Sibrandabuorren, The Netherlands, June 30, 2003
A stone monument, in memory of seven wartime members of 405 Squadron, was unveiled today near this little village, in the province of Friesland, The Netherlands. In the early morning hours of June 30, 1942, a Halifax Bomber (LQ-K) of 405 (City of Vancouver) Squadron, returning from a night bombing raid over Bremen, Germany, was attacked by a German night-fighter and crashed in a farmer's field near the village. All seven crewmembers, which included four Canadians, were killed. They were: Sgt Edmund Keith Brennan, age 26, navigator, from Vancouver, BC
; WT/O Lawrence Sidney, age 23, pilot, from Armstrong, BC; F/Sgt Raymond Albert Gorieu, age 26, wireless operator, from Domremy, Sask; and F/Sgt Cecil Stephen Walsh, age 27, flight engineer, from Beaurepaire, Que. Three crew members were British: F/Sgt CP Philp, age 23, air gunner, from Birkenhead, UK; Sgt GA White, age 40, bombardier, from Marylebone, London, UK; and , Sgt TG Gunn, age 29, air gunner, from Liverpool, UK. Only the body of F/Sgt CP Philp was recovered. His remains are buried in the cemetery of the Dutch Reformed Church in Dearsum.
The citizens of the Municipality of Boarnsterhim, which encompasses the villages of Sibrandabuorren and Dearsum, decided last year to erect a monument in honor of these young people from 405 Squadron who gave their lives to the cause of freedom and democracy. They planned an official unveiling of the monument and as a mark of appreciation, they decided to invite some surviving relatives of the crew members to the ceremony. Finding the relatives obviously presented a challenge to the organizing committee. In the fall of 2002, the Dutch Missing Airmen Foundation submitted a request for assistance to CFB Greenwood. Greenwood in turn forwarded the request to the 405 Association. An E-mail to our members brought quick results. MGen (Ret'd) C. Kinney from Ottawa found the address of Tom Sidney, a brother of WT/O Sidney and Bob McWhirter from Prince Albert, Sask., found the address of surviving relatives of F/Sgt A. Gorieu. Tom Sidney of Armstrong, BC, in turn found two surviving brothers of Sgt Brennan. The Montreal Gazette published a short article on the project and as a result, the brother, son and daughter of F/Sgt Walsh were located. All were present at the unveiling ceremony as guests of the Municipality. 405 Squadron was represented by Maj Bob Schwartz, Capt Andrew McCorquodale and MCpl Bruce Gale. The Canadian Ambassador to the Netherlands, Mr Serge April, accompanied by the Canadian Defence Attaché, Col Mike Witty, laid a wreath on behalf of the Canadian Government.
The committee had more difficulties in locating relatives of the British crew members. Mike Philp, a nephew of F/Sgt Philp, was present accompanied by his wife Lesley. Sgt White and Sgt Gunn were represented by members of the RAF Association from Liverpool.
The monument is erected on the side of a small rural road, only 1200 yards from the actual crash site. A few months before the unveiling ceremony, students from a school in Armstrong, BC, participated in an exchange program with students from the Dearsum primary school. The Canadian students brought small stones from each Canadian province and territories. During the unveiling ceremony, the Dearsum students deposited the stones at the base of the monument. These stones have now been embedded in the base.