Seventy-five years ago last Sunday, the Australian pilot Les Knight died when the aircraft he was flying crashed on the outskirts of the Dutch village of Den Ham. The other seven men in his 617 Squadron crew survived by baling out at low altitude. Over two days last weekend Knight was commemorated in a series of events which brought many local people together with the families of the men who flew with him on his final fatal operation.
A further report will follow later this week, but in the meantime, here are a selection of photographs which gave a flavour of the events. (Photographs courtesy of Wim Govaerts, Harmen Paalman and Herman van der Schuur.)
The Burgemeester (Mayor), Ms Annelies van der Kolk, welcoming guests. (Pic: Wim Govaerts)
The local Juliana brass band, under conductor René Bos. (Pic: Herman van der Schuur)
Several local children read tributes that they had written themselves. (Pic: Wim Govaerts)
Matthew Neuhaus, the Australian Ambassador to the Netherlands, laid a wreath at the memorial marking the spot where Knight’s Lancaster crashed. (Pic: Wim Govaerts)
Plt Off Ali RAF saluting the wreath laid on behalf of the British embassy. (Pic: Wim Govaerts)
A Royal Netherlands Air Force Officer saluting the wreath laid on his force’s behalf. (Pic: Wim Govaerts)
After laying his own tribute, Les Knight’s cousin Graham Simpson spoke to some of the local children. (Pic: Wim Govaerts)
Flypast by three aircraft from the RNAF air display team. (Pic: Herman van der Schuur)
Den Ham resident Lucas Kamphuis, who heard Knight’s aircraft crash at about 0400 on 16 September 1943, and visited the site at first light the same morning. (Pic: Wim Govaerts)
After the wreaths were laid, a queue of villagers formed, wanting to pay their own respects and leave a rose at the memorial. It took more than 15 minutes for them all to do so. (Pic: Wim Govaerts)
The Australian flag flying over the memorial. (Pic: Wim Govaerts)
Melvin Chambers, organiser of the Remembering Dambuster Les Knight event, paying his own respects. (Pic: Wim Govaerts)
The service in the village church on Sunday 16 September featured a reading by Graham Simpson. (Pic: Harmen Paalman)
Local scouts holding floral tributes at the cemetery where Les Knight is buried. (Pic: Harmen Paalman)
Members of the families of Les Knight, Robert Kellow, Sydney Hobday, Edward (“Johnnie”) Johnson and Les Woollard gathered at the graveside of Les Knight. (Pic: Harmen Paalman)
(Pic: Wim Govaerts)
How marvellous that the local Den Ham community do so much to remember this brave airman. What a shame those who died in other crashes are not commemorated in a similar way.
Reblogged this on tesseractorion.
Wonderful that people pay their respects and remember the brave actions of Les Knight. It is a shame that successive governments in this country have failed to remember the boys of Bomber Command
Deep thanks for the excellent coverage of this subject.
From the Melbourne suburban neighbourhood from where Les Knight came. A brave son of Australia.. .:thttps://www.facebook.com/laurie.edward.9
What a tribute to a brave young man who had served our country and did history best and sacrificed history young life, therefore ALL should never be forgotten and the story of the men rememberd forever.
Thanks to the people of Den Ham for remembering these brave young men who gave their lives to help the rest of us have the life we have enjoyed thanks again jeff.