This beautiful display marks the spot in Brummen, not far from Arnhem, where British PoWs who were being transported to Germany were shot by SS soldiers on 23 September 1944 after the battle for Arnhem was over. A memorial tablet affixed to the wall gives the names of the victims.
If Allied aircrew, soldiers or sailors had belonged to the British forces when they were killed, their graves and memorials were attended to by the British authorities and the Imperial War Graves Commission, who followed a policy of non-repatriation. However, if the dead had belonged to their own national forces, they could be repatriated after the war.
In the case of the Jespersen crew who were shot down on D-Day, the British and Canadian members of the crew lie in France. Our current information is that the only Norwegian crew member ever found was John Ernst Herlof Evensen, whose body was repatriated and is now buried at Vestre Gravlund Cemetery at Oslo.
The Norwegians are remembered on various memorials in Norway, including at the Akershus Fortress in Oslo. Jespersen Crew Memorials.
Here is another war graves photograph, slightly similar to that of David O’Connell in that the two graves in this photograph are also buried under a mountain of flowers. The graves are those of two young men of only twenty-two years of age. For more details follow this link: Pilot Officer Richards and Sergeant Arthur North of 105 Squadron.
When researching the grave of David O’Connell, I looked up his record on the CWGC site for information about his burial site. There was something very eye-catching on the Graves Registration Form, above David’s name – four members of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, all killed at the same time on 20 January 1945.
What led me to David O’Connell was acquiring the beautiful battered old photograph of his grave, taken soon after his burial in January 1945. Despite the deep snow and the immense disruption caused by war, people had found a huge number of flowers to decorate his grave. He must have been very highly thought of, either personally or in a symbolic capacity as a member of the liberating British forces.
The Dutch tradition of laying flowers on all the individual graves in a cemetery began very soon after the war. The photograph here, taken at the Arnhem-Oosterbeek cemetery, was probably taken in 1946 or 1947.
In 1947, The Times recorded that ‘on one day recently […] over 30,000 Dutch people visited the graves of the fallen of Arnhem’. It added:
On occasions it is alleged that graves are cared for by those whose real interest is in the reward of cigarettes and food sent from England, but one has only to mark the many graves of the unknown that have been adopted to see without a doubt that this cynical charge applies only to a few isolated instances.
Special Correspondent, ‘The Dead of the Empire: Work of Army and Imperial War Graves Commission: Ideals and Achievement’, The Times, 11 November 1947.
Further to yesterday’s post about Colonel Stott and possible photographs of him at work, the second photograph, also in the Gelders Archief, shows Stott in the very early days of the ARNHEM-OOSTERBEEK CEMETERY. He is deep in conference with Captain J T Long, of 37 Graves Registration Unit.
This cemetery was developed with the full cooperation of the local authorities, and a remarkable pair of letters show the cordial relationship between the authorities and the Army Graves Service: CORRESPONDENCE.
The liberated countries provided the most immense amount of help in finding, identifying, and honouring dead British soldiers, sailors, and airmen. This new article gives a number of examples of their invaluable contribution: The Liberated Countries and the War Dead