Leo Potten who lives in Ysselsteyn, in the Netherlands wrote me the story about the plane crash that killed Arthur Horrell and Paul Émile Piché.
After sending you the pictures of the field graves, I have asked some older people if they knew still something from the airplane at the Deurneseroad(weg) in October 1944.
As the official side tells us, they (Piché and Horrell) had to go from Grave to Antwerp (Belgium). They could have been flying through liberated areas because west of Ysselsteyn there were liberated areas since Operation Market Garden.
It seems to be that their navigation was not good or was it because they were flying in an other plane? However they were flying above occupied areas because the village Ysselsteyn had not been liberated until 17 October, 1944. They were searching for the right destination I think because they were flying very low. Maybe they also thought they were flying above liberated areas.
Therefore it was easy to shoot them down. And so it happened because there were many German soldiers, “moffen” as they were called in Holland, in our region because the frontline was nearby. There were even German soldiers who settled on kind of houses build up with cornsheafs called “mijt” in the Netherlands. They were shot by artillery. Their plane caught fire and crashed to the ground nearby the farm of the Jeurissen family which is still living there today.
On this farm there were German soldiers who went immediately to the plane. The father of Theo Jeurissenm, who lives nowadays at the farm, told him. “The German soldiers couldn’t get nearer the plane because of the danger of explosion. Jan Jeurissen, the father of Theo, didn’t know if one or both of the pilots Mr. Horrell or Mr. Piché were still alive when they crashed to earth.
Therefore the German soldiers shot on their bodies to take them out of their horrible misery. Other people told us they were dead when they crashed on the ground. However it is a terrible death they found in flames while they were doing there job.
All this is told about 70 years after this terrible accident. Stories can change with time. However we heard this story from different people.
Theo Jeurissen tells that his father told him that the German soldiers who had their quarters near by the farm of the Jeurissens did not like the war. They also hated it. They were afraid of SS soldiers who layed near by a farm about 300 m. It’s something like the old story of the one controling the other and no one dares te be disobedient because then he might be executed.
After the accident, the German soldiers were very still and were impressed about what had all happened. Some of them couldn’t hold their food in their body and they vomited.
There was also a very young soldier among the Germans. They called him their secret weapon (pun intended related to Hitler’s secret weapons according to Leo’s interpretation). He was very young, didn’t eat much and was homesick. Oma Jeurissen sometimes gave him some food to eat.
The two pilots were buried first in graves near by the farm as you can see on the picture I sent with simple birchwooden crosses.
The sisters of Jan Jeurissen did make them nice with white stones.
Afterwards they were buried in the British War Cemetry in Venray about 10 km from the place where they found their terrible end from their young lives.
Knowing also all this, we are glad that we erected a monument with the names of all these brave men who gave their lives for our freedom. Something which we will never forget.
After reading this terrible story, war is always terrible, we hope you will still able to have a nice Christmas. Christmas means something like peace. Peace for us made possible by these two young man in the craft of their lives in a future which there never was.
In the spring, we will visit their graves and put some flowers on their graves. Great thanks for these brave men.
If there is anything you want to now and if you have more other questions let me know.
We wish you until this story a nice Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Ysselsteyn, the Netherlands