Service at Markelo Memorial for NZ airmen in Holland

  • 22/06/2013

A relic from the Second World War has been made into a memorial for a New Zealand crew who died in aerial battle.

In 1943, four Kiwi airmen crashed their Stirling Bomber into a field at Markelo in the Netherlands. Now, 70 years on, a commemorative monument stands beside the graves of those men who made the ultimate sacrifice.

A WWII plane propeller marks the spot where seven men, including four New Zealanders, lost their lives when their Stirling MK1 bomber crashed in 1943.

Relatives of the fallen New Zealand airmen travelled to the Dutch village of Markelo for the memorial's unveiling.

One of the dead was pilot Kenneth Burbridge. Brother Keith, now in his 80s, came to see his sibling's final resting place.

"Look around here – what a beautiful place for these boys to finish up with their lives," he says. "And their remains lay here in this fielded area. You couldn't find a better place."

Flight sergeant Andrew McEwin also perished in the crash. His second cousin, Darryl Robertson, says he's overwhelmed with how the Markelo people have honoured the New Zealanders' memory.

"It's pretty inspiring and I've been surprised at the level of commitment by the people here," says Mr Robertson. "I knew they were doing a lot, but they've done far, far more than anyone of us from New Zealand ever expected."

The New Zealand crew, part of the 75th Royal New Zealand Squadron, were shot down over a Dutch field on their way back from a German raid, killing all seven on board.

For the past 70 years, the four Kiwi graves have been tended by Markelo locals.

"We have to remember that these guys gave their lives for our freedom, and even if it is 70 years after, that remembrance has to go on," says memorial organiser Benny Schreurs.

They are looking after the resting place of those who fought for our freedom 18,000km from home.

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source: newshub archive