Hejna (26), Vilem Konštatský (27), Alois Rozum (27), Leonard Smrček (26) and Karel Valach (23) have now found their final resting place in Bergen op Zoom.
The Czechoslovak aircraft was one of 70 bombers that bombed Bremen that night. On its way back, the aircraft was intercepted by a German night fighter and shot down. It crashed in flames. Only one of the crew members managed to save himself with his parachute and was taken prisoner of war.
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Recovering the Wellington
On May 25 last year, the salvage of the aircraft wreckage started and lasted until June 17, started. Human remains and personal belongings were also recovered. In the laboratory in Soesterberg, identification specialists from the BIDKL subsequently found evidence that the five were still in the plane. As a result, the crew members were no longer listed as missing. The five Czech crew members still received an honorable farewell. And were given a final resting place in the presence of their next of kin.
The salvage was part of the National Program for Salvage of Aircraft Wrecks. Its purpose is to recover missing aircrew from World War II and to give a named grave on a military plot.
Visit of Slovak minister
The reburial took place in the presence of relatives and a number of authorities, including Czech Defense Minister Jana Černochová and his Slovak counterpart Jaroslav Naď.
The Slovak minister then traveled to The Hague to meet Dutch Defence minister Kajsa Ollongren. Both ministers spoke in particular about the situation in Ukraine and the Dutch Patriot unit stationed in Slovakia.
Nad’ said of the latter: “Such a strong sign of solidarity makes it clear that the concept of collective defense is not an empty phrase, but the core of the NATO alliance.”
Bron: Ministerie van Defensie