Dutch Villagers seek family of dead Great Yarmouth Second World War RAF air gunner

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On the night of May 1, 1943, an RAF bomber was flying toward Germany when it was intercepted over Holland by a German fighter.

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Somewhere over the village of Muiden, the plane was shot down, with five of the crew baling out over a freezing lake and drowning.

One of the men, Sergeant Raymond Shepherd, the plane’s air gunner, was from Great Yarmouth.

He was buried with the other crew members in Muiden, not far from where the plane had finally crash-landed, killing the pilot and flight sergeant.

And now, seventy-five years later, a group from the village is seeking Sergeant Shepherd’s family.

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The villagers wish to erect a memorial to him and the other six members of the crew who died that night.

Twenty-one-year-old Sergeant Shepherd was the son of Mrs Ada Edith Shepherd, who also went by the name Mrs Ada Edith Corke.

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At the time of her son’s death she lived at 28 Belfont Place, St. Nicholas Road in Great Yarmouth.

David Van Coolwijk, from Muiden, is appealing for any information regarding the families of Raymond and Ada and to inform them of the planned memorial.

Five of the crew members’ families have been found but Sergeant Shepherd and one other have not.

Mr Van Coolwijk said: “Me, my wife and two children remember the crew on Christmas Eve by lighting candles and place them on their graves.

“This year we also remembered the crew on remembrance day by laying flowers on their graves,” he added.

The crew members are buried in Muiden cemetery and the graves cared for by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

The Halifax the RAF sqaudron 77 Halifax Bomber crashed approximately an hour and a half after having taken off from RAF Elvington in Yorkshire for a bombing operation in Essen, Germany.

It had been intercepted by a German Messerschmidt piloted by fighter ace Heinze Vinke, who attacked the Halifax leaving it badly damaged.

The bomber circled around Muiden and Muiderberg for a while and five of the crew, including Sergeant Shepherd, baled out over a lake and drowned, before the pilot attempted an emergency landing but the airplane toppled over and exploded upon impact.

If you have any information about Sergeant Shepherd or his family, please contact Mr Van Coolwijk via e-mail at Info@halifaxmonumentmuiden.nl, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HalifaxMuiden or at www.Halifaxmonumentmuiden.nl

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